Friday, February 27, 2015

EPL 2014/15 - Week 27

Man City could be in for a good gush of wind in their sails as far as the league is concerned; they have Yaya Toure back, they are almost out of the UCL which makes retaining the EPL their main target, and Chelsea do not seem to catch a break as far as referees are concerned. If Man City succeed in getting full points at Anfield this week-end, their confidence for catching Chelsea will be sky high.

West Ham v/s Crystal Palace. The Hammers were unlucky not to get the away win at Spurs last week-end. They had glorious chances to put the game beyond reach after opening a 2-goal advantage and will rue the 2 lost points in the end. Still, they are playing well and difficult to beat at home. After a successful opening few games under Pardew, Palace seem to be lacking confidence at the moment and they are scrapping to get points. I think the ball is very much in the hosts' court here and they should have enough to get the 3 points. Home win.

Burnley v/s Swansea. Burnley got the all-important draw at Stamford Bridge last Saturday albeit in controversial circumstances. The most flagrant in my mind was the penalty not given for a blatant handball of Knightly. How much should the defender's arm to be deliberately extended for referee Atkinson to call a penalty is beyond understanding. However, as they've shown in many of their previous matches, the Clarets are a team with a fight and will look for the 3 points at home in their fight for survival. They look a banker to score, it's just that they usually leak in a few as well. Swansea beat Man Utd last week-end and were it not for a couple of inspiring plays by midfielder Shelvey, I am not sure they would have mustered the win. On their best day, Swansea cannot be discounted against most teams and I think this one will go close. Draw.

Man Utd v/s Sunderland. The critics are having a great time lambasting Falcao but I still think he will show the world class striker he is, if given a few runs of games. It's true he's missed some glorious chances, but once he gets his mojo back, he will score by the bucket-load. The injury to RVP is a blessing in disguise for the Columbian and he has got to seize his chance if he wants to continue his career at Old Trafford. This is not an easy match for the hosts as Sunderland have sprung a few surprises in their recent visits. Under Poyet, they've shown capacity to deliver shock results when least expected. Still, I think that Van Gaal is close to having his team playing near optimum capacity and this could be the match when all the elements are finally put together for a big delivery. Home win.

Newcastle v/s Aston Villa. It was a little shocking to see the Magpies destroyed by Man City by a whopping 5-0, after a few consistent and strong showings in their previous matches. They started the match on the wrong foot by conceding a penalty on a defensive howler in the first minute and never got in the match. Villa were also undone by a defensive howler, that one in the final seconds, when losing their first match under Tim Sherwood. They deserved at least a point out of that loss. I can't see them winning this at St James Park but they look good value for a draw. Draw.

Stoke v/s Hull. Many are crediting ex-Man Utd No 2, Mike Phelan, for the recent revival of the Tigers. They have certainly shown more spark up front and Jelavic is taking the chances coming his way. Stoke were lucky to get the 3 points against Villa but they are a solid mid-table team that will carve chances against bottom clubs. This could end up in a bore draw. Draw.

West Brom v/s Southampton. These are two teams that rely on strong defences to keep things tight and then try to make the difference at the other end through the odd goal. The Baggies are trying to escape the relegation zone once and for all and I think they will be comfortably secure in the end. I think Southampton's best hope is for a 6th place finish although I think they will end up no better than 8th. I anticipate a close match and if there is to be a winner it will be by the minimum margin. Draw.

Liverpool v/s Man City. Coutinho won this fixture for the hosts last year following a terrible Kompany clearance. The win had the Kop confidence at an absolute peak to land the elusive title, which eventually petered out in memorable circumstances as everyone knows. The roles are different this year as Liverpool are out of the title race and are hoping for a 4th place finish at best. I think that the fact that the hosts had a tough away Europe League match on Thursday plays into the Citizens' advantage. Having Yaya Toure in the starting line-up gives them an extra lift. Having Bony ready to come off the bench gives them ample ammunition for damage. Silva is in the zone at the moment and Aguero is again terrorizing defences. A must win for City and I think they will get it. Away win.

Arsenal v/s Everton. Arsenal's loss at home to Monaco means that they are practically out of the UCL. I can't see them lose a successive home match so they look set to vent their frustrations on the visitors. Everton had all the trouble in the world to snatch a point against Leicester at Goodison Park last Sunday in a match where they showed uncharacteristic defensive frailties. Sanchez and co will carve them open if they get similar types of chances as the Foxes. The Toffees snatched a point late in last year's fixture but they will do well to do it again. I just don't think they will. Home win.

Finally, the Carling Cup final between Chelsea and Tottenham. I can't see anything other than a Chelsea win here. Although Spurs soundly beat them at White Hart Lane, it will be an entirely different match at Wembley since Harry Kane will be a marked man. The fact that Spurs had a tough away match to play in midweek clearly gives the extra edge to Mourinho's men. Chelsea win.

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