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

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