Football Preview – Can Chelsea Crush Liverpool?
The match of the weekend must be Chelsea and Liverpool, as Chelsea will be hoping to close the gap on their Champions league bound rivals in an attempt to steal a Champions League spot for next season. However, it’s the Premier League relegation battle that takes centre stage and there are still several teams unsure of their Premier League futures. Meanwhile, there are still key promotions games in the Championship, whilst the League 1 Title is still up for grabs.
Chelsea vs Liverpool
After a pulsating Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich, Liverpool have the chance to qualify for next year’s Champions League as Champions, but there’s just the small matter of a Christiano Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to beat in the final. Therefore, Liverpool can’t really afford to lose to Chelsea this weekend as defeat would give Chelsea a real sniff of snatching fourth-place in the Premier League away from Jurgen Klopp’s exciting team.
However, Liverpool certainly have the recent form in the bag to beat Chelsea with two away wins in recent years, though the other six of the last eight games between the two teams have ended in draws. The big question is whether Liverpool can motivate themselves after such a big match on Wednesday night, and possibly the post-match celebrations. A draw would be a good result for Jurgen Klopp’s men in the circumstances and, with so many draws in recent matches between the two teams, that looks the value-play.
Bournemouth vs SwanseaStoke vs Crystal Palace
Stoke kick-off at the same time as Swansea knowing they’ll surely have to win both their remaining games to have a prayer of playing Premier League football next season. Stoke’s manager will have to pinpoint their 1-0 victory last season’s corresponding fixture as motivation, because it’s Crystal Palace that have won six of the last seven meetings. Stoke need a win but, with plenty of draws in Stoke’s recent home matches and in Palace’s recent away matches, both teams are fancied to come away with a point.
Everton vs Southampton
Southampton’s have the advantage of a 5.30 kick-off and it could be a significant advantage if Swansea and Stoke have already fluffed their lines. However, last weekend’s home win over Bournemouth surely doesn’t mean that the club who are third from bottom should be favourites away to the team who currently 16-points above them in eighth-place.
The bookies may also have overreacted to the fact that Southampton won this season’s reverse fixture 4-1 against an Everton side who were struggling at the time. A closer look at the form-book shows Southampton have claimed just one-point form their last six visits to Everton and, with only one away win against West Brom to their name this year, Everton look excellent value.
Man City vs Huddersfield
Huddersfield will be hoping that Swansea, Stoke, and Southampton have all lost by the time they travel to Manchester City on Sunday. Wins for Swansea and Southampton would especially be two bitter pills to swallow as Huddersfield could conceivably be in the relegation places as they have an inferior goal-difference to Southampton, and it will surely only get worse against a Manchester City team that beat them 5-1 in the FA Cup earlier this season and are currently in full-flow in their bid to finish the season with a record-breaking 101 points. Another goal-fest is expected.
Cardiff and Fulham are both just one match away from knowing whether they’re guaranteed Premier League Football next season or whether they will have to endure the play-offs to determine their fate. Cardiff have their fate firmly in their own hands as they take a one-point advantage into their home match against Reading. However, after failing to win any of their last four games against Reading, they can’t be confident of success.
Meanwhile, Fulham must travel to Birmingham where they’ve failed to win on either of their last two visits, but they did beat Birmingham 1-0 in this season’s reverse fixture. A tough one to call.
Wigan looked a gift-horse in the mouth last weekend and didn’t take the gift as they drew 1-1 with Wimbledon whilst Blackburn lost at Charlton. That means the League One Title goes down to the wire this weekend as Wigan take a 2-point lead to Doncaster, whilst Blackburn have a home match against Oxford. A draw would be enough for Wigan to clinch the title, as they have a far superior goal difference. However, they’ve lost on all six previous occasions they’ve played at Doncaster, even if they are a much better team than when suffering the last of those defeats in April 2016. Wigan probably can’t afford to lose either as Blackburn have handed out a couple of heavy beatings to Oxford in the last couple of seasons including a 4-2 win at Oxford earlier in the season. Blackburn are around 11/2 to clinch the title if you think Wigan’s poor run at Doncaster might continue.
Napoli fans must be mortified after watching their side beat Juventus away from home only to watch them lose 3-0 to Fiorentina. Juventus duly took advantage too with a 3-2 away win at Inter. Juventus should also maintain their lead as they host Bologna who then have won their last four home games against, as well as winning their last two away games against them. Napoli should also collect three-points though as they’ve won their last four home games against Torino and the last five games between the two sides. A short-price double or including both teams in accas look possible plays.