Premier League Predictions and Betting Tips: Top 4 hustle and relegation drama
The title is decided, and what a way to celebrate by the champions, Manchester City at home to Swansea, the manner in which they brushed the Welsh club showed ruthlessness and brutality in high places, the stuff of champions. Elsewhere, West Brom shocked Liverpool with a late fightback to earn a point in a pulsating draw, Crystal Palace earned a point which is gradually edging them close to safety, not a good afternoon for Westham at Arsenal on a very emotional day as two Alexandre Lacazette’s strikes and goals from Aaron Ramsey and Nacho Monreal helped Arsenal past them at the Emirates. No action for Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur who were all engaged in FA Cup affairs, paving way for a royal rumble at Wembley in the final of the ancient competition. This weekend, it’s Arsenal away at Old Trafford, Stoke away to Liverpool on a day they must win or lose everything and Southampton at home to Bournemouth, tricky ties of huge significance, predictions? That’s our job so let’s do it!
Saturday 28th April
Liverpool vs Stoke
If Stoke loses at Anfield and Swansea beats Chelsea, Stoke would be relegated, a point is not enough to help their cause, and Liverpool aren’t a merciful team to negotiate, the Kops would love to tighten their grip on third place, just three points above Spurs who have played a game less, this would be quite difficult for the Potters. Liverpool showed everything they are capable of in midweek when Roma came to town, shipping five past the Italians ruthlessly and then showing laxity at the back to concede two dangerous goals, just like they did over the weekend to allow a seemingly dead Westbrom back into the game, two away goals would give Roma hope, but Liverpool will definitely score in Rome so it should be another cracker, but would Liverpool field a weak side? Mohamed Salah is on another planet, his brace and two assists in midweek took him to a staggering 43 goals, he is breaking every available record in his debut season at Liverpool, something Stoke won’t want to hear, with no real identity in the Potters squad, and failing to beat Burnley when they had the chance to, are they going down at Anfield?
Verdict: Yes! Liverpool to win
Burnley vs Brighton
The first of our simultaneous fixtures take us to Turf Moor, a difficult ground, home of Burnley, Europa chasing Burnley as they host Brighton. On paper, this should be a routine win for the cherries but Brighton need one more win to be safe, can they get it here? Not so many teams have been able to pick results on this pitch from the claws of Burnley, although their defensive disciplines have been questioned of late, but they are seventh, just four behind Arsenal and clearly out of reach for Everton and Leicester to catch, a win here would almost guarantee European football for Sean Dyche and his over-achievers. Brighton took a break last weekend, fresh for this tie, a point would help them but a defeat won’t speak well as it would heap pressure if surrounding teams win. Chris Hughton has a few injury concerns ahead of this tie, Glenn Murray has been blowing hot and cold of recent, his mid-season form has waned and that explains why they lost steam, someone else needs to step up as they try to seal their safety.
Verdict: Burnley to win
Crystal Palace vs Leicester
If Crystal Palace loses here and surrounding teams win, the drop zone would just be two points away from the Eagles, this makes this a must win for them, safety is still very much in their own hands, a win and a draw would guarantee safety without stress, three points out of possible nine would have them keep an eye on Southampton, Huddersfield and Swansea, so why not do it and enjoy on their own terms? Leicester were close to usurping Burnley for the seventh spot and return to European football, but they managed to conjure negative results despite the amazing form of free-scoring Jamie Vardy, they do have a game in hand, a win here and in their rescheduled game against Arsenal and they could be hoping to do it, but they first have to win here. Wilfried Zaha and Luka Milivojevic have been the leading lights at Selhurst, although James Tomkins and Wayne Hennessy would make claims too, these four are instrumental if Roy Hodgson’s men are to survive cleanly, they need to do away with a certain Belgian forward in the summer, he isn’t the right man for the job.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Huddersfield vs Everton
John Smith Stadium
The next of our simultaneous fixtures is at the John Smith Stadium, where Huddersfield would need to do everything they can to beat Everton and enhance their chances of being here next season, after this, they face Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal at home on the final day, tough run in, hence a need to take advantage of this fixture and win. Everton beat Newcastle on Monday, not pretty but effective, and it was enough to stabilize their top ten finish, rants against the manager continues but the boys did the job when Theo Walcott bundled home from close range after being teed up by Yanick Bolasie Huddersfield Town are the architects of their own misfortune, they hardly score goals, they don’t. 1:0 wins target are always edgy and you can be punished, forwards must take responsibilities if this team wants to stay up, this is the only fixture that guarantees them a win, except Arsenal still continues with their horrible away run on the final day.
Verdict: Huddersfield to win or draw
Newcastle vs Westbrom
St James’s Park
Up next we are at St James’s Park where it could well be the end of the road for Westbrom, too little too late for the Baggies, three games on the bounce without defeat, including an unbelievable win at Old Trafford, giving caretaker manager, Darren Moore a fair shout for the job permanently. Westbrom can only survive at all if the win all their remaining three games which includes a final day fixture at home to Tottenham, and the trio of Swansea, Southampton and Stoke all lose the rest of their games this season, near impossibility to put it mildly but it’s football, anything can happen. Newcastle are good to start preparing for life in the premier league next season, their loss at Everton last Monday does no harm to them, safety is guaranteed, they can reinforce in the summer to compete better, but for now, they can enjoy their safety. Over to you, Westbrom, they must win here and hope Swansea doesn’t beat Chelsea.
Verdict: Newcastle to win or draw
Southampton vs Bournemouth
St. Mary’s Stadium
This is a fixture where Southampton must win to have any hopes of surviving, if they fail to beat Bournemouth, and Swansea wins, their survival is no longer in their own hands; If the Saints win here, the bulk of the job would be left to be done at Swansea when they meet in the mothers of all relegation six pointers. Bournemouth are safe, but a point or two would ease nerves more, Eddie Howe’s side have migrated from brilliance and mediocrity over time and questions must be asked of their desires at times, one moment they are firing, the next they are conceding hopelessly, their defensive records stand at a terrible point and the Saints must capitalize on that, interestingly, the Saints don’t score many goals either. These are two sides with managers of different school of thoughts, with Eddie Howe being mentioned in the equations at the Emirates dug out, the English man might be too flattered to focus. For Mark Hughes, he has to go all out for it, start Shane Long and Charlie Austin, it’s a make or break fixture.
Verdict: Southampton to win
Swansea vs Chelsea
The last EPL fixture for the day is at struggling Swansea, the Welsh side haven’t won in a long while and are in danger of the drop, luckily for them, the only big opponents they have (on paper) is Chelsea who are quite beatable considering how poor they can also be on bad days. Swansea still have a relegation six pointer to negotiate with Southampton however, depending on what happens to Stoke on the way, they also have the Potters on final day, a fixture that could determine everything for them. Chelsea are in the FA Cup final, they will play Manchester United at Wembley, but first, they would love to fight for top four, which makes this a very deadly one for Swansea. Carlos Carvahal has not done badly with these Swansea side since taking over but it’s now down on him to do all he can to pick a point here and then channel all energies into the lesser evils. Swansea’s long stay in the premier league is under threat, the two Ayew brothers upfront need to do something, on loan Chelsea forward, Tammy Abraham also has a part to play, and their entire defence must come up strong against whoever leads the line between Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata.
Sunday 29th April
Westham vs Manchester City
West Ham aren’t safe yet, in fact, they would rely on surrounding fixtures this weekend to stay afloat as they host Manchester City at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Manchester City are champions, they are getting ready for the parade, but they don’t look like they are willing to take their feet off the gas yet, they have records they are chasing, they want to conquer it all. The Hammers have a set of difficult fixtures in their run in, two of the remaining four against the two Manchester Clubs and one against Leicester before the final day battle against Everton which is thankfully at home, that could be the fixture that would decide their fate. Manchester City have everything in abundance, they won’t offer David Moyes any form of pity here, while it has been severally established that anything and everything can happen in football, which would give West Ham some hope, but City really can be ruthless when they want to be, the first leg rattled the champions, the Hammers can leverage on that to shine in the sunshine on Sunday.
Verdict: City to win
Manchester United vs Arsenal
Arsenal have their priorities elsewhere, although hampered by the late equalizer by a mentally aware Antoine Griezemann on Thursday, this fixture comes at a time Arsenal won’t give it much attention, they have to give everything they have at the Vicente Calderon next Thursday. For Manchester United, it’s the last time they will face Arsenal with Arsene Wenger at the helm, a rivalry of decades, bitter-sweet memories and very rich history. Jose Mourinho has been a long standing critic of Arsene Wenger, but he was emotional last weekend while pouring out praises in respect to the outgoing Arsenal boss. It’s a game that the hosts would enjoy, massively too as Arsenal would face one of their own, Alexis Sanchez who would lead the line for the hosts on Sunday. Injury is keeping out Henrikh Mhikitaryan, he’ll have to wait for another opportunity to face his former side. Second spot is as good as assured for the Red Devils, FA Cup final awaits them too, not a bad season in Mourinho’s sophomore season at Old Trafford.
Verdict: United to win.
Monday, 30th April
Tottenham vs Watford
Tottenham have closed shop for the season, another “we put the pressure on” season as they bowed out to Manchester United in the FA Cup last weekend and certainly got nothing but top 4 to fight for, with Chelsea on their backs, they have to win here and settle the nerves, if they fail to beat an already dead Watford, it’s down to them to fight the Blues for whatever point is left for the fourth place chase. Watford have lost steam, they had all the chances to beat Crystal Palace last weekend but failed to take any, it’s getting hot at the dug out of Watford and there might be shouts for the manager to be relieved of his duties following inconsistent results, fans are impatient, Jarvi Gracia have to sit up. Harry Kane knows what to do if he wants to catch Mo Salah, score three in each of the remaining four fixtures, hopeless? Don’t put anything past the England forward.
Verdict: Tottenham to win
Strictly the writer’s opinion