Your Weekend Football Report
Manchester City have already won the Carabao Cup and look to have got the Premier League safely in the bag. However, there are still two almighty battles going on in Premier League.
The first of those is for next year’s Champions League places and Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Chelsea all have a fight on their hands to make sure they’re not the one from that quartet to miss out on qualifiying for a competition that goes a long way towards funding next year’s big transfers. Chelsea are currently the team missing out in fifth place and the Blues desperately need a result at Manchester City this weekend with Man United, Liverpool and Tottenham all odds-on to widen the gap if they don’t.
The second battle is Premier League survival and, as there are just seven points between Watford in tenth place and Stoke in nineteenth place, this is another battle that should go right to the wire. 38 points has always been the supposed magic number for survival, but even Burnley in seventh place still need a point to hit that landmark with 10 games to go.
Premier League Crunch Games
The big match in the Premier League this weekend is Manchester City vs Chelsea and Chelsea will take motivation from their 3-1 victory last season. However, whilst their star was very much in the ascendancy last season as City struggled to adapt to Pep Guardiola’s tactics, the boot is very much on the other foot this season. Chelsea have not been the same without Diego Costa up front whilst City, who have already won 1-0 at Chelsea this season, have failed to win just one of their 14 home games this season. Chelsea really need a result but, as City would love to wrap the Premier League up as soon as possible, City probably deserve to be a shorter-price on this season’s efforts.
If Chelsea do lose then they’ll be fearing wins from the three teams directly above them. Tottenham have already beaten Huddersfield 4-0 away from home and should again open their opponents up with considerable ease after a confidence-boosting second-half against Rochdale on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Manchester United have won on three of their last four visits to Crystal Palace and look strong enough to do so again. Liverpool perhaps looks the weakest of the three as they’ve drawn their last two against Newcastle however, with the Liverpool forwards in great form, they should simply outscore Newcastle.
Potential defeats for Newcastle, Huddersfield and Crystal Palace also adds even more significance to the match between Southampton and Stoke. A win for Southampton would see the Saints leapfrog both Newcastle and Huddersfield. Meanwhile, a Stoke win would see them overtake Southampton and Crystal Palace and Stoke have won their last two matches against Southampton.
There’s also a double-header in regard to Swansea and West Ham with a Swansea win taking them level with their rivals on 30 points, whilst a win for West Ham would take them six-points clear of the Swans. It’s West Ham who have won the last three games between the two teams though.
There’s also a crunch game in the Championship this weekend as Derby host Fulham in a battle between fourth and fifth in the table. Fulham have been in fine form at home recently though could only manage a third draw in succession in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Meanwhile, Derby have enjoyed great success in this fixture in the last few seasons with 4-2, 2-0 and 5-1 wins. Therefore, a Derby win looks a big price this weekend. The loser could also easily come under pressure from both Bristol City and Sheffield United who are both odds-on to win at home on Saturday.
There’s a massive top-of-the-table clash in League one on Sunday as current leaders Blackburn host third-placed Wigan. The gap between them stands at six points but Wigan have four games in hand after their fine run in the FA Cup. However, despite the pair having fought out a 0-0 draw at Wigan in October, it’s Blackburn who have dominated recent editions of this fixture 1-0, 3-1 and 4-2. Wigan also have one eye on their FA Cup quarter-final in two-weeks so could be there for the taking.
FA Cup Betting
Despite knocking out Manchester City, you can still get 100/1 about Wigan lifting the FA Cup. However, the League 1 team will have to beat Southampton at home first before also beating two more Premier League sides. It’s Manchester United who have been installed as the new favourites after City’s demise and they’re around the 9/4 mark. It’s then Tottenham 5/2, Chelsea 4/1, Leicester 11/1, Southampton 12/1, Swansea 25/1, and Brighton 40/1.
FA Cup Draw
Swansea vs Tottenham
Manchester United vs Brighton
Wigan vs Southampton
Leicester vs Chelsea
It’s a big weekend in La Liga as Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in a match that could go a long way to deciding the title. Barcelona have given their nearest rivals hope in recent weeks with draws against Las Palmas and Getalfe and the gap is down to five-points. Meanwhile, Atletico have won their last eight matches in all competitions. The last two matches between them at Barcelona have ended 1-1, with last year’s Copa del ray clash a fiery affair with three sending-offs.
Schalke 04 made a big move up the table last week with victory over Bayer Leverkausen, and could easily jump up to second place this weekend. Borussia Dortmund have a tricky task as they travel to RB Leipzig where they lost 1-0 last season, whilst RB Leipzig also won the reverse fixture 3-2 this season. Meanwhile Schalke host Hertha Berlin who they have already beaten 2-0 this season.
Two interesting top-of-the-table clashes as Napoli host Roma and Juventus travel to Lazio. Napoli vs Roma is a fixture in which both teams have dominated at times, but it’s Napoli who are currently in the ascendancy after winning the last two matches between them (both at Roma). Meanwhile, Juventus very much used to be Lazio’s bogey-team having gone unbeaten for 14 games between April 2-13 and May 2017. However, Lazio have won the last two matches between them (both at Juventus).