English Premier League: Latest EPL Rumors, Preview and Predictions for Week 28
Manchester United moved one step closer to claiming the English Premier League title with a stress-free victory over a struggling QPR side. The win was highlighted by a Rafael strike to give the Red Devils a lead inside the first half hour, and they never looked back.
Manchester City defeated Chelsea in the weekend's marquee match, which keeps at least a little bit of pressure on their rivals from United for another week. It also made the race for third place even closer between the Blues, Tottenham and Arsenal.
The loss by QPR puts them in extreme danger of being relegated with 11 matches to go. The other two spots every club started the season attempting to avoid are still up for grabs. Aston Villa and Reading hold those not-so-coveted positions right now.
City could add some more intrigue to the final stretch if they make a run at United, but the Red Devils don't look like they are going to let that happen. The other races will have to do. So let's look at some of the latest news and rumors along with predictions for the week ahead.
Ashley Williams Generating Interest
Ashley Williams is having a tremendous season for Swansea and helped the club claim the Capital One Cup trophy with a victory over Bradford this weekend. So it shouldn't be a surprise that bigger clubs around the league are taking notice.
Danny Griffiths of the Metro reports Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are all showing interest in the 28-year-old defender. Griffiths states the Jacks would love to keep him, but could be forced to sell if another club makes a sizable bid.
Losing Williams would be a huge blow to the Swansea back line. He's been one of the Jacks' most reliable players in recent seasons and still has several good years ahead of him. They should do everything in their power to fend off interest, but it might not be enough.
Latest on Hatem Ben Arfa
Hatem Ben Arfa possesses the talent necessary to become a prototypical Premier League winger and continues to make positive strides with Newcastle. Now, the Magpies will have to work hard to make sure his development continues at St. James' Park.
They are hoping to sign him to a new contract as a way to secure his future as other clubs begin to show interest, according to Alan Nixon of the Daily Mirror. Nixon reports one team that's already got their sights on Ben Arfa is Liverpool.
These are the concerns every club deals with at this point in the season. With the summer transfer flurry only a couple months away, they all have to focus on locking down their own players or risk losing them. Ben Arfa is a perfect example, and Newcastle are smart to aim for a new deal.
Match of the Week: Tottenham vs. Arsenal
Tottenham and Arsenal will have the Sunday spotlight all to themselves. It's a key match in the race for a top-three spot. An earlier meeting between the clubs was an exciting, wide-open encounter, which the Gunners won 5-2.
The Spurs will be hoping to avenge that defeat while also earning some breathing room ahead of Arsenal. There are few, if any, players in the Premier League in better form than Gareth Bale, who has been carrying the club on his back ever since Tottenham's shaky start.
Arsenal are coming off a narrow escape against Aston Villa. Santi Cazorla scored twice, including the winner with a handful of minutes until the final whistle. The Gunners know they will need a far more complete performance to have a chance next weekend, though.
Predictions Part 1
Aston Villa vs. Manchester City
Aston Villa showed how desperate they are to avoid relegation with a strong performance against Arsenal. Alas, Manchester City is the far more talented side and know they have no margin for error if they want to have any chance of a miracle comeback to defend their title.
Prediction: 2-0 Manchester City
Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion
Chelsea looked like a sure bet to secure a Champions League spot from the early stages of the campaign, but have watched the grip on a top-four spot slip away due to an extended period of lackluster play. They can't afford another slip up against West Brom.
Prediction: 2-1 Chelsea
Everton vs. Reading
A season of frustration continued for Everton as they allowed Norwich to score twice in the final 10 minutes, turning three points into zero. The Toffees have let far too many points slip away late in matches this season. They need a win against Reading to keep European football in sight.
Prediction: 1-0 Everton
Manchester United vs. Norwich City
A lot will depend on the strength of United's lineup for the match. The Red Devils will face Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League matchup next week, so Sir Alex Ferguson must make some lineup choices. They should win, even if it is a marginal starting group.
Prediction: 3-1 Manchester United
Southampton vs. Queens Park Rangers
Both clubs are in the relegation battle. Southampton is three points clear, so the key for them is making sure they earn at least a point at home. QPR needs to start turning up the pressure with hopes of stealing a couple wins or they'll be heading down. A draw seems most likely.
Predictions Part 2
Stoke City vs. West Ham United
Don't expect a lot of action in this match. Both clubs have struggled offensively throughout the season and are more than willing to settle into a defense-first style. If either side can muster a goal, there's a good chance it would be worth three points.
Sunderland vs. Fulham
The acquisition of Dimitar Berbatov continued to pay off for Fulham as he secured the winner against Stoke. He hasn't been getting enough help in the attacking third, however, and the club has a whole hasn't been nearly as good on the road.
Swansea City vs. Newcastle United
Swansea should be riding a wave of momentum after a convincing victory in the Capital One Cup final. It should be enough to push them past an inconsistent Newcastle side and keep them on track to finish in the top half of the table.
Prediction: 2-1 Swansea City
Wigan Athletic vs. Liverpool
Liverpool is still trying to make a late push toward a European spot, but they are running out of time. It's starting to appear like the early struggles will be too much to overcome. A victory over Wigan will keep the hope alive for another week, though.
Prediction: 1-0 Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal
It should be another intriguing match between two clubs with the same goal in mind. Tottenham will lean heavily on Gareth Bale and Arsenal will hope their attacking depth wins out. All told, a draw should satisfy both sides.
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