The Saints march to Swansea for the mother of all relegation dogfights, but John Newsome predicts neither side will get the win they desperately need.
SWANSEA v SOUTHAMPTON
What a vital game this is for both sides after last weekend’s results. Swansea lost 1-0 away at Bournemouth and slipped back into the bottom 3 on goal difference. They have had a remarkable season, initially starting under Paul Clement, drawing their first game ironically against Southampton 0-0 at St Mary’s. Paul lasted until a week before Christmas when the defeat away at Everton ended his tenure as Swansea manager. At least he got a break over the festive period.
Swansea legend Leon Britten took temporary control for 2 games, until the surprise permanent appointment of Carlos Carvalhal. Mr Carvalhal had just left a struggling Championship side and his appointment came out of the blue. But he had an immediate effect winning his first game in charge away at Watford and managed 2 brilliant surprise results beating both Liverpool and Arsenal. Unfortunately the last 8 games have only produced 3 points in 3 draws. Which is relegation form? Southampton moved out of the relegation places at the expense of the Swans with a 1-1 draw against Everton on Saturday.
The unfortunate stat for the Saints in that game was Everton’s equaliser came in the 96th minute. Nathan Redmond got Southampton’s goal coming on as a Substitute just after halftime. As mentioned they have moved above Swansea due to a superior goal difference. A draw wouldn’t be the worst result for either team but both will know that a win would go along way in cementing their place in the league for next Season.
CHELSEA v HUDDERSFIELD
Chelsea are the form team at the moment winning 4 of their last 5 Premier League games, drawing the 5th in a run which now sees them only 2 points behind 4th place Tottenham after the weekend’s results. They got a brilliant 1-0 win against Champions League finalist’s Liverpool on Sunday, Olivier Giroud getting the all-important goal.
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The problem for the blues is the previous 5 games only harvested 6 points. Champions League for next season seemed lost but they now are back in the running and will look to this fixture against struggling Huddersfield to get all 3 points and keep that dream alive. Huddersfield got the result of the weekend, a 0-0 draw away against Champions Man City. The Terriers faithful celebrated that point like they had won the league themselves taking their tally for the season to 36 points. However, their last 2 games are this one against Chelsea and the final fixture against Arsenal who will surely want to end Mr Wenger’s stint as manager with a win, so the 36 points that Huddersfield have, maybe all they will get and depending on other results could still be relegated.
That’s for next Sunday though and they will go all out to try and avenge the 3-1 loss to Chelsea back in December at the John Smiths Stadium. The Blues goals that day were scored by Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro with Laurent Depoitre getting the Terriers sole goal. With Chelsea going for that final Champions League place, they should be too strong again.
Home Win 2-0
LEICESTER v ARSENAL
Leicester are on the beach now they know they are safe after playing quite well for a while. They are now the worst form team out of the 20. They lost again on Saturday gifting West Ham a 2-0 win in front of the loyal Foxes fans who deserve better from the 2015/16 Premier League Champions. The Blues from the King Power have only gained 1 point from a possible 15 which is simply not good enough especially with England World Cup squad members Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire in the team.
Arsenal cemented 6th place in the table and a Europa League place for next season with a convincing 5-0 win against nearest rivals Burnley. This was Arsene Wenger’s last game at the Emirates in charge and the Gunners gave him a fitting send-off with goals from Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolasinac, Alex Iwobi and a couple from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They were disappointing midweek in the semi-final of the Europa League, but this emphatic win against Burnley gives them another go in the competition next term.
With the Foxes having the flip-flops and the suntan lotion out already, an away win is forecast.
Away Win 0-2
MAN CITY v BRIGHTON
Man City were surprisingly held to a 0-0 draw at the Etihad on Sunday against lowly Huddersfield. The Terriers were only the 2nd team this season to prevent High Flying City from scoring which is a tremendous achievement. The Citizens probably just wanted to get the game out of the way so they could be presented with their Premier League trophy and medals. Understandable after a record-breaking season. Brighton played and beat the very poor other club from Manchester on Friday Night Football.
Pascal Gross got the all-important goal via Goal Line Technology which is the plus point of modern football. Without this, the goal may not have been given and if it had the United players would be up in arms protesting. With the Technology now on offer, everyone accepts the decision without a protest in sight. If only the authorities could sort Video Assistant Referees out or VAR for short. Let’s see what this year’s World Cup will be like with VAR on duty. The Seagulls are now confirmed as safe in their debut season in the Premier League which is truly a brilliant achievement for Chris Hughton and the boys.
City will want to put the 0-0 out of their minds and get back to scoring in this final game at the Etihad. Sergio Aguero and a Lewis Dunk own goal gave City a 2-0 win at the Amex on the opening day of the season which set them on the way to the title.
Home Win 4-0
TOTTENHAM v NEWCASTLE
Tottenham we’re surprisingly beaten 1-0 on Saturday against West Brom and have only a 2 point gap above 5th placed Chelsea in the race to get the final Champions League place. This is the last game at their temporary home for the season and the Spurs faithful will want to see a win to say goodbye to Wembley as their new stadium awaits them next term. Harry Kane seems to have gone off the boil since the ghost goal situation against Stoke.
It appears that his wages are based on incentives such as scoring so understandably he wanted to claim that one. The downside to a contract like that is players tend to rush back from injury too soon to try and boost their pay. This looks like what Harry has done since his injury sustained in the 4-1 win away at Bournemouth in March. Including the goal at Stoke, he’s only got 3 since Bournemouth. Let’s hope he’s fit for Russia 2018. Newcastle will have a direct say in who finishes in 4th place as they play this game against Tottenham, then a final home game against Chelsea, so the Toon could decide who play in the Champions League and Rafa may just try a little harder in this game and a little easier against former employers Chelsea. Or if he’s that way inclined and holds a grudge against the Blues he might try a bit harder in that final game and just take the foot off the gas at Wembley.
Newcastle lost 2-1 away at Watford on Saturday. They were 2-0 down after 29 minutes and it could have been worse 10 minutes later when they gifted Watford a penalty. However, the usually reliable Troy Deeney missed. Ultimately this didn’t change the result as Newcastle were only able to score once in reply, Ayoze Perez scoring for the Magpies taking his tally to 6 for the season. This reverse fixture was Newcastle’s first game back in the Premier League in August. Tottenham got a 2-0 win that day with goals from Dele Ali and Ben Davies. This shouldn’t be much different.
Home Win 3-0
WEST HAM v MAN UNITED
Firstly before anything, it’s only right and fitting to wish Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson all the best in his fight for survival after being taken ill over the weekend. All the footballing world wishes him a speedy recovery. Sir Alex is s fighter and will come through. West Ham secured their Premier League future for another season beating Newcastle 2-0 at St James Park on Saturday.
The Hammers goals scored by Portugal’s Euro 16 winner Joao Mario and local lad and captain Mark Noble. Noble’s goal was a cracker of a volley from the edge of the area. Joao will be in the Portuguese National team for this summers World Cup in Russia. It’s been a tough campaign for West Ham this season and with problems on and off the pitch, can put it all behind them, have a good pre-season and try and come back fit and fresh after the break. Will David Moyes be in charge next term?
The Hammers board have a big decision to make. What can be said about Manchester United. They have finished in their highest league position since Sir Alex left, yet have played some of the worst football seen by the Old Trafford faithful. Fridays loss to Brighton was turgid. Jose Mourinho decided to play fringe players. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, fringe players? He’s played the side he chose so then has the perfect excuse when they lost that he’s gave them a chance but not good enough, Jose picks them but then puts restrictions on their play. Pep and Jurgen would get more out of these so-called fringe players. Imagine Rashford under Pep?
David Moyes had a very unsuccessful stint at Manchester replacing Sir Alex when he retired. Mr Moyes took over the Premier League Champions. Who else gets a chance like that? Unfortunately he thought he knew better then Sir Alex and got rid of all of the coaching staff that had won the league. Sometimes decisions like that defy logic. David should have rocked up at Old Trafford, got a deckchair out, a big glass and a Cigar and said “crack on lads”.
The reverse fixture back in Manchester was the opening game of the campaign with United running out eventual winners with an impressive 4-0 win. Goals from Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and a couple from Romelu Lukaku. United played brilliant that day with Rashford up top with Romelu. Jose hasn’t really played the 2 of them together since. He must know something the fans don’t. After the Brighton debacle, United can get back to winning ways to cement 2nd place.
Away Win 0-2
Contact John Newsome, with your own predictions, requests and feedback, at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org