As Manchester City missed the chance to clinch the title against arch-rivals United, it was Tottenham who gained pace in the Top 4 race, effectively ending the contest with Chelsea. Arsenal continued their fine form to perhaps create a battle for 5th, and it was Southampton who were unfortunate losers in a game where they really had to win. As the race at the top looks to conclude this week, the race at the bottom is just heating up.
Southampton v Chelsea
The Saints were unlucky not to at least grab a point at the Emirates last week in a performance which shows there is life in the club yet. Mark Hughes is desperate for points and will need nothing less than three points here if they are to survive the odds of relegation. With only one win in 19 league games, this is going to be a very difficult 90 minutes.
Chelsea aren’t exactly the most threatening of clubs at the moment as they are finishing the season timidly, with only the FA Cup a chance to save grace. Antonio Conte has been under heavy pressure this campaign and last week’s draw against West Ham didn’t help. The Blues will have to win if they are to maintain their position in the league and even keep up the slimmest of chances of that Top 4 fight.
Chelsea to win: 1-2
Burnley v Leicester City
Sean Dyche recently won the Manager of the Month award for March, having guided Burnley to three successive wins and keeping their hopes of playing European football next season live. They are a formidable side who are defensively solid and that is the reason they are now on a winning streak of 4 games. I fully expect more of the same at Turf Moor here.
Leicester will also be looking to take that Europa League spot from Burnley and can take a huge step towards that if they win here. The Foxes have been good on the road, having only lost one away fixture since February and Claude Puel will be looking to bounce back from the surprise defeat against Newcastle. I think this will be a tightly-contested draw but Leicester will have to go for it.
Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion
For Palace, this is a do-or-die situation with a win badly needed to keep their hopes of staying up alive. Roy Hodgson has come in a done a good job to try and keep the Eagles up but unless they continue that form, it could prove to be a difficult season. With only a single victory in their last seven games, Hodgson must find a way to take all three points. Anything less and they could be in trouble.
For Brighton, many fans thought they were home and dry after their shock victory over Arsenal saw them climb to mid-table. However, they haven’t won a game since then and are only 4 points ahead of the hosts in this fixture. This will be a nail-biting game for Chris Hughton and I’m sure he’ll love to take a point. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll get it.
Crystal Palace to win: 2-1
Huddersfield v Watford
Another fixture which will determine the outcome of the bottom-half of the table, where Huddersfield find themselves in 16th place, just four points from the drop. Anything less than a point will be disastrous for the home side and David Wagner will be desperate to keep his side up.
Watford, on the other hand, will need the three points badly, even though they haven’t scored an away goal since their 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on the 2nd January. They’ll need to up their game here if they want any chance of walking away with three points. I think this will be another game where it’s so tight that neither team is willing to take that extra risk.
Swansea City v Everton
Swansea were dead and out at the end of January with only four wins in the opening five months of the league season. Now in 2018, the Swans have equalled those four victories and moved from 20th to 14th. It’s a remarkable story which has seen them beat Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham. I think they’re capable of beating Everton here too.
For the Toffees, their season is pretty much stuttering to an end after a dismal start. Sam Allardyce has calmed the waters and ensured his side have a mid-table finish, despite the erratic results. They should have beaten Liverpool in their last game, but for some woeful finishing and I think that will cost them here too.
Swansea to win: 3-1
Liverpool v Bournemouth
Jürgen Klopp is firmly setting his sights on the Champions League and there is little to play for in the league, but to keep them in the Top 4. With their form at Anfield, I fully expect the Reds to bulldoze past Bournemouth. However, key players may be rested but I still think they’re more than capable of making this an easy game.
Bournemouth have done really well since the start of the year, overcoming their early-season sloppiness and getting some great results in the unlikeliest of places. Anfield is another stadium where they don’t look as if they will get anything but Eddie Howe has the ability to get the best out of his side. I don’t think that will be enough here.
Liverpool to win: 3-0
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
With all the talk of Harry Kane claiming Christian Eriksen’s goal, you’ll be forgetting that Spurs are the only side who are unbeaten in 2018. They’ve actually won their last six games and could potentially seal a third-place finish if they continue this rich vein of form. Being up against City a few months ago seemed a daunting task but Mauricio Pochettino must be fancying his chances now.
Pep Guardiola has had a miserable week, seeing them being thrashed by Liverpool before losing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win the league title against Manchester United. However, it is only a matter of time until the Citizens do lift the trophy, but I don’t think it will be at Wembley.
Newcastle United v Arsenal
The Magpies secured a much-needed win against Leicester to go up to 10th in the table; a great achievement for Rafael Benitez considering the lack of funds and the state they were in a couple of months ago. Six home games have seen them undefeated so Newcastle will definitely be up for this.
The Gunners are in good form, having won their last three league fixtures, all by scoring 3 goals. The only downside for Arsene Wenger is that this is an away fixture, so it could get messy. The Gunners have only won three away games this season and this will be another task for them to show their fans what they can do. I expect a win here.
Arsenal to win: 1-2
Manchester United v West Brom
As bad as United were in the first half of that game against City, they were excellent in the second, with impressive performances from Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez. If the duo can perform like that on a more regular basis, United could close the gap on City and make it more respectable. Jose Mourinho will have one eye on the FA Cup but at Old Trafford, this should be an easy game against a side struggling for points.
West Brom will need a miracle to survive now, six points from 19th and ten points from 16th. It’s looking as if The Baggies will end their eight-year stay in England’s elite table. Darren Moore, taking over for the last few games, will be praying for some sort of injury crisis for the Red Devils in order to succeed here, but even then, they don’t look as if they will get the three points. It’s relegation time.
Manchester United to win: 2-0
West Ham United v Stoke City
The Hammers are under a bit of a resurgence as they pulled off a great point against Chelsea and beat fellow strugglers Southampton comfortably. With extremely tough fixtures on their way for David Moyes, including the likes of both Manchester sides, Arsenal and Leicester, a win will go a long way here.
Paul Lambert is struggling here as his side haven’t won a single game in their last nine fixtures, but they do have an easier run-in than most. A victory here will really help the Potters to try and stay in the Premier League but it is looking unlikely the longer they go on without picking up any points. I sense this may be the season they do go down.
West Ham to win: 2-0