It’s transfer deadline day and a massive moment in the Premier League as Chelsea travel to Liverpool on Tuesday.
Victory for Antonio Conte’s men would move them 13 clear of challengers Liverpool, while Arsenal host Watford and Tottenham travel to Sunderland on a day when teams have until 11 p.m. to make transfers.
On Wednesday, Manchester City visit West Ham and Manchester United — who have drawn their past two league matches — will look to get back to winning ways at home to Hull City.
Elsewhere, there’s some big matches toward the bottom. Sam Allardyce goes in search for his first league win as Crystal Palace boss at Bournemouth, while Burnley host free-falling Leicester.
Form team vs. strugglers usually presents few prediction difficulties, but this is Liverpool — great against the best sides and poor against those near the bottom. Logic therefore goes out of the window, and you can expect the Reds to rise to the occasion, albeit too late for the title race.
With Philippe Coutinho fit again and with Liverpool desperate to close the 10-point gap to Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp’s side will throw everything at the Blues. But the pace of Eden Hazard and Pedro on the counterattack should have some joy against a leaky defence.
Watford have not won in the league since beating Everton on Dec. 10, a run that stretches to seven games. With Arsenal’s league campaign galvanised by their late winner against Burnley, they should have more than enough to dispatch the Hornets. This should be a routine win for Arsene Wenger’s men ahead of their huge clash with Chelsea at the weekend.
Watford have been humiliated in their past two encounters with teams near the top of the table, conceding six at Liverpool and four at home to Spurs. Walter Mazzarri will be keen to avoid a third lopsided affair, and this may impact his approach to the game. New signing Mauro Zarate will be unavailable due to suspension, but Craig Cathcart and Daryl Janmaat could make a return to the starting XI as the Hornets look to bolster their defence and avoid another heavy defeat.
Bottom of the league, with Victor Anichebe facing a long layoff to worsen David Moyes’ injury nightmare, Sunderland will struggle to hold a rampant Tottenham. Unless there is a massive improvement on recent form, this game has a Jermain Defoe consolation goal written all over it.
Tottenham were on a six-match winning run in the Premier League before their 2-2 draw at Manchester City, which must still be viewed as a good result. Conversely, while ex-Spurs striker Defoe has scored 12 goals for Sunderland this season, the basement boys have lost five of their past seven games, drawing the other two, and have not won since mid-December.
West Ham were humbled 5-0 by Manchester City in the FA Cup at the London Stadium just a few weeks back, but Slaven Bilic has seen form rejuvenated in his side since. Inevitably, talk will be of the Hammers’ revenge, but an honourable draw is a more likely outcome.
City embarrassed West Ham in the FA Cup this year, so the home side will be desperate for that not to happen again. Pep Guardiola’s men have been hit-and-miss recently, but they have been showing signs of finding their feet properly under the new coach, with an entertaining and attacking display in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham.
Though Hull City already look far more resilient under new manager Marco Silva, their problems persist in keeping the league’s leading attacks at bay. Manchester United — now playing with more fluency and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in fine form — are unlikely to be in charitable mood.
Nine consecutive away defeats in the Premier League ensure Hull City travel to United without much room for optimism, and few will expect the rot to be stopped at Old Trafford, a ground where the visitors have never won a league fixture. Jose Mourinho has strength in depth against his respected countryman Silva, pointing toward a comfortable home win.
The Cherries have struggled to find their performance levels of earlier in the season during recent matches, and they are still yet to win in 2017. However, a point against Watford last time out will help generate some momentum, and another fixture at home should supply even more confidence and positivity.
The Eagles will look at this fixture as a must-win game. Allardyce hopes to have more recruits secured by the time the fixture takes place, and should the squad be strengthened, there’s no question Palace can get a much-needed win.
With six wins out of their past seven Premier League games at home, including four victories in a row, Turf Moor is the fortress around which the Clarets’ likely survival is built. Champions Leicester have been poor away from home all season — like Burnley, they are yet to win on the road in the league — and it should be another three points for Sean Dyche’s side, although it could be tight.
The champions’ trip to Burnley could define their season. If the Foxes lose, they will be well and truly in a relegation dogfight. Claudio Ranieri is unlikely to stick with the diamond midfield after it proved ineffective in the 3-0 loss at Southampton last time out. The key to victory is finding the balance in the centre of the park and getting Jamie Vardy involved. This time last year, the Foxes would have been odds on to take maximum points, but right now, a draw will do.
Everton seem to have finally found their feet under Ronald Koeman, and in Romelu Lukaku, they have a player who always seems to score against Stoke. The Potters have enjoyed their best performances at home, though, and a potential debut from Saido Berahino could provide the added impetus needed to take a point from one of the league’s in-form sides.
Three wins in a row has sixth place in sight as Everton try to continue recent resurgence at Stoke on Wednesday. Three points would further underline progress made since a dismal 3-2 defeat at Watford in December — the Blues have won without conceding in four of their past five league games.
The Paul Clement effect has Swansea full of confidence for the first time all season following last Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Liverpool. Southampton have won one league game in their past five and had two cup fixtures against Liverpool and Arsenal before visiting Wales, making it three games in eight days.
Claude Puel’s men should be in a confident mood after booking their place in the EFL Cup final, but they need to improve their poor away form to stop their Premier League season from petering out into nothing. The continued absence of Virgil van Dijk gives Swansea hope.
MIDDLESBROUGH: After a wobbly week of manager-fan relations, Aitor Karanka will be looking to persist with the positive style of play that belied Boro’s recent 3-1 defeat to West Ham. With Alvaro Negredo, Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede in contention for a place up front, scoring more goals will become top priority.
WEST BROM: The Baggies head to Middlesbrough looking to carry their fine home form into a tricky away fixture. Chris Brunt has been superb recently, and with a fully fit defence to choose from, Tony Pulis can restore Brunt to a more natural attacking position where he can have even more impact.
Everton seem to have turned a corner under Koeman and will seek to continue their promising recent form when they head to Stoke, while EFL Cup finalists Southampton face a Swansea side on a high from their 3-2 win at Liverpool last time out in the league.
And don’t forget — Tuesday is the last day your club can make transfers between now and the end of the season.