Match of the Week
Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
By far the biggest match of the weekend, Liverpool host Chelsea at Anfield in what is set to be their biggest remaining test in the Premier League season. In recent years, Chelsea’s bus pulling into Anfield has been the most dreaded sight for Liverpool supporters. Chelsea’s most famous victory against the Reds came seasons ago when Demba Ba stole the ball off of a slipping Steven Gerrard to score in front of the Kop and sink the knife deep into the heart of Liverpool’s title charge. Earlier this season, Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1, coming from behind thanks to Emerson Palmieri’s first Chelsea goal and Eden Hazard’s stunning solo run, perhaps his best of the season.
This Sunday, however, Liverpool know what is at stake and will make sure they do not let Chelsea ruin their title hopes for a second time. Liverpool will be taking the pitch minutes after the Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace match at Selhurst Park. So, fate will play a massive role in the fixture as Liverpool will either be fighting to take back the top spot or to boost their lead to beyond the reach of Guardiola’s City.
On Monday, Eden Hazard scored a goal of the season contender and fueled his team’s 2-0 win against West Ham, sending Chelsea into third place in the league. Though they have played a game more than their top four rivals, Chelsea’s consecutive league victories, as well as clean sheets, has put manager Maurizio Sarri back into the fans’ good books. Also, the performances of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have infused the Chelsea line-up with some much-needed desire and energy. These players will play critical roles on Sunday, and Chelsea’s supporters will be checking the line-ups before the match with desperate hopes to see the England starlets featured.
Chelsea has the potential for a fifth consecutive win against a strong Liverpool side that could secure their seventh victory in a row across all competitions. Liverpool, like title competitors City, has not found wins easy to come by, forcing their way through difficult matches against Southampton and Spurs, but will still prove a massive obstacle for the far inferior Chelsea side.
This match is incredibly difficult to call and will likely follow the formula of most Chelsea and Liverpool games this season: if their best players show up, they will win. If Hazard puts on one of his sporadic masterclasses, hoping to bait Real Madrid with his silky dribbling, Chelsea has a serious shot at upsetting Liverpool. The Reds, however, will expect to get solid performances from their front three, particularly from Salah who only recently broke a significant span of games without scoring. Liverpool will not need to worry about their defense, though, as Virgil Van Dijk has become the man whose consistency in the Premier League is rarely, If ever, in question.
Though this match has the potential to tip significantly in either team’s favor, it also has massive potential to be a cagey affair in which neither side takes the chances necessary to bring home all three points. This match, therefore, will end in an unsatisfying 1-1 draw.
Friday, April 12th
Newcastle 1-2 Leicester
Two teams with opposite form meet tomorrow at the King Power Stadium in Leicester. The Foxes have finally found their stride under new manager Brendan Rodgers and will be confident to take the full three points from Newcastle United. Not only has Leicester won four of their last five games but Jamie Vardy has rediscovered his goal scoring form from previous seasons, scoring six times in his last five games. United have lost both of their previous two league matches, failing to score in each game. United, however, are better than there recent form suggests and, with Solomon Rondon in the lineup, are likely to find the net against Leicester. The Foxes will continue their best way of the season, beating Newcastle in front of their home supporters by a score of 2-1.
Saturday, April 13th
Huddersfield 0-2 Tottenham
Tottenham will kick off Saturday’s matches with hopes of keeping a 100% win record in their new stadium. Though Tottenham has beaten Crystal Palace and Manchester City in the last week, their victory Tuesday came with a massive blow to their lineup as Harry Kane exited the match with an ankle injury. The English striker will not be in the lineup to take on Huddersfield. Spurs, however, shall have no problem brushing aside the already relegated Terriers thanks to the in-form Heung Min Son who has been outstanding throughout the year. Tottenham will take all three points as they try to stave off Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United in the hunt for third place and the security of the Champions League.
Bournemouth 0-1 Brighton
After their heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Manchester City last weekend in the FA Cup Semi-final, Brighton host Bournemouth in the Premier League. Bournemouth, however, is sure to enter the match with equally low spirits as they have won only one of their last nine Premier League matches. The most significant implications of the match rest with Brighton as a win could mathematically secure their safety in the Premier League. Though they came away without a win, Brighton should take momentum from their valiant effort against Manchester City. This momentum will be assisted by Bournemouth’s atrocious away form that has seen them win on the road only four times all season. Brighton will take the three points and secure safety.
Wolves 1-1 Southampton
After their 3-2 loss to Watford in the FA Cup Semi-finals, Wolves will be traveling to Southampton to try to beat Watford in the race for the Premier League’s 7th spot. Southampton, on the other hand, has yet to secure safety in the Premier League and need every point they can get if they hope to stay up for the ‘19/’20 season. Traveling away from home, Wolves will set up defensively, looking to break on the counter-attack through their Portuguese weapons of Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, and Diogo Jota. Southampton, however, will prove difficult to break down as they fight for safety. This match has draw written all over it.
Everton 3-2 Fulham
The match with the potential to be the dullest of the weekend, Fulham host Everton at Craven Cottage following their relegation last week after a 4-1 loss to Wolves. Everton, on the other hand, has seen their form increase in recent weeks as they have beaten both Chelsea and Arsenal at home. Everton, however, stands with little to play for as their only possible trophy to take from this season would be the title of “best of the rest.” Fulham has nothing to lose and will enter the game with guns blazing, hoping to give their home supporters a performance worthy of their support. This energy will give Everton a problematic challenge; however, their recent form suggests they will be worthy of the test.
West Ham 1-2 Manchester United
After being appointed full-time manager, Ole Gunnar Solkjaer’s time at the helm has been the complete opposite of his previous run of form that led to him receiving the job in the first place. United lost to Wolves in their last Premier League match and recently lost 1-0 to Barcelona at home in the Champions League Quarter-Final. United now find themselves five points back from third place Chelsea as they chase after a top four finish. Currently in sixth place, and with a tricky fixture list ahead of them, Manchester United must take points off of every opponent they face. West Ham, however, presents a tough challenge for the Reds. Though West Ham lost 2-0 to Chelsea (Eden Hazard) in their last match, West Ham has beaten United already this season and tend to overperform against the top six. Also, Chicharito will be eager to score at Old Trafford against his former club. West Ham, though, have one leg on the sandy beaches of Dubai or wherever they plan to spend their summer holidays. United need the result more and will use their eagerness to secure all of the points this weekend.
Sunday, April 14th
Manchester City 2-0 Crystal Palace
Though Manchester City has lost to Palace once this season by a score of 3-2 at home in Manchester, this weekend’s result will be far different. Pep’s men have not been at their mechanically engineered best lately, losing to Tottenham in the Champions League and scraping past Brighton in the FA Cup, but against Palace Sunday, far more will be on the line – the Premier League title. City, like Liverpool, cannot afford to drop a single point. Though Selhurst Park presents a difficult challenge, Manchester City is more than capable of defeating the Eagles by three or more goals. Crystal Palace has been decent recently with Zaha, Batshuayi, and even Benteke contributing to the goals in past weeks. Against City, however, their decent form will come to a halt. Manchester will exit this weekend with all three points as they place one hand firmly on the Premier League trophy.
Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool
Monday, April 15th
Arsenal 3-2 Watford
Arsenal faces Watford as they try to hold on to their chances of a top-four finish. Watford is probably the last team they would like to see ahead of them on their schedule, however, as the Hornets have been one of the best teams outside of the top six over the course of the entire season. Following this form, Watford is coming off of a brilliant 3-2 comeback against Wolves in the FA Cup Semi-Final. Arsenal, who are also coming off a big win, having beaten Napoli in the Europa League, will have the help of striker Aubameyang who will return to the lineup after a series of non-starts due to problems with illness and injury. Arsenal needs this win far more than Watford, and their form will reflect this desire. Expect Arsenal to edge out a thrilling competition Monday