Middlesbrough vs. Manchester United
Middlesbrough are really in trouble now, they’re in the bottom three and to be quite honest, it’ll be a miracle if they’re not still in it at the end of the day. The only saving grace they may have is that Ferguson is bound to rest some of his stars with the second leg Champions League semi-final in mind, but the players that come in will still be quality, we know that much. ‘Boro will have to work hard to stop a team that probably hasn’t played together all too often from gelling, but with the pressure on United to secure the title, I think they’ll be up for it and will take the points.
Chelsea vs. Fulham
Chelsea’s focus has very much shifted to the Champions League now one would think, with the London clubs both having all but bowed out of a serious title challenge. They too then, like United, could rest a few players and Fulham will be wanting to take advantage of that fact to push towards a European spot, as a cherry on top of their impressive season under Roy Hodgson. That said, any side Hiddink puts out will be a good one and well organised, and the Dutchman will know that confidence in the camp is key, and I don’t think he’ll give this up lightly. A draw could be on the cards but I think Chelsea will sneak it.
Manchester City vs. Blackburn Rovers
Robinho bloomed like a flower in sunshine last week against and Everton side that never got going and earned City only their second away win of the campaign. Their home form though has been good and Hughes will fancy three points from his former club today, though Rovers aren’t technically safe yet, they’re very much looking like being the best of an awful bunch that will escape the drop due mainly to the uselessness of those below them. I think City will play with confidence and could get a couple today.
Portsmouth vs. Arsenal
Portsomouth, like Blackburn are probably safe now, and will be looking to try and confirm that with a result against an Arsenal team that may have an even younger look to it than usual. Wenger knows his charges have to produce a mammoth effort this week to overturn their defeat in the Champions League and though Arshavin will feature, many other players may be rested. I think this will be a draw, with Portsmouth bullying Arsenal off the park a bit.
Stoke City vs. West Ham United
Stoke are in positive spirits at the moment, having very much defied the odds (and the purists) and survived their first season in the Premier League. That achievement is due almost entirely to their home form and they will once again look to battle to another win against a far better footballing side at the intimidating Britannia Stadium. West Ham play some great football, but they’re missing some key players and may see a European spot slip away with defeat today.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Browich Albion
West Brom put in a great shift last week and picked up a win at last, and a resounding one at that, beating Sunderland 3-0 to prolong their hope of an extremely unlikely survival. You have to say it isn’t going to happen but fair play to them for never giving up. Spurs will be a much tougher test though, especially away from home and with Redknapp’s men pushing towards a European spot I think they have the motivation to overcome the brave Baggies today.
Wigan Athletic vs. Bolton Wanderers
One of the few matches in this league where neither side really has much to play for. Megson’s men have just about secrued their safety and though Bruce’s Wigan still have an outside chance of clinching a European place, the likes of Fulham, Spurs, City and West Ham look to have more of a shot at it now. Still, both of these sides will want to push for as high a finish as possible, but I think they may just cancel each other out a bit today.
Liverpool vs. Newcastle United (Sun)
Liverpool will welcome the return of their star man Gerrard for Newcastle’s visit and will be desperate to keep the pressure on United with another win, they won’t have thrown in the towel that’s for sure. Newcastle’s difficult run-in continues and with them now dependent on the results of others need to take maximum points as often as possible. However, even the most optimistic Magpie will surely expect little from this one, and I think Liverpool will probably win this quite comfortably.
Sunderland Athletic vs. Everton (Sun)
Everton got a disappointing defeat at home to City last week, and the injury to Phil Jagielka just adds to a continually massive injury list. However, they’ve defied the odds all season, and the Man City result can surely be seen as a result of fatigue, having played 120 minutes on the Wembley pitch and 90 away to Chelsea in the six days preceding the loss at Goodison. With a week to have recovered and a Sunderland side fresh of a beating from West Brom, I think Everton have a good chance of three points to keep pressure on Villa.
Aston Villa vs. Hull City (Mon)
Aston Villa still haven’t recovered from their huge dip in form with a draw at Bolton last week, but were fortunate that Everton slipped up and so they cling onto fifth place. However, Hull are really struggling and are in real trouble, they need to either start winning or hope that Newcastle and Middlesbrough don’t. Villa at home will surely have enough to see off a really lacklustre Hull side, but obviously Hull do have the ability to win games, they just seem to have forgotten how. One thing’s for sure though, now is the time to remember, but I don’t think they will.