It’s squeaky bum time in the EPL, as we head in to the final three games of the season. Nothing has been decided at the top or bottom of the table yet and there is still everything to play for, so buckle up as we at GotSoccer take you through all the news, predictions and previews for week 36.
Giggs vows to make fans smile again
Manchester United interim boss Ryan Giggs has said he vows to “put the smiles back on fans faces” and get the club back to playing the United way.
Giggs was appointed Manchester United boss earlier on Tuesday following the sacking of David Moyes, and immediately thanked the old coach for giving him his first opportunity in coaching.
In his first press conference since being appointed boss, Giggs said: “It’s been a frustrating season and I want to end it on a high.”
Giggs said he wanted to play with passion, bravery, intensity and joy.
“It is my philosophy and it is Manchester United’s philosophy.”
The 40-year-old, who is still to decide whether to continue on playing next season, joked about his new powers as United boss, saying: “I’ve just given myself a five-year contract while I can.”
The Welshman, who is the most decorated player in English soccer history, joined United when he was just 13, coming through the youth ranks with the famed ‘class of 92’ who contributed much to Manchester United’s success under Alex Ferguson.
“I have supported Manchester United all my life, I have been a part of the club since I was 13. I am proud, I am happy, a little nervous and, just like playing, can’t wait for the game on Saturday.”, Giggs told MUTV.
“I’m proud, happy, a little bit nervous, but just like I am as a player, I can’t wait for the game on Saturday. I can’t wait for 5.30 tomorrow when we walk out at Old Trafford. I know the place will be rocking. I’ve told the players: ‘I trust you and I know what you’re capable of. Go out there and show it.’ ”
Despite a torrid season United have they best away record in the EPL, but their home form has let them down as they have endured their worst home record since 1978.
“We have three games at Old Trafford, where the home form hasn’t been great, and I want to see goals, tackles, players taking players on and getting the crowd up. I want the passion that should come with being a Manchester United player.”
Wenger says Sagna contract talk not progressing
Arsene Wenger has expressed his concern about Arsenal keeping fullback Bacary Sagna beyond his current contract.
The French international’s contract comes to an end in the summer and he could leave for free under the Bosman ruling with several clubs reported to be interested.
Arsenal are understood to have offered Sagna a new three-year deal, but the Frenchman appears unwilling to commit.
The Gunners originally offered Sagna a two-year deal, but the Frenchman believed he was worth a three-year deal, and Arsenal only agreed to offer a three-year deal after Manchester City indicated they were willing to do so.
“At the moment, the talks are not progressing,” Wenger said. “We know what we want from him, he knows what is on the table, and that’s where we are.”
Pressed if he was less confident of Sagna staying Wenger replied: “yes, the ball is not in our camp any more. It is in his camp, and he needs to come back to us.”
Arsenal could experience a defensive exodus this summer with center back Thomas Vermaelen unhappy with his place behind Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and keeper Fabianski keen to move when his contract expires this summer.
|Tottenham v Fulham||3-1||2-1|
|Aston Villa v Southampton||0-0||1-2|
|Cardiff v Stoke||1-1||2-2|
|Newcastle v Swansea||1-2||1-1|
|West Ham v Crystal Palace||0-1||1-2|
|Chelsea v Sunderland||1-2||2-0|
|Norwich v Liverpool||2-3||0-3|
|Hull v Arsenal||0-3||1-2|
|Everton v Man Utd||2-0||2-2|
|Man City v West Brom||3-1||3-0|
A correct result (ie picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. A correct score earns THREE points.
Last week I got SIX correct results, including Zero perfect scores, to give me a combined total of SIX-points, which is a respectable score, however, with only a couple of weeks left until the season is over I’m going to be less conservative and go all out with my predictions.
|Southampton v Everton||2-3|
|Fulham v Hull||2-1|
|Stoke v Tottenham||1-2|
|Swansea v Aston Villa||1-0|
|West Brom v West Ham||2-0|
|Man Utd v Norwich||3-1|
|Sunderland v Cardiff||2-1|
|Liverpool v Chelsea||2-1|
|Crystal Palace v Man City||1-2|
|Arsenal v Newcastle||4-0|
Southampton v Everton
Everton kept the pressure up on Arsenal in the race for the final Champions League spot with a fine 2-0 win over Manchester United.
The Toffees played high intensity and dynamic soccer and were well worth their victory over the Red Devils. Manager Roberto Martinez has done a terrific job since taking over from David Moyes, and if the club can keep some of their top players and add one or two quality editions in the summer they could be a force next season.
Southampton drew 0-0 away to Aston Villa last week and remain a difficult side to play against. The Saints are probably one of the best sides to watch in the EPL and if it weren’t for a poor patch of form during the middle of the season they would have been challenging for a European spot.
Southampton will have to do without midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin because of a last minute problem, while Jay Rodriguez, Kelvin Davis and Maya Yoshida remain unavailable for selection with long-term problems.
Everton will have to do without midfielder Kevin Mirallas for the rest of the season after the Belgian international picked up a groin injury in the victory over Manchester United last week.
Everton probably have to win the rest of their games this season if they want to qualify for the Champions League, but even that probably won’t be enough, as Arsenal seem like they will win all their games.
The Toffees are playing well and will be confident of getting a win as they are unbeaten in the last eight meetings with Southampton, although they have gone four matches without a win at St Mary’s since 2002.
Southampton play some good stuff and will no doubt cause Everton trouble, however, they give teams chances and I think Everton will punish any mistakes.
Manchester United v Norwich
This game sees Ryan Giggs take charge of the helm for the first-time, and despite this week being one of the most turbulent in the club’s history there is suddenly a sense of optimism around Old Trafford again.
The Red Devils have been well below par this season, with many of the United’s players looking far from interested in playing. The players’ lack of effort was especially evident in United’s 2-0 loss away to Everton, which was ironically David Moyes last game in charge of United.
Norwich were given no chance against Liverpool last week, but gave the EPL leaders a run for their money going down 2-3 at home. The Canaries face a horrible run-in with Untied, Chelsea and Arsenal their remaining games. A single win from those games would probably see them stay up, though a draw may also be enough for the Canaries who sit just two-points above the relegations zone.
Manchester United will be without Robin van Persie and Rafael for Ryan Giggs’ first game in charge as interim manager.
Norwich will be without defender Joseph Yobo, though winger Elliott Bennett could return after a long lay-off.
Norwich need to gamble and go for the win, but Manchester United have won five of their last six games against Norwich, including the last three, and I expect them to easily take this one.
Liverpool v Chelsea
This game was being billed as a title decider until Chelsea unexpectedly lost to Sunderland last week. That game means Chelsea no longer have their fate in their own hands, though a win by them could open the door for Manchester City.
Liverpool continued their pursuit of their first league title in 24-years with a good 3-2 win over Norwich. Their fast attacking play was once again on display for all to behold, but so was their defensive lapses, which will be a worry for boss Brendan Rogers.
Jose Mourinho lost his first ever EPL home game with Chelsea last week, a run that stretched back almost 10 years and 78 games. That loss seriously dented Chelsea’s EPL ambitions, though a win on Sunday would leave them just two-points behind Liverpool with two games remaining.
Liverpool will assess the fitness of striker Daniel Sturridge before Sunday’s game, with midfielder Lucas Leiva likely to take his place should he not feature.
On-loan Victor Moses is ineligible against his parent club, while Jordan Henderson remains suspended.
Chelsea are without both Petr Cech and John Terry, who picked up injuries midweek in the Champions League, while midfielder Ramires has been banned for the rest of the season for violent conduct.
Chelsea need to win this game if they want to have any chance of winning the EPL, however, with a Champions League semi-final to take care of on Wednesday the Blues may opt to cut their losses and focus on the European glory instead.
However, Liverpool also have to win as any slip up will leave Manchester City with a chance of closing the gap to within a single point. Liverpool have won their last 11 games and Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini has suggested that if Liverpool extend that sequence to 14 straight wins, they deserve to win the title.
Liverpool have a good record against Chelsea at Anfield—The Reds have lost just nine of the 70 all-time league encounters at Liverpool (W46, D15)—and with Chelsea seemingly prioritizing for Europe I expect them to get another win.
Crystal Palace v Man City
Crystal Palace secured their place in the EPL with a fine away 2-1 victory over London rivals West Ham.
Tony Pulis has done a terrific job since taking over the Eagles in November and should probably be named the manager of year. The Eagles, who are currently chasing a record sixth-successive top-flight win, have won 27 points since the start of 2014—If the season started on 1 January, they would be in seventh, four points ahead of Manchester United in eighth and only five points off Everton in fourth.
Manchester City bounced back from their slip-up against Sunderland with a good 3-1 victory over West Brom. The Sky Blues looked back to their best, scoring two goals in the opening ten minutes to effectively end the game as a contest.
City currently sit six-points behind Liverpool, thought they have a game in hand meaning that could draw level with Liverpool on points and ahead on goal difference if The Reds lose any of their remaining games.
Striker Marouane Chamakh and midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi are both doubts for Palace, though the Eagles are confident both will recover in time for Sunday’s clash.
David Silva and Jesus Navas are both out with ankle injuries, and join Yaya Toure who is still out with a calf injury.
Crystal Palace are in great form and have won their last five games, however, Manchester City have won their last three Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace and I expect them to win this one too.