With only six or seven league games left for each team, including rescheduled matches, the Premier League is winding down but intensity is cranked up. In story book fashion there is a historically epic match-up to decide the winner of the league, a riverside derby, and a relegation battle all populating this match week.
With that said, here are my three games to watch:
THE Manchester Derby
Pride on the line for both, and the league on the line for Manchester City, this match should be epic. Manchester City has played incredible football since August, having won out in 2017 and rarely seeing defeat in all competitions this season. Manchester United, were it any other season, would be likely neck-and-neck with their Manchester rivals, however Pep Guardiola’s team has played just too well to see them locked in a race for the league.
With one more win needed to seal the league, Manchester City as fate would have it line up on the pitch against their rivals, Manchester United. It is inevitable that they will win the League, but a cherry on top would be doing it over United. Likewise, nothing would be more satisfying for the Red Devils to make City wait at least one more week.
The Manchester teams differ drastically on the pitch. City has a dominant midfield headed up by possible player of the season Kevin De Bruyne, and populated with David Silva, İlkay Gündoğan, and Fernandinho – world class is an understatement.
Their attack is almost equally impressive as it features Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, and Raheem Sterling. But, for all the striking power there, it is the midfield that unlocks their potential. Picturesque through-balls and the power to hold possession with physicality, footwork, and speed maximizes the offence that Pep has at his disposal. If City are to win, it will be on the back of their world class midfielders.
Jose Mourinho’s United team is a bit more reliant on the all out attack. Spoiled with choices, Mourinho has Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez, and Marcus Rashford at his disposal. Quite top heavy, if this side gets the ball in the attacking part of the pitch, they can beat you six ways to Sunday.
The midfield (which does include Sanchez and Lingard at times) is a weak spot for Mourinho. Paul Pogba has not been in top form this season, but like always he has the ability to break out, and Nemanja Matic is stable in a defensive role but there is something lacking in its makeup. Juan Mata and Ander Herrera have been notably missing having both seen game time dropping this season for the use of more attacking players. For Mourinho to be successful he will need to find more balance in his team selection, in order to win the ball off Manchester City’s midfield aces.
Prediction: 2-1 for Manchester United. I think Lukaku will put on a show with his physical play, capitalizing on aerial battles. Despite lopsided possession for City, United will hold off the attack and take three points, spoiling Pep’s party.
Merseyside Derby – Everton and Liverpool
In the second most important derby of the day, Everton host Liverpool at Goodison Park in the Merseyside Derby. While not much is on the line league-wise, both teams will be up for the historical battle. Unfortunately for Everton, the total will likely grow for Liverpool to 92 wins as their relentless attack looks to be peaking at the worst time for the Toffees.
Both teams played Manchester City last week, the team widely regarded as a top three team in the world, if not first. Everton, despite having some key players returning from injury, lost 3-1. Their goal was more of a fluke as Bolasie hammered a short side shot that went post to post and in, while at that point in the match City boasted 84% possession.
Meanwhile in leg one of their Champions League quarterfinal, Liverpool did the unlikely and beat City 3-0. The goals came fast and furious, as Liverpool managed to capitalize on their early opportunities, then shut down one of the most dynamic teams in Europe.
Prediction: 4-0 Liverpool. The Liverpool attack is just too relentless to be stopped by anything Everton have on their team. Oxlade-Chamberlain scored in the match against Manchester City and can jump in the play to help his team threaten from the midfield. Everton will be deflated and look to manager Sam Allardyce for answers.
Arsenal and Southampton – The Search for Stability.
At kickoff it was a coin flip between Southampton and West Ham deciding who would win and who would be a crisis club. It took only 47 minutes for West Ham to seal their 3-0 victory and send Southampton further spiraling downwards. For both clubs the next match would be against a top-6 opponent and would require a massive performance to stabilize their late season form.
Southampton travel to the Emirates to try and stake a claim at Premier League survival. Arsenal are coming off of four goal explosion that saw them stamp CSKA Moscow out last week in a 4-1 win in Europa play. That was their latest installment in a run of four games with at least three goals scored. Southampton should be scared with Aubameyang and Lacazette both scoring, it could be a long game for the Saints.
Prediction: 4-0 Arsenal. Southampton are deflated and beaten down. They couldn’t hold off a relegation rival in West Ham, and they can’t hold off Arsenal’s attack either. Look away, Southampton fans.
This week is pretty impactful to the entire season. A winner could be crowned, but a Manchester Derby is standing in the way. Liverpool’s hot offense is going to go on parade across town at Everton. And, the battle for Premier League survival is too crazy to keep your eyes off.
Betting Line This Week:
After cashing out for a small $6 profit, Leicester City went on to win, and I missed out on $373.. Hand up, my bad.
This weeks picks 5 team parlay:
– Liverpool(1.66) over Everton
– Leicester(2.00) over Newcastle
– Tottenham(1.33) over Stoke
– Swansea (3.20) over West Brom
-Arsenal (1.55) over Southampton
The bet will return $220.44 on a $20.00 wager!