The Britwatch Football Team give their preview and predictions for the weekend action
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PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – After midweek European action we have reached Matchweek 30 in the Premier League this weekend, the highlight of which sees old rivals meet at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime as Manchester United host Liverpool. As usual our writers have had their say on what will happen.
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Neil: The main event of Matchweek 30 is thrust upon us like a Saturday lunchtime banquet as Manchester United host Liverpool. After going two goals down at Selhurst Park on Monday night, the Red Devils showed their fight – that has in recent weeks been distinctly absent – to come back and steal the points courtesy of Nemanja Matic‘s worldie in stoppage time. Jose Mourinho‘s men will need to show the same sort of characteristics here to quell the tide of the Reds’ attacking unit.
Whilst Alexis Sanchez has become somewhat lost in a largely disciplined system since his switch from Arsenal, the upturn of form in Romelu Lukaku has been a huge plus for the hosts. The bigger problem here for United will be how to keep Mo Salah quiet as the Egyptian continues to rival Harry Kane almost goal-for-goal for the Premier League golden boot.
Despite not scoring against FC Porto on Tuesday night, Jurgen Klopp was clearly keeping reserves in supply having rested his best players and the visitors may be able to use that to their advantage here. This is a tough game to call, but with both sides’ defences still leaving much to be desired there should be goals on the cards. And right now, I just cant see the other Red machine being stopped. It might be a rare Old Trafford win for Liverpool and a vital step towards a top-two finish.
Niall: Not only is this a huge game between two massive rivals, this match also has big implications on the race for second place. A Liverpool win will see them leapfrog United into second whilst a United win will put a nice gap between them and their visitors. This match is very much a great attack vs a great defence type of game. United have the ability to shut Liverpool out, but the Reds also have the ability to put many goals past the hosts. It will be tense, it will be fierce, but I do not see a winner prevailing.
Everton vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil:Everton again has lost their way since the Sam Allardyce honeymoon period, and for the Toffees this one is vital to keep themselves away from being dragged into a relegation fight. Two defeats on the bounce have made a few on Merseyside once more sit rather nervously, especially with two vital games against two sides around the drop zone approaching. Brighton may on any other occasion be easy pickings, but both the form of Glenn Murray and with the Seagulls themselves having taken 11 points from the last fifteen and unbeaten in the last five league games, the visitors will be no pushovers. I do think however, that Everton will get the job done here, though it won’t be plain sailing.
Niall: The Toffees are back to struggling times under Big Sam. They are not 100% clear of the relegation point and they need points to keep a good distance from danger. Brighton are in good form, but their wins usually come at home. There will not be many goals in this one, but I see Everton finding a way through.
Huddersfield Town vs. Swansea City (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: After back-to-back wins, The Terriers came back down to earth with a loss to Tottenham Hotspur last time out, but as Huddersfield return to the John Smiths’, the West Yorkshire outfit have a chance to bounce back, albeit against an in-form Swansea side. The Swans have remarkably lost just once since January 2nd and having blooded Andre Ayew back into the fold alongside brother Jordan, the Welsh side now have goals in abundance across the park. Carlos Carvalhal‘s men have in recent weeks had the knack of sneaking draws away from home, an outcome which I believe we will see again.
Niall: Huddersfield vs Swansea is a big game at the bottom of the table. The Swans are looking like a new team under Carvalhal, but their best form has come at the Liberty which is now a fortress for the Welsh side. Huddersfield are difficult to beat at home themselves, and given their desperation to avoid the drop I think the Yorkshire side take this match.
Prediction: Huddersfield 2-1 Swansea
Newcastle United vs. Southampton (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: At the start of the campaign, many would have had both these sides as comfortable mid-tablers, but we approach this game as a massive six-pointer in terms of the fight against relegation. Just a point separates the two sides and further one above the drop zone ahead of the weekend. For the Magpies, home games will now largely dictate their ability to avoid an immediate return to the Championship and this is no exception here. Southampton are still woefully short of goals and with the wizardry of on-loan Chelsea man Kenedy on the left – especially from corners – the Brazilian could be the difference here. And I do think Newcastle will grab a much-needed win.
Niall: It seems like most games have a big impact at the bottom of the table and this one is no exception. The north squares off against the south as both Newcastle and Southampton look to move themselves clear of danger. Neither team are full of goals, so it feels like this will be decided by the one goal, if there is a winner of course. They have drawn 21 games between them, so do not be shocked if the honours are shared here too.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Leicester City (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: It’s starting to look like the last chance saloon for the Baggies already. Eight points from safety, West Brom are horribly out-of-sorts and their loss to Watford last Saturday went a long way to condemning the hosts to what now seems like inevitable relegation come the end of the season. Their cause will not be helped against a Leicester side, whilst not in the greatest form have more than enough to trouble Alan Pardew‘s men. The Foxes had Riyad Mahrez to thank for a last-gasp leveler against the Cherries last time out, but here I can only see one outcome with what should be an away win. A result that might be the nail in the Baggies’ coffin.
Niall: Does anyone see West Brom winning in the next couple of weeks? Their form is awful at present and that is why they sit bottom, but could this be a start of a miracle escape? Leicester are not in great form themselves so this could be an opportunity for the Baggies to get some needed points? Will they though? I just can not back them at the moment,
Prediction: West Brom 0-1 Leicester
West Ham United vs. Burnley (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: For West Ham United, last weekend’s hammering at Swansea was quite the humbling result for David Moyes. In a meeting of the Claret and Blues at the London Stadium then, that the Irons bounce back is a must. Conversely, Burnley got their first win in 12 games as expected last time out with Chris Wood scoring the winner and making the difference in the second half in terms of space that opened up at Turf Moor. For the hosts, this is must-not-lose but with Winston Reid now ruled out for the season, I have my concerns. As it is, with the Clarets now back to a full-strength XI, I expect the spoils to be shared.
Niall: West Ham’s heavy defeat at Swansea has left the fans worried about them being dragged right into the relegation battle, so a win is almost a must against Burnley. The Clarets got back to winning ways against Everton last week which will no doubt boost their confidence after a tough patch, and I suspect they will make it two in a row against an out of sorts West Ham.
Prediction: West Ham 0-1 Burnley
Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 17:30)
Neil: Saturday evening on Matchweek 30 sees a South London derby at Stamford Bridge. Whilst Chelsea suffered defeat to the champions elect last Sunday, the Eagles – as documented – had a point snatched away from them against the Red Devils. The Blues were widely criticised for their approach last weekend, but we are unlikely to see a similar approach here. Palace are still a plucky side, but on the road are unpredictable in the extreme. I fancy the visitors to give their more illustrious opponents a good run for their money, but Chelsea will have too much.
Niall: With Manchester United hosting Liverpool, Chelsea have the chance to close the gap to the top four when they host Crystal Palace. The Eagles already shocked the Champions this season at Selhurst Park but Stamford Bridge is a much more difficult place to beat Chelsea. The Blues were poor last week, but they should have enough to beat a low on confidence Palace.
Neil: Seven days on from another ignominious defeat this time to Brighton, the Gunners’ impressive 2-0 win in Milan on Thursday was a timely boost for the forlorn North Londoners. As they return to league matters however, the hosts are never far away from a toxic atmosphere at the Emirates – as it was against the Citizens. Troy Deeney continues to pop up with big goals for Watford, and against a side who the striker has described as ‘soft’ the Hornets’ forward will be relishing the task here in Matchweek 30. Having netted his first club for the club at the San Siro, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be looking to build momentum on home turf. The result in Italy cannot be underestimated for the confidence boost it will give Arsene Wenger‘s side and I expect the hosts to get all three points.
Niall: The Gunners may have renewed confidence after a good result in Milan, but we will see how true that is when they host Watford on Sunday. The Hornets will come out to play and when they are on they are quite the team too. However, I think Arsenal’s ability to keep the ball may frustrate them
AFC Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 16:00)
Neil: The Cherries host Spurs to complete Sunday’s Matchweek 30 lineup, with the Lilywhites having been knocked out of the Champions League in midweek at the hands of Juventus at Wembley. The visitors’ confidence may well have taken a hit as result which makes this clash all the more interesting. Mauricio Pochettino will be keen to see his men reply was an emphatic statement, but Bournemouth are in a good moment right now and rarely lose games. The Vitality will be raucous on Sunday in what should be a cracking game on the south coast. I can see goals for both sides, but I just fancy Tottenham to have the killer instinct to get maximum points.
Niall: It will be interesting to see how Tottenham respond after a heartbreaking defeat at home to Juventus which saw them exit the Champions League in midweek. It is the type of result that could knock the confidence out of a side, but they should be expecting a result against an inconsistent Bournemouth side.
Neil: Matchweek 30 rounds off in the Potteries as Stoke host the soon to be Premier League champions Manchester City. The Potters ground out a point away to the Saints last weekend, but to get anything here will involve a showing similar to that of Wigan Athletic a few weeks ago in the cup. City however, are just coming off their first home defeat in over a year which might add a little spice to this encounter at the Bet365. Stoke are an improving side under Paul Lambert but are still mired in relegation trouble, and win here would be absolutely massive for the cause. The reality however, is that the visitors are a class above and should put their opponents away with little fuss.
Niall: I mentioned after the last match-week that I would like to see more teams attack Man City rather than show too much respect for them. Will Stoke do that? It is probable that the Potters sit back and look to frustrate the Champions elect, and then City will find their way through and control the rest of the game. It sounds very much like a Manchester City match does it not?
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