Match Week 30 only consists of four games due to the FA Cup quarter finals and the main emphasis in those games is European qualification.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leeds United
Friday night football returns with two sides from each half of the table, the atmosphere under the lights provides a vibe you do not get on a Saturday afternoon. Wolves have come through a mini sticky patch and even during that run it’s fair to say they didn’t perform badly! Leeds will be hoping victory over Norwich last Sunday is the start of a positive spell of performances/results themselves.
Another game at Elland Road would have been desirable so the team could you use the home fans to cheer them to victory as the jury is still out if the players are good enough to prevent relegation. The result against Norwich could have been different, some fortune or good luck went the way of Leeds for a change.
This is only the sixth meeting between the sides in the Premier a league, Wolves holding the advantage and the only defeat to Leeds being at Elland Road back in 2004 when Viduka, Smith, Milner and Matteo all scored. Key in this battle will be Wolves do not concede many goals while the visitors find goal scoring hard to come by, Raphinha remains the optimum threat based on ability as he’s looked short of confidence for quite a while.
Raul Jimenez is a out and out striker, Leeds defenders struggle with number nines like him as he will keep them occupied for every single second and their concentration levels will dip at some point.
FPL Player to Watch – Raul Jimenez £7.6m
Bet Select – Wolves to Win
Aston Villa v Arsenal
Arsenal will be looking to forget the disappointing result against Liverpool, plaudits rightly so were given to them but the fact remains they did not score despite a couple of good chances. It seemed inevitable that domination and positive pressing would not lead to the win, such is the Gunners way.
Villa much like Arsenal go into the game off the back of a defeat following a great run. Potentially a deciding factor will be that Villa are the home side and if they can score early it will ask serious questions of the developing Arsenal squad. Cheat code ex Barca man Coutinho will lock horns with ex Real Madrid starlet Odergaard for the creative star in this match but potentially it will be the pace of Watkins, Ramsey, Martinelli or Saka that steals the MOM honours.
The last Arsenal win at Villa was in 2015 when Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey scored the goals, Aaron's Villa namesake will feel he can be the goal scoring hero this time. Aaron Ramsdale needs to put behind him the near post error for Liverpool’s first goal on Wednesday, it was very unlike his form this season to concede like that.
Matty Cash has been flying lately but it’s not for his defending, he will need to transfer some of his attacking form to working backward and tackling the ultra confident Martinelli who gave Alexander Arnold a torrid night on Wednesday.
Leicester find themselves in a world of flux within the league while success continues to flow in Europe. The result achieved in the Conference League cannot be dismissed on Thursday night, Rennes are flying domestically this season. Like a lot of English clubs the Thursday/Sunday schedule does not suit Leicester and form suffers in one competition.
I’ve wrote before that on their day they can beat any team in the Premier League but Leicester may struggle this Sunday against a resurgent Brentford team who have won the last two games. The Bees have rode their luck in patches during the winning streak but for longer periods have been the better side which is why they gained the victories. Christian Eriksen and Ivan Toney have been instrumental with assists and goals but it could be the supporting cast who provide the difference.
Byran Mbuemo currently is well behind his XG and catching Leicester on the break at pace could see him being a thorn to the home sides rocky defence.
FPL Player to Watch – Bryan Mbuemo £5.2m
Bet Select – Brentford to Win
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United
The shortened PL weekend ends with a pure street fight at White Hart Lane, the battles are mouthwatering on & off the pitch. Conte v Moyes, Kane v Antonio, Rice v Hojbjerg, Son v Soucek and Zouma v The Baying Crowd! Extra time in the Europa League will affect West Ham and they will be performing on adrenaline Sunday afternoon.
Unlike Brighton on Wednesday, Spurs will meet a team who will not lie down for them. The longer the game goes on the advantage will be with the away side as players like Lanzini, Fornals and Benrahma are tricky to deal with. Tottenham of course are a side you never know how they will play beating City one game then losing to Burnley.
If tiredness is flowing throughout the away side then the Spurs fullbacks will provide complimentary attacking thrust alongside Kane, Son and Kulusevski which will be extremely hard to contain. This is one of English footballs most honest fixtures as it’s one for the fans and the players tend to react to the fact.
FPL Player to Watch – Said Benrahma £5.9m
Bet Select – West Ham to Win
The FA Cup
It’s the meaty part of the Cup now with a Wembley semifinal beckoning and dare some sides even dream of playing in the Final? Boro v Chelsea kicks off the Quarters and after the antics this week by Chelsea trying to play the game behind closed doors the neutral fan focus will be firmly with the Teeside club.
Unfortunately I feel Middlesbrough will come up short this time, Chelsea will have too much class and test the home sides backline, ultimately punishing them unlike Utd two rounds ago who missed a hat-full.
Sunday is a busy day with three games starting with Crystal Palace v Everton, it’s harsh on the Toffees following a game on Thursday to be playing lunchtime. They squeezed past Newcastle in the league but will come up way short with Zaha being the key component in a convincing Palace win.
A few weeks ago you felt Southampton may have a chance at home versus City but now despite the champions drawing to Palace in the week the form by the Saints is woeful so they are there for the taking!
The final game is Forest v Liverpool, this is a match up which stirs up so many 80’s and 90’s memories, fortunes of both clubs have fluctuated so much over the last thirty years. Like Boro this is when the cup run ends for the championship side, they have a great talent in Brennan Johnson but Liverpool possess five amazing forwards, if the three selected cannot get the job done the other two will come on to punish defenders in their way.
If my picks are right I am predicting the semis to be Palace v Chelsea and Liverpool v Man City.
My acca this week is a combination of the Premier League and FA Cup games (the cup picks are to qualify rather than 90min result) and the odds are 123.53/1, good luck if you have a bet and remember enjoy this weekend as it’s a international break coming up ?