Premier League And FA Cup Preview (April 12th and 13th).

Published: Apr 10, 2014 15:04pm EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 10, 2014 @ 03:04pm EDT

 

This weekend also sees the Semi Finals of the FA Cup and so, not all the twenty teams will participate in this weekend of Premier League matches. I will look at the two FA Cup Semi Finals after my Premiership preview. After last weekend I think you can now officially rule Arsenal out of contention for the Premiership title and, if results go against them, they could find themselves ten points away from securing third position. Add to that the fact that, with their FA Cup participation, they may even be out of the top four by the time they play their next Premier League game. This all points to the FA Cup being vitally important for Arsene Wenger this season I think.

At the bottom I am sure all the Managers would swap their woes for that of Wengers right now with Cardiff and Sunderland both facing top half opposition the key game at the bottom is surely the visit of Norwich to Fulham.

 

SATURDAY: (All Kick Off times 3:07 BST/10:07 ET):

 

Crystal P v Aston Villa

I think you can all but guarantee that both these sides will be in the Premiership when it kicks off next season. Neither side was sure of that all season and Palace fans, more than any, were probably concerned as the season started to find its flow.

Now both are only seven points clear of the last relegation spot with at least fifteen points still to be won but I am at a loss to see where the bottom clubs will manage to pick up enough points to threaten either.

Both would still like that win to give them an extra three points cushion and if one side does win this game then they will certainly overtake Hull City, who are Wembley bound Sunday. I would assume that both sides may be overly cautious and instead see a draw as a point gained rather than two dropped.

For Villa it would certainly be nice to end the three straight defeat run they are on. The last time these two met at Selhurst Park was back in 2005 where Andrew Johnson scored twice in a 2-0 win, if similar was to happen again it will not only make it three straight wins but also three clean sheets for the Eagles.

Prediction: 1-1.

 

Fulham v Norwich:

When news broke last weekend that Norwich City had fired their manager it was met with shock. Not so much shock that Chris Hughton had been relieved of his duties but more so that the City board did it with only five games left. As I said in my article at the time, this decision was being called for as far back as December.

The last of the bottom seven sides to have a manager change at some point this season face the team who replaced their manager twice! In Neil Adams Norwich have someone who is linked with the club, has a passion for the club and its supporters and last year guided the youth side to an FA Cup win. If ever Norwich needed a lift for one game, it was this one. A win for the visitors on Saturday will probably see them safe as they then put eight points between them and their hosts. Depending on other results that would certainly give them some much needed breathing space for the final four tough fixtures.

Fulham will want to get some momentum going though themselves and follow up last weeks win with another. That would really put the cat among the Canaries, the Baggies and possibly even the Swans. I do think that Norwich will have that edge though with the fresh approach of Adams and get the three points they require. If they do then it will have been a stroke of genius for the Norwich board. If it fails then he really didn’t have much time to turn the ship around.

Prediction:1-3.

 

Southampton v Cardiff:

Southampton really are just going through the motions right now and until the end of the season. Yes I am sure the England hopefuls will want to impress Roy Hodgson and be in that final 23 boarding the plane to Brazil but domestically, its all over. Eight points in front of 10th placed Stoke and eleven behind seventh placed Tottenham means the Saints will end where they are, or a place below.

Cardiff, on the other hand, stunk it up last week and Solskjaer showed no idea he knew what was wrong or what needed to be done in order to fix it. Losing 3-0 at home to another relegation threatened side is just not good enough and a big improvement will be needed this weekend if they are to stop the slide. They will need three wins from the remaining five games at least to have a chance but I really do not see the Welsh side being in the Premiership when the season starts again in August.

Prediction: 2-0.

 

Stoke v Newcastle:

This one could be a bit interesting as Alan Pardew faces off against Mark Hughes. Both sides are mid table and neither is in relegation danger. A win for either could increase their chance of finishing in the top ten though, Stoke currently six points behind Newcastle, and in tenth right now.

Since 2011 the home side has won this fixture one all but one occasion. On that day Newcastle were again visitors and beat Stoke 3-1 but I am not sure Stoke will concede that many this time and not convinced Newcastle could score that right now either.

For both sides it is a chance to take a look at some players and maybe give them that one last chance to prove themselves as plans start getting formulated for the needs for next season and identify those surplus to requirements.

Predictions: 1-1.

 

Sunderland v Everton:

A big game for both sides, but for very different reasons. For Sunderland points are vitally needed in order to give the Black Cats any hope of Premiership football next season. Seven points away from the first safe position it is true there are games in hand but I am pretty sure that points on the board would be swapped in a heartbeat by Gus Poyet who admits his side are looking for miracles. With Easter around the corner there certainly is history of resurrection and maybe a miracle will shine on the Stadium of Light.

For Everton it is simple, don’t lose and you go ahead Arsenal and into fourth. That would be a significant effort by Roberto Martinez in his first season at Everton and the only negative for Evertonians would be that Liverpool are doing slightly better.

Prediction: 0-2.

 

West Brom v Tottenham:

Last weekend I would have said that this would be a tough game to call with Tottenham slipping over the previous few weeks. After hammering Sunderland 5-1 last weekend maybe Tim Sherwoods side will be able to make a final push for a Europa League spot. Again, with Arsenal distracted by the cup, a win will bring them to at most two points away from fifth.

West Brom pulled themselves up and away from the relegation zone with a very important win at Norwich last weekend. That was the final nail in the Hughton coffin but in truth for West Brom was not job done. Any points gained in the next two games, this one and the next one away to Manchester City, will have to be considered bonus points. The real key games come with three of the last four starting at the end of this month with a home fixture against West Ham.

Prediction: 1-2.

 

SUNDAY:

 

Liverpool v Man City (Kick off 1:37 BST/ 8:37 ET):

Game of the weekend it has to be. Between the two teams 174 Premiership goals have been scored this season and both are still in contention for the Premier League title. With the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster coming up early next week I think passions will be high at Anfield.

Neither side have lost in the League in quite some time and last season this fixture resulted in a 2-2 draw with City drawing level twice after the hosts had gone ahead. A similar result on Sunday would suit City more than Liverpool who, with two games more to play, would still have their destiny their own hands. A Liverpool win would rip that from them and put the Merseyside club in charge.

After this game Liverpool still have to host Chelsea, right in the middle of Chelsea’s Champions League Semi Final legs. The only downside to the Liverpool side right now is the fact that they have conceded an average of over a goal a game, including three against Cardiff City.

City have certainly been in worse positions with a point more at the same stage of the season two years ago. Back then they were also eight points back from the top team and still ended up lifting the trophy.

The last time Liverpool has beaten Manchester City in the League was at Anfield and ironically almost exactly three years ago to the day. It was 3-0 to Liverpool on that day but I would suggest that if that was to happen again then you may as well pencil Liverpool in for their first Premiership title and their 19th title overall.

Prediction: 2-2.

 

Swansea v Chelsea (Kick off 4:07 BST/ 11:07):

After the immense effort midweek to overturn the Champions League deficit and progress through to the Semi Final may lead to what is known as a European hangover. That means that Swansea could have a fantastic chance to take advantage and get points to make their Premiership future a little more secure.

Last season this corresponding fixture was a 1-1 draw and I am sure a similar result would see Swansea safe and maybe put another nail in Chelsea’s title coffin. The London side have recently lost away to Palace and Aston Villa in recent weeks and so nothing is out of the question.

Prediction: 1-1.

 

FA Cup:

 

SATURDAY (Kick off 5:07 BST/12:07 ET):

Wigan v Arsenal:

Arsenal are in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in 17 years and before they kick off this game the players will probably have heard the result from the Everton game, and therefore their potential drop from top four. Arsenal fans have always said that they do not consider top four better than a trophy and so this season we may actually get to see if they actually prefer no Champions League but winning a trophy.

Of course there are two sides in this game and it would be a disservice to Wigan and Uwe Rosler to discount them out of hand. On the books for the Lactics could be a second successive FA Cup Final. Last season they won the Final against Manchester City but got relegated and this season they could conceivably get to their second successive FA Cup Final and win promotion via the play offs also.

I think this will be Arsene Wengers last season as Arsenal boss and with that in mind I think he would want to go out on a high. The League title would have been first choice but in truth an FA Cup win would not be that bad of a second choice.

Prediction: 2-0.

 

SUNDAY (Kick off 4:07 BST/11:07 ET):

 

Hull v Sheff Utd:

Not many people will highlight this fact but early next week is the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster when 96 Liverpool fans died as that seasons FA Cup Semi Final was contested between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The current Sheffield United manager played for Nottingham Forest in that game and would then go on to play for Liverpool a few years later. Now of course he manages a club barely 3 miles away and so has all three links to the disaster.

Focus will be on him for this game for other reasons though. His Father, Brian Clough was very successful in his career, winning almost all the trophies on offer with the exception of one, the FA Cup. Nowadays the FA Cup Semi Finals are played at Wembley and so no matter the result he will get to lead his side out at Wembley, something his Father had done 23 years earlier. If he were to win the whole competition then that would eclipse his dad in that aspect at least.

Hull City stand in the way and they have their own history to chase. The Tigers, City or whatever they end up getting called have never made it an FA Cup Final in their history. In fact the last, and only time, they were in the Semi Finals happened three years before Hitlers Nazi party became the largest democratically elected party in Germany and nine years before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Prediction: 2-0.


 

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Jason Bardwell
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