Doucoure has been Watford’s standout performer this season, with the Frenchman providing the impetus driving forward from the midfield. Doucoure has recorded seven goals and two assists so far, missing only one game due to suspension. For Watford to stand any chance of coming away from this game with anything, the 25-year-old will need to be at the top of his game.
Manchester United vs Watford
Abdoulaye Doucoure vs Nemanja Matic
Tough-tackling Matic will be the man in the way of Doucoure. The big Serb has been a key figure for the Red Devils since his transfer from Chelsea, providing much needed stability in the middle of the park for Mourinho’s men. Matic even chipped in with a screamer in March, scoring a 25 yard strike against Crystal Palace.
We’re not sure how many times we’ve had Salah as the key player in Liverpool previews this season, but the reason is clear: the player of the year is the main man to stop for the Reds.
Liverpool vs Brighton and Hove Albion
Mohamed Salah vs Mat Ryan
Standing in his way this time will be Brighton’s player of the year, Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan, who has realised his full potential in a great first season in the English top-flight.
With both players at the top of their game and also eyeing off the World Cup finals for their respective nations, this could be a classic match-up.
It hasn’t always been a happy time for Rondo at the Baggies, but he showed plenty of passion and desire when he screamed his delight at his late equaliser in the comeback 2-2 draw with Liverpool, his second goal in four games.
West Bromwich Albion vs Tottenham Hotspur
Salomon Rondo vs Harry Kane
Kane, meanwhile, faced some criticism that he rushed his return from that ankle injury and shouldn’t be playing just yet with the World Cup looming large on the horizon, but he responded that his goals will do the talking for him.
Whichever front man can find the back of the net in this one will surely go a long way towards securing the three points for his side.
Zaha has undoubtedly been a star turn for Palace this season, having netted seven goals and laid on five assists at the time of writing. His searing pace and tremendous trickery on the ball has caused problems for many a defence and manager Hodgson has now even entrusted him with a role upfront rather than on the wing.
Stoke City vs Crystal Palace
Wilfried Zaha vs Ryan Shawcross
The man tasked to keep Zaha quiet could be Stoke skipper Shawcross, a player who has epitomised the rugged fighting spirit of his team in recent seasons. A no-nonsense center-back, Shawcross will have to be at his best, and more importantly, not jump into rash tackles in order to get the better of Zaha.
Newcastle skipper Lascelles has been in remarkable form this season - an assured presence at the back for his side and a strong leader for the Magpies. The 24-year-old’s performances have already seen calls for his inclusion to the England World Cup squad and it should be sooner rather than later that he does win his first cap for Gareth Southgate’s men.
Newcastle United vs West Bromwich Albion
Jamaal Lascelles vs Salomon Rondon
He will be up against the formidable Rondon, who has undoubtedly been one of the best performers for West Brom this season. The Venezuelan has seven goals this season already and has won over many admirers with this ability in the air and strong hold up play. It should be a cracking battle between Lascelles and Rondon.
What more can be written and said about Mohamed Salah? He has been simply sensational in his first season at Anfield, deservedly taking out the PFA Player of the Year award and standing on the verge of the league’s Golden Boot.
Liverpool vs Stoke City
Mohamed Salah vs Jack Butland
In his way will be Butland, who has naturally had his troubles being the last line of defence for a Stoke side that has conceded more goals than any other this season, the keeper managing just five clean sheets in his 31 league appearances.
But with England’s No.1 jersey at the World Cup still up for grabs, he will want to finish the season strongly and keeping Liverpool’s deadly marksman at bay will do no harm to his chances.
The two strikers will be going head-to-head as the main men for their respective sides. Ayew is rated highly by boss Carvalhal and has scored six of his 10 goals this season since the Portuguese took over. A three-game ban marred his copybook but the Swans will need him firing against City to stand any chance of getting anything from the game.
Manchester City vs Swansea City
Jordan Ayew vs Sergio Aguero
Argentine Aguero has already breached the 20-goal mark this season, despite missing out on a number of games due to rotation and injury. It is also worth noting that he has hit 14 goals at home this season and could well add more.
Once the forgotten man of English football due to his series of injuries that included a serious knee problem and then groin, hip and toe complaints, Welbeck is finally fit and healthy and scoring goals for the Gunners.
Arsenal vs West Ham United
Danny Welbeck v Joe Hart
Similarly, Hart has had his own issues in recent years, bouncing around between Manchester City, Torino and West Ham while enduring a sharp loss of form. But he seems to be nearing a return to his best and, like Welbeck, is back in the frame for the England squad for the looming World Cup.
Both will be driven to produce their best in this showdown between rivals.
With leading scorer Wayne Rooney and high-profile recruit Theo Walcott struggling for goals of late, January signing Cenk Tosun has stepped up for Sam Allardyce’s men in recent weeks.
Swansea City vs Everton
Lukasz Fabianski v Cenk Tosun
The Turkish striker scored four goals in a three-game stretch in March, including a brace in a 2-1 victory over Stoke City.
Standing in his way will be Polish keeper Fabianski, who has managed to record a respectable nine clean sheets in 31 games despite Swansea’s defensive issues.
McCarthy displaced Fraser Forster as the Saints’ number one custodian at the end of 2017, but that hasn’t stopped Southampton from leaking goals left, right and centre. In the 11 games McCarthy has played, he has only kept two clean sheets.
Southampton vs Chelsea
Alex McCarthy vs Eden Hazard
It will be especially difficult for him to keep a third, given that he will be facing the attacking threat of Chelsea - in particular Eden Hazard. The tricky Belgian has already hit double figures this season, and while he has not been at his terrifying best, he remains the Blues’ chief attacking protagonist.
While Pogba has struggled to adjust to life at Old Trafford and the burden of such a hefty price tag, de Bruyne has been a beacon of class and consistency and is expected to win this season’s player of the year award.
Manchester City vs Manchester United
Kevin de Bruyne v Paul Pogba
Pogba has shown some better signs of late, however, and the Frenchman would love nothing more than to show what he is really capable of against the star-studded midfield of the champions-elect.
This match-up is enough alone for fans to tune in. Pickford has done enough to move ahead of Jack Butland and secure the No.1 position for England for the looming World Cup in Russia.
Everton vs Liverpool
Jordan Pickford vs Mohamed Salah
Salah just can’t stop scoring, no matter which shirt he is wearing, including Egypt’s lone goal in a 2-1 defeat to Portugal in a recent friendly.
Whoever is at the very top of their game in this clash will have a huge say on the outcome.
A goal in Chelsea’s 2-1 FA Cup victory over Leceister mean that Alvaro Morata snapped a 13 game goalless streak which has seen the striker heavily criticized in many quarters and left out in the cold often by manager Conte. A goal or two against Spurs will do the Spaniard a world of good and perhaps see him feature more regularly in the Chelsea side.
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
Alvaro Morata vs Jan Vertonghen
But in his way will be the Belgian Jan Vertonghen, who has been one of the mainstays in the Spurs side this season. Should Vertonghen be functioning at his very best, Morata could well have a tough battle on his hands.
The mercurial Swiss star Shaqiri has been arguably Stoke’s best player this season - a threat whenever on the ball and creating opportunities for his teammates. The former Bayern Munich man has notched seven goals and supplied six assists in the league and Stoke will need him on top form for them to pose any form of attacking threat.
Arsenal vs Stoke City
Xherdan Shaqiri vs Petr Cech
Critics of Cech would say that the custodian hasn’t been at his best in recent times. The veteran goalkeeper accepted responsibility on Twitter for his side’s 2-1 defeat at Brighton and after what must have been a morale-boosting clean sheet against Watford, will be looking to ensure he isn’t beaten again in goal. He will need to keep his focus throughout the game though, as Shaqiri’s ability from range will make him a problem to deal with.
Ashley Young was credited with keeping a lock on Salah at Old Trafford, leading to an entertaining battle on social media between the pair. The Red Devil initially made an Instagram post refuting rumours Salah was in his pocket, before the Egyptian responded with how much he was looking forward to the Champions League draw after United were eliminated by Sevilla. All good, clean fun.
Liverpool vs Watford
Mohamed Salah vs Troy Deeney
It also means Liverpool’s ace attacking weapon - who is level with Tottenham’s Harry Kane on 24 goals in the race for this year’s Golden Boot - will want to bounce back quickly and Watford could be ripe for the picking.
At the other end of the pitch, Deeney will surely be key to Watford’s hopes of taking something from Anfield. The burly front man scored the only goals in his side’s consecutive 1-0 wins over Everton and West Brom prior to the Arsenal defeat so will be full of confidence against a sometimes-suspect Liverpool defence.
Last time these teams met, Deeney famously accused the Gunners of lacking “cojones” following Watford’s 2-1 victory back in October.
It will be interesting to see whether the Arsenal players remember that comment and take the fight up to the Watford frontman, although considering their lack of confidence right now, it wouldn’t surprise to see them approach him in the same meek manner in which they’ve been approaching games of late.
Arsenal vs Watford
Troy Deeney vs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang did get on the scoresheet in the loss to Brighton and while the former Borussia Dortmund star could be forgiven for wondering what he has walked into at Arsenal, surely he is also a key to dragging them out of it?
Lukaku found himself facing some criticism after a statistic emerged that he had a dismal return against the EPL’s top six teams this season, failing to register a single shot on target.
But he quickly put that to rest after scoring the equaliser against Chelsea following some neat lead-up play by the Red Devils.
Manchester United vs Liverpool
Romelu Lukaku vs Loris Karius
Karius has faced plenty of criticism of his own this season, but has largely responded well since being officially annointed Liverpool’s No.1 keeper for the remainder of the 2017/18 campaign.
Lukaku is sure to get a chance or two against the young German and how the keeper responds could well help decide this fixture.
Chelsea’s big money summer signing Alvaro Morata has struggled in recent times and seems to be a man low on confidence. Lacklustre against the Red Devils where he missed a glorious chance to open the scoring, Morata has failed to score in his last ten matches for Chelsea. He has 10 goals in the league this season though - proof that Morata knows how to find the back of the net, he desperately needs to get on the scoresheet to stop the rot.
Manchester City vs Chelsea
Alvaro Morata vs Vincent Kompany
Kompany has been a man plagued with injuries over the years, but when fit, the big Belgian is a commanding presence at the back. He was immensely impressive in the Citizens’ cup final victory over Arsenal and Pep Guardiola’s side will need him to be on the top of his game to frustrate Morata.
Understandably, Mohamed Salah’s goalscoring exploits are garnering most of the attention over at Anfield, but close observers are well aware just how important Firmino is to their attacking set-up. You only have to hear Jurgen Klopp’s gushing praise of the Brazilian to understand how much he values his No.9.
Liverpool vs Newcastle United
Roberto Firmino vs Dwight Gayle
Gayle, Newcastle’s own No.9, has gradually improved after a slow start to the season, with his brace against the Cherries at least ensuring Newcastle left Vitality Stadium with a share of the spoils. For them to also take anything from Anfield, you figure the Englishman will need to be heavily involved.
He also has form against this opposition, scoring against Liverpool in consecutive seasons while with Crystal Palace back in 2013 and 2014.
We usually save this section for an on-pitch match-up, but with City flying and Arsenal in free-fall, Arsene Wenger will need to reach to the very bottom of his two-decade-plus bag of managerial tricks to find a way to get his team a badly needed three points.
Following a season-long adjustment to the English game last season, Guardiola has his team right where he wants it - apart from that rare slip against Wigan - and the Citizens are still on track for a treble of trophies in 2017/18.
Arsenal vs Manchester City
Arsene Wenger vs Pep Guardiola
If Wenger has any hope of keeping those howling critics from his door for a day or two and avoid a heavy home defeat, he will need to be at his coaching best in this one.
Pogba has come under the microscope in recent times, with the critics out in full force after the French midfielder failed to inspire his side in the 1-0 loss to Newcastle at St James’ Park. The 24-year-old did not feature for Man United in their 2-0 FA Cup victory over Huddersfield, fuelling further speculation of a rift between the player and manager Mourinho. Should Pogba play against Chelsea, his side will need him to be at his commanding best to pull the strings.
Manchester United vs Chelsea
Paul Pogba vs Eden Hazard
Chelsea’s creative force is the diminutive Eden Hazard, who has been their star turn for most of the season. Hazard is the Blues’ top scorer with 11 goals and has shouldered the responsibility of leading the team on the attacking front as summer signing Alvaro Morata has blown hot and cold.
With three goals in his last three games, Vardy is a man on form. While the lack of Mahrez as an attacking option certainly will blunt the Foxes’ attack, Vardy has been the main man for his side this season and has netted 12 in the league this season already – one less than his total league tally last campaign.
Manchester City vs Leicester City
Jamie Vardy vs Ederson
Facing the speedy Englishman will be Man City custodian Ederson, who has been one of the revelations of the season since his move in the summer. The 24-year-old has made several key stops this season, and once again lived up to his reputation last weekend, making a stunning save from Aaron Lennon to deny the ex-Everton man.
Often in this section we like to pinpoint a direct match-up, usually a midfield battle or attack versus defence. But on this occasion why not focus on the two men who will most likely lead their sides to victory?
Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal
Harry Kane vs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Kane has been in sensational form all season, while many have often speculated how former Bundesliga Golden Boot winner Aubameyang would adjust to the English game.
Whoever has the biggest influence for his side could well decide the outcome of this huge clash.
Kane is setting the pace with 21 goals, three ahead of the Egyptian, but Van Dijk is the man many will look at to keep Kane quiet and give the home team the best chance of victory.
Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspurs
Virgil van Dijk vs Harry Kane
Kane has hit a point where he seemingly sets a new scoring milestone every other week and will come face-to- face with his closest challenger for this year’s Golden Boot, Liverpool flyer Mohamed Salah.
Monreal has been in fine fettle for Arsenal, scoring one and assisting two in a 4-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace, and then following that up with a goal against rivals Chelsea to put Arsenal in the finals of the Carabao Cup. The Spaniard will also need a stellar defensive performance however to stop the speedy Walcott.
Arsenal vs. Everton
Nacho Monreal vs Theo Walcott
Walcott will be eager to prove a point against his former club, having dazzled in spells but failed to consistently star for the Gunners. He made an immediate impact on his debut for Everton, notching an assist for Oumar Niasse’s leveler against West Bromwich Albion. Fielded on the right side of the midfield three, Walcott could face a familiar face in the form of Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal, should Arsene Wenger decide to field a back four.
Sanchez will want to continue his momentum after earning widespread praise for commencing his United career with two assists in a 72-minute effort in the FA Cup victory over Yeovil Town.
Manchester United vs. Huddersfield Town
Alexis Sanchez vs Aaron Mooy
Having played an instrumental role in Huddersfield’s promotion last season, Mooy announced his arrival on the EPL stage with a stunning opening goal in that famous win over United in October. He provides the creative spark for the Terriers and can also finish and while he isn’t in the class of Sanchez, they do fill similar roles for their respective teams.
Up against Kane will be Phil Jones, a key member of the Red Devils defence which has kept four clean sheets in its past four league encounters. Jones has been extremely consistent for Mourinho's men this season, with the team only keeping one of their 13 clean sheets in the league without him in the line-up.
Tottenham vs. Manchester United
Harry Kane vs Phil Jones
There is no striker in hotter form than Spurs frontman Harry Kane. The clinical Englishman netted his 99th Premier League goal against Southampton - his ninth in the past five Premier League starts. Kane has 21 goals in the league this season and been unplayable at times.
Liverpool’s frontline is a completely different prospect to that offered up by the Potters and with Salah failing to score against Swansea, and slipping three goals behind Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot, the Egyptian will be intent on quickly getting back on the scoresheet.
Huddersfield vs. Liverpool
Jonas Lossl vs Mohamed Salah
Adding a little spice to the match-up, Lossl saved a Salah penalty attempt when the sides last met back in October. Despite Huddersfield’s disappointing loss to Stoke, goalkeeper Lossl was widely considered the Terriers’ best player after producing some saves that at least kept his side in the contest.
Mawson was superb for the Swans in their victory over Liverpool, keeping Roberto Firmino under wraps and even popping up with a winner for the home side. Mawson, who thoroughly impressed for Swansea last season, has not had as impressive a campaign this time around, but he has proven time and again he has the potential to be one of the top defenders in the country.
Swansea vs. Arsenal
Alfie Mawson vs Alexandre Lacazette
Lacazette has impressed only in spurts for Arsenal and had to endure an eight-game barren spell before finally breaking his duck with a calm finish against Palace. The Frenchman has nine league goals to his name and will look to add to his tally against a Swansea backline marshalled by Alfie Mawson.