Bolton Wanderers vs. Aston Villa
Bolton, sitting in 13th in the table, are still not safe from relegation in this, the most all-inclusive relegation scrap we have seen for many years. But all being well for Megson’s men, they shouldn’t be relegated, and they may fancy this home fixture against a Villa side who are still struggling to re-discover the blistering form that saw them through the majority of the season. Bolton are a big strong side and against Villa’s nippier players should be able to out muscle them, and this may be a draw.
Everton vs. Manchester City
After a fantastic week last week that saw them reach the FA Cup final and take a draw from Chelsea (that should really have been a win) Everton are flying high. They will be without Jo who is cup tied, but with Vaughan and Saha returning from injury their squad is looking as full as it has been all season, and Moyes may again rest a few players who have slight niggles. City have really struggled away from home and struggle for firepower themselves, so I think Everton should be too much for them today.
Fulham vs. Stoke City
Stoke have very nearly secured safety for themselves now, off the back of consistently solid home form which has seen them defy the critics (and the purists) this season. However, like them, Fulham are strong at home and Stoke have struggled to re-create their form away from the cauldron that is the Britannia Stadium. Fulham have three wins in their last five, losing only to Liverpool, and will be confident of pushing on for a potential European place with victory today.
Hull City vs. Liverpool
Liverpool have been scoring and conceding goals aplenty in recent weeks, but I don’t think that even their defencive generosity will be enough to give Hull a desperately needed three points today, because they just have no one who is really stepping up and creating anything for them. Liverpool on the other hand, will find little resistance to their attacking power at the other end and may find a win to keep pressure on United, but surely now it is too little too late…?
West Bromwich Albion vs. Sunderland Athletic
The Black Cats finally found a valuable win against Hull last time out and incredibly, look like they could take a giant leap towards safety today with an entirely winnable match at West Brom. The Baggies struggle on, and credit to them for it, but surely they are down now. They won’t make things easy for Sunderland, but I think with a bit more to fight for Sunderland will be able to overcome them, especially with what is an experienced and quality strike force coming up against a fragile WBA defence.
West Ham United vs. Chelsea
Chelsea were given a really tough test by Everton in midweek, and to be fair, were lucky to emerge with even a point from the Toffees. It did all but end their title challenge though, and with a massive match against Barca coming up this week, Hiddink will probably take this opportunity to rest a few key players. West Ham will be fielding a weakened side too, but unwillingly as they continue to suffer from injuries. However, they’re a difficult team to beat and at home, could frustrate Chelsea further, but don’t count on it.
Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
United were given a reprieve in midweek when Liverpool and Chelsea both drew and United now have the title in their hands again, and will hope to keep a tighter grasp of it this time around. They no longer have the distraction of the FA Cup (COYB!) but with the Champions League this week, Ferguson may again look to ‘balance’ his squad. Spurs won’t mind that one bit as they look to push on towards Europe with 4 wins in their last 5, but I feel United will probably still be too strong for them at home.
Arsenal vs. Middlesbrough (Sun)
Middlesbrough have replaced Sunderland as they second North-East club to be stuck in the void alongside Newcastle, and with a really tough trip to Arsenal today I can see them staying there. The Gunners have their big guns back fresh after injuries and that will be a bonus for them as they look to take out the Champions League. The Premiership will be on the back-burner for them a little but i’d expect a strong side to keep them momentum going and they should overpower ‘Boro tomorrow.
Blackburn Rovers vs. Wigan Athletic (Sun)
Wigan are safe on 41 points, but have struggled for form of late and with a tough tackling match against a Blackburn side who have slumped back towards the relegation zone lately, I reckon they’ll lose out tomorrow. It won’t be pretty I’m sure, with Rovers struggling for players and Big Sam ‘resorting’ to the long ball game, but I think Rovers will have a bit more hunger than Wigan and that should tell.
Newcastle United vs. Portsmouth (Mon)
This is a big one for Shearer and Newcastle, because they really have to get a win sooner rather than later. Pompey have been stumbling along lately with their new management making them a solid but unspectacular proposition. I think is Newcastle can really attack them and play with verve and confidence they could get the win they need but for a team so low on morale it could be difficult. Only time will tell, but I think the Geordies may sneak it.