Arsenal v Leeds
After 3 Premier League wins on the bounce, Arsenal will look to continue their top 4 push with a win against relegation-threatened Leeds, a side in serious danger now. Leeds are now 17th and just 2 points clear of Everton, who have favourable fixtures to come.
Arsenal are hitting form right when they need to, winning 3 on the bounce after 4 catastrophic defeats. Victories against 3 European chasing sides should give the Gunners the confidence they need to push for top 4. They have the 3rd best home record in the league with 35 points from 17, conceding just 15 goals in the process.
Leeds, despite improvement under Jesse Marsch, are still the worst defensive side on the road conceding 38 goals. It was straight back to square one for the American after a 4-0 defeat to City followed 5 unbeaten games. All of a sudden there is pressure on this Leeds side to perform despite feeling safe a few weeks ago.
I expect a similar Leeds performance to last time where they struggled against City. Leeds are renowned to struggle against a 4-2-3-1 (Arsenal’s formation) conceding 16 in their last 4 games against this formation. They concede 13.63 shots per game and an xG of 1.5 per 90. The main position which appears to thrive against Leeds is the number 10 where Arsenal starlet Martin Odegaard should pull the strings on Sunday.
Leicester v Everton
The Foxes’ dreams of reaching its first-ever European final ended in Rome on Thursday night and Brendan Rodgers is now under pressure to deliver as high as possible finish in the Premier League to avoid the possibility of his job coming under scrutiny in the summer after a pretty poor season.
Leicester sit in the bottom half of the table and on a four-match winless league run and they risk sliding further in the standings if they don’t stop the Toffees in their bid to secure safety. Everton are travelling to the King Power on the back of a very important victory against the reigning European champions as Frank Lampard’s side showed the necessary determination and grit to stay in the top-flight. Everton’s defence has solidified and Pickford’s heroics at Merseyside last week capped off another great display within the backline. The return of Yerry Mina proved to be huge too as the Colombian international put in a stellera display. However, they remain a little thin in the middle of the park as Andre Gomes and Van de Beek remain doubtful.
The visitors have scored a couple of goals in a match only once since February and I believe another low-scoring match is likely at King Power. Leicester’s squad is going to be fatigued after the exhausting trip to Italy and they are surely lacking in morale and I am not convinced they will be completely up for the task on Sunday afternoon. Another gritty display will be what Lampard is after and I fancy them to maybe nick a result but a low-scoring game is certainly the standout in this one.
Norwich v West Ham
The Yo-Yo club of the Premier League continued their tradition of promotion followed by relegation when Norwich were confirmed as relegated following their defeat at Villa last weekend. Meanwhile, their visitors also suffered the tough side of football this week as West Ham crashed out of the Europa League in Frankfurt on Thursday.
Another European Aaron Creswell red card set the Hammers on the back foot instantly on Thursday night, leaving them chasing a 2-goal deficit with 10 men. Eliminated from all other competitions, Moyes’ men can put full concentration into European qualification through the PL now, starting with a victory on the road. West Ham will look at this fixture favorably having won the past 3 by a combined score of 8-0
Norwich’s last home fixture saw more defensive struggles as a defensive Newcastle outfit buried 3 past them. Conceding 34 goals at home this season is the second-worst tally in the league and with nothing left to play for, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that tally rise significantly this afternoon. Norwich particularly struggle when their opponents operate with a number 10, conceding 2 goals per game on average and 12.52 shots per game. Defeats to Man United and Villa in recent weeks have highlighted this inability to contain a number 10 and striker with Ronaldo, Ings and Watkins all scoring in recent weeks. Expect the likes of Lanzin and Bowen to have plenty of joy in this one.
West Ham will be worn out defensively following European travels and having to dig in for 70 minutes with 10 men. However, I still expect them to get goals with the Antonio and Lanzini linking up through the middle in a must win game on their European push for next year.
Man City v Newcastle
Pep Guardiola suffered a major setback in the attempt to win the Champions League for the first time in City’s history and failed to convince everyone once again that he is able to get his hands on the illustrious trophy without Messi’s help on the pitch. The Citizens must be devastated to miss the final trip to Paris, but if there is one man to motivate them and help them, then it’s the Spaniard.
Now, Pep is going to be even more determined to stop Liverpool from winning the historic quadruple and City faces a trophyless season if they don’t defend the title. All focus returns to the Premier League where City realistically know they must win every game to ensure they retain the title starting with this one.
The Magpies arrive in Manchester following a narrow loss against Liverpool last week, but Eddie Howe has all but achieved the main goal for this season and secured safety with relative ease. Newcastle no longer faces the pressure to win at all costs, but the aim for the remainder of the season will be to try and secure a top half finish.
Guardiola has always succeeded in keeping its players’ heads high after a setback and I expect the same on Sunday. All eggs now lie in the one basket and it would be seen as a truly disastrous campaign if City weren’t able to pick up at least one trophy. I can’t see the Magpies causing an upset at Etihad, the physical presence of Wood and Joelinton could cause a fragile-looking City backline some issues though and I could certainly see them scoring. I do however see City winning by a few goals as a message to the rest of England that they are determined to keep the title in Manchester.
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