English football returns this weekend with the Merseyside derby kicking off a key weekend for every Premier League club. The 3pm matches are however interesting because a number of shocks could be brewing up and down the country.
Several clubs fighting for Champions League qualification could find themselves on the receiving end of upsets. Tottenham head to Turf Moor to face an unfearful Burnley side whilst Manchester United host this season’s surprise package in West Brom.
There is also action at the bottom as Sunderland, Hull and Crystal Palace look to make gains in the race for survival.
Burnley vs Tottenham Hotspur
This is a potential banana skin for Spurs given how strong Burnley have been at home this season.
The Clarets might of not won their last six matches but they have spent five of those games on the road. If they can quickly rediscover their home form then Mauricio Pochettino will be lucky to get a point here.
In recent games, Burnley have been showing real potential so expect to see them push right till the end.
Only Arsenal and Manchester City have won at Turf Moor from amongst the top half clubs. With Harry Kane out, Spurs should look to keep things tight and avoid more injuries.
A draw here wouldn’t be the end of the world and both sides will benefit from a point apiece.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Spurs
Result: Burnley 0-2 Spurs
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace
You would be mad to bet against Chelsea winning this game.
Crystal Palace might of won their last three league games but Stamford Bridge has been a tough place to visit this season. They however won on their last visit to the Bridge in August 2015.
Recent meetings have often seen results decided by a single goal but it shouldn’t be the case here.
Eden Hazard is fit after missing Belgium’s two fixtures so expect him to cause problems for the Eagles. Wilfried Zaha has been strong for Palace but he won’t have any answers here en route to a comfortable defeat at the hands of Chelsea.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace
Result: Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace
Hull vs West Ham
Hull’s home form is going to be key if they want to remain in the top flight.
Since Marco Silva arrived, their home form has been impressive and this is a golden chance to boost their survival dreams.
West Ham haven’t won in nearly two months and are leaking goals left, right and centre. With a growing injury list, it won’t be a surprise if the Hammers try and limp over the finish line as high as they possibly can.
They might be in trouble but Hull should cruise to victory here.
Prediction: Hull 2-0 West Ham
Result: Hull 2-1 West Ham
Leicester vs Stoke
Since Claudio Ranieri’s departure, Leicester have gone on an unbeaten run.
At home, it will be difficult to see past the soon to be ex champions but Stoke are no push overs.
The Potters have beaten everyone who occupy the last eight spots in the league this season so expect a tight yet feisty match.
Leicester should nick this 2-1 but a draw is probably more likely here.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Stoke
Result: Leicester 2-0 Stoke
Manchester United vs WBA
As Manchester United start a packed April schedule here, defeat here would be disastrous.
Set pieces will be key here because West Brom can create problems from corners as seen in the 3-1 win over Arsenal, two weeks ago. The Red Devils should however prove a sterner test for Tony Pulis’ men.
If they can pick up where they left off and play with confidence, another scalp could be heading their way.
Jose Mourinho will be better off trying to get as many points as he can this month. With a midweek game against Everton, drawing would be in United’s best interests. The Baggies however can afford to go all out and sneak a win.
Prediction: Man Utd 1-2 WBA
Result: Man Utd 0-0 WBA
Watford vs Sunderland
Is this where Sunderland start their traditional escapology act?
Watford are seven points clear of the drop and a win for the Black Cats will draw them closer to the drop zone.
David Moyes need to get his side scoring again after a two month goal drought. This has to be a concern because the last three meetings at Vicarage Road has wielded draws.
Draws won’t be enough here and Jermain Defoe will be confident of getting back on the goal trail.
Given that the run in has commenced, Sunderland have to be favourites but by a slender margin.
Prediction: Watford 0-1 Sunderland
Result: Watford 1-0 Sunderland
The above matches are all 3pm KOs with two local derbies bookending the day. Previews for each derby can be found below.
Liverpool vs Everton: https://jamestgregoryblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/red-or-blue/
Southampton vs Bournemouth: https://jamestgregoryblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/seaside-duel/