Aston Villa vs. West Ham United
Villa’s decline in recent weeks has been well documented but after an early collapse against Everton last week, they were helped back into the match by Howard Webb and will have taken confidence from the thrilling draw. With the season drawing to and end they need to finish strongly to cling on to 5th spot but the Hammers will give them a stern test. Unfortunately for Zola’s men they are really feeling the effects of the season with niggling injuries plaguing the side and with safety assured, they may have lost the steam needed to beat Villa.
Middlesbrough vs. Fulham
‘Boro maintained their slim survival chances with a good win over Hull last weekend and Southgate will hope that his side will be spurred on by that result, they have to keep winning. Fulham have been playing well of late after a slight blip though they aren’t fantastic away from home. If ‘Boro can get up for the game with their home fans behind them I think they can put some serious pressure on the sides above them.
Portsmouth vs. Bolton Wanderers
Oh wow, I genuinely cannot think of a match that I would like to see less than this one. Both teams play big, physical football and Pompey are still possibly in danger and Bolton are probably safe but would like one more win to make sure of it. The only thing I can see on the cards here really is a draw. A scrappy, dirty, physical draw.
Stoke City vs. Blackburn Rovers
Stoke have been really strong at home of late and aren’t far away from clinching survival by the looks of it. Today I think they’ll pick up another three points because Blackburn are really short of players at the moment and because Allardyce has the cheek to play Samba as a lone striker. That means only one thing from Blackburn, and that’s route one football, so the gods of football will surely punish them with the defeat they deserve.
Sunderland Athletic vs. Hull City
Hull were on the end of a humiliating defeat to Middlesbrough last week, and though Sunderland lost to Manchester United, it was only because their new wonderkid Federico Macheda (you might have heard of him) got hit by the ball and it lucked into the net. If they can produce a performance of similar bravery and battling spirit they should overcome Hull and if they do so, will leapfrog their opponents in the league. It’s a big game for both sides, but I think the Black Cats will out claw the Tigers.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United (Sun)
Newcastle’s fans must be looking at Spurs sitting ninth in the table and feeling rather envious. Both these two clubs were in a spot of bother around the same time earlier this season, but while Spurs have turned their season around, things have gone from bad to worse for the Geordies. The Magpies really need a win, but Tottenham are playing well and with confidence at the moment. They need to defend solidly and counter attack effectively but i don’t know if Shearer’s men can do it.
Manchester City vs. West Bromwich Albion (Sun)
West Brom are down. Miracles sometimes do happen but sorry Baggies fans, this isn’t going to be one of those times. City are coming into this game after a very close run game in midweek where they nearly scraped through to the UEFA Cup semi-finals and so will be tired, but will be proud of how well they performed. At home City have been OK too, and I think they’ll probably be too much for WBA today.