There are seven Premier League games on Saturday, including leaders Liverpool’s trip to Brighton and a big battle at the bottom between relegation-threatened Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town.
The Reds’ visit to the south coast might not be straightforward but still represents a great chance for the Reds to get a disappointing start to 2019 out of their system.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are four points clear of Manchester City but back-to-back defeats, against City on January 3 and then on Monday in the FA Cup at Wolves, means all eyes will be on them this weekend to see how they respond.
Liverpool will be expected to bounce back at the Amex Stadium and the regular players who were rested at Molineux, like Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane, will all be back to bolster their prospects.
Dejan Lovren is the latest defender to go down with an injury, joining Joel Matip and Joe Gomez on the sidelines, but Fabinho can fill in well at centre-back and the Reds should get the job done to get their title challenge firmly back on track.
In another of the 3pm kick-offs, Cardiff host a Huddersfield side that are beginning to look like they are doomed to relegation already. Whereas the Bluebirds have shown fight and resilience by beating the likes of Brighton, Wolves, Southampton and Leicester this season, the Terriers have been a soft touch, winning just twice throughout the whole campaign so far.
David Wagner needs to concentrate on finding someone to hit the back of the net rather than focusing on dominating possession in midfield as a defeat in south Wales will surely be another nail in Town’s coffin.
They are already eight points adrift of safety but that gap looks like it will be even bigger come Saturday evening.
West Ham host Arsenal in an intriguing London derby in the 12.30pm kick-off and this is a clash that both sides can take a point from.
The Hammers are hard to fathom this season and have been inconsistent of late under Manuel Pellegrini, with two wins, two defeats and a draw in their last five games.
Arsenal have not won on the road in the league since beating Bournemouth on November 25 and seem to shrink in confidence away from the Emirates.
Uncertainty over the future of China-linked Marko Arnautovic could unsettle the home team but the Gunners, who are three points off the top four, still can’t be trusted to take full advantage.
Burnley entertain Fulham in a match that is unlikely to be high on quality or goals.
The Clarets appeared to have lost their way under Sean Dyche this season but have rallied in recent weeks and three successive wins, including in the FA Cup last time out over Barnsley, means things are looking brighter at Turf Moor.
Fulham, in contrast, are still in the doldrums as Claudio Ranieri has yet to engineer the spark that’s needed to get the Cottagers moving in the right direction.
They are second bottom and the home defeat in the cup to Oldham last weekend only served to highlight their problems further. It won’t be one for the purists as a narrow home win looks on the cards.
Crystal Palace and Watford go head-to-head at Selhurst Park in another game that is likely to be settled by the odd goal. The Eagles seem to be on the up under Roy Hodgson, buoyed by that memorable win at Manchester City before Christmas, and they can get another vital three points here.
The Hornets will be delighted with their position of eighth at this stage of the campaign and remain a real threat going forward, having scored in each of their last eight games in all competitions.
Expect them to breach the Palace backline on Saturday but still end up with nothing.
Leicester boss Claude Puel takes on his former club Southampton with the Frenchman under pressure at the King Power Stadium following the Foxes’ humiliating FA Cup exit at League Two Newport County on Sunday.
Unexpected wins over Chelsea, Man City and Everton over the festive period means they are sitting pretty in seventh in the Premier League but Leicester fans remain unconvinced by Puel, with their negative view of the 57-year-old backed up by a dismal home defeat against Cardiff at the end of December.
Saints have shown positive signs since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over but they remain in the bottom three and need to start finding wins on a regular basis if they are to survive.
There is no shortage of quality at St Mary’s if the Austrian can get players of the calibre of Nathan Redmond, Charlie Austin and Danny Ings all to click and they can claim a share of the spoils this weekend.
Finally, the 5.30pm kick off sees Chelsea entertain a Newcastle side who are in danger of getting dragged into the relegation scrap.
Magpies boss Rafael Benitez has made it clear he needs new signings this month to mount a survival bid but the ongoing behind-the-scenes uncertainty means they are a disjointed club, who will be ripe for the picking with Chelsea, scenting a big win, tipped to dominate at Stamford Bridge from the off.
The Blues have recovered from a shock home defeat to Leicester before Christmas and have managed three wins and a draw in the league since, while Newcastle are without a win in five.
Expect a comfortable Eden Hazard-inspired home win, with the Belgian 16/5 to score two or more.
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