English Premier League: Every Club's Most Important Remaining Match

Justin Hoppe@justinjhoppeCorrespondent IIFebruary 23, 2012

English Premier League: Every Club's Most Important Remaining Match

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    The end is nigh; the finish line of the 2011-12 English Premier League season is finally within sight but the outcome yet still very much a mystery.

    Clubs are at last entering the final stretch where silverware is won, coveted places in next year’s Champions League are earned and managers are fired.

    All fixtures ahead are important for obvious reasons but some more so than others; here we take a look at those matches to come in particular.

Arsenal

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    April 21: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

    All Arsenal must do to secure a Champions League berth is maintain their current league form and defeat the visiting Blues at the Emirates.

Aston Villa

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    April 9: Aston Villa vs. Stoke City

    With the club appearing likely to avoid relegation this season, there appears to be no better goal than to set their sights on a higher standing within the table.

    A home victory over Stoke City—a club that has allowed more goals than they have score—would prove to be a crucial victory with matches against the like of Chelsea, Arsenal , Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham still to come.

Blackburn Rovers

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    March 10: Wolverhampton Wolves vs. Blackburn Rovers

    Currently tied in points but ahead by goal differential, a victory for a visiting Blackburn over the Wolves could very well mean the difference between maintaining a place in the top tier and relegation.

    Unfortunately, the chances of victory do not prove in their favor, having already suffered a 2-1 home defeat to the same side.

Bolton Wanderers

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    February 25: Chelsea FC vs. Bolton Wanderers

    Having surrendered the second most goals and lost more games than any other team this season, Bolton will not only be forced to march on without former star player Gary Cahill but play against him as well.

    An unlikely victory over league juggernaut Chelsea would mark a sweet occasion for the club, which is destined to fall to the second tier.

Chelsea FC

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    March 14: Chelsea FC vs. Naples

    The single non-Premier League fixture, the second-leg Champions League match at Stamford Bridge could decide the future of Andre Villa-Boas at the London-based club.

    Currently on the brink of a Champions League place and tied for points with Arsenal, Chelsea must achieve a much more consistent level of play and repair a fractured locker room without the help of club-captain John Terry—who will be out of action for at least two months following a procedure on his knee.

Everton

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    Feb 25: Liverpool FC vs. Everton

    Winning this Merseyside Derby would not only serve to save face after suffering a home defeat to the Reds earlier in the season but could also potentially knock their local rivals out of European contention entirely.

Fulham

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    April 9: Fulham vs. Chelsea FC

    Home fixtures are crucially important for any club, but derbies always bring greater significance and sense of excitement to a match.

    This rendition of the West London derby could very well decide whether Fulham can achieve anything better than a mid-table finish.

    The bragging rights would not hurt either.

Liverpool FC

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    March 3: Liverpool FC vs. Arsenal

    Liverpool has not secured a victory over a quality side since late January’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat of Manchester United. Getting three points on Arsenal at Merseyside could spark another phenomenal end of season run for King Kenny’s Reds.

    Only four points out of fourth place, Liverpool's return to the Champions League is still a very real possibility. But it will depend on the efforts and health of the “big three”—Steven Gerard, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. 

Manchester City

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    April 28: Manchester City vs. Manchester United

    No longer running at quite the same blistering pace they displayed going into the winter window, the Citizens still lead the table, but the title will almost certainly be decided by their result against the visiting Red Devils.

Manchester United

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    April 28: Manchester City vs. Manchester United

    This derby has finally become much more than a battle for local bragging rights but a match of real championship implications.

    If both Manchester sides continue to play as they have up to this point, the Manchester Derby will decide who reigns supreme.

    Securing nothing less than three points will be enough.

Newcastle United

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    March 31: Newcastle United vs. Liverpool FC

    Without the benefit of positive goal difference, any loss followed by a Liverpool win could drop the Magpies to seventh in the standings.

    Such a drop that would not only cost them at least $1 million in prize money but would likely lead to Newcastle finding themselves on the outside looking in come next year’s rendition of the Europa League tournament.

Norwich City

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    April 7: Norwich City vs. Everton

    With some troublesome home fixtures against Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool yet to be played, earning three points against Everton will be extremely important in order to secure their current place on the table.

Queens Park Rangers

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    April 28: Chelsea FC vs. Queens Park Rangers

    The Rangers are yet another team standing on the brink of relegation. Their performance in several matches to come will no doubt decide of their fate.

    While this edition of the West London Derby may not exactly exude the most competitive atmosphere due to the obvious difference in standings, a victory could potentially destroy all European ambitions for the often complacent and inconsistent Blues.

Stoke City

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    May 13: Stoke City vs. Bolton Wanderers

    After suffering a 5-0 thumping to Bolton back in November, there is much pride at stake in this rematch to be held at Britannia Stadium.

    Boasting the second worst defensive record this season, Stoke must take advantage of the now-Gary Cahill-less club to better their goal differential and standings within the table.

Sunderland

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    March 10: Sunderland vs. Liverpool FC

    Continuing on with the importance of winning at home, Sunderland is set to face runaway third-place Tottenham and Liverpool.

    The latter having been hounded by inefficiency in front of goal, overall inconsistency all over the pitch as well as penalties and injuries this league season, achieving three points against Reds certainly appears attainable for Sunderland.

Swansea

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    March 24: Swansea vs. Everton

    One of the more surprising clubs this term, recently promoted Swansea has earned a place among mid-table teams.

    Securing a home victory over Everton, who currently sits one place ahead in the league table, could mean a monumental difference in funds for the small-market club.

Tottenham Hotspur

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    March 3: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United

    Harry Redknapp’s men have shown great quality this league season and have almost certainly secured a Champions League berth, assuming they do not find themselves subject of a cataclysmic collapse of some kind.

    With no fixtures against table-toppers Manchester City remaining, Tottenham must focus on bringing the Red Devils down at White Hart Lane.

West Bromwich Albion

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    March 31: Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion

    Likely to drop home fixtures to Chelsea, Newcastle and Arsenal, West Brom taking away three points from visiting Everton—who stand just four points ahead—could prove a real difference-maker.

Wigan Athletic

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    May 13: Wigan Athletic vs. Wolverhampton Wolves

    As it stand Wigan Athletic sit alone at the bottom of the current league standings at just 19 points—behind Bolton (20), the Wolves (21), Blackburn (21) and QPR (21).

    The difference between relegation and clinching another season in the top tier will come down to a series of improved performances and a home victory on their very last fixture of the year.

Wolverhampton Wolves

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    May 13: Wigan Athletic vs. Wolverhampton Wolves

    Sitting a mere two points above dead last Wigan Athletic, the Wolves find themselves in no better a situation—they, too, would find themselves relegated if the season inexplicably ended today.

    The club's chances may prove better than Wigan’s, but their fortunes will be decided on the back of a hard-fought away fixture in order to decide who will be crowned the "best of the worst."