Premier League Matchday 29: Toon and United clash in top-four tussle
The Premier League returns with a bang this weekend with top-four rivals Newcastle and Manchester United going head-to-head.
Leaders Arsenal welcome Leeds, while there are a host of clashes between teams in this season's hotly-contested relegation battle to get stuck into.
Manchester City vs Liverpool (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport)
City vs Liverpool may not be the title-deciding showdown of recent years — but it could still have a big say in who are crowned champions this term.
Pep Guardiola's men will look to cut the gap behind Arsenal to five points, while strengthening their hopes of a top-four finish is the main aim for the sixth-placed Reds.
Despite an underwhelming campaign, the visitors have had their moments this term and are looking to complete a league double over the Citizens for just the second time in 17 seasons.
Mohamed Salah has scored in all three games against City this season in the Premier League, Carabao Cup and Community Shield.
Arsenal vs Leeds (Saturday, 3pm)
Arsenal's 10-game run to claim a first Premier League title for 19 years kicks off with a home clash against relegation-threatened Leeds.
The Gunners are unbeaten in 13 meetings with Saturday’s opponents in all competitions, including a 1-0 win in the reverse fixture at Elland Road in October.
But an upturn in form under Javi Gracia has bolstered hopes of survival for the Whites, having picked up two wins and a draw from their four league games with the Spaniard in charge.
Only Erling Haaland (33) and Harry Kane (23) have been involved in more goals this season than Gunners sensation Bukayo Saka (22), who also netted a stunner for England on international duty.
Bournemouth vs Fulham (Saturday, 3pm)
Struggling Bournemouth will attempt to consign top-half Fulham to a third successive defeat for the first time this season when the pair face off at the Vitality Stadium.
Since the World Cup, no team has lost more games (eight) won fewer points (eight) or scored fewer goals (seven) than the Cherries — yet they did beat Liverpool in their last home contest.
The Cottagers have seen their superb season stumble of late, conceding six goals across successive losses — more than they had let slip in their previous 10 in the league (five).
Manor Solomon is averaging a goal every 70 minutes in the top flight this term (four goals in 278 minutes), the best rate of any player to score more than three times.
Brighton vs Brentford (Saturday, 3pm)
An intriguing clash between two sides who harbour European ambitions as Brighton host Brentford.
The shrewdly-run pair sit seventh and eighth in the table this term after sensational campaigns so far.
Roberto De Zerbi's Seagulls have won four of their last five home games, though five of their seven losses this season have come against London sides.
Solly March is Brighton's top scorer in 2022-23 despite all seven of his strikes coming after the World Cup, while recent England debutant Ivan Toney has netted eight times in 12 league games on the road.
Crystal Palace vs Leicester (Saturday, 3pm)
Roy Hodgson begins his second stint as Crystal Palace manager at home to Leicester, who are another side among the nine-team group embroiled in a fierce relegation scrap.
The Eagles remain without a win in 13 games in 2023, a run which led to Patrick Vieira's sacking, while Brendan Rodgers' men have stumbled back into danger by losing four of their last five (one draw).
After winning four straight against the Foxes between 2017 and 2019, Palace are now without a win in their last seven meetings with the East Midlanders (three draws, four defeats).
Talisman Wilfried Zaha has scored more Premier League goals against Leicester than any other side, finding the net seven times in 10 previous meetings.
Nottingham Forest vs Wolves (Saturday, 3pm)
Joining that pair in the battle against the drop are 16th-placed Nottingham Forest and Wolves, who sit in 13th with just one more point than their rivals.
Having been unbeaten in their first five games of 2023, Forest are now winless in six (two draws, four defeats), while they also saw a nine-match home run without losing end last time out against Newcastle.
Their West Midlands opponents have lost three of their most recent four, as many defeats as they had in their first nine under Julen Lopetegui.
Raul Jimenez has had more shots on target without scoring than any other Premier League player this season (nine) and has not netted in 22 top-flight games.
Chelsea vs Aston Villa (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)
Chelsea and Aston Villa occupy 10th and 11th respectively on 38 points apiece as the pair face off in Saturday evening’s clash.
The Blues are beginning to click under Graham Potter with two wins from their last three but Unai Emery’s Villa are enjoying a four-game unbeaten run, keeping a clean sheet in each of those three wins (one draw).
It is the West Londoners who have dominated this fixture in recent years though, winning nine of their last 11 Premier League meetings.
After netting against West Ham in their last away game, Ollie Watkins can become the first Villa player to score in five successive outings on the road if he grabs one at Stamford Bridge.
West Ham vs Southampton (Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports)
Another crucial battle at the bottom sees West Ham in 18th pitted against basement boys Southampton.
Pressure remains on David Moyes after just one win in six, while eight points picked up by the Saints in that period is not enough to lift them off the foot of the table.
The South Coast club have picked up 13 of their 23 points in games on the road (57%), the highest share of any side.
Tightening up the back will be key for both, with no team keeping fewer clean sheets this season than West Ham (five) and Southampton (four).
Newcastle vs Manchester United (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports)
A fascinating battle in the race for the top four sees Newcastle come to blows with Erik ten Hag's United.
The pair faced off in the Carabao Cup last month, with the Red Devils taking the crown, and now meet in the top flight with just three points separating them.
Third-placed United have not lost against the Magpies in six league games, though Eddie Howe's men have held them to a draw in their most recent two clashes.
The Toon, who are in fifth, are picking up a head of steam again after two successive wins while the visitors have failed to score in their last two games.
Everton vs Tottenham (Monday, 8pm, Sky Sports)
Christian Stellini takes charge of the first of his 10 games as interim Tottenham boss against an Everton side fighting for their lives.
The Italian will lead Spurs' push for Champions League qualification with the club in disarray off the pitch following Antonio Conte's departure and Fabio Paratici's suspension, though they do currently occupy fourth.
Tottenham have lost just one of their last 20 games against the Toffees, who are currently two points above the drop zone after gaining five points from their last three outings.
England's record goalscorer Harry Kane has 14 Premier League strikes against Everton, only netting more against Leicester (18).
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