Let’s start off with what little there is left of the Fixture Tracker itself. It may be diminishing but it’s still all important as we can see from a quick glance, with a huge DGW37 on the horizon…
West Ham – West Brom (A), Swansea (H) + Manchester United (H), Stoke (A)
Oh how we missed West Ham last week. Despite winning just twice in their last six matches in the league, the Hammers have been a steady source of points. There’s not a clean sheet in sight in those games but on the other hand Slaven Bilic’s men have notched a very decent 15 times including three against Arsenal, two against Leicester and three against Everton. The latter may not come as a surprise, but hey, they put them away and that’s all we care about. The remaining fixtures for West Ham are very favourable with two soft fixtures either side of a DGW where they play at home twice. Get your Payets, Cresswells and Carrolls at the ready, we’re expecting the Hammers to continue doing the business for us for the remainder, starting this weekend with what should be a routine win…
West Brom then, a team in atrocious form. Only Aston Villa can be found below the Baggies in the form table and, as usual, they don’t count anymore. So essentially West Brom are the worst from team heading into this weekend’s match. Two draws and four defeats and seven conceded in that time is all we need to hear to be confident of West Ham winning pretty easily and there may even be an argument for a sneaky Payet/Carroll captain pick for the more adventurous manager. Next up it’s the DGW and the two home games we talked about. Swansea are the first to arrive at the Boleyn and as evident from their recent three and four nil hammering by Newcastle and Leicester, the Swans have mentally checked out after securing safety and should be no match for a West Ham team with a European spot of some sort to chase after. Unless the Swans get their act together, this one could be a fantasy goldmine with attacking hauls aplenty and some good clean sheet potential too. If they are to reach Europe in some capacity then it will likely be at the expense of the next team arriving, Manchester United. Usually a good game with plenty of goal mouth action, this is a big game for both teams and three points would be huge for either. Expect goals at both ends here and then we’re on to the final day of the season for West Ham and it’s another team that is all over the place and maybe already on holiday. Stoke are coming off a few hefty recent losses and don’t look bothered at all. Teams with something to play for should trounce Stoke at this stage and we expect West Ham to do so at a stroll. That’s their fill then, there’s a solid argument for rolling with three Hammers for the rest of the season. We know what they’re about and they’ve got the fixtures and something to play for.
Liverpool – Swansea (A), Watford (H) + Chelsea (H), West Brom (A)
How many hearts have been broken by this lot recently? Mass resting of first choice stars, a certain someone getting mixed up in a doping scandal and a willingness to concede plenty of goals, all coming for mass head-in-hand moments over these past two weeks. It’s a joke, isn’t it? Oh well, we shall survive. At least the goals are going in at the other end and the two against Newcastle on Saturday make in 15 in six games for Klopp’s men and that’s pretty handy. Whether the upcoming DGW is of any use to us with this lot remains to be seen as Europa exploits mean rotations in league action but the Scouse schedule is well worth looking at. Much like West Ham, a couple of easy enough away games sandwich two home DGW fixtures for us to sink our teeth into and if we can get solid minutes from their attack it could prove lucrative over these remaining weeks…
We start off with the aforementioned Swansea City. Mentally checked out and ripe for a beating. If only we could be sure of a first choice 11 this week, there’s a boat load of points to be had if all the Liverpool attackers line up. Liverpool have scored at least twice for the last four GWs and we should see no ease in that against Swansea. Sturridge, Firmino and Coutinho will rip this lot apart should all three start. Lets just hope that they do! Now, the big one. Two home games on the spin, the first being Watford. The Hornets are all but safe but they will still give it their all that’s for sure. This actually has a goal fest written all over it as we’re half expecting rotation as we said before, leaving a solid partnership of Deeney and Ighalo to potentially exploit the backup defenders at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal. We’d have to favour Liverpool for the win of course but we also wouldn’t be at all surprised with a 2-2 or even 3-3 scoreline. Next up is Chelsea, the biggest question mark of the season. Who knows what to expect from Chelsea but one thing is pretty clear; they concede a lot these days. Again, Villa don’t count so we make it eight against in the last five outings, a million miles from the rock-solid Blues of years passed and they may be set up for a hammering at the hands of Jurgen’s attacking madness. It’s usually a high octane game as we know and this one should be no different. Having broken more hearts and minds over those three games, Liverpool can sign off with what will surely be three points against West Brom. The Baggies dreadful form has been covered so we’ll not go back there. Unless there are big changes in the next couple of weeks then Liverpool should muller the once impenetrable Pulis defence. On the face of it, Liverpool have really good fixtures remaining but the key will be getting the most minutes possible. Pick two or three and hope for the best is our best advice. Hopefully the rotation eases a wee bit.
Arsenal – Norwich (H), Manchester City (A), Aston Villa (H)
Okay okay, so they’re struggling to win regularly and they have no DGW ahead. The Gunners have also fallen out of the title race and are left with just a 3rd or 4th place finish to settle on. Why include them then? Well they’ve just got to respond. It has to happen. If United win their game in hand then the gap is down to just two points. Imagine losing out on top four this year, to United. Oh dear. Hang your heads in shame should it happen as it would be beyond disgraceful. So, Arsenal must win their remaining games, they just have to do it and of the three remaining outings for them, two are at home against lowly opposition so we should see wins, goals and maybe a few happy faces around the Emirates. Even if they are fakey, putty ony smiles as Wenger lifts high the invisible trophy he loves so much. Lets have a look at their games then; we start off at the Emirates and we start off easy…
Norwich. Shall we move on then? If only. The Canaries sat out league action last time out and now find themselves in the bottom three, teetering on the edge of collapse as they are. A few timely, and excellent results against City, which they drew, and West Brom and Newcastle, who they beat, must have had the Norwich faithful hopeful of survival in the most competitive league in Europe. It didn’t last long. A 1-0 loss to Palace and a 3-0 bashing by Sunderland have put them right in the thick of it again and if there is any normality left in the world then Arsenal should destroy them this weekend, in a big way. Anything less than two or three nil would be a big FPL letdown. One last push then Arsene, Manchester City are next and this could be the game where the Gunners drop points that United may laughably capitalize on. Since the 6-3 slaughtering back in 2013, Arsenal have been unbeaten against City in five games, winning three and drawing two, which isn’t bad at all considering the opposition. Nothing is certain these days but history does suggest both teams will score at least once and Arsenal have the psychological edge as far as recent meetings are concerned. Sanchez, Ozil, Aguero and De Bruyne may not be done with their big hauls just yet and any of them could go off in this game. Last but certainly not least, the last day of the season is about as easy as it gets for Arsenal. Aston Villa make the trip to Emirates and we have no desire to pick this one apart. Just capo Sanchez and forget about it. Arsenal should, and likely will annihilate the sorry Villans.
Sunderland – Stoke (A), Chelsea (H) + Everton (H), Watford (A)
Everyone’s favorite “but, they’ve got something to play for” pick. That is true of course, Sunderland do have a lot to play as they now find themselves out of the bottom three despite being absolutely useless for most of this season. Big Sam is always a manager to turn to when badly floundering though and despite the lack of quality in the Black Cats’ squad, Sammy has proved his worth again and brought them up a level or 10. They’ve even been keeping clean sheets of late, something that was just about impossible at one stage this year! You couldn’t make this stuff up but that’s where we are and looking ahead, Sunderland may just pull this off. That might end up being down to Norwich being so poor but still, Sunderland have to give their all and with them having 2 home games in the DGW they need mentioning. First lets get through this weekend’s game though, and it’s not a bad one at all…
Stoke, as we said earlier, are done. Just three goals scored in the last four games, two of which came against Swansea and 14 conceded. Shocking. If Sammy could handpick the opposition for the rest of the season then Stoke would surely be one of them. Sunderland should get the win here and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a wide-ish scoreline. 2-0, maybe 3-1, something like that. There are worse weeks to bring in Sunderland attack (that felt so wrong, so so wrong). On to the DGW now and of all the “elite” teams to be up against, Sunderland have again been the recipients of some good fortune as they have Chelsea and Everton, two teams who also look like they’re on holiday already. Chelsea’s last four have been a whatever win against nobody, followed by back-to-back defeats to Swansea and City, ending with a battering of Bournemouth last weekend. Who knows what to expect from Chelsea but Sunderland may well get something out of them. Maybe even a win. Now, Everton. 11th in the league isn’t good enough for a team with players like Coleman and Lukaku but with nowt left to play for, and an iffy manager to boot, Sunderland probably should win this game. When you see a team sheet that has Ross Barkley in an almost defensive position with Tom Cleverley and Kevin Mirallas in more attacking roles, you know you’ve got problems. Big problems at that. Rounding out the season for Sunderland is an encounter with Watford. What to expect from this game will likely depend on the outcome of the few games before hand but assuming Norwich haven’t relegated themselves by this time then we’d have to favour Sunderland in this one. It wont take many more points to secure safety and with Sammy’s experience combined with a few decent attackers and a workhorse of a left-back, we think Sunderland can get out of trouble and remain up for next year.
Be wary of…
Everton – Bournemouth (H), Leicester (A) + Sunderland (A), Norwich (H)
If that last ribbing of all things Everton wasn’t enough to put you off, then fear not, we’ve got more. Doubles shmoubles, what are we to expect from this lot? Best way to decide that is to look at the recent DGW’s for Everton. DGW33 and 34 brought scores of two, two, zero and two for Romelu Lukaku. Great, thanks Rom. Aaron Lennon went two, three, zero and one. Fantastic. Ross Barkley.. surely he did better… nope. Two, three, one and one. Okay, so it is actually better, but it’s not at the same time. Need we go on? Didn’t think so. Doubles shmoubles, you’re asking for trouble with this lot. Proceed with extreme caution but preferably run a mile, catch your breath for a minute then go on your merry way again. Don’t stop. One look at their DGW fixtures tells it’s own story too. A team one win away from being crowned Champions and an Allardyce team fighting for their lives. ’nuff said.
Swansea – Liverpool (H), West Ham (A), Manchester City (H)
A burst of form and results and that’s all she wrote for Swansea now by the look of things. Two heavy defeats to Newcastle and Leicester have sparked the end of Swansea’s use to us fantasy folk. This writer is more than appreciative of the Siggy goals of late which kept many teams afloat in tough weeks but now it’s all over. Time to move them on as the last three games are rough. At home to Liverpool this weekend should be a no win situation and that’s followed by a trip to the Boleyn for a seeing to at the hands of Payet and co, before rounding out at home against Manchester City is what could be another sizable beating. It should be no problem for Aguero and De Bruyne to slice through them so we’re not seeing much left here for Swansea. Time to bin any remaining Swans and get some DGW cover in, or just players with potential to get something.
Manchester City – Southampton (A), Arsenal (H), Swansea (A)
Woah woah woah, calm down there folks. We’re not suggesting that the likes of De Bruyne and Aguero need to be sold this instant. Not all all. They can produce at any time and will get some good points in the last few weeks. The issue may be holding onto too many of their players. Most of us were stocked up on City recently for the double but with the might of a Cristiano Ronaldo led Real Madrid to deal with, we may see some big names hauled off early or even left out, as evident with De Bruyne last weekend. There’s no serious harm in keeping an attacker but with those European nights ahead and Southampton and Arsenal next up, we may get better value for the season end from other teams. They should, however, batter Swansea on the last day.
One week wonder a.k.a who is playing against Aston Villa?
Watford – Aston Villa (H)
We come to the end of this week’s Fixtures article folks, and what better way to finish it off than with an enticing fixture to aim for. Watford vs Villa is predictable. Very predictable actually. The Hornets will win and will win comfortable at that. Back in November Watford put three away against Villa and a repeat of that does look pretty likely. Add to that DGW34 for Watford and we might be looking at a decent source of points, all on the cheap, for these next two weeks. A dodgy Liverpool defence and an even dodgier Norwich one await in the double so an acquisition of Ighalo or Deeney this week may not go a miss.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Objektiv187