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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 9 March 2021
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Fantasyland: Crunch time for Champions League contenders

The North London Derby is the game most people are talking about this weekend.

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale has been in fine form recently.
Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale has been in fine form recently.

WITH MOST PEOPLE believing the title race is effectively over, much of the interest this week seems be derived from the Champions League contenders.

Two sides battling it out for one of those spots – Arsenal and Tottenham – meet this weekend.

AVB’s side are in the rare position of being slight favourites, given their superior form of late and in particular, the way Gareth Bale has been playing.

Elsewhere, Chelsea face a tricky enough game with West Brom and outside bets Everton take on Reading.

Even Man City could be dragged into the fight with one or two bad results, so they’ll need to beat Villa on Monday.

Two players to pick:

Gareth Bale: When Spurs play Arsenal, it often doesn’t end well for the White Hart Lane side. However, with Gareth Bale in such sublime form, it would be foolish to bet against Tottenham. The player has eight goals in his last six appearances, and has flourished ever since being played centrally on a regular basis. Is it too much to ask for another match-winning performance on Sunday?

David De Gea: In recent matches, Man United’s defence has looked far more assured in contrast with the earlier part of the season. Perhaps boosted by a fine display in their recent first-leg Champions League match against Real Madrid, De Gea has contributed to this upturn in fortune. With United continuing to look solid, they are consequently expected to have little trouble against the Canaries, despite having lost to them away earlier this season.

Two players to avoid:

Mikel Arteta: Arteta is an intelligent, creative player who can have a telling influence on any game at his best. However, this weekend, he is likely to be kept busy marking Gareth Bale, so don’t expect him to have much of an impact on the attacking side of the game at least.

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Martin Skrtel: The defender has a thigh injury and is rated doubtful for Liverpool’s encounter with Wigan. And even if he is given the nod for the game, he is unlikely to start. Despite gaining a reputation as an accomplished defender in recent years, Brendan Rodgers has opted to pick Jamie Carragher ahead of him of late.

Predictions:

Chelsea 2-1 West Brom

Everton 2-1 Reading

Man United 3-0 Norwich

Southampton 2-1 QOR

Stoke 2-1 West Ham

Sunderland 1-1 Fulham

Swansea 2-2 Newcastle

Wigan 1-2 Liverpool

Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal

Aston Villa 1-3 Man City

How my team got on last week

Fairly poorly until my captain, Gareth Bale, came through for me, thus taking my side comfortably above the average score.

Who’s leading TheScore.ie Primera Division?

The Sultans of Ping FC, masterminded by Mark Dinan, have established a relatively healthy lead at the top.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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