Last week was one of those weeks where teams that should have won didn’t, buses were parked and FA Cup finalists found. Arsenal advanced to the Wembley showpiece thanks to a goalkeeping error from Reading’s Adam Federici, while Aston Villa scored a come from behind win over Liverpool to earn their place in the final as Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph combined to break the Merseysiders’ hearts.
Chelsea parked the bus ast Stamford Bridge, conceding 72 per cent of possession to Manchester United but somehow walking away with a 1-0 win, while Leicester moved off the bottom of the table for the first time in months with a 2-0 win over Swansea. Elsewhere, it looks like Southampton’s push for a Champions League spot is over after a costly loss to Stoke. Struggling Sunderland suffered another blow as one of their players was charged over multiple sex offences with a minor. Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace went from heroes to zeroes as their winning run came to an end in a 2-0 home loss to West Brom, despite the Eagles having 68 per cent of possession.
Results: Crystal Palace 0-2 West Brom, Everton 1-0 Burnley, Leicester 2-0 Swansea, Stoke 2-1 Southampton, Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United, Manchester City 2-0 West Ham, Newcastle 1-3 Spurs.
Chelsea, Hull, Leicester and Liverpool all play two games this week due to FA Cup commitments earlier in the season.
Fixtures: Southampton vs Spurs, Burnley vs Leicester, Crystal Palace vs Hull, Newcastle vs Swansea, QPR vs West Ham, Stoke vs Sunderland, West Brom vs Liverpool, Manchester City vs Aston Villa, Everton vs Manchester United, Arsenal vs Chelsea, Hull vs Liverpool, Leicester vs Chelsea.
Arsenal vs Chelsea
This top of the table clash could decide the destination of the title. Chelsea are currently 10 points ahead of Arsenal, with both teams having played the same number of games. The Blues were fortunate to claim all three points against Manchester United after having only 28 per cent of possession, but it was my player of the season, Eden Hazard, who sealed the win with a precise shot through David De Gea’s legs. it was one of those games that determines who will win the title this season, as though the Blues have been winning lately, their performances since Christmas have been anything but spectacular. The Gunners had no games last week, as they played their FA Cup semifinal against giant-killing Reading at Wembley. Alexis Sanchez scored a brace for the Londoners but all the talk was about Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici, who made some brilliant saves to keep Reading in the contest but ultimately cost them the game after a weak Sanchez shot squeezed through his legs and dribbled over the line. It was heart-breaking stuff for Reading who were more than holding their own against an in-form Arsenal outfit. Again, this is another important game for both teams. Another win for Chelsea all but gives them the title, whereas victory for Arsenal means that the Jose’s Mourinho’s men can still mathematically be caught. I expect Chelsea to play as they did against Manchester United, focusing on defence and using the counter-attack to try and steal a goal or two. But if the Gunners take an early lead, I expect Chelsea’s game plan to change. This promises to be another cracking game. I want Arsenal to win, but a draw is also very likely. I’m going with the Gunners to win by one goal.
Southampton vs Spurs
With the wind out of Southampton’s sails after their superb start to the season and Spurs’ own inconsistent form on the road, this promises to be a cracker. I am tipping to Spurs to claim a one-goal win, though a draw is also possible.
Burnley vs Leicester
Leicester are playing well and have now won three on trot to give themselves a chance of staying up. Burnley are still fighting hard but they are badly in need of a win to keep them in with a chance of survival. I think Leicester will climb out of the bottom three with a two-goal win at Turf Moor.
Crystal Palace vs Hull
The Eagles suffered a blip last week at home to West Brom, but are still in good form and will be expected to add to struggling Hull’s woes at Selhurst Park. I think Palace will win this one by a couple of goals, with the Tigers slipping into the bottom three at the end of the weekend.
Newcastle vs Swansea
The Magpies have only claimed nine points out of a possible 39 under caretaker manager John Carver and are not out of the relegation battle just yet. Swansea were poor against Leicester but I still expect them to win this game by two goals.
QPR vs West Ham
QPR are also still in with a chance of survival but they badly need a win against the Hammers. Sam Allardyce’s side have been flat lately and need a win to lift their supporters. QPR to win by one goal.
Stoke vs Sunderland
The Potters earned a come from behind win against the Saints last weekend and they will fancy their chances against a Sunderland team in real trouble internally. I can see Stoke winning this by a couple of goals.
West Brom vs Liverpool
It was a great win for the Baggies at Crystal Palace last weekend, but they will face a Liverpool side at the Hawthorns still hurting after their FA Cup semifinal loss against Aston Villa. Liverpool to win by two or more goals..
Manchester City v Aston Villa
Expect another slick performance from Manchester City, who may have given up on defending their title but are still playing for Champions League football next season. Villa’s players will be on a huge high after beating Liverpool in the FA Cup semifinal. They will be sent crashing down to earth though, with the champions winning by two or more goals.
Everton vs Manchester United
A resurgent Everton take on an ever-improving United at Goodison Park this weekend. The Red Devils will have too much for the Toffees, winning by two or more goals.
Hull vs Liverpool
Not much to say here. Liverpool to win by two or more goals.
Leicester vs Chelsea
If Leicester can claim three points against Burnley, they can afford to lose this game, which I think they will. Chelsea to win by one or two goals.