Premier League and FA Cup Preview: Week 35

Gabe Morency

Friday, April 20, 2018 3:23 AM UTC

Friday, Apr. 20, 2018 3:23 AM UTC

Oh Stoke City. Come on. On Monday the Potters had the chance to make the end of the Premier League season a little bit interesting at least. But after Andy Carroll's late goal it feels as.
<p>Oh Stoke City. Come on.</p><p>On Monday the Potters had the chance to make the end of the Premier League season a little bit interesting at least. But after Andy Carroll's late goal it feels as though everyone is trudging towards the finish line in single file.</p><p>Good job there's the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend then, yeah? And in a reduced top-flight schedule in Week 35, it's not a surprise those two matches feature prominently in this week's preview.</p><p>Here's a look at what to expect. </p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur</strong></p> It's difficult to know quite which side this match is bigger for. Although, then again, an FA Cup semi-final should be big for everyone, shouldn't it?<p></p><p>For the losing team you can already anticipate the reaction. "Jose Mourinho's Stodgy Red Devils Finish With Nothing" or "Tottenham Bottle Another Trophy Chance." And while there may be a thread of truth in such sensationalist statements, the reality is a little more nuanced. But it means that this one is big.</p><p>United start as second favourites and that'll probably suit Mourinho and his side. The team shook off the West Brom loss on Sunday with a professional performance at Bournemouth in midweek and will be feeling a little better about themselves heading into this one.</p><p>The Red Devils manager has some big decisions to make. Reports have swirled in the buildup to the game about the possibility of Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez being dropped. The former may have played himself into contention with a Man of the Match display against the Cherries; Sanchez, who missed that game, may have some work to do.</p><p>To say Spurs have "bottled" the last two Premier League title chases would be unfair, although you sense they need to thrive here. With City and Liverpool out they're the in-form team left in the draw; Tottenham are also better acquainted with Wembley than any side in the country too.</p><p>Crucially, Tottenham fans will feel that at the moment they're a little bit better than United and will remember how dominant they were against the Red Devils when they last came to town, winning 2-0 at a canter. It won't be quite so easy, but Spurs will get over the line. <strong>Prediction:</strong> 2-1 (9.00 William Hill). </p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Southampton vs. Chelsea</strong></p> It's the least glamorous of the two semi-finals, although the precursor for this fixture last Saturday will have plenty a lot more excited about Sunday's game.<p></p><p>Southampton lost 3-2 to the Blues after tossing away a two-goal lead. Yet Saints will feel aggrieved, as Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso somehow escaped a red card for a lunge on Shane Long in the first half. Gallingly for Southampton, the Spain international was then involved in all three Blues goals.</p><p>Alonso has been retrospectively banned for that challenge meaning he will miss this encounter, leaving manager Antonio Conte with some big decisions to make. There will surely be a switch up front too, as Olivier Giroud's introduction against Saints completely swung the game in Chelsea's favour.</p><p>With little chance of clawing their way back into the top-four picture, Chelsea's season effectively hinges on the outcome of this game. The same can't really be said for Southampton, who are in a position of major peril in the Premier League.</p><p>Nevertheless, the chance to win the FA Cup doesn't come along too frequently for a club like Saints and despite the Premier League misery, the supporters will completely throw themselves into their day at Wembley.</p><p>Regardless of their issues in the Premier League, there have been some signs of improvement since Mark Hughes took over at Southampton and Chelsea are nowhere near the force they were a season ago. Still, the Blues have the class and experience to better cope with the big occasion. <strong>Prediction:</strong> 2-0 (7.00 Ladbrokes). </p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool</strong></p> You wonder what position West Brom would find themselves in if they'd got rid of Alan Pardew four or five games earlier. In the two games under Darren Moore there's been major improvement as the team excelled away in the win at United. Against a Liverpool team with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League clash, expect a tight game at the Hawthorns. <strong>Prediction:</strong> 1-2 (8.00 William Hill). <p style="text-align:center"><strong>Watford vs. Crystal Palace</strong></p> It was a huge win for Palace last week. Beating your rivals in a thriller, with your star man on fire in Wilfried Zaha and pulling clear of the bottom three is about as good as it gets. Another win this weekend would surely ensure they'll be playing in the Premier League next season and you sense they'll get it against a Watford team going through the motions. <strong>Prediction:</strong> 0-1 (9.00 Betfair). <p style="text-align:center"><strong>Arsenal vs. West Ham United</strong></p> The Gunners have serious competition for sixth place in Burnley and that makes this an important fixture against West Ham. It's arguably more vital for the visitors, though, as manager David Moyes looks to put any relegation fears to bed once and for all. Arsenal may be awful away from home, but at the Emirates Stadium they tend to get it together. <strong>Prediction:</strong> 3-0 (13.00 Betfred). <p style="text-align:center"><strong>Stoke City vs. Burnley</strong></p> I've still not forgiven Stoke for Monday night. The win would've been huge for them not only in terms of points, but the impetus a late victory on the road can give any side. Now there's no room for error for Paul Lambert's team and it's tough to see them turning over a Burnley team who still have a big chance of a top-six finish. <strong>Prediction:</strong> 1-2 (12.00 William Hill). <p style="text-align:center"><strong>Manchester City vs. Swansea City</strong></p> There'll be a party atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, as Swansea are set to give the new champions a guard of honour. It's a serious fixture for the visitors, as they aren't completely out of trouble. But even a City team that's been celebrating for much of the week will be good enough to roll over most sides in the top flight. <strong>Prediction:</strong> 2-0 (6.50 Betfair). <p style="text-align:center"><strong>Everton vs. Newcastle United</strong></p> A match that sees the most disliked manager in the division up against the most popular? Newcastle can move above Everton in the table with a win at Goodison Park, which is a measure of the job Rafael Benitez has done this season. Sam Allardyce may be unpopular, but his Everton side have been decent on home soil, meaning these two are likely to cancel one another out. <strong>Prediction:</strong> 1-1 (6.50 William Hill).<p></p>
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