It has been an incredible week in the Premier League. Last weekend we saw Cardiff City confirmed as the third team relegated alongside Huddersfield Town and Fulham, then Chelsea and Tottenham confirmed that they will finish in the third and fourth places ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United but all that paled into insignificance compared to what happened with the top two.
On Saturday night, Liverpool had to dig in deep to grind out a 3-2 win away to Newcastle to keep the pressure on City before on Monday night, Vincent Kompany’s screamer from 25 yards was the difference as City narrowly beat Leicester 1-0 to claim top spot back from the Reds. Then on Tuesday Liverpool, 3-0 down from their Champions League first leg away to Barcelona, produced a monumental comeback to win 4-0 at Anfield and secure a place in the Champions League final in the most improbable of all comebacks.
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All that means that we head into this weekend with Liverpool assured of a Champions League final once again, City a win away from claiming the Premier League to add to their Charity Shield and Carabao Cup win. However, if City slip up, a win for Liverpool would be enough for them to claim the Premier League title. Things could not be balanced any finer.
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Let’s now take a closer look at the ten final fixtures of the season, with a special focus on the two games that will decide the destination of the Premier League title, Liverpool against Wolves and first up Brighton’s home game against the current Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Premier League Fixtures – Matchday 38
Brighton v Manchester City
A victory for Manchester City and the Premier League title will be theirs regardless of what Liverpool do at Anfield. They face a Brighton side who have been in slightly better form without picking up wins in recent weeks and who earned a creditable draw at Arsenal. City have looked tired in recent times but I think they have a final 90 minutes in the legs to ensure they claim the win and with it the league title. They are 1/8 to win the game, so I’d back City to win to nil which is a better value 10/11.
Burnley v Arsenal
It will be interesting to see how Arsenal approach this game, especially if they manage to come through their Europa League semifinal with Valencia on Thursday night. With nothing left to aim for in the Premier League, will Unai Emery rest players with that final in mind against a combative and in form Burnley? Even if they don’t I worry for Arsenal here as their away form isn’t great and as such, I am backing a Burnley win at 21/10.
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth
These two teams have been amongst the most inconsistent in the Premier League this season and their pattern of results have often followed no rhyme or reason. As such, this is a tough game to predict, with little more than Premier League positions in mid-table riding on the outcome. Even so, an extra couple of places can mean more money for the club at the season’s end so I expect a decent contest here, however I have the feeling this one will peter out into a draw which is a 3/1 option.
Fulham v Newcastle United
For both these teams it is now a case of what will happen next season with their managers. Will Fulham appoint Scott Parker full time, or look elsewhere, and will Rafa Benitez still be Newcastle boss come next season? While this game will likely not determine the future of either manager, I do feel both will want to end the season strongly. After a good showing in defeat against Liverpool, I expect Newcastle to just about do enough to claim the win here and you can back them at 17/10.
Leicester City v Chelsea
Leicester City produced a good display against Manchester City last Monday night and I feel they have a good chance of getting something here against a Chelsea side for whom Eden Hazard could make his last appearance ahead of a suspected summer move to Spain. The Foxes have been in generally good form and Chelsea on the road have struggled a little of late, so I am backing Leicester to win this at the attractive price of 9/5.
Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Liverpool will know they need to take care of business against a Wolves side who are just one of three teams in the Premier League to have beaten Liverpool this season (Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and Manchester City were the others). Wolves have been a thorn in the side for top six teams this season and they’ll want to end the season strongly here, but I think form is with Liverpool at the moment and as such, I expect the Reds to win, even if it is ultimately for nought. Take Liverpool to win at 1/3.
Manchester United v Cardiff City
After their dismal draw with Huddersfield Town last week, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will know he has a huge amount of work to do, plus a number of changes to make to his squad for next season. Cardiff City now have nothing but pride to play for and I can see Neil Warnock’s battlers making a real game of this but United should still be far too strong and claim the win. Back United to win and both teams to score, which is a much better value 6/5.
Southampton v Huddersfield Town
Southampton have improved slowly over the course of the season and are now safe from the drop and I expect them to pick up another home win here against the already-relegated Huddersfield Town. Jan Siewert’s arrival hasn’t had the desired impact at the club and I think the German may not be in his seat for too much longer. Southampton should win this one and win it comfortably so back Southampton to win to nil at 13/10.
Tottenham v Everton
Can Tottenham turn around what has been a dismal finish to the season and record a win here that would give them a chance of third place in the table and perhaps definite Champions League football next season, even if Arsenal win the Europa League? They face a tough task here against an in form Everton side who have been playing much better under Marco Silva of late and in truth, with their Champions League game on Wednesday night, I think it may be a bit much for Spurs. I’m backing Everton to surprise a few with a win here at 14/5.
Watford v West Ham
Two mid-table sides who will be relatively happy with their season meet at Vicarage Road. West Ham have the stronger squad in terms of talent but I feel that Watford are the better team of the two and I feel the evidence suggests that they will be very hard to beat on home soil. West Ham are playing some good stuff now though and although this will be close, I am backing Watford to just about sneak the win at 6/5 to set them up nicely for the FA Cup Final next weekend.