Arsenal v Bournemouth
Arsenal’s form has picked up recently and our draw with Liverpool will have given them encouragement that they can steal fourth place come the seasons’ end. Upcoming clashes with Spurs and ourselves should be crucial in that regard, but they should have little trouble hosting Bournemouth. The Cherries are somehow up in 10th despite going W4-D2-L13 in all competitions since November, and Eddie Howe’s insistence on playing attractive football, while refreshing, has seen them struggle when going toe-to-toe with teams that simply have better players. Aside from a sensational 4-0 win over a crisis-hit Chelsea, they’ve lost all eight encounters with the ‘Big Six’ this term and conceded at least three times in the last five of these.
Meanwhile, Arsenal continue to ease past teams at the Emirates, as excluding their tussles with fellow ‘Big Six’ sides, they’ve now won 22 of 23 unbeaten matches there since the start of last season. They netted at least twice in all but three of these games and won 17 by two goals or more, winning this fixture 3-0 last term, and so regardless of whether they keep a clean sheet or not, should prevail here by virtue of their attacking strengths.
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
A goalless stalemate with Liverpool has put a dent in their title bid and though it came at a cost with various injury concerns ahead of the trip to south London, we still arrive in great form with having won 11 of 13 unbeaten matches domestically under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to date. Even the defence has bucked up its game with clean sheets in the last four of these, which bodes well against a Palace side that have failed to score in eight of the 12 head-to-head meetings with our boys since their promotion, losing 10 of them in total.
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The Eagles are on a good run at the moment, but they tend to struggle more on home turf and have in fact picked up more points on the road this term (only Southampton and Huddersfield have picked up fewer home points). They’ve lost eight of nine winless league matches over the past 12 months hosting ‘Big Six’ outfits, and the absence of warrior centre-back Mamadou Sakho should hit them hard. The Eagles have shown themselves capable of picking up some points against the big guns away from home on occasion, but without Sakho they’ve lost seven of nine home or away since he arrived at Selhurst Park in January 2017.
Chelsea v Spurs
The League Cup final may have been overshadowed by the farcical scenes on the touchline, but it shouldn’t be ignored that this was a much-improved display from the Blues compared to recent outings. They kept City out for 120 minutes, and there even appeared to be a plan B for a change as instead of the constant high press, the team was more compact and based deeper without the ball.
Spurs are effectively out of the title race following defeat at Burnley, and while the return of Harry Kane is of course a boost, it has thrown up question marks over the role of Heung-min Son. The Korean had been in blistering form but failed to make much of an impact at Turf Moor, while Chelsea will also be glad Dele Alli remains out injured as the England midfielder holds a fantastic scoring record against them. Spurs have lost four of their last five in the league against fellow ‘Big Six’ sides and that has to be a concern for Mauricio Pochettino.
Chelsea are W4-D1-L1 hosting Spurs in all competitions since 2013/14, as all but one of these games came with Pochettino in charge of the visitors, with the most recent clash between the two resulting in a 2-1 win for Chelsea in January in the League Cup. The Blues’ worrying spell had already begun by then having lost two of their previous three games away at Spurs and Arsenal, but four of their five defeats since the turn of the year have come away from the Bridge and they’ve kept delivering the goods on home turf.
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