Important weekend for Premier League top 6 club, predictions for matchweek and betting tips
The premier league once again proved to be a pot of feisty hot soup last weekend, Manchester United brilliantly upset the odds at the Etihad stadium, silencing their arch rivals with second half heroics having gone two down at half time, it went from bad to worse for the former Barcelona manager in midweek as he slumped again to Liverpool having gone into the break ahead, talks of wrong calls from the referee as well as resolute defending from the Kops mean nothing as he has now lost three games on the bounce for the first time in his sensational managerial career. Chelsea went further down, far away from the top four with yet another terrible showing, this time to neighbors, West Ham, conceding late to share the spoils at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal held off a late rally from Southampton to win 3:2, a result of damning consequences to the Saints, Liverpool were held to a 0:0 draw by Everton with City in midweek on their cards, a result that meant they now have to hold off Spurs for third, talking Spurs, they rallied to beat Stoke with a goal that was later going to be awarded to Harry Kane having being given to Eriksen at first. Stoke are in trouble, same with Huddersfield, Crystal Palace and the already condemned West Brom, they will all try again this weekend as they bid to stay up. We deliver our takes on the upcoming games as always, we are not afraid to stick out our necks, so let’s do it!
Saturday 14th April
Southampton vs Chelsea
St. Mary’s Stadium
Southampton are in big troubles, but the visitors are not in good shape either; the Saints were caught late on by a header from Danny Welbeck who earlier missed from three yards out, having pegged back the gunners to 2:2 with Charlie Austin just 85seconds on the pitch, the visitors went out for it but a sleek Iwobi pass to Welbeck settled it, keeping the Saints in the relegation zone and only fortunate that it didn’t end very well for most of their rivals. Chelsea were headed for a win, though not pretty until Javier Hernandez, who enjoys playing against them rose to the occasion, leveling with less than ten minutes on the clock, it could have gotten worse for the Blues but it ended all square, top four seems impossible now and they have to be wary of Arsenal behind them. Both sides are troubled for different reasons, it would be down to who needs it more, defensively, Mark Hughes has a headache as Stephens is missing having been sent off at the Emirates, someone has to step up.
Verdict: Chelsea to win
Burnley vs Leicester
Burnley aren’t here for jokes, tell it to Arsenal, tell it to Chelsea and the teams behind them, Sean Dyche went to Watford and stole all three points from the noses of the Hornets and for a moment only had two points to take care of to jump into sixth until the Gunners won on Sunday, here they play Leicester, the former champions suffered a rare defeat to Newcastle on their own perch, both are chasing the final European spot and it very much looks like it would be taken by these fearless Cherries. Leicester are in good shape, Wilfried Ndidi is back in the squad and that would strengthen the midfield, for Burnley, they can’t have Ben Mee anytime soon as he’ll be out to injury, forcing defensive switch, something that would interest Jamie Vardy who has been in sensational form in front of goal of late, both sides would go for this but a point would do just fine for the home side.
Verdict: Burnley to win or draw
Crystal Palace vs Brighton
The first of the simultaneous fixtures takes us to Selhurst Park where struggling Palace host Brighton. The Eagles lost huge advantage last weekend at Bournemouth, conceding late to settle for a 2:2 draw, Brighton have the same story to tell, they led at home to Huddersfield but managed to lose it in just five minutes to settle for draw as well, Brighton are four points clear of Palace and safe for now, but with the sort of games they have lined up for them in the run-in, every point counts at this stage. Palace are in a bit of trouble, they must win here to steer clear of the drop zone, they sweat on the availability of Christian Benteke but should have Jefferey Schlupp back for the visit of Brighton, it’s close to being a typical relegation six-pointer and it should be treated as such by both parties, Veteran Roy Hodgson up against Chris Hughton, Glenn Murray up against Wilfried Zaha…
Verdict: Full-time draw
Huddersfield vs Watford
Jarvi Gracia has stabilized Watford and they have recovered from the mess that was left behind by Marco Silva, but they lost at home for the first time under the Spaniard last weekend when Burnley visited, their away form leaves so much to be desired and if it has to change, it must start here. Huddersfield are in trouble, they don’t score goals, you don’t win games if you don’t score goals, they did labour at Brighton, responding immediately after conceding, they must bring that spirit into this and exploit the away misery of the Hornets. David Wagner highlighted their situation at his press conference, it’s a straightforward situation, score goals and win, if they want to stay up, they have to score. And for Watford, the form of Brazilian forward, Richarlison is a big worry, his early season form that caught the attention of bigwigs has dovetailed into deep frustrations, Andy Gray’s unavailability and injuries to new boy Gerrard Delofeu remain hurtful to Watford.
Verdict: Huddersfield to win or draw
Swansea vs Everton
Give it to Carlos Carvahal, the Portuguese manager has revived Swansea from a certain candidate for the drop to a team that would be here again next term. Everton struggled last weekend in the Merseyside derby, they had chances to win but poor finishing ruined their day. Relegation talks were on the cards early on for Everton before the reigns of Sam Allardyce, now they are pushing for top ten stability, not the same for the Welsh side, however, they deserve some praises, injuries to key men coincided with form problems, but Carlos Carvahal has steadied the ship and their defense is beginning to keep acts together, they rallied at West Brom last weekend to earn a valuable point that means they can come into this with confidence.
Verdict: Swansea to win or draw
Liverpool vs Bournemouth
Liverpool are in cloud nine, a world of their own, they are cruising. They will know their champions league semifinal opponents by midday but for now, they can bask in the euphoria of dumping Manchester City out of Europe. Bournemouth are always hot and cold, you can hardly tell which version of them will turn up, but they can’t afford to slip up on a day they have to contain Mohammed Salah and the gang; Eddie Howe’s side are used to late drama, they left it late at home to Palace last weekend but did just enough to level before full time. The visitors are pushing for a top ten finish, they already beat Chelsea emphatically away this season, they can believe, but do they have the defensive discipline to stop the fast and furious three on the frontline of the hosts? Domestically, top four finish is a trophy for the reds, while their eyes remain on the big one in Europe…
Verdict: Both teams to score
Tottenham vs Manchester City
It’s a difficult time for Manchester City, the season went from bad to worse for them in the most horrendous manner possible and questions would be asked of their mental strength having lost leads twice in the three losses on the bounce that they have suffered. Step forward Tottenham, the latest club to try to stop City and further extend their wait for an unprecedented premier league title, not without questions of their own too, the goal awarded to Harry Kane after a seemingly needless appeal could unsettle their dressing room but Mauricio Pochetino already played that down, they dug deep to beat Stoke last weekend and now have to dig even dipper to stand a chance of heaping more misery on the Citizens. For Pep and co, they have to respond, they have to win, the title is theirs, whether now or later, they have created standards that they cannot afford to lower now, is it time for Aguero to come in ahead of Gabriel Jesus? Come On Citizens!
Verdict: City to win the league at Wembley
Sunday 15th April
Newcastle vs Arsenal
St James’s Park
Arsenal are on a roll, it’s that time of their season when they manage to string wins together and give hope for a better season next term, six wins and a draw on the bounce in all competitions, with the stalemate coming in Europa League on Thursday having gone two down, they stood their grounds to ward off pressure from Southampton last Sunday, they have to do same again this time as Newcastle host them. The Toons beat Leicester away from home to all but guarantee them premier league football next season, ten points clear of the drop zone, they can even afford to have an eye on Sunderland who are going down to league one from championship league. Injury questions to Arsenal include Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who isn’t expected back until the end of the month and Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere who should both be fine having suffered knocks in their cup fixture in Moscow.
Verdict: Arsenal to win
Manchester United vs West Brom
West Brom snapped a horrible run of eight games losing streak last weekend when they were held to a 1:1 draw at the Hawthorns to fellow strugglers Swansea, too little and certainly too late for the Baggies who definitely have little to fight for at this perilous time. Manchester United are the toast at the moment, the Red Devils beat Manchester City against all odds, coming from two goals down to shock the runaway leaders after halftime on a day Paul Pogba opted to justify his price tag. It’s David vs Goliath here but it is football, anything can happen. West Brom rallied late at the reverse fixture, halving the deficit late and failing to score late on despite huge push. Jose Mourinho is about finishing second and being the best of the rest, this should be quite straightforward.
Verdict: Straight win Manchester United
Monday 16th April
West Ham vs Stoke
West Ham are nearing safety, they followed up from that special win against Southampton with a brave point at Stamford Bridge, with a win here, they would be almost certain of premier league football next season. Stoke don’t have the same testimony, however, four points from safety after suffering another loss at home to Tottenham despite putting in a great shift, they now need every point they can get if there would be any sort of miracle. Coach Paul Lambert feels his side would survive, but the run in doesn’t, as a matter of fact, losing here would mean they would have lost the only opportunity for them to realistically put in a fight, but relegation battles are never straightforward, anything can happen at every stage of the run in. David Moyes knows exactly what to do, maintain discipline, take your chances and keep an eye on runs in behind your defence. Relegation six-pointer by all standards.
Verdict: West Ham to win
Strictly the writer’s opinion