Predictions

Crucial Saturday

The Europe and relegation battles dominate this weekend with seventh now gaining entry into the Europa League, as a result of the FA Cup semi final lineup.

 

With international fixtures taking hold next weekend, this round represents a last chance for teams to grab a foothold ahead of the fortnight’s break.

 

West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal

 

West Brom have flown high for most of this season but are currently in a rut. Two defeats on the bounce is worrying for a side that has already secured safety.

 

Manager, Tony Pulis will have to make do without James Morrison and Matt Phillips as a troubled Arsenal visit the Hawthorns.

 

Arsene Wenger has Mohamed Elneny back from his ankle injury but Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs are both doubts.

 

Victory here is important if Wenger is to maintain his record of qualifying for the Champions League every year.

 

With a five point gap to Liverpool, if they lose and Liverpool beat Manchester City on Sunday, the gap to fourth will extend to six points. The Gunners could be down to sixth if Manchester United move above them early Sunday afternoon.

 

Expect Arsenal to attack with the Baggies sitting deep and going forwards on the counter. If Ben Foster can keep them in the game, West Brom should be able to breach a vulnerable defence amongst their visitors.

 

After being left out of the England squad, Theo Walcott will be out to prove a point here and can see him getting a goal.

 

Prediction: WBA 1-1 Arsenal

Result: WBA 3-1 Arsenal

 

Crystal Palace vs Watford

 

With both clubs not safe, this is a must win match.

 

Crystal Palace will be without Patrick van Aanholt so Jeffery Schlupp will start at left back.

 

Watford have no injury concerns to report expect for the injured Mauro Zarate. Midfielder, Etienne Capoue has been suffering with a fever but could still feature for the Hornets.

 

Selhurst Park has been a miserable home for the Eagles this season with only ten points earned. They have only scored 14 times here as well making this a tough fixture.

 

Watford have won on their last two trips here and if they play tightly, could get the three points again.

 

Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-2 Watford

Result: Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford

 

Everton vs Hull

 

This meeting is important to both clubs at both ends of the table.

 

Everton will have Leighton Baines fit after a back injury ruled him out of last week’s win over West Brom.

 

Muhamed Besic is still getting back to full fitness after a long spell out so won’t feature this weekend. James McCarthy is another absentee with a hamstring injury.

 

Hull are missing Oumar Niasse due to his ineligibility against the Toffees.

 

Markus Henriksen is back in training after recovering from a shoulder injury. He is expect to play no part at Goodison Park due to a lack of fitness.

 

Evandro, Michael Dawson, Dieumerci Mbokani and Ryan Mason are all ruled out for various lengths of time.

 

The Tigers’ away form is poor and I can’t see it improving here despite a win last time out at home.

 

Everton are flying and have beaten their visitors at home on all but one occasion. With Romelu Lukaku in dangerous form, another win surely has to be theirs.

 

Prediction: Everton 3-0 Hull

Result: Everton 4-0 Hull

 

Stoke vs Chelsea

 

League leaders, Chelsea will be hoping to avoid a slip up here.

 

Glenn Johnson is out but Xherdan Shaqiri and Wilfried Bony are available after missing the draw at Manchester City, ten days ago.

 

Chelsea have a fully fit squad but will check on a few unknown players.

 

Mark Hughes will set his Potters up to sit deep and park the bus. Chelsea however are difficult to keep out so expect a few goals here.

 

Stoke have not lost their last eight league matches at the Bet365 Stadium. Their record against clubs sat at the top of the league is poor with just one win against clubs leading the table at time of facing them.

 

It’s tough to look past the Blues here but will be tight.

 

Prediction: Stoke 1-2 Chelsea

Result: Stoke 1-2 Chelsea

 

Sunderland vs Burnley

 

Sunderland will see this tie as winnable given Burnley’s pathetic away form.

 

Jan Kirchhoff is out for another four weeks whilst Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson are doubts.

 

Sean Dyche will be pleased to have Steven Defour return to the Burnley squad after over a month on the side line.

 

Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Dean Marney are still out for the Clarets with knee injuries.

 

Sunderland haven’t lost to Burnley at home in just over 34 years so will be tough opposition to beat. They however tend to start their escape right about now.

 

Burnley have improved lately away from home and will see this match as their chance to clinch that elusive away victory. Their March record in the top flight is poor with just a solitary win.

 

As much as Sunderland need the points more ahead of their traditional late season escape, the Clarets will have too much here.

 

Prediction: Sunderland 0-2 Burnley

Result: Sunderland 0-0 Burnley

 

West Ham vs Leicester

 

Leicester are looking for a third consecutive league win under Craig Shakespeare. West Ham will however cause problems for the Foxes.

 

West Ham are without captain, Mark Noble due to a dead leg. Sam Byram could return in his place.

 

Shakespeare has a full Leicester squad available to choose from but Nampalys Mendy is the only doubt.

 

If the visitors continue to play like it’s 2015-16 again then they should take away the three points. The Hammers however have beaten eight of the sides below them, who have already visited the Olympic Stadium.

 

With relegation still a threat, expect Leicester to have that bit extra urge to win and bag the points.

 

Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Leicester

Result: West Ham 2-3 Leicester

 

Bournemouth vs Swansea

 

With both sides close to the drop, anything could happen here.

 

Eddie Howe will hand Harry Arter a late fitness test after picking up a calf problem last weekend.

 

Andrew Surman is back after serving a one match suspension but Tyrone Mings is still suspended for three more matches.

 

Junior Stanislas is the only Cherry absent from this match with a groin injury.

 

Swansea have top scorer, Fernando Llorente back from a dead leg but Martin Olsson and Angel Rangel are out.

 

Bournemouth are coming into this game off a high of getting their first win in 2017. Their defence is however just as unstable as Swansea’s.

 

The Swans have developed a win, lose, win … pattern lately so expect them to eye a win here. Their clean sheet performance is however poor with just one shut out in 13 games.

 

Definitely can see goals here but the Cherries have that bit more depth at home to get them over the line.

 

Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 Swansea

Result: Bournemouth 2-0 Swansea

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