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Premier League Matchday 29: United and Spurs lock horns in race for fourth
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Matthew Hill
Harry Kane and Tottenham travel to Manchester United in a blockbuster clash on Saturday evening
Harry Kane and Tottenham travel to Manchester United in a blockbuster clash on Saturday evening

Manchester United and Tottenham meet at Old Trafford on Saturday evening in a clash that could have huge ramifications in the top-four race.

Elsewhere, Liverpool head to Brighton looking to close the gap to leaders Manchester City to just three points, with the Citizens not in action until Monday night when they visit Crystal Palace.

Brighton vs Liverpool (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport)

Jurgen Klopp's Reds travel south to Brighton in search of an eighth straight Premier League victory — though the East Sussex outfit have proven a stubborn opponent in recent times.

Having lost their first six top-flight clashes with Liverpool, the Seagulls are now unbeaten in three meetings (one win, two draws), most recently earning an impressive 2-2 draw at Anfield back in October.

However, recent form is far less encouraging. Graham Potter's men are on a run of four straight Premier League defeats and have picked up only one win in nine across all competitions.

Top scorer Mohamed Salah has drawn blanks against both West Ham and Inter Milan in the last week but will be looking forward to facing a side he has racked up 10 direct goal involvements against (five goals, five assists) in just nine career encounters.

Brentford vs Burnley (Saturday, 3pm)

Despite remaining a key player for Burnley, winger Dwight McNeil is without a goal this season
Despite remaining a key player for Burnley, winger Dwight McNeil is without a goal this season

Brentford and Burnley meet in the true definition of a six-pointer in West London.

The Bees snapped a torrid run when winning 3-1 at Norwich last weekend, having only taken one point from a possible 24 beforehand — victory here opens up a nine-point gap between them and their visitors.

Despite one-sided defeats to Leicester and Chelsea in their last two outings, Sean Dyche’s Clarets are far from doomed and did win the reverse meeting at Turf Moor 3-1 back in October.

Dyche will hope for some overdue magic from winger Dwight McNeil. No Premier League player has had more shots without scoring this term (32), while this weekend marks a year since his last top-flight goal against Everton.

Manchester United vs Tottenham (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)

After being humbled at bitter rivals Manchester City last weekend, Manchester United must refocus for a vital top-four showdown with Tottenham.

The Red Devils can take heart from having won their last two meetings with Spurs but Antonio Conte’s visitors head to Old Trafford full of confidence after demolishing Everton 5-0 last Monday.

Prior to that, the North Londoners thumped Leeds 4-0 meaning they are looking to score four league goals in three straight games for the first time since 2004.

Harry Kane has five strikes in his last four league appearances, taking him to 176 Premier League career goals. His next one will move him level with Frank Lampard in fifth spot on the all-time top scorer list.

Chelsea vs Newcastle (Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports)

Despite continued uncertainty off the field, Chelsea will hope to extend their good run on it when hosting red-hot Newcastle.

Thursday’s 3-1 win at Norwich made it four straight league victories for Thomas Tuchel’s side and their recent record against the Magpies makes for good reading, winning nine of the last 11 clashes including the last three.

But Eddie Howe’s side are unbeaten in the Premier League since Christmas and their midweek triumph at Southampton marked a remarkable sixth success in seven outings.

Historically, the Toon have toiled at Stamford Bridge with only one victory in their last 27 league visits — though Howe has won an impressive three of his five trips there as a boss.

Everton vs Wolves (Sunday, 2pm)

Expected goals suggest Everton have been slightly unlucky at both ends of the pitch this term
Expected goals suggest Everton have been slightly unlucky at both ends of the pitch this term

Sinking Everton are in dire need of three points with European hopefuls Wolves the visitors to Goodison Park.

Frank Lampard could not hide his concern after the Toffees were trashed 5-0 at Tottenham last Monday, leaving them a solitary point above the bottom three heading into this weekend.

They will hope that their strong home record over the West Midlands outfit — only losing one of the last 11 head-to-heads in Merseyside — can come to the fore again, though recent results suggests they are up against it.

Wolves forward Raul Jimenez found the net in Thursday’s 4-0 defeat of Watford and has a 100% record of scoring against Everton, netting in all five career appearances against the Blues. 

Leeds vs Norwich (Sunday, 2pm)

Jesse Marsch will be hoping it is third time lucky against bottom side Norwich after beginning his Leeds reign with back-to-back defeats.

The Yorkshire club have now lost six straight and are firmly in the relegation picture, making a repeat of October’s 2-1 win over the Canaries at Carrow Road imperative.

Norwich were spirited in defeat against Chelsea on Thursday but do struggle badly for goals on the road, netting only seven times in 13 road trips this term.

One man who could play a key role is home forward Patrick Bamford, in line for a first start since September following injury woes. He has seven direct goal involvements for the Whites in just five appearances against promoted sides in the top flight (four goals, three assists).

Southampton vs Watford (Sunday, 2pm)

Watford will need to end a wretched recent record against Southampton if they are to deliver a timely boost to their survival bid at St Mary’s.

The Saints are unbeaten in six Premier League clashes with the Hornets, winning the last three and also have an excellent record against promoted sides with just three defeats from their last 39 such encounters.

Visiting boss Roy Hodgson’s career encounters with Southampton have also been a struggle, with the ex-England manager winning only three of 11 contests against them — only against Tottenham does he boast a worse record.

As if the omens were not bad enough for Watford, a loss here would make them only the fourth side to lose eight straight Premier League matches played on a Sunday.

West Ham vs Aston Villa (Sunday, 2pm)

West Ham forward Michail Antonio is enduring a barren run in front of goal
West Ham forward Michail Antonio is enduring a barren run in front of goal

Victory is essential for West Ham if they are to maintain their fading hopes of a top-four finish when Aston Villa visit East London.

Though the result itself was far from disastrous, Thursday’s 1-0 loss in Sevilla marked three straight defeats in all competitions for David Moyes’ men.

But Villa have lost their last three league meetings with the Hammers — their longest such run since 1967 — and traditionally struggle in the capital, with only 31 wins from 151 trips since the Premier League’s inception.

Michail Antonio was the hosts’ star performer early in the campaign but the physical forward is now without a goal in eight league outings. 

Arsenal vs Leicester (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports)

In-form Arsenal host Leicester searching for a fifth straight win to further boost their Champions League prospects. 

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have displayed a new-found efficient streak in recent weeks, with all four of those successes coming by a one-goal margin — the last team to win five straight in such a manner were Birmingham in 2009.

An inconsistent campaign for Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes may yet finish with a flourish, with consecutive victories against Burnley, Leeds and Rennes all complemented by clean sheets.

They will do well to silence Bukayo Saka, though. The 20-year-old has eight goals and five assists this term, including nine direct goal involvements in his last 10 appearances.

Crystal Palace vs Manchester City (Monday, 8pm, Sky Sports)

Manchester City will be out to exact some revenge on a Crystal Palace side who stunned them 2-0 at the Etihad in October.

That result means that the Eagles are looking to complete a first league double over their visitors since 1987-88 in the second tier — and they are unbeaten in four across all competitions.

Patrick Vieira’s side have only won four of their 14 home games this term however, which does not bode well against a City side who have won 11 of 14 on the road, losing only once.

Phil Foden is a particularly strong traveller, with 11 strikes in 16 away league games since the start of last year — only Mohamed Salah can boast a higher tally.

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