English Premier League Weekend Preview: Games to Watch, Stories to Follow During Round 29
EPL Round 29: 5 Storylines to Follow
With five top-tier teams occupied in FA Cup action this weekend, the Premier League has only five matches scheduled on Saturday, Mar. 8.
Arsenal’s defeat at the hands of Stoke City last week coupled with Andre Schurrle’s spectacular hat-trick meant that Chelsea extended its lead at the top of the table to four points with only ten matches remaining. Liverpool continued its impressive form by notching a 3-0 win against Southampton, and Luis Suarez finally broke his scoreless streak as he helped his team to leapfrog the Gunners and move into second spot on superior goal-difference.
With Brendan Rodgers’ team firmly established in the top-four, the pressure falls on Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Manchester United to fight it out for two Europa League spots (the possibility of a third spot would depend on a top-four team winning the FA Cup). The Spurs and the Toffees would definitely be disappointed at the prospect of missing out on Champions League spots after showing a lot of promise and potential throughout the season.
While the race for the top-four and the title has garnered most of the attention this season, the bottom half of the table continues to remain unpredictable. Only ten points separate tenth-placed West Ham United and last-placed Fulham as teams continue to fight tooth-and-nail to gain some breathing space from the relegation zone.
Now let's take a look at this week’s most intriguing stories along with a pick for the MOTD. Check back on the same day next week to take a look at the key aspects that would dominate the next round of the League.
5. Crystal Palace Attempts To Extend Southampton’s Losing Streak
Southampton has lost two League games in a row by conceding three goals each to West Ham and Liverpool. Mauricio Pochettino’s team has only won four times in its last 17 games and has lost track after a strong start to the season. Crystal Palace can extend the Saints’ losing streak with another strong showing at home – the team has won five of its last nine home games.
4. Fans Predict More Misery For Manchester United
United travels to The Hawthorns to face a West Bromwich Albion team which had recorded a fine victory at Old Trafford when the teams met earlier this season, courtesy of Saido Berahino. Fans voting on EPL’s poll for the match predicted more misery for David Moyes, after an embarrassing 2-0 loss against Olympiacos in the UCL.
3. Can Norwich City Keep A Fifth Consecutive Clean Sheet At Home?
John Ruddy’s spectacular form has helped Norwich City keep four consecutive clean sheets at Carrow Road. The club looks set to continue that streak against a Stoke team that has not won any of its last twelve away matches.
2. Can Tim Sherwood Outwit Jose Mourinho?
A cracking London derby pits master tactician Jose Mourinho against newbie Tim Sherwood. Chelsea fought back for a 1-1 draw earlier this season at White Hart Lane, but on current form it looks set to put another dent in the Spurs’ slim top-four hopes. Sherwood’s team comes into the match with the best away record in the League this season, and this achievement holds a ray of hope for the squad as it attempts to beat Mourinho at Stamford Bridge for the first time ever.
1. MOTD: Cardiff City vs. Fulham
Cardiff City welcomes fellow relegation battlers Fulham to Wales in the MOTD. This match pits the worst defenses in the League against each other. The teams have also allowed a combined 346 shots on target from the opposition.