The title race is down to two teams, league leaders Liverpool and defending champions, Manchester City. The latter do have a game in hand but Liverpool brushed Burnley aside to create a two point lead while the Citizens were away on FA Cup duties; Liverpool have been struggling of late and that coincides with the blank nature of Mohammed Salah’s endeavors of late, the Egyptian forward hasn’t found the back of the net in a very long time and if not for his partner Sadio Mane, Liverpool wouldn’t be close to the title to be honest but nobody fires forever of course except you’re Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Manchester City will face Fulham early on Saturday and could go top again with an inevitable win, the result would mean that only a miracle of sort would keep the Lily Whites up; The Citizens have won their last five games in all competitions while Scott Parker’s side have lost theirs, in fact, seven losses in a row is the current form of Fulham and they could be very much in the race to equal their all time worst run of twelve games without a point. With Benardo Silva in top form, City aren’t really missing Kevin De Bruyne who could be back in contention after this weekend.
On Sunday, Liverpool will face Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield and a win would return them to the summit should City beat Fulham on Saturday; Spurs are in cloud nine, they will kick the ball for the first time in their own stadium on Wednesday against Crystal Palace, interestingly, the Eagles were the last visitors to the old White Hart Lane. The fixture at Anfield will determine a lot in how pundits and fans view the title race, if Liverpool come out tops, they would have sent some signals to many that think they have lost steam and caved in, if they refuse to win, they would almost be certain that they would have to wait another year to dream the title.
Crystal Palace will host Huddersfield on Saturday in one of the many simultaneous fixtures of the day. If Palace come out tops, Huddersfield will be relegated to the Championship, it’s inevitable and will definitely happen at some points but the Terriers would like to delay their drop for a week at least. Palace are not too far away from the drop zone, they were beaten by Brighton the last time out in the league and also failed to overcome Watford in the FA Cup; Roy Hodgson however will rely on the potency of his forward line to heap misery and relegation on the Terriers. Huddersfield scored three for the first time in forever against West Ham and still managed to lose the game, they were 3:1 up going into the final quarter of the game but a late flurry of goals from the Hammers confirmed what everyone already knew, Terriers are going down.
Leicester City have won back to back games for the first time in the reigns of Brendan Rodgers, if they beat Bournemouth on Saturday, it will be the first time they have won three games on the bounce since 2017. Bournemouth on their own rights have Josh King and Callum Wilson firing like it’s no man’s business, only Liverpool and Manchester City have more players on double figures of goal contributions than the Cherries. The draw at home to Newcastle may have tasted poorly on the buds of Bournemouth considering the fact that it came from the boots of one of their own, Matt Ritchie but they have a very good chance to put that to rest and revive their strong finish campaign.
Brighton up against Southampton is a game of huge significance to both sides. Brighton delivered a sleek soccer punch at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace last time out and still went on to book a place in the semifinals of the FA Cup after bundling Millwall out on penalties; Southampton on the other hands beat Spurs at St Mary’s to register their intentions to be around in the Premier League next season. Three points separate the two with the Saints having played one more than the Seagulls, history between the two is pretty even in the last five with three draws and a win each but you have to travel back to 2nd of January 2012 for Brighton’s last win over the Saints. It’s a game to watch.
Manchester United feels like the team we used to know now, although they lost their last two, but the atmosphere is different, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has been handed the job on a permanent basis and he is indeed at the wheels. Watford wants to be the best of the rest, they have Wolves to battle for that title and they have what it takes to win the fight. United failed at the Emirates last time out and also got dumped out of the FA Cup by Wolves but they will finish strongly and aim for the title next season; Roberto Peyrera has had no involvement in any goal since the beginning of the year and that explains the inconsistencies of the team but while he’s on drought, Troy Deeney and Gerard Delofeu have been firing but it will take more than the two to get a result at Old Trafford, it dates back to September 2016 for Watford’s last win or a point at least against the Red Devils.
Cardiff City sit two points off safety in the red zone and will have to be at their very best when Chelsea visits the Cardiff City Stadium in South Wales. The Blues were well beaten by Everton in a game of two halves; Chelsea did all the hard work in the first half and went to sleep in the second, Marco Silva’s men took it from there and the rest is history. Chelsea’s top four ambitions will be dead and over if they don’t win in Wales on Sunday and Cardiff’s Premier League survival will be hanging in threads should they lose and surrounding results go against them too. Chelsea have beaten Cardiff in each of their four fixtures but Cardiff have scored in everyone of them, they shipped four in three of the four games though.
Arsenal knows just how to beat Newcastle and they will probably do it again but this time they’re playing a difficult Newcastle side. The Toon Army forced out a point with the last kick of the game at Bournemouth last time out and they’re seven points above the drop zone with seven left for them to play. Arsenal have been on holiday since beating Rennes silly at the Emirates to overturn a 3:1 first leg deficit and book a place in the last eight against Napoli. A win will help Arsenal negotiate a top three finish with Spurs away at Liverpool, anything short of that will give Chelsea hope and United will take initiative.
Premier league predictions is upon us, we’re glad to be back after the long international break, who’s back and who’s not?
Injury worries and form dip always trail the international break, what does this round have for us?
|Fixture||Verdict||Player to watch|
|Fulham vs Manchester City||Straight win City||Raheem Sterling|
|Brighton vs Southampton||Brighton to win or draw||Anthony Knockert|
|Burnley vs Wolverhampton||Wolverhampton to pick a point at least||Raul Jimenez|
|Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield||Crystal Palace to win||Mitchy Batshuayi|
|Leicester vs Bournemouth||Both teams to score||Josh King|
|Manchester United vs Watford||Manchester United to win||Paul Pogba|
|West Ham vs Everton||West Ham to win or draw||Marko Arnautovic|
|Cardiff vs Chelsea||Chelsea to win||Eden Hazard|
|Liverpool vs Tottenham||Liverpool to win||Sadio Mane|
|Arsenal vs Newcastle||Arsenal to win||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang|
Strictly the writer’s opinion…