Week 32 in the Premier League is really spoiling us.
We’ve got a host of crucial games spread over the course of the weekend, which sees the action start early on Saturday and conclude late on Monday evening.
Naturally, all the experts are keen to get their opinions across, and here we run the rule over the weekend’s fixtures, letting you know what the best pundits have to say about the crucial encounters.
To kick things off, an under-pressure David Moyes pits his Manchester United team against a comparatively inconsistent Aston Villa outfit. Not long after that one, we’ve got five clashes in the 3 p.m. slot, including West Brom vs. Cardiff City at the Hawthorns and Swansea City vs. Norwich City at the Liberty Stadium.
League leaders Chelsea go across London to face Crystal Palace, too, and that’s followed by arguably the clash of the weekend—Arsenal and Manchester City locking horns on Saturday evening.
Supporters on Merseyside will have a keen eye on Sunday’s games as Everton look to continue their charge towards the Champions League at Craven Cottage. Straight after that one, Liverpool welcome Spurs to Anfield, with Brendan Rodgers’ team looking to stay on course for their first league title in 24 years.
The weekend’s football is capped off with a Monday-night clash between Sunderland and West Ham United.
Here’s all the information you need on where to watch this weekend’s games, not to mention our own prediction for each of the 10 EPL clashes:
|Fixture||Kick-Off Time||Live Stream/TV Info||Prediction|
|Saturday 29 March 2014|
|Man Utd vs. Aston Villa||12.45 p.m. GMT||BT Sport 1 and BT Sports (UK)/ NBC Sports Network (US)||2-1|
|Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea||3 p.m. GMT||NBC Sports Network (US)||0-1|
|Southampton vs. Newcastle||3 p.m. GMT||Premier League Extra Time (US)||1-1|
|Stoke vs. Hull||3 p.m. GMT||Premier League Extra Time (US)||2-1|
|Swansea vs. Norwich||3 p.m. GMT||Premier League Extra Time (US)||2-0|
|West Brom vs. Cardiff||3 p.m. GMT||Premier League Extra Time (US)||1-0|
|Arsenal vs. Man City||5.30 p.m. GMT||Sky Sports 1 (UK)/ NBC Sports Network (US)||0-1|
|Sunday 30 March 2014|
|Fulham vs. Everton||1.30 p.m. BST||Sky Sports 1 (UK)/ NBC Sports Network (US)||1-4|
|Liverpool vs. Tottenham||4 p.m. BST||Sky Sports 1 (UK)/ NBC Sports Network (US)||3-1|
|Monday 31 March 2014|
|Sunderland vs. West Ham||8 p.m. BST||Sky Sports 1 (UK)/ NBC Sports Network (US)||0-0|
Arsenal vs. Manchester City
It would probably be fair to say that the Gunners haven’t fared overly well as of late against the three teams above them. In their previous three games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, they’ve conceded a whopping 17 goals, and Arsene Wenger will be keen to put that record right after coming in for some stinging criticism:
After shipping 17 goals against 3 direct rivals it proves Arsenal need new players and investment. Wenger has the cash. Needs to spend it.— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) March 23, 2014
But Arsenal’s willingness to play an open, enterprising game will help Manchester City, according to former Gunner Paul Merson, and he expects City to romp home as a result, per Sky Sports:
I don't see Arsenal winning this game though. Arsenal won't go out and play 10 men behind the ball because they only know how to play one way - and that will play into City's hands. Manuel Pellegrini has made them look a lot more solid and Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure are both scoring goals now.
Victory for City would complete an impressive duo of wins at Old Trafford and the Emirates in the space of five days, and that’ll certainly send a message to their title rivals with just a few games to go. They may not have the points on the board currently, but they are revelling under the pressure of chasing the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool.
And it’s not only their attack which is impressive at the moment, with five Premier League clean sheets in a row a stern indicator that City have their house in order defensively, too. At this juncture, weaknesses certainly seem at a premium for Pellegrini’s team.
Former Liverpool midfielder and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp also predicts a 3-1 win to Manchester City, suggesting the title is "as good as theirs" if the Etihad outfit head back up north with three points, per Sky Sports.
I think we should expect a response from this Arsenal team, however. In the main, they’ve responded well to poor results this season, and they need a strong performance with Everton breathing down their necks in the race for fourth place.
But City look imperious, and whilst they will still be just too strong for the Gunners here, it will be a lot tighter than Redknapp and Merson suggest.
Prediction: Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City
Fulham vs. Everton
All of a sudden, life has been breathed back into the Toffees’ season. After running riot at Newcastle in midweek, Everton’s evening was made even better as news filtered through that Arsenal had conceded a late goal to Swansea City.
Mathieu Flamini’s late own goal means Roberto Martinez’s team trail Arsenal by six points with a game in hand; Everton will welcome their top-four rivals to Goodison Park in a week’s time, too. But first they must see off a side scrapping for their lives at the bottom of the Premier League.
Fulham are really struggling to gather any kind of momentum, and Merson thinks the Toffees will be too strong for the Craven Cottage team. He predicts a 3-0 win for Everton but remains doubtful when it comes to their top-four credentials per Sky Sports:
They have done great to get back into the race and I think they will win this game comfortably, but I think Arsenal will beat them to fourth. As for Fulham, they took a massive battering at Man City and probably need to win half of their games between now and the end of the season. That's a big ask.
Four Four Two writer Ben Welch has also predicted a 3-0 for Martinez’s men in his preview of the game, as he expects Ross Barkley to run Fulham’s Steve Sidwell ragged, per FourFourTwo.com:
How is 31-year-old Sidwell going to keep up with the tireless youngster? He toiled away to no avail at Goodison Park in December. Barkley made 60 passes – bettered only by Gareth Barry (61). He attempted 7 dribbles, made 4 tackles and recovered the ball 5 times. It was all action. Sidwell did make 7 tackles – the most on the day - but it wasn’t enough. It was like trying to stop a tsunami with a sandbag.
It’s difficult to see past an Everton win in this one. Fulham look doomed at the bottom of the table, whilst the Toffees are going in search of their fifth consecutive win. In the aforementioned Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu, the Toffees have enough firepower to see this one out comfortably.
Prediction: Fulham 1-4 Everton