Analysis

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

Manchester United and Chelsea face each other at Old Trafford while, in the League Cup, Manchester City and Arsenal contest the first major silverware of the season

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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.