BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
Another big weekend full of crunch games. Another weekend where the top sides vying for the title will look to prove their title ambitions. The action will be extreme on both extremes of the table, as we enter the final stretch of a tremendous season. Just 1 thing matters at this stage-3 points.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa
United have been a total shambles at home. It is not only the big sides who have gone and outplayed them at Old Trafford and returned with 3 points, but so have the smaller sides. The fear factor has gone, Old Trafford is no longer a cauldron and the home side have declined alarmingly with their defense and midfield in total mess. Villa are a better side playing away, and they wont get a better chance to win a game at Old Trafford. Still United are a decent side against teams like Villa and they will win 9 out of 10 times.
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea
Chelsea were devastating vs Arsenal and had the game wrapped up inside the first 5 minutes. They are super consistent, and they will keep on rolling barring a few games here and there. The title will be won either by them or Manchester City. The upcoming midweek game vs PSG will have no bearing on them. Palace have improved under Tony Pulis and will continue fighting till the last day.
Arsenal vs Manchester City
Arsenal are a crushed side at the moment. It was clear that they wont win the title, but it was expected they will fight on till the moment they are mathematically out of it, but there seems to be a mental and attitude problem with the Gunners who are a good side. They don’t relish being put under pressure and it wont be a shock if they don’t win the title whatever happens in this game. City are over their rough patch and haven’t conceded a goal after the loss to Chelsea. What has been impressive about them is they are scoring goals even without their best strikers operating.
Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspurs
Whatever happens to Liverpool now they are my team of the season. They were considered outsiders for 4th spot in August, but now they have a chance to win the title. The most impressive thing about them is the way they play-full of pace, power and confidence. If they beat City and Chelsea,who knows? Spurs are all set to play Europa league again, they know they wont finish in top 4.
SPANISH LA LIGA
The La Liga has completely turned in a week. In these last 7 days, the top 3 sides have all changed positions. Suddenly, Real Madrid look most vulnerable, Atletico Madrid are first and Barcelona have fought back to 2nd place. This is football, things can change dramatically.
Espanyol vs Barcelona
Barcelona had always got the better of their Catalan neighbours in this derby and they come to this game in very good form and full of confidence. Lionel Messi is roaring again in the business end of the season and even though Espanyol are having a decent season I cant see beyond a Blaugrana win.
Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid
Diego Simeone may try hard to dampen La Liga hopes publicly, but they are very much in it and if they win all their games they are champions. However this is a potential banana skin and I think they will slip up here.
Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano
Real Madrid need a win. Even if it is a shoddy 1-0 win. They need a win to lift themselves up, and they need to take one game at a time. Suddenly La Liga has become more important than the Champions League, but things can change pretty quickly and who knows Real are a couple of wins away from climbing up the table.
ITALIAN SERIE A
Milan vs Chievo
Milan had a great win at Fiorentina and they would like to finish the season well. It is an audition for Clarence Seedorf to prove he can do the job next season, and I think they will back him. They will be better next season with no European involvement.
Napoli vs Juventus
This will be a tricky fixture for Juventus. They will definitely win the tile, but Napoli are a good side with good players and a good manager who will be looking to finish 2nd.
Livorno vs Inter
Inter have improved this season, and I think they are on course for European football next season. Livorno are struggling to stay in Serie A and both sides will have contrasting expectations from this game.
-Ricky Jana [Ricky is a Football Analyst with Sportz Cosmos. You can reach him at the gmail id: sportzcosmos]