By Neil Leverett
- The Britwatch Football Team give their preview and predictions for the weekend action
- Follow their progress throughout the season and see which writer takes up the Premier League Prediction cup
- Correct result gets one point, correct result and score gets three points.
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – Matchweek 31 in the Premier League is upon us, with just four matches taking place as the focus switches to the battle to avoid the drop. As usual our writers have had their say on what will happen, and also a quick punt on this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-finals.
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AFC Bournemouth vs. West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The first of just four Premier League games kick off Matchweek 31, as Bournemouth host West Brom. For the hosts. this is the perfect opportunity to pull away from the drop zone against a forlorn looking Baggies sides. Alan Pardew‘s men look both clueless and lifeless now cut adrift of safety – eight points to be exact – and carry little threat in an attacking department. A win would be huge for the Cherries and I believe that is what they will achieve.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-0 West Brom
Niall: Oh West Brom. The Baggies sit bottom still and are seven points from Stoke City in 19th. They need a miracle to stay up, and it needs to start with a win at Bournemouth. The Cherries are six points from danger which should be enough, but in the Premier League you never know. Consistency has been an issue for them despite some good flashes throughout the season. Having said that, how can you back West Brom in their current form?
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-0 West Brom
Huddersfield Town vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: This is another mammoth game at the foot of the table and yet another bi-weekly relegation six-pointer as we near the business end of the season. The Terriers struggled to break down the 10 men of Swansea last weekend, an as they again play host to fellow basement-dwellers the Eagles a greater penetration will be needed here as a win for either side could be seismic.
As I suggested a few weeks ago, the return of Wilfried Zaha is a welcome one and the Ivorian could be the difference between the South London side playing Premier League or Championship football next term. The three points at stake at the John Smiths’ Stadium could go a long way to guaranteeing safety for one side and as a result I think this might end in a draw.
Prediction: Huddersfield 1-1 Palace
Niall: The term relegation six pointer comes to mind with this match. Huddersfield, who sit in 15th, welcome 18th placed Crystal Palace to the John Smiths Stadium on Saturday with a win being a huge boost to either side. Goals have been an issue for the Terriers all season and their lack of attacking impetuous cost them the three points last weekend. Palace have had a hard run of games, but still their four game losing streak is worrying. I think this will be a closely contested match, so much so the honours will be even.
Prediction: Huddersfield 1-1 Palace
Stoke City vs. Everton (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: This is a bigger game for the Potters than it is Everton that is for sure, but the Toffees have yet to fully escape the clutches of the bottom three thus far, as tight as the picture is in the bottom half of the table. Sam Allardyce‘s men got a rare win under their belts against Brighton last Saturday, but their away record is nothing short of alarming having taken little more a point away from home since Boxing Day at the Hawthorns, whilst conceding goals in their droves.
Goals last time out have given the visitors a big shot in the arm for the best part of the rest of the campaign, creativity may become an issue. Stoke simply must get a win here to have a chance of staying up which I do see them getting, but it will be a close-run thing.
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Everton
Niall: Many of these games involve teams needing points in the relegation zone and this one is no different. Stoke are 19th but only one point from safety so a win will take them out of that position. Everton look safe in mid-table but their away form under Allardyce has not been good at all, and given Stoke have a tendency to draw under Paul Lambert, I believe the points will be shared in this one.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Everton
Liverpool vs. Watford (Saturday, 17:30)
Neil: Matchweek 31 ends early at the opposite end of the table as Liverpool host Watford, looking to bounce back from defeat to Manchester United last Sunday. Whilst the Reds have been drawn against Manchester City in the most mouth-watering of UEFA Champions League quarter-final ties after the international break, for the time being Jurgen Klopp has his eye firmly centered on the Hornets at Anfield in the battle for the top four.
Javi Gracia‘s men have worryingly only scored once on the road in their last five away league meetings and after their sterling start to the campaign away from home, scraps have been hard to come by. For Liverpool this might be a case of inflicting retribution after Old Trafford defeat last weekend and unfortunately for Watford, the Hertfordshire outfit could be in for a hiding here.
Prediction: Liverpool 4-0 Watford
Niall: Liverpool remain in league action after being knocked out of the FA Cup, so the Reds have a chance to move back into third with a win against Watford. The Hornets are struggling for consistency lately, but their performance against Arsenal was not as bad as the 3-0 scoreline suggests. It will be interesting to see how Liverpool respond after losing a big game to Manchester United last weekend. It is the sort of defeat that can knock a team’s confidence, and Watford are capable of taking advantage of that. It will be an entertaining game and may have plenty of goals, however I believe Liverpool’s attack will be too much.
Prediction: Liverpool 4-1 Watford
Neil and Niall also cast their eye who they think might book their place in next month’s FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley (prediction tally unaffected).
Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday, 12:15)
Neil: This is an interesting one. The blow in losing Harry Kane is immeasurable in the short-term, and Swansea have not lost since January 2nd, when Spurs turned them over. I was impressed how the Lilywhites came from a goal down to Bournemouth last weekend however, and I believe we will see them through just about.
Prediction: Swansea 1-2 Tottenham
Niall: Swansea 1-2 Tottenham
Manchester United vs. Brighton (Saturday, 19:45)
The fact this is on Saturday evening could make for very interesting viewing. The Red Devils were awful as they were knocked out of Europe by Sevilla in midweek, and quite frankly at home United are unpredictable. It is quite difficult to see the Seagulls holding out against their opponents, however Brighton put in a very game showing back in November and with the pace potentially of Jurgen Locadia up front, I think we might be going to a replay at the AMEX.
Prediction: Man United 1-1 Brighton
Niall: Man United 2-0 Brighton
Wigan Athletic vs. Southampton (Sunday, 13:30)
Neil: The arrival of Mark Hughes into the Saints hot-seat adds a different dimension to this one. Wigan are back firing in League One also, and this will be a tough assignment for the former Southampton midfielder as his baptism of fire. I really think the Latics are now the team to beat in this competition and it will interesting to see if the Saints can make a mark on their aspirations for a second FA Cup trophy in five years. My heart says Wigan, but it will be close I feel.
Prediction: Wigan 2-1 Southampton
Niall: Wigan 1-0 Southampton
Leicester City vs. Chelsea (Sunday, 16:30)
Neil: The fourth and final quarter-final is an all-Premier League clash between the last two league champions of the top-flight. Leicester’s form has dipped markedly in recent weeks, but with a place at Wembley at stake the form book might be dispatched out of the window. Chelsea were again unlucky against Barcelona on Tuesday, and the Blues are still carrying a real threat up front. A factor which should see Antonio Conte‘s men into the last four.
Prediction: Leicester 1-2 Chelsea
Niall: Leicester 1-2 Chelsea
Premier League Matchweek 31 takes place this Saturday the 17th of March.
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