So after a full weekend of Premier League fixtures last weekend, we are down to just four games this weekend, due to the FA Cup. The teams who have games will be hoping to use the advantage of not fighting on multiple fronts to gain ground on those around them.
Saturday 11th March
15:00 Bournemouth Vs West Ham United
Bournemouth host West Ham at the Vitality Stadium and will be hoping to add to the point they picked up at Old Trafford on Saturday. They will however be without defender Tyrone Mings who has received a 5 game ban for his ‘stamp’ on Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Saturday. Bournemouth will be hoping to pick up three points so they can move further away from the relegation zone, especially given the fact they have only picked up 3 points since the start of the year. Eddie Howe goes into the game without Mings who is suspended and will be missing Wilson and Federici, who are both out for the foreseeable. However, Francis and Stanislas could both return this weekend.
West Ham go into the game having put in a late attempt at a comeback against Chelsea, yet have only picked up 2 points from the last 9, and will be hoping to add to the 15 points they’ve picked up on the road. West Ham know that their future in the league is pretty much guaranteed and have scored goals on the road, but they need to ensure they keep a tight defence. West Ham will be hoping that Reid and Fonte pass late fitness tests to help bolster their defence and that Andy Carroll recovers from an injury to his face, in time to play against Bournemouth.
15:00 Everton Vs West Brom
Everton take on West Brom with the hope of adding to the 4 point difference between the two sides. The talk of Koeman moving to the Nou Camp next season appears to have gone quiet, especially after their 3-2 defeat last weekend against Tottenham. Everton will be relying on Lukaku to get them the goals and help get their 9th league win of the season. Their form at Goodison this year has been very strong with them picking up 28 points at home so far. Koeman will be without his long term absentee’s of Besic and Bolasie, with Besic possibly available by the end of the season, though Bolasie will be out for another 10 months.
Tony Pulis will be hoping that West Brom can find some consistancy after winning 5 games out of the last 10, however it’s worth noting that only two of them have been won back to back. You could say that is probably not going to happen, as West Brom’s away form so far this season has seen them only pick up 14 points on the road, out of their current tally of 40. West Brom know that if they win this game they can close in on Everton and could leave Goodison just a point behind their opponents who are sat in 7th place. Pulis could possibly have Phillips back in his side for Saturday and will then have a fully fit squad as he travels to Merseyside.
15:00 Hull City Vs Swansea City
Hull City against Swansea City is the biggest game of the day, well it’s the game with the biggest significance. Hull will be hoping that their improved performances finally start to gain them points and momentum, if they have any chance of getting out of the relegation zone. They have won twice in the last 10 games, and both of these have been at home, so they will be hoping to pick up 3 points against a Swansea side who have only just started to move away from the relegation zone. Hull will be without 10 players of their squad and will be hoping to not pick up any further injuries.
Paul Clement is starting to show his qualities as a manager, after spending years playing the role of assistant manager at some of the biggest clubs in the world. The Swans have won 5 of their last 10 games, yet need to start picking up points rather than losing games – having also lost 5 of their last 10 games. They have only picked up 10 points on the road all season, but have picked up maximum points away to Liverpool and Palace, since the turn of the year. Ki Sung-Yueng and Montero could both return on the weekend, but Swansea will be without Naughton, who has picked up a knock and could be out for a week. Nathan Dyer is out for the forseeable.
Sunday 12th March
16:00 Liverpool Vs Burnley
Burnley travel to Anfield having not won in the league since the end of January. Liverpool’s form has been so inconsistent since the turn of the year; they beat Arsenal last time out, but lost to Leicester in the game before. The Liverpool faithful will be expecting somewhat of a walkover in this game. However, Sean Dyche has a knack for setting Burnley up to frustrate teams, even if his side have struggled to get points on the board, they’ve managed to cause headaches for teams.
Liverpool need to get some form together in order to keep their hopes of a top four finish alive and, given that they face Manchester City away from home in their next league game, three points against Burnley is a must. Jürgen Klopp has been subject to criticism in the press and on social media by observers who point out that his win percentage for Liverpool isn’t any better than David Moyes’ tenure at Manchester United. Despite this, he has the overwhelming support of the Liverpool fans and, let’s be honest, there is something quirky and cool about the guy. He sets his teams up to play high pressing, fast attacking football and his animated nature and eclectic vocabulary have woo’ed a lot of pundits. However, nothing should be taken for granted against Burnley, the clarets would relish taking a point or two away from Anfield, and Liverpool’s indifferent form will be an encouragement for the team from Turf Moor.