After 2 long weeks and 3 for teams in the Premier League who were participating in the FA Cup quarterfinals we’re back with a full slate this weekend in all the Europe’s top leagues. I guess in some ways the break was okay for us to recharge our batteries as the season kicks into high gear starting this weekend and doesn’t slow down until the Champions League final on May 26 in Kiev, Ukraine. I’m talking most weekdays are either filled up with Champions League, Europa League, Cup, or even league fixtures from now until the end of May, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves let’s just focus on Easter weekend and what we have ahead of ourselves the next couple days.
The Premier League has a full slate this weekend after a partial weekend 2 weeks ago with the aforementioned FA Cup quarterfinals. Right now if you need a quick reminder we have a great race for 2nd thru 4th. 3 spots in the Champions League next year going to be decided by 4 teams.
Chelsea vs Tottenham (Sunday 11AM)
And no better place to start this weekend than with the biggest game in the Premier League this weekend with Tottenham traveling to Chelsea. In case you live under a rock and you don’t know Harry Kane injured his ankle. According to Spurs manager Mauricio Ponchettino his star forward has a slim chance of playing in this match, which is crazy to me, but maybe Kane isn’t human. I get this is a huge game. I get Spurs have struggled when taking the trip to Stamford Bridge, but to me it’s crazy to rush him back this quickly. Yes, this is enormous when it comes to top 4, but I don’t think the risk is worth it. They still have games left to overcome a loss in this one and still finish top 4 and win the FA Cup, which is what Spurs have to play for the rest of this season. It’s good for them that he’s close, but don’t put a whole lot of stock in him playing. This could also be mind tricks to make Chelsea think he may play. But all that being said there is no way he plays and there is no way they win at Chelsea without him.Son
I think Tottenham can trouble the shaky Chelsea defense and they have the players to slow down the likes of Hazard and Willian. Chelsea 1 Tottenham 2
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (Saturday 730AM)
I previewed this in length yesterday, please go read it, but to put it here with the rest.
Klopp makes sure that the team is not getting ahead of themselves and focus on this game. Hard fought game that can make you nervous at times but Liverpool gets the 3 points.
Crystal Palace 0 Liverpool 2
Brighton and Hove Albion vs Leicester City (Saturday 10AM)
Brighton is in that weird place in this relegation fight. They are in 12th which you would think is safe, but they’re only 6 points up on being safe. A couple more wins and it seals it up for them. I don’t know why but I think Leicester is about to pack it in for the season. I like this Leicester team, but they are also a team that you have to question player motivation from time to time, so with being eliminated from the FA Cup before the break I think that was all they really had to play for, so look for Brighton to come out fired up and get the 3 points.
Brighton is always more lively at home but Leicester can be dangerous on the counter and pull off a surprise win here.
Brighton 1 Leicester City 3
Manchester United vs Swansea (Saturday 10AM)
Swansea has been in relatively good form lately. They have gone from what looked like a club that was certain to go down most of the season, to a team that has risen all the way to 14th, but before you start popping that champagne in Wales 14th place is only 3 points safe, so they have a lot of work to do before they can celebrate a rather miraculous run to safety.
United on the other hand continues to win ugly and not impress anyone. Things at this club right now are so volatile with manager Jose Mourinho. They are 2nd in the league but I don’t think anyone including their fans or anyone associated with the club thinks they are the second best team in the league. But as long as Jose keeps grinding out results he still has that to fall back on. This game will be really ugly, this game will be difficult to watch, but expect United to get the 3 points.
Manchester United 2-0
As much as I would like to watch it happen, cannot see Swansea put up a decent fight against United. They will make it close and still have a shot if they keep a clean sheet going into half time, but United will get yet another ugly win.
Man U. 2- Swansea 0
Newcastle vs Huddersfield Town (Saturday 10AM)
This is one of those 6 point games that everyone loves to talk about this time of year. Newcastle is in 13th with 32 points and Huddersfield is in 15th with 31. Those point totals are 4 and 3 points from safety, so I don’t have to tell you how big this one is and how much tension will be involved in this one. Huddersfield is god awful on the road. Newcastle isn’t that great at home, but I think Rafa is going to get it done here. This team has a Championship roster and the only reason they stay up is because of Rafa and he knows this is the type of game you absolutely have to win if you’re going to stay up. I trust Rafa so I think Newcastle gets all 3 points.
Huddersfield’s record away from home is just ugly. Newcastle pull off this win and get much needed 3 points.
Newcastle 3 Huddersfield 1
Watford vs Bournemouth (Saturday 10am)
This is one of those I have no feel for. Neither team should be really worried about safety. They’re both 8 points up tied for 10th with 36 points, so they are both in that no mans land of not having anything to play for, so they’re just really playing out the string. But I would check this game out if I were you, this is the type of game I would expect goals. Neither team is very good defensively, they both have a decent attack, with nothing to really lose or gain I expect these teams to just go all out on the attack, have some fun and put on a good show.
Agreed. A great game to watch as you relax after a Liverpool win(hopefully) Watford pulls off the win with the stronger midfield
Watford 3 Bournemouth 1
West Brom vs Burnley (Saturday 10am)
If I were trying to get someone new into this sport this is the absolute last game I would have them watch. These are probably my 2 least favorite teams to watch in this league. I actually expect them to both pack their own boxes with all 10 outfield players and the ref stands at midfield with the ball, but no one is within 50 yards of it from either team. This game will suck. Listen to me, don’t watch. In fact if I had a terrorist at GITMO and wanted to get top secret info from him I wouldn’t waterboard him I would force him to watch this game, within 5 minutes they would tell me anything I wanted to know.
0-0 draw zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Not sure if it is torture material, but pretty darn close that is for sure. West Brom is pretty much done at this point and it will show in this game.
WBA 1 Burnley 2
West Ham vs Southampton (Saturday 10am)
Another one of these 6 point games. This game gives me a little intrigue. Last time West Ham was home we had pitch invasions and people chanting and throwing things at the owners box. It was an ugly embarrassing scene. I can understand their frustrations, but act like adults people and to West Ham you guys suck too because I’ve seen better security at local malls. This is a huge one in the relegation fight. In fact it’s 17th vs 18th. West Ham has a 2 point lead over Southampton for the last spot of safety so buckle up this one could get wild. Southampton may be getting that manager bump with Mark Hughes and you have no clue what’s going on with West Ham or have no clue what kind of atmosphere that place is going to have on Saturday. I hope their fans support them, but you have to have the feeling the second something goes wrong the fans will turn and it will be a very uncomfortable atmosphere. I can’t get a feeling one way or the other about this one so I’ll call it a draw, which is most likely the most likely outcome.
If Southampton plays this smart and gets the frustration in that stadium to build, they can get the 3 points. I see a last minute equalizer in this one as well.
West Ham 1 Southampton 1
Everton vs Manchester City (Saturday 1230PM)
This is a bit of a tricky one for me. Everton for the most part is trash and I still think City is the best team in Europe, although it’s close, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Pep is maybe going to rest some guys, especially guys that were heavily involved during the international break in anticipation with the trip to Anfield on Wednesday. This would be the type of win that would make the season for a loser team like Everton, so expect them to come out firing and catch City with their pants down.
PS as a Liverpool fan I want City to win. I don’t want to see them pissed off at all about this game coming to Anfield on Wednesday, but my brain tells me City is going to sleep walk through this and Everton is going to treat this like their cup final.
Everton has been getting better play especially up front recently but no stopping the City machine.
Everton 0 Manchester City 3
Arsenal vs Stoke (Sunday 830am)
This one is a little more straightforward for me, despite all the negative things that have gone on with Arsenal this season one thing they have been consistent at is their play at home. They’re 11-2-2 at the Emirates which is good enough for 4th in the league at home. Stoke on the other hand is a disaster. I have already declared West Brom dead and I’m damn close to calling Stoke dead. To call them a train wreck defensively would be an insult to train wrecks. They’ve given up the most goals in the league by allowing 58. They’re only 3 points out from safety but I just don’t see this team stringing together enough positive results between now and the end of the season to get on the good side of the relegation line and they are not going to start to turn things around at Arsenal. Arsenal will smoke them.
If Arsenal do not give away a goal at home through a silly pass from their defense (which they tend to do a lot of), this will be an easy one for them. Arsenal’s home record speaks for itself and given the opportunity, their front line can destroy defenses. Stoke will give them that opportunity
Arsenal 4 Stoke 1
Best of the rest
The best game going this weekend from the rest of Europe, well maybe not the best, but the most anticipated is Der Klassiker, which is what it’s called when Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund meet. (Saturday 1230PM) I’m not the biggest fan of this Dortmund team. To be honest I have no clue how they’re 3rd in this league. Sure it’s the talent but this team is a mess on most occasions. Munich is coming off of one of their worst performances of the season when they were dominated in a loss at Red Bull Leipzig before the break. Dortmund has a lot more than Munich does to play for as they are in a fight for a top 4 spot, but Munich who could sleep through the rest of the season and still win the league is going to want to regain their form as things in the Champions League are about to heat up and they don’t want to have the same issues they’ve had in previous years where it has looked like they just couldn’t turn the switch on that they turned off by basically winning the league by January. At least they get Roma in the quarters who they should handle but they are going to want to get in top form by the time the semis get here. They’re at home against their biggest rival so expect a passionate display.
The rest of the Bundesliga schedule isn’t anything to make sure you’re in front of the tv for.
Nothing much going on here this weekend. Real Madrid travels to Las Palmas and Atletico Madird faces Deportiva La Coruna. Your best bet in Spain this weekend is Sevilla hosting Barcelona (Saturday 245PM) Barca has this league wrapped up. Sevilla has no chance at finishing top 4, but traveling to Sevilla can be tricky and they always play inspired football at home, so at the very least this has a good chance to be an entertaining game. For the hipsters like me check out Eibar/Real Sociedad (Sunday 1230PM) and Getafe/Real Betis (Monday 300PM) all 4 of these teams put on a show each time they’re out. Sociedad is having a bad season as they currently stand in 15th after such a promising start where people were talking that they would challenge for a Europeon spot, but they haven’t figured out how to defend which is problematic considering we’re in April. Eibar resides in 11th, which is a terrific season for them, they are only 4 points out of 7th which will be a spot in the Europa League, getting to the Europa League would probably be enough reason for them to hold a parade, it would be a huge occasion for them. Getafe and Betis are two other other teams I quite enjoy and with Betis is tied for 7th with 43 points with Girona and Getafe is 4 points behind in 9th with 39 points. right now this is a huge game for the last Europa League spot. Betis is a high flying act, they have a great attack but an awful defense, so when they play there are usually fireworks. Getafe on the other hand is a solid defensive side. Only allowing 27 goals in 29 games. Only Barcelona who has allowed 13 goals and Atletico Madird who has allowed 14 goals have allowed fewer. Nothing else is on Monday at 3, so watch this you won’t be mad at me.
Italy plays all of their games on Saturday this weekend mostly I think because the Pope would murder them Dan Brown style if they played on Easter. The biggest and best game of the weekend in Italy is Juventus vs Milan. It’s going to be a tall task for Milan going to Turin, but these are the two best teams in 2018 in this league and despite the rocky start Milan is a legit good football team at this moment. Juve is coming off a frustrating draw at SPAL before the break, which saw their lead over Napoli shrink to two points. Milan also has a lot to play for, they are only 5 points behind Inter for the precious 4th place Champions League spot. They play Inter on Wednesday in a makeup game, so if Milan can get 6 points this week, no matter how tall this task is they will be a real player for a top 4 spot and a return to the Champions League, which will help them immensely with FFP as their owner spent money he didn’t have this summer. Another story for another time, but google it, it’s hilarious. All that being said at home this is the type of game Juventus lives for. Expect a competitve game, but expect a Juve win.
Elsewhere in Italy in games of importance Napoli hosts Sassulo, Inter hosts Hellas Verona, Lazio is at home against Benevento, and Roma travels to Bolonga.
That’s all she wrote for this weekends preview, enjoy the action this weekend it should be fun.