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Preview: Vital Premier League weekend with Carabao Cup final in background

The round of matches kicks off on Friday night with Fulham at home to Wolves. The home side has the chance to move level on points with Newcastle in fifth place if they win, while Wolves are looking to recover after last weekend’s surprise defeat at home to Bournemouth.

That defeat highlighted Wolves’ problem in attack, with Julen Lopetegui’s side having scored just 17 goals in 23 games this season.

Relegation comes sharply into focus on Saturday afternoon with a series of matches which affect the bottom three.

Perhaps the biggest of those is at Elland Road, where Javi Gracia makes his debut as Leeds United coach. The former Watford and Valencia boss takes over with Leeds second from bottom, and starts his reign with a massive game at home to bottom club Southampton.

Southampton have confirmed that Ruben Selles will be in charge until the end of the season after he guided them to a 1-0 win away to Chelsea last weekend, and this promises to be a nailbiter of a match.

Everton coach Sean Dyche has called for Goodison Park to become a fortress as he looks to lift his side from danger.

The Toffees have won their two home games since Dyche took charge and now face Aston Villa, who travel to Goodison on the back of three consecutive defeats.

There is also a relegation battle at the London Stadium with West Ham at home to Nottingham Forest. Two defeats and two draws in their last five matches have dragged West Ham back into the relegation zone and David Moyes is another coach in danger of the sack if his side fails to win.

Forest have developed into a very tough-to beat outfit, and the feeling is that West Ham will have to cast off some defensive shackles and abandon Moyes’ conservative tactics in order to take all three points.

Arsenal returned to the top of the table last weekend and face an interesting visit to Leicester City for what promises to be an open match.

Leicester created plenty of chances before losing 3-0 at Old Trafford last weekend, but Arsenal will be optimistic after seeing how Manchester United were eventually able to cut through their defense.

Second-placed Manchester City travel to Bournemouth, who climbed out of the bottom three after last weekend’s victory against Wolves.

City drew 1-1 away to RB Leipzig in the Champions League in midweek and coach Pep Guardiola has to be concerned at how his side failed to turn possession into goals, both in Germany and in last weekend’s draw away to Nottingham Forest.

Liverpool need to recover from Tuesday’s chastening 5-2 Champions League defeat at home to Real Madrid when they visit Crystal Palace in Saturday’s last game. Madrid brutally exposed Liverpool’s weaknesses in midfield and defense, and even though Wilfried Zaha is out, Michael Olise, Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze are players who have the pace to expose Liverpool’s flaws.

Sunday’s only league match promises more drama, with Tottenham at home to Chelsea. Spurs have been consistently inconsistent in recent weeks, but have still climbed up to fourth place, while a run of just one win in eight games reached its nadir for Chelsea last weekend when they lost 1-0 at home to Southampton.

The pressure is increasing on Chelsea coach Graham Potter, and even though he has a five-year contract, defeat on Sunday could make his position virtually untenable.