Chelsea will try to save their bid for the Premier League title, when they travel to Anfield in an attempt to take down Liverpool. Chelsea trail the table leaders by five points heading into Week 36, and even a win may not be enough to save their title hopes.
Of course, Manchester City will also be hoping that Chelsea pull out three points. With a game in hand, City trail the Reds by six points. They will not face Liverpool again this campaign, so they need all the help they can get.
Winning out will help, too. With City facing the suddenly streaking Crystal Palace this week, they aren't guaranteed anything.
Meanwhile, Liverpool face just three more league matches this campaign, so it is desperation time for Chelsea and City. Let's see how the clubs respond.
At any rate, have a look at the table and the fixtures along with my predictions for Matchday 36.
|12||West Ham United||35||10||7||18||-10||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||6||15||12||-11||33|
|Fixture||Date||Kick-Off Time (BST/ET)||Prediction|
|Southampton vs. Everton||26 April 2014||12:45 p.m./7:45 a.m.||0-2|
|Fulham vs. Hull||26 April 2014||3 p.m./10 a.m.||1-0|
|Stoke vs. Tottenham||26 April 2014||3 p.m./10 a.m.||1-2|
|Swansea vs. Aston Villa||26 April 2014||3 p.m./10 a.m.||2-0|
|West Brom vs. West Ham||26 April 2014||3 p.m./10 a.m.||1-1|
|Manchester United vs Norwich||26 April 2014||5:30 p.m./12:30 p.m.||2-0|
|Sunderland vs. Cardiff||27 April 2014||12 p.m./7 a.m.||1-0|
|Liverpool vs. Chelsea||27 April 2014||2:05 p.m./9:05 a.m.||1-1|
|Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City||27 April 2014||4:10 p.m./11:20 a.m.||0-2|
|Arsenal vs. Newcastle||28 April 2014||8 p.m./3 p.m.||3-0|
Source: BBC Sport
Liverpool vs. Chelsea
The Reds have seized the moment. They've won 11 straight league matches to earn the table lead. There is still work to be done, however, and Chelsea aren't going to concede anything in this match—although, they could certainly be distracted.
Chelsea will play Liverpool between the two dates of their Champions League semifinal against Atletico Madrid. The second of these comes just three days after the match with Liverpool.
When these two met earlier in the campaign, Chelsea prevailed 2-1. In that contest, Chelsea were supremely effective in limiting the chances of Luis Suarez. He had just one shot on target and his team only had four on target all match.
Liverpool scored their goal in the third minute of that contest, and Chelsea had them on lockdown after that.
At times, as in their 2-1 loss to Sunderland their last time on the pitch, Chelsea have lost focus. They won't lose focus in this match. Trying to stop Liverpool's fluid attack requires full attention. This is the kind of challenge that the Blues have risen to this year, and they will rise again.
It won't be enough to pull out three points, but it will be enough to earn a quality draw.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City
It's been a remarkable turnaround for Crystal Palace under Tony Pulis. This club has spent much of this campaign staring at relegation. That is part of the past now. After winning six straight league matches, Crystal Palace are in 11th, and their Premier League fate is safe.
The Premier League took a moment to celebrate Crystal Palace's recent success:
Suddenly, Crystal Palace are a formidable opponent. They have a stingy defense and a fluid attack, but it's mostly been the defense that has led the way in recent success. Three of their last five wins have come by the score of 1-0.
Of course, when they've had to score, they have. Crystal Palace scored three away at Everton to win 3-2.
Against Manchester City, Crystal Palace would be wise to try to keep the score down. Unfortunately, City are not going to let this happen.
Sergio Aguero is finally returning to full fitness. He showed that much while netting a goal on Monday. The club commented on his effort:
10. A fantastic finish from @aguerosergiokun who picked his spot and beat Foster with a perfectly placed effort from 22 yards.— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) April 21, 2014
Aguero will lead a City attack that will prove to be too much for Crystal Palace, and City will emerge with a well-earned win.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester City
Southampton vs. Everton
It's been a fun campaign for Everton. They trail Arsenal by just a point for the all-important fourth spot in the table, and most importantly, they are dominating Manchester United and David Moyes.
Everton will enter their match with Southampton fresh off a double over the Red Devils.
Although this would be a good time for a little gloating, Everton are having no part in that. The Telegraph's Chris Bascombe passed along this quote from Everton manager Roberto Martinez:
When I arrived at Everton I said I was fortunate that everything was in place. Previously I went into clubs where it looked like a bomb had just exploded. I wanted to change many things, but also keep the good things that were here. The biggest thing we have given is a massive role to the younger players, but David Moyes’s job was the platform.
It’s a big thing because we knew we had never done the double over United since 1970. It tells you there is something special about this group of players so I am very proud of the team to beat Manchester United over two games.
My reasoning for pointing this out in context of Everton's upcoming game is that Martinez is going to make sure his team is grounded and keeps its eye on the prize. It would be easy for Everton to have a letdown match following their triumph over the defending champs. With a possible berth in the Champions League so close at hand, there won't be any letdowns in this match.
Unfortunately for Southampton, they've had a devil of a time with scoring this year, and Everton aren't keen on allowing goals.
Everton will keep their momentum rolling with a decisive win.
Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Everton