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Premier League and League Cup final preview: What will and won't happen this weekend

Leicester vs Stoke (Saturday, 12.30pm)

The big talking point: Stoke's survival effort. Life has got marginally better under Paul Lambert, but there's still no certain Premier League future in the Potteries. And with 10 matches to play after this weekend, they're running out of games.

What will happen: Riyad Mahrez will start, after being reintegrated into the Leicester side. Well done to Claude Puel for being so forgiving, but Mahrez's deadline-day flounce probably deserved a heavier sanction. Maybe it's a sign of the how important the player is, but is it really so easy to forgive and forget?

What won't happen: Darren Fletcher and Peter Crouch are both injury doubts for Stoke so the experienced duo are unlikely to feature, while Kelechi Iheanacho will continue to start in place of Shinji Okazaki for Leicester.

Bournemouth vs Newcastle (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Both of these teams are starting to look nicely secure. A couple of wins in March and the ineptitude of what lies beneath them should be enough to keep them in the Premier League. To different degrees, that would really represent an achievement for both clubs.

What will happen: Bournemouth were unexpectedly beaten at Huddersfield last time out, but that owed much to injuries in critical positions. Adam Smith has since returned from injury and will relieve Ryan Fraser of emergency wing-back duties on the right side.

What won't happen: It's still too early for Jermain Defoe. He's back in training, but remains short of match fitness. Islam Slimani is finally available for Newcastle, though, and should make his Premier League debut for the club.

Brighton vs Swansea (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: It's the most magical time of the year: a relegation six-pointer at the Amex Stadium.

What will happen: Brighton won the reverse of this fixture at the Liberty Stadium, with a Glenn Murray goal enough to beat an anaemic Swansea. Even though life in South Wales has changed under Carlos Carvalhal, this should be a similarly tight fixture - albeit with Swansea the more likely scorers of the sole goal this time out. Watch for the resurgent Jordan Ayew to have an impact.

What won't happen: Murray may have been the match-winner last time around, but it would be a surprise if he starts here. Club-record signing Jurgen Locadia scored his first Brighton goal in the FA Cup last weekend and should be fit enough to begin this game.

Burnley vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Bad form. Amazingly, Burnley are still in seventh place. A testament to their good start to the season, but rather damning of what's been happening around them given that they've haven't won a game since the middle of December.

What will happen: That streak probably won't end here. Southampton remain mired in trouble, but their form has certainly picked up - unfortunately, at the same time as everyone else's. They've only lost once since 2 January, the goalkeeping change they've made (Alex McCarthy for Fraser Forster) has stabilised the defence, and they should be good for a point here (at least).

What won't happen: Burnley keeper Tom Heaton is fit and available after injury, having played in a behind-closed-doors friendly this week. Don't assume that he'll drop straight back into the side, though, because Nick Pope has performed very well in his absence.

Liverpool vs West Ham (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Manchester United (second) and Chelsea (fourth) face each other on Sunday, so this is an excellent opportunity for Liverpool to really bed themselves into the top four. It's worth noting also that Tottenham top-four contenders have a highly winnable run of games coming up, so this is not the time for Liverpool to ease off the pedal.

What will happen: Liverpool are out of the FA Cup and their Champions League tie with Porto is already over, so don't expect any rotation here. Andrew Robertson will continue at full-back, the familiar three danger men will begin at the top of the pitch; while Jordan Henderson, Gio Wijnaldum and Emre Can will start in a three-man midfield. West Ham have had some positive results in 2018 and now own a four-point gap over the relegation places - but stretching that at Anfield looks a tall order.

What won't happen: Nathaniel Clyne is close to a return after a long lay off, but this game will come slightly too soon. Most likely, he'll reappear in the Champions League return with Porto.

West Brom vs Huddersfield (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Alan Pardew's future. Either he wins here or, according to speculation, that could well be that for the West Brom boss.

What will happen: Jonny Evans will return as captain, despite his part in "taxi-gate". Needs must, of course, but that incident was really just a symptom of the more general ailment at West Brom. Even the senior professionals seem to have disengaged.

What won't happen: If West Brom don't win, then Pardew can have few complaints should he be let go. He was appointed to provide new manager bounce and, having delivered none of that, losing at home to a spirited but limited Huddersfield team would probably force his employers to intervene. Good news for Pardew, though: Huddersfield will be without their influential playmaker Aaron Mooy, who is recovering from a knee laceration.

Watford vs Everton (Saturday, 5.30pm)

The big talking point: No offence to Toffees fans, but it's hard to be too interested in Everton, deep within their Sam Allardyce holding pattern as the club are. The continuing 'can Rooney and Sigurdsson function in the same team?' saga is worth a conversation or two, but that's about it.

What will happen: According to reports, Cenk Tosun impressed sufficiently during Everton's recent warm weather training camp and might be given another starting chance here. That's another very odd situation: a striker bought for great expense on Allardyce's watch, but who he doesn't appear to have a great deal of confidence in thus far. Watford, meanwhile, will have taken great confidence from that 4-1 win over Chelsea and in particular the superb performance of Gerard Deulofeu.

What won't happen: There'll be no Eliaquim Mangala; the Everton defender is out for the season with injury. Merciful news for a struggling player, perhaps?

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham (Sunday, 12pm)

The big talking point: Wilfried Zaha is still unavailable, so the question is how Palace function without him. His attacking worth is clear, but more often than not Roy Hodgson has used him as an out-ball, allowing his team to move up the field. Palace are less dangerous than they might be, but they're also missing a fundamental piece of their jigsaw.

What will happen: Mauricio Pochettino will have to make a decision on Toby Alderweireld. The Belgian declared himself fit for the trip to Juventus, was subsequently left out, but then looked a long way from match-fit at Spotland on Sunday. He needs game time, but might be kept in reserve until that Rochdale FA Cup replay next week.

What won't happen: Other than Zaha, Palace have a lengthy injury list: Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jason Puncheon and Scott Dann are long-term absentees; while Bakary Sakho, Martin Kelly and Mamadou Sako are all doubts for this game, too.

Manchester United vs Chelsea (Sunday, (2.05pm)

The big talking point: Jose Mourinho versus Paul Pogba. Not very interesting, all-consuming issue that it is - but it will still dominate the prelude.

What will happen: If Chelsea lose, their top-four prospects will take a big hit. Liverpool and Tottenham are both expected to win on Saturday, and the Blues could well start this game in fifth place. With attention also on Barcelona and that Champions League second leg at the Camp Nou - and Manchester City arriving at Stamford Bridge next week - a slip here could be very costly.

What won't happen: A winner, perhaps. Couple Chelsea's attacking issues with Manchester United's own offensive issues, add in Jose Mourinho's pragmatism and Antonio Conte's need not to lose, and this probably ends up a stalemate. A 0-0 or a 1-1 seems a likely outcome.

League Cup final: Arsenal vs Manchester City (Sunday, 4.30pm)

The big talking point: The first domestic silverware of the season. Manchester City have had a difficult week by their standards and their collective desire will send them to Wembley searching for post-Wigan redemption.

What will happen: A City win. Arsenal have retooled in attack but, as happened in the north London derby, it's difficult not to see the rest of their side being overrun by an opponent with superior players. Despite the Gunners' recent pedigree when it comes to cup finals, City probably have too much for that Arsenal defence: too many goals, too much movement, too much quality.

What won't happen: No Petr Cech at Wembley, with David Ospina expected to keep his place in goal in this competition. It's a noble gesture, but perhaps not a smart one: Cech's footwork has been dodgy recently, but he has experience in winning these games and performing on the biggest stages.