Chelsea will look to lock up the title – for all practical purposes – with Arsenal the last line of defence. Don’t hold your breath.
Chelsea – vs – Arsenal
The Blues (3-4-3)
Predicted XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz; Matic, Moses, Kante, Alonso; Costa, Hazard, Pedro.
• Chelsea boast a clean bill of health although David Luiz admits he is still feeling the after-effects of Sergio Aguero’s challenge in December which resulted in the Argentine serving a four-match ban.
• Reports from London indicate that Eden Hazard has been unable to complete 90 minutes in his last three games due to a niggling hamstring complaint. However, the Belgium star has trained normally. One to monitor from afar perhaps!
• Fabregas and Pedro are two potential changes from the side which drew at Anfield.
The Gunners (4-2-3-1)
Predicted XI: Cech; Mustafi, Monreal, Koscielny, Bellerin; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin; Iwobi, Sanchez, Ozil; Walcott.
• Aaron Ramsey [calf] is ruled out while Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain face a late fitness test. Both players “should” be okay.
• Danny Welbeck “could” come back into the squad.
• Following a disappointing loss to Watford, Wenger will look to freshen his side with Theo Walcott being recalled to the starting XI. Bellerin is pushing to be included having lost his place at right-back to Gabriel.
Crystal Palace – vs – Sunderland
The Eagles (3-4-2-1)
Predicted XI: Hennessey; Delaney, Dann, Tomkins; van Aanholt, Ward, Cabaye, McArthur; Zaha, Townsend; Benteke.
• Jeffrey Schlupp won’t be fit, but should be back for Stoke. Bakary Sako is also sidelined due to a hamstring problem.
• Luka Milivojevic is not available: “He’s sorting his visa and bringing his family over. Disappointing, it’s taking longer than we thought.” Fellow new signing Mamadou Sakho will only make the bench while “we’re getting him up-to speed, he’s lacking sharpness.”
• “All the players that were involved at Bournemouth are fine and following his first win since taking over.
• One potential change. Andros Townsend impressed from the bench at the Vitality and the winger has a chance of being rewarded with a rare start.
The Black Cats (3-5-2)
Predicted XI: Mannone; Kone, O’Shea, Denayer; Manquillo, Ndong, Rodwell, Larsson, Jones; Borini, Defoe.
• David Moyes will take confidence from a well-earned draw against Tottenham but Sunderland need to follow that with another good performance at Selhurst Park.
• Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson will be added to the squad but the Black Cats could stick with the same side.
Everton – vs – AFC Bournemouth
The Toffees (3-5-2)
Predicted XI: Robles; Williams, Funes Mori, Holgate; Baines, Coleman, Barry, Schneiderlin, Barkley; Mirallas, Lukaku.
• Joel Robles will continue in goal keeping Maarten Stekelenburg on the bench: “There’s been no reason to change. I like to be fair in everything.”
• Idrissa Gueye will return to the match day squad, but based on Koeman’s comments regarding the goalkeeping situation, I don’t expect an instant recall.
• No fresh injury concerns. Morgan Schneiderlin made his full debut on Tuesday at the expense of Gareth Barry and it remains to be seen how the Toffees will line-up.
The Cherries (4-2-3-1)
Predicted XI: Boruc; Brad Smith, Francis, Adam Smith, Cook; Arter, Surman; Wilshere, Fraser, Stanislas; Afobe.
• Things have been going wrong for Bournemouth since the 70th minute of their home match with Arsenal earlier this month and Eddie Howe will be looking for a confidence boosting win.
• Captain Simon Francis returned midweek but the Cherries lost Charlie Daniels to a hamstring strain which will keep him out for a little longer.
• Benik Afobe looks nailed for a starting berth following a heart-breaking injury setback for Callum Wilson which will side-line him for rest of the season.
Hull City – vs – Liverpool
The Tigers (4-4-2)
Predicted XI: Jakupovic; Maguire, Dawson, Robertson, Meyler; Clucas, Huddlestone, Elabdellaoui, Evandro; Niasse, Hernandez.
• Marco Silva will be reluctant to make any changes to the side which picked up a point at Old Trafford but Lazar Makovic is ruled out under the terms of his loan agreement.
• New signings Kamil Grosicki and N’Diaye are fit and available but Silva has not decided if either will be included in the squad.
• Dieumerci Mbokani comes back in the squad following his involvement at AFCoN.
The Reds (4-3-3)
Predicted XI: Mignolet; Milner, Clyne, Matip, Lovren; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Firmino, Coutinho, Mane.
• No fresh injury concerns for Liverpool who travel to the KCOM Stadium.
• A couple of players are carrying knocks from Tuesday but they have all trained ahead of the game.
• Sadio Mane is better placed to start following his return from international duty. His availability may see Adam Lallana drop a little deeper with Emre Can the player to miss out.
Southampton – vs – West Ham United
The Saints (4-3-3)
Predicted XI: Forster; Bertrand, Yoshida, Stephens, Soares; Højbjerg, Romeu, Davis; Long, Boufal, Redmond.
• Manolo Gabbiadini could feature on Saturday, but Puel admits “he may not be ready to start.”
• Virgil van Dijk could miss up-to three months. “Ryan Bertrand is a possibility for centre-back” but Jack Stephens looks to be the preferred partner of Maya Yoshida currently.
• James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez face a late fitness test. Sofiane Boufal is back and comes into contention after missing the last month.
The Hammers (4-2-3-1)
Predicted XI: Randolph; Fonte, Reid, Byram, Cresswell; Obiang, Noble; Antonio, Lanzini, Snodgrass; Carroll.
• “Injury-wise, we had a recovery day on Thursday and we have nothing serious,” said Slaven Bilic. “Sam Byram has a hamstring [injury], we hope he will be OK.” If not, James Collins is one possible solution.
• I’m expecting Robert Snodgrass to make his first start following introduction from the bench on Wednesday. His set piece capabilities make Andy Carroll a very appealing prospect.
Watford – vs – Burnley
The Hornets (4-5-1)
Predicted XI: Gomes; Prodl, Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Capoue, Behrami, Janmaat, Niang, Cleverley; Deeney.
• Mauro Zarate is available after his ban but “I still need to verify his condition and decide if he will start or start from the bench.” However, after their win at the Emirates, Mazzarri won’t want to change things too much.
• Miguel Britos [groin] is the only fresh doubt [late test]. Zuniga could benefit if the Uruguayan is deemed unfit.
• Isaac Success is likely to start on the bench as he “still needs to find his best condition” and M’Baye Niang “will play” if he isn’t feeling the aftereffects of Tuesday too much.
The Clarets (4-4-2)
Predicted XI: Heaton; Ward, Lowton, Mee, Keane; Westwood, Hendrick, Barton, Boyd; Barnes, Gray.
• Burnley win at Turf Moor [again] but the Clarets have only mustered a meagre one-point on the road all season.
• New boys Robbie Brady and Ashley Westwood come into contention and after Steven Defour [hamstring] was ruled out, the latter could be set for his debut.
• Sam Vokes will come into the side if Sean Dyche decides to freshen his frontline.
West Bromwich Albion – vs – Stoke City
The Baggies (4-2-3-1)
Predicted XI: Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Nyom, Brunt; Yacob, Fletcher; Morrison, Phillips, Livermore; Rondon.
• Evans has been ruled out again: “We are really disappointed with how long it’s taking for Jonny to get back.”
• Marc Wilson will provide cover from the bench: “We’ve got 16 senior professionals at the club. It’s a tight group.”
• Jake Livermore is hoping for his first start since arriving from Hull. Nacer Chadli is most at risk having struggled for form since returning from injury.
The Potters (4-2-3-1)
Predicted XI: Grant; Pieters, Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi; Adam, Whelan; Allen, Afellay, Arnautovic; Crouch.
• Mame Diouf and Wilfried Bony are back in contention although neither will displace Peter Crouch who continues to impress: “I thought he was excellent [on Tuesday], I have emphasised for some time his attributes and qualities aren’t waning.”
• Hughes says Stoke were well-aware of the Football Association disciplinary matter which resulted in Saido Berahino receiving an eight-week suspension. The former Baggy will be included in Saturdays squad.
• Xherdan Shaqiri and Glen Johnson are hoping to be available for the next game while with a bit of luck, Geoff Cameron “will be back in a couple of weeks.”
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Middlesbrough
Predicted XI: Lloris; Alderweireld, Wimmer, Dier; Walker, Davies, Dembele, Wanyama; Eriksen, Alli; Kane.
• Spurs have been forced into at least one change. Danny Rose will meet with a knee specialist on Monday after limping off at the Stadium of Light this week.
• Ben Davies is favourite to come into a flat back four, but following their lacklustre display on Tuesday, Pochettino may favour three which could see the Wales international playing in an advanced role with Kevin Wimmer partnering Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld.
• Hugo Lloris has trained ahead of the game and he will replace Vorm in goal.
The Boro (4-3-3)
Predicted XI: Valdes; Chambers, Gibson, Barragan, Fabio; Clayton, Forshaw, de Roon; Stuani, Negredo, Traore.
• Adlene Guedioura will be involved “he gives us experience and quality” but I can’t see anything other than a place on the bench.
• Gaston Ramirez is still recovering: “I hope he can be training with us next week, maybe Monday or Tuesday.” But, Karanka is more confident over Calum Chambers [foot] who has a good chance. If he passes a late test, then Espinosa could make way.
• George Friend is still sidelined with a calf injury: “I think everyone else will be fit.”
Manchester City – vs – Swansea City
The Citizens (4-5-1)
Predicted XI: Caballero; Sagna, Kolarov, Otamendi, Stones; Silva, De Bruyne, Jesus, Sterling, Toure; Aguero.
• No fresh injury concerns for City. Ilkay Gundogan the only expected absentee.
• No decision on who will be playing in goal after Bravo was axed from the side at West Ham: “In the big clubs, you have good goalkeepers and I have it so I will decide on what I see.”
• Pep says Aguero “remains one of the most important players in our squad” despite being named on the bench. The City manager insists he and new arrival Gabriel Jesus can play together. “In Brazil, Jesus played on the left side.”
• Consecutive clean sheets should ensure the defence remains unchanged.
The Swans (4-3-3)
Predicted XI: Fabianski; Naughton, Olsson, Fernandez, Mawson; Fer, Carroll, Cork; Routledge, Sigurdsson, Llorente.
• Back-to-back wins take Swansea out of the relegation zone but it’s a big ask to expect them to take anything away from the Etihad.
• Luciano Narsingh is closing in on his first start: “I think physically he is ready, he made a big impact with his movement for the goal.” But the former PSV winger “needs a better understanding of defensive role” which is enough to keep him on the bench in my opinion.
• Leon Britton [calf] is training again: “He is fit and everyone else is fine,” says Paul Clement.
Leicester City – vs – Manchester United
The Foxes (4-4-2)
Predicted XI: Schmeichel; Chilwell, Huth, Morgan, Simpson; Albrighton, Mendy, Drinkwater, Mahrez; Okazaki, Vardy.
• Claudio Ranieri says Leonardo Ulloa warmed up with the group on Friday: “I hope he continues to get better.” However, if the Argentine sticks by what he said recently, then he won’t be playing for Leicester again.
• Molla Wague may only be fit enough for a place on the bench: “He is doing okay but he’s had some travel to do having played in the Africa Cup of Nations recently.”
• Islam Slimani [groin] is out but could return to face Swansea next weekend: “He’s getting better and trained hard but I do not want to risk him on Sunday or against Derby.”
The Red Devils (4-3-3)
Predicted XI: De Gea; Valencia, Darmian, Blind, Smalling; Herrera, Carrick, Pogba; Martial, Mata, Ibrahimović.
• Phil Jones is the only senior member of the squad who is not fit for Sunday’s meeting with Leicester. The centre-back hobbled off against Hull on Wednesday although the problem is not thought to be serious: “My foot’s bruised but I’ll be fine, so hopefully in a few days.”
• Chris Smalling is favourite to come in but Eric Bailly can be called upon following his return from international duty.