Premier League preview: Liverpool travel to Southampton as title race hots up

Liverpool FC v Southampton FC - Premier League

With the FA Cup semi-finals taking place this weekend, it means that we have a slightly curtailed Premier League programme, and although there are not the usual 10 fixtures being served up on the menu, the action should not be any less mouth-watering.

Once again, the matches taking place over the next few days will have undoubted ramifications at both ends of the table, and no matter what the outcomes, it will only serve to add to the drama that has been unfolding as of late.

In what is an extended weekend of action, there are six top flight clashes to digest and with that in mind, here are our big tips for the days ahead.

FRIDAY APRIL 5

SOUTHAMPTON VS LIVERPOOL

A rare Friday night offering sees Southampton welcome title chasing Liverpool to St Mary’s, and although both teams will be looking for an all-important win, it is fair to say that the reasons are far differing.

For Southampton, they will look to earn another set of maximum points and in turn put further daylight between themselves and the relegation zone, an aim that has been ably assisted by their impressive recent form.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have picked up three wins from their last four league outings and it is this run of results that has almost allowed the Saints to look up the Premier League table, rather than over their shoulders.

While for Liverpool, it is a case of just keeping the red machine going, as they look to record a fourth straight league win – one that if earned, would only serve to put more pressure on the shoulders of Manchester City.

In Liverpool’s last league outing, they got the better of Tottenham by two goals to one and this is a feat that Southampton also achieved last month, therefore there is some form of commonality going into this game.

However, now they need to square off against each other and Jurgen Klopp’s men will undoubtedly go into this game as favourites, regardless of Southampton’s current form. (GMB odds - 2-1 away win 13/2)

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-TOTTENHAM

SATURDAY APRIL 6

HUDDERSFIELD VS LEICESTER

After a season to forget, Huddersfield’s relegation to the Championship was finally confirmed last weekend. A 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, coupled with wins for both Southampton and Burnley, meant that the Terriers’ two-season stint in the division is coming to an end.

Manager Jan Siewert has failed to produce anything in the way of a bounce since he took over from David Wagner, and in fairness, it was always going to be a case of not if, but when the Yorkshire outfit had their fate confirmed.

Their first game with their status of relegation rubber stamped sees them go up against a Leicester side who are certainly feeling the benefit of changing manager late in the season, and subsequently, are now in with an outside chance of a top seven finish.

Leicester City v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League

Since Brendan Rodgers took over at the King Power Stadium, the Foxes have won their last three league outings, and all of a sudden, a potential route into next season’s Europa League has opened up for the 2016 Premier League champions.

Last time out they got the better of a Bournemouth side who have almost switched off for the season, and with Huddersfield also having nothing to play for, they will look to again take full advantage of an opposition which is on autopilot.

The reason for Huddersfield’s relegation has been down to a number of factors, although a lack of goals has been the most pertinent, and with Leicester as the clear favourites for this encounter. (GMB odds - Leicester to win to zero 7/4)

BOURNEMOUTH VS BURNLEY

Eddie Howe will be relieved that Bournemouth are at least in the sanctity of mid-table at present and not lower down the reaches of the Premier League, especially when you consider the recent form that the Cherries have displayed.

They’ve picked up just one win in their last six matches and five points from the last 18 that have been on offer - something indicates that the Bournemouth squad are already planning their summer holidays way before the season’s end.

Leicester City v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League

This downturn in results has coincided with the club nearly reaching their ultimate objective of survival and therefore you cannot really blame the players for mentally checking out in the final quarter of the campaign.

However, it does mean that they then become a very attractive team to play against, something that Burnley manager Sean Dyche will have identified in the week and therefore he will have earmarked this a fixture that is very much winnable.

The Clarets gave their survival hopes a huge boost last weekend when they got the better of Wolves at Turf Moor, and they know that two more wins from their last six matches, will more than likely keep them afloat.

These two sides are both led by young English managers who have been eventually touted for bigger and better things. That said, the focus goes no further than Saturday. (GMB odds - under 2.5 goals 20/21)

NEWCASTLE VS CRYSTAL PALACE

Arsenal FC v Newcastle United - Premier League

Both Newcastle and Crystal Palace have almost reached the promised land of Premier League survival, and although not mathematically safe just yet, you do get the feeling that they will be playing at the highest level again come August.

While their respective managers will once again be lauded for making sure neither the Magpies or the Eagles have found themselves in a dogged relegation battle, and for that, Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson deserve huge credit.

Newcastle’s recent form has just tapered off slightly, although a good run of results in the past couple of months has given the Tyneside outfit enough insulation between themselves and the bottom three.

While Palace seem to be energised by the arrival of Michy Batshuyai since his loan capture from Chelsea at the end of January and his contribution has played a huge part in keeping the south Londoners heads above water.

Crystal Palace v Fulham FC - Premier League

There’s not a great deal to choose between these two sides, something that is reflected when you look at the Premier League table. (GMB odds - draw 11/5)

SUNDAY APRIL 7

EVERTON VS ARSENAL

Sunday’s only Premier League fixture takes us to Goodison Park as Everton play host to Arsenal, and with the hosts recent upturn in results, it has just allowed themselves to once again dream of potentially playing European football next season.

These past few months has been a funny spell for Everton and more importantly manager Marco Silva, just when he looks like his head is on the chopping board and a change of stewardship looks imminent, he then produces a run of results to ease the pressure.

This was evident after back to back wins against both Chelsea and West Ham, with the Toffees now finding themselves on the fringes of the race for seventh place – one that is beginning to heat up very nicely.

Arsenal FC v Newcastle United - Premier League

While, of course, Arsenal know something about a race for a European place and their quest to finish in the top four was given a huge boost on Monday as they managed to get the better of Newcastle at the Emirates.

Unai Emery’s men have found an extra gear at just the right time of the campaign and all of a sudden, they look incredibly good value to finish in the top four, something that many would not have said at the turn of the year.

They will look to do better than the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea, who have both slipped up here in recent times, and also make it six league wins from their last seven in the process. (GMB odds - half time draw, full time Arsenal 4-1)

MONDAY APRIL 8

CHELSEA VS WEST HAM

Our extended weekend of Premier League action finishes up in the capital and what’s more we are also treated to a feisty London derby between hosts Chelsea and visitors West Ham at Stamford Bridge.

Cardiff City v Chelsea FC - Premier League

Maurizio Sarri’s men have not been at their brilliant best as of late and this is something that is drawing the ire of the club’s fans, although perhaps it is a frustration that is being landed more at the manager rather than the players themselves.

The former Napoli manager is looking to earn a place in the top four and also win this season’s Europa League competition, a feat that was last achieved by Rafael Benitez when he was Chelsea manager back in 2013. However, it was not enough for him to stay in the job the following season.

While the same fate could land itself in the lap of 60-year-old Sarri, especially as his tactical decisions continue to bemuse both pundits and fans alike. Then again, Chelsea almost need to stop their managerial revolving door from spinning and start laying some long term foundations. 

Sarri will be able to boost his hopes of a second season in charge if he can deliver a return to the Champions League, and he will be confident of getting the better of a West Ham side that struggle to earn points on the road.

Then again, the Hammers were also indifferent last weekend when they fell at home to Everton and with that their hopes of a top seven finish have all but diminished.

Chelsea will look to earn local bragging rights. (GMB odds - Chelsea win and under 2.5 goals 29/10)

News Now - Sport News