By Niall Clarke
- Five burning questions for match-week 22 of the Premier League season
- Predictions for all the weekend’s games
The Premier League’s match-week 22 is headlined by a top of the table clash between Tottenham and Manchester City. Will Spurs continued their hot streak? That and four more burning questions for the weekend.
Can Tottenham continue their great run of form?
Spurs are most definitely the form team in the Premier League at present. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have won six games on the bounce, including a 2-0 win against Chelsea that ended their 13 match winning streak. It is a great run that has seen them climb to second in the table, and they currently trail Chelsea by seven points.
Spurs travel north to face an out-of-sorts Manchester City side that were soundly beaten 4-0 by Everton last week. Pep Guardiola has not settled into English football quite as well as it seemed in the early stages of the season when his side were flying high at the top of the table. City have been dumped outside the top four and trail the leaders by ten points. It seems their title challenge is all but over, but the top four is still a crucial battle they must win, and they can not afford to fall further behind by losing here.
Spurs coincidently were the ones that inflicted the Citizens’ first defeat of the season at White Hart Lane in October. That 2-0 defeat showed signs of vulnerability for the Manchester club which have since been taken advantage of by other Premier League sides. It is difficult to predict against Spurs given the way they have been playing lately, but if City can find that magic touch then they can certainly put an end to Tottenham’s winning run.
How will the Diego Costa saga affect Chelsea?
One of the continuing stories in world football has been the dispute between Chelsea and their top goal-scorer Diego Costa. After receiving a massive bid from China for the Spaniard, the unrest began to surface. A rumoured bust up due to his fitness saw the striker dropped for the game against Leicester last week. Chelsea showed no signs of missing him as they easily won 3-0 at the King Power.
The Blues host Hull this weekend and there are still questions on whether Costa will return to the side. Antonio Conte stated that he does not know when the Spaniard will come back, but the signs are positive given he trained with the first team this week. Fortunately for Chelsea they face one of the Premier League’s bottom sides at home, so the need for Costa to start is not that high. They proved they can win easily without him, so do not be surprised to see the striker miss this game.
Hull looked a much better side against Bournemouth last week as their new manager Marco Silva began Premier League life with a win. The Tigers will not be expecting to get anything out of this one, but a good performance could be huge for their survival chances.
Will the other title contenders keep up the pace?
Third placed Liverpool kick off the weekend’s action with a home game against bottom club Swansea at Anfield. The lunch time kick off will see the Reds hoping to climb into second place once again and move within four points of Chelsea, even if it is only temporary. Liverpool have, on paper, the easiest game out of the top clubs and will look to make a statement with a huge win.
Arsenal only sit one point behind Liverpool in fourth place, and the Gunners play on Sunday against Burnley. The Clarets have struggled away despite their tremendous home form, and this should be a comfortable victory for the Gunners. Arsenal in fact are one of the few sides to win at Turf Moor this season.
Manchester United have little chance of winning the title, but their form indicates that they could have a say by the end of the season. The Red Devils travel to Stoke on Saturday in a difficult game, but one they will fancy themselves to win. The result at Old Trafford was a surprising draw despite United dominance, Jose Mourinho will be hoping to get all three points this time around.
Can Crystal Palace and Sunderland claim vital points?
Only a point separates the two sides near the foot of the table and both could do with gaining valuable points in match-week 22 as they battle for survival.
Crystal Palace will be happy they have a home game, but the bad news is it is against an Everton side that dispatched Manchester City 4-0 last time out. Sam Allardyce has experience in leading clubs to safety, but his tenure in this job has not yet reaped the desired results. Can the former England manager claim his first win as Palace boss and lift them further from the relegation zone?
Sunderland are the only club in the bottom four that has not looked for a different manager, but pressure is on David Moyes to start delivering results or he could find himself in the firing line. The Black Cats travel to West Brom on Saturday in a match they will not be expected to win, but one they may feel like they can get something from. A lot will depend on the form of Jermaine Defoe up front, can he score the goals to keep Sunderland in the division?
What else is happening?
Watford, a team that has not enjoyed the best of form recently make the trip to Bournemouth in a mid-table clash on Saturday. Middlesbrough only sit four points above the drop zone, but will hope to extend that gap when they host West Ham.
Sunday’s footballing action kicks off with Southampton hosting champions Leicester who are trying themselves to move clear of any potential danger
Liverpool 4-0 Swansea
Bournemouth 2-1 Watford
Crystal Palace 1-1 Everton
Middlesbrough 1-0 West Ham
Stoke 1-1 Man United
West Brom 2-0 Sunderland
Man City 1-2 Tottenham
Southampton 2-1 Leicester
Arsenal 2-0 Burnley
Chelsea 3-0 Hull
The Premier League returns on Saturday 21st of January.
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