It Could Be A Pivotal Weekend In The English Domestic Season

The first silverware of the season will be decided on Sunday when Chelsea and Manchester City meet in the League Cup Final. Earlier in the day Liverpool make the short journey to Old Trafford for one of the most eagerly-awaited games of the PL season and one that could have a huge impact on the destiny of the title.

Premier League

Cardiff City v Watford

If Cardiff beat Watford on Friday it will be the first time the Bluebirds have won three top-flight games on the spin since 1961, but I think the Hornets will take the points at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The Hornets have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four Premier League games and they also won 1-0 at Loftus Road in the 5th Round of the FA Cup last Friday.

Javi Gracia’s side won the reverse fixture at Vicarage Road 4-2 back in December and I feel they will do the double over Cardiff for the first time since 2006 when both sides were in the Championship.

Tip: Watford to win at 7/5

 

West Ham United v Fulham

Fulham have not got the best of records in London derbies taking just one point from the last 36 available and have lost their last eight in a row.

West Ham are not in great form themselves – one win in their last seven PL games – but they were excellent in their last home game at the London Stadium when they held title favourites Liverpool to a draw.

Tip: West Ham to win and both teams to score at 5/2

 

Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur

Burnley are unbeaten in their last seven PL games, but they have a modest home record against the “big six” taking just two points from the last 42 available.

Spurs have kept a clean sheet in their last three visits to Turf Moor, but this is a much-improved Clarets side who will test the title credentials of Mauricio Pochettino’s side. I feel Spurs will edge what promises to be a terrific game between two inform sides and gain a club record 12th PL away win of the campaign.

Tip: Spurs to win at 7/10

Bournemouth v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Bournemouth have won their last two PL home games without conceding but I feel they will have to settle for a point in what I expect to be a tight close affair.

I felt Wolves were very professional at Ashton Gate in the Cup on Sunday – scoring an early goal and then readily keeping the Robins at arm’s length.

Tip: Game to finish in a draw at 23/10

 

Newcastle United v Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield have scored the fewest goals (14) and lost more games (19) than any side among the top five European Leagues this season and I expect United to add to the Terriers’ dismal record.

The Magpies have won their last two home league games and there will be many who think they were unfortunate not to take all three points from their trip to Molineux last time. I would be disappointed if the Toon Army were not celebrating another home win at the weekend.

Tip: United to win to nil at  7/4

 

Leicester City v Crystal Palace

Congratulations to Roy Hodgson who will take charge of Palace at the King Power Stadium and become the oldest person to manage a PL outfit aged 71 years and 198 days young.

Leicester are without a win in their last five PL games and have lost their last three at home while Palace made calm, almost serene, progress in the FA Cup at Doncaster last weekend. I think the points will be shared from a low-scoring draw.

Tip: Game to finish 1-1 at 11/2

 

Arsenal v Southampton

Southampton have never won at Arsenal in 19 previous attempts in the PL (D5 L14) and I feel the Gunners will make it seven home league wins on the run against a Saints’ side who begin the weekend in the drop zone.

The Saints are unbeaten in their last four away league games, but they have lost 17 points from winning positions so far this term and that might come back to haunt them at the end of the campaign. The Gunners to shade it.

Tip: Arsenal to win and both teams to score at 15/8

 

Manchester United v Liverpool

United have won seven of their last nine home league games against the Reds but they will be well aware what a chasing they got at Anfield in the reverse fixture – the last game of Jose Mourinho’s tenure.

United have been a revelation under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and easily brushed aside a disappointing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier in the week. Even a draw would see United’s boss set a new PL record for the number of points gained in the first 10 games of a PL managerial tenure – he is currently tied with Guus Hiddink on 25.

Liverpool would have liked to have taken a lead to Bavaria for their 2nd leg Champions League clash with Bayern Munich next month, although it is possible that their Anfield clean sheet will be the deciding factor when qualification is decided.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 13 PL away games and I feel Sunday’s Old Trafford clash of the titans will end in an entertaining draw – a result that will take Liverpool back to the top of the division with 11 games to go.

Tip: Game to finish in a scoring draw at 17/5

 

EFL Cup

Chelsea v Manchester City

Ahead of the Europa League 2nd leg tie with Malmo Chelsea have lost half of their last 10 games in all competitions. They had previously lost 5 of their last 41 games and this is a massive game for all at the club, but especially Maurizio Sarri whose rigid inflexible tactics look almost old-fashioned compared to many of the top sides and their leading coaches.

Chelsea have beaten City already this season 2-0 at Stamford Bridge but they were outclassed in the Community Shield in the season curtain-raiser at Wembley and suffered a humiliating 6-0 loss at the Etihad earlier in the month.

I expect to see Chelsea raise their game back at Wembley and make it a final to remember, but I still expect City to run out winners.

Tip: City to win and both teams to score at 12/5

 

Weekend treble: Watford, Newcastle and West Ham at 8/1

*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article

Michael Owen

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Michael Owen is a former football player, played striker for Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Manchester United. He has represented the England national team at three World Cups and after his goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup was voted the 2nd best goal of the 20th century, he was awarded BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He is the last Englishman to win the Ballon d'Or, receiving the honor in 2001.

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