EPL Week 30 preview: When points begin to matter
We are back after a pretty long break. Things start off at the EPL this week after a gap filled by the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Just to put things in perspective, the last week of Premier League action saw the mighty Manchester United humbled by the resurgent Liverpool. Chelsea continued to impress with a victory over Blackpool. Manchester City ground out a 1-0 win and Arsenal’s once upon a time quadruple season looks to be crumbling after a goalless draw.
The weekend begins with Tottenham Hotspur trying to make it into the coveted top 4 playing West Ham who are coming from an impressive win against Stoke. Demba Ba is the man to look out for. His goal scoring form has been great for the Hammers and might give high-flying Spurs a run for their money. Tottenham are back from their Champions League exploit of beating AC Milan and progressing to the quarters and will be high in spirits. However, the West Ham match reminds them of their domestic responsibilities and the need to get back into the top four to ensure a Champions League berth next season.
Aston Villa are up against lowly Wolves. This will be an interesting game considering the unpredictability in form of both the teams. Aston Villa have world class strikers that can help them attack at will but their back line is shaky. Wolves have suffered from the mid-table syndrome where they have rose to the occasion against the big teams but failed to deliver against smaller clubs. Similar has been the case with Blackpool and Blackburn. It will be a match of survival since both the teams are on same points and are agonizingly close to bottom 3. The winner will take it all here. Blackpool will be well served by the return of Charlie Adam.
The faltering Stoke City take on Newcastle United. Though only 2 points separate them form wise they are divided. Newcastle has had a slightly better run than Stoke City who has lost all its initial charm and skill. Newcastle should be looking forward to picking up all three points on this one to stabilize their position in top 10.
Bottom club Wigan have everything to play for since they round off the table. They will go all out against the Carling Cup winners (Let’s use it for one more week) Birmingham. Birmingham were held to a draw last week by Everton. Wigan has to put on a strong performance to show that they indeed belong to the top level with time running out. Everton v/s Fulham will be a match evenly contested in all sections. Both teams haven’t had much success for their forwards as they have struggled to find the back of the net as often as required. It’s been the mid fielders and defenders who have won them the games. Mark Hughes’ Fulham face Manchester United on the back of this game and will be looking for a confidence boost.
Chelsea v/s Man City on Sunday is the game to look forward to this week. It’s going to be physical and is going to be crucial for both the teams. For Chelsea this match is the key towards top 3 but Man City will fight to keep its position in the top three of the table. This would be the ideal time for big money signing Torres to open his account for Chelsea. Manchester City have a very good record against Chelsea of late, with captain Carlos Tevez turning up often to haunt the Blues. With Tevez fired up, City might just spring another surprise in Chelsea’ see-sawing campaign.
Liverpool will play Sunderland to resume their wonderful form from the Manchester United game. With the sizzling Suarez and goal scoring Kuyt to contend with, Sunderland are in for some challenging football at the back. Unless for some strong defence from Bardsley & Co, Liverpool could be handing them a good lesson in attacking football. But it would be unwise to count Sunderland out as well as they have handed out defeats to Chelsea and drawn with Arsenal and Manchester United by some gritty football.
Arsenal play West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United play Bolton Wanderers. Both teams have injury problems but ideally there should not be any surprises. But Owen Coyle is a tricky customer to deal with, especially when it comes to meeting Manchester United, who will have to out-think Coyle without Sir Alex Ferguson who will be serving a touchline ban. For Arsenal, the Premier League is the only trophy left to fight for and they will give it their all to make sure it doesn’t slip by their hands. Any slip in points from the league’s top two will see the title rice thrown wide open and points narrowed down.
So this week is bound to make inroads into the league table. Point differences will start to matter soon. So keep your eyes glued to the TV from Saturday evening as we’re in for a treat.