Let’s take a look at the other five games this weekend including a massive and potentially pivotal day on Sunday:
15:00 – Norwich City v Everton
This is the only game really with nothing major riding on it for either side. Neither will go down, neither will achieve a European place but with little pressure on, the goals could flow and the match could produce real quality.
One key task for the Toffees will now be to stay above rivals and FA Cup semi final opponents Liverpool after leapfrogging them last weekend. Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic could be key to those plans after successful January transfer window moves but also David Moyes has seen his defence keep three consecutive clean sheets in the last three games which will look to be continued.
But home fans will be keen to see the Canaries finish in the top half of the Premier League in their first year back so, although this may well end up last on Match of the Day, there could well be plenty of entertainment at Carrow Road.
15:00 – West Bromwich Albion v Blackburn Rovers
Back to the battle to beat the drop. The general consensus seems to be that Blackburn may have enough power going forwards in Yakubu and Junior Hoilett to survive and the battling spirit shown against Man Utd on Monday was encouraging. But Steve Kean’s side have now suffered back-to-back defeats and a third could leave them a few points away from safety which would be a big blow after seven points in three games prior to those defeats installed them as the most in-form side at the bottom of the table.
Roy Hodgson’s Baggies haven’t won for four games now as their season seems to be petering out. Although not entirely safe just yet, it would be considered a monumental shock if West Brom were to be dragged back into the relegation battle after being consistent performers for most of the season. Home fans will no doubt demand no less than 100% effort from their players on Saturday though which will make it a tough game for Rovers.
17:30 – Stoke City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
It really is looking bleak for Wolves. One point in seven matches and six points from safety, Terry Connor’s side now seem to be a shoo-in for the drop. Looking at their fixtures, I would go so far as saying that a defeat for Wolves at the Britannia would be the final nail in the coffin. But manager Connor still believes his side can stay in this league despite not winning since he took charge at the end of February.
Stoke are another one of those sides with little to play for now. After a long and arduous season including European football and a fine cup run, Potters fans could have probably forgiven their side for a dip in form come the end of the season. Although they lost at Wigan last week, Stoke did come away from matches against Tottenham and Man City unbeaten with Peter Crouch’s goal of the season contender also coming along the way to show Stoke aren’t finished just yet!
SUNDAY 8th APRIL 2012
13:30 – Manchester United v Queens Park Rangers
What a massive day of football Sunday could turn out to be. Indeed QPR have recently beaten Liverpool and Arsenal, but that was on their own patch. The West Londoners have won just three on their travels all season and it would take a brave man to bet on them to make it four at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are doing exactly what Sir Alex Ferguson sides always do – grinding out results at the end of the season. Despite possessing a distinctly weaker squad than in previous campaigns, it was inevitable that the Red Devils would be embroiled in another title race come April. Whilst inexperienced title chasers Manchester City stutter, United just keep on winning having picked up maximum points in ten of their last eleven league matches, including four consecutive clean sheets. What’s more, with no European or Domestic Cup football to stand in their way, for Ferguson’s side to throw away a five point lead now seems simply unthinkable.
16:00 – Arsenal v Manchester City
By kick off the gap between the top two may be, and in all probability will be, eight points. If that isn’t enough pressure for Roberto Mancini’s men to deal with then they have to face a rampant Arsenal side who will be determined to prove that last week’s defeat at QPR was merely a blip in their quest for third spot in the Premier League.
Wenger’s side have won their last four at the Emirates and have only lost there twice all season. Add to that the fact Arsenal have arguably been the better side in both previous meetings between these two this season, confidence should be high in the North Londoners’ camp. With rivals Tottenham potentially above them come the start of play with Newcastle and Chelsea just two points below, a result for the Gunners will be vital to perhaps kill off City once and for all.
Man City will be keen to show that they are not just the noisy neighbours but still have a huge part to play in this title race. That match between the two Manchester clubs at the Etihad has been bandied around almost as a get out clause for the points difference at the top but defeat for Mancini’s side against Arsenal could render that meeting later this month fairly redundant.