Saturday, March 9th
Brighton 1-2 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace kick off the weekend at Selhurst Park, hoping to continue the good form that has seen them lose only one of their last eight matches in all competitions and win three of their previous four. The Eagles’ most recent victory came against Burnley at Turf Moor last weekend when they put three goals past Sean Dyche’s men. Michy Batshuayi and Wilfried Zaha found the scoresheet, proving their potential to become the most potent strike force in the wasteland of mid-table.
Brighton has not fared as well lately, picking up just a single point from their last six matches away from their home stadium. A trip to South London, therefore, presents a daunting task for the Seagulls.
Crystal Palace will gain confidence from Brighton’s abysmal record on the road. This advantage coupled with their recent performances that have exuded confidence and technicality suggests a Palace victory. Their match, however, will not be a stroll in the park as Brighton have scored in each of their last six away games and will inevitably continue scoring at Selhurst Park, a ground that has been uncharacteristically favorable to opposing sides this season.
West Ham 1-1 Cardiff
17th place Cardiff host Pelligrini’s West Ham as the newly promoted Welsh side desperately trying to stave off relegation. Cardiff currently sits two points from safety with only ten games left to play. Adding to their woes, Cardiff has not won in their last three Premier League matches – suggesting that Neil Warnock’s men may be running out of steam.
West Ham, however, enter the match after an unexpected 2-0 silencing of in-form Newcastle last weekend. Having all but secured their safety, West Ham’s new objective will be wrestling the 7th spot from contenders Wolves and Watford. To do so, West Ham would have to put on an impressive final run and cannot afford to drop points at any stage.
This match will be a more significant test for Cardiff who must perform to their best if they want to stay up. Their challenge will be made more difficult by the returning Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson, West Ham players who have provided critical energy to their inconsistent offense. Playing at home, Cardiff’s physicality will breed a difficult, stingy game that neither side takes by the horns. Prepare for the scrappiest of 1-1 draws.
Bournemouth 3-0 Huddersfield
Bournemouth must take this opportunity against Huddersfield to turn around their woeful away form. The Cherries have lost their last nine away matches in the league, focusing on this match as a sure-fire win to turn their performances around.
And let’s be clear, Huddersfield is a garbage football club this season. In an unfortunate series of poor management and unfavorable results, Huddersfield has been cast into the depths of the league table. Huddersfield’s carcass lays in 20th place, just two points behind Fulham with 14 points from 29 games.
Bournemouth will take this opportunity to snap their terrible away record, winning comfortably against Huddersfield as the terrier’s latest assailant.
Fulham 1-2 Leicester
Brendan Rodgers and Leicester host Fulham in Rodgers’ first home match in charge of the Foxes. Both Fulham and Leicester have suffered through rough seasons resulting in disappointing results. For both clubs, poor form resulted in the sacking of managers – for Fulham, this cycle occurred twice. After sacking Ranieri, Scott Parker has been appointed as the head of damage control as Fulham approach their return to the championship.
Leicester’s “new manager” boost will be more significant than Fulham’s as Leicester still have their reputation to play for, Fulham does not even have hope. Given that Fulham has lost five straight matches, the Foxes will be even more inclined to play them at their home stadium in Leicester.
Everton 2-1 Newcastle
Though Everton is safe from the threat of relegation and currently sit in 10th place with 37 points, greater concerns continue to bubble up to the surface at the Merseyside club. Marco Silva has not had the expected effect on Everton, and their squad of potential stars has produced more consistent duds.
Newcastle, on the other hand, remains resilient, proving that even amid managerial turmoil from owner Mike Ashley. Rafa Benitez has demonstrated yet again that he possesses the status of a top manager. In fact, if Newcastle manages to win on Saturday, they will have won five straight home Premier League matches for the first time in 16 years.
Newcastle clearly feels comfortable at St. James’ Park and know they must use every remaining advantage to secure their safety. Though Marco Silva secured his position as manager with a 0-0 draw last weekend in the Merseyside derby, his critics will have reason to chirp this weekend. Everton will lose a close match against Rafa’s energized outfit of players.
Spurs 2-2 Southampton
Though they have successfully bottled any chance at a title for the third time in four years, Tottenham will enter this fixture in good spirits following their 1-0 victory against Dortmund in the Champions League. Their dull results in the Premier League have been softened by their dynamic European performances – a beam of light in an otherwise uninspiring season. Tottenham have another reason to look forward to the match as Dele Alli is set to make his return to the squad alongside Eric Dier.
Southampton looked good against United last weekend regardless of the result. Their two goals followed a trend of increased production on the attacking front since Hassenhuttl’s appointment. The Saints have scored in each of their previous 10 home games and will hope to continue to find the back of the net against the Spurs backline that did not concede a single goal to Dortmund over two legs in the Champions League.
This match should see Spurs regain form in the league, boosted by the return of critical players. Southampton, however, is just as likely to find the back of the net, following the trend of their recent results. The question for Saints, however, remains: can they score more than Son, Alli, and Kane.
Watford 0-4 Manchester City
Manchester City host Watford knowing they must win to keep the pressure on Liverpool to keep up at the top of the league. City’s home form has been rock solid all season, providing an easy prediction that the Cityzens will continue their dominance in Manchester.
Watford remains in good form with their most recent win coming in the way of a 2-1 gut punch to Brendan Rodger’s new Leicester squad. Their recent 5-0 loss to Liverpool, however, reflected the gap in talent between the top-tier and the best of the rest.
This match will resemble Liverpool’s 5-0 demolishment of Watford as Manchester City engage their high press against a vulnerable Watford defense. Though City has looked shaky in recent weeks, scoring 1-0 victories against West Ham and Bournemouth, they will be back to their best Saturday, winning by multiple goals.
Sunday, March 10th
Burnley 0-1 Liverpool
After losing their top spot following a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park in the Merseyside Derby, Liverpool will host Burnley looking to reignite their title charge. In recent weeks, Liverpool has seemed unsure of themselves, like a superhero finding out about their power. Their shots are seconds too late, their passes are inches too far, and their communication seems tense. Liverpool has the potential to be the best team in Europe, last weekend they struggled to look like the best team in their city. Burnley presents the perfect opposition against whom Liverpool can find their form.
Burnley, however, will put up a fight against the reds, approaching the match with the intent of frustrating their opposition. The match is likely to result in a low tally but, regardless of the final score, Liverpool will emerge as victors.
Wolves 1-2 Chelsea
After a chaotic February, Chelsea has begun the new month in fine form. After beating Tottenham 2-0 to silence many of the critics who came out in full voice following Kepa-gate in the Carabao Cup Final, Chelsea beat Fulham 2-1 and then beat Dynamo Kiev 3-0 in the Europa League. Sarri will rotate the expected players with Emerson likely replacing Alonso and Hazard and Higuaín slotting back into the front three in place of Giroud and Willian.
Wolves, however, benefit from a full week’s rest and will attack Chelsea with their potent Portuguese attack force. Chelsea needs to win this match if they want to secure a place in the top four. Earlier in the season, Wolves cruised to victory against the Blues, making a mockery of Sarri’s side. Chelsea will return the favor with a narrow but deserved to win this Sunday.
Manchester United 2-2 Arsenal
Arsenal host Manchester United in what is one of the biggest games of the entire season. With both teams fighting for top four football, both desperately need to pick up points and prevent their opponents from taking their place in the table.
Arsenal suffered a humiliating 3-1 loss to Rennes in the Europa League and will not enter this weekend’s match full of confidence. After Aubameyang missed his penalty on the last kick of the match against Spurs, fate seemed to be sticking its spear back into the heart of the Emirates stadium. Once again, Arsenal seems unable to string together essential results that will determine the success of their season.
Manchester United must be flying after their unreal comeback to beat PSG 3-1 in Paris Wednesday night. Solksjaer, however, seems to have escaped the match by the skin of his teeth after his first tactics appeared disastrous. Deciding to play Eric Bailly at right-back resulted in the Ivorian’s public embarrassment at the hands of Juan Bernat and Kylian Mbappe. But, United won the match, and Solksjaer’s misjudgment has been erased by ultimate success. United’s second half presented a phenomenal performance that reached its peak in the buildup to Rashford’s last-minute penalty-kick following Kimpembe’s questionable handball.
The match will not decide fourth place as Chelsea will take 4th if they win their game in hand, regardless of who wins this match. The loser of the game, however, may see any chance at the Champions League fade from view. Playing as much for the win as they are to prevent a loss, both Arsenal and Manchester United will attack one another relentlessly. Goals will flow, but neither team will come out victorious.