Welcome to Week 29 EPL Preview of the most exciting league in the Milky Way.
Next week is an international break and every club would desire to enter the hiatus with their spirit high. This would give these fixtures a heightened edge. The battle for the title, top four, survival, and prestige continues. There were only four fixtures last week. We analysed that plus two all premiership FA Cup matches.
We analysed that plus two all premiership FA Cup matches. Of the six matches, we got four results correctly including Man City 2-0 win at Middlesbrough perfect scoreline. Here are our previews for this week. Nothing is guaranteed. Except drama!
EPL Preview: Saturday, 18 March 2017
West Brom V Arsenal, 1.30pm
Arsenal routine 5-0 win over non-league Lincoln FC hasn’t downed doubts nor bellowed belief. It would take a lot more for them to bury that 10-2 aggregate humiliation. But they don’t need to bury that to win matches. To beat West Brom. The Gunners should expect a tricky West Brom.
West Brom lost 0-3 to Everton last week, lost at home to strugglers Palace a week before; Arsenal beat West Brom with an 87th-minute winner in the reversed fixture. West Brom would attempt to put these results behind and get some revenge against Arsenal. Tony Pulis can look to cash in on Arsenal unsteady form.
To win Arsenal have to watch West Brom on set-pieces and start this match strongly. A slow start could be fatal. Arsenal need this match more. West Brom are neither fighting relegation nor in position to qualify for Europe, although they won’t want to lose thrice in a row, hence the fight.
Arsenal to win, narrowly.
Final score: 1:2 #WBAARS
West Ham V Leicester City, 4.00pm
It is summer in Leicester City. Craig Shakespeare is rewriting his ancient namesake’s sonnet. What else shall we compare Leicester’s resuscitation than the ‘darling buds of May’? On Saturday, they won their first consecutive league victories this season and on Tuesday they crushed Sevilla to the last eight of the Champions League.
Will Leicester pull a Leicester on the Champions League? That is taking the fairy handshake beyond the elbow. But they can finish in the first-half of the table.
West Ham have not won a match since taking maximum points from the Saints in St Mary’s Park. They failed to win in the following five matches. And here come the sinners from East Midlands. Bilic might have to assume the powers of the Spanish Inquisitor to combat the foxes bursting with morale.
It is too soon to assume Leicester are born again. Although there is no denying their new form, they are not invisible. West Ham will beat them and that won’t necessarily derail them.
Final score: 2-1 #WHULEI
Everton V Hull City, 4.00pm
Manchester United cast-away Morgan Schneiderlin scored a goal in Everton 3-0 cruise over West Brom. That was his first premiership goal in 511 days. He must have tapped the confidence in Everton which is almost overflowing despite the dent of Lukaku rejecting a new contract and going to the media to run his mouth.
With the top six winning the league cup and the FA Cup, the seventh European ticket will fall on Everton. The Toffees are in touching distance of Manchester United and would be encouraged to fight for more.
Marco Silva’s Hull City revival is cooling. He is blaming everything including the rugby matches in KCOM stadium usually scheduled a day before Hull City play. But that would be better than Goodison Park which is turning into a slaughter-house of a sort for teams like Hull.
A win would catapult the tigers out of the bottom three. Winning at Everton would amount to a mini-miracle. It won’t happen.
Final score: 2-0 #EVEHULL
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Sunderland V Burnley, 4.00pm
If there is anywhere Burnley can earn an away victory, it is in Sunderland. Under David Moyes, a cloud of darkness is closing in on the Stadium of Light. They need Victories more than a thirsty horse needs water. A horse can only die; in the EPL, relegation rates a little more than death.
Sunderland are the only club in the bottom six who haven’t sacked their manager, whatever the board sees in David Moyes, the world is not seeing it. And Moyes needs to start showing it. He should count on the form of Defoe who was recalled to the Three Lions. Will Defoe score his 15th league goal? Can the Black Cats contain Burnley?.
Sunderland will certainly win at least one more match before heading for the Championship. They might win this.
Final score: 1-0 #SUNBUN
Stoke V Chelsea, 4.00pm
Stoke City have shown that their 4-0 loss to Tottenham is a biannual festival irrelevant to their form. A 2-0 win over Middlesbrough and a point at Manchester City is a testimony that Stoke City have some use. They should be encouraged as Chelsea come knocking.
Stoke City can expect two divergent news. The bad news is that Chelsea are even more ruthless than Tottenham. The good news is that Chelsea won’t whitewash them. Herrera proved that rotational fouling of Hazard has consequence. Kante showed that Chelsea have a lot more swords beside the Sword of Hazard.
Stoke will try their best but Chelsea will prevail. Convincingly.
Final score: 0:2 #STOCHE
Crystal Palace V Watford, 4.00pm
Crystal Palace have earned their position off the drop zone. They need to solidify this position. Watford haven’t had a good month but they have enough spanners to disrupt Sam Allardyce work, or to slow it down. This match could go either way. Or neither way.
Final score 1-1 #CRYWAT
Bournemouth V Swansea, 6.30pm
Bournemouth are fresh from claiming their first EPL victory of the year in the five goals thriller against West Ham. Hattrick hero, Joshua King needs to come down from cloud nine for this one.
Paul Clement’s Welsh renaissance that hiccupped in Hull will face a serious threat in Bournemouth. The return of Fernando Llorente is music in Swansea. A win for them will push the swans further out of the drop zone and drag Bournemouth in.
Final score: 1-1 #BOUSWA
EPL Preview: Sunday, 19 March, 2017
Middlesbrough V Manchester United, 1.00pm
Alex Ferguson once referred to the Europa Leauge as punishment for clubs who fail to qualify for the Champions League. Manchester United are serving their term.
They travelled more than 3500 kilometres to Russia last Thursday, played on a soya beans farmland, returned to Manchester, then off to London to play Chelsea on Monday, welcomed the Russians on Thursday and would be in Middlesborough midday Sunday. To worsen their ordeal, Pogba snapped his hamstring and Ibrahimovic and Herrera are suspended.
Manchester United are the weary-hearted.
Middlesborough sacked former Mourinho’s assistant Karanka 48 hours before this match. Can caretaker Steve Agnew pull a shocker in the Shakespearean form? Even though Mourinho observed this possibility, it is asking Boro too much. A draw is likelier.
There is no doubt they would give Mourinho serious battle, playing their first match in eight days while their visitors play their third in six days.
Expect both teams to score. Man United should outscore them. The genius of fighting fatigue with banana might just prove the difference.
Final score: 1:2 #MIDMUN
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Tottenham V Southampton, 3.15pm
Harry Kane is injured. Tottenham only won four out of the ten matches he didn’t play. Pochettinno should be worried. No panic yet. Dele Alli and Son could score the goals to keep Spurs pretext of a title chase alive. But if Spurs will bottle it as expected (they are from North London, remember?) then this is the time.
The Jury is out on them.
Southampton have made enough lemonade from the lemon Referee Andre Mariner handed them in the league cup final. Gabbiadini won’t stop scoring. If they score first on Sunday they would be in pole position to take something out of the match. The bet is on Spurs to win but score draw is equally likely.
Final score: 2-2 #TOTSOU
Manchester City V Liverpool, 5.30pm
Pep Guardiola is having nightmares with Mbappe’s name echoing at the background. Can’t blame him, he has never failed to reach the semi-finals in Europe. The lion is wounded and Liverpool should expect aggression duly transferred on them. Top four is no longer negotiable for City.
Klopp and Guardiola have met ten times dating back to their Dortmund/Bayern days; Klopp won five times, including that New Year eve triumph over Man City.
City are favourites in this one.
Liverpool have played two matches more than their top four rivals Arsenal and Manchester United. Winning this will give them insurmountable confidence. They can be buoyed by the fact they have fresher legs. But Leicester City have taught them that hunger and desire rank more than fresh legs in winning matches.
It would be a low scoring game. Man City will take it. Just.
Final score: 1-0 #MCILIV
Note: All EPL Preview times in Nigerian Time