Man City v West Brom, 12:45
On paper this has been a pretty nice run of games for Manchester City, in the league at least, but the loss to Barcelona last night came on the back of defeats to Burnley and Liverpool, and the former of those is simply not acceptable for a club the size and strength of the reigning champions. A home game against a determined West Brom is yet another chance for embarrassment as far as Manuel Pellegrini is concerned, and his opposite number Tony Pulis has a fantastic way of making big teams feel angry, embarrassed and eventually defeated.
Manchester City are likely to make changes after their Champions League defeat, with Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Edin Dzeko, Frank Lampard and Wilfried Bony amongt those hoping for a recall. West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster is expected to be out for a month, Chris Brunt and Claudio Yacob are suspended but Victor Anichebe could return from a groin injury.
Aston Villa v Swansea, 15:00
When you lose seven games on the spin there are two explanations, and given that Aston Villa are not the victims of a recent spate of serious injuries there can be no real excuse for what went on under Paul Lambert. Tim Sherwood has already begun to expose how weak the side was under their bad Scotch egg with a couple of wins in his last two games, and as result the team has already climbed out of the bottom three and looks way more likely to survive another season in the Barclays Premier League at the very least.
Aston Villa defenders Ron Vlaar, Aly Cissoko, Philippe Senderos, Nathan Baker and Kieran Richardson all remain sidelined. Swansea central defender Federico Fernandez returns, probably at the expense of Jordi Amat.
Newcastle v Arsenal, 15:00
When there are only five points between you and safety in the Premier League the temptation is probably going to be to switch off and maybe have a think about which beach you want to spend your summer on, and for that fans of Newcastle United that isn’t good news. Treated to directionless dross under Pardew toward the end, the club has stayed in this state of nothingness at least until the end of the year, and Arsenal will view the match as one they should really win if they want to keep the pressure on City above them and challenge for second.
Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini begins a three-game ban, with Daryl Janmaat is expected to fill in as a makeshift centre-back. Arsenal are expected to welcome back Tomas Rosicky and have no new injury concerns.
Southampton v Burnley, 15:00
We’re in that special time of the year now where league position becomes slightly more and less meaningful at the same time and any team might spring a surprise, as Chelsea and City have both found recently, to their chagrin. Burnley managed a draw against the Portuguese narcissist before going one better and beating Manchester City, and now they travel to another team from the top half with the express intention of taking at least another point despite all the evidence suggesting it might not be possible to do.
Southampton winger Eljero Elia has recovered from an ankle problem but Jay Rodriguez and Emmanuel Mayuka remain sidelined. Burnley defender Stephen Ward is expected to play, but Matt Taylor isn’t ready yet.
Stoke v Palace, 15:00
Everyone knows that if you want to be safe in the Premier League there is a group of survival specialists that can get almost any team out of trouble, but if you’d added Alan Pardew’s name in alongside Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce a year ago most people would have laughed you out of the conversation. Now though, his work at Crystal Palace has elevated the former Newcastle boss to another plane, and with five wins in his last nine games and a squad full of players who look more at home in the Championship it’s probably only fair that he receives a degree of credit for how his team is getting on. Today they face an in-form Stoke side that sadly lost their last match to former boss Tony Pulis, and if ever there was a test of the new Palace backbone this is surely it.
Stoke will be without Jon Walters and have a long list of doubts including Erik Pieters, Phillip Wollscheid and Victor Moses, as well as Bojan, Peter Odemwingie and Marc Muniesta who are definitely out. Crystal Palace have fitness concerns over Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon, Mile Jedinak remains suspended, and Marouane Chamakh, Fraizer Campbell and Chung-Yong Lee are still sidelined.
Tottenham v Leicester, 15:00
It’s starting to look a lot like Leicester are doomed to be relegated at the end of this season, fortunately just around the same time as we’re tiring of them as a team and also beginning to really dislike the overbearing, bully-boy tactics of overgrown manchild Nigel Pearson. If the board had moved to replace him with someone capable and competent by now they might not be neck-deep in the cacky, as they currently are, but prior to this match with Spurs the Foxes have won precisely none of their last seven matches, and look a pretty broken team.
Tottenham’s only confirmed absentee is striker Roberto Soldado after Ryan Mason recovered from a dead leg. Leicester have no new injury concerns for Saturday’s game.
West Ham v Sunderland, 17:30
The last match of the day is also Dick Advocaat’s first as manager of Sunderland Athletic Football Club, and the immediate impression on his appointment seems to be that this is a man with his work cut out for him. His record in British football overall is a touch underwhelming, but it’s obvious the board at the club have faith in their appointment and have incentivised survival heavily too, so if there is going to be a turnaround we could well see it begin today at Upton Park. West Ham are probably a better team than Sunderland, but motivation is an issue for them right now, partly due to the fact their manager might be off in the summer.
West Ham defender Winston Reid is a major doubt, while James Tomkins and Enner Valencia remain sidelined. Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole completes a two-game ban, and John O’Shea and Sebastian Larsson hope to be fit despite missing several days of training.