Posted on | May 18, 2013 | No Comments
In another Premier League clash involving two sides with nothing to play for, Swansea and Fulham will at least be aiming to boost their final league standing as they prepare for next term. This will be particularly relevant for Fulham, who could finish the season anywhere between 17th and 10th position – which is a financial difference of around £5m based on the payments for final league standings.
In terms of Swansea’s league position, the Welsh outfit are poised for their best ever campaign as they sit in 9th place. Having finished last term in 11th, the Swans have achieved exactly what everyone said they wouldn’t and have guaranteed themselves a top half finish. They could even finish as high as 8th should results go their way, which is remarkable for a club that was playing in the bottom tier of English football just several years ago. Their form over recent weeks can be described as being quite inconsistent, with two defeats falling in their last four games. However, considering the fact that the club have played Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in those matches, they can be forgiven for dropping a few points and Michael Laudrup is unlikely to be too concerned.
One man who might be a little worried at the moment is Fulham manager Martin Jol. The Cottagers are in an absolutely dismal run of form, having collected just one point from their last seven matches. Such a record has sent them tumbling down the table and they only sit five points above recently-relegated Wigan. There has been plenty of speculation regarding Jol’s future over recent weeks although recent vibes suggest that he will be at the helm next season. If that is the case, few would disagree that he needs to strengthen the squad significantly, with his wholesale changes from last summer clearly not having the desired effect this time around.
As for team news, there is little to report for Swansea and Michael Laudrup may opt to keep changes to a minimum. Michel Vorm and Ki Sung-Yeung are the only two absentees, as injury prevents the duo from appearing in the final game. Fulham have plenty of injury concerns meanwhile with Mahamadou Diarra, Simon Davies and Ashkan Dejagah all ruled out for the clash. To make matters worse for Martin Jol, Steve Sidwell is another absentee as suspension prevents him for featuring.
Following Fulham’s dreadful run over recent weeks, our prediction for this game can only focus upon a Swansea victory. Michael Laudrup’s men have enjoyed a supreme season and with the club also holding the home advantage, we think your money should be on a 2-1 victory for the Liberty Stadium outfit.
Posted on | May 18, 2013 | No Comments
This game features two sides who have been looking over their shoulder for much of the campaign, although ahead of the season finale both are now safe and probably preparing for next season. Some would argue that the football philosophy of both clubs is completely contrasting, with Southampton known for their pleasant-on-the-eye passing game while Stoke are the Premier League ‘bruisers’. Taking all of this into account, Sunday’s clash at St Mary’s will prove to be interesting tie even though nothing is now riding on the fixture.
While Southampton wrapped up promotion to the Premier League fairly comfortably last term, many people thought that Saints would struggle immensely to preserve their top flight status. Despite several impressive performances in the opening months of the season, the club simply couldn’t notch any decent results together and this meant that they were penned down as relegation certainties by a lot of pundits. Fortunately, they have responded superbly in the second half of the campaign and they could finish the season as high as 10th if results go their way. With Saints currently on a winless run of five games, manager Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping to put an end to that run and give his side the chance of reaching the mid-table reaches of the division.
Stoke meanwhile are currently positioned in 11th, although with the Potters just one point ahead of their opponents, they could fall down the table considerably should they lose at St Mary’s. It’s certainly been an interesting season for all at the club, with Tony Pulis coming under intense pressure at various points as the Britannia Stadium outfit battled against the drop. However, with the club now in a comfortable position, they could finish the season in the top half.
Southampton could be approaching the game with numerous injury concerns, with no fewer than four players battling against time to be fit for the encounter. Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert, Vegard Forren and Steve de Ridder are all classed as doubts, while the situation doesn’t get any easier for Mauricio Pochettino who has two players suspended in the form of Gaston Ramirez and Danny Fox. Stoke also arrive at the clash with a suspended player, with Charlie Adam set to sit out following his recent red card. Another absentee will be Glenn Whelan, who continues to sit on the treatment table since picking up a groin injury in April.
The outcome of this clash will certainly be interesting as while both clubs don’t have anything directly to play for, both managers will be keen to ensure a positive finish to take advantage of the Premier League prize money which is awarded on a position-by-position basis. It’s been a mixed conclusion to the season for both of these outfits though and bearing this in mind, our tip will be a 1-1 score line.
Posted on | May 17, 2013 | No Comments
This is one of the few top flight games with anything riding on it, with Arsenal requiring a victory to guarantee them of a top four placing. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew caused quite a stir last week when he claimed that he didn’t care if his side went to the Emirates Stadium and got thrashed following their recent survival, although he has since retracted such comments and the Magpies will surely be looking to push towards the mid-table positions following a poor campaign.
After experiencing such a fantastic season last term, nobody knew what quite to expect from Newcastle this time around although few would have been predicting a campaign as poor as this one. The Magpies have been fighting in the lower reaches of the table for the majority of the year and there have been occasions where they have looked like relegation candidates. However, a goalless draw against West Ham and a 2-1 victory at QPR has ensured their survival and means they approach this clash situated in 13th. Furthermore, they could even conclude the season in 10th if results go their way this weekend and if that were to be the case, this year would actually turn out to be quite acceptable.
Arsenal on the other hand have the ultimate prize in their sights, with the Gunners fully aware that a victory will bring Champions League football to the Emirates Stadium for yet another year. They lead 5th place Spurs by one point meaning that their fate is completely in their own hands. With that being said, Arsene Wenger may even be aiming his sights a position higher as Chelsea sit just two points ahead of the Gunners – with 3rd place bringing the added incentive of qualification to the Champions League group stages. The club certainly appear to be giving themselves the best possible chance of a positive finish as well, as they approach this game having not lost in their last ten.
In terms of team news, Newcastle look set to be boosted in two forms with Sylvain Marveaux and Cheick Tiote both set to return following injury scares last week. Elsewhere, Alan Pardew is tipped to name Steve Harper between the sticks, with Tim Krul injured and Rob Elliot suspended. Arsenal meanwhile have one player returning from a ban, with Olivier Giroud back in contention following a three match absence. Doubts surround the fitness of Mikel Arteta, although Arsene Wenger will have a readymade replacement in Jack Wilshere.
As for a prediction, we think Arsenal will do exactly what they are required to and finish their campaign off with a victory. Newcastle might be climbing towards the mid-table positions, but we think the Gunners will be far too strong and predict a comprehensive 3-0 win.
Posted on | May 17, 2013 | No Comments
Both of these sides approach their final game on the back of a disappointing season, with QPR set for the Championship following their relegation while Liverpool have been fairly mediocre throughout. Taking this into account, one would not be surprised to see a fairly lacklustre affair take place at Anfield on Sunday.
Liverpool’s season can be summarised in a whole host of different ways, which largely depend on which perspective you look at it from. On one hand, the Reds have finished just one place higher than they did last year – with their 7th place finish costing Kenny Dalglish his job twelve months ago. Alternatively, Brendan Rodgers was never going to be at Anfield for the short-term and few people can dispute the fact that he has brought a completely new brand of football to the club and one that could possibly bode very well for the future. Nevertheless, they have never really pushed for top honours and that will be an issue that concerns supporters greatly. In terms of recent form, the club have ended the campaign exceptionally strongly having lost just the one game in all competitions since mid-February.
There is only one way to sum up QPR’s season on the other hand, with the R’s having an absolutely disastrous time which resulted in their relegation from the top flight weeks ago. The only saving grace for Harry Redknapp’s men could be that they avoid finishing bottom, but that even that requires a reliance on other results. Instead, supporters are most likely to be concerned about next year where the club will enter English football’s second tier with an expensive squad that has vastly underachieved. It’s not as though the club has improved in the wake of their relegation either, with the Loftus Road outfit failing to win in their last eight.
As for team news, Liverpool are without a whole host of players for the clash with Daniel Agger, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez all set to miss out through a combination of injuries and suspensions. On a more positive note, Martin Skrtel is back in the reckoning after recovering from an illness. QPR on the other hand will be able to select striker Loic Remy, even though he hit the headlines earlier this week after being arrested for an alleged rape. However, Harry Redknapp won’t have his full arsenal of players available, with the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips, DJ Campbell and Adel Taarabt all injured.
QPR’s have fared disastrously this term and we really cannot see things changing for the final game of the season. Liverpool have ended the campaign strongly and with Brendan Rodgers’ side also holding the home advantage, our tip is going to be a comfortable 2-0 victory for the club.