Premier League Preview – March 13-15
With around 10 games left on the schedule, it’s white-knuckle time up and down the table in the Barclays Premier League.
Three teams are within two points of first place, four teams are within four points of fourth place and seven teams are within six points of the drop zone.
Or, if math really isn’t your thing, you could just say that things are tight.
Check it out:
The Gaffer points out that this is a landmark weekend for EPL games in the States, as all of them will be shown live in some medium.
Just for fun, let’s change up the format this week.
Chasing the crown
Chelsea vs. West Ham
The Blues have a game in hand but are two points back of Manchester United – a situation they’ll be looking to remedy when West Ham waltzes into Stamford Bridge.
West Ham’s Kieron Dyer is already targeting future games at Upton Park as key for the club’s Premier League survival, telling the team’s Web site, “For the team the next two games won’t have a bearing on whether we stay in the league or not. I still believe if we can do well in our home games and possibly against Fulham away, if we do well there, I believe we will stay in the league.”
Considering that West Ham hasn’t won any of its last eight London Derbies, that might not be a bad plan.
Manchester United vs. Fulham
The front-running Red Devils will be looking to hang on to the top spot in the standings while exacting a little revenge against the Cottagers for their loss in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Fulham has won the last two meetings in this series – both at Craven Cottage – but it may be a different story on Sunday at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney is outclassing all of the available adjectives in the English language right now. He has 30 goals in all competitions right now, and has probably added another in the time it took me to write this sentence.
How has he scored 15 goals in his last 12 games?
“I’ve been in the box a lot more. I’ve worked on my timing and I’ve played up front all season,” he told the Associated Press.
Dreaming of Europe
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Blackburn Rovers
Spurs have hold of fourth place and they’ll be trying to keep it when Rovers visit White Hart Lane Saturday.
The venue suits Spurs, as only Manchester United has managed more than one goal in a match there in the last 31 league games.
Rovers’ manager Sam Allardyce took a break from preparing for this match to display his dislike for Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez. “He’s always got personal with it for many, many years now, that’s why I don’t like him,” Allardyce told Sky Sports News.
“The feeling’s probably mutual but I don’t get personal with him. I get into him, and under his skin, but that’s all part of the game, is it not?”
Birmingham vs. Everton
Everton visits Birmingham in what could be Landon Donovan’s final game in a Toffees’ shirt Saturday.
Birmingham have already won and drawn with Everton at Goodison Park this season, and will be looking to notch a result to inch closer to Europa League territory.
As for Donovan, he told the team’s Web site, “When I think of everything at Everton I want to think of the trip as a whole and think that I have been successful. It has been fantastic.
“I could never have expected when I got here that it would turn out like this. The fans want you to play as hard as you can when you are out there. That is what I like to give when I am out there.”
Stoke Cty vs. Aston Villa
The Potters will try to shake off the injury bug and put a crimp in Aston Villa’s top four plans Saturday.
Ricardo Fuller (back) and Rory Delap (foot) are injury worrries for the match, but Aston Villa has its own issues with a virus making its way through the team room.
But manager Martin O’Neill is still eying a top-four finish.
“We’re still fighting, we’re still battling on that front. Because of the cup runs and the postponed games it’s going to be pretty hectic between now and the end of the season,” he told the Express and Star. “We’re trying to get dates for the rearranged games against Everton and Hull and it’s going to be pretty exciting if we can hang in there.
“Saturday’s game against Stoke will be particularly difficult followed by an equally difficult away trip to Wigan but we’ve got to hang in there. We’ve got to last the distance and stay with it.”
Sunderland vs. Manchester City
Fresh off a much needed win over Bolton, Sunderland will entertain the equally-in-need-of-a-win Manchester City on Sunday.
City trails Spurs for the fourth spot by goal difference, but has a game in hand. Still, they’ll want a result here.
Shoring up the defense will be key for the Champions League hopefuls, as they have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight away league matches.
Liverpool vs. Portsmouth
After dropping a Thursday Europa League match with Lille, Liverpool will try to cheer up with a Monday game at Anfield with last-place Portsmouth.
Of course, considering that Pompey beat Liverpool at Fratton Park earlier this season, that might not be how it plays out.
Still, Portsmouth has never won a league game at Anfield in six tries, so it will be an uphill battle for them.
Avoiding the drop
Bolton Wanderers vs. Wigan Athletic
After receiving a 4-0 beating at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, Bolton will try to pick up the pieces against Wigan on Saturday.
Wigan, on the other hand, knocked off Liverpool on Monday, so the Latics come in full of confidence.
Still, Bolton is tough at home – allowing no goals in its last three home league matches. On the other hand, Bolton hasn’t found the back of the net in its last four league games with Wigan.
So who knows how it will go?
Burnley vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
The Clarets can leave the drop zone, stepping on Wolves along the way, with a win at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Goals could be in the cards as Burnley has at least one goal in every home league match this season. Of course, every away team has at least one goal since Hull City failed to score there in October