Michael Bocking gets to grips with this weekend's Premier League action and gives us the lowdown on what to expect.
Michael Bocking gets to grips with this weekend’s Premier League action and gives us the lowdown on what to expect..
A few weeks ago we were all talking about whether Sunderland or Newcastle would beat the drop this year but since then Norwich have started scoring goals and look the most likely out of the three to stay up and a win against Sunderland could seal it. Big Sam looked as if he was about to perform a spell on the Black Cats and in Jermaine Defoe they still have the best striker of the teams attempting to survive but a distinctly average midfield and error-prone defence has left them with a lot of work to do. Prediction: Norwich 2- 1 Sunderland.
Remarkable that Roberto Martinez is just now starting to receive some overdue criticism from supporters and pundits alike after another underperforming season given the abundance of young talent available to him. Without star striker Romelu Lukaku, the toffees really would be struggling; Aaron Lennon has been the next best attacking performing, which says it all really. Southampton have turned into a more direct team this year but still have a good chance of finishing in an Europa League spot. Prediction: Everton 1-1 Southampton
The cancellation of the Aston Villa Player of the Year awards was one of the better decisions made by the people behind the scenes at the Midlands club this year. The worst decision has to be the lack of signings in January that condemned Villa to the Championship, which they will face a challenge staying in next year given the current side’s effort and performances this year. I mean, Micah Richards, Captain, really? United will be positive after the impressive FA Cup victory over West Ham on Wednesday and with young starlet Marcus Rashford leading the way (get him on the plane, Roy!). Has LvG done enough to warrant another season with the Red Devils? Many other clubs will hope so. Prediction: Man Utd 4-0 Aston Villa
Poor Rafa; from Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo to Steven Taylor, Jack Colback and Andros Townsend all in the space of 6 months. After heavy investment in January, the Magpies have not improved under the Spaniard but a home game at Swansea will surely provide Rafa’s first 3 points. However, Newcastle have not won in 6 games, Fact. Are 6 points from safety, Fact. And will be relegated after 6 years in the Premier League, Fact. Prediction: Newcastle 3-1 Swansea
With both teams having nothing to play for in the league, this game looks set to bring the best out of the exciting, attacking force that is West Brom under Tony Pulis. With Watford focusing on their upcoming FA Cup Semi-Final against Crystal Palace on the horizon you’d hope that both teams here would let loose and entertain the crowd. Meh. Prediction: West Brom 1-0 Watford.
Last year’s top 2 face off in the Saturday evening kick off with Guus Hiddink suffering his first league defeat as Chelsea coach last week and Man City bouncing after an impressive two-leg display against the wealthy Parisians. There is a real risk of Pep managing in the Europa League next year with Man Utd and West Ham posing a threat to their place in the top 4 but Pellegrini will be hoping that a Champions League win will guarantee their place in Europe’s elite next year. This game has draw written all over it in permanent marker. Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Man City.
Two nice-to-watch teams battle it out at Dean Court this Sunday with Liverpool exhausted after their Europa League exploits and looking to find form in the league after a surprising defeat against Southampton last time out. Bournemouth have their sights set on a top-half finish but also on an ice-cold beer on a Beach in a Caribbean Island as their Premier League safety has been guaranteed for a couple of weeks now. Prediction: Bournemouth 1-3 Liverpool.
Biggest game of the weekend at the Walkers Stadium on Sunday as 1st plays 6th. Off the back of a 6 month driving ban, Riyad Mahrez will be hoping to accelerate Leicester’s title charge but face a backlash from the Hammers following their mid-week cup defeat. Slaven Bilić will no doubt have spent the days staring intensely into the eyes of his players and will expect to derail the Foxes. Club groundsmen are expected to be busy following the drenching of the Stadium of Light by Claudio Ranieri’s tears last week. Prediction: Leicester 1-0 West Ham.
Disappointment after disappointment has been the emotion of both sets of fans of these struggling London sides. Palace have performed distinctly better in their past two games but face a steep challenge against Arsenal, although predicting an Arsenal victory is a dangerous game this year. Watch out for a ridiculous goal celebration if Adebayor scores against his old club, although whether he has the stamina to run the length of the pitch as he did when playing for Man City against the Gunners is debatable. Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Palace.
Away at Stoke on a pleasant, spring evening doesn’t sound too intimidating for this Spurs side, especially as this current Stoke team is no longer the rugby-playing Neanderthals of Pulis vintage. Kane, Alli and co will want to continue their impressive form in recent weeks and although Jan Vertonghan’s return to the starting eleven seems harsh on Kevin Wimmer, his presence adds even more assurance to an already solid-looking spurs team. Solid, Assured, impressive- is this really Spurs we’re talking about? Stoke do have the attacking talent to cause problems but may lack the concentration given their safe league position and no doubt elaborate pre-Euros summer holiday plans. Prediction: Stoke 0- 2 Spurs.