John Newsome provides tips for this weekend’s Premier League games and pays tribute to a pair of sporting legends, who will be greatly missed.
SOUTHAMPTON v CHELSEA
Firstly, it is only right and fitting to mention a true Chelsea Legend and a true gentleman who sadly passed away this week. Ray ’Butch’ Wilkins started his career at Chelsea even captaining the team whilst only 17 years of age. He played for some of the biggest teams in the World such as Manchester United (scoring in the 1983 FA Cup final Replay), AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Glasgow Rangers as well as Queens Park Rangers and Fulham and 84 times for England. A true gentleman who will be sadly missed. ”Dangerously Well My Friend” Rest In Peace Ray.
Early Saturday Kick off live on Sky Sports sees both teams who played last Sunday with differing results. Southampton are still in the bottom 3 but have a game in hand over 4th from bottom Crystal Palace having been beaten by Arsenal. They have been away from St Marys for the past 3 games and are now back in front of the loyal Saint fans and will be looking to put on a show against faltering Chelsea.
The Blues only managed to secure a draw, against West Ham at Stamford Bridge. New Southampton manager Mark Hughes had a successful playing stint at Chelsea and will be looking for a good result. This game finished 1-0 back in December with a solitary Marcus Alonso goal. With home advantage and fighting for survival, the Saints can get at least a point.
BURNLEY v LEICESTER
This is a great game at Turf Moor, both teams played in games last weekend that finished with the same scoreline of 1-2, Burnley beat Watford away from home, coming from behind to win 2-1. Unfortunately for Leicester, they lost at home 1-2, to Newcastle. Sam Vokes got his 4th goal of the season and Jack Cork came up with the winner. Notching for only the 2nd time this term.
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Jamie Vardy got his obligatory goal in the loss taking his tally to 16 for the season which is a fantastic return for the Sheffield lad. Both teams lie 7th and 8th respectively in the Premier League with Burnley being 6 points ahead of the Foxes. At the King Power back in December, Leicester took all 3 points with a solitary Demarai Gray goal. There should be more goals in this one.
CRYSTAL PALACE v BRIGHTON
Crystal Palace sit just above the relegation places with games running out. They have played a game more than Southampton and need a win here against Brighton. They played in an entertaining 2-2 draw last time out away at Bournemouth and will see this game in front of their home fans as a game to get 3 points. The Eagles were leading that game until the 89th-minute but will see it as a point gained rather then 2 points dropped. Goals from Luka Milivojevic and the impressive Wilfried Zaha. Luka getting his 10th of the season which is a brilliant return.
Brighton are 4 points above the Eagles and will think that a win here will virtually guarantee them a second season in the top flight. They also got a draw last Saturday at home to Huddersfield. A strange game with the Seagull’s goal coming by way of an own goal and the Terrier’s goal coming by way of a terrible mistake by Shane Duffy. Davy Propper will be missing for this one after getting a straight red card. This reverse fixture at the Amex finished goalless. With both teams needing the win, there should be goals today.
Home Win 2-1
HUDDERSFIELD v WATFORD
As mentioned, Huddersfield gained a point away at Brighton last Saturday scoring an own goal to give Brighton the lead but then Steve Mounie capitalised on a dreadful Shane Duffy back pass to get his 7th of the season. The Terriers are dangerously close to the relegation places and have only 5 games left to try and avoid relegation. The problem is that in those 5 games they have to play, Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal so will definitely target this home game against Watford to get 3 valuable points.
Watford lost last Saturday at home to Burnley but should enjoy this trip up to Yorkshire. The Hornet fans will relish the chance to buy a pint for less than a fiver. Watford haven’t won in 4 now and although they should be safe will target this game as one to get 3 points to cement their Premier League status for next season. With Troy Deeney in their side, they always have a chance. unfortunately, at Vicarage Rd back in December, Troy was sent off. Huddersfield surprisingly won that game 4-1 with Aaron Mooy grabbing a couple. It could be argued they beat Watford because of Troy’s red card, however, they were 2 nil down whilst he was still on the pitch. With home advantage, the Terriers should get the win.
Home Win 3-1
SWANSEA v EVERTON
Swansea are just above the relegation zone having earned a draw away at West Brom on Saturday. At the beginning of the week they would have targeted that game to comfortably get 3 points, but with the sacking of Alan Pardew, West Brom under Big Darren Moore would have a bit of fight in them, so a point is a point closer to safety. The Swans are still not out of danger, but are now 4 points above 3rd from bottom Southampton and have a game in hand which could prove decisive come the run in. Tammy Abraham got the Swansea goal but has only scored 5 this season which is not great really for a prospective England International.
Everton got a well-earned draw against Merseyside rivals Liverpool on Saturday which considering the timing of the game, both teams will accept. Everton are safe now but will Big Sam be able to inject some pazzaz into a poor Toffees team who don’t really do anything. Sam Allardyce is a good bloke but seems only to be able to inspire teams who are struggling at the bottom of the league, if the team is safe then it’s like” What do we do today?” Maybe he is building a side for next season but that’s for the future. This game went Everton’s way back in December 3-1. Wayne Rooney missed and then scored a penalty in that game. With Swansea fighting for survival and home advantage, they should be too strong for the blues this time.
Home Win 3-1
LIVERPOOL v BOURNEMOUTH
This is the late Saturday afternoon kickoff live on BT Sports. Liverpool at home are awesome, however, this game all depends on the outcome of the midweek Champions League game against Man City. That game isn’t over yet even with a 3-0 lead. The Reds rested several players in the dull 0-0 draw with Merseyside rivals Everton but were still way too good for the Toffees. Mo Salah was taken off against City and wasn’t in the squad for the Derby.
Liverpool are comfortably lying 3rd in the Premier League and will once again play Champions League football next season. Draw specialist’s Bournemouth are safe now and should come to Anfield full of confidence. They were involved in another 2-2 draw on Saturday against Crystal Palace with goals from French midfielder Lys Mousset and a late equaliser from Josh King who coincidentally were both substitutes.
Eddie Howe decided to bring them both on in the 62nd minute whilst losing 1-0 and within 3 minutes Mousset scored and then Josh got the late equaliser, lucky or tactical genius? You decide. Eddie could just be the next boss at Arsenal. Liverpool easily beat the Cherries 4-0 back in December with Philip Coutinho scoring one of his last goal for the reds.
Home Win 3-0
TOTTENHAM v MAN CITY
The surprise in this game is that this is a game for the future. The reason for this is that this game kicks off at 19.45 on a Saturday evening live on Sky Sports. This will be a regular time slot for Premier League fixtures in the future and the clubs will have to get used to it. It’s probably going to cause a divorce or 2 but it’s got to be better then the X Factor, The Voice or Britain Hasn’t Got Talent, surely? What a game too, Tottenham go into this fixture at Wembley with confidence after they comfortably beat relegation-threatened Stoke 2-1 last time out. The enigmatic Christian Eriksen scored either side of Stoke’s singular offering and took his tally to 10 for the season.
Spurs have won their last 7 Premier League games with comfort and are on the same points as 3rd place Liverpool and have a game in hand over the Reds. This game comes after Man City’s 2nd leg Champions League tie with Liverpool and the hurtful loss to Manchester rivals United. Hurtful because they were 2 nil up and cruising and if Raheem Sterling could shoot correctly they would be Premier League Champions by now. However, in the Derby, he couldn’t hit a cows bum with a banjo and cost City the game. He did score twice in the 4-1 win in this reverse fixture back at the Etihad so could bounce back. With home advantage, Tottenham shouldn’t lose.
Home Win 4-2
NEWCASTLE v ARSENAL
This is Arsenal’s 5th game in a row in this early Sunday afternoon slot live on Sky Sports. They have won 3 of them, the latest being a Topsy Turvy game against Southampton. They were losing, then drawing, then winning, then drawing before finally getting the winner in the 81st minute. That 3-2 win cements the Gunners 6th place spot in the table, they can get 5th and can catch Chelsea who are just 3 points ahead depending on how they fair in the final 6 games.
Newcastle look pretty safe now and got a vital away win at Leicester on Saturday. Goals from England hopeful Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez helped beat Leicester away on Saturday and should cement the Toon Army for next season’s Premier League. They are now comfortable in 10th place on 38 points and this should be enough. That might allow Rafa Benitez to let the shackles off his black and white stripes and have a go at the Gunners who are coming off the back of their Europa League quarter-final victory.
MAN UNITED v WEST BROM
Last game on Sunday live on Sky Sports. What can be said about Manchester United? Sometimes they play like Accrington Stanley ( who are they?) losing and performing inadequately to teams like Seville and Newcastle then performing like world beaters against Liverpool and Man City. What goes off at Old Trafford? They were 2 nil down on Saturday evening against noisy neighbour’s City, down and out. Then Paul Pogba decided to play like the £90 million player he was bought for. Paul thought it would be a good idea to dye his hair Blue.
What a performance from United to come back and beat Champions elect City. There were rumours this week that Pogba was offered to City in January. Who knows the truth but if he could just start concentrating on football and not Instagram and silly handshakes then he will become the player he can be. West Brom got a decent draw last time out with a goal from Salamon Rondon but are destined for the Championship. They wouldn’t go far wrong in appointing Big Darren Moore as permanent manager. He knows how tough the Championship is and will get them back up pretty quickly. There was a famous 5-5 draw in the last of Sir Alex Ferguson’s game in charge of United. At the Hawthorns in December, the Red Devils won 2-1.
Home win 4-0
WEST HAM v STOKE
Monday Night Football sees a cracker of a relegation battle between the Hammers and the Potters. There are 7 points separating the 2 teams but theoretically, a win for Stoke could drag West Ham back into a relegation scrap. Unfortunately for Stoke, the Hammers are performing well and got a credible draw against Chelsea last time out. A win here will go along way to securing the Hammers Premier League status for next season.
West Ham have managed to scrape together 4 points out if a possible 15 which doesn’t seem much but it the context of the season is priceless. Stoke lost again on Saturday, admittedly to a great Tottenham side but it is their 4th loss in a row and surely now are doomed. They have only 5 games left. The only tough game in them is Liverpool but all games are tough at this stage of the season. Stoke will struggle in this game.
Home Win 3-0
BRIGHTON v TOTTENHAM
Midweek football sees Brighton take on Tottenham at The Amex live on Sky Sports. Brighton come off the back of an away trip to fierce rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. They look safe now and the Seagulls will relish the visit of Tottenham who are on fire at the moment. Harry Kane managed to convince the Premier League Goal Accreditation Panel
(really? Is that a thing?) that he scored the winner against Stoke. Obviously the PLGAP are biased to old Harry. Even if he did get the faintest of touches, this shouldn’t be decided afterwards, otherwise everyone are now going to contest goals. Is Harry that desperate? Spurs won this reverse fixture at Wembley back in December 2-0. Unfortunately, Harry wasn’t anywhere near the ball for both goals so can’t claim them. Brighton can get a point from this game.
BOURNEMOUTH v MAN UNITED
Bournemouth entertain Manchester at the Vitality live on BT Sports. The Cherries were on BT early Saturday evening away at Anfield and the home fans will relish the visit of 2nd placed United. Bournemouth are safe now and will be looking forward to another season in the Premier League. United played relegation certainties West Brom on Sunday afternoon so have 24 hours less to recover for this trip to the south coast. The Red Devils look to have secured 2nd place after a superb win against title elect and noisy neighbours City and will want to finish the season on a high. At Old Trafford back in December, a single Romelu Lukaku goal gave United all 3 points. The points should also go back to Manchester tonight.
Away Win 0-2
BURNLEY v CHELSEA
Thursday night football for Burnley and Chelsea live on Sky Sports. The Premier League seldom play on Thursday nights so this might come as a surprise for the players and the fans. The Clarets have a good record at Turf Moor and with players like Sam Vokes, Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have goals in them. They come off the back of a game against nearest rivals for 7th spot Leicester and will be up for the visit of the outgoing Premier League Champions. Chelsea are giving up their title without a fight and have only the FA Cup to play for now. This reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge was really the start of things to come. This was the first game of the season and the first game of the title defence. Burnley were 3-0 up at halftime with 2 goals from Vokes and a rare strike from left-back Stephen Ward. Chelsea did have Gary Cahill sent off in the 14th minute and will argue that was the reason for the result. David Luiz and Alvaro Morata pulled a couple of goals back in the second half but it wasn’t enough and Burnley held out for the win. David’s been ’injured’ for a while now but should be fit when Mr Conte leaves.
Home Win 1-0
LEICESTER v SOUTHAMPTON
Like London Buses, you have to wait a while for Thursday Night Premier League football, then 2 come along at once. This game at The King Power isn’t live on TV but will be a cracker considering the position of both sides. This takes place on Thursday due to Southampton’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea next Sunday. Leicester played Burnley last Saturday and are pushing the Clarets for 7th place. With Jamie Vardy in the side, goals won’t be far away. Vards will surely be on the plane to Russia. What a dilemma for Southampton. They are fighting for Premier League survival and played Chelsea last Saturday. Ironically they play Chelsea on Sunday in the semi-final of the FA Cup so the dilemma for the Saints is what is the priority. Premier League survival or FA Cup success. Surely it’s both and the players should try and impress the manager in this game against Leicester to get the opportunity to play at Wembley on Sunday. At St Mary’s back in December, The Saints were well beaten by the Foxes 4-1, the surprise in that scoreline is Vardy didn’t score. With the FA Cup on the Saints player’s mind, this should be another comfortable win for Leicester.
Home Win 3-1
Finally another loss this week was the sad death of Darts Legend Eric ”Crafty Cockney” Bristow. Eric was 5 times World Darts Champion in an Era when darts wasn’t the spectacle it is now. Bristow was a trailblazer in the Sport and gave Phil Taylor the opportunity to become 16 times World Champion. Someone who was a free spirit and did what he felt right for him. Whilst controversial he never hurt anyone with his views and entered the Jungle and gained a new audience. Darts wouldn’t be the sport it is now if it wasn’t for the legend that is Eric Bristow.. Rest In Peace Legend.
Contact John Newsome, with your own predictions, requests and feedback, at this address: email@example.com