The midweek round of Premier League fixtures threw up plenty of surprises, with only two of the top six winning, Arsenal and Tottenham.
It does the rest of the league an injustice to focus solely on the competition among those top half-dozen, though, and Saturday’s games could bring about a lot of movement in the rest of the league.
Chelsea vs Huddersfield
Chelsea will want – and need – to bounce back from defeat against Bournemouth in midweek. Luckily for them, they’re playing the league’s bottom team and, even under new manager Jan Siewert, are struggling.
The Terriers only managed two shots on target against Everton on Tuesday, despite playing the final 24 minutes against ten men. There is a sense, in the media, if not the team itself, that Siewert has been brought in for the Championship promotion campaign in 2019/20.
It would be surprising, at an understatement, if Chelsea were to lose two in a row.
Everton vs Wolves
It doesn’t feature a big name, but this is the most interesting match of the day. Eighth hosting seventh, separated by just two points. Everton have won two and lost three of their last five matches; Wolves have won three and lost two.
However, though they are so similar in so many ways, there will be very different feelings around the club coming into the match. Everton only narrowly beat Huddersfield while Wolves pulled off a convincing victory over West Ham.
Burnley vs Southampton
Changing managers mid-season is a risky business, but it’s worked out marvellously for Southampton. They travel to Burnley, whose own upturn in form is so good it’s almost like they did change manager.
Since the final match of 2018, they’ve won three and drawn two, including taking the first points away from Manchester United in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign.
For Southampton, they’ve won four league games under Hasenhuttl after claiming only one victory in Mark Hughes’ 14 league matches in 2018/19. Both these sides are in good form and battling the danger of relegation; this could be an exciting match.
Brighton vs Watford
For a lot of the season, Brighton were hanging around the bunch of teams in midtable. Three defeats in a row have them edging towards the relegation-threatened pack, and this is exactly where their underlying statistics suggest they should have been all along.
After riding high on Glenn Murray’s goals, mediocre performances are starting to catch up with them. While expected goals suggests that Brighton have the 14th-best defence in the league, it has them with the second-worst attack.
Watford only have one win in the last five games, but their defence is unlikely to be troubled, at least.
Tottenham vs Newcastle
Tottenham’s comeback win against Watford salvaged what could have been a terrible week, and facing Newcastle at home is something of a softball.
That said, the Magpies have won two in a row and are up to 14th. They approach games by staying tight and trying to keep things low-scoring, which is why they’ve had the joint second-most draws in the league. Tottenham have, amazingly, had zero in 2018/19 — could this be the first?
Crystal Palace vs Fulham
Fulham come into this match on the back of Claudio Ranieri’s third win as Fulham manager, a disappointing total considering the first came in his league debut at Craven Cottage back in November.
Palace remain amongst the pack of sides trying to avoid the drop, despite expected goals suggesting they have both a middling defence and middling attack. They’re better than their league position suggests.
Cardiff vs Bournemouth
This will be a difficult match for both teams, though Cardiff principally, as it is the first to be played in the city since the disappearance of Emiliano Sala.
Only Huddersfield have gone longer without a league win than Cardiff (who last won three points on December 29), and Bournemouth enter this match on the back of their 4-0 rollover of Chelsea. The result will probably go Bournemouth’s way, but many in the stadium will surely feel like it’s the least important thing.
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