London, (Asian independent) The UEFA Champions League and the recent international matches could have a big effect on some key Premier League games over the weekend.
Runaway league leaders Manchester City face a difficult visit to third-placed Leicester City. With players such as Phil Foden, Ruben Dias, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo just back after playing three international games in a week, Pep Guardiola must be thinking of squad rotation, especially as his team plays Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday, reports Xinhua.
Leicester City welcome Jamie Vardy and James Maddison back after injury and probably won’t have a better time to take three points in their battle for a top-three finish.
Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel has problems similar to Guardiola, but his side faces easier opposition in second-from-bottom West Brom.
Having not conceded in nearly 700 minutes of competitive football, Chelsea have the best defence in the league, and to make matters worse for West Brom, midfielder Conor Gallagher cannot play as he is on loan at the club from Chelsea.
Liverpool are the third side in the Champions League action next week and it’s hard to imagine Jurgen Klopp risking Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane against Saturday’s rivals Arsenal ahead of travelling to play Real Madrid.
Arsenal play in the Europa League next Thursday, but Mikel Arteta’s main problem is the likely absence of influential duo Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka for a game that remains tough to call.
Saturday’s other match is a Yorkshire derby that sees Leeds United at home to bottom side Sheffield United. Paul Heckingbottom is in temporary charge of Sheffield United after Chris Wilder’s sacking and he returns to face a club where he spent an unhappy four months in charge in 2018.
The battle against relegation is the main focus of Sunday’s games which kick off with FA Cup semi-finalists Southampton at home to Burnley. Both teams are on 33 points and are probably two wins from safety, but Southampton’s league form has been dreadful with their only win in 12 matches coming against Sheffield United.
Newcastle need a win after their dreadful 3-0 defeat away to Brighton before the break, but Tottenham could deepen Steve Bruce’s problems at St James’ Park.
Fulham occupy the last relegation place just two points behind Newcastle, and they visit mid-table Aston Villa, who welcome Jack Grealish back after injury. Fulham coach Scott Parker’s big doubt is whether he should recall Aleksandar Mitrovic to his attack, after the powerful Serbian scored five goals for his country during the international break.
Sunday’s final game sees Brighton visit Old Trafford, where Manchester United will have to be patient against a rival that keeps the ball well.
Edinson Cavani may start for United with Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood suffering slight knocks on international duty.
The round of matches ends on Monday with Everton facing Crystal Palace, while Wolves entertain an impressive West Ham.