Five games to watch this weekend: Who will claim bragging rights in the North London derby?
Our top five picks of the football action this weekend
As the end of the football season continues to draw closer, the big matches are showing no signs of slowing down in the Premier League and across Europe.
We’ve got another weekend full of title battles, the race for European qualification and relegation six-pointers. Ahead of this weekend’s action, we’ve picked out five matches which could be crucial to the outcome of the 2019/20 campaign.
In this weekend’s opening Premier League game, we could have our first confirmed relegation from the top-flight back to the Championship at Carrow Road.
Daniel Farke’s Norwich City side lit the Championship alight last season, romping to the title. But after a summer of very little squad improvement, spending less than £1m, their spirited performances and expansive football has led to only five wins and 21 points from 34 games.
They’re 10 points off Watford in 17th and six points adrift from Aston Villa in 19th at the foot of the table. Only three points will do for the Canaries here, but with Watford playing Newcastle United at the same time, even that may not be enough.
As for West Ham, their brief uptick in form, beating Chelsea 3-2 and claiming a point against Newcastle at St James’ Park has seemingly vanished, as they lost 1-0 at home to Burnley last time out.
They’re far from safe too, sitting three points above 18th-placed Bournemouth in 16th, and five points below Brighton in 15th.
There’s all to play for in this match, with Norwich desperately needing all three points. They’ve lost six on the bounce in the league, with their last win at home to Leicester in February.
The Canaries are 11/4 underdogs, while the Hammers are odds-on 19/20 favourites to head home with the win.
West Ham won their home fixture against Norwich 2-0 in August. A repeat result would see the Canaries fate sealed, and that’s priced at 9/1.
Chris Wilder’s Blades side failed to notch a win in their first three matches on the return of the Premier League, but a confidence boosting 3-1 win over Spurs has reignited their European ambitions.
A last-gasp John Egan goal on Wednesday night claimed another impressive scalp for Sheffield United, as they beat fellow European qualification contenders Wolves 1-0.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side have been one of the form sides on their return to action, winning four of their five games, including that title-sealing 2-1 win over Manchester City.
They’ve been free scoring of late too, netting eight times in their last three matches. Those goals haven’t come in easy wins though, with the Blues still suffering from a leaky defence. A narrow 3-2 win over Crystal Palace highlighted their defensive issues again, and it’s something the Blades could target.
Chelsea leapfrogged Leicester into third with that win, and are now eight points above Wolves in sixth. Three more points against Sheffield United, with Norwich City up next, who could be relegated by the time they face each other, would all but seal their European spot next campaign.
In the first meeting, Sheffield United came from two goals down at Stamford Bridge to nick a point thanks to a late Kurt Zouma own goal.
The Blades are 5/1 to get the win on home soil, while Chelsea are odds-on 3/5 favourites. A draw is priced at 14/5, with a repeat of that 2-2 draw available at 18/1.
After Lazio’s 2-1 defeat to Lecce on Tuesday night, Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus had an opportunity to extend their lead at the top of Serie A to 10 points with seven games left to play.
Two-thirds of the way through the match, it was looking increasingly likely that was going to happen, with Juve cruising to a 2-0 win in the San Siro against AC Milan. However, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his Milan side had other ideas, inspiring a remarkable comeback and winning 4-2.
That defeat opened the door for third-placed Atalanta to close the gap. 12 points below Sarri’s side going into their match against Sampdoria, they didn’t face similar issues and claimed a 2-0 home win, closing the gap to nine points.
A victory over Juve here could close the gap to only six points, and blow the title race wide open. Lazio will be hoping for that too, as they can close the gap at the top to four points before a ball is kicked at the Allianz Stadium, should they beat Sassuolo earlier in the day.
Gonzalo Higuain inspired a late comeback in the reverse fixture in November. Atalanta led 1-0 until the 74th minute, before two from Higuain and one from Paulo Dybala sealed a 3-1 victory.
Juventus are the favourite for three points here again at 11/10, but Atalanta have produced some stunning performances this season and shouldn’t be underestimated. They’re 23/10 to win.
It’s not been a stellar season for either of these sides, but after a 2-2 draw in the first North London derby back in September, this season’s bragging rights are on the line.
It’s the first rendition in the men’s game of one of the Premier League’s most fierce rivalries at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Arsenal Ladies claimed the bragging rights in the first NLD at the new stadium with a 2-0 victory.
In the first NLD at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in 2006, the Gunners claimed a 3-0 win.
Mikel Arteta’s side have come into form recently, unbeaten in four Premier League matches, closing the gap to Wolves in sixth to just two points in the process.
Jose Mourinho and his Spurs side have won two, drawn two and lost one since the return from the break, but their play has failed to inspire. They’ve scored five goals in five matches, with own goals being their joint-leading scorer with Harry Kane since the return with two.
Spurs sit a point behind Arsenal in the table, knowing a defeat would all but end their chances of European qualification, and almost seal their fate of finishing below Arsenal for the first time since the 2015/16 season.
Mourinho’s side are slight favourites to claim three points at 8/5, but Arteta’s men could thrive as slight underdogs at 33/20. A draw is 12/5, with a repeat 2-2 draw priced at 11/1.
Despite having a late winning goal ruled out for handball against Spurs, has that point claimed from the stalemate given Eddie Howe’s side a slight confidence boost?
The Cherries looked transformed from that we’ve seen for most of the season, playing their usual free-flowing football with confidence. If that was the first match you’d seen of theirs all season, you’d struggle to believe they were battling relegation.
As for Leicester, they’ve also been a shadow of their former selves. If it wasn’t for a somewhat controversial red card for Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah in Tuesday’s game, would they have claimed the point they needed to stay in the top four?
The absence of Ricardo Pereira, James Maddison and Ben Chilwell may have had a huge influence on the lack of creativity from the Foxes. With only one win in five, is Brendan Rodgers fearful of missing out on a Champions League spot?
If ever there was a time Bournemouth wanted to face Leicester, it would be now. Coming in off the back of their own positive performance, they may feel that they can take advantage of the Foxes’ woes.
Depending on Watford’s result on Saturday afternoon, there’s an outside chance that Howe’s side could lift themselves out of the bottom three with a win and breathe new life into their Premier League survival fight.
The South coast side are 4/1 underdogs, with Rodgers men odds-on 7/10 favourites. Jamie Vardy has a two goal advantage in the race for the Golden Boot. He bagged two against the Cherries in a 3-1 win in August. He’s 4/1 to net two of more here.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.