Premier League Week 36 Preview – Part 1

Premier League Week 36 Preview

Part One – Friday 5th May 2017 – Saturday 6th May 2017

Part Two will cover fixtures for Sunday 7th May 2017 to Wednesday 10th May 2017.

Apologies, David’s on holiday this week (how dare he), so I’m afraid I’m filling in for him. I’ll try my best though… Here goes…

Friday 5th May 2017

West Ham Vs Tottenham Hotspur
20:00 Kick-off

West Ham host Spurs in the Friday night game. The Hammers have been undone so often at home this season, particularly when playing against teams that play expansive passing and with pace in the wide areas. Perhaps it really is a case of a ground being “too big for them” and by that I’m talking about the pitch size. Slaven’s side have had to adapt to the bigger pitch this season and its meant they’ve experienced a few bad scorelines at home. However, they’ve improved as the season’s wore on. They’re unbeaten in their last four games and will take some confidence from the fact that they went to White Hart Lane earlier in the season and twice took the lead over Spurs. In fact it was only two late Spurs goals that prevented the Irons from taking some valuable points away from their London rivals.

Spurs go into the game hoping that they can continue to put pressure on league leaders Chelsea. Arguably, the likelihood of a Chelsea capitulation seems slight and they’re all but crowned Champions in the minds of many. That said, Spurs have nothing to lose and so you could say that there’s not really any pressure on them in the circumstances, and this should allow them to play with some freedom. It’s been another positive season for Spurs with Pochettino in charge. They’ll be on a high after their victory in the North London Derby and the fact that they’ll finish above Arsenal in the league for the first time in decades.

Prediction: 1-3 Spurs. Tottenham have been in superb form all season and the big pitch at the London Stadium will suit their style of play and their pace. I think they’ll be too much for the Hammers.

Saturday 6th May 2017

Manchester City Vs Crystal Palace
12:30 Kick-off

Big Sam’s Eagles travel to the Etihad with the Premier League safety almost secure. Palace lost at home to Burnley last time out and will surely be looking to bounce back. They’ve claimed some big scalps recently, their win at Stamford Bridge for example, and they’ll be hoping for more of the same against City. Palace are expected to be without Mamadou Sakho for a few weeks due to an injury, though Big Sam hopes to have him back before the end of the season. Don’t expect Palace to have much of the ball in this game, not that they’ll be expecting any different. However, this could be a blessing in disguise because the four games this season in which Palace have had the most possession, they’ve lost.

Pep Guardiola knows his side need to make the most of the three home games they have left this season in order to ensure they’ve got Champions League football to look forward to next season. However, City have dropped a lot of points at home, with draws against Southampton, Everton, Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Spurs, Stoke and most recently Manchester United. Their last match (also a draw) away to Middlesbrough, saw a number of changes to the starting line up and many fans questioned Pep’s thinking. There was more bad news coming out of that game though; Sergio Agüero picked up a groin injury and his season could be over. Gabriel Jesus is expected to lead the line, with Sterling and Sané in support.

Prediction: 3-1 City. Palace will be stubborn and will frustrate City, but if City score first, the floodgates might open. However, I still don’t see City keeping a clean sheet anytime soon.

 

Saturday 15:00 Kick-offs

Bournemouth Vs Stoke

Bournemouth go into this game aiming to win their third game in a row, something that they’ve not managed since March 2016. Their visitors current form will give them reason to believe that they can achieve this too, as Stoke have lost five of their last six away games. Interestingly, Bournemouth’s Joshua King has scored 12 goals in his 16 Premier League appearances this calendar year and that’s only 3 goals less than Stoke as a whole. The Cherries won 1-0 at the Bet365 Stadium when these two sides met back in November, but the Potters won 3-1 in this fixture last year, and I don’t think either side is going to sit back and play for a draw this time round.

The local Stoke newspaper, the Sentinel, has written a recent article about how there is a growing sense of frustration amongst the Stoke supporters this season, as recent results haven’t been great and performances less so. However, unquestionably Mark Hughes has done a very good job so far in his tenure. There’ll likely be further substantial investment in the squad over the summer, especially if some of the bigger earners get off the Potters inflated wage bill.

Prediction: 1-1 This’ll be a close one.

 

Hull Vs Sunderland

This is game could’ve been huge had Sunderland not been relegated last weekend; however, it’s by no means a dead rubber for the hosts! Hull sit just two points off above Swansea and they need to win this if they’re going to keep their Premier League status. Hull don’t have any fresh injury concerns going into this game, which is a stark contrast to the way they started the season. That said, there’s a good chance Omar Elabdellaoui won’t be fit enough in time to feature in this one. If Marco Silva is able to guide his team to a win in this fixture, he’ll equal Steve Bruce’s record for 7 home Premier League wins for Hull in a single season.

Of course, Sunderland won’t make things easy for the Tigers and, as often has been the case in situations like this, there’ll be players in the Black Cats team playing like they’re in the shop window. When the two sides met in November, Sunderland were able to clinch a 3-0 victory, despite ending the game with 10 men. Arguably, Jermaine Defoe has been the only real shining light for Sunderland this season and he’s also a thorn in Hull’s side, having scored four goals in five appearances against them.

Prediction: 2-1 Hull. Sunderland have looked like a defeated side all season and whilst confirmation of relegation might allow some players to play a bit more freely, they’re already on a beach somewhere mentally.

 

Burnley Vs West Brom

Sean Dyche’s Burnley host the Baggies at Turf Moor, but it could be a much changed starting line up for the Clarets as they’ve some injury concerns. Michael Keane and Ben Mee, the heart of Burnley’s defence are both doubts with knocks, and Sean Dyche is still waiting to find out if Stephen Ward is fit enough to feature. As side from the injury worries, the Lancashire side are also having to contend with the loss of Joey Barton, for off the field activities… If I were a betting man, I’d say his playing career is now effectively over.

West Brom haven’t lost a Premier League game against Burnley and Tony Pulis will be hoping that this doesn’t change. Further still, the Baggies average 3.3 goals against Burnley in the Premier League; this is also their best goal average against any opponent. West Brom have four games left in which to gain 5 more points and equal their highest Premier League points total (49 points from 38 games), and as the stats show, Burnley are favourable opposition for the side from The Hawthorns.

Prediction: 1-2 – But don’t put your house on it.

 

Leicester Vs Watford

The reigning Champions are without their captain Wes Morgan due to an ankle injury, as they welcome Watford to the King Power Stadium. However, Robert Huth is expected to be fit. The Foxes have been in mixed form of late, having won two, drawn one and lost two in their last five games – WLDLW to be exact. However, they can be quietly confident going into this game, as they’ve only lost once in the last five times they’ve played Watford. When the home crowd is up for it, the King Power is a tough stadium to go to. Leicester fans will be expecting their team to end the season in the highest possible sense, but there needs to be some big changes over the summer if the Foxes are going to have a better campaign next season.

Watford were close to getting a very late equaliser in their last game at home to Liverpool and they should feel hard done by; it took a wonder goal to beat them. The Hornets won 2-1 last time they faced Leicester and if they can find a way to beat the champions this weekend, it’ll be only third time that Watford have managed to “do the double” over a Premier League opponent. Walter Mazzarri’s side know that they’re safe this season and 13th is strong finish for a squad of Watford’s size. They’ve lost their last two league games, in fact they’ve lost three out of their last five, and they won’t want to make it three defeats in a row.

Prediction: 2-1 Leicester. Both teams likely to score, but I think Leicester have just enough to edge it.

 

Saturday 17:30 Kick-off

Swansea Vs Everton

Swansea have three games to save their Premier League status, Everton at home is the first of the three. The Swans (does anyone still call them the Jacks nowadays?) go into this game having lost three out of their last five games, winning one and drawing the other, in that order too. Every point counts for the Welsh side now. However, they’ve got to play against Everton, sitting back and hoping to get a draw is not going to work. Luckily, Ronald Koeman is from the Cruyff-Barcelona school of thought and he likes his teams to play expansive football too. This is good news for Paul Clement’s side because with a high pressing game, they have the opportunity to get up in the face of the Toffees and, who knows, Llorente could come up with a bit of magic. Swansea have Martin Olsson back from injury, but Jefferson Montero looks likely to be out for the season. The game also comes too soon for Angel Rangel and Wayne Routledge. Swansea have only won once of their eleven Premier League meetings against Everton. However, they’ve also not lost their last five. A big performance could get them a result.

Everton travel to the Liberty Stadium without Morgan Schneiderlin and James McCarthy, who are both struggling with injuries. The season has been a positive one for the Toffees, at times they’ve destroyed opposition, particularly at home and they’ve lost just once in their last five games (3-0 at home to Chelsea). Everton also have a formidable record at the Liberty Stadium too, as they’ve actually never lost a game their in five visits and better still they’ve only ever conceded two goals there. Interestingly Everton haven’t lost a league game against opposition from the bottom three of the table since a 2-1 defeat to Reading in November 2012.

There you have it – all the historical statistics tell us that Everton should walk this one, so you just know that this means they’ll end up losing this one now!

Prediction: 3-1 Everton. As much as I think this game is a great opportunity for Swansea to get some vital points in the fight for survival, I think Everton will be too strong.

 

There’s your preview for the first lot of this week’s games. Keep an eye out for Part Two. Let us know your predictions and tell us your thoughts.

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Twitter: @overthebarfootballblog

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