EPL Week 31 Predictions: Premier League Picks, Key Players and Fixtures

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2018

Liverpool's Emre Can, Loris Karius, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, from left to right, react during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield, Liverpool, England, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Week 31 of the 2017-18 Premier League season will have a limited slate of fixtures, as a host of top clubs will be in action in the FA Cup instead.

The likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United will all be involved in cup ties, and the only league fixtures will all take place on Saturday.

Here's a look at the schedule, along with picks:

4 p.m. GMT: Bournemouth vs. West Bromwich Albion (Bournemouth)

4 p.m. GMT: Huddersfield Town vs. Crystal Palace (Huddersfield)

4 p.m. GMT: Stoke City vs. Everton (draw)

6:30 p.m. GMT: Liverpool vs. Watford (Liverpool)

   

Here are some key players to keep an eye on.

            

Liverpool: Virgil van Dijk

There's little doubt attack is Liverpool's main strength, as the team will enter Week 31 with the second-best scoring record in the division, behind only leaders Manchester City.

Things haven't always gone smoothly at the other end of the pitch, but January arrival Van Dijk has helped greatly since he moved into the starting XI. He had a fine outing against Manchester United on the previous matchday, even if the Reds ended up conceding twice.

Reds fans feel good about the Dutchman:

Watford didn't put up much of a fight in their loss against Arsenal, but the movement of Richarlison and Roberto Pereyra did make for some tricky moments around the box. The former in particular is dangerous when he gets the ball at his feet, and in all likelihood, Van Dijk's main job will be to mark the Brazilian throughout the contest.

       

Watford: Roberto Pereyra

While many still regard Richarlison as the Hornets' main danger man, the 20-year-old has cooled down significantly since his hot start to the season. He has yet to record a single goal or assist in 2018, and while he's still a creative force, the lack of statistical output is worrying.

People are starting to take note:

Abdoulaye Doucoure was a standout against the Gunners, but Pereyra also made a good impression. The former Juventus man earned his side a penalty Troy Deeney then missed and was generally involved in all of their dangerous attacks.

Football writer Tom Bodell noted he missed one big chance but was otherwise on point:

The Argentinian tends to fly under the radar, but at his best, he can be an attacking force with his runs toward the box and solid passing vision.

Liverpool press high and love playing in the open space, which leaves them vulnerable to counter-attacks. If Pereyra can exploit the spaces between the midfield and defence, Watford have a good chance of putting the latter under serious pressure.

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