With the FA Cup returning this weekend, some of the league’s big players are not involved in the Premier League fixtures, but with European spots and Premier League safety to play for, there are still some intriguing match ups this weekend and potential for a few upsets along the way. Here’s our preview of this weekend’s games:
Norwich vs Southampton
Neither side is in tremendous shape going into this clash at Carrow Road. Norwich were hammered 4-0 by Man Utd, while Southampton lost to their relegation rivals QPR. Southampton really need a win to climb out of harm’s reach, but Norwich are no pushovers at home. It’s likely to be a cagey game, but I’d probably plump for Norwich to win this one and push Southampton right back into trouble.
QPR vs Sunderland
An emotional Harry Redknapp celebrated on the pitch with his players following a crucial win last week away at Southampton and they’ve got another crucial game this weekend against a solid but unspectacular Sunderland side. Both Redknapp and the Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill are vastly experienced managers and it should be a fascinating battle at Loftus Road. Sunderland tend to play a pretty conservative game away from home and I can see O’Neill’s men content to play for a point.
Reading vs Aston Villa
With these two sides sharing the relegation zone with QPR, this one should be a cracker. Reading were outclassed last week by Everton whilst Villa lost narrowly to the current champions Man City. Both sides will know that a win will not just help them out considerably but will also be thoroughly detrimental to their opponents. Let’s hope we see an open game with both teams determined to really go for the three points.
West Brom vs Swansea
Both on 40 points, West Brom and Swansea will both have European qualification spots in their sights this season, and given that these two teams usually like to play with the ball, I’m expecting a decent spectacle at the Hawthorns on Saturday. Swansea ground out a hard fought win over a resurgent Newcastle side last week which shows that they haven’t lost any motivation following their League Cup triumph while West Brom certainly didn’t roll over during their 1-0 loss to Chelsea. Difficult to choose a winner in this one, but it should be an open and attractive game of football.
Newcastle vs Stoke
Newcastle will be concerned about their close proximity to the relegation zone and will surely be looking for three points on Sunday afternoon. Residing safely in 11th, Stoke don’t have much to play for but will certainly be a very tough nut to crack. Stoke tend to play a narrow game away from home, so I wouldn’t expect this to be a high-scoring affair and it may well result in a draw
Liverpool vs Tottenham
After a fantastic win against Wigan last week, belief seems to be flowing back into everyone at Anfield. With their rich European history, Liverpool fans will feel that their club should be playing European football next season and they’ll be looking for a result against Tottenham to force them up into the Europa League places. Don’t expect Spurs to make life easy for them though – Gareth Bale once again helped to secure them three points in the North London derby last week and AVB has clearly found a formula that works in N17. Spurs will certainly not turn up happy to take a draw, so it should be an open game up in Merseyside on Sunday.