Premier League Matchday 15: Title chasers hit road as Ralf era kicks off
The relentless Premier League fixture schedule continues with a full weekend slate of games.
Chelsea’s trip to West Ham will test the leaders, while Liverpool and Manchester City are also on the road as they look to take advantage of any slip-ups.
At Old Trafford, Ralf Rangnick will be in the Manchester United dugout for his first game as interim manager as the inconsistent Red Devils host Crystal Palace.
West Ham vs Chelsea (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport 1)
West Ham welcome Chelsea to the London Stadium looking to end their three-game winless run in the Premier League.
The Blues did the double over the Hammers last season but have lost on three of their last six trips to East London.
Romelu Lukaku — set for his first start since October 20 — has scored more goals (nine) against West Ham than any other Premier League side, while Michail Antonio has five goals and five assists in his last 10 London derbies.
Newcastle vs Burnley (Saturday, 3pm)
Newcastle’s quest for their first victory of the Premier League season continues with a clash against fellow strugglers Burnley.
Their 15-game winless run is now the second-longest spell in the Magpies’ entire history and they are aiming to become the first Premier League side to stay up after failing to take three points from any of their opening 14 games.
Burnley’s record at St James’ Park is poor though, with no win in their last eight trips to Tyneside.
Southampton vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm)
In eight Premier League meetings between Southampton and Brighton, the home side has never tasted victory.
That is good news for the Seagulls, who are on a nine-game winless league run after a strong start to the campaign — it is 39 years since they last went 10 games without a triumph in the top flight.
Graham Potter's men won 2-1 at St Mary’s last term and are looking for back-to-back wins at the Saints for the first time in their history.
Wolves vs Liverpool (Saturday, 3pm)
Free-scoring Liverpool face Wolves at Molineux, where they have not lost in the league in more than 40 years.
The hosts have kept three clean sheets in a row though — more than they managed in the 18 games before that run.
Diogo Jota will be eyeing up a birthday strike against his former club, while Mohamed Salah will be looking to extend his four-goal margin as the division's top scorer.
The Egyptian has netted 13 times in 14 league games this term, including a brace in Liverpool's stunning Merseyside derby win at Everton on Wednesday night.
Watford vs Manchester City (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)
Watford’s tough run of games continues with the visit of Pep Guardiola's City, who have won the last 10 between the two and netted 37 goals in the process.
The defending Premier League champions' fearsome road record of 17 wins and two draws on their last 21 trips suggests the Hornets’ luck is not about to change either.
Emmanuel Dennis will be key for Claudio Ranieri's team if they are to cause an upset — the impressive Nigerian has six league goals and five assists since his summer switch to Vicarage Road, including strikes in each of his past three games.
Leeds vs Brentford (Sunday, 2pm)
Leeds host Brentford looking to make it back-to-back top-flight wins for the first time this campaign.
The Whites have only lost one of their last 14 home league games with the Bees, winning seven of those clashes.
The visitors are out of form too — after losing one of their first seven matches, they have suffered defeat in five of their last seven games.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace (Sunday, 2pm)
Rangnick’s first game in charge of Manchester United sees them welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford.
The Eagles have won on each of their past two league visits to the Theatre of Dreams, more than they had managed in their previous 22 trips.
Rangnick’s first port of call will be to tighten up the Red Devils’ defence — they have conceded in 15 consecutive home games.
Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the Londoners just once in his career — a goalless draw in March 2005 — and will look to break his duck against Patrick Vieira's side boosted by netting a landmark 800th goal in Thursday's 3-2 home win against Arsenal.
Tottenham vs Norwich (Sunday, 2pm)
Norwich face a tough task keeping their four-game unbeaten run going when they visit Antonio Conte’s Tottenham.
Spurs have won all three of Conte’s home games since his appointment, with a Europa League victory against Vitesse backed up by wins against Leeds and Brentford.
The Italian coach will hope that playing the Canaries can kick-start Harry Kane’s season — he has five goals in three games against the club where he spent an underwhelming loan spell in the 2012-13 season.
Teemu Pukki earned a crucial point for Dean Smith's side with the equaliser at Newcastle on Tuesday and has scored five of Norwich's eight league goals this term.
Aston Villa vs Leicester (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports Premier League)
After suffering the first defeat of Steven Gerrard’s reign at home to Manchester City, Aston Villa this time entertain Leicester.
The Foxes have won on each of their past two trips to Villa Park and have only lost one of the past seven league meetings between the two.
It is the first Premier League meeting of former Old Firm rival bosses Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers — both won one of their two top-flight encounters in Scotland.
The pair also have a shared history from their time at Anfield, where Gerrard made 99 Premier League appearances under the former Liverpool coach.
Everton vs Arsenal (Monday, 8pm, Sky Sports)
Former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta takes his Arsenal side to Goodison Park knowing he can heap more pressure on struggling Rafa Benitez.
The Toffees did the double over the Gunners last term but are on an eight-game winless run — failure to win on Monday would make it their worst run since the start of the 1994-95 campaign.
Red-hot Emile Smith Rowe will be the man to keep quiet after he made it eight goal contributions (six goals, two assists) in 11 games in all competitions in the North Londoners' defeat at Old Trafford.