Friday, May 13, 2022

Match Week 37 Preview: West Ham Home To Manchester City; Spurs Look To Crack Top Four; Leeds Adrift As Seagulls Hover; Home Sweet Home As Toffees Face Bees

Manchester City heads next to West Ham in its relentless march to the Premier League title. The Citizens have been merciless during their title drive, outscoring opponents by an average of four goals per game over their last five matches. Manchester City enters the penultimate weekend with a three-point lead on Liverpool and an imposing seven goal advantage in goal differential. West Ham also has something to play for. A victory would catapult the Hammers over idle Manchester United in the race for sixth place and Europa League competition.

West Ham will try to overcome Manchester City’s firepower advantage by capitalizing on a Manchester City defense ravaged by injury.

Liverpool plays in the league Tuesday at Southampton and could be six points behind in the title race should Manchester City win over the weekend.

Tottenham Hotspur, after their resounding victory in the north London derby, can jump past Arsenal into the top four with a win or draw when they host Burnley Sunday. Spurs lost earlier in the season at Burnley but a loss in London to the Clarets would be shocking given the current form of Antonio Conte’s side. A loss combined with an Arsenal victory on Monday eliminates Spurs from Champions League contention. Burnley are currently safe for another season of Premier League football by virtue of a goal differential advantage over Leeds. The Clarets also have a game in hand versus the Whites.

Arsenal could be on the outside looking in when they play at Newcastle Monday as the Gunners will trail in the top four race if Spurs gets a result versus Burnley on Sunday. Arsenal folded at rival Spurs on Thursday and now visits St. James Park where Newcastle Manager Eddie Howe will try to further make his case to ownership that he is the man to lead the Newcastle transformation next season.

Arsenal has not conceded a goal to Newcastle in their last seven meetings in all competitions but could be shorthanded in defense due to injuries and suspensions. Injury doubts surround center backs Gabriel and Ben White while Rob Holding is suspended after his red card versus Spurs.

Leeds has incurred red cards and suspensions in its last two matches and has lost three consecutive matches to become the relegation favorite. Worse yet, Manager Jesse Marsch has drawn comparison to television’s Ted Lasso with the use of Mahatma Gandhi quotes and questionable tactics during the losing run. The spiraling Whites are home at Elland Road to face Brighton. Ninth place Brighton is chasing its first top half finish in the Premier League.

Everton, two points better than relegation rivals Burnley and Leeds, returns to the friendly confines of Goodison Park to face Brentford. Everton has earned 26 of its 36 points this season at home. Brentford has little to play for but has been in good form, losing just one of its last six league matches.

Wolverhampton is home to Norwich as Wolves retain a slim chance to play in Europe next season. The club has faltered in recent weeks to trail West Ham by five points for a Europa Conference League berth. Already relegated Norwich will finish the season with the worst goal differential in Premier League history.

The other club which has clinched relegation is Watford. The Hornets host Leicester at Vicarage Road in a match of little interest to either club. While far removed from any relegation concern, 10th place Leicester also looks forward to the end of a disappointing season. Leicester fans may be finding more enjoyment in the “Wagatha Christie” court proceedings where the wife of Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, Rebekah Vardy, is suing Colleen Rooney, wife of Wayne, for defamation.

Crystal Palace visits Aston Villa in another match with little table consequence as Patrick Vieira and Steven Gerrard complete relatively successful first seasons as Premier League managers. Aston Villa has exercised its option to permanently acquire the services of Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho.  

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