Friday, May 12, 2023

Premier League Preview: Match Week 36

Arsenal has run off two consecutive victories, the last over a formidable Newcastle side, since its potentially fatal loss to Manchester City. The Gunners can’t afford to drop any points down this stretch run as they chase the title, but the Londoners will face another difficult opponent when Brighton visits the Emirates on Sunday. The Seagulls sit seventh in the table despite having played 1-2 matches fewer than the clubs above them. Tottenham Hotspur are just two points above the Seagulls with Liverpool five points further up the table from Brighton’s current position. Brighton Manager Roberto De Zerbi has worked wonders since taking over after Graham Potter’s departure earlier this season while new stars such as Alexis Mac Allister and Kaoru Mitoma have helped take the Seagulls to new heights.

Manchester City has a game in hand as well as a point advantage over Arsenal in the battle for the Premier League title. The Citizens travel to Everton on Sunday in the midst of a tricky stretch, however, for Manager Pep Guardiola and his defending Premier League champions. The trip to Goodison Park is sandwiched between the two legs of Manchester City’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid while Everton will be scrapping for its Premier League survival in front of its home supporters. The Toffees are currently two points clear of the drop after a shock win over Brighton last weekend.

Leeds and Leicester both fell into the relegation zone with their losses last week and both clubs will have trouble digging out this weekend against clubs much farther up the table. Sam Allardyce makes his home debut as Leeds’s manager when the Whites host Newcastle on Saturday. Leeds has lost five of six to arrive at its current place in the bottom three. Newcastle is trying to assure a top four finish and Champions League qualification as the third place Magpies lead Manchester United and Liverpool by two points and three points, respectively.

Manchester United finds itself in an unexpected fight for Champions League qualification as the Red Devils, losers of their last two matches, host Wolverhampton Saturday. United Manager Eric ten Haag is in a curious spot. Having already won the Carabao Cup and looking towards an FA Cup final against Manchester City, his team could be on the brink of an outstanding season. A late season fall from the top four, however, could make this season a failure.

Liverpool has won six consecutive matches to mount an unlikely late season bid for Champions League football next season. the top four. The Reds are at Leicester Monday with full intent to advance their own cause and to heap further misery on the failing Foxes. Leicester and Manager Dean Smith wasted opportunities to grab more than a point in draws with fellow relegation battlers Leeds and Everton before falling hard at Fulham last weekend. A poor Leicester defense will be challenged by the reenergized Liverpool attack led by Mohamed Salah and friends. Salah scored his 30th goal of the season across all competitions in the Reds’ win over Brentford last weekend.

Sixth place Tottenham Hotspur and eighth place Aston Villa are separated by just three points as the two clubs battle with Brighton for Europa League and Europa Conference League berths for next year. Spurs are at Villa Park Saturday where Aston Villa will try to shake off two consecutive 1-0 defeats which put the brakes on their run up the Premier League table. Spurs have also been largely poor in recent weeks but were rescued by a Harry Kane goal at Crystal Palace last week to end a four-match winless run.

Crystal Palace is one of several clubs playing out their schedule with no fear of relegation and no hopes of Europe. The 12th place Eagles host 14th place Bournemouth in a match with little consequence for two clubs who have already banked a successful season of Premier League survival.

West Ham has all but clinched its own survival with a surprising victory over Manchester United last week. The Hammers can make it mathematically official this weekend with a win at Brentford.

Nottingham Forest is still at relegation risk despite winning two of its last three matches to move two points above the drop line. The Tricky Trees visit Stamford Bridge Saturday to face Chelsea which won for the first time under interim manager Frank Lampard last week. Forest Manager Steve Cooper and West Ham’s David Moyes are the only two managers of clubs in the bottom half of the table to have been in place all season. If both teams survive, it may say something about patience.

Ruben Selles is the third manager this season at Southampton. The reshuffled managerial cards have produced few results for the Saints who sit in the league cellar. The Saints will be officially relegated with anything less than a win against visiting Fulham on Saturday.

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