Premier League action round 29 kicks off this weekend as Liverpool needs a win against Man City to hope for a top-four finish, with Jesus key for Arsenal and Hodgson returning to Palace, while Chelsea’s eyes are on Havertz.
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Manchester City v Liverpool, Saturday 2:30 pm; Liverpool has a gap to bridge with City
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As the season approaches the end, Liverpool and Manchester City have been going head to head in recent seasons with a single Premier League point between them last year.
This weekend sees regular title rivals in recent seasons and with different ambitions as City are eight points behind leaders Arsenal with 27 matches played, one less than Arsenal.
This is a must-win for Pep’s side City as a win will narrow the gap to four points behind Arsenal. However, doubts surround Etihad over the fitness of Erling Haaland, who is key up front for Manchester City netting 28 goals with five assists making it 33 goals involvements for City.
It’s quite unfortunate that the Norwegian Haaland withdrew from international duty this week with a groin issue.
With little room for error on either side, Liverpool has seen their form fluctuate with a recent defeat at struggling Bournemouth even after a 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United.
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Liverpool is Seven points off the Champions League places after 26 matches played with two games in hand on Spurs.
The Reds will face a tough back-to-back test to close the gap, for after City this weekend a trip to Chelsea and a home clash with Arsenal to strengthen the top four hopes.
Chelsea v Aston Villa, Saturday 7:30 pm; Havertz key player for Chelsea
Havertz has lacked consistency in the past week but the goals against Leicester and Dortmund in the premier league and Champions League respectively boosted his confidence.
The German is known for scoring winning goals for Chelsea in the finals of the Champions League and Club World Cup with his best role as a false nine.
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The 24-year-old false nine for Chelsea has incredible abilities as he is flexible in movement, unselfish running, intelligent link play, a threat in the box, is good with 1v1 situations, and at times he can drift through players.
Havertz has scored in three consecutive games and needs to push on when Chelsea hosts Aston Villa. However, the two teams are separated only on goal difference, and Chelsea this season are known for an unconvincing home record this season and has won just six of 13 league games at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal v Leeds, Saturday 5 pm; Jesus returns for Arsenal
Gabriel Jesus has not started a Premier League game since 12 November, against Wolves, due to an injury picked up during the World Cup, and he has not scored since 1 October.
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Arsenal’s attack was shaped by Jesus’ good form at the start of the season with a spectacular run of nine-goal involvements in nine games.
Arsenal will miss Eddie Nketiah who is still nursing an ankle problem and Leandro Trossard on his best form for Belgium during the break, the return of a refreshed Jesus will be welcomed for the league leaders.
The Gunners host Leeds at the Emirates and the return of Gabriel Jesus have much appreciated the international break allowed the Brazilian additional time to get up to speed.
Gabriel Jesus made two appearances off the bench and lasted 45 minutes after starting in the Europa League against Sporting before the international break.
Crystal Palace v Leicester, Saturday 5 pm; Hodgson returns at Selhurst Park
Roy Hodgson has familiarity with the surroundings of Selhurst Park and the Beckenham training facilities.
Hodgson replaces Patrick Vieira and their first assignment is a classic six-pointer against Leicester together with his assistant, Ray Lewington.
Vieira departed without a win in 2023, and Leicester has won only two league matches, with the Leicester public increasingly unsure about Rodgers.
Newcastle v Manchester United, Sunday 6.30 pm; Revenge for Howe as McTominay player to watch
Eddie Howe’s side welcomes Manchester United at St James’ Park on Sunday in what is termed as revenge for Eddie Howe who lost February’s League Cup final to Manchester United.
A win against United would bolster Newcastle’s Champions League qualification hopes.
Manchester United player Scott McTominay is the player to watch as the 26-year-old Scotland midfielder and fresh from his midweek international heroics against Spain netting two goals could cause problems if given play time in the Sunday fixture.
Other EPL fixtures week 29
- Brighton v Brentford, Saturday 5pm
- Bournemouth v Fulham, Saturday 5pm
- West Ham v Southampton, Sunday 4pm
- Everton v Tottenham, Monday 10pm