Liverpool v Chelsea
Premier League, Wednesday 20:15
Live on Sky Premier League
It's the time of year when a disparity in motivation plays a huge part in results. Liverpool have clearly gone to sleep since winning the title while Chelsea are fighting for a place in the Champions League, and given both sides rely on intensity (for both pressing and countering) in these encounters, that gives Frank Lampard's side the edge.
Chelsea will sit back and absorb pressure, allowing the Liverpool centre-backs to hold the ball but denying a long ball option over the top of the defence or a pass through central midfield. Without Jordan Henderson, Liverpool's midfield lacks the energy that will be needed to work through Chelsea's cautious and stubborn defensive shape.
They can then counter-attack efficiently via in-form Christian Pulisic. Liverpool's recent opponents have focused on quick long balls into the channel behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Chelsea will surely follow suit. Pulisic, joined by Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham leaning to that side, can similarly take advantage of the problems developing for Jurgen Klopp.
Man Utd v Chelsea
FA Cup, Sunday 18:00
Live on BBC One
At the beginning of the season Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0 in an even game defined by the hosts' rapid counter-attacks and the visitors' inability to recompress after losing the ball. Fast forward 11 months and Frank Lampard's side remain poor in the transition, unable to build in the right shape to screen against counter-attacks launched through midfield or around the sides of the two centre-backs.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team, on a 19-game unbeaten run, have improved their counter-attacking as the season goes on. The relationship between Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford on the left-centre is phenomenal, and should be far too much for Reece James and Andreas Christensen to cope with. But if that area of the pitch doesn't prove fruitful, United can still expect to outthink their opponents centrally.
When Chelsea lose the ball in the United half, their midfield will - as always - be too stretched and under-stocked, ensuring Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes easily drop into their favourite areas and dictate the play. A repeat of the opening weekend result is certainly not out of the question.
Tottenham v Leicester
Premier League, Sunday 16:00
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Jose Mourinho's reactive tactics will see him sit back and look to crowd the Leicester central midfield, attempting to force a repeat of their recent poor performances without James Maddison. Leicester have been passing harmlessly out to the wings far too often, struggling to build with fluency since Maddison's injury. However, Luke Thomas's superb debut at left wing-back gives Brendan Rodgers some encouragement ahead of this weekend's crucial game.
His overlapping on that side set up Ayoze Perez's opener, and indeed his dominance in possession (72 touches) was particularly impressive given he was up against another wing-back. Against a four-man defence on Sunday, Thomas should be the free man - and should be able to create at will against Spurs' error-prone Serge Aurier.
Both Spurs and Leicester will show plenty of caution in this game, so the safest prediction is a low-scoring game, but if we are to get a winner that battle will be crucial. At the other end, Aurier's surging runs could potentially give Thomas his first real introduction to life as a Premier League player.
Arsenal v Man City
FA Cup, Saturday 19:45
Live on BT Sport 1
Mikel Arteta's latest formation is yet to be tested by a strong possession team who play predominantly in the half-spaces, which is the one area of the pitch his 3-4-3 can be overwhelmed. Consequently the movement of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, and David Silva in this area of the pitch should pull Arsenal's midfield around and cause chaos for the overworked wing-backs.
The danger with the 3-4-3 is that the wing-backs are forced to drop (as they will by City's possession dominance) to make a 5-2-3 that is far too light in midfield. There will be plenty of room on either side of Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos, and even if the wide forwards drop back to help they will not have the positional awareness to close down the gaps. It is exactly here that Mahrez, De Bruyne, and Silva operate.
Arsenal were beaten 3-0 by Man City in both of their league games this season. Given their defence is so error-prone, Gabriel Jesus is in form, and the City midfield is back to its best, it is hard to see how Arteta's 3-4-3 survives the onslaught in those fertile half-spaces. Another easy City win is on the cards.