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[EPL] MatchWeek 27 – The Stakes Really Couldn’t Be Much Higher

After an FA Cup 5th Round interruption, it’s time for a return to the EPL and as we approach MatchWeek27 where both Manchester City and Liverpool are tied at the top of the table on 65 points, although the latter has a game in hand, there’s also the all-important relegation battle going on at the bottom of the table, with plenty of teams needing to pick up points to avoid the drop. 

There’s also a League Cup final interruption, which explains the eight games and no Man City, Chelsea, Brighton and Everton this week.

The big game of the weekend, and certainly more riding on it than the last fixtures which saw a big Liverpool win and a last hurrah of Jose Mourinho at Man Utd and probably the Premier League is Liverpool visiting Man United.

Manchester United have turned their season around since their loss at Anfield, in fact if the table was done from after Mourinho’s sacking, Man Utd would be 1st and ahead of Man City by four points with a game in hand. Paul Pogba finally showing the player he has been everywhere else.

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Points Table 

MatchWeek 27: Key facts
Southampton are looking to complete their first league double over Arsenal, Salomon Rondon can add to his tally against Huddersfield plus the weekend’s other standout stats

Cardiff City vs Watford
Cardiff are looking to win three consecutive top-flight league matches for the first time since February 1961
West Ham vs Fulham
Only against Liverpool has Mark Noble been directly involved in more PL goals than he has against Fulham, scoring one goal and recording four assists
Burnley vs Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs have scored a league-high 12 PL goals from outside the area this season, while Burnley have conceded the same amount
Newcastle United vs Huddersfield
Salomon Rondon has been directly involved in 41 per cent of Newcastle’s 22 PL goals this season, scoring six goals and recording three assists. He struck the Magpies’ winner in the reverse fixture against Huddersfield
Leicester City vs Crystal Palace
Sixty-seven per cent of Crystal Palace’s PL goals have come in away matches this season, the highest in the league
Manchester United vs Liverpool
Liverpool have lost just one of their last 13 PL away matches. However, against sides starting the day in the top four, they are winless in their last seven away from home  Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

Game Review
CARDIFF vs WATFORD
Cardiff come into the game after a FA Cup enforced break, enough time to celebrate their win at Southampton last start which allowed the teams to swap safety status. Two wins in a row now for Cardiff and their home record isn’t too bad either – 10 points from their last six home games is as good as Wolves and Burnley. Goals could still be the issue for Cardiff, only Huddersfield have scored less in their last six games. Although both teams have scored in this fixture at Cardiff in the last 8 games.

Watford are into the last eight of the FA Cup and avoided both Manchester sides in the draw, so they have a great chance of at least getting to a Wembley semi final. They currently sit eighth in the table, and last six form.

Fact: Cardiff have led at half time once this season, despite winning seven games. Or both teams have had 7 clean sheets this year, but Cardiff have conceded 13 more goals.

WEST HAM vs FULHAM
Fulham are getting close to a point of no return in their battle for survival. Talking of no points or very few, the Cottagers are still winless away from home this year. Claudio Ranieri has made a small impact at Fulham – his points per game is at 0.86 – more than double the 0.42 of his predecessor, and the goals conceded have dropped from 2.6 per game to 1.9. But neither are great reading or likely to save Fulham in the EPL.

West Ham are reasonably unpredictable, however they have lost just once at home in their last six. Clean sheet are a worry for both sides though, West Ham have just two at home, Fulham have just two in all games.

Fact: Both sides have been knocked out by 3rd tier or lower teams in the FA Cup this season. Fulham have conceded exactly four times as many goals as they’ve scored away this year.

BURNLEY vs SPURS
Spurs are the Premier League’s best away team with the most points, most goals scored, and fewest losses. Perhaps that’s because they technically don’t have their own home at the moment. They are going OK since losing Harry Kane to injury. 4/4 in the Premier League and a win over Dortmund as well. You’d have to overlook the FA Cup exit.

Burnley are going quite nicely too, sitting 5th in the last six form. Their 10 points at home in their last six is a significant % of their total home points for the season of 14. Their record against the big six isn’t great recently, so it should be another Spurs win, just to make the title race a bit more interesting.

Fact: Burnley last beat Spurs in 2010 (4-2) – there has been just one draw since.

BOURNEMOUTH vs WOLVES
A battle of two teams in the top six for last six form for home and away respectively, Wolves are sitting seventh as they are much better on the road. Wolves last start draw against Newcastle ended a run of three straight wins against their mid table rivals, but truth is that Wolves seem a cut above all but the top six. A summer upgrade to their squad could have them really annoying a club like Arsenal next season.

Wolves aren’t top six yet, and Bournemouth are yet to lose at home to a team outside the top six, and put one of the nails in the Sarri coffin last home game with a 4-0 trouncing of Chelsea.

Fact: Bournemouth have scored 73% of their points at home this year, second only to Fulham.

NEWCASTLE vs HUDDERSFIELD
A scrap at the bottom between one side that looks doomed for relegation, and the other who are just one point from the drop zone.

Newcastle are the third worst team at home this year, but have beaten Cardiff 3-0 and Manchester City no less in their last two home fixtures. Despite five goals in their last two wins, they still average under one goal a game at home. We look forward to seeing more of Miguel Almirón.

Talking of less than one goal a game, Huddersfield average under one goal a game away, but their 8 in 13 is better than their 6 in 14 at home. They are winless in 13 games and 14 points from safety. If a miracle is on and they can bridge that gap, a win is needed this weekend.

Fact: Huddersfield’s 1-0 win over Newcastle in the Magpies last visit to the second tier was their first in over 50 years.

LEICESTER CITY vs CRYSTAL PALACE
The gap between these two sides is closing in league position and points. Crystal Palace are now 13th to Leicester’s 12th, and the current five point gap could be own to under a win after this weekend.

Leicester’s fall from solid midfield has been on the back of four losses and a draw in their last five, leaving Claude Puel in the running for the next manager sacked. Leicester aren’t much better at home recently, losing four of their last five home fixtures. Although they did beat Manchester City in that five game run.

Crystal Palace are another team that has beaten Manchester City recently, away from home, which shows they’re comfortable on the road. In fact they have scored one more point away than at home.

Fact: Leicester’s last 5 pattern is LLDLL. Crystal Palace’s last 5 sequence is WDWDW. That makes a draw a certainty

ARSENAL vs SOUTHAMPTON
Arsenal head into a game they should win with on a streak of six straight wins at home in the Premier League, and the third best home record overall, with just one loss. They did lose to Man Utd on Monday in the FA Cup and to BATE Borisov in the Europa League.

Southampton’s away form this year has been decent, but they sit in the bottom three after losing to fellow relegation candidate Cardiff last weekend. The Saints are unbeaten in the last four away matches, and their seven goals conceded in the last 6 matches is behind Liverpool and Man Utd only. Southamptron have avoided defeat against Arsenal at least once in all but one season since 2000.

Fact: The last two games between these sides has ended in 3-2 to the home side.

MANCHESTER UNITED vs LIVERPOOL
Liverpool are five points worse off than Man Utd since their big win, but still remain equal on points with Man City with a game in hand. That game in hand advantage evaporates this weekend if Man Utd win. So in effect, Man Utd fans have a hard choice as a win for their side will help their city rivals. A loss will see Liverpool strengthen their position.

Maybe it will be a draw. There were four in a row prior to the last two matches.

Fact: Liverpool have not won at Old Trafford since 2014, and before that it was 2009. So pattern dictates that Liverpool win this weekend. Mo Salah hasn’t scored against Man Utd in three games.

Week 27 concludes with one of the biggest clashes of the season. Liverpool are looking to reclaim top spot on the ladder and Man United aiming to consolidate their newfound top-four standing.

United have been on the march since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer took over, winning eight and drawing one of nine league games. They suffered their first loss under his stewardship in the UCL last week – a 2-0 defeat to PSG – but carved out a 2-0 FA Cup win at Chelsea earlier this week.

Liverpool still have just one loss against their name and thumped Bournemouth 3-0 at Anfield in Week 26. They played out a scoreless stalemate at home against Bayern in midweek Champions League action.

Liverpool have won just two of their last 11 against United, but they surged to a 3-1 home victory at Anfield at the height of Man U’s troubles. Liverpool are aiming to snap a five-game winless run at Old Trafford.

And with United in such blistering form, they are very hard to resist as home underdogs in this mouth-watering grudge match.

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