As we enter match day 33 of this seasons Barclays Premier League campaign current league leaders Chelsea will look to stretch their unbeaten run to 12 games as well as extend their points margin to potentially 10 points, leaving them one step closer to the title. Meanwhile at the bottom of the table just four points separate the bottom five teams who will all be in search for those vital three points as the race for survival is on. With some highly anticipated fixtures this Saturday which could shape up the Premier League nicely in the final few weeks, let us know who you think will be stealing all three points from this Saturday’s fixtures.
Crystal Palace V West Bromwich Albion (Saturday 18th April, KO – 15:00)
Tony Pulis’ West Brom side visit his old club Crystal Palace at possibly the worst time they could imagine, on the back of three agonising defeats traveling to a side who have taken well under the new Alan Pardew era and are fighting for a top half of the table finish.
The hosts entertain Baggies having won four successive matches and several players have hit exceptional form including wingers Wilfred Zaha and Yannick Bolasie as well as forward Glenn Murray whose scored six league goals in his last six league starts. The Eagles will massively favour themselves against a Baggies side low in confidence and will look to bolster their chances of a top half finish with a win at Selhurst Park. In their last home outing Palace showed a tremendous defensive display to secure a 2-1 victory against current champions Manchester City and their confidence will be high as they host much weaker opposition.
The visitors couldn’t be fancied against any team in the league at the moment, ever since their double derby loss against Aston Villa last month they haven’t looked the same as they did when Pulis took charge, their latest defeat on what was on paper meant to be a memorable day wearing a replica, retro kit to in memory of Jeff Astle was an embarrassing one as they chucked away a lead at home to lose 3-2 to bottom of the table Leicester. Having lost four in a row, if they were to lose away at Palace they could just see themselves fall dangerously into the heated relegation battle and that’s exactly the way things seem to be going at Baggies. Prior to the Leicester loss Baggies were also played of the pitch when they hosted relegation strugglers Queens Park Rangers at the Hawthorns who thrashed them 4-1, WBA fans can only hope that things change on the road.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Everton V Burnley (Saturday 18th April, KO – 15:00)
An Everton side who have only just found their brilliant form they showed to qualify for last season’s Europa League host a Burnley side who are struggling as they sit dangerously in 19th place and have only won once in their last 11 league matches.
Roberto Martinez’s men have struggled all season and find themselves disappointingly in 12th place whereas they finished last season’s campaign in 5th place, this year they currently stand a staggering 19 points behind their 5th placed arch rivals Liverpool. January signing Aaron Lennon has made a positive impact in recent weeks scoring two in two for the Toffees, but leading goalscorer Romelu Lukaku could be back in the starting team which would provide a massive boost for the side having missed the last couple of weeks due to injury. However, with nothing to play for this season now for Everton, Martinez may opt to rotate the squad in order to provide experience to the younger squad members which could give Burnley the upper hand.
Burnley visit Goodison Park having not won on their travels since November 2014 when they edged to a 2-1 victory away at Stoke and also with just one victory in their last 11 outings, the odds are stacked against them. Danny Ings proved an exciting prospect at the start of the season scoring for fun, however in recent weeks finding a regular supply of goals has been Burnley’s downfall and sees them still in a tough fight for survival which could prove too much for them. But with relegation back to the Championship not an option for Sean Dyche’s men their only option is to throw everything at the opposition in their remaining six matches to try find a goal from anywhere and pick up a much needed three points.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Burnley
Leicester City V Swansea City (Saturday 18th April, KO 15:OO)
Leicester sit just three points below the drop zone with two games in hand on the majority of the teams above them and search for their third successive win in order to secure their survival in the Premier League as they host a Swansea side who would need to overcome a 10 points deficit to be in contention of a European spot.
Leicester have been in good form since the beginning of April pulling of huge victories against West Ham and West Brom to give themselves hopes of survival. Nigel Pearson’s side will look to produce more of the brilliant play which saw them score two goals in the last 10 minutes to beat West Brom 3-2. Five different goal scorers have scored the Foxes last five goals which gives them encouragement knowing they’re not reliable on specific players, they will be hopeful to pick up at least one point in front of their own fans as they entertain an inconsistent Swansea side.
Although they’ve picked up two wins in their last three outings, Gary Monk’s Swansea side could suffer another setback as they visit the king Power Stadium, since the departure of Wilfred Bony, the load has been lumped on Bafetimbi Gomis who surprisingly has lived up to standards. However Gomis limped off in their last match against Everton and Monk will be left with Portuguese forward Nelson Olivera who has already featured seven times for the Swans but failed to make an impact each appearance. Could Swansea for the first time this season go four games unbeaten, it will be a tough one against a Leicester side who will be playing their hearts out to avoid being relegated.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Swansea
Stoke V Southampton (Saturday 18th April, KO 15:00)
If Southampton are going to breach into one of the European sports come the end of the season, a win is a must as they visit the Britannia Stadium which is recent years has been a feared ground for opponents. However, with Stoke only securing seven wins so far at the Britannia it’s less of a fortress than in previous years which will give the 366 mile all-round trip for the visitors some hope as they prepare for the tough road ahead.
Stoke have spent the majority of the season in and around the comfortable mid-table positions, however their squad certainly has the capability and depth to push even further and within a couple of season hopefully advance and maybe contend for a European spot. However, for this season the Potters finishing the season inside the top 10 without receiving any injuries will be their main concern as well as keeping key players happy with the likes of Asmir Begovic being rumoured away from the club. So for Stoke a decline in performance could prove crucial for their player’s contracts come the end of the campaign, but a Southampton side who have only conceded 12 goals on their travels all season look fearful as they still have a European place to fight for.
Ronald Koeman’s side will be disappointed with their current standings having spent the majority of the season inside the top four, however with other teams more experienced in the battle for Champions League, the Saints’ inexperience showed and the losses became more frequent home and away. The visitors will hope to secure the double over Stoke this season following their 1-0 victory at St.Marys, but Stoke will certainly be no walkover as they hope to bounce back after a winless four matches.
Prediction: Stoke 0-1 Southampton
Cheslea V Manchester United (Saturday 18th April, KO 17:30)
In what is without doubt the biggest game of the weekend see’s the league leaders, host a United side that have found their true form since the arrival of Louis Van Gaal, Chelsea who just scraped a 1-0 victory in the dying minutes against QPR last weekend entertain United who will be ready for this clash following their emphatic 4-2 derby victory against Manchester City last weekend.
A win for Jose Mourinho and his side would all but secure the Premier league title unless they were to produce a slip up greater than Liverpool’s last season, anything’s possible. However, the experience this Chelsea side holds is without doubt a title winning one and with no other competitions to focus on, Premier League glory for the fourth time, second under Mourinho. However, Chelsea’s downfall could be the absence of leading goalscorer Diego Costa, with Didier Drogba likely to lead the line, his physical condition just has peaked too much and it’s not hard to tell he isn’t in his prime anymore. Nevertheless Chelsea still have other goal scoring supplies with the quality Eden Hazard one the left wing with other options including Willian, Juan Cuadrado and even Oscar, a title winning side always has more than just the one goalscorer which could be evident this weekend.
Ever since Sir Alex Fergusson’s departure, United have experienced spells under David Moyes and nearly a whole season now under Van Gaal, but until the last couple of months there’s been no evidence that United are worthy contenders to challenge for the title, even for the top four in some people’s opinions. But could United’s bubble of six straight victories be about to burst as they visit Mourinho’s kingdom? Van Gaal will need Ashley Young who hasn’t looked in better shape at all during his playing career to raise the bar even further as him Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney will all play crucial roles as they search to close the gap on Chelsea at the top. With Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellani all playing to each other’s strengths, their midfield hold the key to their victories playing part getting back in their defensive duties to make a solid wall, as well as being brutal on the counter providing support in and around the area, however Van Gaal still expects his sides’ performances to rise even further.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Manchester United