It’s Week 36 in the EPL and while Chelsea has already been crowned champions, there are still a few things left to be settle, like 2nd place, the final Champions League spot, as well as the dreaded relegation places.
Man Utd Sign Depay
Manchester United has agreed to sign PSV Eindhoven forward Memphis Depay for a fee thought to be in the region of $38m-$46m .
Depay, who has scored 21 goals this season on route to helping PSV secure the Dutch title, is believed to have signed a deal with United until 2019, with an option of another year.
The Dutchman will officially join United in June once the transfer window has opened again, subject to a medical.
Depay told Manchester United’s website: “It was a little difficult with all the speculation about my future, but now I’ve chosen to sign for Manchester United and my dream came true.”
The 21-year-old also Tweeted: “I always say; dream, believe, achieve. I was dreaming and believing of becoming the champions of the Eredivisie with PSV and we achieved it.
“I’m extremely grateful towards PSV and all the fans for believing in me.”
One might expect Manchester United manager Luis van Gaal to be delighted with his acquisition, but the Dutchman revealed he would have preferred to have done the deal after the season.
“I have been forced to sign him”, said Van Gaal.
“I had to handle it otherwise he would have signed for PSG.
“I don’t want to speak with players before the season has ended – I have also a feeling to my players. But now, because of the close relationship I have with PSV, I could handle it.”
Benteke and Pearson with EPL monthly awards
Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke and Leicester manager Nigel Pearson have claimed the monthly player and manager of the month awards for April.
The pair were rewarded after helping their sides in their battles against relegation at the foot of the EPL.
Benteke scored five EPL goals for Villa in April, including the winner at Tottenham Hotspur, a hat-trick in the 3-3 draw with Queens Park Rangers and a consolation goal in the defeat by Manchester United. The Belgian international also netted in his side 2-1 semi-final win over Liverpool in the FA-Cup.
“I am delighted for him,” Villa manager Tim Sherwood told the club’s website. “It shows the rest of the boys are doing something right to give him the ammunition to score.
“Christian is obviously doing something right by putting the ball in the back of the net which is the hardest job in football.
Leicester Manager Nigel Pearson won the manager of the month award after steering his side to four successive wins in April, a run which saw the Foxes lift themselves out of the relegation zone.
However, after losing their final game of the April against Chelsea, Pearson hit the headlines for the wrong reason after a bizarre post match rant in which he called a journalist an “ostrich”.
Neverthelss, Pearson’s achievement was not overlooked and the 51-year-old picks up the award for the first time.
“I’m flattered but it’s not just about one person. I’m very conscious of the support I get from staff and players – it’s recognition of a bigger picture,” said Pearson.
Last Week’s Predictions
|Leicester v Newcastle||3-0||2-1||3-1||2-2||2-0|
|Aston Villa v Everton||3-2||2-0||2-2||1-2||1-2|
|Liverpool v QPR||2-1||1-1||3-1||1-0||2-1|
|Sunderland v Southampton||2-1||1-1||1-2||0-2||1-2|
|Swansea v Stoke||2-0||2-1||3-0||2-2||2-0|
|West Ham v Burnley||1-0||3-0||1-0||2-0||1-2|
|Man Utd v West Brom||0-1||3-0||2-0||3-0||3-1|
|Chelsea v Crystal Palace||1-0||3-0||4-0||2-0||3-1|
|Tottenham v Man City||0-1||2-2||1-3||1-2||3-1|
|Hull v Arsenal||1-3||1-2||2-2||1-1||1-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. The exact score earns THREE points.
Last Week I got SIX correct results and ZERO perfect scores to give me a combined total of SIX-points. However, it was not enough to beat challenger Neil who got FIVE correct results, including TWO perfect scores to earn a TOTAL of NINE-POINTS.
Week 36 Predictions
|Everton v Sunderland||2-0|
|Aston Villa v West Ham||3-0|
|Hull v Burnley||2-1|
|Leicester v Southampton||1-1|
|Newcastle v West Brom||1-0|
|Stoke v Tottenham||2-1|
|Crystal Palace v Man Utd||1-2|
|Man City v QPR||2-1|
|Chelsea v Liverpool||1-0|
|Arsenal v Swansea||3-0|
Hull v Burnley
Both these sides lost last week and know they need a win if they want to remain in the EPL.
Hull lost 3-1 at home to Arsenal last week, but won’t be too down as they were expected to lose that game. In fact, before that defeat the Tigers had shown signs of hope by winning two games in succession, so will be confident in their ability to get a result.
Burnley lost away to West Ham to all but confirm their relegation from the EPL. The Clarets now sit eight-points from safety and have to win all three of their remaining games and hope that either Hull or Leicester lose all of their remaining three games.
Hull will be without midfielder Mo Diame who will undergo knee surgery, while Jake Livermore is doubtful after suffering an ankle injury on Monday. But striker Nikica Jelavic should start after recently returning from injury.
Burney defender Michael Duff is available after suspension, but striker Sam Vokes is doubtful with a hamstring problem.
Both teams need wins so this game will be like a cup final. Burnley has played some attractive stuff this season, but their goals have dried up recently—it has been nine hours and 29 minutes since they found the net—and that is what has cost them in the end.
Anything other than a win will see Burnley become the first team to be relegated from the EPL this season, so I expect they will throw everything at Hull. However, I don’t think it will be enough and I think they will lose.
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
These two sides have lost their last three games in the EPL and will be looking to bounce back sooner rather than later.
Crystal Palace lost 1-0 away to neighbors Chelsea to suffer their third successive defeat without scoring. Nevertheless, the Eagles have had a fairly good season and could yet finish in their highest ever EPL position.
Manchester United lost to West Brom at Old Trafford for the second successive season. The Red Devils lost 1-0 to the Baggies to leave Liverpool with hope of leapfrogging them into the fourth Champions League Spot.
United once again monopolized possession of the ball–The Red Devils had a staggering 79% of the ball–but failed to create any clear cut chances and trouble the West Brom backline.
Crystal Palace should recall Glenn Murray and Mile Jedinak, after the pair were dropped last week. While strikers Fraizer Campbell and Marouane Chamakh are close to a first-team return.
A virus has hit the Manchester United squad, but manager Louis van Gaal has not specify which players have been affected.
Michael Carrick is definitely out for the season with a calf injury, but defenders Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Jonny Evans are fit again.
Manchester United has never lost to Crystal Palace in the EPL (W9, D2), but they have lost their last three games and have gone six games without a clean sheet.
However, I think some Palace players are already started preparing for their summer holidays and that’s why I’ll go for a United win.
Man City v QPR
Manchester City won 1-0 away to Tottenham last week to secure their place in next season’s Champions League and to put pressure on Arsenal in the race for second-place.
City did not play well, but the quality of striker Sergio Aguero—who scored his 22nd EPL goal of the season—was enough to get the Sky Blues all three points.
After the game Man City manager Manuel Pellergini claimed Chelsea had won the title without the ‘style’ his side had won it with a year earlier. However, his side has also lacked the ‘style’ they had a year ago, and there will be a lot of changes over the summer, possible manager included, as City attempt to challenge for honors again.
QPR needs to win or they are relegated, so expect them to give it their all. The Hoops definitely have the ability to cause City problems and score, but they have been so poor defensively all season and that’s why I think they will be relegated on Sunday.
Chelsea v Liverpool
Liverpool fans probably looked at this fixture at the beginning of the season and thought it could be a title decider. However, things haven’t really panned out the way Liverpool were expecting and the game is almost meaningless with Chelsea having already won the EPL.
Chelsea secured their fourth EPL title last week with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. The Blues were not spectacular, but did just enough to win the game. In fact, the win was the eighth time the Blues have won by a single goal in their last 15 games.
Liverpool kept their hopes of finishing in Champions League place alive with a 2-1 win over strugglers QPR. Steven Gerrard missed a penalty for the Reds, but made amends with a late winner in what could be his last Anfield goal of his Liverpool career.
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is a slight doubt, but Brazilian midfielder Oscar is definitely out.
With the title already won Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho may also decide to give some non-regular starters a game.
Liverpool remains without striker Daniel Sturridge, but Mario Balotelli is fit again and could feature.
Chelsea is unbeaten in their last seven EPL and cup games against Liverpool (W4, D3). In fact, Jose Mourinho has lost just one of 10 EPL matches as a coach against Liverpool, so this should be an easy Chelsea win on paper.
The Blues may still be hungover from last week’s title triumph, while Liverpool will psyched up for the game knowing they need a win to challenge Manchester United for fourth place. However, Liverpool has struggled to score goals all season and although Chelsea may not field their ‘best eleven’ I still expect them to be well organized and tough to break down.
Arsenal v Swansea
Arsenal kept up their pursuit for second place with a good 3-1 win away to Hull. The Gunners had the game wrapped up at half-time after a breathtaking first-half display in which they scored three goals.
Alexis Sanchez scored two of the Gunner’s goals to take him onto 24 goals for Arsenal in all competitions this season, while Aaron Ramsey grabbed the other. However, it was fellow midfielder Santi Carzola who was running the show in middle of field and it is a bit surprising the Spaniard was not named in the PFA team of the season last week.
Swansea won 2-0 at home to Stoke to continue their fine form this season. Late goals from Montero and Ki Seng-Yueng strengthened the Swans hold on eighth place and moved them onto 53-points for the season—their highest ever points tally in the EPL.
Swansea beat Arsenal 2-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, but the Gunners are much improved since then and currently boast the best form in the EPL. The edition of Francis Coquelin in midfield has given them more balance and defensive cover in midfield, and has been the main reason for their great form.
I think Swansea will give the Gunners a few problems, but I expect this to be a routine victory in the end.