EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 35

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The English Premier League only has a few weeks left and there is clearly a reason why football fans regard the league as the most exciting and competitive. That is because the league title is the closest of all the European major leagues and will most likely go down to the wire between Liverpool and Manchester City.

There are 2 Champions League places to take care of as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham do battle to secure a top 4 place. And Cardiff have given themselves a chance by beating Brighton in midweek- all is to play for as we enter another weekend of Premier League football which should be enthralling and fascinating.

Manchester City v Tottenham

Just where do we start after the teams played out an incredible Champions League 2nd leg quarter final where City won 4-3 on the night but went out on the away goals rule. City need to win this game or that could be the title over too. They will be utterly determined to win this game at home now. Watch out for Raheem Sterling who was denied a hat trick because of VAR, a system not used in the Premier League yet. Manchester City to beat Tottenham

Bournemouth v Fulham

Fulham got a terrific victory over Everton last weekend even though they are down, but their away form is very poor. Eddie Howe’s side are safe and beat Brighton 5-0 in their last match. Callum Wilson could be the difference between the sides, but this should be a close game. Draw

Huddersfield v Watford

More than likely Watford’s mindset will be preparing for the FA Cup final even if it is still a month away. They will be without influential player Troy Deeney who was sent off in the defeat against Arsenal. Huddersfield are relegated and have little to play for, except for home pride and we could see a surprise result here. Huddersfield to beat Watford

West Ham v Leicester

West Ham have been in poor form but the players put in a great shift against Manchester United at Old Trafford and if they can take something from that game even though they lost they could do well here. Felipe Anderson played very well. Leicester have been strong under Brendan Rodgers but lost their last game at home to Newcastle where they didn’t turn up. West Ham to beat Leicester

Wolves v Brighton

Wolves have been excellent this season but they have just 1 win in their past four games. However at home against a poor form side like Brighton this should be 3 points and they could be back in the hunt for a 7th place finish. Brighton continue to be poor in 2019 and could now face a relegation dog fight. Wolves to beat Brighton

Newcastle v Southampton

The Magpies pulled off a great result last weekend going to Leicester and getting a 1-0 win and playing well. Southampton have just 1 win in their past four games and this is their furthest trip in league fixtures. We will opt for the home win here in a game where we could see plenty of goals. Newcastle to beat Southampton

Everton v Manchester United

Since the beginning of March Everton have found form and Marco Silva’s job has been saved. But they put in a toothless display against Fulham last weekend and lost. Back at home where they beat Arsenal and Chelsea recently they can give United a game. United have been in average form and were knocked out in the Champions League against Barcelona, but remain a danger as they hunt for a top 4 finish. Could Everton’s Richarlison be the difference? Draw

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Arsenal should have few problems against Palace and get all three points. The Gunners have been one of the best teams in the league at home and have lost here just once back on the opening day of the season. Palace are safe and have little to play for. Pierre Emerick- Aubameyang is in great form and will relish this game. Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace

Cardiff v Liverpool

Cardiff got a massive victory over Brighton in midweek to give themselves a chance for survival. But they must keep winning. The problem is they are facing Liverpool and this will be a difficult match. Liverpool just keep on collecting the points, and whilst this will be  a difficult game for the Reds they should have enough quality up front to hurt the home team. Liverpool to beat Cardiff

Chelsea v Burnley

Chelsea still have a great chance to finish in the top four, the problem is that their direct rivals have 5 games to play while they have 4. That means that every game counts but winning at least at home is essential. Eden Hazard is looking the business as he possibly wraps up his career with the Blues. Burnley are in excellent form with 3 wins from their last 3 games but have lost 9 times on the road this season. Chelsea to beat Burnley

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On this day in 2012: Chelsea beat Barcelona en route to Champions League glory

For a long while, Chelsea and the Champions League was a tale of frustration. Boosted by Roman Abramovich’s investment and Jose Mourinho’s brilliant management, the Blues won two Premier League titles at a canter in 2004/05 and 2005/06. They then added anotherchampionship crown to their honours list under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010, and also scooped an additional five trophies in the form of three FA Cups and two League Cups in the first eight years of the Abramovich era.
Despite their domestic dominance, though, Chelsea repeatedly failed to make the breakthrough in Europe. Under Claudio Ranieri in 2003/04, they were unable to take advantage of a surprisingly open tournament by suffering elimination at the hands of eventual runners-up Monaco in the semi-finals. They were also knocked out at the same stage in Mourinho’s first season thanks to Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ for Liverpool, before exiting in the round of 16 following defeat by Barcelona in 2005/06.
After more semi-final heartache against the Reds the following year, Chelsea reached their first Champions League final in 2008. They came within a penalty kick of lifting the trophy too, but John Terry’s crucial slip took the shootout to extra time and gave Manchester United a second chance which they did not pass up. Some questionable refereeing decisions played their part in the semi-final loss to Barcelona in 2009, before Mourinho beat his former club while in charge of Inter in the round of 16 the subsequentseason. After a two-legged defeat by Manchester United in the quarter-finals of 2010/11, Chelsea fans were beginning to question whether they were cursed on the continental stage.
It was evidence of football’s unpredictability that the Blues finally got their hands on the trophy when it seemed as if they were past their best. Much of 2011/12 was a disappointment, with Andre Villas-Boas sacked in March after failing to get his ideas across to a group of players who were unconvinced by his methods. Roberto Di Matteo was handed the reins on a caretaker basis, and in his second game in charge the Italian somehow masterminded a 4-1 victory over Napoli which gave Chelsea a 5-4 aggregate triumph inthe round of 16.
The quarter-final draw was kind to Di Matteo’s men, who dispatched of Benfica with a minimum of fuss, but a last-four meeting with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona – the holders who had made light work of Manchester United in the previous season’s final – was likely to be a step too far. Di Matteo had still only suffered a single defeat by the time the first leg rolled around on April 18, but Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and co. would surely prove too strong for a side who were sixth in the Premier League standings.
As it happened, Chelsea turned in a resilient performance in front of their own fans at Stamford Bridge to establish a first-leg lead. Barcelona dominated the opening exchanges and were unfortunate not to go ahead when Alexis Sanchez hit the crossbar in the ninth minute, with Cesc Fabregas miscuing from a brilliant position soon after. The Spain midfielder, playing against his future employers, then saw an effort cleared off the line by Ashley Cole, but it seemed like only a matter of time until Barcelona edged ahead.
Instead, on the stroke of half-time Didier Drogba broke the deadlock, turning home Ramires’ cross at the far post to send Stamford Bridge into raptures. Chelsea then faced a predictable second-half onslaught, with Adriano, Sanchez and Carles Puyol all going close before Pedro Rodriguez hit the post in stoppage time. Di Matteo’s charges somehow held on, though, winning the first leg 1-0 despite registering just a single shot on target all night.
“Tonight was about a great collective defensive performance,” Di Matteo said afterwards. “It wasn’t just our defenders: we needed to be able to close down the spaces as much as possible and limit Barcelona’s threat. Ultimately, with the quality of some of their individuals, they still create problems.
“Sometimes it feels like they have 20 players. They play like that against Real Madrid, against Milan, too. But our team were prepared to be patient in defence and not get frustrated. We looked very organised and the boys were really determined not to let them through.”
Chelsea redefined ‘backs to the wall’ in the second leg at the Camp Nou, yet despite the fact that Guardiola believes it was one of his Barcelona side’s best ever displays, the west Londoners escaped with a 2-2 draw which sent them through to the final. That game is remembered fondly seven years on, as is the equally improbable triumph over Bayern in Munich in the showpiece, but neither would have been possible without that 1-0 defeat of Guardiola’s all-conquering team on this day in 2012.

EPL Weekend Picks – Week 35

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With just a few games left in the Premier League campaign, things are starting to take shape and will continue to do so with this weekend’s round of matches. There is no Friday night fixture this week, but instead we have a big card of games on Saturday with three coming on Sunday and one on Monday evening, with games every day next week except for Thursday as matches in hand are played. Man City taking on Tottenham in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff looks to be the biggest game of the weekend, but there are plenty of games in store to keep us guessing. Bournemouth host relegated Fulham hoping to build on their impressive 5-0 win at Brighton last weekend, while Newcastle host Southampton in Saturday’s late game. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 here!

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EPL Game of the Weekend – Liverpool vs Chelsea

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Sport has many different forms, of course – competitive, friendly, amateur, professional – as well as different disciplines of course such as tennis, rugby, basketball and of course football. One thing every sport shares is that it really takes that special something to crown a champion. Patty Berg – record holding female PGA golfer – once stated “what does it take to be a champion? Desire, dedication, determination, concentration and a will to win.” Apt words indeed, and words which could well be applied to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side as they maintained their pursuit of a first-ever Premier League title by beating Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday. The Reds have looked sublime this season, but this game showed a grit and determination lacking in recent years.

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Eden Hazard used as striker as Chelsea lost against Liverpool

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Many Chelsea supporters have called for Callum Hudson-Odoi to be given more first team opportunities. Maurizio Sarri has finally begun to oblige, putting his faith in the 18-year-old in recent games. However, this has brought up another conundrum for the Italian manager: with Willian in fine form and Eden Hazard being Chelsea’s main man, it’s difficult to drop either of them.

Rather than doing that, Sarri started all three today, with Hazard playing as a makeshift striker, while Hudson-Odoi and Willian operated from the wings. The plan of action could have been deployed because Sarri didn’t believe Gonzalo Higuain or Oliver Giroud weren’t up to the job against Liverpool or simply to get all three wingers into the side. The only thing that is certain is it didn’t work.

Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk marshalled Hazard very well throughout the game, as he struggled to make his usual impact. It was only when Hudson-Odoi was substituted for Higuain in the 56th minute, which meant Hazard was moved back to the wing, that the Belgian began to thrive. With Chelsea failing to get on the score sheet in a 2-0 at Anfield, it was too little too late. However, there is definitely a lesson to be learned.

Hazard has played as the central figure of Chelsea’s attacks in other games during this season, with varying levels of success. He scored twice in a win against Watford from the centre and also assisted twice against Manchester City from the same position. However, with Hazard being Chelsea’s greatest and most threatening player, he should surely be deployed in the position he plays his best football in, which is undoubtedly from the wing.

As well as potentially detracting from Hazard’s game, playing him in a central role can also be of detriment to his team mates. While he has impeccable control, he doesn’t have the height of someone like Giroud, meaning his team mates don’t have the option of clipping in a high ball for him to battle for in the air.

While Sarri does like to have his team play a passing game, which involves keeping the ball on the floor, Jorginho likes to send a dinked ball into the front man to move the play on. Hazard is usually the beneficiary of these kinds of balls, as his link up play with whoever is occupying the striker spot allows him to get in behind defences once the initial ball has been flicked on.

Today’s loss means that Chelsea are relying on Arsenal and Manchester United losing their games in hand to retain their top four status. With four more Premier League matches remaining, one of which will see them travel to Old Trafford, the Blues can’t afford anymore slip ups if they’re going to get back into the Champions League through the Premier League.

Though before they focus on the league run in, Chelsea will face Slavia Prague in the Europa League on Thursday, a competition which offers them an alternative route into Europe’s primary competition.

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Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL action

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Starting on Friday night, the English Premier League has a full schedule of games over this coming weekend.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation for another EPL fantasy football round.

Leicester City v Newcastle United

Leicester XI: Schmeichel, Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Tielemans, Ndidi, Maddison, Gray, Vardy, Barnes

Newcastle XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Perez, Hayden, Ki, Almiron, Rondon Continue reading

Can Chelsea star Eden Hazard rise up to the occasion and derail Liverpool’s title dream?

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We already knew how great a player Eden Hazard was coming into the new English Premier League season  and there has been rumours surrounding the Belgian with a big money move to Real Madrid in the summer, but at the tail end of the season Hazard has to prove just how good he really is.

Hazard has scored 16 times and assisted in 12 other goals which is a fantastic record and Chelsea are now up to 3rd place. However the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United could well relegate the Blues to 6th, a position they have occupied for the last month.

All in all it hasn’t been a great season for Chelsea with their league title chances evaporating before Christmas and everyone will remember when they were destroyed 6-0 by the champions Manchester City.

Chelsea did reach the Carabao Cup final where they were unlucky to lose to Manchester City losing the final on the dreaded penalty shoot out. The club are in the Europa League quarter finals and Hazard has the opportunity to end his career with the London club by winning the competition.

Hazard has been brilliant with Chelsea and brilliant this season, but the problem for the 28 year old is he hasn’t been consistent. Surely that is what separates the great from the geniuses of the game? Can Hazard make the step up to Real Madrid? Yes he can but if he doesn’t perform on a regular basis, one wonders if the move could be a bad career one for him. Still the lure of playing for the side will be too great. Another question that must be posed is, does Zidane need or want him? We will find out in the summer months.

But back to now and the Premier League. And Hazard was showered with praise after his superb display against West Ham and he got a brace in that win. But with all due respect to West Ham, they are not of the same quality as Liverpool, and that is Chelsea’s next opponent.

The question is, can Hazard’s brilliance defeat Liverpool at Anfield? If Zidane is wondering about Hazard or any other top club for that matter they will be looking closely at a game where Liverpool have looked almost unstoppable this season, especially at home where they have yet to lose a game.

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If Hazard is that good and wants to be considered a different level player one suspects he is being asked to show it. Or will we get a quiet game from the maestro only summarising his career with one week looking great the next looking average.

Let’s not forget how big the Liverpool game is. Manchester City will be keeping a close eye on the game of course but this is massive also for Chelsea in trying to finish in the top four.

If Hazard cannot help deliver a top 4 place for Maurizio Sarri’s team may be he will always be known as a very good player instead of a brilliant one which he has been touted about for some time. Bottom line is he needs to show his worth against a quality side away from home like Liverpool, and this weekend he is going to be presented with that very chance.

EPL Player of the Week – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

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When a player stands out head and shoulders above the vast majority of the rest, there will always be suggestions that there will be a big money move in his not-too-distant future. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham have seen it while in the Premier League, while Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane experienced similar things during their respective times in La Liga and Serie A. The modern day equivalent to those transfer rumblings would have to be the not so curious case of Eden Hazard, whose performances in recent months have once again sparked speculation that he could be on his way out of Chelsea this summer. One thing Hazard has in common with all of the aforementioned players? Real Madrid.

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EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 34

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The top 4 teams all won in their last games and nobody can quite tell who has the advantage in for the Premier League title. Liverpool are 2 points clear of Manchester City and yet City have a game in hand, but that match is against rivals Manchester United away from home. Chelsea have made a splash back into the top 3, so again there is all to play for as the excitement reaches fever pitch.

Below we take a look at how the results could work out for this weekend and give our predictions.

Leicester v Newcastle

Leicester would be 3rd in the league based on recent form and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers has been an inspired choice, the Foxes have won their last 4 games in a row. Newcastle have been poor on the road with just 2 points won from their last 15. Leicester to beat Newcastle

Tottenham v Huddersfield

Tottenham have Manchester City and the Champions League 2nd leg on their mind but they must focus for this game. Back at home they should win comfortably. Harry Kane is out but Son will relish this moment and could score a few. Tottenham to beat Huddersfield

Brighton v Bournemouth

Both teams come into this match with the same form and Brighton are still not safe. However a win would be massive for the club and they are at home. Callum Wilson will be a danger for the home side though and Eddie Howe’s team could add more misery to Brighton’s season. Bournemouth to beat Brighton

Burnley v Cardiff

Burnley are almost safe but this win would more or less assure that. Sean Dyche’s team have won back to back games and have found form. Cardiff keep losing and have lost 4 games in their last 5. They need to win this game to have any chance of staying up, but it will be difficult for them. Burnley to beat Cardiff

Fulham v Everton

An interesting statistic for Everton is that they have won 3 games in  a row coming into this match and all 3 have been against London teams- they can make it 4 against Fulham who have already been relegated. Everton’s Richarlison may just relish the chance to play against Fulham’s defence which has conceded 76 goals this season. Everton to beat Fulham

Southampton v Wolves

This game has the potential of being very exciting and the way the two teams play there could well be a lot of goals. Wolves have been good this season but have no away wins in their last 4. This is set to be a very close game. Draw

Manchester United v West Ham

Manchester United had a bruising Champions League defeat to Barcelona and that may have fatigued some of the players. But they will be the favourites to beat West Ham, whose form and leaky defence has let them down in recent weeks. United should cruise to a win and Marcus Rashford could show no mercy. Manchester United to beat West Ham

Crystal Palace v Manchester City

Crystal Palace remain the only club to beat Manchester City at The Etihad this season- can they do the double over them? City should have the quality to win but will also be tired after their Champions League game v Tottenham. But it is difficult not to see a response from Pep Guardiola’s side and Sergio Aguero will want to make up for his dismal display in the Champions League in midweek. Manchester City to beat Crystal Palace

Liverpool v Chelsea

Liverpool just keep winning games, and this match looks to be the teams real final test in their quest for the league title-their first since 1990. Chelsea are in good form but have beaten teams below them. Eden Hazard is being called a great player- it is in these games he must prove it. Liverpool to beat Chelsea

Watford v Arsenal

Watford will be in great spirits coming into this match having reached the FA Cup final and Troy Deeney has emerged as a genuine hero for the club. Arsenal lost their last away game 1-0 to Everton and could struggle here if the home side get a positive start. Draw

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Chelsea star Eden Hazard perfect fit for Real Madrid

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It is becoming increasingly inevitable that Chelsea star Eden Hazard will join Real Madrid this summer. A report in Marca earlier this month claimed there was ‘near total agreement’ on a deal between the two clubs and the player, while Cadena Cope have subsequently stated that the Belgian is now house hunting in the Spanish capital.

The highly-coveted playmaker is said to be close to putting pen to paper on a six-year contract at Los Blancos and become their first marquee signing of the summer. If his performance against West Ham on Monday night – where he netted twice in a virtuoso performance – was anything to go by, then Madrid are landing themselves the best player in the Premier League. Continue reading