Thank god international football is over.
It’s back to the real stuff with the Premier League and Form Labs are here to bring you their accumulator for this weekend’s action as the business end to the season really starts to hot up.
Cardiff v Chelsea – Sunday, 2:05pm
Maurizio Sarri will hope his players return from the international break with renewed confidence after they largely experienced success. Eden Hazard netted three times across games with Russia and Cyprus as he racked up his 100thcap, Ross Barkley scored twice and bagged a pair of assists on England duty, while Olivier Giroud overtook David Trezeguet to become France’s third-highest scorer of all time – no mean feat considering he won the first of his 89 caps at the age of 25.
The Bluebirds have slipped back into the relegation zone following a run of three defeats from four matches, including a 5-1 defeat hosting Watford, while their record against ‘Big Six’ sides this term has been little short of humiliating. They’ve lost all eight encounters by a combined score of 27-6 as they shipped at least four goals in half of these, with their trip to Stamford Bridge earlier in the campaign yielding a 4-1 defeat. Meanwhile, the visitors have won 12 of 13 unbeaten games against the bottom eight sides in the league (those that aren’t completely safe from relegation), winning all seven of these that came on the road as they produced an aggregate score of 17-3.
Liverpool v Spurs – Sunday, 4:30pm
This is an absolutely massive game with City in all likelihood producing the goods the day before at Fulham, but home form has been strong all season and there’ll be a cracking atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday afternoon. We’re unbeaten there since the start of last season, winning 13 of 15 matches this term, while a lack of goals has primarily been an affliction on the road as we’ve bagged three or more in seven of our last eight in front of the Kop. They haven’t all just been easy assignments either, with 3-1 and 5-1 victories over United and Arsenal respectively over this spell.
Aside from their thrilling Champions League exploits against Dortmund and finally, the completion of their new stadium, Spurs haven’t had much to cheer recently with three defeats from four winless league games. Away form has been especially diabolical as they’ve suffered five consecutive defeats in all competitions domestically, including two at Stamford Bridge, which shouldn’t come as a major surprise with Spurs consistently struggling on their travels to the ‘Big Six’. They’re W3-D7-L13 in away league matches since Mauricio Pochettino arrived in the dugout, while they’ve lost two of their last three winless trips to Anfield across all competitions since 2016/17 as only a 95th-minute Harry Kane penalty prevented it from becoming three from three.
Arsenal v Newcastle – Monday, 8:00pm
Arsenal are seemingly on the up following a 2-0 win over United in the league and a 3-0 success versus Rennes to comeback from a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie. Both of those clashes came at the Emirates where they’ve now won 12 of their last 14, with the exceptions coming in tough games against Spurs and United in the domestic cups. They’ve only shipped the solitary goal in their last five there, so should have what it takes to beat a Newcastle side that have lost four out of seven winless road trips since Christmas.
Those results for the Magpies on their travels saw them lose at Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs, bringing them up to nine defeats from 10 matches with the ‘Big Six’ this term home or away. They conceded at least twice in eight of these, and the Gunners should be able to match that output having plundered 25 goals in nine home league outings since the start of December. Newcastle have consistently relied upon picking up their points on home turf or on the road at the weaker outfits, going W1-D2-L14 away to top-half teams since the start of last season.