League Cup final gives Man City chance to reopen lead in Premier League (preview)

The Carabao Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea is the standout game of the weekend as the teams currently sit second and third in the Premier League contest. The Carabao Cup, historically known as the League Cup, is the first major domestic trophy of the campaign.

Liverpool showed their form in midweek with a 6-0 thrashing of Leeds United with a completely different midfield to the one which started their win over Norwich City last weekend, while their attack of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane is always a threat, even though Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are both doubts.

Chelsea travel with injury worries over Reece James, Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech for the game, while Ben Chilwell is a long-term absentee.

Manchester City will look to use the fact that their two main rivals in the title race are not playing and will try and reopen a six-point lead at the top of the table.

City’s home defeat to Tottenham opened the door in the title race and Pep Guardiola will want to see an immediate reaction to that, which could be bad news for Everton.

Frank Lampard’s side are still without Yerry Mina, while Demarai Gray and Abdoulaye Doucoure are rated 50-50 to start and as last weekend’s defeat to Southampton showed, Everton are still a long way from safety this season.

Saturday begins with what is likely to be a test of nerve as Leeds United, who have conceded 10 goals in the past week and remain very much in the battle to avoid relegation, entertain Tottenham, reports Xinhua.

Tottenham’s defeat away to Burnley on Wednesday was their fourth in five games and had coach Antonio Conte publicly questioning whether or not he was the ideal man to lead the club. On Saturday his players will be able to answer that question.

Manchester United have not forgotten how defeat away to Watford earlier this season ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time as first-team coach. Although a lot of questions remain over United’s performances under Ralf Rangnick, since that defeat they have taken 29 points from 14 games, while Watford’s only win since that day in late November, came away to Aston Villa last weekend.

Burnley’s survival efforts have gathered pace with wins over Brighton and Tottenham and Sean Dyche’s side now travels to face Crystal Palace, a side that is capable of attractive football but struggles to defend set-pieces – Burnley’s strong point.

The first meeting between the two sides this season ended 3-3 and this could be similar.

The first clash between Newcastle United and Brentford also ended 3-3 in Eddie Howe’s first game in charge for Newcastle. Since then Howe has helped steer his side out of the bottom three and a win on Saturday would see them leapfrog Brentford, who are without a win in 10 games, in the table.

Saturday also sees Brighton at home to Aston Villa, with both sides in a dip in form after recent defeats to sides battling relegation.

Sunday’s only league match is a game that could be important to see who qualifies for Europe when West Ham entertains Wolves, whose top-four hopes suffered a setback when two late goals condemned them to defeat against Arsenal on Thursday night.


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