Anyone still need convincing that the English Premiership is the best league in the world – sort of like what the PGA Tour is to golf – then this week’s European results simply underline the argument.
There are four English Premiership semi-finalists in the Champions League and Europa League. Next most represented is Spain’s La Liga with two, Italy’s Serie A has one and France’s Ligue 1 has one.
It’s also unlikely, but not impossible, that both the Champions League and Europa League finals are all-English affairs with Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal on opposite sides of the draw.
Yet, such is the strength of the English Premiership that no side is invincible, with the likes of City and Chelsea suffering ‘shock’ defeats in the League in the past couple of weeks.
Tonight’s game seems Everton take on Tottenham to kick off this weekend which also has FA Cup action. This round’s 10 matches stretch right to next Thursday, so for this preview we’ll stick with the first five matches and see where we are after that come Monday.
Everton 1 Tottenham 2: Injury-plagued Everton struggled to a goalless draw at Brighton last time but Spurs, where manager Jose Mourinho is increasingly agitated, lost to Man United. These teams are separated by one point in 7th and 8th on the table. It’s a game which screams “draw”, but I think a moment of Harry Kane magic might steal it.
Newcastle 0 West Ham 1: Newcastle eased their relegation worries with a vital win at Burnley last time and will be hoping to repeat the performance, as ell as that which saw them beat West Ham in the season’ opener. However, the Hammers have been impressive for much of the season and are starting to dream of Champions League action next season. The early Saturday kick-off often springs the upset though.
Wolves 2 Sheffield United 0: Wolves won for the first time in 6 matches last time but required a stoppage time goal to get past Fulham. But they’re against a side now resigned to Championship football next season and Wolves did win the reverse fixture 2-0 so lightning could strike twice.
Arsenal 2 Fulham 0: Fulham’s rage against relegation has come unstuck recently and they’ve lost their last 4 games to again look relegation certainties. Plus, they come up against a Arsenal side brimming with confidence and who were mightily impressive in beating Slavia Praha 4-0 on Thursday night. A home win here looks a banker.
Man United 2 Burnley 0: United are sitting comfortably in second spot, 11 points behind neighbours City and they should close the gap to 8 points after this match. “Miracles do happen,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cheekily told the media this week about the title race. Burnley lost the reverse fixture 1-0 and they don’t have the tools to threaten at Old Trafford.
We will preview the Monday to Thursday matches in our second part on Monday.