By Jake Davies

  • Rafa Benitez appointed as Newcastle manager- first game is against top of the league Leicester
  • Tottenham face the bottom side Aston Villa as they continue their title charge
  • Fourth placed Manchester City tussle with strugglers Norwich on Saturday

Leicester City vs Newcastle United

On Friday Morning, Steve McClaren was relieved of his managerial duties as Newcastle United manager with immediate effect. Former Valencia, Real Madrid and Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was named his replacement in the space of a few hours and he will have the duty of helping Newcastle United in their bid for survival in the Barclays Premier League.

Rafa Benitez will be aiming to change the bad fortune that everyone involved with Newcastle United Football Club have been feeling over the past few months and he’ll strive to change the run of bad performances with a surprising win against top of the table Leicester City.

The player to watch in this match up is Algerian international Riyad Mahrez, who already has fifteen league goals for Leicester this season and has been one of many shining prospects for the league leaders this season. Mahrez had been taken off during the win against Watford last weekend with a suspected hamstring strain , but he will feature for Leicester in their Monday night game against Newcastle.

The Foxes have dominated this fixture in recent memory, including 3 one-sided victories over Newcastle without conceding a single goal. With Newcastle struck with considerable injury problems, it’ll be an incredibly tall order for an out-of-form Newcastle side to turn over a Leicester side that are playing with sublime and supreme confidence right now.

Prediction: Leicester City 2-0 Newcastle United.

Aston Villa vs Tottenham Hotspur

Aston Villa welcome Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon as the worst performing team in the league look for a swift transformation in performance and results in order to stay in the top flight of English Football. On a positive note for Aston Villa fans, there are no new injury concerns ahead of this clash. Remi Garde will be hoping that the current personnel at his disposal will challenge one of the Premier League’s top sides in Tottenham Hotspur. Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs will feel disappointed with losing two points to 10 men Arsenal in the North London Derby and coming off second best to a very good Borussia Dortmund team on Thursday in the Europa League. But what will benefit this Tottenham Hotspur side is the clarity in thought that with the Europa League seemingly out of reach, they now have sole focus on the Premier League title. This could prove a considerable advantage for Spurs in hindsight.

Mauricio Pochettino should have a very strong side for this Premier League encounter, after resting a lot of his big name stars like Harry Kane, Erik Lamela and Moussa Dembele, who all made brief cameo appearances in the second half. While Aston Villa are close to full strength in numbers, the only long term absentees are Jack Grealish with an ankle problem and new signing Adama Traore.

The problematic theme to this match up is whether a team like Aston Villa that have conceded goal after goal, can contain one of the highest scoring teams in the Premier League. Also when looking at the strength in the back line of Tottenham Hotspur, it’s extremely difficult to foresee Aston Villa causing problems for the likes of Toby Alderweireld, who’s been one of the best defenders this season in English football.

Prediction Aston Villa 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Norwich City vs Manchester City

Manchester City play a Norwich team in devastatingly bad form that has stretched over months and could see them face the drop if things fail to turn around quickly. Manchester City had lost three Premier League fixtures in a row that included a loss to Tottenham and Liverpool, but will feel buoyed after winning the Capital One Cup. The one factor that could change the personnel that Manchester City choose to field on Saturday, is that Manchester City have to play Champions League in midweek. This could and will influence Pellegrini’s decision making on whether he’ll field a fully-strengthened team against a team like Norwich that are struggling to get points to stay in the top division.

The big news regarding the team selection is that Manchester City will be without the player that drives this City team to new heights in Yaya Toure. Toure for years now has been part of the spine of the Manchester City side that has guided them to heights the club had never seen before in the Premier League, so he’ll be a tremendously huge loss, particularly in midweek against Dynamo Kiev as well. While for Norwich, Sebastian Bassong is a doubt as well as new signing Steven Naismith due to a hamstring problem.

Prediction: Norwich City 1-2 Manchester City

Premier League fixtures round up:

Saturday 12.45: Norwich City vs Manchester City

15.00 Bournemouth vs Swansea City

15.00 Stoke City vs Southampton

Sunday 16.00: Aston Villa vs Tottenham Hotspur

Monday 20.00: Leicester City vs Newcastle United

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