Friday, April 19, 2024

Premier League Preview: Match Week 34

With Manchester City busy in the FA Cup semifinals, Arsenal and Liverpool have the opportunity this weekend to rise to the top of the table once again, as temporary as that status might be. Arsenal has suffered back-to-back losses after its midweek Champions League ouster and losing league effort last weekend. The Gunners will be at Molineux Stadum to face Wolverhampton on Saturday. It could be a good time for that visit. Wolves have lost three of their last five home matches and will be without their leading scorer, Matheus Cunha, who joins  a lengthy injury list. Wolverhampton forward Hwang Hee-chan should play but is expected to be limited to no more than 45 minutes as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Liverpool was ousted from the Europa League on aggregate despite a narrow and meaningless win at Atalanta on Thursday. The Reds, like Arsenal, can now put their full focus on the Premier League as they head to London to face Fulham on Sunday. Their opponent has been wildly inconsistent in the past five matches. The Cottagers lost to Nottingham Forest and struggled to draw with Sheffield United while defeating European contenders Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham. The only unsurprising result was a 1-0 loss to a resurgent Newcastle side. On their day, the Cottagers can cause trouble.

West Ham, 2-0 losers to Fulham last weekend, takes part in another London derby as they head to Liverpool slayers Crystal Palace on Sunday. The eighth place Hammers will likely need to overtake either Newcastle or Manchester United to enjoy a fourth consecutive season of European football. With both of those clubs having played one fewer match than the Hammers, three points is desperately needed by West Ham at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

Aston Villa will have played two more matches than Tottenham Hotspur after Sunday’s match with Bournemouth at Villa Park. The Villans are three points ahead of Spurs in the race for what will likely be the final Champions League place. Tottenham Hotspur is idle this weekend.

Two matches on this week’s schedule will greatly influence the relegation battle. Luton Town can move out of the relegation zone with a win at Brentford. The Hatters are currently one point below Nottingham Forest and two points below Everton in what has become a three-sided relegation battle. The Tricky Trees are at Everton for a crucial match which could mean survival for one of those teams.

In contrast, the match between Sheffield United and Burnley at Bramall Lane means virtually nothing as both clubs have already earned their pending relegation. 

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