With the return of the Premier League, our football expert previews the key games to watch. Following the international break, club football takes centre stage with all to play for at both ends of the table.
Manchester City v Liverpool (Saturday 12:30 UTC+01:00)
Having fought for the top two positions in the Premier League in three of the last four seasons, the stakes are always high when these two meet. Despite four places between them, it’s a vital game as Manchester City look to close the gap at the top, and Liverpool make a late push for the top four.
There hasn’t been a goalless draw in the fixture in the last 12 meetings, so it seems goals are all but guaranteed in this one – with Both Teams To Score at 1.67.
Pep Guardiola’s side haven’t won a league meeting between the two since February 2021, and the last two meetings at the Etihad in the league have ended in a draw. Looking at these trends, a score draw at 4.75 looks inviting.
The Reds are clear underdogs in this one (5.04) which is no surprise given their inconsistent form this season under Jurgen Klopp. Erling Haaland could be favoured to score 2 or more goals at 3.80 and pile on more misery if he can overcome a groin problem. If not, look to Kevin de Bruyne (3.70) or Bernardo Silva (4.33) to get on the scoresheet.
Arsenal v Leeds United (Saturday 15:00 UTC+01:00)
By the time this game kicks off, Arsenal could be five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table – not ideal when a Leeds team fighting for Premier League survival are in town.
On the flip side, they could have the chance to go 11 points clear if Liverpool caused an upset. But manager Mikel Arteta will want his team solely focused on matters at the Emirates. The Gunners made easy work of Crystal Palace before the break, and are 17.00 to repeat the 4-1 score in that fixture.
Although 14th in the table, Leeds United are just two points clear of the relegation zone, so every point and game counts for them. With two clean sheets in 2023, a clean sheet seems unlikely for The Whites, so looking for value on the Asian Handicap +1.5 at 2.09 could be the play.
All trends point to an Arsenal win in this one, with 11 wins for the home side in the last 13 meetings between the two, and almost 20 years since Leeds last beat the London side.
Newcastle United v Manchester United (Sunday 16:00 UTC+01:00)
Sunday’s headline game sees the battle for the top four take centre stage with just three points between Newcastle and Manchester United.
The two met in the League Cup final back in February, but with a buoyant Geordie crowd behind them, Eddie Howe’s side are slight favourites (2.38) ahead of the game.
Recent history favours Manchester United, with five wins in their last seven meetings across all competitions against the Magpies. But they have stumbled in the league, with no goals in their last two games, and conceded seven goals to rivals Liverpool.
If the away side are to find the net, Marcus Rashford is favoured at (2.54) – with 14 league goals and 27 in all competitions this season for Erik ten Hag’s men.
West Ham v Southampton (Sunday 14:00 UTC+01:00)
At the other end of the table, one point separates West Ham United and Southampton in 20th ahead of this pivotal relegation showdown.
David Moyes’ men have a European quarter-final against Gent to look forward to, but all attention will turn to Premier League survival until after the Easter holidays.
Both sides are averaging less than a goal a game this season in the Premier League, but fear of relegation was on full display for the away side who fought back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 against Tottenham before the break.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Bournemouth host Fulham, Nottingham Forest play Wolves, Crystal Palace face Leicester City, Brighton play Brentford and Chelsea face Aston Villa. And on Monday, Everton host Tottenham Hotspur.
**Odds are subject to change. Odds accurate as of 14:00 UTC+01:00 Friday 31st March**
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