Premier League Preview: Easter Edition
With the majority of sides in the Premier League with only seven games left to play, a fixture-packed Easter schedule could well have decisive repercussions at the top and bottom of the division. With matches every day from Friday to Wednesday, each team will need to be at their best to record a favourable pair of results.
Here’s a look at the top fixtures over the next six days. And if you’re inclined to take a punt on the Premier League this weekend, William Hill is offering a free £25 bet to all EPLTalk.com readers.
Friday 6th April
High-flying Newcastle are the first side to get the Easter fixture list underway, as Alan Pardew’s men travel to take on Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Friday. A win for the visitors will lift them above Chelsea in the standings and up to fifth, only two points off the Champions League qualification berths. Brendan Rodgers’ men will look to move into the top half with a win. Swansea look good at 7/5 odds for a home win, although if Newcastle apply the same strategy against Swansea’s midfield as Tottenham did and look to push the ball forward quickly, they could get something out of this game.
Saturday 7th April
Saturday’s fixtures are focused on the race for the top four, and the teams looking to avoid relegation. Tottenham can leapfrog Arsenal if they avoid defeat against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in the early kick off, with a draw at 21/10.
Chelsea are also in action at home to Wigan, and Roberto Di Matteo’s men will be keen to follow on from their midweek Champions League heroics and close the gap on the top four.
Other fixtures include Liverpool taking on Aston Villa at Anfield; the hosts have lost six of their last seven games, whilst the visitors are in danger of being sucked into a relegation dogfight. Liverpool are still favourites (4/9) despite a poor record this season at Anfield, but that is as much because of Villa’s own poor form as it is in expectation of an impending revival at Anfield.
Relegation candidates Blackburn and Bolton are also in action, with Steve Kean’s men facing West Brom at the Hawthorns and the Trotters at home to Fulham.
The remaining fixtures include an evenly-matched encounter at Carrow Road as Norwich take on Everton, and Wolves’ trip to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke. Norwich need a draw to make the all-illusive 40-point margin, and it’s likely that they get one against Everton (21/10). Wolves meanwhile are in big trouble, with an atrocious run of nine defeats from their last 11 games threatening to end their three-year stint in the top flight. Stoke are favourites at 8/13 to compound the Midlands club’s misery.
Sunday 8th April
Super Sunday is all about the title race, with both Manchester clubs in action back-to-back. First up are reigning champions and current leaders United, who face QPR at Old Trafford; a win for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will give them an almost unassailable eight-point advantage at the summit. With odds of 1/5 for a home win, the real question is if United can overhaul that goal difference gap and make that a point in their favour, and a 3-1 victory at 10/1 sounds like a good bet to make.
Second play third in the later kick-off, as Roberto Mancini takes his City side to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal. The Gunners need the points to keep up their charge for an automatic Champions League spot, whilst the visitors can all but kiss the title goodbye with anything less than a win. Arsenal are the frontrunners at 6/4, although more interesting (if you’re a City fan, that is) are the odds on a smash-and-grab 2-1 City win at 9/1 (William Hill).
Monday 9th April
There is no rest for the Premier League sides in the new week, as five fixtures are played on Monday. Tottenham and Newcastle return to White Hart Lane and the Sports Direct Arena to host Norwich and Bolton respectively, with both top six sides expected to pick up three points despite the congested fixture schedule.
Top half sides Everton and Sunderland face each other at Goodison Park with only two points separating them at the time of writing. David Moyes’ outfit eliminated the Black Cats from the FA Cup last month, and will look to get one over the Wearside club once more in their bid to finish as high as possible – especially with the possibility of finishing ahead of Liverpool after a long time. Everton are favourites at 5/6, although Sunderland themselves hold ambitions of making a push for 7th spot so expect a tough fight.
Elsewhere, Aston Villa will hope their home form can save their Premier League status, and they host Stoke at Villa Park on Monday, whilst Chelsea and Fulham will play out a London derby at Craven Cottage. The last three fixtures between these local neighbours has ended in a draw, but if Chelsea have any hopes for fourth place they will need all three points.
Tuesday 10th April
Blackburn entertain Liverpool at Ewood Park in the only fixture on Tuesday, in a game that the Lancashire club will look to pick up points from. With Kenny Dalglish’s men in poor form and only a handful of fixtures remaining, Rovers will know that they will need to avoid defeat to keep their points tally ticking over. Liverpool meanwhile will hope to quell their angry and frustrated supporters with a win, but will have their recent 3-2 defeat to QPR in the back of their minds when they face another relegation candidate. Liverpool are still favourites to get the three points, but another defeat in the prior fixture may change that.
Wednesday 11th April
The two title contenders and three relegation candidates are in action on Wednesday, in the last of the six-day Premier League schedule. City return to fortress Etihad to host mid-table side West Brom, with the home faithful desperate for three points; an easy home win on the cards there but will it be too late by then?
Manchester United travel to take on Wigan at the DW Stadium, with Roberto Martinez’s side fighting for their Premier League lives. The Red Devils have an impeccable record against the Latics and have recorded several heavy wins against them in the last few years. If United can maintain their form, there’s no reason why they can’t keep a clean sheet. A 2-0 or 3-0 win (at 11/2 and 7/1 respectively) looks a good bet. (William Hill).
Elsewhere, bottom club Wolves must defy the form guide and beat Arsenal at Molineux if they are to stand any chance of avoiding The Championship. Terry Connor’s beleaguered men are long-shots at odds of 6/1 to dent the Gunners’ top four ambitions, and pick up an invaluable three points. Finally, QPR will look to build on improved home form as they take on Swansea at Loftus Road. Mark Hughes’ team will be envious of the progress of fellow newcomers Swansea, but can take a massive step towards survival with a win (11/10).
All in all, a packed fixture schedule that will test the depths of each Premier League’s squad, which could play an integral role in the outcome of the season for teams at the top and bottom of the division. Let us know know your predictions for the matches in the comments below.