After a week’s break to make way for the FA Cup Fifth Round, the Premier League returns with a massive weekend of fixtures.
Just six points separate Stoke in 19th to Bournemouth in 10th, meaning that the relegation battle is tight.
Burnley, Leicester and Everton all can’t be ruled out too, given potential for dramatic slumps between now and May.
Several of those teams are in action in the first of this weekend’s games, with three six pointers as Brighton and Bournemouth play host to Swansea City and Newcastle United.
West Bromwich Albion might be cut adrift in 20th and seven points away from safety, but a home win over Huddersfield Town will put them right back in the mix.
^3:00pm unless stated
Leicester City vs Stoke City (12:30pm)
Stoke need a win here to pile pressure on those above them who play at 3pm, whilst Leicester can move closer to the safety mark.
The Potters’ away record in the league however was shambolic in 2017 with 14 points from a possible 60.
Things haven’t improved either since Big Ben rang in 2018 with no points from two away league games.
Add in the fact that Leicester are unbeaten in last five clashes with three consecutive 2-2 draws at Stoke’s ground.
In fact, the Foxes have lost just once at home to Stoke this century (0-1 in January 2015), so I fancy them to end a miserable run of two wins in ten here.
Prediction: Leicester City 2-0 Stoke City
Jake predicts: Leicester City 2-0 Stoke City
Result: Leicester City 1-1 Stoke City
Bournemouth vs Newcastle United
Newcastle come into this clash off the back of a home win over Manchester United, as they seek back to back league wins for first time since September.
Bournemouth meanwhile have taken 15 points from last eight games, despite losing 4-1 at Huddersfield last time out.
The past three top flight meetings in this fixture have all been won by the away side, so Newcastle will fancy their chances here.
When it comes to clean sheets, both teams have struggled because Bournemouth have just one shutout in last 17 games across all competitions.
Newcastle have kept two clean sheets in that period but both came courtesy of 1-0 wins in this calendar year over Stoke and Man Utd
Prediction wise, I am going for a draw given the defensive fragilities in both teams.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-1 Newcastle United
Jake predicts: Bournemouth 1-1 Newcastle United
Result: Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle United
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Swansea City
This clash is an absolute six pointer with both teams sat two and one points respectively above the drop.
Both teams are currently unbeaten across all competitions so expect a competitive game.
Brighton are unbeaten in their last five with two of their three wins coming here at the Amex, whilst drawing their last two away matches.
Swansea meanwhile have been unbeaten since losing at home to Tottenham Hotspur on 2nd January.
During that run, they have recorded five wins and draws apiece with two of those wins coming from FA Cup replays.
Swans manager Carlos Carvalhal is yet win here despite making three visits with Sheffield Wednesday, drawing twice in 2015-16 and losing on his trip last season.
With so much at stake and Swansea having a midweek replay, I can see both teams playing for a point. Ultimately, I fancy Brighton to just nick this.
Prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Swansea City
Jake predicts: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-3 Swansea City
Result: Brighton & Hove Albion 4-1 Swansea City
Burnley vs Southampton
Southampton need to utilise momentum from their FA Cup run here as they fight for survival.
Burnley meanwhile are winless in two months with five draws and six defeats across all competitions. Only one of the draws has come at Turf Moor.
The Saints meanwhile have taken six points from their last five league matches, despite losing last time out to a dominant Liverpool side.
Burnley have avoided defeat in seven of eight top flight home clashes with Southampton, taking six wins and a draw.
Although momentum seems to be with the Saints away from home, I reckon that Burnley’s top flight record against the Saints will see them through here.
Prediction: Burnley 1-0 Southampton
Jake predicts: Burnley 1-0 Southampton
Result: Burnley 1-1 Southampton
Liverpool vs West Ham United
Liverpool enter this match knowing that a win will give them the edge ahead of Spurs and Chelsea, who play on Sunday.
West Ham meanwhile are currently in form with 20 points from last 12 league games, so will be a real test here.
Since a 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace last April, the Reds have gone unbeaten at Anfield in the league, winning eight but drawn nearly as many with seven draws.
That period has seen them score 30 goals and concede just nine so expect them to be on song.
West Ham on other hand have scored 20 on the road but shifted 30 goals at back.
David Moyes has a woeful record at Anfield, drawing and losing seven out of 14 visits but has an in for Javier Hernandez, who netted three goals here during his time at Manchester United.
I can see both teams scoring here but a comfortable home win for Liverpool.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 West Ham
Jake predicts: Liverpool 4-0 West Ham
Result: Liverpool 4-1 West Ham
WBA vs Huddersfield Town
West Brom need a win here otherwise they need to produce another great escape if want to stay up.
Huddersfield meanwhile got their first win in the league last time by a comfortable 4-1 scoreline at home, lifting them outside the bottom three.
The Terriers have just two away wins and draws apiece so far in the top flight but are unbeaten in five of eight post WWII meetings at The Hawthorns (W2 D3 L3).
If compare to previous eight before that war, the Baggies fared better with a W5 D1 L2 record in, compared to the more evenly matched post WWII record.
Both teams scored in each of the eight pre WWII games but after the war, both sides drew three blanks, including two 0-0 draws.
West Brom however lead the goal aggregate 31-22 from the last 16 league clashes at the Hawthorns combined in this fixture.
Back in the present, the home team have lost their last four matches whilst Huddersfield have lost nine away games by at least two goals without scoring.
Based on the history of this fixture and recent results, a draw seems likely but I reckon West Brom will kick start their survival fight here.
Prediction: WBA 2-0 Huddersfield Town
Jake predicts: WBA 1-1 Huddersfield Town
Result: WBA 1-2 Huddersfield Town
Watford vs Everton (5:30pm)
For one reason or another, this probably should of been an Europa League spot six pointer now.
Watford’s slide post Everton approach for Marcos Silva and the Toffees’ own struggles, makes this meeting little more than just a further step towards survival.
An away win could leave Everton three points away from the magical 40 point mark and safety.
Defeat and Watford will close the gap to just a point but should other results go against them, Everton will be back in the relegation battle alongside ten other clubs.
Since the Hornets’ return in 2015, they are unbeaten against Everton at Vicarage Road winning and drawing one apiece to end a run of five home defeats by the blue team of Merseyside.
The Hornets have avoided defeat at home to Everton on just five occasions out of 12 clashes in Hertfordshire, which is frankly concerning and a bad omen.
Everton’s recent away record from last 21 away trips in the Premier League, is also a massive concern, having won one drawn eight and lost 12 in that period.
Their last back to back away wins came in August/September 2016 against West Brom and Sunderland respectively.
Prediction wise, I reckon Watford will sting a surprise upon Everton after two solid weeks to adjust to Javi Garcia’s style of play.
Their poor home record against Everton is eroded by the latter’s shambolic away form but Watford will want the win more I feel.
Prediction: Watford 1-0 Everton
Jake predicts: Watford 1-3 Everton
Result: Watford 1-0 Everton
Here at Sport Grill, me and Jake Self are going head to head predicting games.
This is how things stand after the previous round of games along with the rules.
Correct score – 3 points
Correct result – 1 point
Incorrect result – 0 points