Most pundits that predicted a Liverpool title at the beginning of March thought United and Spurs would find ways of stopping Pep Guardiola’s side, they didn’t foresee a situation whereby Spurs would dump City from the UCL and thereby making the league title defense non-negotiable for the champions.
With Tottenham and Manchester United out of the way, Manchester City now lead the table by just a solitary point which a draw can easily erase, making it imperative for them to beat everyone they face from now on till the end of the season; the quadruple hopes went with the haze of Spurs invasion the other night, better forgotten as they gave everything they had but still fell short in the hands of fate and the controversial VAR, next for City is a tricky trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley, the Clarets aren’t in danger of dropping to the Championship anymore and with their sensational surge at Stamford Bridge on Monday, it’s not a game to take for granted by the champions.
Liverpool will face Huddersfield on Friday night, the Terriers are down and out but they also want to prove that they have some pride to salvage, no one wants to finish at the foot of the log and they don’t want to have the worst total points tally of all time in the Premier League, making it a game the Kops must take by the jugular and quite early too; The Terriers don’t score many goals but they know how to shore things up at the back and frustrate all comers, the trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino are likely to start but to their manager will have one eye on midweek’s UCL affair with Barcelona and it’s also a game that means a whole lot to them, make no mistake, the league comes first on their priority orders but they won’t be an interesting opponent for the Catalan side.
Spurs now have margins for errors as they look to prioritize, they have a tricky tie to prepare for against Ajax, a team on the rise and they also have an eye on the top four race, the unbelievable league decline of Arsenal has tilted the advantage in the directions of Spurs as they lie four points above the Gunners and are well positioned to finish better, but West Ham visiting the new Tottenham stadium will stretch Mauricio Pochettino’s side and might affect the result; injuries aren’t what Spurs want to discuss at this stage, they can’t afford any key player to join Harry Kane and Harry Winks on the sidelines and West Ham on their parts want to finish strong too, they really have never been good friends with Spurs and being a London derby, you might expect some huge fireworks at the beautiful ground of London.
Crystal Palace dusted Arsenal at the Emirates, they exploited a very weak line up that was being juggled for upcoming fixtures by the North London Club but you won’t take anything away from their direct approach, the Eagles are up against Everton, slayers of Manchester United and you really can’t tell what will happen; Everton don’t travel well and Palace struggle at home, stalemate in the offing? The Palace side that beat Arsenal came resolute, the Everton side that beat United came precise, if the two sides proved same, then expect the game of the season from this fixture but what is at stake for either side? A win for Everton will get them up to seventh and guarantee them a spot in Europe next season, to think Marco Silva’s job was on the line at the start of February, he has steered them into reckoning and folks now take them quite seriously… Interesting fixture to look forward to.
Cardiff is smoking their last straw, they can breathe easy after Christian Eriksen ruined the script for Brighton on Tuesday night, but truth be told, the Seagulls offered nothing going forward, they went for a draw and the worst happened. Cardiff must beat Fulham at Craven Cottage to stand any chance of staying up, but the Lily Whites have won back to back games for the first time this season and they don’t look like a side that will lie and be beaten, Scott Parker wants the job on permanent basis and he has to earn it, remember how West Brom stormed out in style last season? It feels the same again with Fulham.
Leicester City will host Arsenal on Sunday, the Gunners are preparing for Valencia, a fixture that they must now take seriously after mismanaging their position with back to back losses; the form of Arsenal away from home is shameful, they know how to frustrate their fans and with the Foxes chasing the seventh spot which they’re just three points away from, a win over the unpredictable Gunners will land them in good frames to finish in their desired position. Leicester weren’t really inspiring last weekend and depended on poor defending by the Hammers to earn a point, many thanks to in-form Jamie Vardy who also enjoys playing against Arsenal, expect a weak line up from the Gunners as Unai Emery will most likely prioritize Europa league at this stage and the form of Valencia is something they can’t take for granted.
Chelsea have top four hopes in their hands again but they have to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford to achieve this, it will become extremely difficult for them to make top four if they don’t beat United on Sunday, they also have an eye on the Thursday fixture against Frankfurt, a game that is of huge significance to them and they know how strong the German side has been in the Europa League; the Blues were surprisingly lethargic as they limped to a stalemate against Burnley on Monday, United also have top four hopes, it doesn’t lie in their hands, they need the duo of Chelsea and Arsenal to falter, very possible and half of that is very much in their hands, they must win at home.
Down the ladder, Brighton will do themselves a world of favor if they beat Newcastle, they can’t rely on luck with Cardiff just three points away from them, the remaining fixtures after Newcastle is nightmarish for Brighton and the lesser of the evils is at the Emirates where Arsenal are quite strong on the last day of the season, they could be out of the equation by then, this makes the visit of the Magpies to the Amex a serious affair.
Premier league predictions is next and it’s such a weekend of huge significance, everyone must win, even the relegated ones have pride to fight for, best of the rest battle is on and top four still has to be decided… Then the big one, the one point agenda between City and the hopeful Liverpool…
|Fixtures||Verdict||Player to watch|
|Liverpool vs Huddersfield||Liverpool to win||Roberto Firmino|
|Spurs vs Westham||Westham to win or draw||Mikhail Antonio|
|Palace vs Everton||Full time draw||Wilfred Zaha|
|Fulham vs Cardiff||Fulham to win or draw||Ryan Babbel|
|Watford vs Wolves||Both teams to score||Gerard Delofeu|
|Southampton vs Bournemouth||Both teams to score||Nathan Redmond|
|Brighton vs Newcastle||Brighton to win||Jurgen Locadia|
|Leicester vs Arsenal||Both teams to score||Jamie Vardy|
|Burnley vs Man City||City to win||Raheem Sterling|
|Man Utd vs Chelsea||United to win or draw||Marcus Rashford|
Strictly the writer’s opinion… Gamble responsibly