If there was ever a weekend to strap on your seatbelt and hold on for dear life, this would be the one.
The FA Cup, Premier League and the rest of the footballing world will be in full swing this weekend as the we move further into the most pivotal point of the season. With the relegation battle, league race and FA Cup coming at us from all angles, this time year has a tendency to make a punter’s head explode.
But fear not! We’ve got the tips covered so you don’t have to go around scouring sites whilst losing your mind at the same time.
Without further ado, here’s our weekend tips for the FA Cup and Premier League slate.
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Aston Villa/West Ham – Saturday 18th April 2009, KO 15.00 (Premier League)
West Ham’s season has been somewhat of a dream of late. Manager Gianfranco Zola has managed to turn a youthful squad into quite possibly the shock of the Premier League. They’re currently fighting for a place in the Europa Cup and have been doing it with a payroll that would leave most Premier League managers scratching their heads. Zola has taken to the challenge of building a squad without a budget and has done an admirable job.
Aston Villa has been moving in the opposite direction of West Ham after they looked primed to blow the Big Four’s party away by stealing Arsenal’s Champions League space. But things haven’t gone according to plan for Martin O’Neills men. They’ve gotten two points from their last six matches and continue to slide at an alarming pace.
Villa’s defence has been shambolic of late having conceded at least three goals in their last three matches. Zola’s young bunch will get one in the back of the net, but given the fact that Villa have beaten West Ham four out of the last five times, I’d reckon they’ll get the train back on the track at Villa Park. Expect a game that’s full of goals and a Villa win.
Manchester United/Everton – Sunday 19th April 2009, KO 16.00 (FA Cup)
Manchester United’s quintuple seems to officially be off life support and back on solid ground. You can thank the return of Rio Ferdinand for that. United shook off the ghost of English clubs’ past and disposed of Porto in their own backyard for a very memorable win. They’ll now face Everton in the FA Cup with a lot on the line.
On the other hand, Everton have been on- and off-form of late and seem to be staggering to the finish line. David Moyes should be commended for the job he’s done so far this year with a squad comprised of youngsters and second team players after his first team became a relative MASH unit.
I do expect Everton to give United a go early on, but the quality of Sir Alex’s squad will prove to be too much against a team that’s lost only once in the last 17 attempts. It’ll be tight early, but I’d expect this one to get ugly towards the end.
Tottenham/Newcastle – Saturday 18th April 2009, KO 13.30 (Premier League)
Newcastle’s relegation battle continues at White Hart Lane. They barely scraped a draw at Stoke last weekend in a match that was dominated by the home side. Shearer may have been a miracle worker on the pitch, but he’s far from it on the sidelines. Tottenham have been playing well of late and have more than enough to put a couple of goals past a very shaky Newcastle back line.
I’d expect this one to be a cagey affair early before Tottenham opens things up a bit with an opening goal. Plus, Redknapp would love to add more fuel to Newcastle’s growing fire.
Arsenal/Chelsea – Saturday 18th April 2009, KO 17.15 (FA Cup)
This is by far the most intriguing match of the weekend. You’ve got two clubs that are in great form at the moment clashing in a pivotal FA Cup semi-final. It doesn’t get any bigger than that!
Both managers are taking the Cup very seriously, and I’d expect nothing less than a very tight affair. The last two FA Cup meetings between these two ended 2-1 and 2-2; we’ve also seen 6 wins each and 6 draws each over the last six years between these two sides.
Given those stats, I’d expect this one to run past the 90 minute mark.
And there you have it! Five tips for a weekend that should give us some scintillating football. If we get at least one game out of the lot that resembles the Champions League match between Liverpool and Chelsea, we should consider ourselves very lucky.
I wish you good luck this weekend and like my mum always said, “it’s better to be lucky than good.” Here’s hoping that with a little bit of luck and some proper capping we come out on top when the dust settles Sunday night.
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