Premier League preview: North London derby and Conte under pressure
There should be plenty of excitement
We’re heading into the crunch period of the season now. Any slip-up could be costly.
And while Manchester City may be way out in front at the top of the table, the races for the top four and to avoid the drop are heating up.
Ahead of this weekend’s action, the Coral News Team have picked out some of the storylines to keep an eye on…
North London derby could shape top-four race
The top-flight action gets started with the biggest game of the weekend as Tottenham Hotspur host rivals Arsenal.
It wasn’t too long ago that Chelsea looked safe in the top four, along with Manchester City and Manchester United. That left Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal battling for the fourth and final Champions League spot.
But things can change very quickly. The Blues’ recent wobble means they’re only a point above Spurs and five ahead of Arsenal.
Can Crystal Palace cope without Wilfried Zaha?
Roy Hodgson’s worst fears became reality with the news Wilfried Zaha will be out for a month with a knee injury.
Without Zaha, Palace will lose much of their attacking threat. His ability to make things happen in the final third has been a major factor in Palace’s rise out of the relegation zone.
Roy Hodgson will need to make sure his side his solid at the back to compensate for his absence, starting with Saturday’s trip to Everton. Palace are 13/5 to win at Goodison Park.
Six-pointer at Stoke
Stoke City take on Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, knowing that a win could take them out of the relegation zone.
It’s so tight at the bottom that a couple of good results on the spin could see any side pull clear. There are only three points separating West Ham United in 12th from Huddersfield Town in 19th.
With so much to play for, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Stoke and Brighton could cancel each other out. The draw looks good value at 21/10.
Van Dijk returns to Southampton
Liverpool’s £75m January signing Virgil van Dijk can expect a hostile reception from the Southampton fans when he returns to St. Mary’s this weekend.
The centre-back has impressed since his move to Anfield, although he gave away a late penalty in last week’s frantic 2-2 draw with Spurs.
Van Dijk was never going to fix his new side’s defensive issues on his own. But this will be a huge test for him. It’s 12/5 that he helps Liverpool keep a clean sheet and Win to Nil.
Will West Brom pile further pressure on Antonio Conte?
Can Chelsea boss Antonio Conte survive another bad result? His side have lost 3-0 at home to Bournemouth and 4-1 at Watford in their last two outings. The Italian’s comments about the club’s transfer business won’t have done him any favours either.
West Brom may be bottom of the table but there could be value in an 8/1 upset at Stamford Bridge.
If Chelsea don’t get a win, the Champions League tie against Barcelona could determine Conte’s fate.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing