Some of the sides in the Barclays Premier League have very little time to recover from their weekend endeavours with nine of them having had only around 48 hours to prepare for another top flight fixture. Here is a glance at the first five, all taking place later today:
MONDAY 9TH APRIL 2012
15:00 – Everton v Sunderland
A true mid-table clash. However, as shown with Everton’s trip to Norwich on Saturday, that can often be the catalyst for entertainment. The Black Cats put in a fine effort to quell Tottenham’s quest for all three points at the Stadium of Light and Martin O’Neill may consider changes to freshen up his side.
Home fans will feel this is a good chance for all three points but the visitors will want revenge for their recent FA Cup quarter final replay defeat to the Toffees which denied them a trip to Wembley. Nikica Jelavic continued his good form at Carrow Road with two excellent finishes and the Sunderland defence will have to keep a close eye on him tomorrow.
15:00 – Newcastle United v Bolton Wanderers
The big games just keep coming for these two sides. The pair were on the end of contrasting results at the weekend with Newcastle collected three brilliant points at Swansea whilst Bolton were well beaten by Fulham. Alan Pardew’s men will be hoping Papiss Cissé can keep his scoring run going to fire them to an unlikely Champions League spot which they sit just three points behind.
The manager of the month curse struck again on Saturday as the fine form of Bolton came to an abrupt end with a 3-0 home defeat by Fulham. But with all the other sides around them losing, Owen Coyle will feel his side are still well placed to survive in the Premier League. The Magpies have won their last four and beat Bolton 2-0 at the Reebok earlier in the campaign so will be firm favourites tomorrow.
15:00 – Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City
This is a must win for Tottenham. A draw at Sunderland may not be as bad a point as many are suggesting as it was arguably the hardest game on paper they had left this season. This is the first of three winnable home games with Fulham and Blackburn still to visit White Hart Lane so maximum points will be seen as vital by home fans. Spurs sit three points clear of Chelsea and Newcastle and have lost just twice at home all season.
Grant Holt ensured calls for a shock England call-up continued with an equaliser against Everton at the weekend to move the Canaries onto the magic 40 point mark. In truth sides will probably go down with a lot less than that but the fact Paul Lambert has taken his side to that milestone with six games remaining is a remarkable feat. These type of games are exactly the reason the Canaries wanted to be back in the Premier League so they will no doubt do all they can to nick something from Spurs tomorrow.
17:30 – Aston Villa v Stoke City
A hard earned point at Anfield eased Villa’s relegation worries somewhat but they would be almost guaranteed safety with a victory at Villa Park on Easter Monday. Alex McLeish has seen his squad decimated by injuries this season with star man Darren Bent certainly missed with inexperienced youngsters parachuted in to help fill the bench.
Tony Pulis openly admitted at the weekend that his side didn’t put in their best performance but was delighted with their efforts after playing 50 matches this season. The Stoke boss may feel changes are required with less than a 48 break between their two games but, although it may not seem the most exciting game on paper, there could be plenty of entertainment.
20:00 – Fulham v Chelsea
This is without doubt the game of the day. Not only do Chelsea desperately need the points to move towards a coveted Champions League spot, but Fulham will be buoyed by their fine away performance in beating Bolton 3-0 on Saturday. Clint Dempsey continued his scoring form with a brace at the Reebok to become the Cottagers’ highest ever Premier League goal scorer (14 goals) overtaking Louis Saha’s previous record.
This is of course a West London derby and although it doesn’t appear to be the most bitter of rivalries it certainly adds a bit of spice to an already exciting looking clash. The Blues will look to move into the top four if Spurs are beaten earlier in the day but may already be 6th by kick off is Newcastle do the business against Bolton. Whilst Di Matteo’s European antics have no doubt helped his cause, finishing outside the top four will probably not be good enough for Roman Abramovich to hand the former Baggies boss the job on a permanent basis.
Check back to Footy Blog tomorrow for a preview of the other five midweek matches!