Matchday 31 brings us the first of the final eight games of the season. Home stretch. This is right about the time that all the season’s ups and downs come together, once and for all. This is the business end of the season. This is, “squeaky bum time”. What will we see this time from our top shelf and our bottom drawer? Has the middle of the pack accepted its stagnation or will it fight for better? All is to play for and now is the time to be drawn in. Let’s get on with it!
Recap of scores from Matchday 30:
Liverpool vs Manchester United : Exceptional performance from the visitors to dominate their greatest rivals.
Newcastle vs Arsenal : The Gunners continue to pick up points thanks to their attackers.
Manchester City vs West Brom : Regulation win for Manchester City, who are fighting to defend their crown.
Tottenham vs Leicester: Barnstormer of a match full of goals, hat-trick for Harry Kane and heartbreak for the Foxes.
QPR vs Everton: Woeful Everton come up with the spoils away from home but it is too little too late.
Hull City vs Chelsea: Chelsea win in the dying moments and show the trademark of Champions-elect.
Schalke 04 v Bayer Leverkusen: Big win on the road for Leverkusen in a showcase of Germany’s top teams.
Barcelona v Real Madrid: The Blaugrana were fortunate to bag the points courtesy of an exceptional Suarez finish.
Upcoming Fixtures: The big game of the weekend without a question is from the Emirates Stadium in London. A match between Arsenal and Liverpool in the race for Champions League qualification. Liverpool have dropped points in recent weeks and have some clawing back to do. Arsenal have been picking up a lot of points courtesy of their attacking force, but their defensive duties are still questionable. This will be the pick of the lot in England. For other matches, we have Everton v Southampton, Manchester United v Aston Villa, Chelsea v Stoke City, Burnley v Tottenham, and Crystal Palace v Manchester City.
In Germany, a rejuvenated Dortmund host Bayern Munich at Signal Iduna Park. After a dreary season the murmurings of a “summer clearout” have started creeping into the media outlets and Dortmund would love to capitalize on Bayern’s recent blips in performance. In Italy, AS Roma v Napoli is one to look forward to, although the title has already been decided. In fact, it might have been decided a long while ago. In France, Marseille host PSG in what should be a cracking affair. Both these teams are evenly matched (less so on paper but definitely in capabilities). This weekend couldn’t come any sooner and a return to club football after an international break is always refreshing.
Summary of Matchday 30:
Predictions tally for our Pundits:
Predictions tally for our Contributors:
Matchday 31 Predictions:
Games of the Week
Bernie: Crystal Palace v Manchester City: This may be the most fun game of the weekend for the neutral. Alan Pardiola is a candidate for Manager of the Year while his counterpart is clinging to his job. What Pardew has achieved at Crystal Palace is nothing short of amazing. This is exactly why Manchester City need to be very careful. The pace on the wings from Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie will have to be neutralized. A tough ask. For City to win Sergio Aguero needs to regain top form and Yaya Toure needs to finally look interested in a football match. Come the end of this round of fixtures, City could be fourth if things don’t go their way. I feel that will be motivation enough for Pellegrini’s men to haul themselves over the line in this one. 2-1 Man City.
Alexander: Arsenal v Liverpool: A massive test for both sides. Arsenal have stepped up their game against the big teams this season, with wins over both Manchester clubs. They need to prove their consistency by beating Liverpool, as they should have done earlier in the season. Liverpool, meanwhile, absolutely must win to close the gap on Manchester United in the race for fourth. A few weeks ago I’d have put this down as a draw, but Arsenal have absolutely loved a jittery 2-1, recently. They’re great going forward, and Liverpool seem a little blunt at the moment. Sturridge is out again, meaning Sterling will likely get the nod up front. His pace will trouble Arsenal, but Liverpool lack a cutting edge right now, and I see the Gunners nicking this, 2-1 Arsenal.
Mohaned: Everton vs Southampton: This should be a very exciting encounter at Goodison Park. Southampton are still holding on to some hope of a top-four finish but surely they need to win all their remaining games, starting with this one. Everton have not been able to emulate their good European form in the EPL, although they are now on a two-game winning streak and will hope to make that three. That said, having pretty much avoided relegation, Everton don’t have much to play for. I see this being a very well contested affair with a draw the likely outcome. 1-1.
Rishay: Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: This fixture has generally been the one to look forward to in the Bundesliga over the last several years. This year, Dortmund seem to have spectacularly capitulated in the first half of their season in abysmal fashion and have yet to fully recover. They’d love to cut through Bayern to show that they are not to be written off, and they have a chance to do that considering Bayern’s recent blip in form against Moenchengladbach. Pep’s men, however, will be expected to put in a top class performance and make sure lightning does not strike twice. Will it be Dortmund’s day in the end? I have a feeling that it will. 2-1 for BVB.
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Categories: Matchday Predictions