The end of the Premier League season often gets a bit chaotic. Teams, usually due to cup commitments, are left with extra matches to play, that are wedged into the May schedule.
Teams seemingly neck and neck are less balanced than it may appear due to an extra fixture. This week is when we discover if they can take advantage of that additional opportunity for points.
Here are a few thoughts and tips on the midweek matches…
Swansea City vs SOUTHAMPTON
The Premier League calendar has a way of finding these showdown fixtures. Few expected Southampton be in this sort of trouble when the season started, but Saints are firmly in must-win territory now with a visit from Manchester City on the last day of the season.
Swansea are not in such dire straits. While their form is very poor – they’ve lost three straight – the visit of Stoke next weekend will give them a greater hope of survival even with defeat. Bouncing back from a defeat in this one would be an almighty task, mind.
Southampton were unlucky not to beat Everton at the weekend. I fancy Mark Hughes’ side to get something from south Wales given the struggles of the hosts lately. A draw, though, may well not be enough for Hughes.
TIP: Southampton to win OR draw @ 7/20
CHELSEA vs Huddersfield Town
Chelsea’s victory over Liverpool was peak Chelsea. Despite giving up countless first half chances, the Blues snatched a goal in the first half and held off the advances from Jurgen Klopp’s side in the second half. The win kept their top four hopes just about alive, but they still need to win their two remaining matches.
Although all the attention will be on Swansea and Southampton in the relegation scrap, Huddersfield could still go down. The Terriers got an invaluable point at the Etihad on Sunday but are only three points above 17th with a final day matchup against Arsenal to look forwards to.
The hosts should win this one quite easily. Eden Hazard was superb on Sunday, another performance like that from the Belgian will see Chelsea cruise.
TIP: Chelsea to be winning at half-time and full-time @ 11/20
Leicester City vs ARSENAL
Leicester’s run of one point from five matches puts them at risk of slipping into the bottom half of the table. Claude Puel seemed to have sorted many of the issues at the King Power, but the former Southampton manager is under severe pressure to keep his job for next season.
One man who we know is changing job, Arsene Wenger, waved an emotional farewell to the Emirates last weekend. The Gunners have nothing to play for, but there has been a notable upturn in performance since Wenger’s announcement.
The attacking link-up of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is producing some magical football. Arsenal should be too strong for the Foxes here despite their dire away record.
TIP: Arsenal to win @ 19/20
MANCHESTER CITY vs BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Manchester City’s players might have sobered up from Sunday’s title celebrations by the time they welcome Brighton. Pep Guardiola may take this opportunity to name some of his younger players. They struggled against Huddersfield at the weekend, and it’s hard to know what sort of performance we will get from the champions.
The visitors will be in party mood themselves. Their Friday night victory over Manchester United secured their Premier League status for next season, as Chris Hughton completed what has been a superb season for the south coast club.
I expect a relaxed atmosphere for this one, which may see a fair few goals. More likely to be a 5-2 than another 0-0.
TIP: Over 3.5 goals @ Evens
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR vs Newcastle United
Tottenham’s slip up against West Bromwich Albion has put the club under pressure for their top four spot. Mauricio Pochettino has seen his side win just once in four league outings, and they could slip to fifth if they lose at home to Newcastle on Wednesday evening.
Everything is good for Newcastle for once. Safety was guaranteed with plenty of breathing space, and rumours of Rafa Benitez departing are quieter than they have been at almost any time during his tenure. A top half finish would be a remarkable achievement for the Magpies.
I think Spurs will return to form of sorts at Wembley. It might end up being a relatively comfortable one as Newcastle’s players begin to turn their attentions towards the Mediterranean beaches.
TIP: Spurs to be winning at half-time and full-time @ 8/15
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*