** Several clubs do not have league matches as they have FA cup games this weekend**
(All fixtures Eastern Standard Time)
West Brom v Liverpool 7:30
(Hawthorns) Despite an incredible shock 1-0 victory at Old Trafford last week, West Brom will be well aware that anything less than 3 points on Saturday will surely see them relegated from England’s top flight. 9 points from safety, the Baggies will need a consecutive stellar performance if they are to avoid the drop, but that’s much easier said than done. High-flying Liverpool have all but secured Champions League football for next year. 3 points at West Brom will ensure a second straight season in Europe’s top competition and manager Jurgen Klopp will be hopeful that a positive result is wrapped up sooner rather than later as he will want his players rested for Tuesday’s semifinal 1st leg match with Roma. Liverpool to win by multiple goals.
Watford v Crystal Palace 10:00
(Vicarage Road) Separated by only 3 points, a victory would do the Eagles a world of good. Firstly, they’d almost certainly be guaranteed Premier League football next season. Secondly, they could potentially jump four places to 12th in the league. Watford, while sitting comfortably in middle of the table, have been extremely poor these past two months. With only one win in their previous six outings, Hornets fans will surely want a bit of stability as we approach the end of the season. Star midfielder Gerard Deulofeu is still out with injury but defenders Jose Holebas and Sebastian Prodl should be in contention. Palace are still without playmaker Jason Puncheon but will be buoyed by Wilfried Zaha’s fantastic form. Palace to win.
Stoke City v Burnley 8:30
(Bet 365) January 20th. Stoke’s last win over newly-promoted Huddersfield four months ago has seen the club plummet to 19th in the table. Their most recent result, a disappointing last-minute collapse to West Ham, has added additional angst for the Staffordshire side. Furthermore, their opponents have been playing some quality football all season. The Clarets surprisingly sit in 7th place, 2 points behind Arsenal. Their most recent result, a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea, was their first loss in their previous seven matches. Stoke know that a victory will still not be enough to claw themselves out of the relegation zone, but 3 points will be an absolute must if they want any chance of avoiding Championship football next season. Burnley players may be a little exhausted following Thursday’s game, but the possibility of European football next season should invigorate them. Expect a closely contested match resulting in a draw.
Arsenal v West Ham 8:30
(Emirates) The times they are a-changin’ for the Gunners. With manager Arsene Wenger recently announcing that he’s stepping down as Arsenal boss at the end of the season, the central London club is swiftly approaching the end of an era. For several seasons now, many fans have been calling for Wenger’s resignation following multiple years of uninspiring football. Despite a handful of trophies in his 22 seasons at the club, the Frenchman has decided to call it a day. Current league performances will certainly be forgiven and forgotten should the Gunners win the Europa League, as clinching the competition will see their return to Champions League football – a possible situation that is currently in jeopardy. West Ham, having picked up a stoppage-time point in their last match against Stoke, will need an immense amount of luck if they are to leave the Emirates with a positive result. The continued absences of captain Winston Reid and Michel Antonio will only make the aforesaid tougher. Arsenal to win.
Manchester City v Swansea 11:30
(Etihad) Recently crowned champions, Manchester City will be in party mode regardless of result. Having locked up a second trophy this season, manager Pep Guardiola’s heavy spending spree last summer seems to have done the trick, bringing the title back to the blue half of Manchester for the first time in four years. The gaffer may also be looking to include youth team players to play a roll in the final month of the season in an effort to keep his stars fit for this summer’s upcoming World Cup. Conversely, the Swans are in no position to play reserves. Their tenuous position in the league table will require a strong showing if they’re to have a chance of staying up. The Welsh side are in a bit of a spot of bother however, as midfielder Leroy Fer and frontman Wilfried Bony will miss the match due to injury. Tough game to call considering the situation, but I expect City to deliver in their first game as champions in front of their own fans.
Everton v Newcastle 3:00
(Goodison) GAME OF THE WEEKEND. While it might not be a derby match, both clubs are separated by only a point. Newcastle has an opportunity to leapfrog the Merseyside club in an effort to solidify a top-half finish. Having won their last three straight, (their most recent a fantastic 2-1 win over Arsenal) the Toon could very well end the weekend in 9th place. Everton on the other hand have been poor all season. Acquisitions the club made before the season started had many fans dreaming of a return to European football, but the Toffees look set to fall well short of those aspirations. Everton are still without midfield maestro Gylfi Sigurdsson. Newcastle have a clean bill of health save for Ghanian midfielder Christian Atsu who is out until next weekend with a knock. Newcastle to win.