Forest extend on new-found form
Another clean sheet for Magpies
Jurgen Klopp doesn't tend to fare well against Chelsea, winning just six of his previous 19 encounters. In his 1000th game as a manager, and the Reds in poor form, he will be desperate to improve that record.
Tuesday's cup win over Wolves was a much-needed fillip, especially in how Liverpool controlled proceedings, because their midfield has been dysfunctional all season. The impact of this on a defence that persists with a high line has been the root cause of their woes. It has resulted in the Reds conceding in each of their last eight league outings.
Chelsea have their own serious issues, not least a feeble front-line that has scored only seven in their last 10. Defeat at Anfield could see them in the bottom half of the table.
It's easy to go down a rabbit-hole when exploring both teams' failings and when you do that you reach the same conclusion each time. The last four meetings have ended honours even and another draw looks likely.
Unbeaten in three and ever-improving, the Tricky Trees head to the south coast in good spirits. They boast an offensive pairing of Brennen Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White that is dove-tailing nicely, along with a back-line that has kept back-to-back clean sheets.
An injury to Dean Henderson is their only big concern but if you're going to be without your first-choice keeper it may as well be against a side that hasn't scored for 381 Premier League minutes. In their last four games - all losses - the Cherries have averaged a shot on target every half-an-hour, with their keeper tested every 17 minutes in return.
These sides reside in the bottom two for shots taken this term but only one is doing something about it. In their last six games, Forest have taken 70 shots. In the six prior, only 44 were attempted.
It's a greater ambition that is reaping rewards.
The Seagulls have won their last three away games, scoring three-plus goals each time. The Foxes, meanwhile, have lost their last three at home, failing to convert on each occasion.
Naturally therefore, the visitors should be fancied here with their Japanese star Kaoru Mitoma particularly catching the eye in a brilliantly put-together collective. The flying winger has four direct goal involvements in six and is unplayable on his day.
Beyond Brighton securing a fourth consecutive away victory for the first time in seven years, a low card count appeals. Between them, the pair have picked up just one more caution than Fulham in 2022/23. The hosts' continued aversion to winning corners is also a consideration.
Factor in a Carabao Cup win over Manchester City and there are definitely signs that Nathan Jones' managerial methods are starting to take hold at St Mary's. A vital three points at Everton last weekend was gained from fortitude and shape as much as individual displays.
How substantial is Saints' improvement, however, we won't know until the final whistle blows on Saturday afternoon.
We're on safer ground claiming Villa are on the up, picking up 13 points from 18 under Unai Emery and scoring in each of his eight games. Granted, one of those was a 1-2 reverse to Stevenage in the cup, but transformations take time and overall, Emery is getting better tunes from his players. Emi Buendia has notched two in three.
This one could be a slow-burner. Nine of Villa's goals under Emery have come in the second half while Southampton have scored 65% of their league strikes after the break.
The Hammers will gain a significant edge in this critical six-pointer should they be successful in their bid to recruit Danny Ings from Villa. The 30-year-old evidently loves playing against the Toffees, scoring seven against them.
Moreover, one of these teams will finally possess a forward who knows where the goal is, with a distinct lack of firepower costing them both up to this point. Their respective leading goal-scorers have just three apiece and, even from a middling season, Ings has twice that.
The two teams have scored just 12 between them in the first half of contests in 2022/23. Combined, they have failed to convert before the break in just shy of 70% of their fixtures.
With so much at stake - including both manager's futures - an open game full of chances feels unlikely. That especially applies early doors.
If the goals are drying up a little for the Magpies - scoring one per game in their last five, compared to 2.2 in the five before that - the results continue to come for a side that has a top four spot firmly in their sights. When Newcastle last lost a league game Boris Johnson was still Prime Minister.
It's a remarkable run founded on a formidable defensive record that has seen Eddie Howe's side breached just twice in their last 15-and-a-half hours of top-flight football and keep clean sheets in over half their fixtures.
An odd quirk has it that Palace have lost their last eight home games kicking off at 17:30 on a Saturday. Of more substance is a sustained slump that's brought just one win in six.
In four of those contests the Eagles lost to nil, a circumstance that seemed certain to happen again on Wednesday until a last-gasp Michael Olise wonder-strike against Manchester United. Palace can't depend on those.
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