After their thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday, Liverpool heads into Matchday 35 of the Premier League in the driver's seat for the title.
The Citizens have two games in hand but now trail the Reds by seven. With both teams facing opponents barely treading water above the relegation zone this week, that isn't likely to change. On top of this, Chelsea sits just two points back of Liverpool, and the Blues face last-place Sunderland.
Although the matches involving the top three title contenders are not all that compelling, this is still an interesting week. Everton and Arsenal are locked in a battle for the coveted fourth spot in the league, and both have tough matchups this week.
Have a look at the current standings and my predictions for the week, and then I'll offer an in-depth look into a few of my predictions.
|11||West Ham United||34||10||7||17||-9||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||6||15||12||-11||33|
|April 19||12:45 p.m./7:45 a.m.||Tottenham||2-0||Fulham|
|April 19||3 p.m./10 a.m.||West Ham||2-1||Crystal Palace|
|April 19||3 p.m./10 a.m.||Aston Villa||1-2||Southampton|
|April 19||3 p.m./10 a.m.||Cardiff City||1-1||Stoke City|
|April 19||3 p.m./10 a.m.||Newcastle||1-1||Swansea City|
|April 19||5:30 p.m./12:30 p.m.||Chelsea||1-2||Sunderland|
|April 20||12 p.m./7 a.m.||Norwich City||0-3||Liverpool|
|April 20||2:05 p.m./9:05 a.m.||Hull City||2-0||Arsenal|
|April 20||4:10 p.m./11:10 a.m.||Everton||2-1||Manchester United|
|April 21||8 p.m./3 p.m.||Manchester City||3-0||West Brom|
Hull City vs. Arsenal
After spending much of the campaign atop the Premier League table, Arsenal is now just trying to hang on to fourth. ESPN's Alex Shaw is growing tired of this scenario:
Arsenal are in a real battle for fourth. Again. Like last year. And the year before that. And...etc. Is this it? Is this all there is?— Alex Shaw (@AlexShawESPN) April 15, 2014
The Gunners almost lost that position to Everton in Week 34. They played in the week's final game and trailed West Ham 1-0 until the final minutes of the first half. They seized momentum and won 3-1 to pull ahead of Everton by two in the table.
Now the Gunners are set to face a Hull side they will also face in the FA Cup final.
Hull City is not in the greatest form. It's won just one of its past three league matches, but both losses came on the road. It will get a boost in this by returning to the Kingston Communications Stadium.
Arsenal has lost its last two away league matches by the combined score of 9-0, but those losses came against Everton and Chelsea.
I expect a strong performance from Arsenal in this match. The Gunners have their backs to the wall and they will be fueled by the strong finish against West Ham.
On Dec. 4, Arsenal hosted Hull City and won 2-0. This one will be similar, but Hull City will get on the board.
Prediction: Hull City 1-2 Arsenal
Everton vs. Manchester United
With both teams carrying a sense of desperation into this match, it should be a fun one.
For Everton, the desperation comes from its quest to capture fourth. Meanwhile, Manchester United has little left to play for this season, but the desperation comes from manager David Moyes' quest to avoid embarrassment.
Not only is Moyes' former club kicking his butt in the table, but Everton also beat United 1-0 in December and is now looking for the double.
As the following tweet from Man Utd News points out, Moyes is not of the idea that this season's failure will diminish the lure of his storied club:
David Moyes "lack of Champions League football will not affect transfer targets" "Every players we speak to is keen to join." #MUFC— Man Utd News (@SirAlexStand) April 9, 2014
Despite this, Manchester United would be well advised to start winning some matches. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, they won't win this match. Everton is a team on a mission. It enters this match having won seven straight league matches and will extend that streak against a depleted United.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Manchester United
Norwich City vs. Liverpool
As mentioned, Liverpool is in the driver's seat for the league title. Now the Reds have to focus on closing out the season strong. They appear to be keenly aware of this.
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.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has done a wonderful job all season of keeping the Reds on track, and he won't let this team suffer a letdown against the likes of Norwich.
Norwich has lost three straight and hasn't scored a goal in any of those matches. Liverpool is not the team you want to face in the midst of an offensive slump.
Norwich will get this game at home, and the 17th-place club has been far better at home this season. In fact, it's only allowed 13 goals at home this league year. Of course, it's only scored 15 at home.
Meanwhile, Liverpool can score anywhere, and the Reds have 42 goals as the away team this league year.
Norwich will be blanked once again, as Liverpool cruises to another victory.
Prediction: Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool