By their high standards, Manchester United’s sixth-placed finish last season was way below expectations, with an EFL Cup victory proving but a silver lining in a disappointing season The Red Devils have been markedly better this time round, despite failing to really trouble runaway leaders and rivals Manchester City. At the time of writing, Jose Mourinho’s men are currently in the runners-up position, five points ahead of third placed Liverpool. They remain in the running to win a trophy as well and will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final later this month.
On the other hand, their opponents Watford are as good as on their summer holidays. The Hornets have had a topsy-turvy campaign - having gone through two managers since August. But have their safety secured with ample time to spare, Watford should already be looking to next season.
Liverpool vs Brighton and Hove Albion
The minimum goal for both clubs would have been clear heading into this season. For Liverpool, it would have been another top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Over at Brighton, meanwhile, it would have simply been survival.
Those goals are tantalisingly close for these two clubs and may have been realised before this match gets underway, which will render this fixture a chance for some icing on the cake and a look ahead to next season.
The Reds also have the prospect of a Champions League final to look forward to, so they will be keen to maintain their touch and avoid any unwanted injuries, plus they can cap off an undefeated league season at home.
West Bromwich Albion vs Tottenham Hotspur
At the time of writing, West Brom are only a mathematical chance of staying in the Premier League for another season. But sitting eight points behind Swansea City with three games remaining, having played a game more than the Swans, the drop is surely only a matter of time.
What they can do is try to build on a decent run of form that saw them pick up five points from three fixtures against Swansea, Manchester United and Liverpool as they focus on making their almost-certain return to England’s second tier a brief one.
Tottenham entered this season with high hopes of ending their trophy drought, but their recent defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals means their search for silverware will continue for another year.
Their aim will be both passing Liverpool for third on the table while ensuring they keep Chelsea at bay in the race for the top four.
Stoke City vs Crystal Palace
Once rock bottom of the table, Crystal Palace have turned a corner under Roy Hodgson, and seem to be sitting comfortably in 14th spot, six points clear of 18th placed Southampton. They are also a side in good form - with just one loss in their last five games.
On the other hand, Stoke City are still desperately fighting for their survival, and are at risk of dropping down to the second tier, as they sit four points behind Swansea City (17th), and also having played one game more. Victory has repeatedly eluded Stoke, especially in their last two games where they threw away leads to draw 1-1 against West Ham and Burnley. This time around, they cannot afford a draw.
Newcastle United vs West Bromwich Albion
A roller coaster campaign for Newcastle United has seen them climb as high as seventh, before a bad run of form saw them flirt with relegation at the end of 2017. Yet an incredible run since the turn of the year has seen the Magpies soar under the steady leadership of Rafa Benitez. In the twelve games that Newcastle have played since the start of 2018, they have only lost twice - to table-toppers Manchester City and Champions League semi-finalists Liverpool. There is no longer any relegation talk at St James’ Park - only chatter over whether the Magpies can steal an unlikely eighth position, a remarkable achievement given that they were just promoted last season.
On the other hand, it has been a truly shambolic season for the Baggies, who sit rock bottom of the table. After sacking Tony Pulis, West Brom turned to former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew - but his time at the club proved to be an ill-fated one, winning just one game in 18 after four months in the job. New boss Darren Moore has steadied the ship, with two excellent results in a row - a victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford and a draw at home to Liverpool. But relegation still looks a certainty, with West Brom trailing 17th placed Swansea City by eight points with three games left.
Liverpool vs Stoke City
Liverpool still have fate in their own hands in the race for the top four, but their late lapse against West Brom - throwing away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw - means their task of guaranteeing another season in the Champions League became slightly tougher.
The Reds now need five points from their final three matches to be absolutely certain they can’t be overtaken and with Chelsea away still on the horizon, that task will be much easier if they can overcome Stoke.
For the Potters, consecutive 1-1 draws in their past two matches against West Ham and Burnley did give them a couple of points, but still sitting four points and sizeable goal difference behind 17th-placed Swansea City, they desperately need victories if they are to survive.
Anfield has been a fortress this year, with Liverpool undefeated in the league at home, but a late-season clash with a relegation-threatened rival can often throw up some surprise results.
Manchester City vs Swansea City
There was little talk of a home slump when Manchester City slipped to a 2-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in an inconsequential Champions League Round of 16 loss to Basel (City won the first leg 4-0).
But, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s march to the title was delayed after a shock 3-2 defeat at the Etihad earlier in the month. Despite leading 2-0 at half-time, the wasteful Citizens managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Their league defeat was followed by a second-leg loss to Liverpool in the Champions League - again at the Etihad. Still top of the league by a substantial margin, City will be looking to restore their stellar home record with a win over the Swans.
Swansea have worries of their own, with the relegation trapdoor still gaping for Carlos Carvalhal’s men. After a stellar start to life under the Portuguese manager, the Swans have not managed to pick up as many points as they would have liked. Their away form has been wretched too, they have not won on the road since the end of December.
Arsenal vs West Ham United
It’s unlikely fans of Arsenal or West Ham would say they are pleased with how the current season has unfolded.
The Gunners faded from top-four contention far too early and have largely been treading water ever since. The Hammers, meanwhile, were embroiled in a tough relegation battle for the vast majority of the season.
For both, however, there is now reason for optimism.
Arsenal are undefeated since a shock loss to Brighton back in early March, winning six straight matches before a draw in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final with CSKA Moscow ensured their progress to the final four.
While they still aren’t completely safe, West Ham’s victory over Southampton and then a rare away draw with Chelsea means they are close to guaranteeing their top-flight place for another season.
Swansea City vs Everton
Swansea appeared to have arrested their slide when they reeled off consecutive wins over Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup and then fellow relegation rivals West Ham in the league.
Since then, however, the Swans have only managed a draw with Huddersfield and fairly predictable defeats to Tottenham and Manchester United to remain just three points outside the bottom three at the time of writing.
Matches like these - against an Everton side now sitting comfortably in mid-table following its own issues earlier in the season and with little left to play for - are the types of opportunities Swansea can’t afford to waste.
Southampton vs Chelsea
At the start of the season, nobody would have predicted both these teams to be languishing where they are now.
Defending champions Chelsea have had an almighty struggle this season, and already slumped to nine defeats. With retaining the title completely out of the equation, the pressure continues to mount on boss Antonio Conte, as the Blues sit eight points behind fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Southampton are having a tough season as well, and are two points behind 17th placed Crystal Palace. The Saints have struggled to score goals this campaign (29) and it has cost them dear. Having finished no lower than 14th in the league since they were promoted in the 2012/13 season, they have to improve - and fast.
Manchester City vs Manchester United
It’s all come down to this - the dream scenario for the Citizens and a potential horror show for their neighbours. If Manchester City beat United at home, they will be crowned English Premier League champions.
City have been the standout team all season long, losing just once, and have been the champions-in-waiting since the turn of the New Year. How they would love to rub salt into that wound by taking possession of the trophy with the Red Devils in attendance.
For United, not only can they delay City’s celebrations, however briefly. It is also a critical game for them in their bid to secure second place on the table. Liverpool keep breathing down their neck, Tottenham are well in contention and Chelsea will still fancy their top-four hopes. So there is plenty on the line at Etihad Stadium.
Everton vs Liverpool
Everton have steadied the ship after a concerning period earlier in the season when they were stuck in a relegation dogfight. Consecutive wins over Brighton and Stoke had the Toffees in the top half of the table at the time of writing and reaching the all-important 40 points for the season.
They will want to end a long stretch without a victory against the Reds, which dates back to a 2-0 triumph at Goodison Park in October 2010
They would love nothing more than to impact Liverpool’s charge for the top four, with the Reds still embroiled in an almighty battle with Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea for the three spots remaining behind runaway leaders Manchester City.
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
Five points ahead of Chelsea, Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side are in the driving seat to finish fourth this season and qualify for the Champions League. The recent injury to Harry Kane hasn’t dampened Tottenham’s resolve, as they remain unbeaten in the league since December 17 last year.
Their opponents are not exactly in the best shape to be facing a confident Spurs side - with Chelsea having lost three of their last five games. A 2-1 win over Crystal Palace has calmed jangling nerves somewhat, but Antonio Conte remains under pressure and a win over Spurs would be massive for the Blues.
Arsenal vs Stoke City
A 3-0 home win against Watford last time out stopped the rot for Arsenal as they ended a run of three consecutive games without a win. But the Gunners’ top four hopes remain up in the air, as they sit in sixth, trailing London rivals Tottenham Hotspur by 13 points.
Stoke City are in a battle of their own, struggling for their lives close to the foot of the table. Paul Lambert’s side have not won in the league in over two months, and have found points tough to come by in recent times. But they will take comfort in their previous victory against the Gunners earlier in the season, having triumphed 1-0 at the Britannia - courtesy of a goal from former Real Madrid man Jese.
Liverpool vs Watford
Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend - only Jurgen Klopp’s fourth league loss in 2017/18 - has them suddenly looking a little vulnerable in the race for this year’s top four.
While they could have moved into second place with a victory at Old Trafford, they instead slipped one place and one point behind Tottenham into fourth and are now just four points in front of Chelsea as the race heats up.
They welcome a Watford side to Anfield that played better than the 3-0 scoreline against Arsenal last time out indicates and which has just about done enough to secure its Premier League survival, so can take the fight up to their more fancied opponents.
Arsenal vs Watford
The situation just goes from bad to worse at Arsenal and must be scarcely believable to their legion of fans.
They are currently riding a four-game losing streak across all competitions. Consecutive defeats to Manchester City, including the League Cup final, are poor results but in some ways excusable against the high-flyers from up north.
But with all due respect to Brighton and Hove Albion, a 2-1 defeat to the promoted side is borderline unforgivable considering Arsenal’s lofty standing and has led to all sorts of finger pointing, particularly, of course, at manager Arsene Wenger.
They take on a Watford side that must like its chances in this one, winning three of its past four Premier League games, including that famous 4-1 win over Chelsea and consecutive 1-0 victories over Everton and West Brom.
Sitting comfortably in ninth, the Hornets have little to lose in this game and should throw everything at their beleaguered opponents.
Manchester United vs Liverpool
Matches between these two teams, among the biggest rivals in all of global sport, always have that extra layer of spice.
But considering they are currently occupying second and third places on the English Premier League table, with United one spot and just two points above the Reds, there is even more on the line than usual.
With many expecting Jose Mourinho’s side to slip-up in the tight race for Champions League qualification, they fought back from going a goal behind to overcome Chelsea 2-1 last week and keep the wolves at bay for another week.
It was an impressive display and one that should give them confidence in what appears a four-way battle for the three remaining positions behind runaway leaders Manchester City. It now seems clear one of United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Tottenham will join Arsenal on the top-four scrapheap, with the Gunners falling further away after their loss to City.
Liverpool have also been in strong form, brushing aside West Ham with consummate ease last week, so both sides will like their chances in this match.
Manchester City vs Chelsea
A morale-sapping defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford means that Antonio Conte’s men have fallen out of the top four, with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur leapfrogging them with a last-gasp 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Chelsea have been on a worrying run of form, with the Blues having lost three of their last five games. They took the lead at Old Trafford courtesy of a Willian goal, but after the home side got themselves back in the game, it only looked like there was going to be one winner.
Manchester City on the other hand, seem to be running away with the title. Having amassed a seemingly unassailable lead over cross-town rivals Manchester United, the Citizens took home their first piece of silverware of the season last weekend, thumping Arsenal 3-0 in the EFL Cup final.
A big win over Chelsea would all but cement their status as champions-elect and send a warning shot to the rest of the league.
Liverpool vs Newcastle United
Liverpool have responded well since consecutive defeats to Swansea City and West Brom in the Premier League and FA Cup respectively back in January, reeling off a five-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
They have also returned to their free-scoring ways, registering 16 goals in that stretch, while their defence also seems to be slowly improving, conceding just three times across those five matches, two of which came in an action-packed 2-2 draw with Tottenham.
None of that will make very pleasant reading for Newcastle fans, with their club doing all it can to stave off what is still a very real threat of relegation.
The Magpies are riding a four-match unbeaten run of their own, however, which included an uplifting 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Yet they threw away a two-goal lead with just 10 minutes remaining in their away clash with Bournemouth on Saturday to sit just two points above 18th-placed Swansea City in an extraordinarily tight fight for survival.
Arsenal vs Manchester City
Following a shock FA Cup defeat to League One side Wigan Athletic last week, ending Manchester City’s bid for a quadruple collection of titles this campaign, there were the first small signs of trouble in their otherwise sensational season.
But any concerns over their form were quickly put to rest following their comprehensive 3-0 victory over Arsenal in Sunday’s League Cup final, giving manager Pep Guardiola his first piece of silverware on English soil.
Manchester United vs Chelsea
This is a clash which promises fireworks on the pitch and probably on the touchline as well - with old foes Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte reunited.
The recent league form of both Manchester United and Chelsea have been patchy to say the least. The Red Devils have lost their last two away games - falling to a 2-0 defeat to Spurs at Wembley and losing 1-0 to relegation strugglers Newcastle United. Chelsea haven’t been at their best either, losing two of their past three games in the Premier League, crumbling to defeats against Watford (4-1) and Bournemouth (3-0).
With Chelsea having won the reverse fixture 1-0, the onus will be on Mourinho’s men to take revenge. A win would also mean that they extend their lead over the fourth-placed Blues, who are now trailing the second-placed Manchester United by three points.
Manchester City vs Leicester City
It would be premature to call Man City’s recent run of results a slump, but it must be said that Pep Guardiola’s men have dropped more points than they would have liked after a scintillating start to the season.
The runaway leaders only picked up 55 from a possible 57 before Christmas, but since then have only chalked up 14 from 21. City’s recent away draw with Burnley would also have proved a disappointing outing, having spurned a number of chances to see off the game, before being punished by the home side.
Up against the title favourites will be Claude Puel’s Leicester, who have been rather inconsistent in the league. Currently in eighth spot, the Foxes can be a slick attacking force on their day, but having lost one and drawn one of their past two games, they will be hoping that they can somehow upset the odds against the Man City juggernaut.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal
The balance of power has slowly been shifting in North London, with Tottenham gradually closing the gap and then finally passing the Gunners in the Premier League pecking order last season.
Now Mauricio Pochettino’s side has an opportunity to widen the gap between the two teams in the crucial race for the top four.
While Manchester City have broken clear of the pack, it is a condensed race for the remaining Champions League qualifying positions.
If Arsene Wenger has any hope of getting his Arsenal troops back into contention for the top four, they will need all three points at Wembley.
Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspurs
Tottenham are in much the same predicament and will also want to maintain their top-four status after making great strides in recent seasons. The outcome of this fixture could have a big say in both teams’ fortunes over the closing weeks of the season.
Liverpool are poised at a critical moment in their 2017/18 campaign. What was once so promising has boiled down to top-four- or-bust after being knocked out of the FA Cup, unless they can pull off an improbable Champions League run.
Arsenal vs. Everton
Everton are on a disappointing run of form, and will need to return to winning ways. Sam Allardyce may have steadied the ship at Goodison Park, but they will need to put together a string of wins in order to replicate last season’s seventh-placed finish.
There is some positivity returning to the Emirates again, as the Gunners have ensured the departing Alexis Sanchez did not leave a huge void, signing another player capable of creating magic, albeit with less attitude – Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian international simply was unable to cement down a starting spot at Manchester United, and his arrival will be welcomed.
Manchester United vs Huddersfield Town
The Terriers are riding plenty of momentum, but the Premier League campaign is one of the more arduous in world football and they struggled for results through much of November and early December, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of a Bournemouth side that played the entire second half with 10 men.
It’s no surprise that Huddersfield have had their issues in their first season in the big time. Undeniably their highlight so far was their stunning victory over Manchester United at John Smith Stadium back in October.
They are coming up against a United outfit that will want to set the record straight from that humbling result in October, knowing they need to keep winning to hold off the chasing pack in this year’s incredibly tight race for the top four.
Tottenham vs. Manchester United
This will be a tight contest between Jose Mourinho's Manchester United and Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs.
Spurs' last defeat also came against a rampant Manchester City outfit, when they were thumped 4-1, but since then they too have put together a nifty six-game unbeaten run of their own.
Mourinho's men are on a decent run in the league, unbeaten in their last eight (five wins, three draws) - their last defeat in the Premier League coming against table-toppers City. But they will need to turn those draws into wins if they are to stand any chance of staying in the title race.
Swansea vs. Arsenal
Arsenal currently sit five points off Liverpool who occupy fourth spot, while it is even tighter at the bottom, with Swansea three points from safety.
Their opponents Arsenal visit the Liberty Stadium on the back of a morale-boosting 4-1 thumping of Crystal Palace at the Emirates. The Gunners looked extremely sharp in that game, scoring all four goals within the first 25 minutes. However, Arsene Wenger’s men will need to address their defensive problems if they are to finish in the top four. Calamitous defending has already cost them on a number of occasions.
After a stunning 1-0 home victory over Liverpool, Swansea will have the wind in their sails and further belief they can extricate themselves from the bottom three. The appointment of new manager Carvahal seems to have worked wonders for the Welsh side, as they have picked up a respectable seven points out of a possible 12 during Carvahal’s first four Premier League games.