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Premier League Saturday preview: Liverpool and Chelsea eye crucial wins

Manchester City can take another step towards winning the Premier League title against Leeds on Saturday — but the crunch clashes are all in the race for the final Champions League spot.

Liverpool host Aston Villa in the afternoon before the teatime clash sees Chelsea face Crystal Palace in a London derby.

Manchester City vs Leeds (12.30pm, BT Sport)

Pep Guardiola will be tempted to rotate his Manchester City team when Leeds visit the leaders in the lunchtime kick-off.

City travel to Borussia Dortmund for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday with a narrow 2-1 lead to protect. And with a 14-point cushion to Manchester United in second, that away trip may well take priority.

Not that it will make Leeds’ task any easier against the champions-elect, who have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 17 games, losing just once in that run.

Marcelo Bielsa (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) well go head-to-head for the second time this season
Marcelo Bielsa (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) well go head-to-head for the second time this season

Thanks to Rodrigo’s second-half equaliser, Marcelo Bielsa’s side did pick up a 1-1 draw when City visited Elland Road in October.

Guardiola has a fully-fit squad to choose from but the visitors will be without loanee Jack Harrison, who is ineligible against his parent club.

Liverpool vs Aston Villa (3pm, Sky Sports)

Revenge is on the menu for Liverpool as they face Aston Villa in the Premier League for the first time since a humiliating 7-2 thrashing back in October.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have lost six successive league games at Anfield for the first time in their history and three points are now a must if they are to keep the pressure on Chelsea and West Ham in the race for the top four.

Klopp will hope the sight of Villa will spark Sadio Mane back into life.

The Senegalease has netted only once in the league since the turn of the year — yet with eight goals in seven games, he has happy memories against the men from the West Midlands.

A 3-1 victory over Fulham ended a four-game winless run for Dean Smith’s side last time out.

And with eight clean sheets on the road this season, they will arrive confident of inflicting more Anfield misery on the Reds.

None of Klopp’s injured players will return this weekend, while Jack Grealish (shin) is ruled out for Villa.

Villans boss Smith said: “No, he’s not [fit]. Myself and Jack were quite optimistic to get him back a bit sooner than he probably should and he’s had a setback that will probably put him back a couple of weeks.”

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (5.30pm, Sky Sports)

Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten Premier League away record will be put to the test as Chelsea make the short hop to South London to take on Crystal Palace.

While the Blues suffered an embarrassing 5-2 defeat at home to West Brom last weekend, an impressive 2-0 victory in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Porto will have restored some confidence.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea need to carry on their good away form
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea need to carry on their good away form

West Ham leapfrogged them into fourth place with their victory at Wolves, meaning three points are vital for the Blues as they battle for fourth spot with the Hammers, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton.

Palace drew 1-1 at Goodison Park last week and will be eyeing a top-half finish with a strong end to the season — they currently sit 12th, four points behind Arsenal in 10th.

Thiago Silva (suspended) is the only absentee for Chelsea.

Crystal Palace will be without Michy Batshuayi (ineligible) and Nathaniel Clyne (unknown) but James McCarthy (groin) may return.

 

Source: livescore

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