Kevin Doyle on Man City, the race for fourth, Chelsea v Spurs and more
The race for fourth
There is big pressure on the teams who are trailing close to fourth position, especially Man Utd and Tottenham.
Spurs look likely to miss out on competing at the highest level in the Champions League, which they have grown accustomed to over the last few years, and makes their lives financially a lot easier in terms of player recruitment.
I feel the biggest amount of pressure will be on Man Utd. They are one of the biggest clubs in the world and for them to rebuild and get back to their coveted position of European heavyweights; they need to be in the Champions League.
They had a good start against Chelsea in their first game back from the Winter Break. They put in a solid performance away at Stamford Bridge. But they need to do that in every game in order to get where they need to be. It is going to be a tough run-in and unfortunately, I feel the gap is too big for them to close to secure that coveted fourth place.
Looking at Chelsea, I think they have a strong enough squad to maintain their position. They have played slightly inconsistently this season, but that could be down to Frank Lampard being a new young manager and a few key players being missing at the wrong time.
Lampard is fielding a younger squad who tend to put in great performances one week but can still have an off week like how they played at home against Man Utd. I feel they should be able to maintain fourth position which will be a massive bonus for them whilst transitioning to a younger, newer squad ahead of next season.
Manchester City’s European ban
I think this ban could fire the Man City players up! They could be thinking this is their last chance to be in the Champions League for a couple of years.
Having played at probably 80% all season compared to last, this could put the fire in their belly and give them real appetite to go on and win the Champions League this year.
I feel they have been hard done by as no one knows what goes on in other clubs, but looking from the outside in, if you’re going to punish one you should punish them all.
I can see the Premier League staying well away from this in order to not open a can of worms. If they start interfering with UEFA, where do you stop?
If I was a Man City fan or owner, I would feel very hard done by and would be out with a point to prove.
Chelsea v Tottenham, Saturday 12:30
Spurs are playing very ‘Jose Mourinho like’. What I mean by that is; they are very strong defensively and not as good going forward. I can see it meaning more to Mourinho going back to Chelsea to win this game as he would have felt hard done by from the last time he was in charge.
Lampard will be focusing on keeping the gap between the two teams and will set up his team like he has done all season trying to win the game and play some good football with his key players.
I am looking forward to seeing Mourinho’s enthusiasm for the game. If they win or even score, I imagine there will be big touchline celebrations.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
Leicester v Man City, Saturday 17:30
I can see Man City putting in a strong performance in this game. I think the European ban is going to give them motivation to really power on for the rest of the season. They will know the league is over for them, they aren’t going to catch Liverpool.
There is not a lot of pressure on Leicester as they have had a fantastic season. They play attractive football under Brendan Rodgers and I can see them finishing in the top-four, but they just don’t have squad depth to push Liverpool and Man City over a long hard season.
I can see them preparing well for this game but feel Man City will have too much quality and will be out to prove a point by dominating Leicester in this game.
Man United v Watford, Sunday 14:00
Man Utd had a strong return from their Winter Break beating Chelsea 2-0, but they have done it a lot this season where they beat the big teams and then struggle at home against the so-called smaller teams.
With this game being at Old Trafford, I feel Man Utd are going to struggle and slip up after having a great win against Chelsea.
I feel Watford have a lot more fight about them under Nigel Pearson. They are fighting to stay in the Premier League, and I don’t think they will give up easily in this game.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
Arsenal v Everton, Sunday 16:30
Having doubted Arsenal last weekend, I was very happy with their 4-0 win against Newcastle. I enjoy seeing Mikel Arteta as a manger. They hadn’t performed to a high standard since Mikel Arteta had taken over, but I feel this impressive win could be the kick start to really end the season on a high note for Arsenal.
They won’t make the Champions League, but they can finish strongly and aim towards the summer to give Mikel Arteta time to regroup and build a team for the future.
I feel Everton are going to struggle in this away game. On paper they have a fantastic squad and a good manager with a lot of experience in Carlo Ancelotti. The Winter Break probably came at a bad time for them having registered a good win and it would have given them a nice confidence boost.
Ancelotti has done a good job with the team but coming up against a confident Arsenal side, I feel they won’t be able to match them at home in the Emirates.
Prediction: 3-0 Arsenal
My 1-2-Free predictions
Leicester v Man City: 0-3 City
Man Utd v Watford: 1-1 Draw
Arsenal v Everton: 3-0 Arsenal
My five-fold ACCA
Leicester v Man City: Man City win
Arsenal v Everton: Arsenal win
Chelsea v Tottenham: Tottenham win
Burnley v Bournemouth: Burnley win
Sheffield Utd v Brighton: Sheffield Utd win
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