#WeekendPreview: Predictions, Analysis and Battles to look out for in Matchday 36

The Premier League title may be sealed but there’s all to play for in the bottom half of the table as the relegation battle gets tighter and tighter each week.

With only 2 points separating 14th and 17th spot, it seems that it’s going to go down to the wire between now and the end of the season.

Further up the table, there’s slight hope for a top four finish for Liverpool and Tottenham as Manchester United failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity to cement their place in the Champions League next season as they succumbed to a 3rd straight loss in a row to West Brom. With all this in mind, let’s have a look on what the weekend holds for us.

Everton vs Sunderland

After a great display against Manchester United, Everton slumped to a 3-2 defeat at home when Aston Villa came calling last week. A Christian Benteke brace and a superb effort from Tom Cleverley ensured the visitors left with all 3 points, further enhancing their survival chances. Sunderland on the other hand also managed to get 3 vital points as they beat Southampton 2-1, thanks to two Jordi Gómez spot kicks.

Everton seem to have the upper hand heading into this one, as they have lost just one of their last 14 Premier League games at home, winning the last four in a row. Furthermore, the Black Cats have failed to score in seven of their last 14 Premier League matches against Everton, so it looks an easy win on paper. Never be too comfortable facing a side threatened by relegation though, because they know what’s at stake.

Prediction: Draw

Aston Villa vs West Ham United

Both teams will be pushing for back-to-back wins after narrow victories last week, and with their their league positions on the log, Villa need the three points more than the Hammers. West Ham have slumped of late, only winning one of their last five games. History says that this will be a tight one, as each team has won and drawn twice in their last four encounters. West Ham are currently struggling on their travels, as they haven’t won any of their last 10 away games. They will be looking up to their captain Kevin Nolan, who has netted seven goals against Villa, with five of those goals coming in his last 6 appearances against the Villains. Christian Benteke will be the man to look out for, as his resurgence has coincided with Villa’s recent superb form. The Belgian forward has scored 10 goals in his last eight appearances and has also been involved in 11 of Villa’s last 16 league goals (10 goals, 1 assist) and will be looking to rally his side for another victory.

Prediction: Aston Villa win

Hull City Vs Burnley

With their relegation fears all but confirmed, Burnley need to win all of their remaining games and hope results elsewhere sway in their favor to avoid the drop. They visit a Hull City side who are also contenders for a bottom 3 finish. As with Villa and Sunderland, both teams here need the three points and it will all boil down to the team which wants survival the most. Hull have won two of their last five, while Burnley are without a win in the same amount of games. Luck doesn’t seem to be on the Tigers side at this month of the year, as they have never won a Premier League game in May. It’s hard to say whether Burnley can ride on this luck, as they  haven’t scored a goal in over nine hours now. Hull edge this one for me.

Prediction: Hull City win

Leicester vs Southampton

The foxes are the most in form relegation threatened side, having lost just one of their last five. We must congratulate April’s manager of the month Nigel Pearson for whatever he’s injected to his side (and Vardy). It’s definitely working. They welcome a disoriented Southampton side who have only picked up 4 points in the same number of games and look set to miss European football. The Saints won this fixture comfortably last time but there is a cause for concern now as Leicester are focused on staying in the Premier League. The Foxes are playing with confidence, and with the speedy Vardy leading the attack I think they are going to win. Also, I think they’ll stay up in the league and when they do, it will be fully deserved.

Prediction: Leicester City win

Newcastle vs West Brom

The Toons have been appalling this season to say the very least. Having lost eight on the trot, I believe they’re headed for relegation. There is a glimmer of hope however, as their top scorer Papiss Cisse is set to make his return after a lengthy suspension. West Brom are enjoying life at the moment, and after their cheeky win against United they will be looking to finish as high up the table as possible. With their resolute defending and clinical set piece ability, I can’t see any other outcome.

Prediction: West Brom win

Stoke City vs Spurs

This fixture is always a fiery affair, as there have been six red cards shown in the last six clashes between these two. Most recently, there was a red card shown in the reverse fixture earlier this season at White Hart Lane. Both teams lost last time out, and have collected only 5 points apiece in their last five. Although he hasn’t scored in a while, Tottenham will be looking up to their star man Harry Kane, whose goals have won more points (22) than any other player in the league this season. Stoke also pose a threat in their striker Mame Biram Diouf, who has scored in three of his last four games at the Britannia. This has a draw written all over it and either team will be lucky to nick it.

Prediction: Draw

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Saturday’s last fixture sees the Red Devils visit the Eagles in what could be a make or break tie as far as Champions League football is concerned. With Palace having distanced themselves from relegation, it seems now that the points will mean a whole lot more to United. History strongly suggests a comfortable United win, as they have won 11 and lost none of the last 13 meetings with the Eagles. This will offer no solace to the United faithful though, as the last three matches have been an absolute nightmare. United have dominated all the stats except the one that matters. These worries will be even more magnified again, as United haven’t scored a goal in all those defeats. LVG has also ruled out Michael Carrick for the rest of the season with a calf injury, and as a result the midfield again will be imbalanced. Alan Pardew’s men are resilient and will take the fight to United , as they have won a league high 18 points from losing positions this season. Once again the odds are highly stacked in favor of United, but as we’ve come to see it might as well count for nothing if the goals aren’t being scored. This won’t be a high scoring game, that’s for sure.

Prediction: Draw.

Manchester City vs QPR

The two teams are second in the top and bottom ends of the league respectively and it goes without saying who needs the points more than the other. Like Burnley, QPR need a miracle to ensure survival as they travel to the Etihad. City have improved their form recently, as they’ve now won three consecutive games and only lost one of their last 15 home games. QPR will need to produce a performance of warriors, as well as avoid those silly mistakes they make late in the game if they are to get something out of this. As it stands though, its a win for the former champions.

Prediction: Manchester City win

Chelsea vs Liverpool

This is the star fixture of the weekend, as this year’s champions welcome Liverpool for an enticing affair at The Bridge. The only thing at stake for Chelsea is their immaculate home record, having won fourteen and drawn three without defeat so far. Liverpool have lost just one of their last four visits to Stamford Bridge, so Chelsea will need to be alert. The reds have also kept seven clean sheets in their last nine Premier League matches on the road. Liverpool will also have in mind the implications of the outcome of this match; if they lose and United presumably win, then mathematically there is no chance of Champions League football next season. Given Liverpool’s form this far, I doubt they’ll be able to beat Chelsea who are ever so comfortable at home. Rodgers knows this. The most favorable result for them would be a draw, but the Blues take this one for me.

Prediction: Chelsea win

PS: Arsenal play Swansea on Monday evening.

How do you think the weekend will pan out? Let me know in the comment section below?

See you on the pitch!


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