Premier League Preview: Match Day 17

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It looks as if Leicester City will be Liverpool’s main challengers for this season’s Premier League title, as the Foxes extended their winning run in the league to eight games with victory over Aston Villa.

They remain eight points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, who maintained their unbeaten start to the domestic season with a win at Bournemouth. Manchester City however appear out the running at this stage as their defeat in the Manchester derby left them 14 points behind the Reds.

Elsewhere there were wins for Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Sheffield United, while Freddie Ljungberg notched his first victory as Arsenal interim boss on Monday with a 3-1 win over West Ham United.

Match of the Weekend: Arsenal vs Manchester City

The late kick-off on Sunday sees two sides who have underperformed so far domestically face one another as Arsenal welcome Manchester City to the Emirates Stadium.

Sitting ninth currently, the Gunners recently ended a run of nine games without a win all competitions with victory over West Ham on Monday, although it was far from convincing.

Admittedly there were some positives to take from the game, namely the performance of Gabriel Martinelli who netted on his first Premier League start for the club, but interim boss Freddie Ljungberg will know the club is a long way off where they expect to be. Whether he oversees that change himself or a new face does however remains to be seen.

Arsenal’s opponents however, Manchester City, have also endured a more frustrating Premier League season than they would’ve hoped. Despite being third with 32 points, it’s the lowest tallyย any team managed by Pep Guardiola has accumulated at this stage of a season.

Compare that to last season when they had 41 points at the same stage, and 46 the season before, it’s been a notable dip from the reigning champions, with the extended absence of Aymeric Laporte in the centre of defence being a significant setback for the Citizens.

City will be desperate to bounce back following their defeat in the Manchester derby last weekend, which could be bad news for an Arsenal side low on confidence and an Emirates low on patience.

Rest of the Weekend

The action kicks off on Saturday lunchtime with the current league leaders Liverpool when they face Watford. The Hornets have lost on their last three visits to Anfield by an aggregate score of 16-1, so Nigel Pearson will be hoping for better in his first game in charge.

Burnley – who have lost their last three league games – welcome Newcastle United to Turf Moor, with the visitors winning their last two league games.

Chelsea welcome Bournemouth to Stamford Bridge, as Eddie Howe’s side look to end a five-game losing run.

A confident Leicester side will host Norwich City knowing they could be 11 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side by the time their game starts.ย 

Two promoted sides meet at Bramall Lane when Sheffield United take on Aston Villa.

The Saturday night football sees two sides in and around the relegation zone square off in the shape of Southampton in 18th place and West Ham United in 16th.

Sunday sees a rejuvenated Manchester United welcome Everton to Old Trafford, who themselves look refreshed since the arrival of interim manager Duncan Ferguson.

Wolves – who are unbeaten in their last 11 Premier League games (W5 D6) – welcome Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham to Molineux.

There’s also Premier League football on Monday with Crystal Palace’s game against Brighton & Hove Albion concluding the round of fixtures.

Premier League Player to Watch: Jonjo Shelvey – Newcastle United – ยฃ0.59

Only Harry Wilson (six) has more goals from midfield this season than Jonjo Shelvey’s five, although with the Newcastle man netting in his last three league games, he’s currently in the midst of a purple patch in terms of form.

With Steve Bruce opting to play five at the back, it gives Shelvey the insurance needed to effect matters higher up the pitch, while midfield partner Isaac Hayden provides an extra layer of cover in the centre of the pitch.

The 27-year-old’s current best in terms of goals in a Premier League season came for Swansea in 2013/14 with six, but with him just one away from equalling his best with over half the season remaining, he could be a player worth having.

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Social Media Executive @ Football Index - Liverpool fan at just about the right time

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