It has not been a great start to 2017 for Liverpool. Their form has dipped heavily since the turn of the year, and it is has seen them exit two cup competitions and slip to fifth in the Premier League table, 13 points off Chelsea.
The matches do not get any easier for Jurgen Klopp. His side host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday who themselves have a lot to play for. Spurs sit nine points off Chelsea and are arguably their closest challengers at this point. A win for the North London club will put pressure on their rivals when they travel to Burnley on Sunday.
Tottenham look like a safe bet for the top four, but the same can not be said of Liverpool. Their recent form is worrying and the cracks in their armour have become clearer. Defence has always been a problem, but when their attack is also not firing it is even more obvious. With Manchester United just a single point behind, Liverpool could find themselves out of the top five before the weekend is finished.
The match-up pits the Premier League’s best attacking force against the best defence in the division. It is the top scorers vs the tightest defence, and fifth vs second. It is going to be a cracker, but which way will it go?
Will the Premier League champions end the weekend in the bottom three?
It is quite the unbelievable thought, but the reality is that Leicester City could potentially finish match-week in the relegation zone.
The defending champions sit 16th in the table, just one point above the drop zone. Leicester travel across the Welsh border to face 17th placed Swansea in a real six pointer at the bottom of the table. The Swans are 17th and could leapfrog their opponents with a win. They looked like a rejuvenated side under Paul Clement and it will be no surprise if they pick up the three points. Claudio Ranieri was given the dreaded vote of confidence during the week, can he repay that ‘confidence’ with a win?
The bottom three are all in action on Saturday. 18th placed Hull take their new and improved selves to the Emirates to face an Arsenal side that come into this weekend off back to back defeats. A shock win for the Tigers will see them definitely exit the bottom three and possibly go as high as 16th if results go their way.
Crystal Palace have a tough away trip of their own to Stoke as they attempt to bounce back from a terrible performance and result at home to Sunderland. Thus far Sam Allardyce has yet to have the desired affect on his players, but a win could see the Eagles climb out of the relegation zone.
Sunderland sit bottom, but they themselves are only two points from safety. The Black Cats are the only bottom three side to have a home game at the weekend, they host Southampton at the Stadium of Light.
Not only could Leicester finish the week in the bottom three, if all the bottom four clubs win then the Foxes will be rock bottom. Could things get any worse for Ranieri and his side?
Which striker will move closer to the Golden Boot?
If league is not exiting enough already there is a nice Golden Boot contest brewing for the Premier League’s top scorers.
Romelu Lukaku went top of the goal-scoring charts after netting four last week against Bournemouth. The Belgian has 16 now for the season, averaging a goal every 125 minutes. Can Lukaku add more to his tally against Middlesbrough?
Looking to surpass the Everton striker will be Diego Costa, Alexis Sanchez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic who all sit on 15 goals. Costa has been instrumental to Chelsea’s title charge thus far, but the goals for the Spaniard have dried up in recent weeks, can he get back into goal-scoring form against Burnley? Sanchez will look to not only boost his Golden Boot chances but get his side back on track against Hull on Saturday. Many questioned whether Zlatan will be able to handle the Premier League style, but the Swede has taken to it like a duck to water with his 15 goals so far. Ibrahimovic could make it 16 or maybe even more against Watford.
Harry Kane and Jermain Defoe are right behind the leading pack 14 goals each so we could see an English player top the charts at the end of the match-week. The Golden Boot race is closer than the title race at present so it is worth keeping an eye on.
Will Burnley keep up their excellent home record against Chelsea?
League leaders Chelsea have a rather low key affair this week as they travel to Turf moor to face Burnley. The Clarets sit in mid-table, but this will not be an easy game for the Blues as Sean Dyche’s side have one of the best home records in the division. The only two sides with a better record ae the top two in the division.
For Chelsea this is a chance to put further distance between themselves and their rivals. Liverpool and Spurs meet on Saturday with points guaranteed to be dropped. However, Burnley are a stubborn defensive side and have proven to have enough firepower to win matches at Turf Moor.
There is not a lot riding on this match for the Clarets as they sit comfortably in mid-table, but a win against a Chelsea side that has only lost once since September will go down as one of their greatest scalps.
The race for the Champions League places heats up further this weekend. Arsenal host Hull to kick off the action. A loss will see the Gunners slip to three straight defeats in a row and potentially out of the top four. Speaking of the top four, that is where Manchester United aim to be at the end of the match-week, they have a home game against Watford they will be expecting to win, but then again we said the same about Arsenal two weeks a go.
Monday night Football returns with Manchester City travelling to face an out of form Bournemouth side. The Citizens have played much better in recent weeks with Gabriel Jesus having a big impact. Will he continue to be a nightmare for Premier League defences and potentially lift City to second?
Everton’s bid for European football continues with an away trip to struggling Middlesbrough, and finally West Ham face West Brom in a mid-table match.
Arsenal 2-1 Hull
Man United 2-0 Watford
Middlesbrough 0-1 Everton
Stoke 3-1 Crystal Palace
Sunderland 1-0 Southampton
West ham 1-1 West Brom
Liverpool 1-1 Tottenham
Burnley 1-2 Chelsea
Swansea 2-0 Leicester
Bournemouth 1-2 Man City
The Premier League Match-week 25 begins on Saturday 11 February.
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