Football News: Premier League Match Preview Saturday 7th April 2018

 

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Premier League Match Preview Saturday 7th April 2018
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Saturday 7th April 2018



Everton v Liverpool 12:30pm kick off


Holgate (ankle injury) out
Gueye (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Sigurdsson (knee injury expected return 5th May) out
Mangala (knee injury) out
McCarthy (broken leg) out
Stekelenburg (groin injury) out

After looking to have returned to some emblance of form, Everton went out last weekend and rolled over for Man City, letting their belly get tickled in possibly the most one-sided game of the season. Having already reached the magical 40 points mark, there is little for the Toffees to aim for, at least according to Sam Allardyce, but also little for them to lose. Which is why the limp defeat last weekend was so bemusing. There was absolutely no reason for Everton not to go for it. That is a mistake Allardyce cannot make again this weekend. His popularity amongst Everton fans is not exactly high, it would drop lower than a snake's belly if he were to send out his team and give up another game. It is not the result that is bothering Everton fans so much as the manner of the defeats. All he has to do is make sure his team is up for it and make an attempt to get three points, rather than settling for keeping the score as low as possible.
Most important player: Cenk Tosun. The Turk has shown that he has something about him and can be a real threat.


Salah (groin injury) major doubt
Lallana (hamstring injury) out
Matip (thigh injury expected return 1st June) out
Klavan (fitness) doubt
Gomez (ankle injury) out
Can (back injury) doubt

Liverpool's Premier League form is excellent at the moment, with 5 wins in their last 6 matches, though the defeat came against their other bitter rivals Man Utd. Jurgen Klopp would hate to see Everton also get one over on the Reds but he also has the second leg of the Champions League quarter final against Man City coming up on Tuesday to think of. This could be a game for him to take a chance on a weakened team, rather than risk injuries to key players. Anyone but Everton (or Man Utd) would be assured of facing a slightly understrength side, but the derby is a vitally important fixture and there was a mini backlash from some quarters after the Anfield draw early in the season. It is a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't for Klopp!
Most important player: Jordan Henderson. Hard to know for sure if he will even play, having played two games in quick succession already, but the chances are he will as he is banned for the Champions League game.


Defining Battle: This match is absolutely impossible to call. Normally you would expect Allardyce to keep his team deep to nullify the Liverpool front three and spring on the counter. However, at home, against what will probably be a weakened team and on the back of severe criticism for his timidity last week against City, Allardyce could be tempted to go a little more attacking. A lot depends on the team he has to face, though he will hate trying to prepare for a game with no idea what the opposition will be. He normally prepares a specific plan for the players that will be playing against his teams, it will be really difficult for him to know who he will be facing!


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 0-2
Ed003 - 1-1
Ed004 - 1-2
Ed007 - 2-2
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 0-0
Ed033 - 1-2



Bournemouth v Crystal Palace 3pm kick off


Stanislas (knee injury expected return 1st August) out
Mousset (illness) slight doubt
Francis (hamstring injury) late fitness test
A Smith (MCL injury expected return 5th May) out
Mings (back injury) out

The Cherries' form has dipped of late, with just one win in their last 6 Premier League games after a run of four wins in six previous to that. They do look to have done enough to assure themselves of survival for another season, as 37 points looks to be enough to remain in the Prem. Now their aim is to finish as far up the league as far as possible with 10th their current position, after last season's 9th that would be a slight step back.
Most important player: Joshua King. He has not been able to hit the heights of last season and that is holding Bournemouth back. Goals have been really difficult for them to come by without King banging them in.


Benteke (groin injury) late fitness test
Wickham (groin strain) out
Tomkins (calf strain expected return 14th April) major doubt
Schlupp (ankle injury) out
Sorloth (hamstring injury) out
Ward (muscle injury) out
Speroni (knee injury expected return 21st April) out
Sako (broken ankle expected return 18th August) out
Dann (ACL injury) out
Puncheon (PCL tear) out

Five defeats in their last six games has dragged the Eagles back into real trouble and leaves them teetering on the brink of returning to the relegation places. The lack of a real cutting edge up front, with the misfiring lamppost Christian Benteke leading the line, has cost Palace badly and needs to be rethought. Roy Hodgson's desire to play with a target man is understandable but it is not helping the team get results and it is time he looked for a different approach to get the points desperately needed.
Most important player: Wilfried Zaha. Their only real threat is in giving the ball to Zaha to run at opponents. While his end product is often poor, he does create enough problems to be a real danger.


Defining Battle: two teams in poor recent form does not point towards an attractive game but these teams have the right attributes to exploit the weaknesses of the other. The most important thing will be for that wide open Bournemouth backline to find some way to cope with the pace Palace present on the break.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 0-2
Ed003 - 1-2
Ed004 - 2-2
Ed007 - 0-2
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 1-2
Ed033 - 1-0



Brighton & Hove Albion v Huddersfield Town 3pm kick off


Stephens (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Brown (ACL injury) out
Sidwell (back injury) out
Skalak (ankle injury) doubt
Knockaert (suspended) out

Right on the verge of ensuring their survival you would think Brighton could breath more easily but they have 7 games left and, after this one, they have Man City, Spurs, Burnley, Man Utd and Liverpool. This one and next weekend's match against struggling Palace look to be the Seagulls best hopes of picking up the points they need. If it was not for that run in, you would be putting 13th placed Brighton in amongst the teams that are safe from relegation. With that run in, they will not be safe until they have reached the total they need to mathematically ensure they are safe.
Most important player: Biram Kayal. The Israeli midfielder has offered Brighton a little something extra in midfield when he plays.


Kachunga (ankle injury expected return 1st June) out
Williams (broken ankle) out
Hefele (knee injury expected return 21st April) out

Everytime Huddersfield looked to be done in the past they have pulled a result out of the bag to give themselves fresh hopes, but they are perilously close to the drop zone after four games without a win. With a difficult run of games to end the season with and a team that is looking out of ideas and energy, they look like the team most likely to be dragged into the bottom three in the final few weeks. The Terriers are going to need the doggedness of their nickname to stand any chance of starting next season as a Premier League club once more.
Most important player: Jonas Lossl. Clean sheets will be vital from now until the end of the season. The least you can come away with is a point if you keep a clean sheet and, right now, every point is vital.


Defining Battle: This is a winnable game for both sides and it would be a desperately needed win for whichever of them gets it. With tough run ins to come, they will both have to go for this and chase the points. Huddersfield's main task is to keep Pascal Gross closed down and not allow the German to create chances. His delivery is amongst the best in the league.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 1-1
Ed003 - 2-1
Ed004 - 1-0
Ed007 - 1-0
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 2-0
Ed033 - 0-1



Leicester City v Newcastle United 3pm kick off


James (achilles injury expected return 1st June) out
Amartey (hamstring injury expected return 14th April) major doubt
Ndidi (suspended) out

Two wins in a row has moved Leicester right up onto the tails of Burnley in the battle to be best of the rest. Under the leadership of Claude Puel, they probably have been the best of the rest and well deserving of that place, as Burnley have struggled in the second half of the season. Now it is up to the Foxes to go and take that place and prove they deserve it.
Most important player: Vicente Iborra. He has a hell of a job on his hands without the energy of Wilfred Ndidi to help him in midfield.


Diame (knock) slight doubt
Joselu (ankle injury) slight doubt
Elliot (back injury) doubt
Gamez (ankle injury) slight doubt
Slimani (ineligible to face parent club) out

Like Leicester, Newcastle have won their last two games in a row and that has seen them climb right out of the relegation zone and nearly to safety. The Toon have one hand on survival with it tantalisingly close and within their grasp to take. They have reached a point where a couple of points should be enough to save them, beyond all expectations. With the takeover not happening and Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley doing their best to hinder Rafael Benitez's recruitment, it is almost a miracle that they even have a chance of survival. A miracle that the fans deserve a large amount of credit for, as their unstinted backing of Benitez has ensured that he is in a strong position to do what he thinks best with regards players. Exactly what you need when you are managing a team fighting against relegation.
Most important player: Ayoze Perez. His creativity will be all the more important without Slimani to come on and change the game if needed.


Defining Battle: when facing Leicester the difficulty is stopping the lightning quick counter attacks that they launch. If the defence drops deep, to block the space in behind that Vardy wants to run into, then it makes it more difficult to attack. If the defence is pushed up, then there is space behind for Vardy to race into.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 1-3
Ed003 - 2-2
Ed004 - 2-1
Ed007 - 2-1
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 2-0
Ed033 - 2-1



Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur 3pm kick off


Diouf (knock) late fitness test
Zouma (knee injury) slight doubt
Stafylidis (fractured rib) out
Choupo-Moting (groin strain expected return 16th April) out
Grant (wrist injury) out
Adam (suspended) out

Stoke have looked no better since the change of managers from Mark Hughes to Paul Lambert. The dour tactics employed by the Scot have not made best use of the players at his disposal and they have struggled badly. The Potters have lost their last three in a row and not won in eight, which has seen them drop into the bottom three. Their performances are as bad as their results and the camp has become split with Xherdan Shaqiri making public comments about his team-mates. They have all the hallmarks of a team destined for a hard fall from grace after a long period in the Prem.
Most important player: Joe Allen. He is a symptom of just how poor the Stoke midfield actually is. Lots of energy but little real ability.


Walker-Peters (hamstring injury) out
Winks (ankle injury) out

It is a season moving in the right direction for Spurs, despite having dropped out of the Champions League in the previous round. The five wins in a row culminating in a massive, long-awaited, win over Chelsea last time out. They are flying high right now and it is not entirely out of the question that they can get second place at the end of the season. The only real worry is the FA Cup being a distraction.
Most important player: Hugo Lloris. The French keeper has made a few errors lately that have not been punished. If he continues to make them, then there is the possibility that someone will find a way to punish them.


Defining Battle: the best way to knock Spurs out of their stride is to close Christian Eriksen down and give him no space and time. When he is under pressure he struggles and Spurs do too. Give him time and space and he will rip Stoke apart.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 2-1
Ed003 - 1-3
Ed004 - 0-2
Ed007 - 0-2
Ed018 - 1-2
Ed025 - 0-3
Ed033 - 0-2



Watford v Burnley 3pm kick off


Britos (illness) slight doubt
Deulofeu (fractured foot expected return 5th May) out
Kabasele (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Cleverley (hamstring injury) out
Kaboul (fractured metatarsal) out
Chalobah (knee injury) out
Hoban (ACL injury) out

Watford have had an up and down season which has seen them hover around midtable but gradually slip down away from a challenge to be the best of the rest. Performances are inconsistent, injuries have plagued them and the managerial change has not really had the desired lift. It is just a case of getting this season over and done with and begin preparation for the next. This time around the Hornets might even be able to look forward to a bit of stability, with the possibility of beginning the new season with the same manager they ended the previous one!
Most important player: Etienne Capoue. He gives Doucoure license to get forward and provide some support to the attack.


Mee (knock) late fitness test
Gudmundsson (calf strain) late fitness test
Walters (fitness) major doubt
Heaton (fitness) doubt
Arfield (calf strain) out
Defour (knee injury) out
Brady (knee injury) out

Despite having had a long run of games without a win, Burnley held onto their spot as best of the rest and now they have broken that run, they have gone on and won three in a row to put some pressure on Arsenal above them. Either way, what they have achieved this season has been beyond their wildest dreams and everything from now on in is a bonus. They have no pressure on them, so they can play with freedom. Though the one thing you can guarantee is that Sean Dyche will not allow anyone to give less than 100%.
Most important player: Ashley Barnes. It is very difficult to pick out one player as Burnley are all about the team but Barnes has been in really good form recently.


Defining Battle: Burnley will be organised and putting their bodies on the line for the cause, while Watford will be exactly the opposite. The Hornets are very reliant on individuals to carry them. Will they be able to work enough time and space to work some magic or will Burnley's hustle and bustle knock them out of their stride and expose their many weaknesses?


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 0-1
Ed003 - 1-1
Ed004 - 2-1
Ed007 - 1-2
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 1-1



West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City 3pm kick off


Field (calf strain) out
Barry (knee injury expected return 1st June) out
Sturridge (hamstring injury expected return 15th April) major doubt
Chadli (thigh strain) doubt
Morrison (achilles injury expected return 5th May) out

Cast adrift at the bottom after a run of eight games without a win, they have now cut the line to the anchor holding them back, in a 'manager' who seems to think bullying young players is the way to get their confidence up, what exactly can the Baggies produce? It is too much to hope for the miracle of survival, but at least they can restore some pride by having a good go at it in their final few games. All the fans want is to see some fight and desire from their team, something that was completely lacking under Alan Pardew, who was far too busy preening himself to notice how hopeless his tactics are.
Most important player: Jay Rodriguez. It is difficult to know what caretaker Darren Moore will do, but they struggle for goals, so they need forwards on form.


Clucas (knee injury) doubt
Fer (Achilles injury) out
Bony (ACL injury) out
Rangel (groin injury expected return 14th April) major doubt
Sanches (hamstring injury expected return 22nd April) major doubt
J Ayew (suspended) out

They have been on a good run and got themselves out of the drop zone but they can ill afford to let it go now as they are still only just outside the bottom three. It would only take one loss, while other results go against them, to put them back in trouble once more. The last thing they need is to go into the final day against fellow strugglers Stoke City needing a win. Morale is a fragile thing and it would be easy for it to drop if their good initial run under Carlos Carvalhal shows signs of fading away.
Most important player: Andre Ayew. With Bony out for the season and his brother suspended, much of the burden in attack is going to be place on his shoulders.


Defining Battle: difficult to know what will define the game with a rookie caretaker in charge of West Brom. The only thing that is known is that the Baggies morale will be fragile after such a poor run, despite getting rid of the hindrance in charge, so Swansea could use that by getting right at them and not allow them to get their confidence up by playing the ball around. If the Swans push them back from the start, they could completely fold under the pressure. Are the Swans even capable of that though?


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 1-1
Ed003 - 0-1
Ed004 - 1-2
Ed007 - 0-1
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 1-2
Ed033 - 1-2



Manchester City v Manchester United 5:30pm kick off


Aguero (knee injury) slight doubt
Mendy (ACL injury) doubt

A chance to win the Prem against your great local rivals does not come along every day, but there is also the matter of a three goal deficit to overturn in the Champions League on Tuesday. With there being another six games to clinch the title, despite the temptation to go strong and rub United's nose in it, it is hard to believe that Pep Guardiola will put out anything like a full strength team. There really is no need for him to do so.
Most important player: ? There is no way to know who will be in the team! It could be anyone.


Romero (knee injury expected return 15th April) out
Jones (hamstring injury) doubt
Blind (ankle injury) doubt

The pressure on Jose Mourinho in this game is massive. Not only because they need to stop Man City winning the title against them, but because they will be facing a team that is not even half-focused on this game and will probably be a second string side as well. Losing this game would be close to embarrassing enough without the title, with the title it would be almost unbearable afterwards.
Most important player: Romelu Lukaku. This is a must win game for United and that means they will have to score goals.


Defining Battle: the big question is whether Mourinho will be willing to go on the front foot for once? It seems doubtful, at best, which could cost them badly if whatever City team goes out there is given the time and space to get up a head of steam. United do not really have the workrate and pressure players in midfield to make a high press work, so Jose is going to have to look to a different plan. It is likely that we will see him look to keep a player or two up and around Lukaku and use him like a battering ram to bully the City defence, as he did in their recent win over Liverpool.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 4-2
Ed003 - 1-1
Ed004 - 2-1
Ed007 - 2-2
Ed018 - 3-1
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 2-1



Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed002 - 205 points
2. Ed025 - 203 points
3. Ed033 - 202 points
4. Ed007 - 201 points
5. Ed004 - 197 points
6. Ed018 - 195 points
7. Ed003 - 183 points


*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 6th April 2018 (not including results for that day)

Written by Tris Burke



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