The Britwatch Football Team give their preview and predictions for the weekend action
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PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – Matchweek 33 is derby weekend on Merseyside, in London and in Manchester, as the Citizens could clinch the Premier League title against their former noisy neighbours on Saturday evening. As usual our writers have had their say on what will happen.
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Neil: Matchweek 33 kicks off with Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. The Toffees earned a creditable draw at Anfield earlier this season and with the Reds without the prolific Mohamed Salah – as they likely will be – with the Egyptian unlikely to be risked ahead of Liverpool‘s second leg Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night, Everton might fancy their chances of catching a weary visiting side off guard. Jurgen Klopp‘s men were outstanding in midweek against Manchester City, but it will be interesting to see if they are the same without the drive Salah brings. I do think they will get the job done however, but I expect both sides to find the net.
Niall: ‘Derby day 2’ kicks off on Merseyside as Everton host their neighbours Liverpool at Goodison Park. Liverpool will be coming into this derby full of confidence after an impressive 3-0 win against Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League. Everton on the other-hand lost their last game against the Citizens last weekend. It will be interesting to see how much focus the Reds put into this match given they have the second leg of the Champions League on Tuesday, so Klopp may opt to rest some players. However, Liverpool have the edge in these derby’s and I expect them to come away with the win.
AFC Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The Cherries don’t know when they are beaten and having been 2-1 down at Watford last Saturday with just minutes to play, Bournemouth grabbed a late leveler via a rare goal from Jermain Defoe at Vicarage Road. The Eagles were again unfortunate not to take anything against a top-six side at home last weekend, but were guilty of wasting a number of chances, which will be a concern for Roy Hodgson just a matter of points outside the bottom three. I just don’t see the hosts losing at the moment, but Palace are scrapping for their lives and I fancy them to nick a point.
Niall: Crystal Palace come into this match with only one win in their last five, so three points is a must as they try to fight against relegation. Bournemouth are nine points clear of the drop zone so will feel comfortable in 10th position and therefore do not have much to fight for. The Cherries tend to draw a lot, so I think the honours may be shared in this match.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-1 Crystal Palace
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Huddersfield Town (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: After fluffing their lines against Leicester seven days ago, this is the big chance for Brighton to take three points ahead of a horrendous looking run-in. Glenn Murray‘s penalty miss for the Seagulls proved costly against the Foxes who went on the put two past Mat Ryan. The Terriers are just woeful on the road and could have lost by a cricket score against Newcastle last time out. Brighton tend to play on the front foot at the AMEX, and even though the Premier League has a nasty habit of springing surprises, I can only see a home win here.
Prediction: Brighton 2-0 Huddersfield
Niall: Every game is a big game when fighting relegation, but these matches against fellow contenders tend to be even more crucial. Brighton are six points clear of the relegation zone, but they are not fully safe given how quickly things can turn around. A win against Huddersfield, who themselves are only three points above Southampton, will likely be enough to keep the Seagulls in the Premier League. Given Brighton’s home form and Huddersfield’s struggles away, I think a Brighton win is the most likely outcome.
Prediction: Brighton 2-0 Huddersfield
Leicester City vs. Newcastle United (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The Foxes continue as a largely unpredictable beast. Leicester are without a home win in almost three months and as the Magpies roll up to the King Power, their wait may yet go on. Newcastle look safe after their win last weekend, but still have work to do to get to the 40-point mark even though the visitors may not need it. Under normal circumstances I would go with a comfortable home win, but I just have a sneaky feeling we will see an organised Newcastle showing; one that will give Rafa Benitez‘s men take a point back to Tyneside.
Niall: You would probably say that Newcastle are safe to spend another season in the Premier League, but they still have work to do to confirm their status. Leicester are trying to make a push for Europe and are unbeaten in their last four. The Magpies have been in good form themselves, winning three of their last five but I think Leicester at home will be too strong for them.
Prediction: Leicester 2-1 Newcastle
Stoke City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: Stoke have much to do to stave off relegation to the Championship. Defeat at Arsenal last week came after their rivals around them all lost – that is how their season has gone. As Tottenham Hotspur are likely to recall Harry Kane to the starting lineup, that makes this one all the more daunting for the Potters, as they seek an unlikely point to add to their tally. With Dele Alli suggesting a run of good form after his Chelsea brace also, Spurs will surely be too much for their struggling hosts.
Prediction: Stoke 1-3 Tottenham
Niall: After making an unsuccessful trip to North London last weekend, Stoke now host the other North London club as they face an uphill task to survive relegation. The Potters need three points here, but that will not come easy against the Premier League’s most in form team. Spurs were great against Chelsea and now they got Kane back. I see nothing but a win for Tottenham here, and an easy one at that.
Neil: Both these two sides are pretty much safe from the drop, but will still be keen to put on a good show in Hertfordshire. Watford have not lost at home this calendar year almost in spite of their malaises on the road. Burnley have won their last three away games so something has to give really. Or perhaps not. The Clarets know how to both defend and grab the odd goal, but I see the two sides rather canceling eack other out here. Score draw.
Niall: Watford vs Burnley is an interesting match that could go either way. Both have surprised many this season, but it is Burnley who have something to fight for. The Clarets could find themselves in Europe next season and with that goal pushing them, I feel they might get over the line against a Watford side who have nothing to fight for.
Prediction: Watford 1-2 Burnley
West Bromwich Albion vs. Swansea City (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The Baggies have just three home games left of what surely their Premier League status, having again lost at the Hawthorns last Saturday. The hosts are going out with a whimper, but after Alan Pardew parted company with the club in midweek, will we see a reaction from West Brom from a pride perspective at least? Swansea having put to one side their loss at Old Trafford last time out have a decent run in and should be able to put the points on the board they need to stay up. I see that beginning here with a draw.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Swansea
Niall: It is panic stations now for West Brom. Not only are they bottom of the table and looking destined for the Championship, they are now manager-less after Pardew left during the week. Swansea are in an interesting place, because they are not in good form nor bad form at the moment, but I just feel West Brom cannot just lose forever. I am not brave enough to think they will win, but a draw could be possible right?
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Swansea
Manchester City vs. Manchester United (Saturday, 17:30)
Neil: After a season largely dominated by the Manchester City, the Citizens have the chance for their glorious title coronation in front of their own fans against their own city rivals Manchester United. The hosts will need a better showing than their surprise midweek demolition though, and won’t want to have their party spoiled by their neighbours. Alexis Sanchez showed for the first time some of his real class against Swansea last week, but the Chilean is yet to back up his performances since making the switch from North London. Pep Guardiola may resist the urge to rest his big guns here, despite stating his intention to eve with Tuesday night in mind. With or without, City have been formidable at home and it should be a title-winning occasion for the hosts.
Niall: This is the big one. Man City could win the title here with a win over their neighbours and closest rivals Manchester United. It is almost poetic that the Citizens can cement their dominance this season by claiming the title against Manchester United, but will it actually happen? Pep Guardiola has said he will prioritise the Champions League tie against Liverpool over this match and given the point gap you can not blame him. City may field a team that is not at its strongest and that will give the edge to man United who will undoubtedly be wanting to avoid losing the title in this fixture. I believe if City field their strongest 11 then they win this match, but any less could see them fall to only their second defeat of the season. With that unknown lingering, I am going down the middle and calling a draw.
Neil: I was at the Emirates on Thursday night, as Arsenal sliced apart CSKA Moscow with ease. With a trip to Russia to come this week, the task will be to save the legs as much as possible here against a Southampton side mired in a relegation scrap despite the arrival of Mark Hughes in the Saints’ dugout. The visitors are still struggling to create chances and even with a weakened eleven as the Gunners will likely roll out, I see little difficulties for another home win.
Niall: Arsenal would usually be the A-side of this fixture, but the interest lies with Southampton who are battling relegation. The Saints are capable of getting something out of this fixture, but they have not played up to their potential this season and that is why they sit 18th. The Gunners are not fighting for much, but they have to keep their eye on Burnley behind them, so I think they will likely get the result here much like last weekend against Stoke.
Neil: Chelsea’s latest defeat is looking like becoming the longest-running swansong in managerial history for Antonio Conte, with the Italian surely now set for the exit in the summer. The Blues’ biggest problem this season has been their defence which was again highlighted in their loss to the Lilywhites last Sunday. West Ham United‘s win last weekend has probably confined their relegation fears to the scrap heap for this season at least, but the with the form of Marko Arnautovic peaking again in a number nine role, will see the Hammers test the home defence. I do see the Iron notching a goal here, but the hosts should be too strong.
Niall: The weekend ends with a London derby as Chelsea host West Ham. The Blues seem destined for the Europa League after losing to Tottenham last weekend and they are resigned to that fate. West Ham are fighting to stay in the league so that may work in the Hammers favour, but Chelsea will likely have too much quality, so I am predicting the Blues to come away with the three points.
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