Can Chelsea Return to Form Against An Injury Hit Crystal Palace Side?
Chelsea host Crystal Palace on Saturday evening aiming to recover from their recent poor form. Four defeats in five have derailed their bid to qualify for next seasons Champions League as they look in course to finish 5th. Chelsea do now, however, face a more favourable run of fixtures but have five points to recover on the sides above them before they can break back into the top four. Palace have been on a similar run of form and go into the game inside the bottom three. They have already beaten Chelsea earlier in the season, however, but with an injury-depleted side they may struggle this time.
Manchester City’s lead at the top of the table remains 16 points thanks to three straight Premier League wins. They travel to Stoke on Monday night aiming for a similar result to the 7-2 win earlier in the season and a continuation of their run. There can be no denying that Stoke need to start picking up points, and more importantly wins, in the coming weeks. They are 19th in the table after four draws in five games and have lost points in crucial games due to a few mistakes. They are just a point from safety but if others start to pick up in form they could quickly lose ground.
Second and third place face off against each other at Old Trafford tomorrow lunchtime with the winner, should there be one, taking a huge step towards top four qualification. It is Manchester United who hold a two-point advantage heading into the match and with three wins from their last four they are doing enough to stay clear of the rest. Liverpool go into the game with better form though having gone five games without losing. A draw could be unhelpful to both sides also as Tottenham are close by should either falter.
Tottenham must wait until Sunday for their game though as they travel to Bournemouth. With a five-point cushion over 5th they can afford to target the sides above over the next few games and try to close in a little. Four wins from their last five league games has put Spurs in this position but can they keep the pace? Their opponents have been in good form of late which had seen them climb the table to 12th. They have failed to win in their last three, however, and don’t have the best record versus Spurs with a goalless draw being their only source of points. A win could give them a place in the top half of the table though.
Arsenal host Watford on Sunday aiming to get their league season back on track after an impressive European performance mid-week. Four defeats from five has seen them cut adrift from the top five and so there is little to push for but pride until the end of the regular league season. Arsenal have only lost twice at home this season, however, and have four of their next five league games at the Emirates. Wins in all of these games would help to repair some of the damage and, perhaps even move them closer to the top. Having already beaten Arsenal in the league this season, Watford will be looking to continue their good run and win their third game on the bounce. They are now in 9th and one of several sides who could still take a European spot at the end of the season.
Last week’s win, their third in four games, saw Brighton move ahead of Everton and into the top 10. The sides meet this weekend and Everton will be looking to recover a little form and secure their third straight home win. Brighton are unbeaten in five games and despite a tough end to the season have a seven-point gap over the bottom three. Although, a repeat of the 1-1 draw from earlier this season could see both sides drop a little in the table.
Burnley hit 40 points with last weekend’s win, their first since December in the league. They travel to West Ham who have started to regress a little of late after some good performances at the end of 2017. They are now just three points above the relegation zone and one of a few sides who need to be careful not to slip down. After winning only one of their last five games a possibly relaxed Burnley side maybe the ideal opponents to give West Ham a boost. Having conceded eight goals in their last two games, however, they have issues to address before they can look upward.
Huddersfield and Swansea have both won two of their last three games and sit on 30 points for the season. That leaves them three points above the relegation places and not yet clear of relegation danger. They meet in Huddersfield this weekend with the winner taking a big step towards safety, if there is indeed a winner.
Newcastle and Southampton are two sides who, like the teams above, are not yet out of trouble. The home side Newcastle hold a slight advantage over their rivals going into the game and have picked up points in four of their last five. Southampton have a similar record over that time but neither side is winning enough games to move clear. Defeat for either side could move them into the bottom three if a side below can pick up a win.
Bottom of the table West Brom have lost five games in a row, some of which were crucial if they were to stand a chance of survival. Technically they still have enough games left to make up the eight-point gap to safety but it is looking more unlikely as the weeks go by. They host Leicester City this weekend who are themselves without a win in five league games. They are still in 8th place and have the opportunity to improve on that in the coming weeks. A string of wins could see them mount a challenge for Europe next season.
Chelsea’s recent league run has been poor but the performances have been the more worrying part for fans. They now face a good run of fixtures so only at the end of these can we tell if the side can make an impression once again on the top four.