A somewhat curtailed Premier League fixture list this weekend, due to two all-Premiership FA Cup semi-finals being contested, will be no less crucial for many of the sides fighting to avoid the drop, with a host of what can only be called six-pointers between teams who find themselves being dragged downwards. Arsenal will look to make up ground on United while they’re on Cup duty too. How will it all go down? Read on…
Birmingham City vs. Sunderland (Sat, 3pm)
Both of these sides find themselves nearer to the bottom of the table than they probably should – both possess some real quality in their squads, but have somehow struggled to find any real consistency. Things look worse for Sunderland at present, as they’ve not picked up three points in a very long time, and they need to stop the rot. St Andrews may not be the place to do it though, as Birmingham’s form has looked OK lately and they’re well aware that they still need to keep picking up regular points to avoid being sucked further down the table.
Blackpool vs. Wigan Athletic (Sat, 3pm)
If the game above could be classed as a six pointer, this one could arguably go down as a ten pointer. Wigan are currently favourites for the drop and propping up the rest, but a win here would see them leapfrog Blackpool and potentially a host of other teams – while bottom they’re only 6 points off 14th and 7 points off 11th – there’s plenty to play for. Ian Holloway will feel the same though, and his side will attack Wigan as they’ve attacked everyone this season, and they may we;; find some success – Wigan are perhaps less robust at the back even than Blackpool, and given that the Lactics’ threat going forward isn’t so great, I see this as a home win.
Everton vs. Blackburn Rovers (Sat, 3pm)
Everton are top of the Premier League form table at present and are mounting an unlikely push for a Europa League spot despite a frankly awful first two-thirds of the season. It seems that when injuries and adversity kick in, the Toffees start playing and Blackburn will not relish a trip to Goodison when they’re desperately in need of the points. Just four points off the bottom, Rovers have been pretty terrible on their travels this season and losing Ryan Nelsen for the season won’t help their cause. Heart and head are in tandem for this one: Everton to win.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Chelsea (Sat, 3pm)
Who’d have picked at the start of the season that this would be pretty much a nothing game between two teams with little to play for? Sure, Chelsea could still win the league if United and Arsenal meltdown, and WBA could still go down if they melt down, but both scenarios look unlikely at present. Hodgson has really found himself a niche again at the Hawthorns and they’ve been playing very well – it’ll be interesting to see how they stand up against Chelsea, who are still a top side, esepcially with them playing now for pride.
West Ham United vs. Aston Villa (Sat, 3pm)
Another relegation battle this one, though you’d say that the clubs in serious trouble are those from 15th downwards – which includes West Ham but not Villa at the moment. As the emphasis implies, things can all change very quickly this season, and with some big clashes between lower placed teams today, neither of these sides will want to miss a chance to pick up some points. The simple fact is that Villa should not be in the position they are, they’ve got far too much quality, but no team is too good to go down and they’ve got to start fulfilling their potential. The Hammers area worry though… I just can’t see that they’ve got much left in the tank to give the the final boost they need to beat the drop.
Arsenal vs. Liverpool (Sun, 4pm)
Liverpool despatched Man City in impressive style this week, but travelling to the Emirates to face an Arsenal team who are still in with a sniff of long-awaited Premier League glory and with a chance to close the gap on United and add some pressure will be a tough trip indeed. The Gunners have been strong at home all season, and I think they should have too much for Liverpool, who may struggle to find enough possession to get their admittedly dangerous front-pairing into the game.
That’s the full lot of Premier League predictions for this week, feel free to leave your own in the comments below…
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