By Niall Clarke
- Five burning questions for match-week 33 of the Premier League season
- Predictions for all the weekend’s games
Manchester United host Chelsea as Tottenham look to close the gap on the leaders. That and more in our five questions for match-week 33 of the Premier League season.
Will Jose Mourinho haunt his former employers?
The Portuguese had two successful stints at Chelsea before taking over the Red Devils, and he has a chance to deal a blow to Antonio Conte’s title charge. We established last week that Chelsea will likely have to lose three matches and Spurs win all their matches to be caught, and this one seems to be the hardest of the lot.
United do not lose often, and even though they have a habit of drawing matches, United are still a very dangerous side. There will be a key battle in midfield with the world’s most expensive footballer, Paul Pogba against arguably the player of the season N’Golo Kante. Who will get the better of the French battle? The Chelsea defence will also have the task of keeping Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet. The Swede has netted 17 times in his debut season in the Premier League, and has often been the difference in Manchester United’s matches.
Chelsea will draw confidence that they have gotten the better of United twice already this campaign. The Blues welcomed their former boss back to Stamford Bridge with a 4-0 thrashing earlier on in the season, they then went on to knock the Red Devils out of the FA Cup a few months later. It is Mourinho that has to solve the puzzle, and there may be no better manager at doing exactly that.
A United win will not only open the door for Spurs to close the gap to four points, but it will also serve as a massive boost to Man United’s top four chances. They currently sit four points behind their neighbours Manchester City with a game in hand. A loss could see their hopes of Champions League qualification slip away. It is going to be a huge game at Old Trafford on Sunday.[table “ADS” not found /]
Will Spurs take advantage if Chelsea slip up?
With Chelsea travelling to Manchester United, Spurs have the chance to close the gap at the top of the Premier League to four points with six games remaining.
Tottenham kick off the Premier League weekend with a home game against Bournemouth Saturday lunch time. The Cherries are a good side that can certainly upset any side in the division, but the odds are on Spurs to claim the three points and put the pressure on Chelsea.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s chances have been boosted with the return of Harry Kane to first team action. The striker came on as a substitute in Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Watford last week, and almost hit the ground running with a goal. The crossbar denied his free kick from hitting the back of the net. Will Kane return to goal-scoring form against Bournemouth?
Tottenham have won their last six games and are the most in form side in the division, but do they have the mentality to keep up the chase? They dropped off at this stage last year in the pursuit of Leicester, so we will find out what they have learned from that disappointing end to last season.
Can Swansea leapfrog Hull in the relegation battle?
After a period of good results, Swansea have seemingly dipped back into their early season form and back into the relegation zone. Hull on the other hand have picked up under Marco Silva and have leapfrogged the Swans into 17th. Will they switch positions once again?
Swansea travel to mid-table Watford who are coming into this week off a 4-0 defeat at Spurs. Fans will be hoping for a better game than the reverse fixture which finished 0-0 in October. Swansea will take solace in the fact that Watford do not have much to fight for. They are clear of the relegation battle and are not close enough to the European fight, so it is all about pride for Watford for the rest of the season.
Hull are against a side in a familiar position as they travel to Stoke on Saturday. The Tigers have been excellent at home under Silva, and have been one of the top six sides in the division since he took over. However, their away form has not been as stellar and that is where the problems could lie against Stoke.
It is another vital weekend at the bottom of the Premier League, and it seems like only one of these two teams will survive. Who will get the desired result this weekend?
How will Arsenal respond to their Crystal Palace humiliation?
Arsenal’s top four hopes took another hit in match-week 32 as they were brushed aside 3-0 by Crystal Palace. The Gooner fan-base was already crying for change with many electing to use banners such was ‘Wenger out’ to generate a new direction, an that result did the club not Arsene Wenger any favours.
Arsenal now sit seven points off fourth position and could be leapfrogged by Everton if results do not go their way this weekend. The Gunners have another Monday appointment against a side fighting for their Premier League survival. Arsenal make the trip to a Middlesbrough side who need results and fast. Boro’s lack of attacking potency has been their weakness so far this season, and the reason they sit 19th in the table.
For Arsenal, a loss to a struggling Middlesbrough will surely seal the end to their top four fight and will not do Wenger any favours if he wants to stay at the club. For Middlesbrough, that very victory will be huge for their survival chances. A loss will only further damn them to the Championship.
What else is happening?
The race for the Champions League places continues. Manchester City have a tough away trip to Southampton on Saturday, whilst Liverpool go to West Brom on Sunday. A loss for either side could open the door for Manchester United to close the gap. A win for both sides however could near enough seal their Champions League position for next season.
Everton will look to continue their own fight for European football when they host Burnley on Saturday. The Toffees responded well to their derby defeat at Liverpool by end Leicester’s winning streak with a 4-2 victory. Can they make it two in a row at home to one of the worst travelling sides in the division?
The Foxes will look to respond to their Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Palace have been in excellent form lately, defeating Chelsea and Arsenal in recent weeks. Can Sam Allardyce steer his side closer to guaranteed Premier League survival?
Speaking of Premier League survival, that looks unlikely for Sunderland as they can not seem to muster the results needed to stay in the division. However, a home game against West Ham could spark an unlikely comeback story. Can David Moyes’ team end their seven game winless run?
Tottenham 3-1 Bournemouth
Crystal Palace 1-1 Leicester
Everton 2-0 Burnley
Stoke 2-1 Hull
Sunderland 1-0 West Ham
Watford 1-0 Swansea
Southampton 1-1 Man City
West Brom 1-0 Liverpool
Man United 1-1 Chelsea
Middlesbrough 0-2 Arsenal
The Premier League returns on Saturday 15th of April
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