Plenty of twists and turns in the matches making up Matchday 34, and there’s certainly no rest for the Premier League teams who are all back in action this weekend. Brand Ambassador Michael Owen once again shared his thoughts exclusively with BetVictor on how he thinks the table will look at the conclusion of Matchday 35.
Over 2.5 goals
Norwich v West Ham United
Norwich are just one defeat away from relegation and as much as I admire the way the club have gone about their business this season, there can be little doubt that their results this season haven’t been good enough.
West Ham came unstuck 0-1 at home to a rejuvenated Burnley on Wednesday evening but will see this as a game they can and must win if they are to put any kind of distance between themselves and the bottom three.
I’m sorry to say but I think this is the match that will consign Norwich to a quick return to the Championship although I do fancy them to bounce straight back up next season.
I’m going for a 2-1 away win for the Hammers.
Watford v Newcastle United
The reverse fixture way back in August finished 1-1 and signalled the end of Javi Gracia’s reign as manager. He was quickly replaced by Quique Sanchez Flores who lasted just 85 days this time around, before being replaced by the current manager Nigel Pearson. After an initial upturn in fortunes Watford have struggled since the restart and are once again hovering just above the drop zone.
Newcastle have had a better than decent season and prior to their 5-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City, they were unbeaten in six Premier League games. Despite not having too much to play for, given their mid-table position, they will be hurting as a result of that loss and I take them to keep Watford, who will be desperate for all three points, at bay and to earn a share of the points with a 1-1 draw.
Mane to score anytime
Liverpool v Burnley
Liverpool came through a difficult test at Brighton with what looked on paper to be a comfortable 3-1 win but was, in fact, anything but. They certainly haven’t hit their early season form since the restart but they continue to win and amass a huge lead at the top of the table.
Burnley are in great form themselves and will undoubtedly be looking to secure a place in the Europa League, despite having a number of issues to deal with this season. However, they have only won one of their last eleven matches against Liverpool and have lost nine.
Liverpool have won all 17 home games this season and will want to finish the season with two more which would be the first time any team has won all 19 home matches in a season.
I take Liverpool to march on with a 2-0 win.
Chelsea to win
Sheffield United v Chelsea
Sheffield United take on Chelsea in a match between two sides who on paper are very evenly matched. In their last seven games against each other, they have each won three with the most recent meeting a 2-2 draw back in August.
Sheffield United have only conceded 14 goals at home this season but Chelsea are one of the most prolific teams away from home so this has all the signs of a very close match to call.
Both teams are in good form but with the Blades having had to play so many games in such a short space of time, and with a much smaller squad, I fancy this to end with a narrow 1-0 win to Chelsea.
Manchester City to win and both teams to score
Brighton v Manchester City
It’s fair to say that Brighton have had a tough run of fixtures since the restart and it certainly doesn’t get much more difficult than when a free-scoring Manchester City come to town.
Fortunately, Brighton already have a decent points cushion between themselves and those currently occupying the relegation places and I think that barring some major surprises, they will once again be plying their trade in the Premier League next season.
Manchester City are struggling for consistency at the minute, but when they are on-song they really are a wonderful team to watch. They’ve scored an incredible 20 goals in their 7 matches since the restart and yet somehow they’ve managed to lose two of them!
There have only been five Premier League meetings between these two clubs and Manchester City have won them all. I take them to once again come away with all three points and I’m going for 3-1 win for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Draw half time, Wolves full time
Wolves v Everton
Back to back defeats for Wolves has pretty much ended their hopes of a Champions League qualification spot but that doesn’t mean they won’t be fully focussed on securing a place in next season’s Europa League. However, with a whole host of teams closing up behind them, the Wanderers will need to get back to winning ways and quickly.
Everton’s hopes of a Europa League place appear to be over after their 1-1 draw with Southampton in mid-week. The point means that Everton are now ten games unbeaten at home this season but five draws in that sequence means they will have to settle for a mid-table position come the end of the season. I think with that realisation fresh in their minds, this could be a difficult game for the Toffees and I take Wolves to get back to winning ways with a 1-0 win.
Both teams to score
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace’s recent run of four consecutive losses in the Premier League has left them floundering in mid-table with little to play for. The Eagles manager, Roy Hodgson will be disappointed with the way their season is petering out, especially when things looked so promising after picking up three points in their first game after the restart.
Aston Villa slipped to 19th in the table after being well beaten by a rampant Manchester United on Thursday and are now four points from safety and with a worse goal difference than all the teams above them in the table. They have now conceded 65 goals in the Premier League this season and have only picked up two points from the last thirty available to them.
It will require a remarkable change in their performances if they are to get themselves out of the deep hole they find themselves in and I can’t see it happening. I fancy them to get a point on Sunday with a 1-1 draw but unfortunately that will be a case of too little too late for the Villans.
Over 2.5 goals
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
Arsenal’s good run of three consecutive Premier League wins which propelled them up the table, came to an end against a resolute Leicester City on Tuesday night in a 1-1 draw but that won’t have dented their confidence or their hopes of a place in next season’s Europa League.
Tottenham were held to a lacklustre 0-0 draw by Bournemouth last time out and look devoid of goals and confidence. They are still in the hunt for a Europa League place but Jose Mourinho has a huge job on his hands if he is to get them back to challenging at the top of the table. The point against Bournemouth means that Spurs now sit one place and one point behind Arsenal in the table and Mourinho will no doubt be relishing the prospect of putting one over their North London rivals.
This North London derby is always a feisty affair with seven penalties in the last seven Premier League meetings between the two. However, without the usual fervent fans, I expect this to be a much tamer encounter although I do expect goals.
I’m going for a closely fought 2-1 win for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Leicester City to win -1 on the handicap
Bournemouth v Leicester City
After a five-match losing streak in the Premier League, Bournemouth earned a point with a 0-0 draw at home to Tottenham on Thursday night and kept their first clean sheet in 17 Premier League games as well. Before the season started, I predicted the Cherries would be relegated this term and I see nothing to change my mind at this late stage.
Leicester are clinging on to their Champions League qualification spot albeit they have now slipped down to fourth place in the table following their 1-1 draw with Arsenal. Jamie Vardy is back on the goal trail and after recently becoming the 29th member of the 100 Club (100 goals in the Premier League) he bagged the Foxes late equalizer on Tuesday.
I’m going for a comfortable 2-0 win the Foxes in this one.
Manchester United to win and both teams to score
Manchester United v Southampton
With their 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on Thursday, free-scoring Manchester United became the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by at least three goals. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named the same starting eleven for the fourth consecutive game which hasn’t happened at United since way back in 2006. With the form they’re in, why would you change anything? They are now unbeaten in 17 games in all competitions and just one point behind Leicester in the battle for that precious fourth Champions League qualification spot.
Danny Ings put in a man of the match performance against Everton in mid-week and was once again on the scoresheet for Southampton. He has now scored 44% of Southampton’s goals this season and everyone at the club will be hoping his goals continue to flow until the end of the season. Southampton have earned 27 points away from home this season which has only been bettered by Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea but on this occasion, I can’t see past another good day’s work for Manchester United and I’m going for a 3-1 home win.