Friday, April 12, 2024

Premier League Preview: Match Week 33

League leading Arsenal faces the stiffest challenge of the three title contenders this weekend when the Gunners host Aston Villa on Sunday. Manager Mikel Arteta’s crew leads Liverpool in goal differential in a tight Premier League title chase where the two clubs jointly lead Manchester City by just a point.

The performance of Arsenal and other English clubs in Europe this week interestingly makes this match more important for Aston Villa. Results in Europe during the week damaged the prospects of the Premier League obtaining a fifth Champions League berth for next year. The battle for fourth place between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur thus has more significance. Aston Villa is currently fifth on goal differential while also having already played one more match than Spurs. A result on Sunday could thus be critical to Villa’s top four hopes.

Tottenham Hotspur also has a potentially difficult match, travelling to St. James Park to face Newcastle. The eighth place Magpies are currently scuffling to secure a Europa League or Europa Conference League berth.

Liverpool and Manchester City face lesser competition this weekend. Liverpool hosts Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday. The Reds will be smarting after a poor European performance during the week and Manager Jurgen Klopp has already promised a strong reaction from his club. The Eagles have been losing altitude during a five-match winless stretch and are coming into the match off back-to-back losses.

Manchester City, which bested Palace by two goals last weekend, hosts current relegation zone occupant Luton Town. The Hatters scored a massive victory over Bournemouth last weekend to draw even on points with 17th place, and currently safe on goal differential, Nottingham Forest. The survival hopes of the Hatters, however, could take a hit this weekend when they face a loaded and motivated Manchester City while Forest hosts Wolverhampton at the City Ground. Wolves have been vulnerable of late, losing three times and winning but once in their last five league matches.

Manchester United hurt the title chances of rival Liverpool with a draw last week. The Red Devils, however, lost ground to the two clubs pursuing them for Europa League qualification when both West Ham and Newcastle won their league matches. The sixth place Red Devils travel to Bournemouth on Saturday where they have won on four of their last five visits. The Cherries’ Dominic Solanke will be attempting to set a new club record with a 17th Premier League goal of the season.

West Ham will be hosting a London derby versus Fulham. The Hammers are just a point behind Manchester United as they face a Fulham side which in recent weeks has seemed to be already focused on offseason vacation plans. West Ham also leads Newcastle by a point, but the Hammers have already played one more match than either the Red Devils or Magpies.

Chelsea still has an outside shot at European qualification after a seven-match unbeaten run. Supporters are still not convinced, however, as four of those seven matches have been draws, several of the draws coming against bottom of the table competition, and the team has been leaking goals at an alarming rate. The Blues can establish a new English top tier record when they face Everton on Saturday if Chelsea both scores and concedes at least two goals for an eighth consecutive league match. Everton is two points clear of the drop with a helpful match in hand over 18th place Luton Town.

The bottom two teams are really just playing out the string at this point. Burnley hosts Brighton this weekend while Sheffield United travels to Brentford. 

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