The Britwatch Football Team give their preview and predictions for the weekend action
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PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – The top-flight races back as we approach thirty league games each this weekend. Matchweek 29 sees a rampant Manchester City entertain Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon. As usual our writers have had their say on what will happen.
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Burnley vs. Everton (Saturday, 12:30)
Neil: Matchweek 29 kicks off at Turf Moor as Burnley go in search of a precious Premier League win against the Toffees. Having been denied their first league win since before Christmas courtesy of a late and even rarer Manolo Gabbiadini leveler, the Clarets hope to make their second chance at home tell here. Everton have conceded ten goals in their last three on the road, and while the hosts are not what you might call a prolific goal-scoring side, I fancy Sean Dyche to unleash a fresh Chris Wood on the Merseysiders this weekend, seeing the Lancashire side easy winners.
Niall: It feels like an age since Burnley last won a game. After a promising first half of the campaign, the Clarets have struggled in 2018. Everton are poor away from home however, and despite small improvements under Sam Allardyce, I think Burnley may get back to winning ways with a narrow win here
Leicester City vs. AFC Bournemouth (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The Foxes dug in for a point against a game Stoke last weekend, but also again playing hosts this weekend the visit of the Cherries will likely be a very different encounter. Bournemouth were disappointing last time out, taking until the second period to hit the gas at the Vitality. A similar performance should see Claude Puel‘s men ease home here, however I do not believe that will be the case. Yes, the visitors have had their away-day issues this season but Eddie Howe‘s charges are capable of a result on any given day. Nevertheless, Leicester should still have enough to take the win here.
Niall: With the Foxes winless in four, Leicester could do with a win when they host Bournemouth on Saturday. The Cherries’ brief revival has come to an end with a loss at Huddersfield and a draw against Newcastle. They have a chance at beating an out-of-form Leicester, but I believe the Foxes should have enough in front of their home fans.
Prediction: Leicester 2-1 Bournemouth
Southampton vs. Stoke City (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: This looks like another massive game at the foot of the table at St. Marys’. Southampton‘s late point in Lancashire last Saturday might yet be vital come May, but will mean nothing unless the Saints can start notching home wins in the final two months of league action. Mauricio Pellegrino‘s men have not won at home in three months however, and getting a maximum haul of points is proving difficult. The plight of the Potters is looking better since Paul Lambert took charge, but here the task will be to keep out the opposition – which the hosts may well contribute to. Stoke are a game side right now with the form of Xherdan Shaqiri, and perhaps against the odds I am sticking my neck out and going for an away win.
Niall: This is a big game at the bottom of the table as 16th host 19th in the relegation scrap. Southampton’s issue is that they draw too many matches whilst Stoke’s problem is that they concede too many goals. The result? A score draw.
Swansea City vs. West Ham United (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: Having booked their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals, the Swans turn their attention to league matters for Matchweek 29 against a West Ham United side still not without their own relegation worries. A 4-1 loss to Brighton last time out may yet bring uncertainty back to South Wales, which makes this clash all the more important at the Liberty Stadium. For the Irons, the early return from injury of both Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini is huge for the visitors for a duo able to trouble the best of defences on their day. In many ways this is difficult to call, and accordingly I will plump for a score draw.
Niall: Swansea’s unbeaten run under Carlos Carvalhal came to a bad end when they lost 4-1 at Brighton last week. How will the relegation threatened Swans respond when they face West Ham? The Hammers are a hard side to judge, but they do consistently concede goals, and that could be their undoing.
Prediction: Swansea 2-1 West Ham
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Huddersfield Town (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: After overcoming Rochdale in midweek, the final weeks of the season are shaping up to be potentially very fruitful for Tottenham Hotspur. In the last eight of the FA Cup and with the visit of Juventus on Wednesday night to make the same stage of the Champions League, silverware is becoming a possibility of the Lilywhites. Spurs nevertheless only managed a win against Crystal Palace late on thanks again to Harry Kane. The Englishman has been slightly out of sorts – if at all – in the past few games, but here against a Terriers side notoriously travel sick, this could the perfect time to get back to his very best. There will be easier occasions for Huddersfield – despite a massive win at West Brom last time out – and here the task might be to avoid a real hiding.
Niall: Spurs have hit form in recent weeks and their good results have put them in a position where they can challenge for second place. They needed a late Kane goal to beat Crystal Palace last time out, but a win is a win no matter the score. Huddersfield have won two games straight after losing five, but they are still close to the relegation zone, and given how easily Tottenham handled them in Yorkshire, I think they win this one easily.
Watford vs. West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: After snatching a valuable win against Everton last Sunday, Watford play back-to-back home games at Vicarage Road looking to cement their place in mid-table away from the perils of the drop zone. The loss of Gerard Deulofeu comes as a big blow to the Hornets who will now look to the likes of Richarlison to get their early season form back. The Baggies look doomed to drop back down to the Championship after nearly ten consecutive seasons in the top flight. If West Brom – and indeed boss Alan Pardew – stand any chance of survival a point is an absolute must for the visitors but even that might not be enough to prevent the trapdoor opening. A point which however forlorn may look, I do believe they will get.
Niall: West Brom look likely to go down, but they have performed great escapes before. A lot rests on this match, including the future of their manager Pardew who could get the sack if they fail to beat Watford. The Hornets have quality but lack consistency so Albion may pick up the three points, but in their current form I just can not see it.
Prediction: Watford 2-0 West Brom
Liverpool vs. Newcastle United (Saturday, 17:30)
Neil: Saturday evening’s clash on Matchweek 29 sees us with one of the Premier League’s classic confrontations at Anfield. Liverpool are really beginning to hound down Manchester United for second spot in the standings, with the goal-scoring exploits of Mo Salah looking as ebullient as they did back in October. The Magpies fought well for the their point on the south coast against Bournemouth and were perhaps unfortunate to not take the full spoils back to Tyneside with them last weekend. To take even a point here is a tall task however, and while this game evokes memories of Stan Collymore‘s dramatic stoppage-time goal back in 1996, this is unlikely to be as close an encounter. I can see the visitors getting on the score sheet, but the Reds’ firepower is too great for most sides right now, let alone Newcastle.
Niall: Liverpool can continue their charge towards second place against Newcastle on Saturday, where they will welcome their former boss Rafa Benitez back to Anfield. The Reds have a reputation of losing these sort of matches in recent seasons, but they have only lost three this campaign and have plenty of goals in their side. I think Liverpool win this and go second until Monday at least.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal (Sunday, 13:30)
Neil: Brighton’s 4-1 win over Swansea last Saturday saw top scorer Glenn Murray reach double figures for the first time in the Premier League, and as Arsenal approach the AMEX Stadium this Sunday, the veteran Englishman might be expecting to add to his tally on Matchweek 29. The Gunners meanwhile remain in an ever-present limbo with many now wanting to see the departure of Arsene Wenger sooner rather than later, whilst the Frenchman continues to dispute there is anything wrong in North London. Two losses on the bounce against Manchester City have left the visitors flat with just the Europa League to play for now, and I worry for them away again where they have lost the last three in a row. Will we see any sort of reaction here? Possibly, but I can’t see the Londoners doing enough for the win in what could be a real humdinger.
Niall: It has been a miserable week for Arsenal. They lost the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City, and then lost to the Citizens again on Thursday in the league by the same scoreline. They can respond with a win at Brighton, but that is easier said than done. The Seagulls are four matches unbeaten in the league and are good at home. This has the makings of an upset, and I feel brave enough to back it.
Neil: In the match-up of Matchweek 29, a buoyant Citizen side host Chelsea still stinging from defeat in Manchester last weekend. With the hosts already in cruise control in their European tie against Basel this week, City can go full engines on blow in this one, but the Blues will be equally keen to upset their current mood. City are pretty unstoppable even on the road right now, so a visit to the Etihad may not be a joyous one for Antonio Conte. Kevin De Bruyne was the difference when the two met earlier this season and I expect the Belgian to again make his presence felt in the most significant way. This might be a tight game but I’ll stick with a Citizen win.
Niall: Chelsea’s nightmare run of fixtures continue with a second trip to Manchester, only this time it is against the league leaders. City were fantastic on Thursday against Arsenal and are running away with the league title. There is no harder task in England at the moment than facing Man City and that is what Chelsea must face. The Blues are a tough match-up for Man City given their defensive prowess, but I see the Citizens breaking through eventually and getting the win.
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester United (Monday, 20:00)
Neil: The final game of Matchweek 29 sees Manchester United travel to the capital to face an again relegation-threatened Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Goals continue to be a problem for the Eagles and as I predicted life without talisman Wilfried Zaha has made for testing times for Roy Hodgson at the foot of the table. The Ivorian however is set to return on Monday and not a moment too soon. The Red Devils seem to be finding their way back to goal from the front thanks largely to the return to form of Romelu Lukaku as Paul Pogba struggles to impress boss Jose Mourinho. As for the result, the Zaha factor for me is key here, and having almost beaten Man City here over the festive period may be enough to get the hosts a point in South London.
Niall: The last game of Matchweek 29 sees Manchester United travel to Crystal Palace on Monday night. The Red Devils will likely be fighting to regain their second place position at Selhurst Park, but Palace are a tough proposition at home. The Eagles have beaten Chelsea and held Man City this season so they know how to compete against the elite. However, Mourinho knows how to avoid upsets better than almost anyone, so I feel United will edge this one.
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