Friday, May 19, 2023

Premier League Preview: Match Week 37

Manchester City can win the Premier League this weekend. If Arsenal loses on Saturday, the Citizens take to the pitch Sunday with the title in hand. If Arsenal wins its match versus Nottingham Forest, Manchester City can successfully defend its title with a win over Chelsea on Sunday. Arsenal suffered a devastating blow to their title chase in losing to Brighton last week and their response Saturday will be interesting against a Nottingham Forest side which is still fighting to return to the league next season. Manchester City is coming off a big win over Real Madrid during the week and will be heavy favorites over a dysfunctional Chelsea squad which is still awaiting a contract signature from rumored new manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Third place Newcastle will play Monday against poor, poor Leicester after the Magpies registered an impressive 4-1 victory over Brighton Thursday. Manager Eddie Howe and his Geordies took a major step to securing their Champions League qualification by putting down a quality Brighton side at St. James Park. The score was perhaps misleading as Newcastle finished with a flourish in scoring goals in the 89th minute and in stoppage time.

Leicester now trudges to St. James Park with the Foxes’ hopes for league survival hanging by a thread. Only Leeds concedes more goals than Leicester and the Foxes were true to form in allowing eight goals by the opposition in two consecutive losses that have landed them in the relegation zone. Newcastle is in a three-way battle for two Champions League spots with Manchester United and Liverpool, all three clubs already guaranteed a Europa League berth at minimum.

The Red Devils travel to Bournemouth Saturday to face a Cherries side which has already assured its survival and thus has far less to play for than the visitors. Liverpool could face a stiffer challenge when Aston villa comes to Anfield Saturday. The Birmingham club is in its own three-way battle with Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur for the remaining Europa League berth and the single Europa Conference League spot. Villa is currently outside the remaining European places on a slim goal differential deficit. If Aston Villa can spring an upset at Liverpool, the Villans host Brighton on the final day of the season.

Brighton is home to already relegated Southampton on Sunday. A win over the Saints combined with victory over Manchester City Wednesday would clinch Europa League for the Seagulls in advance of the final weekend.

Tottenham Hotspur hosts a London derby versus Brentford on Saturday. The Bees have won three of four matches but will be without leading scorer Ivan Toney. The striker was assessed an eight-month suspension this week for gambling violations. Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has continued to consistently shine despite his club’s late season swoon. A goal on Saturday would make Kane the first player to score in 25 different fixtures of a 38 match Premier League season. After facing the Bees, Spurs finish the season at relegation threatened Leeds the following week.

Leeds and Leicester are the two clubs which could be relegated this weekend under various scenarios. Leeds Manger Sam Allardyce, appointed just two matches ago, is trying to instill his defensive principles into a side which has conceded more goals than any club in the five major European leagues since the beginning of last season. A Leeds win at West Ham would extend the Whites’ survival chances to the final week. The Hammers are a comfortable six points clear of the drop line and have been chiefly focused on their European adventures while dropping four of their last five Premier League matches.

Everton is currently clinging to safety by a point over Leeds and two points over Leicester. The Toffees are at Wolves on Saturday before finishing their season at home against Bournemouth on the final weekend. Everton would need other results to fall their way to clinch their own survival this weekend, but a Toffee win would relegate Leicester.

Outside the realm of any form of qualification or survival drama is the London derby on Saturday between Fulham and Crystal Palace. The Cottagers are home at Craven Cottage needing just three points to surpass their highest season point total in club history. Ironically, current Crystal Palace Manager Roy Hodgson was the manager for that 2008/2009 Fulham side. The 75-year-old Hodgson has won five of his eight matches in charge of the Eagles this season and is now rumored to return next season. 

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