Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Arsenal at Anfield was thoroughly entertaining but the Premier League’s success is masking some big problems within English football.
As the Premier League enters matchday 24, here are the five most intriguing fixtures ahead of the midweek action.
Fulham vs Brighton
After their cruel loss at home to London rivals Tottenham, Fulham will be hoping for better luck as Brighton travel to Craven Cottage.
Claudio Ranieri’s side impressed in the first half and should have secured three points against their fancied opponents.
Despite proving stout, Brighton have conceded at least two goals in their last three away games. The Seagulls have failed to win 23 of their last 25 away games in the Premier League in a worrying sign.
Fulham have been similarly shaky, holding the worst defensive record, with 51 conceded in 23 games.
This will be another vital game for the Whites, who need to win to keep the survival door ajar.
This game will have goals and Fulham’s superior attack should ensure they prevail.
Prediction: Fulham 2-1.
Huddersfield vs Everton
In a battle between two of the league’s most out-of-form sides, Huddersfield and Everton will be looking to revive their seasons in West Yorkshire.
Ten points adrift, the Terriers know anything but a win will just about confirm their exile from England’s top flight.
With just one point taken in their past ten, Jan Siewart’s men will hope the lustre of a new manager can manufacture a vital three points.
Their opponents travel east needing a confidence boost. Marco Silva remains under intense scrutiny after his side has failed to live up to their lofty early season hopes.
Since Divock Origi ripped out Evertonian souls in December, they have picked up eight points from nine games. Only Fulham and Huddersfield have accrued fewer.
With the partisan atmosphere at John Smith’s and Everton having kept one clean sheet in their past 12 matches, it may just be the Terriers’ day.
Prediction: Huddersfield to scrape a 1-0 victory.
Newcastle vs Manchester City
The Abu-Dhabi backed City head north to Newcastle keen on inflicting misery upon the Geordie faithful.
Rafa Benitez saw a transfer for Jordan Lukaku fall through over the weekend, adding to his frustrations with Mike Ashley and the board.
The black cloud around Newcastle will grow further if they don’t start well here. Expect the fans to turn against their controversial owner in particular.
However, if the Toon can keep possession and gain territory through Salomon Rondon’s hold-up play, they may be in for the slightest of chances.
City are undefeated in 30 of their last 33 away games and look a dangerous prospect. Here, the Citizens have the opportunity to embarrass Newcastle and heap pressure on Liverpool, who play 24 hours later.
It would be one of the shocks of the season if Newcastle were to get a result against Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut.
Prediction: Manchester City to win 3-0.
Southampton vs Crystal Palace
Southampton and Crystal Palace meet on the south coast as both sides look continue their admirable recent run.
Expect a tantalising match, with Palace having a fantastic start to 2019, giving Liverpool an almighty scare in their last league fixture.
The Eagles followed that up with a 2-0 victory over Spurs in the FA Cup.
Southampton, meanwhile, have dragged themselves three clear of the relegation zone after winning four of their last seven league matches.
Danny Ings will prove central to their hopes, having scored seven in his 15 appearances since joining from Liverpool.
Three or more goals have been averaged in the last five meetings between the Saints and Eagles and I’d imagine that will continue.
Wilf Zaha and co. will undoubtedly unnerve the Southampton backline, however Julian Speroni proves an undoubted weak link.
The home side are well rested and primed to push themselves beyond Palace.
Prediction: Saints to win 2-1.
Liverpool vs Leicester
The league leaders host Leicester under lights at Anfield, hoping to keep the gap between themselves and Man City to at least four points.
Liverpool have doubts over the fitness of Virgil Van Dijk, which would represent a huge blow given his importance to the side, while Trent Alexander Arnold’s absence creates further headaches for Jurgen Klopp.
The German will need to call on Fabinho or youngster Rafa Camacho at right-back due to James Milner’s suspension.
This comes at a dangerous time for Liverpool, with Jamie Vardy looking to terrorise them once more. The Englishman has scored seven goals against Liverpool, only bettered by Thierry Henry (eight) and Andy Cole (11).
Leicester will need all of his power and pace, after having lost their last two Premier League games.
They have lost six of their last seven league games at Anfield, with their last win in front of the Kop coming 19 years ago.
To make matters worse, Liverpool have won three in a row against Leicester and should be able to make it four behind their front three.
Expect their 32-game unbeaten record at home to continue for another week at least.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 winners.