Liverpool hit fifth gear in midweek with a five star performance in front of the Anfield fans on a night Manchester City had to dig deep for result at home to West Ham. Sadio Mane’s cheeky back heel and Virgil Van Dijk’s brace were the highlights of Liverpool’s 5:0 annihilation of Watford with the visitors unable to muster anything meaningful upfront; The Kops needed a change in style, they got it through the introduction of Divock Origi for the injured Roberto Firminho and the young Belgian rewarded the faith with a goal and a decent display on the night, quite surprising though that Liverpool found the net five times and Mohammed Salah was not among the scorers, the Egyptian however was of immense value on the right and was denied time after time by the Hornets defense and goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Up next for Jurgen Klopp’s men is the famous Merseyside derby which is coming at a time there is more at stake than territorial bragging rights for either side but more importantly Liverpool; Everton would do anything they can to deny Liverpool the title, it’s constitutional, and Liverpool know it too well that a slip up would see them playing catch up to City, would they want to risk that? The Citizens are away to Bournemouth and would not be kind to a very lean side with many challenges, Bournemouth are on a downward spiral and won’t be much of an impediment to the champions.
The first game of the weekend is another mouthwatering derby, the North London Derby, the reverse at the Emirates produced six quick fire goals with three coming in either half, Arsenal were the conquerors the last time out, and with Harry Kane back in action, expect a real fight from the hosts at Wembley. Spurs do have a date in Europe in midweek but could be much of a formality, they did their business efficiently in the first leg with a 3:0 thumping of Borrusia Dortmund and would take a capitulation of note to see them losing out, they will give everything to the game on Saturday to put behind them the pressure of back to back losses to Burnley and Chelsea, the 2:0 reverse at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday meant they’re now only four points better off than Arsenal, and a loss to the Gunners would leave them only a point ahead in the race for third. Arsenal are going into this fixture on the back of a 5:1 success over Bournemouth, while the Cherries aren’t what they used to be, it’s a good result to give confidence and considering how mesmerizing the duo of Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were on Wednesday night, Mauricio Pochettino might want to find a way to stop the free flowing quick passing football of Arsenal should the two be called on to start. Brighton are home to Huddersfield, there are fears in some quarters for the Seagulls with their slide down the ladder, this would be a huge opportunity for them to step up and win a game for the first time in a while, the Terriers however are going to point to their late win at home to Wolves as a pointer, that six pointer however is there for Chris Hughton’s side to take.
Injury ravaged Manchester United went to Crystal Palace and got the result, they didn’t play well, they didn’t have to but they got exactly what they needed on the night, and with Arsenal away at Spurs, they can sneak back into top four if the Gunners drop points; Marcus Rashford was given some few minutes to run off his injury at Selhurst Park, and Romelu Lukaku took his chances beautifully with a brace, the big Belgian will most likely keep his place upfront while the young English forward is eased back in gradually as he heals from the injury he picked in the clash with Liverpool.
Wolves were disappointing at Huddersfield, many expected them to win but they managed to throw it away at the death, they have another chance against another relegation threatened side in Cardiff City, the Welsh side dropped into the drop zone after Southampton beat Fulham on Wednesday; talking Fulham, the Lily Whites parted ways with Claudio Ranieri after the loss at the St Mary’s Stadium with Scott Parker stepping in as the caretaker manager. His (Parker) first test would be to lead the team out as they welcome heavy weights Chelsea to Craven Cottage, a team he once played for, would be interesting to see how the team responds, Scott Parker would be the third manager to lead Fulham this season.
Premier league predictions is upon us, it’s round 29 with just ten games to go, it’s water tight at the top and it seems to be the only final relegation spot that is to play for down the ladder, in the race for top four, the quartet of Spurs, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are all in the mix with fates still in respective hands, any of the four can still finish third, any of the four can still finish sixth…
|Fixtures||Verdict||Players to watch|
|Tottenham vs Arsenal||Spurs to win||Harry Kane|
|Bournemouth vs City||City to win||Sergio Aguero|
|Brighton vs Huddersfield||Brighton to win||Jürgen Locadia|
|Burnley vs Crystal Palace||Burnley to win||Ashley Barnes|
|United vs Southampton||United to win||Paul Pogba|
|Wolves vs Cardiff||Wolves to win||Raul Jimenez|
|Westham vs Newcastle||Westham to win or draw||Felipe Anderson|
|Watford vs Leicester||Watford to win or draw||Troy Deeney|
|Fulham vs Chelsea||Chelsea to win||Eden Hazard|
|Everton vs Liverpool||Liverpool to win||Sadio Mane|
Strictly the writer’s opinion