With the end of this scintillating season fast approaching, putting points on the board has never been so important, especially for those fighting for silverware and those battling for survival. Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all desperate to win their remaining games and lift the Premiership trophy. While at the bottom, Cardiff, Sunderland and Fulham will hope a miracle can save them from the dreaded drop. Here are Five to Watch this weekend.
Fulham vs Norwich:
Both sides will be desperate for points in this crunch relegation decider. With survival at stake, the tension will be almost unbearable for either sets of fans but will be an added bonus to those neutrals who tune in to watch this battle unfold. Felix Magath’s men beat Aston Villa last weekend and they will need to continue this form if they are to have any hope of survival.
Norwich City will be reeling after the sacking of boss Chris Hughton and Magath will feel that the Canaries are there for the taking. However, Norwich too are desperate for points as they are just five points outside the relegation zone and will not go down without a fight. With Premier League status at stake, both sets of strikers will have to be on form. Fulham have been known as miracle specialists before when they somehow escaped relegation under Roy Hodgson in 2009. Can they once again defy the odds? If so, a win against Norwich could be a major stepping stone towards safety. With so much at stake, this is definitely one to watch.
Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa:
With Palace playing for survival, this clash with Aston Villa could decide the Eagles’ Premier League fate. The Villains are safe from the drop in 13th but lost to Fulham last weekend and Paul Lambert’s men will look to improve their form on Saturday. They will want to put as much distance between themselves and the drop zone as possible and with a top ten place within reach, the Villains will be out for all three points this weekend.
However, desperation could trump ambition in this clash. With Palace just seven points outside the drop zone there is still a chance the Eagles could go down, particularly when you look at their last few games. Tony Pulis’s men still have to face title contenders Man City, Liverpool and fellow strugglers Fulham. Aston Villa recently suffered a massive blow in losing striker Christian Benteke to injury and Pulis’s men will be confident ahead of this tie. Once again, with Premiership survival at stake and the surprise package of the second half to the season, Crystal Palace suddenly in scintillating form, this is definitely one to watch.
West Brom vs Tottenham:
West Brom have had a disappointing campaign but all can be forgiven if, and only if, the Baggies stay up this season. They are currently 16th, five points outside the drop zone and Pepe Mel will want to keep it that way or else improve on it. Mel’s side have won the least amount of games in the Premier League this season. With just six wins to their name, many pundits will wonder if this is good enough to remain in the Premier League. West Brom will surely look to improve on this before the end of the campaign.
Whether Tottenham allow them to do so is a different story. Spurs have also had a disappointing season having seen their hopes of a top four place disappear early on. With Tim Sherwood’s position looking increasingly precarious, the Spurs boss will want all three points this weekend. The Londoners thrashed Sunderland on Monday night and will look to continue their form into this tie. With players such as Eriksen, Adebayor and Paulinho, Spurs should win this tie. However, the Londoners have been inconsistent this season and with West Brom desperate for points, don’t discount the Baggies; definitely one to watch.
Liverpool vs Man City:
This title decider will be fraught with tension, full of controversy and will feature some of the top talent in England at the moment; enough said. Liverpool are hoping to break their 24 year duck and lift the Premier League title while Man City are gunning for their second title in three years. Liverpool are currently top but City are just four points behind with two games in hand. Many are predicting that whoever wins this match will go on to lift the title.
The Reds have been in scintillating form of late and Brendan Rodgers won manager of the month for March, a month in which Liverpool were undefeated. Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard and star striker Luis Suarez also received the joint player of the month award for March. With the Reds in such devastating form, many see this as their year. However, City have also been at the top of their game lately and will be extremely tough to take points off. The Manchester club will also be boosted by the return of Sergio Aguero, who scored the goal that won City the title two years ago. Anfield, the Liverpool cauldron has been electric so far this season. With so much at stake, expect the intensity and atmosphere to go up a notch. With the title in the balance, this is an unmissable game that could go down in the history books as a real heavyweight clash.
Swansea vs Chelsea:
With Liverpool and City both apparently in the driving seat in the title race, many, including Mourinho, have now discounted Chelsea. However, with world class talent and a renowned mind game master at the helm, the Blues are still in this title race. They are just two points off leaders Liverpool and, like City, they still have to travel to Anfield in what could be a pivotal tie in the race for the Premier League title. Swansea are currently 16th, six points outside the relegation zone and the Welsh side will now be looking up the table as the season comes to a close.
The Swans have been in inconsistent form of late losing three of their last five but gaining a well-earned draw away to Arsenal. Chelsea will be tested by the Welsh side this weekend, but with players like Hazard and Oscar in the side and Eto set to return from injury, the Blues should be too good on the day. However, this is the Premier League and so many stranger things have happened. Chelsea may be third favourites in the title race but this will suit Mourinho who knows, better than most that the title race is not over, not by a long shot.
With titles, pride, egos and survival o play for, these five games contain top class players, shrewd managers and of course, controversy. With goals galore in store, these matches will epitomise what we love about the Premiership. These games are, without a shadow of a doubt, Five to Watch.
Darragh Bermingham, Pundit Arena.
Featured Image By Jon Candy from Cardiff, Wales (DSC06340) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.