Southampton v West Ham
Bertrand v Antonio
Live on Sky Sports 1
Separated by one place and five points in the Premier League table, this is a hugely important game in the race for a top six finish. Both West Ham and Southampton are in excellent form of late and their superb defensive organisation, narrow off-the-ball shape, and fluidity in transition should make this a congested, hard-fought game of football. As such the battle between the Hammers outlet on the wing - Michail Antonio - and left-back Ryan Bertrand could be key.
West Ham play very narrowly, with Dimitri Payet drifting inside from the left to create alongside central midfielder Mark Noble. This tactic, with Aaron Cresswell overlapping at every opportunity, is not likely to be successful against Southampton's powerful central midfield. As exemplified in the midweek match against Villa, Antonio is a better bet; he hugs the right touchline, providing the long ball passing option to suddenly stretch the play (after the opponents' shape is sucked inwards by Payet's trickery in the middle).
Antonio's passes received v Villa (left) and take-ons v Bournemouth (left)
Finding space in this game will be tricky. Antonio's dribbling skills and direct, traditional wing-play on the touchline could test Ryan Bertrand, and either way will make for some intriguing one-on-one situations. Dusan Tadic is not particularly adept at helping provide defensive cover on that side of the pitch, while Victor Wanyama will be preoccupied by Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, and Payet. Don't expect goals.
Back under 2.5 goals at 4/6
Man City v Leicester
Toure v Kante
Saturday, 12:45, Live on BT Sport 1
Manuel Pellegrini has moved Yaya Toure back into central midfield in recent weeks, which could prove to be a key mistake against Leicester City this weekend. Claudio Ranieri's team rely heavily on rapid counter-attacks that look to utilise Jamie Vardy's pace on the flanks, and N'Golo Kante's wriggling persistence in midfield. To defend this successfully, opponents need to press hard onto the Leicester midfield as soon as possession is lost; Toure rarely does this effectively.
Kante continues to break up the play and create chances with astonishing consistency this season; he made another eight interceptions against Liverpool on Tuesday night. What is perhaps still under-rated about his game is the extent to which his break-up play and quick passing to Riyad Mahrez are vital in the Leicester counter-attack.
Toure makes just 1.5 tackles and 1.0 interceptions per match, rarely contributing to defensive work or springing into action once Man City lose possession. He will no doubt be dangerous in the Leicester half, sewing together the lines neatly in an advanced position during long periods of Man City possession, but the large hole he will leave in the centre of the park - coupled with an absence of work rate in the tackle - will provide Leicester with numerous opportunities to gallop forward and play that long pass for Vardy to chase.
Back double chance draw or Leicester at 29/20
Chelsea v Man Utd
Ivanovic v Martial
Live on Sky Sports 1
There is no doubt that Louis van Gaal has instructed his players to play more direct football now that his job is under threat. Wayne Rooney has returned to form and, supported by Juan Mata, is helping to create more aggressive and vertical passing moves; Chelsea will most likely struggle, particularly on Branislav Ivanovic's side of the pitch.
Some 40% of Man Utd's attacks come down the left (the most in the Premier League) and this is only likely to increase with Anthony Martial in such phenomenal form. He created six chances from the left by-line against Stoke, and will fancy his chances of similar success against the struggling Ivanovic.
Although Chelsea have tightened up defensively under Guus Hiddink, the low quality of their recent opponents makes their defensive record look more impressive than it actually is. The last menacing left wing Chelsea faced (Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas) saw them concede three times in this zone.
The main reason for Martial's upturn in form has been the emergence of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson at left-back, whose overlapping runs have created problems not seen at Old Trafford since Luke Shaw's injury early in the season. Together, Martial and Borthwick-Jackson will seriously test Ivanovic.
Back over 2.5 goals at 7/5
Swansea v Crystal Palace
Williams v Adebayor
Crystal Palace have now scored just two goals in their last seven games, and while this coincides with the period that Yannick Bolasie has been out injured, the primary reason is their lack of firepower up front. Consequently their acquisition of Emmanuel Adebayor - who could start his first game on Saturday - is key to their chances of a revival.
Adebayor possesses the precise attributes that Palace require. They play a rigidly counter-attacking game that relies upon sitting deep and awaiting the opportunity to pounce down the flanks on the counter (76% of their attacks are via the wings, the highest in the division). Unsurprisingly, this system requires a strong centre-forward who can hold up the ball to facilitate the counter, and who can get on the end of Wilfried Zaha's crosses.
Swansea's form has improved significantly since Francesco Guidolin's arrival, but defender Ashley Williams could be in for a very tough head-to-head this weekend. Williams completes more defensive actions (12.26 blocks, interceptions, and clearances per game) than any other Premier League player, but it is his aerial ability and strength that will be tested by Adebayor. Versus Everton, he failed to win a single header against Romelu Lukaku; he will need to perform better this weekend to prevent the Togolese striker from making an instant impact for his new club.
Back both teams to score at 21/20