Palmer returns to Man City as Chelsea's star, Liverpool aim to tame Toney's Brentford

Palmer returns to Man City as Chelsea's star, Liverpool aim to tame Toney's Brentford

© AFP 2022
February 16, 2024 at 2:09 AM
Cole Palmer returns to Manchester City as a Chelsea player on Saturday
Cole Palmer returns to Manchester City as a Chelsea player on Saturday. Photo: Ben Stansall / AFP
Source: AFP

Chelsea appear lambs to the slaughter ahead of a trip to Manchester City on Saturday as the English champions have hit top form as the business end of the season approaches.

However, Pep Guardiola's men could have ground to make up in the Premier League title race by the time they kick-off at the Etihad with Liverpool and Arsenal in action before them on Saturday.

At the other end of the table, Everton are hoping to move out of the bottom three when struggling Crystal Palace come to town on Monday.

AFP Sports examines three things to look out for this weekend:

Palmer relishing 'weird' City return

Of the over £1 billion ($1.3 billion) splashed out by Chelsea on new players over the past two years, only the inital £40 million outlay on Cole Palmer has yielded an undoubted hit.

The 21-year-old looked set to play a bigger part for City this season after scoring in both the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup, but headed to London on the promise of more first-team minutes under Mauricio Pochettino.

Even in a difficult season for the Blues, Palmer has shone with 12 goals and nine assists in 28 appearances, including a late equaliser when City were held 4-4 at Stamford Bridge in November.

"I have been surprised by how well it's gone here so quickly, but I always back myself to succeed," said Palmer.

"I'm looking forward to going back to the Etihad. It will be strange, a weird feeling, but I'm looking forward to it and the team's looking forward to it".

Chelsea will need Palmer in top form if they are to halt the 11-game winning run that has put City in contention for another treble.

City trail Liverpool by two points and are ahead of Arsenal only on goal difference, but have a game in hand on both their main title rivals.

Can Bees sting Liverpool again?

Ivan Toney has scored three goals in four games for Brentford since returning from a betting ban
Ivan Toney has scored three goals in four games for Brentford since returning from a betting ban. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Liverpool could open up a five-point lead at the top in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, but do not have good memories of trips to the Brentford Community Stadium.

Liverpool have failed to win and conceded three times on both their last two Premier League visits to the Bees.

Brentford have been revitalised by the return of Ivan Toney from an eight-month ban for breaching betting rules.

Toney has scored in three of his four games since returning to help take Thomas Frank's men six points clear of the relegation zone.

But the league leaders could have their talisman back too, as Mohamed Salah returned to Liverpool training this week after suffering a hamstring injury at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Salah's return is timely for Jurgen Klopp as other key injuries have begun to pile up.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominik Szoboszlai are set to miss next weekend's League Cup final after recurrences of knee and hamstring injuries respectively.

Everton to pounce on Palace disarray?

Roy Hodgson is reportedly on the verge of being sacked by Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson is reportedly on the verge of being sacked by Crystal Palace. Photo: Glyn KIRK / AFP
Source: AFP

Crystal Palace could be hauled into the relegation fight should the out-of-sorts Eagles fall to another damaging defeat at Everton on Monday.

Rumours spread on Thursday morning that Roy Hodgson was about to be sacked after a run of three wins in 19 games.

However, the club then said a planned press conference with Hodgson, 76, had been cancelled as the former England manager had taken ill.

Palace are five points clear of the Toffees, who sit in the relegation zone.

The result of Everton's appeal against a 10-point penalty for breaches of financial rules is imminent, which could reduce or even wipe out that sanction.

Elsewhere, in the relegation battle, Luton host a revitalised Manchester United, while Nottingham Forest have to make the most of unrest at West Ham after the Hammers were thrashed 6-0 by Arsenal last weekend.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday

Brentford v Liverpool (1230), Burnley v Arsenal, Fulham v Aston Villa, Newcastle v Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest v West Ham, Tottenham v Wolves (all 1500), Manchester City v Chelsea (1730)

Sunday

Sheffield United v Brighton (1400), Luton v Manchester United (1630)

Monday

Everton v Crystal Palace (2000)

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© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022