Leaks in Liverpool’s defence have reappeared, in recent games, but John Newsome predicts a clean sheet and a comfortable win for the reds, against hapless Stoke.
LIVERPOOL v STOKE
Liverpool are back at Anfield in the early Saturday afternoon kickoff live on Sky Sports. They played in this slot last weekend away against bottom of the table West Brom and were comfortably beating by the Baggies until taking their foot off the gas and allowing Albion to score 2 late goals to earn a draw. In that match, Danny Ings made a rare start and got a well-deserved goal. The irrepressible Mo Salah got the 2nd, his 31st Premier League goal, which is 5 ahead of Harry Kane. The Reds come into this game off the back of their Champions League Semi-Final first leg against Roma which is now their ultimate priority. They have cemented their league position and will go all out to get their 6th European Cup. Stoke drew 1-1 with Burnley on Sunday, Papa Ndiaye getting the Potters goal. They are perilously close to relegation now with games running out. The glimmer of hope for Stoke is they play Swansea in the final game of the season so will be hoping they are still within touching distance of the Swans, however, it’s likely that their relegation will be confirmed before the final fixture. In this reverse fixture in November, Liverpool comfortably beat Stoke 3-0. Mo got 2 that day. With home advantage, the score shouldn’t be much different.
Home Win 3-0
NEWCASTLE v WEST BROM
Newcastle have certainly overachieved in their first season back in the top flight. They are comfortable in Mid-table and have won 4 out of their last 5 coming into this fixture against bottom of the table West Brom. They return to St James Park after Monday Nights loss away at Everton. They impressively beat Arsenal in their last game in front of the Toon Army, coming from behind to beat the Gunners 2-1. Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie getting the goals. Perez has had an excellent season and is Newcastle’s leading scorer. Unfortunately at Goodison Park on Monday, they were frustrated by the Toffees and lost to a single Theo Walcott goal. West Brom gave themselves a stay of execution coming from 2 goals down against Liverpool to score 2 late goals and earn an impressive draw. Unfortunately for the Baggies faithful, this is only delaying the inevitable and will still be relegated. Big Darren Moore has been impressive as caretaker boss of the Albion claiming 5 points from 3 games. A win against Manchester United and 2 draws against Liverpool and Swansea so has done his claims, for the full-time position, no harm. Jake Livermore scored his first goal for the Baggies and Salomon Rondon got the equaliser. At the Hawthorns back in November, both teams gave their all in an entertaining 2-2 draw. With home advantage, the Magpies can confirm the Baggies relegation.
Home Win 2-1
CRYSTAL PALACE v LEICESTER
Crystal Palace are still hovering above the relegation zone and along with Swansea, Huddersfield, West Ham and Brighton look to be the clubs Southampton and Stoke are chasing for survival. They played in a goalless draw away at Watford on Saturday and that could be a valuable point in their aim to stay in the Premier League. Wilfried Zaha was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty but does throw himself to the ground too easily and referees are reluctant to get fooled by him. Leicester haven’t won in 3 now but are safe in the table and have 4 games remaining all against London clubs, this game at Selhurst Park, a game at the London Stadium against West Ham, then their final 2 games against North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham. Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire will have one eye on the World Cup in Russia for England so may just be winding down. At the King Power in December, Palace comfortably beat the Foxes 3-0 with goals from Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako who had just come on as a substitute for Christian. With home advantage and fighting for survival, a win for the Eagles is forecast.
Home Win 2-1
BURNLEY v BRIGHTON
Burnley came from behind last Sunday against relegation-threatened Stoke to earn a point in their battle for 6th spot with Arsenal. Due to Man City winning the League Cup and qualifying for the Champions League via their Premier League position, Burnley will be playing European football next season even if they finish 7th so all in all a very good season for the Clarets. Ashley Barnes got the equaliser against Stoke taking his tally to 9 for the season level with fellow claret Chris Wood. Brighton had the weekend off following their midweek draw with Tottenham. Looking at their league position they appear comfortably safe on 36 points, however, scratch beneath the surface and their final 4 fixtures are extremely tough. Starting with this away trip to Turf Moor, the Seagulls then entertain Manchester United at the Amex, followed by 2 away trips to Man City and the final fixture at Liverpool, so theoretical could finish the season with only the 36 points they currently have, which may not be enough to keep them in the league. That’s for the future, with Glenn Murray in the team they always have a chance but this reverse fixture finished goalless back at the Amex in December, ironically Big Glenn missed a penalty in that game.
Home Win 1-0
SOUTHAMPTON v BOURNEMOUTH
This south coast derby sees Southampton entertain Bournemouth at St Mary’s on the back of their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea. Mark Hughes hasn’t really changed much at Southampton and looks set to not only get the Saints relegated but also be partly responsible for Stoke’s relegation too. Still, he’ll no doubt get another Premier League job when one becomes available. He must be brilliant in the interviewing process. They managed a goalless draw away at Leicester last Thursday but have not won in the Premier League since Mr Hughes was appointed and Bournemouth won’t make it easy for him. The Saints have an easier run in then Brighton and have to still play Swansea who are just above them. The only downside is their final fixture is against Mark’s former club and Champions High Flying City, so he ‘ll be hoping he doesn’t need a result in that game. Bournemouth haven’t won in 4 now, their last 2 games being defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool. They are on 38 points, and whilst not mathematically safe, realistically won’t be relegated and can plan for next season. They have had 10 days off since the defeat to Manchester whilst the Saints have played twice in that time. At the Amex in December, a Ryan Fraser goal for the Cherries and a Charlie Austin goal for the Saints, gave both teams a share of the points. There should be more goals in this fixture but the points may be shared again.
HUDDERSFIELD v EVERTON
Huddersfield are one of the teams still fighting relegation and have 4 tough games left starting with this game against Everton. The good news is they are 6 points above the drop zone, the bad news is they have Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal to play. What a run of fixtures. Both the Man City and Chelsea games are away from the John Smiths stadium. The Terriers got a valuable win last time out against Watford with Tom Ince coming on as a substitute in the 61st minute and scoring the winner in the 91st minute to claim all 3 points. A point here should effectively see them safe but as mentioned the run in is tough and they could do with all 3 points to make the final 3 games irrelevant. Huddersfield have had 14 days to prepare for this game so should be fresh whereas Everton played and beat Newcastle on Monday night. Theo Walcott getting the only goal in a drab end of season game. In December at Goodison Park Everton beat Huddersfield 2-0 with goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. With Huddersfield fighting for survival and in front of their loyal fans an home win is forecast.
Home Win 3-1
SWANSEA v CHELSEA
Late Saturday afternoon kickoff live on BT Sports. Swansea are the main team in danger out of the little cluster of teams trying to stay out of the relegation places. They were truly hammered by Man City on Sunday, no disgrace there and will have put that game behind them to concentrate on this home fixture against Chelsea. The saving grace for the Swans faithful is that they have to play both Southampton and Stoke in their final 2 games both at the Liberty so will have no excuses if they are relegated. Chelsea made it through to the FA Cup Final on Sunday and with 5th place secured and no real chance of catching 4th place Spurs, may take the remaining league games lightly and concentrate on that Cup final game against Manchester United. Whether that’s consciously or subconsciously, who knows? The Blues beat Burnley 2-1 away at Turf Moor last Thursday helped by a Kevin Long own goal and a Victor Moses winner. A rare Antonio Rudiger goal gave Chelsea all 3 points in this reverse fixture back at the Bridge but with Swansea fighting for survival and Chelsea concentrating on the Cup, an exciting home win is forecast.
Home Win 3-1
WEST HAM v MAN CITY
This game is the first of Sunday’s football live on Sky Sports. A tough game for West Ham off the back of Sundays defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates. In that game, they were doing well up to the 82nd minute holding on for a 1-1 draw. Inexplicably, the Hammers young defender, Declan Rice decided to leave a cross from Aaron Ramsey and the ball went straight into the net past a bewildered Joe Hart. After that West Ham capitulated and ended up losing the game 4-1. They are still not out of trouble and have this game against Man City and also a game against Manchester United. The only saving grace for the Hammers is they play their final game at the London Stadium against Everton and will hope they are safe by then but will have in mind that they may need to beat the Toffees to stay up. Man City are now Premier League Champions but won’t let up in their attempt to claim records, such as most wins in a season, most points in a season and most goals in a season and should clean up. The Citizens thrashed Swansea on Sunday 5-0, with goals from the usual suspects David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus. Bernardo’s goal came from the result of a missed penalty from Jesus. He took the penalty but failed to beat Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski who pushed the ball onto the post. Unfortunately for Lukasz, the ball rebounded to Bernardo who slotted the ball home. In this fixture at the Etihad, West Ham surprisingly took the lead in the first half through an Angelo Ogbonna goal and lead at the break. Unfortunately, for the Hammers, Pep’s halftime pep talk did the trick and City pulled 2 goals back through Nicolas Otamendi and David Silva and took all 3 points. With the title in the bag and going for records, West Ham could be in for a long afternoon.
Away Win 0-4
MANCHESTER UNITED v ARSENAL
What a cracker of a game to round off Sunday football again live on Sky Sports and how fitting, for Arsene Wenger, to have one of his final games in charge after the announcement he is to leave Arsenal at the end of the season, against old foes Manchester United at Old Trafford. Manchester have won 6 out of their last 7 Premier League games with just the inexplicable loss to West Brom. Even more surprising in that stat is they beat both Man City and Liverpool in that run, so how they lost to the Baggies is beyond comprehension. Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanches have slightly improved in the last couple of games and maybe will come good next season. For now, though, they are comfortable in 2nd place and are in the final of the FA Cup against Chelsea so still have a trophy to play for. Arsene has decided to leave Arsenal which the majority of fans have wanted for a long time. Whilst his last few seasons haven’t been the best, he should be applauded for changing the face of English football. Bringing in techniques and training methods which were unheard of in 1996. He won the League and Cup Double in his first full season as the Gooners boss in 1997/98 coincidentally, the one and only season Barnsley FC played in Premier League. His battles with Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho are legendary so it truly is fitting that he gets one last shot at upsetting the Manchester faithful at Old Trafford. Unfortunately, one of the reason’s he has decided to leave the Gunners is Arsenal’s woeful away record in recent months. They have failed to gain a single point away from the Emirates since the turn of the year and its unlikely they will get anything from this fixture. They comfortably beat West Ham on Sunday with Alexandre Lacazette getting 2. Alexandre scored Arsenal’s goal in the 3-1 loss to the Red Devils at the Emirates back in December. United’s goals that day were scored by Antonio Valencia and a couple from Jesse Lingard. With emotions running high for Mr Wenger, the Old Trafford faithful will surely give the mercurial Frenchman a warm farewell.
Home Win 3-0
TOTTENHAM v WATFORD
Monday Night Football live on Sky Sports sees Watford travel the short distance to Wembley to play rivals Tottenham. Tottenham got a draw away at Brighton last Tuesday with Harry Kane getting his 26th of the season. The good thing for Harry is that he actually touched the ball this time smashing it hard into the net and didn’t need the Premier League Goal Accreditation Panel to award him this. They lost in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday to Manchester United and now only have the remaining league games to concentrate their efforts. Watford also played on Saturday in a league game at Vicarage Rd against Crystal Palace. This was a drab 0-0 which may prove a good point for both sides. The Hornets are safe but have tailed off in their last few games and have only managed 2 points out of a possible 18 which really isn’t good enough after the excellent start to the season. Maybe sacking Marco Silva back in January wasn’t the best of ideas after all. The new boss Javi Garcia has only won 3 games out of the 12 he’s been in charge, losing 6 and drawing the other 3. At Vicarage Rd back in December, Marco Silva’s Watford got a point in a 1-1 draw with Spurs. With nothing else to play for now, Tottenham will want to perform in front of the Whites faithful and should be too strong for Watford.
Home Win 4-0
Contact John Newsome, with your own predictions, requests and feedback, at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org