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Football

City eye Premier League summit away to United as Arsenal, Spurs target top four

Watford vs Southampton

Vicarage Road, London

Tuesday, 23-04-2019 @9:45pm

Referee: Mike Dean

Watford remain without captain Troy Deeney, who serves the second game of a three-match ban. Roberto Pereyra is a doubt with the hip injury that ruled him out of Saturday’s win at Huddersfield.

Southampton’s Mario Lemina will hope to be involved again having made a goal scoring return on Saturday, in his first game since December. Defender Jannik Vestergaard remains a doubt with the minor knock that saw him miss the weekend defeat at Newcastle.

Southampton have only lost one of the past 11 meetings in all competitions (W5, D5). Watford’s most recent home victory against Southampton was by 3-2 in the Championship in September 2007.

Tottenham Hotspurs vs Brighton and Hove Albion

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

Tuesday, 23-04-2019 @9:45pm

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris is expected to return against Brighton, having missed Saturday’s defeat at Manchester City with a muscle injury. But top scorer Harry Kane remains absent with an ankle problem.

Brighton midfielder Davy Propper will be assessed after suffering a hamstring issue at Wolves on Saturday. Bruno was also withdrawn on Saturday but the captain’s injury is thought to be less serious. Anthony Knockaert serves the last of a three-match ban.

Tottenham have lost just twice to Brighton in their past 15 meetings in all competitions (D3, W10). Brighton’s last win at Spurs was a 1-0 victory in the old First Division in 1981.

Tottenham have lost 11 Premier League games this season, as many as they had in their previous two campaigns combined. Spurs have won their first three games in all competitions at their new stadium without conceding. None of Tottenham’s past 67 Premier League games have ended 0-0. Spurs haven’t lost a Premier League home game on a Tuesday since August 2007.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Arsenal

Molineux Stadium, West Midlands

Wednesday, 24-04-2019 @9:45pm

Referee: Scot Attwell

This midweek tussle with Arsenal may have come at the perfect time for Nuno Espirito Santo. Wolves’ season is at risk of spiraling out, having won just one of their last five matches. That solitary win, at home to Man United at the start of the month, seems like an age ago now as Wolves have since been dumped out of the FA Cup by Watford and have lost ground in their battle to finish seventh in the Premier League.

The cruel nature of their 3-2 extra-time defeat to Watford will no doubt have taken it out of Nuno’s players. Wolves were seconds away from a place in the FA Cup final, only to fall apart at Wembley to end their hopes of silverware. Regardless of what happens over the remaining few weeks of the season, this can still be considered a hugely successful first campaign back in the big time for the West Midlands outfit, who have done more than anyone to bloody the noses of the division’s established elite over the last eight months. Nuno’s men have already beaten Chelsea, Man United and Tottenham Hotspur this season, in fact, and they are now aiming to become just the third promoted side to beat at least four sides to have finished that campaign in the top six, joining Sunderland (1996-96) and Blackburn Rovers (1992-93) in doing so. Following that heartbreaking semi-final loss, all focus is now on finishing seventh in the Premier League, which should be enough to secure a backdoor entry into Europa League qualifying. However, away defeats to Burnley and Southampton, as well as Saturday’s goalless draw at home to a badly out-of-form Brighton & Hove Albion, have seen them drify down to 10th place. Wolves still have this game in hand to play on seventh-placed Everton, who are just one point better off, though Watford also have an extra game to play and seventh is considered theirs to lose at this point. Despite their shaky form, however, Wolves have continually picked up big results against the top six, and they are also unbeaten in their last six home Premier League matches overall. Not since between October 2003 and January 2004 have they enjoyed a longer unbeaten run which, as it turns out, was ended by Arsenal. If they can extend that run in midweek, last season’s Championship title winners will still have plenty to play for over the remaining few weeks of the campaign.

Emery’s decision to heavily rotate his side for Sunday’s home match with lowly Palace badly backfired as the Gunners’ winning home run, spanning 10 matches, came to an end. The Spaniard can be forgiven for retaining just four players from his side’s most recent outing, though, coming less than 72 hours on from their away tie with Napoli in the Europa League. In the end it was the decision to use Shkodran Mustafi in his backline that proved costly for Emery, with the experienced German defender producing another shocking display in a match that saw Arsenal concede three preventable goals.

Arsenal had managed to look like a team capable of defending in recent weeks, keeping out the opposition in six of their last seven matches heading into the calamitous performance against Palace, which halted their momentum. One of those clean sheets came in Naples last Thursday as a 1-0 win on the night secured a comfortable 3-0 aggregate victory, setting up a Europa League semi-final with Valencia later this month. Emery may well have to prioritise one competition over the other in the final month of the season, with the two legs against Valencia sandwiched between league games with Leicester City, Brighton and Burnley. For now, though, all focus is on coming away from Molineux with all three points to keep hold of a place in the top four. If they are to achieve that, the Gunners must do something they have not managed since October – win back-to-back away matches.

Arsenal were 1-0 winners at Watford last Monday, winning on the road for just the second time in 10 attempts. Not since February 2016, meanwhile, have they managed consecutive away clean sheets in the top flight. Three of the North London outfit’s four remaining league games happen to be away from the Emirates Stadium, so they need to use their recent win at Vicarage Road as a platform to push on. In a season that could still go one of two ways, Emery will not want to see his side slip back into the old habits that were on show against Palace.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is back from a two-match domestic ban, allowing Emery to leave Mustafi out of his side following his terrible display on Sunday. Emery is hopeful of having Ganit Xhaka back after the midfielder sat out the Palace match as a precaution. With Aaron Ramsey a confirmed absentee, Matteo Guendouzi is in line for another start should the Swiss miss out. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi were brought on at half time at the weekend and are pushing for starts here, while Nacho Monreal and Lucas Torreira are also in line for recalls if Emery reverts back to his strongest side. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 10 goals in his eight Premier League appearances against promoted sides, scoring seven and assisting three. Five of those seven goals and two of the three assists have come away from home, possibly seeing him get the nod over Alexandre Lacazette up top.

Wolves once again have a clean bill of health, meanwhile, giving Nuno a chance to rotate his squad should he wish. That does not seem likely, though, with the Portuguese not known for making mass changes between matches. Moragn Gibbs-White started in midfield against Brighton at the weekend, but Leander Dendoncker may return on Wednesday, while Romain Saiss is also in contention to feature. Up top, Raul Jimenez has been directly involved in seven goals in his 10 Premier League games against the top six Premier League sides this season, scoring four and assisting three.

Wolves have never beaten Arsenal in the Premier League in nine previous attempts, their longest-such run without a win against a single opponent in the competition. The Gunners have not lost against Wolves in any competition since a top-flight clash in September 1979, winning 16 of the 20 meetings since then. Arsenal have also won all four of their Premier League matches at Molineux. Only at the KCOM Stadium (five) do they have a better 100% win rate at a particular ground.

Manchester United vs Manchester City

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday, 24-04-2019 @10pm

Referee: Andre Marriner

Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Old Trafford on Wednesday night for the 44th Premier League Manchester derby in what will be a crucial game at the top end of the table.

After the Red Devils’ lacklustre performance against Everton on the weekend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to send a message to the United faithful that he is still the right man to take the club forward in spite of recent results.  As for the Citizens, after narrowly dispatching Tottenham on the weekend, Guardiola’s side will be preparing for a totally different game on Wednesday as they look to take top-spot in the league once again.

United may remain without ​Ander Herrera, ​Antonio Valencia and ​Eric Bailly, with all three having missed recent Premier League games with injury. Luke Shaw could return for the home side after serving a two-match suspension that saw him miss the clash with Everton on Sunday.

For City, Kevin De Bruyne is likely to miss Wednesday’s affair after hobbling off during their 1-0 victory over ​Tottenham on the weekend. David Silva, Vincent Kompany and ​Benjamin Mendy could all be pushing for starting shirts, the latter missed out on Saturday’s game due to poor match fitness after recovering from a long-term injury.

In the reverse fixture in November, ​Guardiola’s side won 3-1 and will be looking to put in a similar performance come Wednesday. Although this is the 44th Premier League derby, it will mark the 178th competitive meeting between the two clubs. The Red Devils have won on 73 of these occasions, with Manchester City only coming out victorious 52 times. The visitors will not be intimated by the record however, with the Sky Blues having won this fixture in their previous two visits. Sergio Aguero will be looking to add to his impressive goal tally against the Red Devils which has seen him score 11 times against Wednesday’s hosts. Not only is the Argentinian the highest Manchester derby goal scorer ever, but he has bagged himself 19 in the league this season as well.

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