Leeds v Chelsea
A first half implosion condemned Leeds to yet another defeat and a place in the relegation zone due to Everton’s victory. Two goals in 10 minutes and a red card made Marsch’s task at the Emirates virtually impossible and now Leeds have just 3 games to rectify their season. Speaking of implosions, Chelsea managed to throw away a two goals lead when Wolves equalised in the 97th minute leading to more doubts about their top 4 credentials.
When you consider that Leeds were 2-0 down and a man down after 30 mins on Sunday, it’s impressive they only lost by a goal. They could have easily dropped down to 9 men when Raphinha was booked for complaining in the aftermath, Leeds’ 95th yellow card of the season, a new Premier League record. Significantly, the Lilywhites are now 18th with Chelsea and then in from Brentford and Brighton to play in their last 3 games.
It’s never going to be easy to pick up points against 3rd place Chelsea but with just 1 win in 5 and off the field issues really taking their toll on the club, Leeds can smell blood. Trincao and Coady’s goals made the gap between Arsenal and Chelsea narrowed to just a point with the end of the season near. One positive for Chelsea is that Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace, meaning Tuchel can rotate Mount, Havertz, Werner and Lukaku to keep fitness levels high with an FA Cup final round the corner.
Leeds’ defensive crisis only worsened when Ayling was sent off as deputy right back Dallas has a broken leg. Chelsea play with a narrow front 3 allowing for overlapping wing backs to have strong attacking output in the form of Reece James and Alonso/ Sarr. With no recognised right back and Leeds kamikaze left back Firpo, Chelsea should see great success out wide against a team without a home clean sheet in 10. Leeds put up a fight in the reverse fixture, scoring twice in a 3-2 defeat and with Bamford nearing a return, I also expect them to score against an out of sorts Chelsea.
Leicester v Norwich
Already relegated, Norwich showed no sign of playing with any freedom when West Ham put 4 past the Canaries despite struggling for fitness following a midweek European trip. Today presents a wonderful opportunity for a struggling Leicester City to return to winning ways against statistically the worst side in the league.
Closer to the relegation zone than the top 7, Leicester’s European hopes have diminished showing a highly unsuccessful season for Rodgers’ men. Winless in 7, Leicester are desperate to taste victory again after gifting Everton just their second away win of the season on Sunday. Rodgers’ has been dealt a bad hand with injuries but should be able to run a front 4 of Barnes, Maddison, Lookman and Vardy against Norwich, a struggle for most sides to contain never mind Norwich.
The Canaries put up little fight again on Sunday, as West Ham bounced back from European disaster to win at a canter. It sums up a woeful season for Dean Smith’s men, who now hold the worst away record in the league with 9 points and 10 goals in 17 games while shipping 37 goals at the same time. Having lost their last 3 games by a combined score of 9-0 there doesn’t appear to be any results coming soon, particularly when Pukki is still the only Canary to score in multiple games this season.
Prior to the Everton games, Leicester were in respectable home form but struggled to break down teams without Vardy and Maddison linking up. Vardy has scored 14 in 14 against newly promoted side and his return to full fitness should terrorise the Norwich back line. He notched up a goal and an assist at the start of the season in the reverse fixture and he could very easily do similar today with Maddison’s quality on the ball to tee him up.
Watford v Everton
Roy Hodgson is most probably regretting the decision to come out of retirement and add a relegation into his prominent coaching CV with the Hornets. Additionally, Watford are on a six-match losing run which doesn’t look like it will end soon given they have nothing left to play for and face teams with all to play for. The Toffees are coming at Vicarage Road after securing its first away win since August last year as Frank Lampard’s side has finally escaped the relegation zone and will most certainly be determined to avoid going back in. Everton noted back-to-back wins and with a game in hand over their direct rivals for safety, the squad is surely fancying their chances to boost their hopes for securing a safety with a third consecutive win now. Lampard’s defence is proving to be its strongest weapon as Vitali Mykolenko and Mason Holgate both put their names on the scoresheet at King Power and are also becoming formidable in front of the demanding Pickford.
The visitors are high on confidence after getting out of the relegation zone and with Watford looking unmotivated to even give the home fans a glimpse of happiness, I can’t see anything other than a win for Everton. The ongoing momentum in the Toffees dressing room will be too much for the Hornets and if Lampard can use his experience from his playing days to extend the winning run, a confirmation for safety may come ever closer in midweek.
Wolves v Manchester City
After taking a huge stride to the Premier League title, City will look to carry momentum into their last 3 games with a 3 points gap over Liverpool. However, hosts Wolves are no pushovers as shown by their 2-2 draw, coming back from 2-0 down to equalise in the 97th minute at Stamford Bridge.
Going into this run of games to end the season, City will be without Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ruben Dias, three key pieces in their versatile defence. Having bowed out of the Champions League in disastrous fashion, City need to secure the Premier league for a drop of success this season. The imminent announcement of Erling Haaland is sure to provide optimism around the club whose only weakness is lacking a true number 9. Despite that, they have still scored a league high 89 goals and haven’t had trouble breaking down sides this season.
Wolves have somewhat shown their resilience as a defensive unit but have conceded 15 in their last 10, well over their average of under 1 per game across the season. Playing more expansively has turned some draws into wins, but with 6 defeats in their last 10, Lage is sure to invest in forwards this summer so he can return to his defensive style of football and rely on quality going forward.
Facing the most difficult of tasks, Wolves really need to win here to keep pressure on West Ham for that final European place, currently 5 points behind with a game in hand. Their last 6 home games have seen 20 goals and I can see them nicking one against a weakened City defence, even only as a consolation with the height of Raul Jimenez able to dominate replacement Nathan Ake. Meanwhile, I have no doubts about City scoring something they have done in 31/35 games this season.
Tottenham v Arsenal
A must win game for both sides will have all eyes in North London on Thursday as 4th placed Arsenal host 5th placed Spurs with the visitors looking to narrow the gap to just a point between the sides. Spurs can take confidence from their point at Anfield last game while Arsenal survived a late scare at home to 10 man Leeds.
Starting with the hosts, results this season have been highly dependent on two men, Korean winger Heung-Min Son and England skipper Harry Kane. The pair have 33 league goals between them and are the most formidable partnership in Premier League history, statistically. Son has 3 goals in his last 2 appearances and playing off the left he should be able to exploit Arsenal’s weakness at right back without Tomiyasu. Cedric has stepped in and played well but has struggled to defend inverted wingers, shown by Sancho’s role in United’s goal at the Emirates just 2 games ago.
Arsenal’s form has been immense with 4 wins on the spin, ever since Arteta started deploying a double pivot of Xhaka and Elneny. Operating with 2 holding midfielders has freed up the quality of Martin Odegaard which has seen Arsenal score 11 goals in 4 games with the Norwegian central to their attacks. Picking up space between the lines due to Spurs 3-4-3 set up should only allow Odegaard to flourish further and allow Saka to run at Ben Davies, deputising as a 3rd choice left back for Spurs.
Arsenal won’t be able to hold off this world class Spurs attack for 90 minutes as shown in the 3-1 reverse fixture win. Although they realistically only need a point to lock up a top 4 place ahead of Spurs, I don’t think they will sit back as they need to score at least once for a point. BTTS has landed in 5 of the last 6 North London derbies and I like it to land again today.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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