The season is grinding its way to a dramatic conclusion, at least where the top four and relegation battles are concerned. It will take multiple Gerrard-esque slips for Chelsea concede the title now, but beneath them, Arsenal, City and United are battling it out to decide which of the top four spots each get. This weekend is the Manchester derby, and if United win, they will put some daylight between themselves and their sky-blue rivals. Meanwhile, next week sees the Champions League return to us, and we welcome the quarter finals with open arms. First though, let’s recap what happened in the Premiership last week:
Recap of Matchday 31
Arsenal vs Liverpool: The Gunners batter Liverpool who couldn’t handle being pressed like fresh juice.
Everton vs Southampton: The Toffees continue their winning streak against an uninspired Saints.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa : Rooney and Herrera ease the Red Devils past a lackluster Villa.
Chelsea vs Stoke: Charlie Adam scores a wonder-goal, but it’s not enough to stop Chelsea nicking a victory.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester City: Pardew’s men pull off a blinding win as City labour to put anything together.
Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich: Guardiola goes with a 3-5-1-1 and stifles Dortmund. Lewy scores. #Narrative
AS Roma vs Napoli: Massive win for a Roma side who were less sliding, more eroding in the games leading up to it.
Marseilles vs PSG: Epic. PSG come from 2-1 down to nick three points and go top of Ligue 1.
Upcoming Fixtures: Obviously, the Manchester derby is the biggest event of the weekend. Van Gaal’s side are finally clicking after a season of battling their way to victories, while Pellegrini insists he is not under pressure, despite his side’s recent capitulation. The loser here may end up playing a qualifier to get into next season’s Champions League. Elsewhere, Swansea host Everton, Burnley will try to stave off Arsenal, QPR likewise against Chelsea, and Liverpool will look to capitalize against a pathetic Newcastle. The other interesting #narrative will be the return of Tim Sherwood to White Hart Lane, as Villa look to edge towards safety by beating Tottenham. There is no love lost between Tactics Tim and the Spurs fans, and the atmosphere could get feisty, depending on which way that game swings.
Decidedly away from England, the Champions League comes roaring back into life as the quarter finals kick off next Tuesday and Wednesday. Can Real Madrid overcome their nemesis, Atleti? Juventus against Monaco is an intriguing duel. Can Kondogbia et al take advantage of a Juve midfield missing Pogba and Marchisio? My suspicion is not. Porto have to try to stop Bayern scoring in Portugal, which will be fun for them, and in arguably the pick of the round, an injury and suspension-ravaged PSG must face an in-form Barcelona. Will Busquets have recovered after being having grass thrown at him? We’ll see.
Summary of Matchday 31:
Predictions tally for our Pundits:
Matchday 32 Predictions:
Games of the Week:
Bernie: Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid: Diego Simeone’s Rojiblancos have beaten Los Galacticos in the last four meetings. It would’ve been five if not for an injury time equalizer from Sergio Ramos in last season’s Champions League final. This season they meet in the quarters and Atleti will be out for blood. For Real, this match may have come at a good time as Ronaldo is inspired after a five-goal haul versus Levante, and the side has also recently welcomed back James and Modric. Atleti will rely on their tenacity and wonderful team spirit to take them past Real. The big question is whether or not Fernando Torres will score. Real may win the war but the first leg will go Atleti’s way, 2-1.
Alexander: PSG v Barcelona: What should have been an epic battle will now likely be reduced to damage limitation for the Parisians. They go into this game without Luiz, Motta, Veratti and of course, Zlatan. It is a tall order. The likes of Marquinhos and Matuidi will need to have massive games to keep Barca at bay. The Catalans are at full strength (Vermaelen is injured, so as I said, they’re at full strength), and I think they’ll walk away with a slender away-goal advantage at the Parc de Princes. 0-1, Barcelona.
Mohaned: QPR v Chelsea: If QPR had gotten that win against Villa, I’d say Chelsea to win this one easily. Seeing as QPR are in good form, beating West Brom with four and then getting that thrilling 3-3 draw with Villa, they will want to get something out of this game. Chelsea on the other hand have three upcoming fixtures that will determine their finishing position; QPR, Arsenal and United. If they get six points out of these games, they will undoubtedly be champions. But, if they falter, lets say a draw to QPR and two losses to the big boys, then its squeaky bum time. Keep in mind that Matic and Fabregas are both a yellow card away from a two game suspension, so should they pick it up against QPR…things will get interesting. Either way, this should be a very competitive London derby and a game to watch. I think it’ll be close, with neither side taking too many risks. I see Chelsea just nicking this 1-0.
Rishay: Manchester United v Manchester City: This Manchester derby seems a bit more special than others. In recent times City have had the upper hand, with demolishing wins over the past few seasons and United playing catch-up. However, this season the Red Devils have been resilient and resurgent and now find themselves one point above their rivals in the table. City’s league form has suffered since the start of 2015, and they have had some setbacks with losses and draws in recent weeks. However, they’ll feel confident going into this one and we could very well see a backlash after their shock defeat to Crystal Palace. United will have to be at their very best despite their great form in recent weeks. I have a feeling that the red half of Manchester will have something to shout about by Sunday evening. 2-1 United.
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Categories: Matchday Predictions