After a scintillating weekend of football in which the title race, once again, took an unexpected turn and more fuel was added to the fire that is the relegation battle, we turn to the upcoming weekend of Premier league football. With more thrills and spills to come, here are five games to watch this weekend, brought to you by Darragh Bermingham:
Liverpool vs Arsenal:
Kicking off this weekend is a clash that could have a profound effect on the title race. Liverpool are looking to clinch a top four spot while the Gunners will need all three points to remain top of the three. Despite being two points clear of second place Man City, Arsenal are still only third favourites to win the league, behind the Manchester club and Chelsea. Wenger will be looking to put some breathing space between Arsenal and their rivals.
However, they will face stiff opposition in the form of Liverpool. The Reds have been in top form recently with the SAS partnership of Suarez and Sturridge banging in goals left right and centre. They will also be looking to bounce back after a howler from Kolo Toure last weekend cost the Reds all three points. The defender appeared to be almost afraid of the ball and his pass allowed West Brom’s Victor Anichebe to steal a point. With Liverpool desperately fighting for a high finish and Arsenal looking to win the league, this should be a real battle.
Swansea vs Cardiff:
The Welsh derby is a match that every football fan will be eager to see and after the sacking of Michael Laudrup from Swansea, that anticipation has only increased. Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins announced on Tuesday that the decision was made “in the best interests of Swansea Football Club and our supporters.” He added that we had to remove the uncertainty surrounding the club and Michael’s long term future with us.” Gary Monk, the former Swansea defender, and first team coach Alan Curtis will take charge of the team for “the foreseeable future” and are currently preparing for Saturdays match.
Swansea are currently 12th while Cardiff are languishing in 19th. However, with just three points separating the two sides, there is not just pride at stake this weekend. If they win, Cardiff will be level on points with Swansea and will have dragged their rivals even further into the relegation battle. Three points would be more than welcome to the Swans, who will want to put as much space between themselves and the drop zone as possible. With Premiership survival and local pride at stake, the Liberty Stadium should be rocking come Saturday.
Sunderland vs Hull:
Sunderland’s revival at the hands of Gus Poyet has lifted them out of the relegation zone while a string of bad results has seen Hull drop towards the dreaded drop zone. Both sides are on 24 points and will be looking to hit the magic total of 40, which will ensure their safety, as soon as possible. The Black Cats have been in good form recently, beating Man United in the League Cup semi-final and thrashing bitter rivals Newcastle at St. James Park. Hull gained a valuable point away to Spurs last weekend and boss Steve Bruce will be hoping for at least a point this weekend if his team are to stay out of the relegation zone.
Fabio Borini, on loan from Liverpool, has been a top player for Sunderland this season and Hull will have to subdue the feisty Italian if they are to win on Saturday. Hull have plenty of firepower of their own, having signed Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic during the transfer window. Sunderland’s defense will be wary of the duo particularly after the Irishman who scored on his debut against Spurs last weekend. With the relegation battle heating up and both teams desperate to stay in the top flight, this match is a real “six pointer” for both sides.
Crystal Palace vs West Brom:
Both teams come into this match on 23 points each. Palace boss Tony Pulis will hope that the new additions to his team can make an immediate impact in this crucial match. Baggies boss Pepe Mel will be confident after nicking a point from Liverpool last weekend. The relegation battle has been in full swing for some time now and with these two sides deep in the dogfight, this Saturday’s match will take on extra importance.
With Joe Ledey and Tom Ince coming into the side, Palace fans will be quietly confident that they can take all three points at Selhurst Park on Saturday and lift themselves out of trouble. West Brom will hope that they can at least nick a point although they know that it will be a tough day at Selhurst Park. Every point is crucial in the relegation zone, so expect this one to epitomise the fight for survival.
Tottenham vs Everton:
With both of these sides fighting for a Champions league place, this match could have a profound effect on the race for fourth. Spurs are currently 6th, just a point behind 5th place Everton and three behind Liverpool in 4th. Everton have been in good form and many will be surprised to see them so high in the table at this stage of the season but it is clear that Roberto Martinez has built a solid squad. Spurs drew at home to Hull last weekend, allowing Everton, who beat Aston Villa, to leapfrog them in the table. Spurs boss Tim Sherwood will be looking for a response from his players this weekend.
Both sides will be hoping that Liverpool will drop points against Arsenal on Saturday. This would give them the opportunity to close the gap on the Reds. With a top four place at stake, both managers will be demanding a good performance from their team this weekend. The most important thing, however, is the three points.
With top of the table clashes that could change the course of the season and relegation “six pointers”, to see, it is clear that another weekend of tremendous Premiership action is in store.
Pundit Arena, Darragh Bermingham.
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