There is a common theme in the live TV matches this weekend and on Monday in that all four fixtures bring together teams who are in contention for qualifying for the Champions League and opponents who could face the nightmare scenario of relegation to the Championship. In fact each fixture is between a team in the top five and a team in the bottom six. The Premier League does not always go to script but Manchester City surely will not drop points at home to Newcastle.
After being demolished and run ragged by Liverpool City will want to get their season back on track. However, for such a dominant team and the champions-elect four points in three matches represents a dip in form. Liverpool had the pace and energy to give the City defence a torrid time but Newcastle do not have the players to do something similar. Liverpool have created the blueprint for beating the league leaders but Newcastle will not be able to emulate their performance.
Bookmakers had seen some money for City to go through the Premier League season without losing a match. Arsenal fans and the Invincible’s of 2003/04 were no doubt chuffed that they lost at Anfield but the manner of the defeat is more significant. The City back five including the goalkeeper were constantly harried into making mistakes and Liverpool’s three goals in the second half were avoidable. The result will probably be a blip but if Newcastle avoid defeat at the Etihad Stadium the teams in pursuit could make ground because they have winnable fixtures.
If the unthinkable happens and Newcastle cause a huge upset Manchester United would close to nine points off the pace with a win at Burnley. Liverpool are the team in form and must be fancied to beat Swansea on the road. Potentially they could be 12 points behind City at the end of this week’s programme. Backing odds-on shots away from home is fraught with danger but in this case Liverpool cannot be opposed for their trip to South Wales. Swansea have one win in six matches while Liverpool have won the last four and were brilliant against City.
Brighton have picked up five points in their last six fixtures but Chelsea have not won any of their last six Premier League matches. They didn’t field their best 11 in the FA Cup against Norwich but clearly things are not right at Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte gets wound up at the best of times but his demeanour was even more frenzied during the replay with Norwich. Chelsea scrapped through on penalties but ended the match with nine men after Pedro and Morata were dismissed for minor offences.
After a small hiccup Tottenham have now won four of their last five matches and Harry Kane can’t stop scoring. However, they are 18 points behind City which is a huge number for a team with aspirations to win the Premier League. Southampton have the worst six-match form in the division but were unlucky not to win at Watford last weekend. They were beaten by a late goal scored by a Watford player with his hand. Tottenham look the most vulnerable of the big clubs and Southampton can beat them. Newcastle are unlikely to do them and the other top teams a favour.