With little less than a month to go in this magnificent Premier League campaign, there’s still a variety of accolades to play for as we move into Week 35. And the high-calibre fixtures just keep on coming as supporters begin to gather a clearer picture of who will end up with what come the final weekend of the campaign.
Liverpool lead the way after their stirring win over Manchester City in Week 34, and Brendan Rodgers’ side travel to the south-east to tackle a Norwich City outfit in dire need of a result. The Canaries are just two points clear of Fulham, who occupy 18th position.
Looking to keep pace with the Merseyside outfit atop of the table are Chelsea and Manchester City. The former host bottom-side Sunderland in Week 35, whilst City take on strugglers West Brom at the Etihad.
In the battle for the Champions League, Everton welcome Manchester United and former boss David Moyes to Goodison Park on Easter Sunday. Arsenal, who are currently two points behind the Toffees in the table, will travel to fellow FA Cup finalists Hull City in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Despite the longstanding unpredictability that has made this Premier League season so enjoyable, we’re going to run the rule over three of the most significant games this weekend and look to decipher who will be celebrating come the end of an Easter schedule rife with top-class action.
First, though, here’s a full list of fixtures ahead of Week 35 in the Premier League:
|Fixture||Date||Kick-Off Time (BST)||Prediction|
|Tottenham vs. Fulham||19 April 2014||12:45 p.m.||2-0|
|West Ham vs. Crystal Palace||19 April 2014||3 p.m.||1-1|
|Aston Villa vs. Southampton||19 April 2014||3 p.m.||2-2|
|Cardiff City vs. Stoke City||19 April 2014||3 p.m.||1-1|
|Newcastle vs. Swansea City||19 April 2014||3 p.m.||1-1|
|Hull City vs. Arsenal||19 April 2014||5:30 p.m.||1-1|
|Norwich City vs. Liverpool||20 April 2014||12 p.m.||0-4|
|Chelsea vs. Sunderland||20 April 2014||2:05 p.m.||3-0|
|Everton vs. Manchester United||20 April 2014||4:10 p.m.||3-1|
|Manchester City vs. West Brom||21 April 2014||8: p.m.||3-0|
Hull City vs. Arsenal
It's the cliched “dress rehearsal” ahead of the FA Cup final, but neither team can afford to look beyond this weekend’s clash with plenty at stake in the Premier League.
In short, the Gunners simply must win this one. They have failed to win in their last four league games and have subsequently been overhauled by Everton in the fourth and final Champions League spot. With games running out, any more points dropped could have disastrous consequences at this stage of the campaign.
As for Hull, they aren’t quite out of trouble when it comes to relegation yet. They’re six points clear of 18th-place Fulham, and with 36 points on the board, their boss, Steve Bruce, will know that one more victory should be enough to guarantee safety. Beating Arsenal would lay down a strong precedent ahead of their cup-final clash, too.
Strangely enough, when it comes to City’s European aspirations, a win for Arsenal here might not be the worst thing. The Tigers will qualify for the Europa League if they win the FA Cup, of course. But if they lose at Wembley, they’ll only be eligible for European football if Arsenal finish in the top four, as ESPN’s Dale Johnson explains:
By chance it is Hull v Arsenal next Sunday in a dress rehearsal for the FA Cup final. Could be in Hull's Europa interests to lose that...— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) April 13, 2014
This will be a testing game for Arsene Wenger’s side. Hull are a tough nut to crack at home, and given Arsenal’s recent loss of form, they are exactly the type of opposition the Gunners could struggle against. The Tigers will play at a high tempo and with plenty aggression in this one, and that should be enough for them to secure a point.
Prediction: Hull City 1-1 Arsenal
Norwich City vs. Liverpool
After beating Manchester City in front of a raucous, fervent and emotional Anfield, Liverpool are in prime position to win their first Premier League title in 24 years. They top the table, leading Chelsea by two points and Manchester City by seven, although the latter do have a couple of games in hand.
But win their last four games, and it's theirs. Now, after beating one of the best sides on the continent, the league leaders face an entirely different challenge against Norwich City. And even though the Canaries are in a poor run of form, Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard insisted they’re taking absolutely nothing for granted, per Liam Prenderville in the Mirror:
The important thing now is not to get carried away with that result. We need to stay calm and prepare for Norwich. The scenes are great today and the fans are very happy, but we have a day off tomorrow and then we go for Norwich.
After losing at Craven Cottage in Week 35, the Canaries are teetering above the Premier League trap door. They have some terribly difficult fixtures to play in their final quartet of games, and you feel that they must conjure a couple of results from somewhere if they are to steer clear of relegation.
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But if there’s one side they wouldn’t want to face, it’s Liverpool, and especially their star man Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan has scored three hat-tricks against the Canaries, including four goals in a virtuoso performance back in December. In his last four games against the Canaries, he’s netted a whopping 11 goals, per Gary Chappell in the Express.
In truth, it would be a major surprise if the Premier League’s leading scorer didn’t add to that tally on Sunday. The momentum acquired in this 10-game winning run is powering Liverpool forward, whilst Norwich are devoid of confidence, creativity or purpose. The Reds will continue their march toward the Premier League with an emphatic win at Carrow Road.
Prediction: Norwich City 0-4 Liverpool
Everton vs. Manchester United
You suspect coming back to Goodison Park will be a painful experience for Moyes on Sunday. Whilst Manchester United’s season looks all but over, his former employers will be continuing their march toward the Champions League.
At the time of writing, Everton have won seven consecutive games and are two points clear of Arsenal in fourth place. Roberto Martinez was laughed at in some quarters when he promised to get Everton into the Champions League at the very infancy of his tenure, per BBC Sport, but as we approach the final knockings of the campaign, the Toffees look set to take their place at European football’s top table.
Even though there is little to play for for the Red Devils, Moyes should have his players rallied for this one. United lost 1-0 to Everton back in December, and the Merseyside outfit doing the double over last season’s champions would be especially embarrassing for the former Everton boss.
But just like their Merseyside rivals, Everton have tremendous momentum behind them. They’ve won their last seven consecutive games and are playing with an unshakeable belief and will to win. They’ll feed off that impetus and will be fuelled by what promises to be a wonderful atmosphere at Goodison Park. Martinez's side will take another big step toward those Champions League places.
Prediction: Everton 3-1 Manchester United