Match Day 28 of the Barclays Premier League is nearly upon us, so what can we expect? In keeping with tradition, what on paper seems more or less like a straight forward set of fixtures this weekend, there undoubtedly can easily be a few surprises once the final whistles are blown. Let’s take a look at the upcoming fixtures for the weekend and give our two cents on what we feel the results will be.
Everton v West Ham United
Everton are still playing well this season under new manager Roberto Martinez and their performances see themselves in a dogfight for a top 5 finish that would net them a place in next seasons Europa League. West Ham sit tenth in the table which is decent enough, however their performances on any day can range from solid to disastrous.
Look for Everton to take all three points from this fixture – they are strong at Goodison Park, only losing once on their home ground. West Ham have only taken away 3 points on their travels three times this campaign so I cannot look past Everton here.
Fulham v Chelsea
Fulham are now on their third manager of the campaign, Felix Magath. Well known in Germany for being able to get the best out of his players, but can he get the best out of a Fulham side that has to be said, is the most shocking when it comes to under-performing this season – they are sitting bottom of the table. Chelsea on the other hand is in the exact opposite position – top of the table under returning manager Jose Mourinho and playing excellent football worthy of their place.
Despite Chelsea still being in Champions League, this easily goes to Chelsea. Fulham are struggling on all fronts this season both home and away and even though Chelsea’s weakness is garnering results on the road, they will still have too much for Magath’s men to cope with.
Hull City v Newcastle
There is a ten-point gap separating Hull and Newcastle, but this is a tricky tie for the Magpies as they are set to travel to Hull. Newcastle are very much in the conversation for a top 5 finish currently and will look for that as motivation to get a decent result. Even though Hull are sitting in 11th, they are just six points out of a relegation spot and as this match is on their home ground, they will be that much more resolute to distance themselves from a place in the drop zone.
Newcastle’s French Foreign Legion has been inconsistent and do struggle while away from home. Hull defend well enough for a lesser side but they have quite the hard time putting the ball in the back of the net. A draw would not surprise me here in the slightest.
Stoke City v Arsenal
Amid reports of Stoke City supporters creating chants to taunt the Gunners as well as Aaron Ramsey about his horrific injury he suffered at the hands of Ryan Shawcross a few years back, look for this to be a hot-tempered affair – rugby versus technique. Traditionally Stoke are one of those sides that can cause the big boys to slip up but this season they sit in 15th – the good news for their supporters is that they are strong as ever on their home ground, only losing twice so far when they are the hosts. Arsenal however are still proving doubters wrong as they sit 1 point off table-topping Chelsea. Their back four struggle away from the Emirates however and given Stoke’s style of play, this could end up a tricky one.
If Arsenal were to drop points in a draw, no one could really be that surprised but I see them taking all three points here as they look to continue their domestic form. Their elimination from Champions League beckons, so this is the perfect match for them to continue their domestic point haul.
Southampton v Liverpool
Certainly the most intriguing fixture on the list for this weekend, high-flying Liverpool led by the SAS boys visit the south-coast to take on Southampton. Liverpool boast the best offense in the league, an incredible 70 goals in 27 matches, however their Achilles heal this campaign has been inconsistency away from Anfield. Southampton, for all their attractive football they are playing under Mauricio Pochettino, have failed to find a consistent run of form all term and will have to be at their very best to wrestle any points away from the Reds tomorrow.
Southampton have caused both Arsenal and Manchester City to slip up on trips to St. Mary’s – coupled with Liverpool’s struggles on the road, I can see both sides sharing the points on the day.
Aston Villa v Norwich City
Level on points, both struggling to score and not concede goals and both only four points off the drop zone, but those are exactly the reasons that make this match intriguing and potentially very entertaining. It is without question that Villa have been disappointing this term, but they have a young side who will grow over time – a match like this will be a good test for them as results need to start coming in. Norwich have not done much correctly this season and are downright abysmal on the road, however their saving grace is that Villa have been equally as abysmal at Villa Park.
I see a high scoring draw to come out of this one. Both clubs struggle in their defensive thirds but have enough about them to cause each other issues going forward. Both clubs need points as they continue to flirt with the relegation zone so I expect both to come out swinging in what is hopefully a swashbuckling affair.
Swansea City v Crystal Palace
Two points separate these two clubs coming into tomorrows match when Palace take a trip to south Wales. The Swans are certainly one of the bigger under-performers this season after last season’s successful performances saw them net a place in the Europa League. After the sacking of Michael Laudrup not all that long ago, they will need to produce on the pitch to justify his termination. Palaces conversely have done well just to not be the bottom feeder for the duration of the campaign. They may be tricky when in London but they are flirting with impotence when away from the capital.
Despite not playing up to the standard, Swansea should take this one. Palace has only won two out of 12 matches on their travels, scoring only five. The Swans will appreciate the opportunity to give themselves further breathing space from the drop zone as well.
Tottenham Hotspur v Cardiff City
Tottenham are currently leading the race for fifth place and the Europa League and will welcome a timely “easier” fixture in which they will look to pad their five point lead over Manchester United and Everton who are five points behind. Despite their placement, they do struggle at White Hart Lane and have been prone to sub-standard performances against sides they should not struggle against. Cardiff should probably park the bus and hope to minimize the casualties on the scoreboard – they have been the worst traveling side in the entire BPL and they cannot offer much in this fixture.
Spurs can be accused for misfiring at home this campaign but I see them taking all three points here – this is a good fixture for them to come into after playing well in the Europa League yesterday as they should look to take that and build upon it.