Single word yields best result

Football News: Premier League Match Preview Saturday 5th May 2018

Premier League Match Preview Saturday 5th May 2018
Image from:

Saturday 5th May 2018


Stoke City v Crystal Palace 12:30pm kick off


Martins Indi (groin strain expected return 13th May) major doubt
Johnson (groin strain) late fitness test
Stafylidis (fractured rib) out
Choupo-Moting (groin strain expected return 13th May) out

They have gone 12 games without a win and now it is win or bust for a team that has shown no desire, heart or ability this season. Hard to believe that Paul Lambert can be considered as anything other than deluded to think any of the players he is managing are worth more than £35m, especially not any member of a defensive unit that has been so abysmal throughout the season. It is difficult to think this is anything other than a well deserved relegation coming for a team whose fans boo Aaron Ramsey for having the temerity to have his leg broken by one of their players. They have become a thoroughly dislikeable team over their time in the Prem, the way they play, their choice of managers, their ownership and fans that abuse players that have been injured by their players. It is sad to say that most neutral fans would probably be glad to see the back of them.
Most important player: Mame Biram Diouf. He works hard, has pace and is strong in the air but lacks the goals the Potters require to survive.


Wickham (groin strain expected return 1st June) out
Sako (broken ankle expected return 18th August) out
Dann (ACL injury) out
Puncheon (PCL tear expected return 13th May) major doubt

Palace have little left to play for, safety has been achieved and they are comfortably in midtable. For them it is just about getting as far up the table as possible, but with no pressure on them at all.
Most important player: James McArthur. While Zaha gets all the plaudits, McArthur does a lot of the donkey work that gives him a platform to create mayhem.


Defining Battle: Stoke will have to go at Palace from the start, which leaves them open to the pacey counters of Zaha and Townsend. Find a way to stop the counters and they have a chance.


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


Bournemouth v Swansea City 3pm kick off


Arter (Achilles injury expected return 13th May) major doubt
Stanislas (knee injury expected return 1st August) out
A Smith (MCL injury expected return 13th May) major doubt

Since they reached safety, the Cherries form has been poor, with three defeats on the bounce showing what can happen when a team that has nothing left to play for has to face teams that do. With that in mind, Eddie Howe will be hoping that this game is a little different, as they face the relegation threatened Swans. They certainly will not be able to be as poor as they were against Southampton last weekend if they want to pick up all three points.
Most important player: Lewis Cook. His performances have tailed off a little as the season winds down, just at the time that he needs to step up and take control of games.


Fernandez (knee injury) doubt
Bartley (knee injury) out
Narsingh (ankle injury) doubt
Fer (Achilles injury) out
Bony (knee injury) doubt

The Swans have allowed themselves to get dragged right back into danger in recent weeks with no wins in six matches leaving them just one point ahead of Southampton. With the two teams below them to play in the next two games, it at least leaves their safety in their own hands, regardless of what happens today. However they really cannot really on beating both Saints and Stoke in consecutive matches, that would be a huge amount of pressure to bear, particularly the way they have underperformed in recent weeks, once the new manager bounce wore off.
Most important player: Andre Ayew. His return has so far been entirely underwhelming.


Defining Battle: Bournemouth will try to play their pretty football, while Swansea will continue with their headless chickens act that they have descended into in recent weeks. They are working harder than they were, but the team cohesion and shape has vanished. It is just 11 individuals all giving their all, but lacking the quality and tactical nous to get the results that deserves, now managers have had time to look at what they are doing. This game will show if Howe does enough work on checking opposing teams out and setting up his team to exploit weaknesses or if he just sends his players out to do the same thing each time - to pass, pass, pass. Swans have so many flaws to exploit, in particular on the left of the defence, where Olsson and Mawson have little positional sense between them, that any work done on the training ground should bear fruit.


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


Leicester City v West Ham United 3pm kick off


Simpson (groin strain) out
Chilwell (knock) out
Schmeichel (ankle injury) late fitness test
Okazaki (ankle injury expected return 13th May) major doubt
Iborra (hamstring injury) late fitness test
James (Achilles injury expected return 1st June) out
Albrighton (suspended) out
Ndidi (hamstring injury) out

The Foxes have once again been hit by the curse of overpaid, pampered primadonnas complaining about the training regime of a manager and clearly downing tools to ensure they do not have to face another season with him. It is almost beginning to feel that winning the Premier League title is the worst thing that could have happened for the long term stability of the club. Almost. They have all the hallmarks of a bunch of players who just no longer care, again. It is a club in need of a major clearout of players and a fresh start.
Most important player: Demarai Gray. The winger has shown nothing yet to make me understand why they went to so much trouble to sign him.


Antonio (hamstring injury) out
Collins (hamstring injury expected return 13th May) major doubt
Reid (MCL injury) out
Byram (ankle injury) out
Obiang (MCL injury expected return 13th May) major doubt

The Hammers are right on the cusp of safety, but two heavy defeats in the last two games have not helped soothe the frayed nerves or lift morale. If they are not careful, they could get dragged back into the bottom three, though they have the advantage of two teams between them and the drop zone. They should have enough in hand to survive, but you can never tell with West Ham, they have a tendency to let you down just when you expect them to get a result.
Most important player: Marko Arnautovic. They have become heavily reliant on Arnautovic, mostly because the backline and midfield has devolved into a bit of a shambles defensively in recent months. Surprisingly so as Moyes normally concentrates on building a defensive solidity.


Defining Battle: with West Ham still needing to get points to ensure safety and Leicester barely turning up on the pitch for their manager, you would expect this to be a case of the Hammers really getting at Leicester and putting them under the cosh. However, that Hammers defence is so weak that they can be sliced apart with ease and the most important thing in this game is if they can cope with Leicester's attack. Even at half-cock the Foxes can be dangerous on the break, that is something West Ham have to guard against and not allow any of their midfield to get time and space to produce a ball to free the attackes.


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


Watford v Newcastle United 3pm kick off


Okaka (thigh injury) out
Pereyra (groin strain) doubt
Cleverley (hamstring injury expected return 1st June) out
Kaboul (fractured metatarsal expected return 1st June) out
Chalobah (knee injury expected return 13th May) out
Hoban (ACL injury) out

The Hornets are the ultimate example of a team that has ensured another season in the Prem and then bust out the flip-flops and deckchairs nice and early. It has been seven games since they won or even looked capable of winning. I am sure everyone involved with the club just want to get the season over now and move on to the next one.
Most important player: Etienne Capoue. The French midfielder has never recovered the form he once showed when racking up early season goals for Watford last season.


Clark (knock) out
Merino (knee injury) slight doubt
Atsu (knee injury) out

The lack of anything tangible to play for, after the Toon reached the 40 point mark and guaranteed safety, has shown in recent results. That makes this game into little more than a friendly, in effect, at the end of a long hard season where Newcastle have overachieved already. Whatever happens on the pitch, everyone associated with the club can hold their heads up high and be proud of this season. Now the important thing is what happens off the pitch, with the club's ownership still to be sorted.
Most important player: Kenedy. Since joining from Chelsea on loan the Brazilian has been a stand out.


Defining Battle: the difference between the two is that one has a manager with the full backing of the fans and players, while Watford have struggled with instability in recent years. Newcastle will try to draw Watford onto them and hit them on the break using Shelvey's ability to pick a 40/50 yard pass to get them in behind. Watford's defence is shakey and struggles against pace, which is something Newcastle have a decent amount of out wide and up top in Gayle.


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


West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur 3pm kick off


Chadli (fitness) late fitness test
Barry (knee injury expected return 1st June) out
Morrison (Achilles injury expected return 1st June) out

You can only applaud Darren Moore for the results he has managed to achieve with the Baggies since his appointment as caretaker boss. Well that and question why he was not given his chance sooner, rather than bringing in the hopelessly inept Alan Pardew and hanging on to him for so long. Even though it was because of his friendship with the man making the decision, personally I would prefer a friend to turn round and point out that I am crap at something, rather than leave me to be humiliated the way Pardew was. Though it is water off a duck's back to Pardew I am sure. Nothing less than a win is enough today. In fact even a win may not be enough.
Most important player: Matt Phillips. When he is confident, Phillips can be a handful for any defence with his power and pace.


Dembele (ankle injury) late fitness test
Rose (groin strain) slight doubt
Winks (ankle injury) out

Spurs cannot afford to slack off as they are still not certain of a top 4 finish. It will be a big test to face a team so desperate for the points as WBA. What would probably be most worrying from a Tottenham point of view is their tendency to fall at the final hurdle, when the pressure is on. On paper they are a much better side, but there have been signs of cracks in the team, from the problems with players wanting pay rises to the Harry Kane situation. It is clear from the stats that he is not covering as much ground as usual nor moving at the same speed as he was before. Was it a mistake to bring him back so quickly?
Most important player: Harry Kane. He has not been at his best since returning from injury.


Defining Battle: the Baggies will be under pressure from Spurs' press and have to find a way to break it quickly and early. They do have pacey wingers that they can use as an out ball to get at Tottenham's backline, quality balls to them will be the key to their chances.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 1-1
Ed003 - 0-3
Ed004 - 1-3
Ed007 - 1-4
Ed018 - 1-2
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 0-2


Everton v Southampton 5:30pm kick off


Calvert-Lewin (back injury) out
Holgate (ankle injury) slight doubt
Sigurdsson (knee injury expected return 1st June) out
Mangala (knee injury) out
McCarthy (broken leg) out

The form has picked up, with results at the kind of level you would expect of Everton, but performances, well what can you say about those? Dour, dull, very few chances or excitement created, it is interesting that they are picking up the results despite that. The biggest issue at the club really is the relationship between Sam Allardyce and the fans. He has almost gone out of his way to antagonise them with his comments. It is bizarre, it is like he is constantly poking a big bear with a sharp stick over and over, trying to provoke a reaction so that he can claim that it was all the bear's fault when he gets that reaction. Allardyce seems to think that the Toffees should just be grateful they have got so lucky to have him, when in actual fact it is the other way round. He should be grateful that, after the shambolic way he has conducted himself in a career blighted by controversy, a club as big as Everton would give him a chance.
Most important player: Wayne Rooney. No matter how bad he plays he gets picked. You have to wonder how much time he has left at the top level in English football.


Davis (Achilles injury expected return 13th May) out

It has all started to turn Saints' way all of a sudden. Injuries are almost non-existent, form has picked up, the players are suddenly looking up for the battle and the three teams just above them have hit poor form themselves. Mark Hughes has a very genuine chance to rescue what looked a hopeless situation when he arrived. They do say it is the hope that kills you though!
Most important player: Dusan Tadic. Being dropped seemed to revitalise him last time out.


Defining Battle: this is the kind of game Allardyce loves, the chance to spoil another team's season and show his tactical 'greatness' by staging a holding action to nick a result. Soton desperately need a win, they have to go at them and that is what Allardyce loves playing against. It is up to Saints to make the most of any chances they get, as Everton will get more and more confident as the game goes on without them conceding.


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


Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed002 - 242 points
2. Ed033 - 236 points
3. Ed018 - 234 points
4. Ed007 - 232 points
5. Ed025 - 220 points
6. Ed004 - 219 points
7. Ed003 - 208 points


*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 4th May 2018 (not including results for that day)

Written by Tris Burke May 05 2018 05:08:05