1 Norwich v Manchester United: History Repeating
The influence, and subsequent absence, of the impressive Swiss defender Timm Klose has been well-documented at Norwich for quite some time now, with the January arrival from Stuttgart set to miss a third game in a row here. The Canaries lost the previous two.
And without the centre-back, this Norwich team suddenly looks a lot like the side which suffered from a nightmare run-in before relegation two years ago.
Everton and Watford follow on from this home clash with Manchester United so it isn’t quite as tough this time around, but with the visitors still retaining a sniff of the top four in their nostrils, Klose’s continued absence should be punished.
Manchester United to win – 1.85
2 Aston Villa v Newcastle United: The End Of An Error
Finally, mercifully, the decent, match-going Aston Villa supporters will be put out of their misery when the full-time whistle blows at Villa Park on Saturday, bringing to an end the venue’s existence as a Premier League ground ever since the league’s rebrand in 1992. God bless those away fans who make a trip to the Emirates next Sunday, too.
In many cases – and similar to what we saw at Chelsea on Monday – there would be a case of “we’re dragging you down with us” here, but such has been Villa’s ineptitude this season then this really looks like a case of three bonus points for a Newcastle side who could be a real force next season should they stay up.
They have to get closer to that here.
Newcastle -1 to win – 2.65
3 Bournemouth v West Brom: A Grand Day Out
A trip down to Bournemouth for your last away game of the season. It was the lottery that fans of every Premier League club wanted to win, and West Brom’s managed to win it.
Add in the fact that Bournemouth will be celebrating their fine inaugural season at this level, both clubs are safe, and Tony Pulis will be getting a rare rapturous reception as a former Cherries player and manager and you’ve got a lovely day out by the seaside.
No idea how the football will go at all.
Both teams to score (only because ‘Everybody having a nice time’ isn’t available) – 1.77
4 Crystal Palace v Stoke: Is It Possible For Both Teams To Lose?
An alarming Crystal Palace slump which began after a December win at Stoke which left them sixth, level on points with Tottenham, could still mathematically relegate them but surely won’t.
All eyes have long since turned to the FA Cup final though, and with key players likely to be rested here ahead of that Wembley date with Manchester United, they would look ripe for the taking if they were facing a more functioning team than Stoke.
The Potters mentally pottered off some time ago though, and so there will be an air of not really wanting to be there about Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The final slot on Match of the Day awaits.
Under 2.5 goals – 1.77
5 Sunderland v Chelsea: Borini To Bite?
Two years ago a seemingly doomed Sunderland went to Stamford Bridge sitting bottom of the table, only to inflict Jose Mourinho’s first Premier League home defeat in 78 games as the Blues’ manager, fatally wounding Chelsea’s title hopes and hauling themselves closer to the eventually relegated Norwich, Cardiff and Fulham in the process.
It was Fabio Borini who scored the winner from the penalty spot that day, and although the Mackems have failed to net in each of their last three home games, the former Chelsea forward will be hoping that a little bit of that 2013/14 magic remains in a game his team really need to get something from against opponents who care little.
Eden Hazard has never said anything about wanting Sunderland to go down, after all.
Borini to score & Sunderland to win – 7.00
6 West Ham v Swansea: Country Before Club
It is entirely fitting that the last game West Ham play at Upton Park should be under floodlights against Manchester United on Tuesday night, with a fixture backlog forcing that change and relegating this clash with Swansea to just the last Saturday afternoon kick-off there.
Hammers fans who’ve had the same alternate weekend ritual for years will be feeling rather emotional as they go through their pre-match routines, but one man who won’t be going through his own is the Swansea captain Ashley Williams.
In a remarkable case of country before club, Swans boss Francesco Guidolin has agreed to rest the Wales skipper for the final two matches of a campaign he has played every minute of ahead of the Euros in the summer, thereby courting favour with Chris Coleman.
A fantastic gesture, but as a tactic to deal with a revved up home side and an in-form Andy Carroll? Not so much.
Carroll to score & West Ham to win – 2.40
7 Leicester v Everton: Take A Tour Around Them
Upon signing the giant Ron Yeats for Liverpool in 1961, Bill Shankly invited journalists at the defender’s unveiling to ‘take a tour’ around the new arrival, so colossal was former Dundee United centre-back.
Pitch invasions have somewhat died out at the highest level, but Saturday could see Leicester’s supporters given the chance to (safely) get up close and personal with their new colossuses, their new Gods and the men whose names they will remember for as long as they live.
These players are remarkable.
Take a tour around them.
Leicester to win – 1.90
8 Tottenham v Southampton: St Totteringham’s Unanswered Party Invitations
How do you assess a disappointment when no-one ever thought getting this close was possible?
Having missed out on the title, it is only natural for Tottenham supporters to look back to find out where their team’s challenge faltered, but instead they should be looking forward to a bright future under Mauricio Pochettino, something that Southampton fans once thought that they had.
The one thing that they could celebrate this weekend, though, would be the cancellation of those condescending ‘St Totteringham’s Day’ celebrations enjoyed by Arsenal fans.
Win, and Spurs will deservedly finish above the Gunners for the first time in 21 years.
Tottenham to win – 2.00
9 Liverpool v Watford: Benteke To Spearhead A Weekend Team
It’s not so much a weakened team as a weekend team that we’ve got used to seeing from Liverpool in this past month, but despite Jurgen Klopp clearly prioritising the Europa League over a finish of anywhere between fifth and eighth in the Premier League, the German will be desperate to see an improvement on Liverpool’s last domestic outing at Swansea here.
With Basel 11 days away and Chelsea to come in midweek, the pack will be shuffled again, but one man almost guaranteed a start will be Christian Benteke, who grabbed his 50th Premier League goal in south Wales last weekend.
Barring any more injuries – always a big if with Liverpool this season – Klopp’s Basel XI looks nailed on, but if Benteke believes he has any chance of forcing his way into it – and indeed of sticking around next season – then he’ll have to impress here.
Benteke to score at any time – 2.12
10 Manchester City v Arsenal: A Pensive Pep
Although still wounded from midweek, Pep Guardiola should wrap up another Bundesliga title on Saturday afternoon, meaning that he’ll have no distractions when he settles down to see if his soon-to-be employers will be able to give him another crack at the Champions League next season.
With Manchester United holding a game in hand, Manchester City probably have to win their final two games of the season to be sure of a top four finish, something that Manuel Pellegrini surely wants to leave behind for reputational reasons as much as anything else.
Arsenal would guarantee third with a win, but with the safety net of Villa at home to come next week there isn’t as much on the line for them here, in a contest which will become much harder for them if City choose to start their excellent youngster Kelechi Iheanacho.
Guardiola will be an interested viewer.
Iheanacho to score at any time – 2.70
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