I’VE been saying for weeks the Premier League title race is over and the only thing that might change that is a defeat for Chelsea tonight.
On current form it’s possible but having read the team news I can’t see the leaders losing with Man United missing key men and having to play Wayne Rooney in a deeper role.
Elsewhere I’ve already tipped Crystal Palace to make it five wins in a row at the expense of off-form West Brom and Leicester have a chance against Swansea if the Welsh, with nothing to play for, have switched off. I’m also backing Palace’s Glen Murray at 11-2 with Stan James.
Chelsea v Manchester United
Striker Loic Remy could return from a calf injury for Chelsea. Remy missed last week’s 1-0 win at QPR, as did his fellow striker Costa, who could return from his hamstring injury in next week’s match at Arsenal. Chelsea have no other injury concerns.
Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling is likely to be partnered by either Tyler Blackett or Paddy McNair after Louis van Gaal’s squad was hit by a number of injuries. Centre-backs Phil Jones (ankle), Marcos Rojo (adductor) and Jonny Evans (suspension) are out while midfield duo Michael Carrick (calf) and Daley Blind (ankle) are also unavailable. Striker Robin van Persie could come into contention following his recovery from an ankle injury and left-back Luke Shaw is fit to play but midfielder Andreas Pereira is away with the Brazil Under-20 side.
Last season: Chelsea 3 Man Utd 1, Man Utd 0 Chelsea 0
Last five league matches: Chelsea W D W W W; Man Utd W W W W W
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew will have the same squad at his disposal as that which thrashed Sunderland last weekend. That means the Eagles will still be without strikers Marouane Chamakh and Fraizer Campbell who both remain sidelined with hamstring problems. Lee Chung-yong (foot) is a long-term absentee and Jordon Mutch (thigh) is out but Pape Souare should be fit despite being forced off during the 4-1 win at the Stadium of Light.
Brown Ideye could miss West Brom’s trip to Selhurst Park, with the striker struggling with a knee injury. The forward will be assessed but Callum McManaman is fit after a foot injury, with the former Wigan winger an unused substitute in last week’s 3-2 defeat to Leicester. Youssouf Mulumbu remains banned for the Baggies and goalkeeper Ben Foster is a long-term injury victim following cruciate knee ligament damage in March.
Last season: Crystal Palace 3 West Brom 1; West Brom 2 Crystal Palace 0.
Referee: Jonathan Moss (West Yorkshire).
Everton v Burnley
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is set to return after a month out with a hamstring injury. Leon Osman will be given as much time as possible to overcome a groin problem suffered against Swansea but fellow midfielder Steven Pienaar has suffered no reaction to his first appearance since December. Left-sided utility man Bryan Oviedo (hamstring) and winger Aiden McGeady (back) have both returned to training this week.
Burnley expect defender Steven Reid (calf) and midfielder Ross Wallace (knee) to be back in contention. Midfielder Matt Taylor could also feature if there is no reaction to his first appearance in seven months, as a last-minute substitute, against Arsenal last week after an Achilles injury. Forward Marvin Sordell has overcome a minor knock and the Clarets are at full strength, aside from long-term knee injury victims Dean Marney and Kevin Long.
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire).
Leicester v Swansea
Boss Nigel Pearson has a fully-fit Leicester squad and the Foxes could be unchanged from their win at West Brom. Matthew Upson is fit after recovering from an Achilles problem, despite failing to make the squad for last weekend’s dramatic 3-2 victory at the Hawthorns.
Portugal striker Nelson Oliveira has recovered from an ankle injury and is in contention to make only his second league start for Swansea. Oliveira joined on loan from Benfica in January and his only previous start came in the 5-0 home defeat to Chelsea, but Bafetimbi Gomis’ absence for a month with a hamstring injury has given him the opportunity to lead the attack for the next few weeks. Swansea manager Garry Monk has a defensive dilemma with Neil Taylor suspended, Kyle Naughton injured and fellow full-backs Dwight Tiendalli and Jazz Richards out on loan so Jordi Amat is set for a rare start, possibly in a new formation featuring three central defenders.
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).
Stoke v Southampton
Stoke will be without defender Marc Muniesa and winger Victor Moses. Muniesa misses out due to a slight hamstring strain, while on-loan Moses has returned to parent club Chelsea because of a hamstring problem of his own that is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. Defenders Marc Wilson and Erik Pieters are both nursing knocks to the wrist but manager Mark Hughes is hopeful the pair will be available for the visit of the Saints.
Victor Wanyama and Filip Djuricic will miss Southampton’s trip to the Britannia Stadium. Kenya midfielder Wanyama will serve a one-match ban after picking up a 10th booking of the season in last weekend’s win against Hull – a match Djuricic missed with an ankle complaint which keeps him sidelined. Ronald Koeman can call upon defender Florin Gardos again, although Fraser Forster, Jay Rodriguez and Emmanuel Mayuka remain absent.
Last season: Southampton 2 Stoke 2; Stoke 1 Southampton 1.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
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