Final Day Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the final round of Premier League football. There is not too much on the line for most clubs, but Newcastle and Hull fans will endure nervy afternoons. All matches kick off at 3pm.

Arsenal vs West Brom
As with most of the fixtures there is very little riding on this game but some of Arsenal’s players really need to buck up their ideas if they want to start the FA Cup final. The Baggies can climb several places if results go their way and there’s even an outside chance of them getting in to the top half. This really could go either way but as the Gunners are at home I’ll back them.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 West Brom

Aston Villa vs Burnley
The Villans utterly capitulated last weekend in their defeat to Southampton but survived relegation on the same day. Villa fans were left with mixed emotions but they will desperately be hoping for a reaction ahead of the FA Cup final. Burnley may have been relegated but they have been plucky performers throughout the season and there’s every chance they can bounce straight back up.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Burnley

Chelsea vs Sunderland
The Blues will have an enjoyable final day regardless of the result but they will be keen to finish on a high. There’s no denying that they have deserved to win the league this season and there’s every chance that they could do the same next time around. The Black Cats will be delighted to have secured survival before the final day but they must be desperate for an improved campaign next time out.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland

Crystal Palace vs Swansea
The Eagles ruined Steven Gerrard’s final match at Anfield in epic fashion and have enjoyed a really excellent season under Alan Pardew. Swansea have also enjoyed a superb year and Garry Monk deserves immense credit. Despite losing to Man City last weekend they displayed the battling qualities that Monk has instilled into their play. Neither side deserves to lose their final match of the campaign but both would be satisfied with a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Swansea

Everton vs Spurs
Roberto Martinez’s side climbed into the top ten last weekend and will be keen to stay there. They’ve endured a miserable season but a year away from the Europa League won’t do them any harm. Spurs may also be keen to avoid a European venture but may end up in the competition anyway even if they do lose here.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Spurs

Hull vs Man United
The Tigers look down and out and need a minor miracle to survive this weekend. They need to beat United and for Newcastle to not win. Not an easy task. United’s season is virtually over barring an incredible goal difference shift between them and Arsenal to finish third. That might give Hull a chance here but it’s still a stretch to see them winning this one.
Prediction: Hull 1-1 Man United

Leicester vs QPR
A month ago, this looked as if this would be a crucial fixture in the battle for survival but it is now irrelevant. Leicester have seen the benefits sticking with a manager and their turnaround this season has been magnificent. The R’s, however, really need to evaluate their long-term strategy as a club. More needs to be spent on the future rather than trying to buy immediate success. There’s no doubt that they will be back in the near future, though.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 QPR

Man City vs Southampton
Arsenal’s midweek draw ensured that City would finish in second place but there will be big changes at the Etihad this summer I’m sure. They have an ageing squad and it is time for some fresh faces. Southampton are arguably the success story of the season and there is still a possibility of Europa League qualification should results go their way. They pummelled Villa last weekend and should give City a decent game.
Prediction: Man City 2-2 Southampton

Newcastle vs West Ham
This is the other big game of the day as Newcastle look nervously over their shoulder. They can make life easy for themselves by beating the Hammers but that wouldn’t be the Newcastle way. West Ham have taken their foot off the gas but have enjoyed a good season overall. Sam Allardyce would love the chance to pour misery onto his former charges so don’t be surprised if West Ham really come after the Magpies. There could be many twists and turns
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 West Ham

Stoke vs Liverpool
Stoke have enjoyed a brilliant season but there are two major stories surrounding this match and they are both Liverpool related. First, will Raheem Sterling play? His saga descended into further chaos this week and it’s hard to believe how obnoxious a player can be who’s achieved so little. I’d personally cash in on the £50million and wash my hands of him. One player who will definitely feature is Steven Gerrard who will be making his final appearance for the Reds. He has been a legendary figure in the league and deserves a winning send-off. Unfortunately for him, his teammates are not performing and Stoke will hope to crash the party.
Prediction Stoke 2-1 Liverpool

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Arsenal vs Sunderland Preview and Prediction

Wednesday

Arsenal vs Sunderland (19:45)

The Gunners have been in poor form recently and they were fortunate to get a point against Manchester United last weekend. However, that draw should guarantee that they finish in the top three this season and that represents a good campaign for Arsene Wenger’s men.

Sunderland, on the other hand, are still perilously close to the drop but know they only need a point from their final two matches to survive this season. Unfortunately for them, their fixtures are away to Arsenal and Chelsea.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s been going wrong for Arsenal in the last few matches – they’re simply not turning up to the games at the moment. It may be a combination of looking forward to the FA Cup final and not really having anything to play for in the league but they will be disappointed to head into the final low on confidence having been brilliant on the whole in 2015.

The Black Cats can have no such excuse, they have simply not been good enough this season but will survive largely due to the incompetence of others.

The league itself has very little to play for if Sunderland do win this so from a neutral’s perspective it would be better for an Arsenal win, which is what I think will happen anyway.

Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 37th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got a measly two out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Hopefully we will do better this week!

Saturday

Southampton vs Aston Villa (12:45)
The Saint’s season is tailing off and they are struggling to produce decent performances. They have had a terrific season overall, though, so hopefully their finish won’t put too much of a downer on things at St Mary’s. Villa, on the other hand, are in excellent form and are playing some great football. It’s hard to see the Villans being relegated even if they don’t get anything out of this match but I don’t see why they can’t win against Ronald Koeman’s floundering side.
Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Aston Villa

Burnley vs Stoke (15:00)
It was a case of too little too late last week for Burnley who ultimately did not have the quality to survive in this league. Stoke thumped Tottenham last weekend and have reached their highest ever points total. A point will guarantee them a top-half finish and I think they will get that.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Stoke

QPR vs Newcastle (15:00)
The R’s were relegated in appalling fashion last weekend but in truth they have been so poor all season that it was hardly a surprise. This is their chance to have a parting shot at the league and drag Newcastle into real trouble. The Magpies finally picked up a point last weekend and could have beaten West Brom but they are still perilously close to the drop zone. Hull have tougher fixtures but seem more likely to pick something up really. I think Newcastle will lose here to pile more pressure on them.
Prediction: QPR 2-1 Newcastle

Sunderland vs Leicester (15:00)
This is a huge game and a chance for one of these teams to virtually escape. Sunderland picked up a huge result, albeit with a bit of luck in front of goal, against Everton while Leicester continued their revival with a comfortable victory over Southampton. Both these teams will be desperate to win and to avoid defeat so it should be a tense game. A draw is not good enough to ease the nerves of either set of fans especially if Hull win but I think that’s what they will get.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-2 Leicester

Spurs vs Hull (15:00)
Tottenham are having a miserable end to the season and their defeat last weekend was extremely poor. It’s almost as if they’re trying to finish as far down the league table as possible to avoid the Europa League, which they will probably get anyway if Villa fail to win the FA Cup. Hull also endured a terrible result to lose to Burnley at home and have reason thrown themselves into trouble. They simply must win this match and I have a sneaking suspicion that they will get a something and possibly even nick it.
Prediction: Spurs 1-2 Hull

West Ham vs Everton (15:00)
This match could be seen as the battle for a top-half finish as Everton will leapfrog the Hammers with a victory. It’s been a good season for Sam Allardyce’s team but the gloss has been taken off by their performances in recent months. It’s not been such a good season for Everton but a season outside the Europa League might do them the world of good, assuming they don’t qualify through fair play. This really could go either way but I’ll lump for Everton.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Everton

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (17:30)
The Reds nabbed a draw against Chelsea but they were heavily reliant on Man United losing and a top-four place is now beyond them. Palace are another team whose season is tailing off and it’s hard to see them leaving here with three points.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace

Sunday

Swansea vs Man City (13:30)
The Swans pulled off another unlikely victory on Monday night by beating Arsenal and they may have done their opponents this weekend a huge favour in doing so. City are now in pole position to finish second and they will hope to capitalise on Arsenal’s defeat. They were ruthless against QPR but this will be a much tougher fixture. I had my doubts about Garry Monk’s credentials at the start of the season but he has done fantastically well and deserves infinite credit for the job he’s done and he may even guide them into the Europa League, should Villa lose the FA Cup final.
Prediction: Swansea 1-2 Man City

Man United vs Arsenal (16:00)
The Red Devils edged a victory over Crystal Palace to all but seal a top-four spot but will want to leapfrog Arsenal if possible to avoid Champions League qualifiers. The Gunners would have been virtually assured of avoiding them had they beaten Swansea but now face an anxious battle to the end of the season. Some players may have one eye on the Cup final too and I fancy United to grab a win.
Prediction: Man United 2-1 Arsenal

Monday

West Brom vs Chelsea (20:00)
The Baggies don’t have much to play for so their main target now might as well be to finish above Midlands’ rivals Aston Villa who are three points off them. West Brom have superior goal difference so should complete the job but Villa’s good form could close that gap before the start of play. Chelsea have won the league with ease but I still expect them to strengthen this summer as their rivals will come back stronger. They would like to finish on 90 points and I think they’ll take a further step towards that here.
Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Chelsea

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 36th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got six out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Everton vs Sunderland (12:45)
The Toffees were beaten last weekend by in-form Aston Villa and they face another relegation-threatened side this weekend. The Black Cats recorded a priceless victory against Southampton to keep themselves within touching distance of survival. Everton were in good form before last weekend and should be too good for Sundeland.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Sunderland

Aston Villa vs West Ham
The Villans are playing some great stuff at the minute and in Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke they have two of the league’s form players. The Hammers have picked up a little bit in the last few weeks but will still be classed as underdogs in this fixture given Villa’s need for points. One more win for Villa should be enough to seal survival and you’d think it would come here.
Prediction: Aston Villa 3-1 West Ham

Hull vs Burnley (15:00)
This is a massive game for Hull and is a final chance for Burnley to give themselves a hope of survival. The Tigers would relegate the Clarets if they don’t lose so Sean Dyche’s side know they must give it a real go to have any chance of staying in the league. Hull’s fixtures are very tough after this but a win here would give them a great chance of staying up and I think they will get it.
Prediction: Hull 2-1 Burnley

Leicester vs Southampton (15:00)
The Foxes were rampant during their match against Newcastle but they won’t have it all their way in this one. Southampton may not have much to play for but Ronald Koeman still expects his team to perform to the highest level. I’m expecting Leicester to escape the drop but they may be frustrated here.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Southampton

Newcastle vs West Brom (15:00)
Things keep going from bad to worse for Newcastle and there is a serious possibility that they will get relegated. Their goal difference is worse than any of the sides around them and it’s hard to see it improving any time soon. It’s hard to even see them picking up another point this season. West Brom have hit the 40 point mark and are safe for another season so Newcastle will hope that their level drops and they can up their game. However, their performances have been so poor recently that it makes it impossible to back them.
Prediction: Newcastle: 0-2 West Brom

Stoke vs Spurs (15:00)
This is a game that will matter very little in the grand scheme of things but both teams are playing for pride and to finish as high up as possible. Stoke will be keen to finish in the top ten, which is by no means a certainty given Everton’s resurgence and Spurs will want to push Liverpool all the way for a Europa league spot. Neither side is in terrific form and Stoke are generally good at home so a draw seems the most likely outcome.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Spurs

Crystal Palace vs Man United (17:30)
This has turned into an important game for United and one that they could really do with winning. Palace’s season is over and their mini renaissance seems to have come to a halt too. United have gone off the boil and are in danger of giving away a top-four spot to Liverpool. This could go either way so I’ll sit on the fence.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Man United

Sunday

Man City vs QPR (13:30)
City will be keen to end this season as soon as possible but finishing second would be a decent result considering their form in recent weeks. QPR are done and dusted if they don’t find a win here but there has been nothing to suggest that they will make this a contest. Comfortable win for City.
Prediction: Man City 2-0 QPR

Chelsea vs Liverpool (16:00)
While I think the Blues’ season may tail off in the next few weeks after winning the title, I’m not sure Jose Mourinho will let them get away with putting in a poor performance against one of the league’s top sides. This game will matter a lot to Liverpool who would be further boosted if United had dropped points the day before but Mouriho is the master of grinding out results against big teams and this will be no different.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool

Monday

Arsenal vs Swansea
The Gunners blew Hull away on Monday night and are in terrific form. Swansea have also performed very capably in recent weeks despite the fact that their season is all but over. Arsenal have secured Champions League football but will be desperate to finish second and I think they will have too much for the Swans.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Swansea

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 35th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got one out of two predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Leicester vs Newcastle (12:45)
This is the fixture that every side at the bottom of the table dreams of at the moment and is a golden ticket for the Foxes to escape relegation. Newcastle are on a hideous run of form and look set for their holidays. However, they are not yet safe from relegation and are relying on other team’s results rather than their own. From Leicester’s point of view this should be an easy win and I don’t think Nigel Pearson’s mid-week rant will distract them too much from their task.
Prediction: Leicester 1-0 Newcastle

Aston Villa vs Everton (15:00)
The Villans gave Man City an excellent game last weekend but shot themselves in the foot by giving away three terrible goals. Everton have returned to form but their 3-0 drubbing of Man United came as a real shock. This is a very different game, though. Villa are in desperate need of a win to put themselves within touching distance of safety and would rather get it sooner than later. Everton are merely playing for pride at this stage and I just have a feeling that Christian Benteke and co can cause them some real problems and sneak a win.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Everton

Liverpool vs QPR (15:00)
The Reds have completely blown their chances of a top-four finish and they can have no one to blame but themselves. Their defeat to Hull was incredibly poor and Brendan Rodgers and his players are playing for their futures. QPR couldn’t beat West Ham at home and that suggests to me that they will get relegated and playing away here won’t help their cause. An unconvincing Liverpool seems the likely outcome.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-0 QPR

Sunderland vs Southampton (15:00)
Sunderland are another team who are in desperate need for a win and if they could get it here they could throw teams above them into real trouble. The Saints, however, are not an ideal team to play still. Ronald Koeman seems to want to guarantee a Europa League place and know that a fifth-place finish would be a real achievement. Sunderland need to get a win soon but I think Southampton will have enough.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-1 Southampton

Swansea vs Stoke (15:00)
This is the biggest nothing game of the weekend between two teams in the top half of the table who have enjoyed excellent seasons. Both Garry Monk and Mark Hughes deserve great credit for the performances of their teams and I’m sure their fans will be delighted. There’re only three points between them and both teams will give it a go but an entertaining draw would not go amiss.
Prediction: Swansea 2-2 Stoke

West Ham vs Burnley (15:00)
The Hammers are playing a huge role in the relegation battle and seem to be facing a battling side every week. This is Burnley’s biggest game of the season, they simply must win or they will be relegated. Their loss to Leicester was disappointing and possibly their last realistic chance to escape from the perilous clutches of the drop. West Ham didn’t allow QPR an easy win last weekend and I think a draw here will virtually confirm Burnley’s relegation.
Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Burnley

Man United vs West Brom (17:30)
The Red Devils were soundly beaten last weekend and were fortunate that Liverpool only picked up one point in two matches. The Baggies will be confident that they have earned enough points to be safe and they will be keen to get to the end of this season as soon as possible and continue rebuilding in the summer. This should be a fairly routine victory for Louis van Gaal’s team.
Prediction: Man United 2-0 West Brom

Sunday

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace (13:30)
The Blues can seal the title with a win here and not many people would bet against them doing just that. Even fewer people would bet against them winning the league from this position and they thoroughly deserve to. It must be said that they have never been pushed too hard for the title but take nothing away from their professional performance throughout the season. Palace were in good form but have dropped off the pace in the last couple of weeks and you get the feeling that their season is over. This should be a title-winning day for Chelsea.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace

Spurs vs Man City (16:00)
Tottenham can still finish in a Europa League spot but it will be interesting to see if they actually want that. They might prefer a league campaign without the distraction of Europe and their end of season performances may give us an indication if that’s the case. City were very fortunate to win last weekend but find themselves back in second place and will hope to put pressure on Arsenal ahead of their match with a win.
Prediction Spurs 1-2 Man City

Monday

Hull vs Arsenal (20:00)
The Tigers pulled off one of their most important victories of the season on Tuesday and have a real chance of survival now. Another win should allow them to remain in the league. The Gunners league form has been very good recently and they will be keen to finish second this season. Hull will give them a good game but Arsenal should find a way through.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Arsenal

Midweek Preview and Predictions

Tuesday

Hull vs Liverpool (19:45)
This is a fixture that should mean a lot to both sides who both have a lot to play for. Hull are fighting for their lives down at the bottom and have one of the toughest run-ins. Liverpool can close the gap on United to four points with a win and give themselves an outside chance of a top-four spot. Hull recorded a vital away win at the weekend to give them hope of survival while Liverpool fluffed their lines once more. Had the Reds won that match they would have really been in with a shout of getting a top-four spot but they simply cannot afford to lose this. This will come down to who wants it more but Liverpool should have enough to get it.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Liverpool

Wednesday

Leicester vs Chelsea (19:45)
What a run Leicester have been on! Some may say they were slightly fortuitous to get the win against Burnley last time out but they have pulled themselves out of the relegation in the most unlikely fashion and could yet survive – a terrific achievement. Chelsea, meanwhile, showed once again why they are deserving champions with an excellent defensive performance against Arsenal and they will be confident of extending their lead at the top tonight. Leicester will play for a point but will keep looking nervously over their shoulder.
Prediction: Leicester 0-1 Chelsea

WEEKEND PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 34th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got four out of seven predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Southampton v Tottenham (12:45)
This is sure to be a really exciting game. It is Pochettino’s first trip back to St Marys since he left for North London, and despite his very successful 18-month spell in charge I’m not sure he’ll receive the warmest of welcomes from the Southampton faithful. A lot of people will have felt very let down by his departure, but I’m sure the Spaniard will be very keen to show that his new club are a step above. Both teams are in pursuit of a Europa League spot, so it’s sure to be a fiercely contested clash. Neither side are on a great run and it’s a tough one to call, but Southampton’s home form is enough to suggest that they’ll edge this one.
Prediction: Southampton 1-0 Tottenham

Burnley v Leicester (15 :00)
What a run Leicester are on! Three wins in three for the Foxes has brought them back from the brink of relegation. They’re now the favourite from the bottom three to stay up, and if they continue playing the way they have recently, they surely will. Burnley on the other hand haven’t had much luck of late and are desperate for a win. They put in a really spirited performance against Arsenal and they’ll be massively frustrated by Ashley Barnes’ sending off against Everton which stopped them really competing for the points. Both teams will put everything into this one but I can see Burnley stopping Leicester’s run.
Prediction: Burnley 2-1 Leicester

Crystal Palace v Hull (15:00)
I think most were surprised to see Crystal Palace fail to get a fifth successive win against West Brom, but to be fair to them they’ve done more than enough to be forgiven for an off day. Hull on the other hand can’t buy a win at the moment. It seems a long time ago since they saw off QPR and Villa in successive games. After that we all thought they’d probably be ok, but they’ve found themselves right back in the thick of it. Unfortunately they don’t have many ‘winnable’ games left and this is certainly one of their easier remaining fixtures, but I can’t see Pardew’s side making this anything like easy for Hull. I fancy this one to end all square.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Hull

Newcastle v Swansea (15:00)
Swansea have had a solid season and will be keen to hold on to a spot in the top half. Newcastle, however, are in disarray at the moment. That said, I can’t see them sliding into a relegation scrap. You have to feel sorry for John Carver; his players really don’t seem up for it but he’ll be desperate to show that he has what it takes to be a top-flight manager. Newcastle have got some pretty comfortable fixtures coming up so if they can buck their ideas up they could go on a bit of a run. I’m going for a drab draw here, though.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-0 Swansea

QPR v West Ham (15:00)
QPR gave Chelsea a run for their money, and I’m not sure they’ll have wanted a 12-day gap before this game. They were really impressive against the soon-to-be champions and were building up momentum in their bid to stay up. West Ham were very sloppy against Man City, it was a really poor performance. It looks like Big Sam will be moving on, but he’ll still be keen to grab his side a top half finish. The R’s really need to win this one though. I’m backing them to get all 3 points here, they’ll be right up for it and will simply want it more than the Hammers’ players.
Prediction: QPR 2-1 West Ham

Stoke v Sunderland (15:00)
Sunderland are in real danger of going down, they’ve got some tricky fixtures and they look frail defensively. Stoke meanwhile are usually solid at home, maybe not quite as much as they were under Tony Pulis, but they’ve been doing better on they’re travels which has seen them through an impressive season. The Black Cats could really do with at least a point here but I can’t see them getting anything.
Prediction: Stoke 3-1 Sunderland

West Brom v Liverpool (15:00)
West Brom are looking much more comfortable after their impressive win against Crystal Palace. They surely won’t get pulled back into the relegation battle now. Liverpool won’t believe they threw away the chance to get into the FA cup final. Brendan Rodgers will be furious with how poor his team were and will demand that they bounce back. They should be able to win this one but Pulis won’t make it easy for them.
Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Liverpool

Man City v Aston Villa (17:30)
City didn’t need to be at their best to see off a lackadaisical West Ham. They’ll be glad to be back to winning ways after two poor losses and will be keen to make sure they don’t slip up again. To be honest they can’t really afford to. Aston Villa will be on a high after their sensational performance against Liverpool. They were really impressive and fully deserve to be in the final. For now though, it’s back to the harsh reality that they still need some vital points to ensure their Premier League status. I can’t see them getting anything against City, however, who should win this one fairly comfortably.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Aston Villa

Sunday

Everton v Man Utd (13:30)
Everton have been good of late and are on a decent run which has gone a little unnoticed. It’s been a pretty poor season for The Toffees but fans will be happy that they’ve found some form when it’s really mattered. Man U had also been on an impressive run, until Chelsea halted them last week. They were the better side but for all their possession they only managed two shots on target. Their fans will be so frustrated by that. United’s injury list is still quite long, but they could be boosted by Blind’s return to action which will give them a bit of bite in midfield. This is another tough one to call, but I’m going down the middle with a score draw.
Prediction: Everton 2-2 Man Utd

Arsenal v Chelsea (16:00)
We all know about Arsene Wenger’s record against Mourinho. You have to say that for such an accomplished manager, it must secretly be a source of embarrassment for the Frenchman, no matter how much he has tried to play it down. Mourinho’s Chelsea team are just so good against the top teams though, and when they don’t have to win, they’re even more difficult to beat. They will be as organized as ever, and probably quite happy to let Arsenal play and wait for the counter-attacks where The Blues are so lethal. That said, the Gunners are playing some great football at the moment and have so much quality going forward that it will take a stellar effort from Chelsea to stop them scoring.
The balance of the game could rest on whether or not Diego Costa passes a late fitness test. While his form had begun to slip, Chelsea are a different animal going forward with him in the side. Nobody seems to think that Wenger’s hoodoo against Mourinho will end anytime soon, but this is the strongest side he’s had at his disposal in years. Home win, just.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 33rd round of Premier League football. Last time out we got six out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Crystal Palace vs West Brom (15:00)
Alan Pardew’s team are in sensational form and should jump into the top half of the table this weekend; a magnificent achievement considering where they were when he took over. The Baggies are heading in the opposite direction and are in danger of being dragged in to a relegation battle. Normally playing a team in Palace’s position would be a blessing in disguise for West Brom as they have nothing to worry about in terms of relegation, sadly the Eagles are more concerned with finishing as high up the table as possible. Comfortable home win here.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 West Brom

Everton vs Burnley (15:00)
The Toffees have really picked up in recent weeks and have an outside chance of pushing for a top half finish but in truth they will just want the season to end as soon as possible. Burnley, meanwhile, are scrapping for their lives at the bottom of the table but there is just the sense that they can escape danger. If they were to get anything from this they would put themselves in a really strong position but I think Roberto Martinez’s side will be too strong.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Burnley

Leicester vs Swansea (15:00)
Nigel Pearson’s side have given themselves a real shot of staying in this division with back-to-back wins but they need to keep that momentum going. A win in this game would put them level on points with Hull in 17th and would give them belief that they will survive. The Swans won’t roll over easily, though, and have beaten most the teams in a similar position to Leicester in the last few weeks. This could go either way. The Foxes will be desperate to get a win but Swansea are so consistent at the moment and a draw seems more likely.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Swansea

Stoke vs Southampton (15:00)
This match has very little riding on it, although Southampton still have an outside chance of getting a Champions League place. Stoke have been as solid as ever this season and Mark Hughes has done a good job. The Saints have struggled to score a multitude of goals all season and have relied on being solid defensively and I just fancy Stoke to shut them out and end their faint hopes of competing in the Champions League next season.
Prediction: Stoke 1-0 Southampton

Chelsea vs Man United (17:30)
There is only one result in this match that could salvage a shred of interest in the title race and that would be a Manchester United win. Sadly, Chelsea have been very consistent over the season and look unlikely to surrender the title now. United have also improved recently and you get the feeling they will be challenging for first place next season. Mourinho always sets his side up well for the big games and I can’t see them losing.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Man United

Sunday

Man City vs West Ham (13:30)
City are in big trouble of seeing their season spiral out of control and if they drop out of the Champions League spots then heads will roll. This is the perfect game to get back on track though as West Ham are on holiday already. Aguero returning to form last weekend was a boost and he should grab a goal or two here in a comfortable win.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 West Ham

Newcastle vs Spurs (16:00)
This is a bit of a nothing game for everyone involved and these are two sides that are ready for the season to be over. Newcastle are sliding down the table rapidly and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they didn’t pick up another point this season. Spurs look jaded and their European challenge is all but over but they should still win this.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-2 Spurs

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 32nd round of Premier League football.

Saturday

Swansea vs Everton (12:45)
Both sides were victorious in their last outings and there is very little riding on this game besides pride and the financial benefit of being placed slightly higher in the league. For that reason, the two teams can play with a freedom that is not afforded to other sides in more precarious positions and this should be an entertaining game that could easily go either way. I think both teams will be pleased with another point and a couple of goals.
Prediction: Swansea 2-2 Everton

Southampton vs Hull (15:00)
The Saint’s top-four challenge all but came to an end last weekend with defeat against Everton but they have enjoyed a terrific season and there is still the possibility of a Europa League place to show for it. Hull, meanwhile, are in serious danger of being relegated. They have a horrible run of fixtures and are relying on teams around them not picking up points. This is a game that Steve Bruce’s team could really do with getting something out of, but I just don’t see it.
Prediction: Southampton 1-0 Hull

Sunderland vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
The Black Cats are another team hanging perilously above the relegation places who also have a tough run of fixtures but they produced the goods last weekend with a win over their rivals Newcastle. Palace, on the other hand, are in fantastic form and beat Manchester City on Monday night. They will fear nobody and Alan Pardew will have no qualms about taking all three points off his former Toon rivals.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-1 Crystal Palace

Spurs vs Aston Villa (15:00)
Tottenham Hotspur endured another disappointing weekend and their Champions League challenge looks over for yet another season. Villa were involved in possibly the most chaotic game of the season against relegation rivals Queens Park Rangers that ended in a 3-3 draw. They will have been disappointed not to emerge with all three points but they looked far more menacing in attack and should provide a threat to Spurs’ backline. Villa boss Tim Sherwood returns to his former club to add a nice subplot to this tail but Tottenham should have too much for them.
Prediction: Spurs 2-1 Aston Villa

West Brom vs Leicester (15:00)
What has happened to West Brom? They were thumped 4-1 by a revived QPR at home in their last match and are by no means completely away from danger just yet. The Foxes got their much-needed win against a West Ham team that is already on their summer holidays and have given themselves a chance at survival, albeit a small chance. The Baggies dare not lose this one and it could be a classic Tony Pulis stalemate.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Leicester

West Ham vs Stoke (15:00)
The Hammers have nothing to play for now and it’s showing in their performances. Sam Allardyce looks set to leave the club and there is a sense of uncertainty around the club at the moment. Stoke are plodding along nicely and should finish in the top half of the table which would represent a good season. This is a bit of a nothing game in the grand scheme of things but I think Stoke are good value for the win.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Stoke

Burnley vs Arsenal (17:30)
The Clarets improved their survival prospects with a good draw against Spurs and there is a genuine possibility that they will stay up this season due to the difficulty of the fixtures their relegation rivals have to play. Arsenal are in great form and could easily finish second in the table and win the FA Cup this season, which would represent great progress for Arsene Wenger’s team. Burnley will be tough to break down but The Gunners have the quality to find a way through.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Arsenal

Sunday

QPR vs Chelsea (13:30)
The R’s enjoyed an excellent week, picking up four points on the road against relegation rivals. Chelsea continue to impress while their rivals falter and it’s just a matter of time before they win the league. Any result other than a Chelsea win could have a very significant bearing on the table at the end of the season but it’s hard to see them slipping up in this one.
Prediction: QPR 1-2 Chelsea

Man United vs Man City (16:00)
This is a massive game for both clubs but particularly for Manchester City. United have stolen a march in the race for finishing in the automatic Champions League group stage qualifying spots and lead their rivals by one point. City’s season has been in a constant decline and is showing no sign of improving but they have been very good against their rivals in recent times. This could easily go either way but it should be an entertaining match and hopefully with plenty of goals.
Prediction: Man United 2-2 Man City

Monday

Liverpool vs Newcastle (20:00)
In a weekend where every fixture looks rather uncertain, this stands alone as the banker. Liverpool may not be in their most petrifying form of the season but Newcastle have been so poor recently that it seems very unlikely they will make a good fist of making this a close-fought contest. This should be a comfortable win for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle

Aston Villa vs QPR preview and prediction

@0riginalfooty takes a look at this midweek fixture between two clubs fighting for their lives at the bottom of the Premier League table. Last time out we got five out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Villa Park – Tuesday (19:45)

Games don’t come much bigger than this. Two relegation-threatened sides with three points separating them. One in the relegation zone, the other hovering dangerously above it. But this isn’t just a traditional relegation six-pointer, it’s a fixture riddled with sub-plots. This is a clash between two great friends, a battle between one of the league’s best strikers this season against one who has returned to form and a scrap for two sides desperate to feed on the succulent financial teat that is the Premier League’s TV deal.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood takes on his former assistant coach, close friend and current QPR manager Chris Ramsey. The two have spoken fondly of each other prior to the match and say they speak at least once a week on the phone but this is the sort of fixture that can tear friendships apart.

“This is without doubt the biggest game of the season for Villa and possibly one of the biggest in a number of years and this is the biggest of my managerial career,” said Sherwood.

There are few who would argue with him. The former Tottenham Hotspur boss got off to a poor start at Villa with narrow defeats to Stoke and Newcastle, the latter being a particularly disappointing result, before renewing optimism and belief as they beat bitter rivals West Brom and smashed relegation rivals Sunderland 4-0. However, that belief is facing a severe test now as an important home game against Swansea became a loss and was followed by a routine defeat to Manchester United.

It may sound melodramatic to some to describe tonight’s match as must-win when there are seven matches to play but Villa’s fixture list justifies the claim. Following tonight’s game there are trips to Spurs and Man City, home matches against Everton and West Ham, an away day at Southampton and finally the crucial last day of the season clash with Burnley. The match against fast-sinking West Ham now looks winnable and there is no question they must beat Burnley but the other fixtures look tough to even earn a draw in. Villa simply must win tonight.

QPR’s fixture list is also treacherous. They face Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City in their last six games but also have winnable fixtures at home to West Ham and Newcastle before a final away trip to bottom side Leicester – could the fixture generator cough up more cutthroat final day clashes?

The R’s looked down-and-out before they thumped Tony Pulis’ West Brom 4-1 in the Midlands this weekend. That was possibly the worst possible result for Villa in a weekend where every side in the relegation battle picked up at least a point, besides them and Hull.

I predicted at the start of the season that both of these teams would survive and I still believe they both could, but it is far more probable that at least one of them will face the drop. Whichever team survives will probably have one of their star forwards to thank. QPR’s Charlie Austin has had a brilliant season and has an outside chance of finishing as top scorer in the league. He currently has 16 goals and has already scored against Villa this season in the 2-0 win at Loftus Road.

Villa’s own talisman Christian Benteke has endured a frustrating campaign that included working his way back from injury but he has scored four in his last four matches in all competitions and there is a feeling that he could be returning to form at just the right time. Whoever comes out on top tonight could keep their side in the top flight.

Both sides have fresh injury worries with Alan Hutton set to miss the fixture with an ankle problem while QPR have also added Eduardo Vargos and Yun Suk-young to the injury table. For Villa, Aly Cissokho could return along with Philippe Senderos, Kieran Richardson and Tom Cleverley.

Regardless of everything else, all that matters come kick-off is who wins on the pitch. This could go either way but I fancy Villa to come up with the goods when it matters the most. They have been in a relegation battle for the last four years and always seem to have a season-defining fixture around this time of year where they beat one of their rivals convincingly. If they don’t win tonight then I believe they will be relegated but QPR could still survive even with a loss. Sherwood to win this battle of the best friends.
Prediction: Villa 3-1 QPR