Friday, April 22, 2022

Match Week 34 Preview: Merseyside Derby Affects Races At Both Ends Of The Table; Gunners Hope To Sink Manchester United; Spurs Look To Swat Bees; Burnley Fights For Survival Versus Wolves

The Merseyside derby has both title and relegation implications this weekend when Everton visits Anfield to face Liverpool. Burnley’s win on Thursday means Everton is just one point from  being relegated to playing outside the top tier for the first time since 1954. Liverpool is one point from overtaking Manchester City to claim a second Premier League title in three years.

Manchester City is home to a Watford squad which has lost its last 14 matches across all competitions against the Citizens.

Burnley hosts Wolverhampton in what promises to be a low scoring and bruising affair. Burnley has scored the second fewest goals in the Premier League. Wolverhampton has allowed the fourth fewest. Burnley has captured 7 of its last 12 available points to keep the heat on Everton as the two clubs battle for survival.

Tottenham Hotspur is holding onto fourth position in the table by virtue of goal differential over rival Arsenal. Spurs are away to Brentford Saturday following last week’s surprising home loss to Brighton. Christian Ericksen has fueled a successful run for Brentford which has seen the Bees win five of six matches to climb to 12th in the table. The great Dane will be facing his former team in Tottenham Hotspur and his former manager at Inter Milan, Antonio Conte.

Arsenal hosts a Manchester United side which has lost its last three away matches and has failed to score in its last three trips to the Emirates. Manchester United hopes will be pinned to Cristiano Ronaldo who is expected to return to action for the Red Devils.

Arsenal found its long missing attack by scoring four goals in its mid-week win over Chelsea which snapped a three-match losing run for the Gunners. Chelsea now hosts West Ham in a London derby Sunday. Chelsea will try to avoid losing a fourth consecutive home match for the first time since 1978. West Ham, meanwhile, have won four and drawn one of their last five away matches. Third place Chelsea is five points in front of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in the top four race. West Ham leads Wolves by three points for a Europa Conference League qualifying berth for next year but the Hammers could be more interested in next week’s Europa League semifinal.

Selhurst Park will be the venue for a rare Premier League matchup between former MLS managers when Crystal Palace hosts Leeds. Patrick Vieira has been lauded for making Palace a more exciting team though the Eagles have recently managed just a single goal in back-to-back losses. Leeds manager Jesse Marsch has made a positive impression in the league by winning three and drawing one of his last four matches in charge to move Leeds five points above the relegation zone.

Norwich and Newcastle were the league’s two bottom clubs on New Year’s Day. Newcastle has subsequently rocketed to 11th in the table under miracle worker manager Eddie Howe. Norwich manager Dean Smith, meanwhile, has been unable to do much with the Canaries after replacing Daniel Farke. Norwich remains in the league’s cellar, eight points from safety.

Aston Villa has been underwhelming under Manager Steven Gerrard, having lost four matches in a row. The Villans travel to Leicester this weekend. The ninth place Foxes will be tempted to rest players in advance of their Europa Conference League semifinal match versus Roma next Thursday.

A south coast derby has Southampton visiting Brighton. Southampton has won only one of its last eight matches, but the Seagulls are terrible at home. Brighton has no wins in its last seven home contests and has failed to score in its last five appearances before the home crowd.

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