Week 31: United v Liverpool pick of the round

Manchester is the scene for the biggest game of the weekend as arch rivals United and Liverpool go head to head in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off.

Ahead of what should be a full-blooded affair, the Red Devils start the match in second place, two points ahead of their north west rivals.

Elsewhere, Chelsea host London rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday night, while on Sunday afternoon Arsenal entertain Watford, and Tottenham travel to Bournemouth. Manchester City conclude week 31 with a trip to Stoke on Monday night.

The heavyweights

Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp (Pic: Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester United v Liverpool (Sat): United remain unbeaten against Liverpool in their last seven Premier League meetings and go into the game having won their last two matches from losing positions.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp made five changes for the limp goalless draw with Porto in midweek, but Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane both started before being substituted in the second half, so the Reds should be reasonably fresh.

Six of the last seven games between the sides have produced two goals or less and the last three Premier League games have ended in a draw, four if the Europa League tie is included from the 2015-16 season.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace (Sat): Chelsea will be nice and fresh after doing next to nothing in a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City, but Palace must still be reeling from relinquishing a two-goal lead against Manchester United and losing 3-2 to a last-minute wonder strike from Nemanja Matic.

The Eagles have beaten Chelsea 2-1 in the last two encounters, but their main attacking threat Wilfried Zaha will miss the game through injury. Palace have lost four of their last six games, picking up just two points during that period, whilst the Blues head back to Stamford Bridge having lost at both Manchester clubs.

Arsenal v Watford (Sun): Tom Cleverley gave Watford a last-gasp win when the teams met at Vicarage Road in October, the Hornets’ second successive win against the Gunners who seem to be at crisis point and also have a tough Europa League clash with AC Milan on Thursday.

Watford have won three of their last four Premier League games, but all of those victories were on home turf. Their away form has been abysmal lately, losing six of their last seven and scoring just once on their travels in 2018. Could be an interesting encounter.

Bournemouth v Tottenham (Sun): Spurs must dust themselves down after crashing out of the Champions League to Juventus in midweek despite holding a half-time lead. That defeat ended a 17-match unbeaten run for Tottenham in all competitions.

Bournemouth have drawn their last two games and only lost 1-0 at Wembley when they met in October, although they have now four games without scoring against Tottenham.

Stoke v Manchester City (Mon): The Premier League leaders ran out 7-2 winners in mid-October and they have now scored 15 goals against Stoke in their last four contests. The Potters have drawn their last three matches, but have lost their last six matches against top-six sides, conceding an incredible 27 goals during those games.

City lost their first home game since 2016 in the Champions League defeat by Basel when Pep Guardiola rested several first-team players, although they should have had enough to dispatch the Swiss side. City’s big guns will be back on Monday for what should be a comfortable win against a Stoke team that has tightened up at the back at the expense of their attack.

The rest of the games

Everton v Brighton (Sat): The Toffees may be seeking their third successive home win but all is not well at Goodison Park. Everton lost their fifth away game in a row in a 2-1 defeat at Burnley, a result which saw them slip into the lower half of the table. Brighton, on the other hand, are on a roll after going on a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions, winning three of their last four Premier League games. The teams drew 1-1 at Brighton and this is a game where both teams are expected to score.

Huddersfield v Swansea (Sat): Aaron Mooy is back for Huddersfield, who will need their talisman as they face a Swansea team buoyed by a 4-1 victory over West Ham which lifted them to 13th place in the table. The Terriers predictably lost at Tottenham in their last outing, but they are back on home territory where they are reasonably strong against teams outside the top six, although they lost 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium earlier in the season.

Newcastle v Southampton (Sat): Southampton have drawn 13 of their 29 games this season and you may not be surprised to learn that these two sides shared the points when they met at St James’ Park. Saints have drawn their last two and it’s been honours even in three of the Magpies’ last five. Both teams have similar attacks and defences in terms of creating and conceding chances so a draw looks possible.

West Ham v Burnley (Sat): West Ham boss David Moyes described the 4-1 defeat at Swansea as the “poorest” during his tenure and said that he and the squad are playing for their livelihoods. Burnley welcomed back some of their first-choice players in the 2-1 victory against Everton which ended an 11-game winless run for the Clarets. The Hammers are unbeaten at home in their last four.

West Brom v Leicester (Sat): Rock-bottom West Brom slumped to their fifth successive defeat last weekend which left them seven points adrift of safety. Leicester aren’t in great form either as they travel to The Hawthorns seeking their first win in six. The teams drew 1-1 in October and with three of the Foxes’ last four matches ending that way a repeat could be on the cards.

That’s how week 31 looks this weekend and we hope our preview has given you some insight into the games. We’re certainly not expecting another 24-point victory this weekend and will be surprised if anyone hits the 20-point mark, but maybe you’ll prove us wrong!  Click on the blue banner below to make your predictions before Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off and best of luck to you all.

cta