EPL Matchday 30 Preview

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EPL Matchday 30 Preview
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

This weekend sees no fewer than four derbies take place in the Premier League.

The first tussle will kick-off—literally and metaphorically—at Villa Park at 12:45 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, with seventh place Aston Villa hosting 17th place 'neighbours' Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves, with a crucial win last week at Burnley and a strong showing against the champions Manchester United, are showing some form, but Aston Villa, led by talisman James Milner, will hope to climb level on points with Tottenham Hotspur in fourth place.

Spurs face a tricky trip to Stoke to take on the Potters and Rory Delap's throw. Michael Dawson and Peter Crouch will be crucial players for the visitors at both ends of the pitch. Roman Pavlyuchenko will look to take advantage of Jermain Defoe's recent injury by continuing his sensational form in front of goal.

The other two Saturday derbies see title-chasing Arsenal host struggling West Ham United and Wigan welcome Burnley to the DW Stadium.

The first should see Arsenal, in fine form in front of goal, boost its goal difference considerably and turn the clouds gathering over East London an ever darker shade.

The second will be a brilliantly unpredictable encounter, although Burnley's disastrous away form (one point in 15 matches!) should mean three points for Wigan, which would temporarily take them out of the reach of their opponents.

Two teams who have an outside chance of playing in the Europa League—recently not much of an incentive in playing or financial terms—also have matches tomorrow. Birmingham travel north to face Sunderland; Everton have a greater chance of picking up three points at home to Bolton.

Hull, under new manager Iain Dowie, must win at Portsmouth to improve their survival prospects, especially given their unhealthy goal difference.

The top two teams play a day later on Sunday.

Manchester United host Liverpool, Chelsea travel to Blackburn. Both ties are dangerous for the title-chasers, and both will be tense affairs. If the defending champions fail to defeat their local enemies Liverpool, who have Fernando Torres (pictured) back fit and in the goals, in the day's early kick-off, Chelsea could gain the upper hand in the run-in, especially as they have a game in hand.

Aston Villa, Liverpool and Tottenham will all pray that Fulham can follow up their stunning Thursday night Europa Cup victory over Serie A giants Juventus with a win against Manchester City, who currently look to have the best chance of ending the season in fourth place.


Weekend predictions:

Arsenal 4-1 West Ham

Aston Villa 2-1 Wolves

Everton 2-1 Bolton

Portsmouth 1-2 Hull

Stoke City 2-0 Tottenham

Sunderland 2-0 Birmingham

Wigan 1-0 Burnley

Blackburn 2-2 Chelsea

Fulham 0-0 Manchester City

Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool

 

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