Postponements create king-sized nightmare for Premier League for some as Leicester on a ledge for a trip to Tottenham


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In a season full of fixture challenges, the decision of the Premier League to cancel all games last weekend because of the passing of Queen Elizabeth is a puzzling one.

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Other sports, notably cricket, went ahead with rousing tributes and moments of reflection. To make matters worse, three games are postponed this weekend (most notably Chelsea v. Liverpool, but also Manchester United and Leeds and Brighton v. Crystal Palace) due to a lack of policing resources due to the impending Queen’s funeral.

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This means Chelsea and Liverpool in particular are going to face massive headaches rescheduling these matches as they have two games to squeeze into a season where there is already a six-week disruption for the World Cup.

It was ironic that new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly proposed an “American style” all-star game between north and south clubs, one that was met with head scratching over when on earth you would schedule a game that would mean nothing.

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It’s a shame, in particular, we don’t get to see what new Chelsea boss Graham Potter has up his sleeve (and if his old club Brighton suffers a drop-off without him), but Potter is likely happy to have more time on the training ground following his team’s late surrender that gave them a draw in their Champions League match on Wednesday.

The schedule-makers have suggested there are literally only three days available until the end of the season where these games could be made up, thanks to cup competitions and the already-compacted schedule. There are now six teams that have to make up two games, I’m not good at math, but that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room.

Without the old rivalry of United v. Leeds, and the clash of Top Four foes Liverpool and Chelsea, one of the games to keep an eye on this week is Tottenham v. Leicester.

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While Spurs have generally enjoyed a decent start, their results have come from performances many suggest are not up to scratch. They lost 2-0 midweek in the Champions League, however you would expect them to beat the Foxes who are in last place with just a single point.

It’s getting desperate for Leicester. Once considered one of the brightest young managers in the game, Brendan Rodgers could be the third manager sacked this season if they can’t get anything from the trip to Spurs. This time last season Rodgers was being whispered as a candidate for the Manchester United job after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fired, but the rumor mill suggested Rodgers was holding out to be the next manager at Manchester City when Pep Guardiola leaves. But some poor spending has Leicester on shaky financial ground and Rodgers has not been shy about criticizing his owner’s decision to sell big stars like Wesley Fofana and not bring in any replacements.

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The team that won the FA Cup two seasons ago, and was in contention to seize a Top Four spot on the last weekend of the season two years running before losing out, has got old and has struggled with their workload.

As a result, Rodgers is staring at a project coming crashing down. You can survive a couple of seasons of austerity while you right the books, but relegation is not an option and with five losses in a row, the ownership group won’t just let Rodgers keep flailing as the losses mount.

On that note, one other game to watch this weekend is West Ham’s trip to Merseyside to face Everton. Both teams sit near the bottom with just four points, Everton with four draws still waiting for their first win of the season. West Ham were hopeful of a Top Four challenge this year after two seasons of remarkable progress under David Moyes. Both clubs consider themselves Premier League staples with a big enough history to not be dragged into a season-long relegation battle.

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FRIDAY: Aston Villa v. Southampton; Nottingham Forest v. Fulham.
SATURDAY: Wolves v. Manchester City; Brighton v. Crystal Palace (postponed); Newcastle v. Bournemouth; Tottenham v. Leicester.
SUNDAY: Brentford v. Arsenal; Manchester United v. Leeds (postponed); Everton v. West Ham; Chelsea v. Liverpool (postponed).

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Serie A

There’s a surprising game of note in Italy this week as fourth-place Udinese host sixth-place Inter Milan. There’s only one point between the teams, but after a loss and a draw to open the season, Udinese have won four in a row.

Paced by Portuguese striker Beto, Udinese have already passed one big test this season, thumping Roma 4-0, but Inter is a different pedigree and a win this weekend would send a huge message that Udinese’s quest for a Champions League spot won’t fade .

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Roma have got back on track since the thrashing at Udinese, and face an interesting test in Atalanta, who are tied at the top of the table with Napoli and AC Milan. Roma and just one point behind so a win in Rome would vault them above Atlanta.

At the other end of the table last-place Monza, with just a point, will be in a spotlight game against 8th-place Juventus, who have four draws in their last five games. Not terrible but not great, but it’s the fact that this week Juve lost their second-straight Champions League game, prompting calls for manager Massimiliano Allegri to be fired. Losing to last-place Monza would absolutely increase that heat.

FRIDAY: Salernitana v. Lecce.
SATURDAY: Bologna v. empoli; Spezia v. Sampdoria; Torino v. Sassuolo.
SUNDAY: Udinese v. Inter Milan; Cremonese v. Lazio; Fiorentina v. Hellas Verona; Monza v. Juventus; Roma v. Atlanta; AC Milan v. Napoli.

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La Liga

Things are moving along predictably in La Liga. Not only are the old faithful Real Madrid and Barcelona sitting 1-2 in the table, eight of the top nine teams won last week with the only exception being fifth-place Villareal losing 1-0 to third-place Real Betis.

The Champions League offered up the only Spanish drama of the week with Barcelona losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich, which appeared to spur on social media trolling by Real Madrid stars Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. who mocked their chief rivals on their personal accounts.

This tends to be one of the issues in La Liga, with the weekly monotony of predictable results. We do get a Madrid derby this week which usually offers some spice, though Atletico seem well-below the title-winning standard they set two seasons ago.

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FRIDAY: Real Valladolid v. Cadiz.
SATURDAY: Mallorca v. Almeria; Barcelona v. Elche; Valencia v. Celta Vigo; Athletic Bilbao v. Rayo Vallecano.
SUNDAY: Osasuna v. getafe; Villarreal v. Sevilla; Real Betis v. Girona; Real Sociedad v. Espanyol; Atlético Madrid v. Real Madrid.

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