Loftus-Cheek will breeze past Shaqiri down Stoke's right
Saturday, 12:30, Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Crystal Palace's 4-4-2 has looked considerably brighter with Ruben Loftus-Cheek back in left midfield. The on-loan Chelsea midfielder is superb at slaloming through traffic, cutting infield from the left to link with Wilfried Zaha and generally adding a sense of purposefulness to Palace's attacking play.
He should be particularly effective this weekend against Stoke City, who are vulnerable on that side because of Xherdan Shaqiri's defensive laziness. The Stoke playmaker only makes 0.6 tackles and 0.4 interceptions per game, leaving Glen Johnson exposed. Johnson should be back from injury in time for this, but he may not be sharp enough to make up for Shaqiri's waywardness.
Stoke are now on a run of 12 matches without victory, while Palace are flying high after a 5-0 win against Leicester City last weekend. Their differing levels of confidence only increase the chance that Loftus-Cheek will power through midfield to relegate the Potters.
Tadic & Redmond to expose Everton's flat formation
Saturday, 17:30, Live on BT Sport 1
The reason Everton fans find Sam Allardyce's football boring is because he doesn't allow his players to improvise, or teach attacking patterns that allow for positional switches. In short, they are far too rigid in all areas of the pitch, deploying a flat three in midfield, two traditional wingers, and an immobile centre-forward.
This is why Big Sam is successful against similarly cagey teams (such as Newcastle or Stoke), but struggles when faced with more complex patterns, explaining Everton's defeats to Burnley, Watford, and Bournemouth. Southampton's 3-4-2-1 looks increasingly complex of late, buoyed by the drifting movement of Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic in dual number ten roles.
Consequently these two should be able to out-think the hosts, moving into pockets of space that fall between those lifelessly flat lines of defence and midfield. There is no particular battle to look at here, just a general mismatch of formations.
Long through balls to Barnes & Woods to hurt wide-open Arsenal defence
Burnley's form has improved dramatically since Sean Dyche began playing Chris Woods with Ashley Barnes up front, largely because these two both offer a physical presence that unsettles the back line. However, as they showed in the 2-1 victory over Everton, these two are both surprisingly effective at making tandem runs on the shoulder of the last defender.
There is no doubt about the tactical pattern of this match. Burnley will sit deep in a 4-4-2 formation and look to frustrate Arsenal. This is hugely problematic for the Gunners, who are highly vulnerable to counter-attacks because of their overly expansive formation.
Given that Burnley will almost certainly out-battle and tactically outwit Arsenal in central midfield, it is easy to envisage the home side's full-backs releasing Barnes and Woods in behind with long ground passes. Arsenal are too fragile, and commit too many men forward, to be able to stop Burnley's direct model.
Liverpool to target Bakayoko and Rudiger with their counter-pressing
Sunday, 16:30, Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Chelsea will most likely play in a deep-lying 3-5-1-1 formation at Stamford Bridge in an attempt to nullify Liverpool's front three - and the long balls that were so effective against Roma in the first-leg of their Champions League semi-final. This leaves an interesting battle on the flanks that could swing either way depending on whether or not Chelsea can counter-attack successfully.
To do so, they need to avoid Liverpool's gegenpressing. Tiemoue Bakayoko played 90 minutes against Swansea City last weekend, and it's difficult to understand why Antonio Conte would have picked the Frenchman if not to prepare him for Liverpool. Chelsea cannot afford to face such a strong opponent with just Cesc Fabregas and N'Golo Kante in the middle.
Liverpool will lay traps throughout the match for Bakayoko, swarming him when he receives the ball to unnerve the struggling midfielder. This could then lead to three-on-threes, in which Mohamed Salah versus Antonio Rudiger is an obvious mismatch. Unless Chelsea can avoid the counter-press, they won't get forward frequently enough to hurt Liverpool in wide areas (Jurgen Klopp's side looked particularly vulnerable to crosses against Roma in midweek). Either way, there should be goals.