Aston Villa and Bournemouth have managed to extend the drama in the Premier League relegation race by at least another week… can they leave their rivals sweating by closing the gap even further in midweek?
We’re back with our midweek predictions, with Man City vs Bournemouth leading the way…
Premier League Predictions – Midweek Preview – Gameweek 36
Tuesday 13th July
CHELSEA VS NORWICH CITY, 20:15
Monday’s ruling in favour of Man City competing in next season’s Champions League has suddenly spiced up the race for the top four. Just two slots now remain to qualify for next year’s competition.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for Blues boss Frank Lampard after Chelsea put in arguably their worst performance of the season against Sheff Utd, a result that has left their Champions League ambitions hanging by a thread.
It could be worse, though. Lampard could be sitting in the opposite dugout. Norwich boss Daniel Farke saw his side bow to the inevitable as the Canaries lost their Premier League status on Saturday in emphatic fashion as West Ham cruised to a 4-0 win at Carrow Road. We’ve seen relegated teams relax before, but Norwich don’t look like a side in any fit shape to pull off a surprise.
Verdict: Chelsea 2-0 Norwich City
Wednesday 15th July
BURNLEY VS WOLVES, 18:00
Both of these two sides have once again enjoyed fine campaigns, but the onus is on the away team here to go for broke, with Wolves still just about in the Champions League race following Southampton’s late equaliser at Man Utd.
Burnley hit the 50-point mark with a resolute 1-1 draw away at champions Liverpool and may have one eye on a European spot themselves with Norwich and Brighton left to play. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see a repeat of that scoreline here.
Verdict: Burnley 1-1 Wolves
MAN CITY VS BOURNEMOUTH, 18:00
The Cherries’ Premier League survival hopes still look just the right side of ripe after a spectacular Leicester meltdown combined with a fluent attacking display from Bournemouth saw Eddie Howe’s side pull off a shock 4-1 win last time out.
However, that rebound in confidence could come to a shuddering halt this week against a Man City side that look in red-hot form heading into their assault on the cups.
Much will depend on how many changes Pep Guardiola makes ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final, but Howe’s team could be in for a hard night even if the City manager opts to shuffle the pack.
Verdict: Man City 3-0 Bournemouth
NEWCASTLE VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR, 18:00
Jose Mourinho still isn’t everyone’s cup of tea in North London, but he’s gone some way to answering his critics by polishing off some of his old magic to grind out a steely 2-1 win in the North London derby on Sunday.
Even if European football for 2019/20 remains an unanswered question with just three games to go, the Portuguese will be desperate to finish top dog in North London, and this looks the ideal fixture for Spurs to keep the momentum going into next season.
Steve Bruce’s own future remains unresolved, but his side look to have downed tools for the campaign after an undisciplined defensive display at the weekend as they lost 2-1 to Watford.
Verdict: Newcastle 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
ARSENAL VS LIVERPOOL, 20:15
Tuesday’s action rounds off at the Emirates with Arsenal looking to restore some pride from a disappointing derby day against champions Liverpool.
The Gunners are on one of the longest dry spells in their history against the Reds, as they chase a first win in this fixture, home or away, since 2015.
For their part, the Reds have every motivation to win this one after dropping points in their quest to smash the 100-point barrier against Burnley.
Verdict: Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool
Thursday 16th July
EVERTON VS ASTON VILLA, 18:00
If Aston Villa were looking for the ideal away to fixture to build on Saturday’s precious 2-0 win against Crystal Palace, they’ve been handed it as they travel to out-of-form Everton.
The 3-0 humbling by Wolves saw the mild-mannered Carlo Ancelotti take his Toffees team to task and the Italian will be expecting a rapid reaction here, which means Villa will need to stay switched on early.
The Villains will be looking to complete a rare Premier League double here after beating Everton 2-0 at Villa Park back in August, but they would need to break a 12-year barren spell at Goodison Park to do so.
Verdict: Everton 2-1 Aston Villa
LEICESTER CITY VS SHEFFIELD UTD, 18:00
First came the collapse. Will it be complete capitulation next for off-colour Leicester?
Brendan Rodgers’ side simply cannot find a consistent rhythm since the restart, with Man Utd still breathing down their necks for a top four slot despite their own recent slip up against Southampton. They failed to shift that narrative with a whole host of self-inflicted errors in losing 4-1 to Bournemouth.
The Foxes have also been dealt a tough hand by the fixture computer, with a trip to Tottenham and a potential final-day shootout to come against Man Utd, making this fixture look must-win. Sheffield Utd continue to prove sticky opponents and will be fired up after their 3-0 demolition of Chelsea.
Verdict: Leicester City 1-0 Sheffield Utd
CRYSTAL PALACE VS MAN UTD, 20:15
What a difference a last-gasp goal can make. Man Utd looked to be motoring towards third place on Monday night before Michael Obafemi’s scrambled 96th minute strike, a goal that means qualification for next season’s Champions League remains on a knife-edge with just three games to go.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have the chance to rally quickly as they head to a Palace side slumping towards a lower mid-table finish after five defeats in a row. Roy Hodgson’s side lacked desire in their game against Villa, which suggests Utd’s top four aspirations could get back on track if they can gain the ascendancy early in this one.
Verdict: Crystal Palace 1-2 Man Utd
SOUTHAMPTON VS BRIGHTON, 20:15
Brighton probably need a solitary point from their last three games to all but rubber-stamp survival, but they could be left sweating just a little bit longer as they make the short trip west to Southampton.
Saints could be forgiven for easing off having wrapped up survival some weeks back, but Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side look in the mood to remain professional to the finish, and that could see them edge this game with the Seagulls’ confidence sapped by the 5-0 defeat to Man City.
Verdict: Southampton 1-0 Brighton
Friday 17th July
WEST HAM UTD VS WATFORD, 20:00
The best is saved until last in the Premier League, with a massive six-pointer at the bottom of the table. With Aston Villa and Bournemouth closing the gap, both West Ham and Watford know only a win will do here if either are to be left resting easily come the final day of the season.
With Man City (h) and Arsenal (a) to come, the onus is surely on Watford to go on the offensive here given Nigel Pearson won’t rest easy at the idea of a prospective final points tally of 34.
Defeat for West Ham could set up a grandstand finish next week with the Hammers taking on Villa in a potential winner-takes-all contest, while settling for the draw could be a high-risk option for both… but it’s also one that both sides may just cling to if things look tight late on.
Verdict: West Ham Utd 2-1 Watford