Friday, April 30, 2021

Matchweek 34 Preview: Klopp Hoping To Break Old Trafford Hex; Everton Need to Improve Work At Home; Spurs Look to Rebound; Chelsea Can’t Overlook Fulham

Liverpool head to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in a critical match to keep its top four hopes alive. Liverpool are four points behind Chelsea for the final Champions League slot after dropping four points in drawing their last two outings. Jurgen Klopp has never won at Manchester United’s historic venue and this would be a terrific time for the German manager to break though.

Notwithstanding the intense rivalry between the clubs, the stakes are not as high for Manchester United which is comfortably situated second in the Premier League table and should secure a place in the Europa League final this coming week. The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions against Liverpool. 

Everton trails Liverpool by only two points with a match in hand as the Toffees prepare to host Aston Villa. Everton has been poor at home this season with only five Premier League clubs having won fewer matches at home than Everton’s five victories at Goodison Park. Aston Villa are struggling with just one win in their last seven matches as the Villans have tumbled from the top half of the table. Villa has picked up just a point from its last three away matches. 

Tottenham Hotspur will try to rebound from a disappointing performance in last week’s Carabao Cup final when Spurs welcomes Sheffield United to north London. European qualification remains a possibility for a Spurs club which faces clubs currently in the bottom half of the table in three of five in their final five matches. Caretaker manager Ryan Mason, however, will be challenged to inspire a seemingly less than excited group of Spurs players. Sheffield United, already relegated, shocked Brighton last week to show the Blades are not going quietly. 

West Ham hopes to keep its top four hopes alive when the Hammers travel to Burnley. Burnley has not won in its previous seven home matches but are coming off an impressive 4-0 taming of Wolves last week. Burnley striker Chris Wood scored three goals last week, has six goals in seven career matches against the Hammers, and has scored in each of the last three matches played against West Ham at Turf Moor. The Hammers have dropped two straight matches to fall from the top four as David Moyes’s side has struggled to deal with key injuries which has left the Hammers without Declan Rice and Michail Antonio in recent weeks.


Chelsea hosts a London derby versus visiting Fulham. The Blues under manager Thomas Tuchel continue to battle on three fronts with a massive Champions League match approaching Tuesday with Real Madrid. Chelsea, however, enjoys just a three-point advantage on fifth place West Ham and cannot afford to slip up in the league. Fulham would appear an appetizing opponent for Chelsea as the Cottagers have lost four of five matches to largely destroy their chances of Premier League survival. Fulham sits seven points below Brighton in the race for safety. 

Leicester travels to Southampton with the Foxes holding a seven-point advantage over West Ham to ensure a Champions League place for next season. Kelechi Iheanacho is on a remarkable run for the Foxes, scoring 14 goals in his last 14 appearances in all competitions for Leicester. Including assists, Iheanacho has more goal involvements in all competitions in 2021 than any Premier League player but for Harry Kane. Southampton has been miserable with the ‘Aints having lost four of their last five and 12 of their last 15 matches. 

Manchester City will be rotating its squad as the Citizens visit Crystal Palace in advance of next week’s Champions League semi-final second leg match with PSG. Manchester City, with a ten-point lead at the top of the table, will be looking for its 25th win in 34 league matches.  An 11th consecutive league away win by Manchester City will equal the Premier League record. Crystal Palace is safely mid-table as it plays out its schedule. 

Tenth place Arsenal will be trying to stay in the top half of the table when the Gunners travel to Newcastle. Newcastle has successfully pulled away from the relegation fray by losing just one of its last eight matches. The Magpies will look to extend a current four match unbeaten run against an Arsenal squad possibly looking ahead to its critical Europa League second leg versus Villareal. 

Leeds is unbeaten its last six matches as the 9th place Whites continue to impress in their return to the Premier League. Manager Marcelo Bielsa’s entertaining side have both scored and allowed 50 goals and both won and lost 14 matches while drawing but five times. Brighton has drawn 13 times, the most in the Premier League and only Burnley and the three relegation teams have scored fewer than the Seagulls’ 33 goals in as many matches. Brighton is seven points above currently relegation bound Fulham. 

West Brom, with their survival hopes dashed by two consecutive non-winning matches, host Wolves in a Black Country derby at The Hawthorns. Matheus Pereira has caught fire amid the dying embers of the Baggies campaign as the Brazilian has been involved in six goals in the Baggies’ last four matches. Pereira scored twice in West Brom’s win at Wolves earlier this season. Wolves, mired mid-table, have been slow to pounce this season, scoring first in fewer matches than all but the Baggies and Sheffield United.


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