#WeekendPreview: Predictions, Analysis and Battles to look out for in Matchday 34

The Premier League is back with us again and this weekend its more exciting than ever!

Okay, I lied. The premier league is always exciting. I just didn’t know how to introduce this post 😦

Anyway, this weekend sees plenty of games that could bring delight- or despair- at both ends of the table. There’s a mere 5 games left in it and to be honest, and everybody’s scrambling for points to either edge close the title, avoid relegation or simply secure a place in Europe’s elite. With that being said, lets look at what lies ahead of us come this weekend:

Southampton vs Tottenham

The action kicks off at St. Mary’s where Southampton welcome Tottenham for a match that could prove crucial (or costly) in their race for Champions League football. Southampton are within a point of their visitors and a win for either teams would propel them to fifth; dislodging Liverpool in the process. Southampton succumbed to a late strike by Charlie Adam which saw Stoke bag all three points in a thrilling 2-1 win while Tottenham endured an early second half scare by The Magpies to beat them 3-1. Both teams are somewhat out of form, as they’ve only managed 2 wins in 5. The Saints are still without Fraser Forster, who is expected to be out for the rest of the season while Toby Alderweireld picked up an injury last time out and is still a doubt. Spurs on the other hand may receive a major boost as far as injuries are concerned, as first choice keeper Hugo Lloris is in contention to return to the first team. This will be an interesting one as I feel both teams have enough incentive to try and go for the win.

Prediction: Southampton win.

Burnley vs Leicester

The relegation battle is real. Very real. Burnley are 3 points away from safety while Leicester remain in trouble due to a goal difference of one that separates them and Hull City. Last time these sides met in October at the King Power, it ended in a 2-all draw. Leicester head into this one with better form than their opponents, having won 3 off the spin. What a time to pick up form! We’re now starting to see glimpses of the team that beat United by a reasonable margin earlier in the season. The goals have also been flooding in for Nigel Pearson’s men, as they’ve won all their games by two goals or more. Burnley on the other hand may be losing but they’ve proved to be a difficult team to break down at home, as the Cityzens came to realize. Not much to report in terms of injury, as the only concern may be Leicester’s David Nugent who picked up an injury last time. This will be a thriller; no teams posses more fight than the ones in danger.

Prediction: Draw

Crystal Palace vs Hull City

Crystal Palace’s resurgence under Alan Pardew has been exceptional. Having lost only one in the last five, The Eagles will set their sights on a top half finish. The same cannot be said about The Tigers, who are in a terrible run. Hull have not picked up a win since their 2-1 win against QPR back in February. They are also in the relegation mix, and it’s also safe to say that they need the three points more than Crystal Palace. Hull are without Nikica Jelavic, Robert Snodgrass and Gaston Ramirez, while Palace will be missing Jordan Mutch and Fraizer Campbell. This seems to be a walk in the park for Pardew’s men, although upsets do happen and seeing as to Mark Clattenburg is in charge of this one, there still might be something for The Tigers. I say this because Mark has awarded 8 penalties this season in 22 Premier League games- no referee has given more. (I just don’t like this guy at all)

Prediction: Crystal Palace win.

Newcastle vs Swansea

As it stands, Newcastle are the league’s most out of form team, as they’ve lost 6 games to a row. Not too sure what John Carver is upto. One thing is for certain though, Newcastle need a new manager next season. Both teams played out to a 2-2 draw last time they faced each other, and they come into this one having faced defeat in their previous matches. Swansea have the better record in this fixture though, having won four and drawing two of their last five clashes with Newcastle United. Newcastle are still having trouble in front of goal, as Ayoze Perez is without a goal for a while now and Papiss Cisse is out through suspension. Swansea head into this one without Kyle Naughton and Bafetimbi Gomis, who have ankle and hamstring injuries respectively. Given newcastle’s recent performances, I’d fancy Swansea to have the upper hand in this one.

Prediction: Swansea win.

QPR vs West Ham United

There may be nine teams in between these two, but that will count for nothing when West Ham travel to Loftus Road. The Rangers know that fate is in their hands, and will battle with all they’ve got to secure a place in the Premier League next season. QPR will fancy their chances, as they’re the only team in the league that have won a higher proportion of points at home (73.1%) and was it not for a mistake from their keeper Rob Green, they would’ve at least salvaged a point against champions elect Chelsea. West Ham are battling to remain in the top half of the log, but with only one win in their last five, will need some luck on their side to stay there. QPR are hard hit in terms of injury, with nine players out including Rio Ferdinand, Eduardo Vargas and Armand Traore. The Hammers are without their two strikers, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho. James Tompkins is also a no-show for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder. Should QPR hold their nerve, then they can bag all the points and boost their chances of survival.

Prediction: QPR win.

Stoke City vs Sunderland

Fact: There have been six red cards in 13 Premier League meetings between these sides, with the Potters on the wrong end of four of them. Goes to show how fiery it can get when these two clash. This seems unlikely this season, as Stoke are the only side not to have picked up a red card so far. Stoke also returned to winning ways with a win over QPR, and will be looking to leapfrog Swansea on the log. Sunderland lost their last encounter against Crystal Palace, and could also face relegation if they’re not careful. Victor Moses is set to miss this one with a hamstring injury, while Sunderland are without Wes Brown who is out until next month. An interesting encounter this one, but the real question is can Sunderland do it on cold windy afternoon in Stoke?

Prediction: Stoke City win

West Bromwich Albion vs Liverpool

West Brom are another side that have seen remarkable improvement under a new manager and having safely evaded relegation this season, all they will be looking for is a tidy finish to the season. Tony Pulis will be looking forward to this one, as his managerial record against Liverpool is impressive; he has never lost a Premier League home game against Liverpool (W3 D3). Saido Berahino will also be hoping to boost their chances of a win here, as 15 of his 18 goals have come at the Hawthorns this season. Liverpool on the other hand still have a slight chance of qualifying for Champions League football, given they win this and their rivals around them slip. For now though, they seem set for Europa League action. Liverpool come into this one with better form than their opponents, having won 3 of their last 5. With their recent disappointment in the FA cup, Brendan Rodgers will be looking to give his fans something to smile about come the end of the season. Injury wise, West Brom are without Ben Foster and Craig Dawson, who are both out for the rest of the season, while Liverpool will have to travel without Daniel Sturridge, who sustained a hip injury. Mamadou Sakho, Adam Lallana and Lucas Leiva are also major doubts. On paper, this looks like a Liverpool win. However, given their in game performances at times this season, they could be in shock after the match.

Prediction: Liverpool win

Manchester City vs Aston Villa

The fallen champions have had their fair share of disappointment this season, and it could yet be more as Tim Sherwood’s men head into this one full of confidence after beating Liverpool for a spot in the FA cup final. The Villains are in better form than Manchester city, having picked up 7 points in their last 5. City have only managed 6 in the same amount of games, which is more than disappointing given the quality in the side. The Citizens have the heavens to thank as the injury David Silva picked last week isn’t as serious as first thought, and will be looking to win this one to temporarily move above their rivals Manchester United in the log, who play on Sunday. Statistics favor City, as they’ve won more Premier League games (20) and scored more goals (65) versus Villa than against any other team. Yaya Toure has also scored in his last three appearances against Villa, and will be looking to add to that tally. There seems to be a looming injury crisis at city, with James Milner, Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Wilfried Bony all major doubts. The Villains are most notably without Cirian Clark, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Philippe Senderos. As aforementioned, Aston Villa are brimming with confidence and seeing to how City have been slipping recently, they will be fancying their chances. However, the odds are greatly in favor of Manchester City.

Prediction: Manchester City win.

Everton vs Manchester United

It was the heroics of United’s number one David De Gea that secured all three points for United the last time these two sides squared off. This time however, it is United who make the trip to their rivals, as Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini return to face their former club. Things haven’t been so rosy in recent history for the Red Devils, as they’ve lost in their last two visits to Goodison Park. Whats more, United’s away form has been below satisfactory this season, only winning three of their last nine away games. Everton could be stunned though, as no other team has dropped more points from winning positions this season than them (19). There’s also been problems with converting spot kicks for the Toffees as they’ve failed to convert 3 penalties so far this campaign; most notably being Leighton Baine’s miss at Old Trafford. Van Gaal’s men have a great overall record against Everton in the league though, as they have won 31 games against them, only against Aston Villa have they picked up more (32). United are without Michael Carrot..err I mean Carrick, Adnan Januzaj, Phil Jones, Rafael and Daley Blind although Blind and Carrick have a slight chance of returning for this one. Everton have also lost Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo through injury, but will be relieved to have Romelu Lukaku. This looks to be a bit edgy, but I think United will win it.

Prediction: Manchester United win

Arsenal vs Chelsea

Two of the league’s in form teams meet and for both, three points are vital. First faces second and if Chelsea win it, and they’re only 3 points away from a fifth league title. Arsenal win it, and they solidify their chances of finishing second. There’s all to play for here and it promises to be a great encounter, provided Mourinho doesn’t do the usual. The stats between these two managers clearly show why one constantly challenges for titles, while the other continually clings onto fourth place.

Arsene Wenger has lost just five competitive home games by a 3+ goal margin during his tenure as Arsenal Manager; three of which have come against Chelsea.

On the other hand, Jose Mourinho has never lost as an opposition coach against Arsene Wenger in ANY competition (W7 D5 L0). Arsenal can take consolation though as they have won more points in 2015 than any other side (33), and are in fine, fine form (W8). Arsenal face a big scare in defence as Per Mertesacker hobbled off last time out. Chelsea are without Diego Costa and Loic Remy, but that will count for little as Eden Hazard will be on counter-attacking duty. Although Chelsea have enjoyed the better record over the years, this time round they face a resilient Arsenal side who really haven’t done anything wrong since the new year. This is their biggest challenge yet, and with a chance to prove that they are a side capable to mount a late title challenge…ah, who am I kidding.. Mou gets away with all three points here as he did last time. It’s almost inevitable.

Prediction: Chelsea win.

There you have it! An interesting weekend of football awaits, but will there be upsets? Only time will tell.

See you on the pitch!

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