Analysis

Premier League preview: What (definitely) will and won't happen this weekend

Chelsea and Liverpool face off with a top-four place still on the line, while Stoke, Southampton and Swansea all face potentially season-defining games

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Brighton vs Manchester United (Friday, 8pm)

The big talking point: If Brighton better Southampton's result (vs Everton), they'll guarantee their safety.

What will happen: Chris Hughton's players are a tough nut to crack at the Amex; they'll block off the middle of the pitch and attempt to nullify Manchester United's creative players. Concerningly for Jose Mourinho, Hughton's defence will also play deep and, without Romelu Lukaku in the squad, the Portuguese will be reliant on pacey forwards exploiting areas which likely won't exist.

What won't happen: As per the above, Lukaku will be missing. Mourinho has confirmed that he still expects his forward to be fit for the FA Cup final, but he won't be seen before then. There will be no Eric Bailly here, either, who has been dropped because he isn't going to the World Cup. Seriously. Maybe the justification for that is clear in Mourinho's mind, but it's a fairly opaque reason to everyone else. 

Stoke vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 12.30pm)

The big talking point: Relegation. Palace will be safe with another win, but a Stoke defeat – married with just a point for Swansea – would condemn them to the drop.

What will happen: Expect Paul Lambert to hand another start to veteran forward Peter Crouch. Stoke's main issue is a lack of goals, particularly from the top of the formation, so Crouch's presence should at least provide a direct threat. Whether his team-mates can take advantage of the knockdowns and headers he wins is another issue, but he does offer the theory of opportunity.

What won't happen: Jese has been granted compassionate leave by the club, so won't be seen here - or again in a Stoke shirt. Bruno Martins Indi is also out injured.

Bournemouth vs Swansea (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Bournemouth aren't mathematically safe, but they're as good as, meaning that the insipid form is next season's issue. It's a big day for Swansea, though: a win at the Vitality Stadium would provide them with a critical buffer ahead of next week's game with Southampton.

What will happen: Bournemouth were very poor at St Mary's last weekend, defending dreadfully for both of Dusan Tadic's goals. They'll get far less of an examination here, though, with Carlos Carvalhal likely to revert to type with a negative approach away from home. Swansea will play for the draw.

What won't happen: But they won't get it. One of the features of Bournemouth's defeat was actually a fair bit of attacking pressure. Alex McCarthy was excellent and, had it not been for their goalkeeper, we'd already be talking about Southampton's relegation. As they did, then, Bournemouth will create chances here and Lukasz Fabianski will have to continue his fine form.

Leicester vs West Ham (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: David Moyes vs Andy Carroll. West Ham have been rather complacent in slipping back into relegation territory and this week's training confrontation between the manager and centre-forward will have done nothing for morale.

What will happen: It will be Leicester's blatant apathy against West Ham's nervy incompetence. Leicester's season is over, but there's just a sense that Claude Puel needs a couple of performances before his position is reviewed in the summer. Losing 5-0 at Selhurst Park won't have impressed anyone.

What won't happen: For obvious reasons it would be a surprise if Carroll played any part, but Moyes must also keep battling that long injury list. Pedro Obiang, Winston Reid and James Collins are all still missing while, for Leicester, Marc Albrighton begins a suspension. Wilfred Ndidi is also ruled out with injury, while Kasper Schmeichel and Shinji Okazaki are both doubtful.

Watford vs Newcastle (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Newcastle have lost two in a row, but still just need a point to guarantee survival. Watford are safe, but are now without a win in over two months (West Brom, March 3).

What will happen: All things considered, Watford are actually quite spritely. They may have lost 2-0 to Tottenham last Monday and defended terribly in doing so, but they created a lot of opportunities and might, had Hugo Lloris not been in such good form, have taken something from that game. They'll be awkward for Newcastle, who themselves are coming into this off the back of an awful performance against West Brom.

What won't happen: There'll be no Islam Slimani. The FA have charged him with violent conduct and he'll now miss the final three games of the season. What a spectacular loan spell this has proven to be.

West Brom vs Tottenham (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Only a win will do for West Brom and, depending on results elsewhere, that still might not be enough. Even so, it will be an achievement of sorts if Darren Moore manages to stave off relegation until the final day.

What will happen: Tottenham will be vulnerable. Still in a mass-sulk after that FA Cup semi-final defeat, they were awful on Monday night, careless and inaccurate. West Brom will still be undermatched but, buoyed by a good run of form, should be a handful here.

What won't happen: Mauricio Pochettino will be without the influential Moussa Dembele, who turned an ankle at Wembley earlier in the week and is unlikely to feature in any of the last three games.

Everton vs Southampton (Saturday, 5.30pm)

The big talking point: Southampton really need to win here. They have three games left, one in hand on most of the sides around them, but they could really do with closing the gap on Swansea before they head to Wales themselves in midweek.

What will happen: Mark Hughes should stick with the side who beat Bournemouth. Dusan Tadic and Mario Lemina were particularly influential at St Mary's and, with Everton having won each of their last two games, they'll need to repeat those performances here.

What won't happen: Both sides are missing key performers (still): Gylfi Sigurdsson, Eliaquim Mangala and James McCarthy are all long-term absentees, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is also now unavailable. Southampton continue to be without Steven Davis, while Sofiane Boufal is still persona non grata with Hughes.

Manchester City vs Huddersfield (Sunday, 1.30pm)

The big talking point: "Keep the score down." That will be David Wagner's instruction: Huddersfield could really do without worsening their goal difference at this point in the season.

What will happen: This will be very end-of-season, probably attack versus defence for much of the game. City obviously have nothing to play for – although they will get the trophy this weekend – and, as per the above, Town will be happy just to get out of the Etihad with their collective morale intact.

What won't happen: John Stones is still out and likely won't be seen again this season, but Tom Ince will definitely be missing for Huddersfield.

Chelsea vs Liverpool (Sunday, 4.30pm)

The big talking point: The top four. Lose to Liverpool and it's over for Chelsea - a must-win game if they still have ambitions of playing Champions League football next season.

What will happen: It's difficult to judge Liverpool's mindset here - after all, a Champions League final is a huge distraction. The trouble is that, having played two more games than Spurs, a loss here will leave them extremely vulnerable to missing out on next year's competition. Somehow, they have to keep their focus and kill Chelsea off. A draw would be absolutely fine.

What won't happen: No new injury news for Chelsea: Antonio Conte has a clean bill of health. Jurgen Klopp will head to Stamford Bridge without Joel Matip and Emre Can, though, the latter who is - of course - rumoured to be heading for Juventus.

Arsenal vs Burnley (Sunday, 4.30pm)

The big talking point: Arsene Wenger's last-ever home game as Arsenal manager. What will both club and fans have planned for it? 

What will happen: A hangover for at least one of these teams. Arsenal put all their eggs in the Europa League basket and now, after squandering that man advantage in the first leg and failing to properly test Atletico in the second, their season is over. This will be a pre-season friendly of a game, probably played in front of a half-full ground.

What won't happen: No Laurent Koscielny, this week, next week or even during the World Cup. A ruptured Achilles was diagnosed in Madrid on Thursday night and he won't be seen again for some time. Perhaps not even until next season has begun.

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