There will only be five fixtures in the Premier League this weekend, the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham are away on FA Cup duties and won’t be featuring in the league action, the multiplier effect of that is the fact that their respective opponents for league actions would also be on break.
For once in a very long time, all English clubs that went into the group stages of the two European competitions made it to the quarter finals; Manchester United completed a dramatic comeback win over PSG on away goals’ rules, City pummeled Schalke 04 to record a double, Spurs also completed a double over BVB Dortmund while Liverpool went to Munich and got the job done, in the Europa league, Chelsea destroyed their Russian opponents in a solidarity to their owner, Roman Abrahamovic and Arsenal usurped Rennes 3:1 first leg advantage with a 3:0 victory at the Emirates on Thursday night, these amazing results leaves us with high chances of English teams conquering Europe in 2019.
In the domestic league, Liverpool have a glorious chance of opening a two point gap on Manchester City as the title run in kicks off with their visit to Fulham, the last time the two sides met, the Lily Whites manager was shown the exit door, brought on board Claudio Ranieri who has since been sacked for Scott Parker to take over as interim manager; has anything changed? Definitely not on the pitch as results still turn negative but the mood has been lifted, the boys play with freedom and they express themselves more. Liverpool are on fire, three goals went past Bayern Munich in midweek and four past Burnley over the weekend, there is no margin for error as they have handed City the advantage and they have to do all they can to get back the edge, if they want to be champions, they must be winning every game. Fulham on their parts are on their way down except there’s a huge collapse from surrounding teams and a massive turn around in their own form, they are 13 points away from safety with only 24 to fight for, to have a realistic chance of survival, they must win at least 20 points from the total 24 on offer, their remaining fixtures include a few six pointers and two against the top two sides, failure to get anything from those two will amount to futility, of course except the likes of Cardiff, Southampton and Burnley throw it all away.
Burnley are two points off the drop zone and they host Leicester on Saturday at Turf Moor, Brendan Rodgers has said Jamie Vardy is to his Foxes side what Luis Suarez was to his old Liverpool side, it’s down to the Clarets to fight out a result here and watch things happen to rival teams, while things have sincerely looked up for Burnley this year, they failed to reenact their last season form in the opening stages of the season and thus had to be heavily drawn into the relegation fights, they most likely won’t go down, Sean Dyche won’t let it happen and Brighton won’t go down either, it’s in the Clarets’ hands.
Bournemouth won on the road the last time out, putting a stop to a run of nine away games without a single point, a situation that took the sails out of the early season form of the Cherries that saw them in the top four for six weeks, Eddie Howe will have a lot of work to do to keep some of his amazing stars but for now, finishing strong matters! Newcastle on their parts strung together five straight home wins with the sensational comeback win over Everton, they would draw inspiration from United’s fierce comeback win over them at Old Trafford earlier in the season as Jordan Pickford went from hero to villain in the space of two halves to help Ayoze Perez and Co to a 3:2 success, a result that means the Black and White armies of Yorkshire are four points clear of the drop; Bournemouth against Newcastle will be very interesting to watch, and it is one game that can swing anywhere.
West Ham will face Huddersfield in the third and final game of Saturday, and only a win will suffice for Manuel Pellegrini and the Hammers, they had a very good chance to put pressure on Wolves in 7th but managed to collapse at Cardiff, allowing Neil Warnock’s side to score twice and then shut them out; Huddersfield are basically bidding time, they are definitely not going to be here next season, they are 16 points off safety and will not be here anymore if they lose three more games, mathematically they’re still in it but the odds against them suggest they will be playing in the Championship come August.
Chelsea are the other member of the big six playing in the league this weekend, and they face Everton at Goodison Park, the first leg at Stamford Bridge ended in a very frustrating goalless draw for the Blues and they must win here to boost their chances of playing in the Champions League next season; Eden Hazard is the key for Chelsea, the intelligent Belgian rescued a point for the Blues against Wolves last weekend and would be handed the free role to engineer every move to help see Chelsea past the Toffees but whatever he does, there is a certain Gylfi Sigurdsson who also has the magic wand to help Everton on the day, it’s a game the Blues must win, it’s a game the Toffees must not lose…
It’s five alive this weekend and we still have to deliver our takes, here goes the Premier League predictions for the 31st time this season
|Fixtures||Verdict||Player to watch|
|Bournemouth vs Newcastle||Both teams to score||Salmon Rondon|
|Burnley vs Leicester||Burnley to win or draw||Chris Wood|
|Westham vs Huddersfield||Westham to win||Felipe Anderson|
|Fulham vs Liverpool||Liverpool to win||Mo Salah|
|Everton vs Chelsea||Both teams to score||Jordan Pickford|
Strictly the writer’s opinion… Gamble responsibly