The clocks have gone forward, spring has now sprung, and the Premier League drama has been turned up another notch. Fasten your seatbelts because from here on in, things are going to get a lot more interesting.
Another weekend of action is behind us, and with that we have seen our first club fall victim to the ignominy of relegation. Although, that is not the only plot line in this weekly soap opera that has taken another twist.
With the race for the top four getting even tighter than it was a couple of days ago, and the pendulum that is the title race swinging back into Liverpool’s favour, who knows what twists and turns are around the corner.
While with that in mind, let's take a look at the five games that take place over Tuesday and Wednesday night.
TUESDAY APRIL 2
WATFORD VS FULHAM
It is a big week on the horizon for both Watford and Fulham, albeit for far differing reasons. For the Hornets, there is the small matter of an FA Cup semi-final against Wolves, and should they win, it will mean a first final appearance since 1984.
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While for the Cottagers, we have now got to the point where it is quite simply win or bust in terms of trying to keep hold of their Premier League status, as defeat for Scott Parker and his players would mean a quick return to the EFL Championship.
Watford certainly have designs on European football next season and it could well be that they have one of two routes in which to choose from. However, if they have to fall back on an entry route via league placing, they know that the race for 7th place has intensified over the past few days.
That’s because Leicester have found a new lease of life under new manager Brendan Rodgers and their recent run of results has catapulted them into the potential Europa League mix, while as a consequence, this is a league game that Watford can ill afford to take lightly.
With a trip to Wembley on the horizon this weekend and the possibility of another before the season’s end, it would be very easy for Watford to look too far ahead and then be suitably punished by a Fulham side that are fighting for their lives.
At the same time, it will be interesting to see just how many personnel changes Javi Gracia makes with the weekend in mind. However, even with a much changed starting 11 at Vicarage Road, there is little to suggest that Fulham won’t suffer a ninth straight league defeat.
It’s almost as if Fulham are a cat and this is the last of their nine lives, one that will be used up come Tuesday evening and with that their relegation will be confirmed. Should that be the case Watford win to zero, you will be rewarded with odds of 2/1 by GiveMeBet.
WOLVES VS MANCHESTER UNITED
The second of Tuesday’s two Premier League fixtures takes us to Molineux as fellow FA Cup semi-finalists Wolves play host to a Manchester United side that now have a permanent manager at the wheel.
One that perhaps unsurprisingly comes in the shape of former striker and interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian has been a revelation since he took the reigns at the tail end of last year and it was only a matter of time before his job status was subsequently upgraded.
His first piece of official full time business was to get the better of Watford on Saturday and next up it will be aiming to exact revenge on the team that knocked the Red Devils out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage.
Although there was disappointment in exiting the competition earlier than expected, it is not their only stab at potential silverware this season, and with a Champions League clash with Barcelona around the corner, there is still every chance that they could go onto conquer Europe on June 1.
However, it’s not just aiming to be kings of the continent that is the target for Solskjaer, and he will be mindful that United require the insurance policy that comes with securing a top four finish in this season’s Premier League.
After returning to winning ways at the weekend and with Wolves also likely to make personnel changes with their FA Cup meeting in mind, a United victory at evens with GiveMeBet might be a quick way to double your money.
WEDNESDAY APRIL 3
TOTTENHAM VS CRYSTAL PALACE
After months of delays, Tottenham finally get to throw a housewarming party on Wednesday night. Their new stadium has been the talk of the town as of late and if anything can give Mauricio Pochettino and his players a shot in the arm right now, it is this.
That’s because the north Londoners have picked up just a single point from the last 15 on offer and as a consequence, their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League are hanging by the most fragile of threads.
Not only that, but they will have to bounce back from losing in the cruellest of manners on Sunday at Anfield. A defeat that was dealt after Belgian international defender Toby Alderweireld put through his own net in the final minute of the game.
Playing the role of guests on Wednesday are fellow Londoners Crystal Palace and they will certainly be in the mood to be party poopers come the end of the evening, especially now that they have all-but secured their Premier League status for another season.
They picked up a 2-0 win over Huddersfield at Selhurst Park on Saturday, and although it eased the pressure on the Palace squad going into their last seven games of the campaign, it also finally consigned the Terriers to relegation.
A look at the Eagles’ recent form suggests that are indifferent as of late and each of their last two wins before the weekend have then been followed up with a defeat, something that will be music to the ears of Tottenham.
While with the atmosphere of the stadium looking to spur the hosts on, there’s only one bet we can go for here and that is Harry Kane to christen his new surroundings with its first ever goal at odds of 12/5.
MANCHESTER CITY VS CARDIFF
With Liverpool winning at the death on Sunday, it is once again over to you Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s men go into this Wednesday’s clash with Cardiff lying two points behind their nearest title rivals.
However, even with that small deficit, the defending Premier League champions know that this season’s race for honours is still very much in their hands and if they win all their games between now and the final day, it will be they who will be celebrating come May 12.
Not only that, but this current two point margin also comes with the caveat that City have a game in hand. One that gets put to use in midweek, as they go up against a Cardiff side that are facing an uphill struggle in terms of avoiding relegation.
City know that a win over Cardiff at the Etihad will see them return to the summit of the Premier League and in turn, it will ask another question of Jurgen Klopp and his star studded Liverpool squad.
That said, the Merseysiders have answered everything that this City side have asked of them as of late and you do have to wonder when if at all, either of these two juggernauts will produce a costly slip when it matters most.
Should City play as they did on Saturday, then Cardiff will be of no match to them at all. If that does prove to be the case, then a 3-0 home win at odds of 9/2 with GiveMeBet looks like being a shrewd investment.
CHELSEA VS BRIGHTON
Two recent league wins for Brighton has just managed to put some daylight between themselves and the relegation zone, while it could end up being Cardiff’s inability to earn vital points which sees the Seagulls safe for another season.
At the same time, Brighton boss Chris Hughton knows that his players cannot rest on their laurels just yet and the Seagulls will still need at least one more win from their last eight outings to then make sure of survival.
This Wednesday sees them visit a Chelsea side that were somewhat fortunate to get the better of Cardiff on Sunday afternoon and that win subsequently keeps their hopes of finishing in the top four very much alive.
Maurizio Sarri’s men are arguably the outsiders looking in when it comes to who will finish in the top four and it could well be that the former Napoli manager decides to put more of his eggs in a Europa League winning basket.
However, this is a strategy that comes with a huge element of risk and with the race for two Champions League places being as tight as it now is, it still makes sense to treat the battle for third or fourth as a viable concern.
With that in mind, this is a game that Chelsea cannot afford to slip up in and if Eden Hazard returns to the starting 11 as expected, it should end up being a routine victory for the Blues.
If that’s the case, a home win & under 2.5 total goals at odds of 41/20 looks a smart tip.News Now - Sport News