Premier League Preview (April 5th, 6th and 7th)

Published: Apr 03, 2014 14:20pm EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 03, 2014 @ 02:20pm EDT

 

As we go into this first weekend of April for the Premier League finally we see gaps starting to appear in key parts of the League table. Now we see a whole three points between the last relegation place and the safety zone. Fulham are five points away from where they need to be if they do not want to play in the Championship next season and, with only six games left, they must start finding form this weekend because the lifelines are running out.

At the top, where the top four were separated by just a few points, now Arsenal find themselves more in a battle for top four than challenging for the title.

 

SATURDAY (All Kick Off’s 3pm BST/10am ET unless stated):

 

Manchester City v Southampton (12:45 BST/7:45 ET):

All games for the top teams are now vitally important but for Manchester City, who managed four points in their last two games against Manchester United and Arsenal, it is vital they get this victory at home in the early kick off. It will put the pressure on Mourinho’s Chelsea, who take on Stoke later in the day, on the back of a poor performance in the Champions League along with Liverpool and Arsenal who play 24 hours later.

Last season a double strike from the now departed Carlos Tevez sandwiched between an Edin Dzeko goal gave City a narrow 3-2 win. Sergio Aguero could be back for this game but I would bet that he will be starting from the bench if indeed he features at all. Looking ahead to next weekend City travel to Anfield, and that, surely will confirm both sides title aspirations.

That will mean nothing though if they fail to take Southampton who have been a tricky side for City and a unknown quantity in this part of the season. A 3-2 defeat to Tottenham was followed up by a 4-0 hammering of Newcastle.

Prediction: 3-1

 

Aston Villa v Fulham:

Ten points and eight places separate these two teams before they do battle on Saturday and while one is relegation bound, the other would also not consider themselves safe just yet either. A win for the home side probably will give them the chance for a big sigh of relief and secure their Premiership status but in truth their season has been rescued by a number of poorer teams in the League. Analysis and a good bout of housekeeping can take place and I wouldn’t be surprised if some players, and maybe the Manager himself, are playing for their Aston Villa futures from now until the seasons end.

For Fulham, I said it when Martin Jol was fired, said it about Cardiff and Malky Mackay and I also said it when Rene Muelensteen was released. Sometimes you have to back your manager and have faith that he can turn things around. Fulham only need to look across London at the situation now at West Ham to see what faith in a manager can accomplish. If, and it looks pretty likely, Fulham will go down then it is only the Chairman who is to blame.

Prediction: 2-0.

 

Cardiff v Crystal P:

Here is another example of a Chairman who interferes with the football aspect and, as a result, has put his side in an even more dubious position. This is a massive game for the Bluebirds and a good result would do them the world of good and possibly even give the fans a glimmer of hope for the future. To do that though they will have to do something they have only done against Fulham in the League so far this year, win. A last minute goal to tie the game against West Brom last weekend may be a sign that their luck has changed and they have scored three goals in each of the last two games.

In Crystal Palace though they will find a side not easy to break down. It is true they do not score many, but it is equally true they do not concede many either. A 1-0 win last week against Chelsea was a fantastic result and put the Eagles five points above the relegation zone. I am sure another 1-0 win would be okay by Tony Pulis on this occasion also.

Prediction:1-1.

 

Hull v Swansea:

Hull have an FA Cup Semi Final coming up and both sides are seven points away from the relegation zone. In the previous meeting between the two earlier on in the season the game ended in a draw and I think similar might be on the cards here also.

The only concern for Steve Bruce will be the absence of number one goalkeeper Allen McGregor who is still sidelined after picking up and injury in a collision with an opposition player. Steve Harper will deputize and at 39, having played backup at Newcastle, is a good alternative.

Prediction: 1-1.

 

Newcastle v Man Utd:

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Less than twenty years ago both these two sides were fighting with each other for the Premiership title. Newcastle let a massive points gap slip and it culminated in that now famous Kevin Keegan rant.

Fast forward to 2014 and the two are still only points apart, but both far away from a title challenge. For Newcastle the slip has been gradual, if not filled with false dawns, whereas Manchester United’s failure has been seemingly overnight. Newcastle fans are still not happy with Chairman Mike Ashley and Man Utd fans are not happy with their Manager, their board and some of the effort given on the field.

Last season this game was a 3-0 easy gimme for the visitors. This time around it will not be so easy and I think the hostilities from the traveling fans will increase further still if they come away with anything but a win.

Prediction: 1-2.

 

Norwich v West Brom:

Four goals from four different scorers gave City the massive victory in last seasons meeting between the two. At that point it was the second to last game of the season. After that game West Brom were 8th and Norwich were 12th in the League and no doubt excited for the next season. Eleven months later and I doubt either side expected to be in a relegation battle.

A win for Norwich should see them very close to safe, depending on other results from the weekend, while another defeat will see them slam right back into trouble.

Looking at the past three home fixtures for Norwich you would have to say it favors the Canaries. Undefeated and seven points from a possible nine means the Baggies will have to be at the top of their game to get anything from Saturday.

Prediction: 3-1.

 

Chelsea v Stoke (5:30 BST/12:30 ET):

The pressure is now fully back on Jose Mourinho and Chelsea after the poor performance on Wednesday night in the Champions League. The complaint from the Chelsea boss is that he doesn’t have a good enough strike force but in truth he wasted all summer chasing Wayne Rooney on top of letting Romelu Lukaku go on loan to Everton and Victor Moses to rivals Liverpool. That said with Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o, Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba still to choose from they certainly shouldn’t be struggling that bad.

Stoke are not going to be easy to overturn though and after seeing Palace dispatch the Special One last week I am sure Mark Hughes will feel even more confident of getting something from the game.

Prediction: 2-0.

 

SUNDAY:

 

Everton v Arsenal (1:30 BST/ 8:30 ET):

Who would have thought this could be a battle for a Champions League spot at the beginning of the season. That is exactly what it is though with Everton, a game behind Arsenal, they could pull themselves within a point of fourth placed Arsenal if they overcome the visitors in the Sunday game.

For Arsenal it will be a vital game for them too with the Premiership title only an outside possibility right now. With an FA Cup Semi Final in the near future to confirm their Champions League participation next season before that would be great.

Prediction: 2-1.

 

West Ham v Liverpool (4pm BST/ 11am ET):

Who will be able to stop the Liverpool freight train? Chelsea and Manchester City fans will be hoping the answer is Big Sam Allardyce and his 19th Century football! In the last three home games West Ham have won two with their only defeat coming with the visit of Manchester United.

Liverpool have not just won, but owned teams in recent times, with a 2-1 win against Sunderland the most disappointing goal return. Twenty two goals in the last six games mean Brendan Rodgers side are averaging almost four goals a game. That has to be scary for everyone who will line up against them.

Prediction: 1-3.

 

MONDAY:

 

Tottenham v Sunderland (8pm BST/3pm ET):

Games are running out for both sides to make a move in their respective League positions. For Spurs a promising start and tons of investment now looks to result in no more than a top eight finish. Sunderland would probably take that though right now because although they have games in hand, I am sure they would prefer points in the bag right now.

After this game Sunderland will have only seven games left to secure their Premiership survival. When this game kicks off on Monday Sunderland could already be bottom of the League and seven points away from safety.

Prediction: 2-2.


 

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Jason Bardwell
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