The Premier League title-race was effectively over by Christmas. Manchester United visit arch-rivals City this weekend and John Newsome foresees the Red Devils being forced to perform the ‘guard of honour’ from hell!
EVERTON v LIVERPOOL
What a game to kick off the weekends Premier League Football. This Merseyside derby from Goodison Park is live on Sky Sports. Everton are at home for the second successive week after losing to champions-elect Man City last Saturday. They will want to bounce back against arch-rivals Liverpool. Yannick Bolasie scored for the Toffees against City. They are on 40 points and are pretty safe now so hopefully, they can come out of their shells and put on a performance in front of their loyal fans. Liverpool came from behind away at Selhurst Park early Saturday with another goal from Egyptian Superstar Mo Salah. That takes his goal tally to 29 for the season, 5 more than Harry Kane. The reds were briefly up to 2nd in the table before slipping back down to 3rd after Manchester United played. They have played a game more than United but 3rd place will certainly do. This game finished 1-1 at Anfield back in December with a late Wayne Rooney penalty to give Everton a share of the points. Mo Salah scored that day too. With the form the reds are in, Liverpool should be too strong.
Away Win 1-3
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BOURNEMOUTH v CRYSTAL PALACE
Bournemouth like a draw. They played away last Saturday at Watford and shared the points again in a 2-2 scoreline with the Hornets. Their 3rd draw in their last 5 games. The Cherries were 2-1 down going into the final minutes of that game when Super Sub, Jermain Defoe scored a 92nd-minute equaliser. They look safe now and will want to put in a performance at the Liberty in front of the loyal Cherry fans. Crystal Palace took the lead on Saturday against Liverpool with a Luka Milivojevic. penalty. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold on to that lead and were overtaken in the second half and subsequently lost 2-1. They have only won twice now in their last 10 games and having briefly pulled away from the relegation places, they now lie 4th from bottom, 2 points above the drop zone. In those 10 games, they have lost 6. The reverse fixture back in December finished 2-2 with another Luka Milivojevic penalty and Jermain Defoe goal. The surprise in that was Palace got another penalty in the final minutes and instead of Milivojevic scoring his 2nd from the spot, Christian Benteke took the ball from Luka to gain glory. Unfortunately, he missed. This game will have goals in another entertaining draw.
BRIGHTON v HUDDERSFIELD
Both of the promoted teams from last season play at the Amex with only 3 points separating the 2 sides. Brighton have more points then Huddersfield and also have a game in hand over the Terriers and with games running out, a win for either team will go along way in securing safety for next season. The Seagulls were at home last Saturday too, unfortunately losing 2-0 to Leicester and will want to give their loyal fans something to cheer. The surprise in that game was the usually reliable Glenn Murray missed a penalty when the score was still 0-0. That would have irked Glenn. Brighton have lost their last 3 games now since beating Arsenal. Huddersfield have slipped down the table and are fighting for Premiership survival in their debut season in the Top Flight. They have lost 3 of their last 5 games, the latest being a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle last Saturday. Like most teams, they don’t perform as well away from home and the Terriers loyal fans have to travel again, this time South. In December, Steve Mounie scored both goals in a 2-0 win against Brighton. This time, the Seagull’s should be too strong and can avenge that loss.
Home Win 2-0.
LEICESTER v NEWCASTLE
Both teams won last weekend. Leicester beat Brighton away from The King Power 2-0 with Jamie Vardy getting his obligatory goal. The home fans haven’t seen their team win in the Premier League since January so will be hoping the foxes can produce the goods. They are safe now in 8th position and will try and use the remaining games to enjoy themselves. Newcastle got an all-important win against Huddersfield last time out taking them away from the relegation zone. Ayoze Perez got the only goal in a 1-0 win. Back in December in this reverse fixture at St James Park, Perez played a vital role in deciding the outcome. He didn’t start the game but came on in the 71st minute with the score at 2-1 to Leicester. He helped the Toon Army equalise within 2 minutes of his introduction then scored an own goal in the 83rd minute to gift the foxes all 3 points. There should be goals.
Home Win 2-1
STOKE v TOTTENHAM
Stoke are struggling and in deep trouble lying 2nd bottom of the table. They are 3 points from safety and have played a game more than their near relegation rivals. They also have the worst goal difference of all the teams in the league conceding the most goals out of all 20 sides. That spells disaster for the Stoke fans and looking more and more likely they will be playing Championship football next term. They lost 3-0 away at Arsenal on Sunday and didn’t offer much. The other North London club, Tottenham visit the bet 365, after a stunning victory away at Chelsea. Dele Ali came back from a poor International experience with England to quash doubters scoring 2 second-half goals to take the game away from Chelsea. Christian Eriksen scored a stunning opener for Spurs. They are 6 points clear of Chelsea in 4th place and with games running out, it’s hard to see them falling out of the Champions League places. Harry Kane made the bench at Stamford Bridge and got on for the final 17 minutes. He will be looking to start in this one to get some fitness for the upcoming World Cup. Tottenham hammered Stoke 5-1 back in December and away from home, they should still be favourites to win.
Away Win 0-3
WATFORD v BURNLEY
Watford are in front of their home fans for the 2nd Saturday running against a strong Burnley side. Both teams scored twice last weekend, Watford playing in an entertaining 2-2 draw against Bournemouth. Spaniard Kiko getting a rare goal for the Hornets although he has been blighted by injury. Roberto Pereyra got the 2nd. Burnley scored 2 also away at bottom of the table West Brom. Ashley Barnes getting his 7th of the season and Chris Wood getting his 8th, which is an excellent return for both players. Both teams are safe now and should have the shackles lifted to produce an entertaining free-flowing spectacle. Burnley beat Watford 1-0 in this reverse fixture back at Turf Moor, with a rare Scott Arfield goal. Scott’s injured at the minute so won’t feature but this game will produce goals.
WEST BROM v SWANSEA
West Brom have finally seen that Alan Pardew was not the answer and have ’parted company’ by ’mutual agreement’. That’s a polite way of saying he is useless and got sacked. Surely it will be a long time before we see the white-haired failure manage in the Topflight again. The Baggies lie rock bottom of the Premier League losing their last 9 games and will be relegated. They have placed Darren Moore in temporary charge and he really has nothing to lose. Darren played for Barnsley FC for a couple of seasons towards the end of his playing career and was a valuable contributor in keeping the Tykes in the Championship. He will definitely instal much-needed discipline at the Hawthorns as not many of the Baggies players will mess with Big Darren. Swansea were initially revitalised when Carlos Carvalhal was appointed but they have struggled in the last few matches, admittedly there have been tough games against Tottenham and away at Manchester United. That last game at Old Trafford saw them 2-0 down after 20 minutes, but rallied well and didn’t concede again. Ultimately it was another loss though and they are still not out of danger, they are just 3 points above 3rd from bottom Southampton but have a slightly inferior goal difference which could prove decisive come the final game. Swansea beat West Brom by a single Wilfried Bony goal at the Liberty in December. Under Pardew, this would have been another loss for the Baggies, but with Big Darren now at the helm and nothing to lose, they could surprise Swansea.
Home Win 3-1
MAN CITY v MANCHESTER UNITED
The Manchester Derby to round off Saturday’s games, live on Sky Sports. City played and beat Everton at the same time last Saturday and relish this early Saturday evening slot. They were 3 goals up against the Toffees after 37 minutes but took the foot off the gas and let Everton score a consolation goal in the 2nd half. What a proposition this is for Man City. They not only can guarantee the Premier League title with a win, but they can do it by beating arch-rivals United. They will surely win the title but to do it in this game would surely be the Cherry on Top of the Icing on Top of the Cake. United briefly slipped to 3rd last Saturday when Liverpool beat Crystal Palace in the early kickoff, but their 2-0 win against Swansea took them back 2nd. Romelu Lukaku got his 15 goal of the season and Alexis Sanchez scored his 2nd Premier League goal for United since his move from Arsenal. Maybe that will kick-start his Manchester career and stand him in good stead for next season. City beat United 2-1 back in December. The only saving grace for United in preventing City from winning the league in this game is that City played in the Quarterfinal of the UEFA Champions League against Liverpool on Wednesday night. That said, Pep’s squad is deep and with home advantage, should be crowned Premier League Champions.
Home Win 2-0
ARSENAL v SOUTHAMPTON
Arsenal play in the early Sunday afternoon kick-off live on Sky Sports for the 4th game in a row. In the previous 3, they have beaten Stoke and Watford at the Emirates by the same scoreline of 3-0 and lost away to Brighton 2-1. Stoke managed to get to halftime goalless but Arsenal took control in the 2nd half and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted a penalty to make it 1-0. Pierre got a 2nd in the 86th minute and when Arsenal were awarded another penalty late on, It was a surprise to not see Aubameyang complete his hat-trick, instead, he allowed Alexandre Lacazette who won the penalty, to take it. He converted to make it 3-0 and needed the goal to hopefully gain some confidence. Nice touch from Pierre. Mark Hughes appointment as Southampton boss hasn’t changed the Saints fortune. They are now winless in 6 and only seem to perform in the FA Cup. They were hammered last Saturday against West Ham and have some hard games in the coming weeks to try and avoid relegation. The only glimmer of hope for the loyal Saints fans is they have a game in hand over their nearest relegation rivals Crystal Palace. That said this game at the Emirates will be tough. They managed a draw against the Gunners back at St Mary’s in December with Charlie Austin scoring in a 1-1 draw. Olivier Giroud got a late equaliser for Arsenal before moving to Chelsea. With Home advantage, the Gooners should be too strong.
Home Win 3-0
CHELSEA v WEST HAM
The final game of the weekend sees Chelsea take on London rivals, West Ham at Stamford Bridge live on Sky Sports. The Blues have cemented 5th place in the Premier League and will play in the Europa League not Champions League next season. They were well beaten last Sunday by Tottenham after taking the lead in that game with an Alvaro Morata goal. They conceded right on half time and then were overrun in the 2nd half succumbing to 2 Dele Ali goals. Surely Antonio Conte is coming towards the end of his Chelsea reign and it is increasingly likely the Blues will have a new manager for next seasons campaign. West Ham got back to winning ways on Saturday hammering Southampton 3-0 with 2 goals from the enigmatic Marco Arnautovic and a stunner from Joao Mario. Arnautovic likes scoring against Mark Hughes teams. There must be a bit of history between them after Marco’s time at Stoke. The Hammers are just 5 points above the safety zone but there are 3 worse teams than them, so should be fine this term. Arnautovic got the winner at the London Stadium back in December but will find this game tougher.
Home Win 2-0
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