This weekend is an unusual one as we have a total of six Premier League games taking place, plus the two FA Cup Finals, which now both take place on successive days at Wembley Stadium, the first kicking off at 5.30pm on Saturday (Brighton v Man City) and the second at 4pm on Sunday (Watford v Wolves).
In addition to the two games that will decide the finalists in the FA Cup this year, the six Premier League games include a number of key matches including title-chasing Liverpool’s trip to Southampton, Everton taking on Arsenal, Bournemouth facing Burnley and also Chelsea and West Ham clash at Stamford Bridge in a London derby.
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Let’s now preview the games this weekend starting with all the matches taking place in the Premier League, followed by both FA Cup Semifinals.
Premier League Fixtures
Friday 5th April
Southampton v Liverpool
Liverpool travel to the south coast to take on a Southampton side who will be buzzing after their win over Brighton last weekend moved them five points clear of Cardiff in the bottom three. The Saints form under Ralph Hassenhuttl has generally been very good but they face a stern test against a Liverpool side that have lost just once this season.
The Reds though are not at their super-smooth best at the moment and they have been grinding out results, rather than sweeping teams aside as Manchester City have been doing. However they remain strong defensively and that could be the key here against a Saints team that don’t score too many.
I can’t see this being an easy win for Liverpool (4/11) but they should do enough to secure the three points they need to keep up their title challenge.
Saturday 6th April
Bournemouth v Burnley
Bournemouth have not enjoyed the best of seasons following a good start and they will be thankful they did get that good start as otherwise they would likely be embroiled in the relegation battle given their form since.
Burnley’s form has been very streaky with wins and losses coming in runs of games. They ended a run of defeats at the weekend with a great win against Wolves at Turf Moor and Sean Dyche will fancy his team’s chances of earning another win here.
I think with Bournemouth’s form being so inconsistent and Burnley’s streaky-form season, this could be a surprise win for the visitors and I am backing Burnley to emerge as the 12/5 winners.
Huddersfield Town v Leicester City
Having already been confirmed as relegated, Huddersfield are not playing for anything other than pride this season from now on but that could be dangerous as the pressure will finally be lifted on the Yorkshire team.
Leicester though will prove to be stubborn opponents having won all of their last three under Brendan Rogers and the ex-Liverpool man certainly seems to be getting more out of this crop of Leicester players in recent games.
I do think Town will make it tough for Leicester but I still feel the visitors have the quality to earn the win here, so I am backing a Leicester victory at 8/11.
Newcastle United v Crystal Palace
Two sides that have had similar seasons, spent mostly trying to move away from the drop zone. Both sides should achieve that after some improvement in performances of late with Newcastle’s impressive recent home form giving Rafa Benitez something to cheer.
Palace’s form has been more erratic but they do at least seem to have solved their goalscoring problem and they are finding the back of the net more regularly. That could be crucial here against a Newcastle team that will be set up to earn a clean sheet at the very least from this game.
I can’t see there being too many goals here and I feel Newcastle will just about shade the win, hence I am backing them to be victorious at 7/5.
Sunday 7th April
Everton v Arsenal
Both of these sides have been in better form of late, Arsenal more so than Everton, but Marco Silva’s Toffee’s have won both of their last two games to give themselves a bit of a boost in confidence and to set up this interesting clash on Sunday.
Arsenal’s form is second only to Manchester City at the moment and that has seen them rise to third in the table, two points ahead of their London rivals Spurs. However, they will know that with that race for 3rd/4th in the Premier League being so tight, they cannot afford to slip up here.
I don’t think they will personally as Everton’s record at home against top six sides isn’t great and the Toffees don’t seem to be able to string a consistent run of results together. With Arsenal being 11/10 for the win, I think that is a very good value bet for Sunday’s game.
Monday 8th April
Chelsea v West Ham
There isn’t quite as much riding on this London derby as either team would prefer but with the battle between Mauricio Sarri and Chelsea fans now reaching a seemingly bitter conclusion, it promises to be an interesting atmosphere at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.
West Ham have given Chelsea a real game at home earlier in the season but the Hammers form of late hasn’t been the best and things are not that great at the club between star striker Marko Arnautovic and the fans, with the Austrian booed off against Everton last weekend by some supporters.
It should be a rather tasty atmosphere on Monday night in London but I still fancy Chelsea to land the win here given their generally excellent home form and the fact that West Ham are struggling for consistency. You can back Chelsea at 1/3 to win the game at bet365.
FA Cup Semifinals
Saturday 6th April
Brighton v Manchester City
I’d love to make a case for Brighton being able to win this game and of course, in football nothing is ever a given, but it would be a massive upset if the Seagulls were to stop Manchester City in their tracks at Wembley and record a win here.
City have been imperious of late and just keep beating whoever is in front of them. They have won two trophies already this season and could add three more to that over the coming weeks and it seems few teams are capable of stopping them.
In a one-off gaming Brighton stand a punchers chance of delivering a knockout blow, but I think City are too smart, talented and experienced to let that happen. You can’t back City to win at their low odds but I think Man City to win and both teams to score at 9/4 is a better value bet with bet365.
Sunday 7th April
Watford v Wolves
Two teams coming into this semifinal in good spirits after solid wins in midweek, plus both sit comfortably just a point apart in 7th and 8th in the Premier League table and it is fitting that one of Watford or Wolves will play in the FA Cup Final after a very good season this year.
Both sides have had some negative moments as well as positive, but they have been far more consistent than many of their opponents in the EPL this season and it is fitting that both have earned a trip to Wembley for their fans.
I feel both teams are similar, they can play some intricate football but are also strong and physical and as such, I see this being a close game. I fancy the draw at 90 minutes (9/4), with the winner decided in extra time or even penalties being required. This is a coin toss as to who will win but my instinct tells me Wolves greater experience at the top level could be the crucial factor.