This is kind of a weird weekend in England and the Premier League as there are only 4 league games on tap due to the FA Cup quarterfinals which will take place with 2 games on Saturday and 2 games on Sunday. Outside of the Premier League it is business as usual througout the rest of Europe but there aren’t really any must see games this weekend, but it’s still a weekend full of football, which is better than a weekend without.
As I stated there are only 4 games this weekend but it’s still an important weekend as all 4 games being played either have an impact on the top 4 race or the fight for relegation.
Bournemouth vs West Brom Saturday 11AM
I almost want to say this game doesn’t have an impact at all on anything with 8 games remaining on the season. West Brom is pretty much dead at this point as they are 8 points from safety and it will take an absolute miracle at this point with the way their playing under Alan Pardew to salvage their season, but I guess anything can happen, string together a couple wins in a row and then you’re right back into it, but if you watch this team under Alan Pardew it will seriously take a miracle for them to get back into this race. Bournemouth on the other hand looks like they’re close to safety, but with only a 6 point lead on 18th this is the type of win they want to make sure they get against the basement holders to make sure they don’t fall back into the relegation battle as we enter the stretch drive.
Despite some struggles earlier in the season where because of the way they played defensively which can partially be blamed to Eddie Howe’s assistance to playing football with the ball on the ground and trying to attack which we love and applaud him for but it definitely comes with it’s problems as the Cherries have really struggled defensively this season, but despite all that they have seemingly figured it out enough and put themselves in a good position and like I said should survive. There is nothing about this game that makes me think anything other than a Cherries victory.
West Brom is in shambles and do not see any fight in them especially away from home. I think they get a goal in though on a counter. Should be an easy win for Bournemouth – for any team playing WBA – rest of the season
Bournemouth wins 3-1
Huddersfield Town vs Crystal Palace Saturday 11AM
Crystal Palace finally has some good news on the injury front after being bit hard by it. It has gotten to the point that despite their impressive rally from their awful start that relegation is a serious proposition right now, but getting Wilfried Zaha back is huge. He came back from injury last week as a sub assisting on Palace’s goal in a 2-1 loss to Chelsea. Getting him back is huge for them. They’re still without 3 other starters in former Red Sakho, Loftus-Cheek, and Cabaye, but Zaha is their best player having him back can go a long way to their safety. They come into this only 1 point from safety and only 4 points behind Huddersfield so this is your quintessential 6 point game. It’s not a must win for either but it is a huge game. Huddersfield is coming off a frustrating draw against Swansea in a game Swansea got an early red card which allowed Huddersfield to completely dominate outshooting Swansea 30-0, yep it was really 30-0 and somehow they didn’t score that is one if Huddersfield would happen to get relegated by a point or two that will be looked back and leave their fans frustrated for years to come. This game smells like a draw to me. So much at stake two fairly even teams at Huddersfield. With Zaha I feel like it will be enough to get a much needed point for Palace
Hard not to root for a team like Huddersfield where they have great home fans supporting that team but still feel that Crystal Palace might squeak an away win here especially with Zaha back.
Huddersfield 1 Crystal Palace 3
Stoke vs Everton Saturday 11AM
Stoke comes in currently in 19th 1 point from safety. I actually think Stoke is the worst team in the league, no one is close to how poor they are defensively if my life was on the line and Stoke was playing West Brom at a neutral site I would put my life on Pardew and West Brom believe it or not. Like everyone else in this fight every point is huge at this point. Stoke actually played okay against Man City on Monday, but it’s Man City they weren’t getting anything out of it. Big Sam despite some struggles have gotten Everton to the point where barring an absolute catastrophe they will stay up with the 9 point cushion. Everton has lost their last 6 on the road, so this is a totally different team than it is at the friendly confides of Goodison Park. Stoke hasn’t been as awful as you would think at home, so I think this is the perfect opportunity for Stoke to get a win and shake up in the crazy relegation battle even more.
Everton is simply bad away from home and Stoke need this more and they will show. Everton has too much firepower though and will pull back. Agree with the score
Stoke wins 2-1
The FA Cup is back with their quarterfinals. 7 of the 8 teams are from the Premier Leauge, the only exception is Wigan who gets to the quarters on the heels of the improbably victory over Manchester City. Just a reminder there are no more replays if it is tied after 90 minutes it goes to extra time and then penalties if there isn’t a winner yet.
On Saturday we have Swansea/Tottenham at 8:15AM and Machester United/Brighton & Albion Hove at 3:45 PM
Obviously no Harry Kane for this one and at least the rest of the month, but I imagine that he would have been rested for this anyways. I don’t know how seriously Mauricio Ponchettino will take this knowing he has a history of not taking the domestic cups seriously and maybe not wanting to take any chances with some guys after losing Kane. The way he’s treated domestic cups has gotten him a decent amount of criticism because ppl wrongly think that a trophy defines you even though no one really takes these cups that seriously until the quarterfinals at the earliest. I have always felt like the trophy thing defining you is ridiculous. Sure they’re nice to win and should be praised for doing so and should be celebrated but judging people by their success or if they have a trophy or not is ridiculous. Ponchettino is a great manager and he should not be judged based on what he does in these cups. You should be judged by the league and Champions League not domestic cups. But anyways I still think Spurs win this 2-0.
Tottenham is too good up front and has too much pace for Swansea to handle. If Tottenham gets an early goal, this can get ugly fast. Counting on Swansea starting out defensive and counting on a lucky goal to get past Tottenham.
Tottenham wins 3-0
United coming off their loss in the Champions League on Tuesday will have a huge cloud hanging over this but after that and his crazy rants and how seriously and the success he has had in these competitions and without City or Liverpool left in this I have a sneaky suspicion that somehow someway this rat will be lifting that trophy at Wembley in May and make it sound like it is a bigger accomplishment than winning the Champions League so in saying that United wins 2-0
United has too much talent and will take their frustration from mid-week out on Brighton
United wins 3-0
Sunday we have Wigan/Southampton at 9:30AM and Leicester/Chelsea at 12:30PM
Both of these are really interesting much more interesting than the games on Saturday. Wigan comes in playing with house money after the dream result against Manchester City. They’re tied for points for second in league 1 which is an automatic spot to the Championship which means they still have a lot to play for but there is no way they don’t go all out in this. Southampton on the other hand is in the last safe spot so they have a lot to deal with besides this. But with the international break on the horizon where they can get rest and much needed training pitch time with new manager Mark Hughes they can go all out in this. And in reality this FA Cup is one way to bring some good will back to their supporters, even if they survive this has been a disastrous season for a team that is used to defining the odds and overachieving, but this year they are in a fight for their lives and I think they will be fighting for their safety until the last day of the season. At least with a good run to the semis or maybe the final it can give them something to hang their hat on with an otherwise bad season. This is a tough one to pick I think Southampton gets that new manager boost and somehow gets this done after a 1-1 draw and wins this in penalties.
Leicester/Chelsea is the best game on paper. I personally thing they Leicester is the 7th best team in the league which is better known as the best of the rest. So, this should be a great match and the game is at the King Power which should give Leicester a great shot at this. I previously gave my thoughts about domestic cups but what drives me nuts is when a mid table team that doesn’t have to worry about relegation or isn’t fighting for a spot in Europe doesn’t take this seriously. For these teams your best real shot at any type of glory is by winning a domestic cup. Leicester is the type of team good enough to beat Chelsea, United, or Spurs. This is a competition they can legit win there is no reason why they shouldn’t be treating this as their top priority for the rest of the season. This should be more important than what’s going on in the league. With or without an international break but even more so with the break this should be an all out game for them. Chelsea is reeling after their loss at Barcelona and with the majority of their team going out on international duty after this many players heads may be elsewhere and you may see Antonio Conte play a rotated side for this reason. This is a great opportunity for Leicester to do something special, something to add to the league title for this group the best group they have ever had. They didn’t take their Carabao Cup quarterfinal against Manchester City seriously a game they lost in penalties that irritated me then and if they don’t go all out here it will drive me crazy. I’m thinking they will and they will win this. 2-1 Leicester
Not really a lot of huge games going on around Spain, German, and Italy. Obviously Italy is the one title race we still have but even that is starting to look a little bleak as Juventus is doing what Juventus does after the New Year which is crush a bunch of hearts all over Italy time and time again. Out of nowhere they have opened up a 4 point lead and haven’t lost since they lost to Sampdoria on November the 19th 3-2, yes I said November the 19th. That is basically 4 months ago. That is nuts. Napoli is still playing well, they have gone 10-1-1 in their last 12, but keeping pace with this Juventus machine is almost impossible. Juventus travels to SPAL this weekend and Napoli hosts Genoa so they should both come away with 3 points.
The best game this weekend and really the only game that is going to move the needle is Leipzig vs Bayern Munich on Sunday at 100PM. Outside of that the next best game in my mind is Villareal/Atletico Madrid which really isn’t going to move the needle much. But there is still that crazy top 4 race in the Bundesliga to pay attention to. Outside of that Barcelona plays Athletic Club and Real Madrid plays Girona who can be tricky to play against remember Girona beat them back in October and gave them fits with the way the use their wing backs.
Even though it isn’t the best weekend slate enjoy your football since there is no football that matters next weekend due to the annoying international break and even more annoying since it is all friendlies and no football that matters will be played.