SOCCER

Important Matches On The Horizon As EPL Season Winds Down

May 6, 2022, 3:41 PM

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MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 04: Karim Benzema (2ndR) of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates Vinicius Junior (L) and Eder Gabriel Militao (R) during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.

(R)

SALT LAKE CITY – After a missed weekend where we are no closer to knowing who will be crowned English Premier League champions after Man City and Liverpool both won, we do have a clearer picture of the relegation scene.

After a missed weekend where we are no closer to knowing who will be crowned EPL champions after Man City and Liverpool both won, we do have a clearer picture of the relegation scene. Norwich and Watford will be plying their trade in the Championship next season. And now it’s between three teams who will be joining them in the final relegation place.

Everton currently sit in that final spot, but after their huge win against Chelsea, they sit just two points behind Burnley and Leeds, who are both on 34 points. However, Everton have a game in hand, after only playing 33 games so far, a win would help them jump over the pair.

For obvious reasons, this weekend there are massive games at both ends of the table. KSL this week will have Brighton Vs Manchester United on Saturday kicking off at 10:30 a.m.

Liverpool Vs Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday’s 12:45 p.m. kick at Anfield could have massive repercussions. You can catch it on USA or Universo.

City won’t kick off until Sunday, so the pressure on Liverpool to get all three points will be telling, and coming up against Spurs, although a little inconsistent under Antonio Conte since he took over, you know he will have a plan to spoil the Reds chase for a title. The Spurs attack is really firing.

When Dejan Kulusevski joined on loan from Juventus in January, I certainly thought he’d add to the squad, and push the other guys not named Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for minutes. He became a vital part of the Spurs attacking cog. His three goals and eight assists from the right-hand side have been a great return so far, but it’s not just the stats column that has impressed. His pace has been useful, but in addition, his physicality during the game means he gives opposing full backs a torrid time; and then add his ability to keep going throughout 90 minutes means he gets stronger and even more effective as the game wears on.

Son is in the hunt for the Golden Boot this season, and his ability to consistently stretch teams mean he will be a threat to Liverpool’s right side. And what can we say about Kane? I thought he came to life when Pochettino made him a starter but improved even more as an all-round threat under Mourinho.

With Conte it’s like he pushed on slightly more as an all-round attacker. The result is that Spurs are now a genuine elite attacking threat in the Premier League. Their defensive is, and has been, their issue for a little while, as they’re prone to little mistakes that put themselves under unnecessary pressure.

Liverpool come into Saturdays match on the high of qualifying for the Champions League final on May 28th. They’ll face Real Madrid in Paris, but after a draining midweek clash in Spain against Villarreal, the Reds will be solely focused on Spurs and other EPL teams for the next couple of weeks.

Liverpool come into the match chasing down defending champions, Man City. They’re somewhat free of looking over their shoulder and will look to put pressure on City and hopefully leapfrog them for at least 24 hours.

Luis Diaz, if he starts, was the game changer midweek in Liverpool’s midweek comeback. His approach is to entertain, yet to also carry out instructions. For all his flair, his ability to defend from the front, press and positionally put himself into good spacing, his injection to the attack has had a similar effect to what Kulusevski has had on Spurs.

Salah has slowed down a little in the scoring department over the last month, at least by his standards. So the introduction of Diaz has given Liverpool another option and dimension.

The Danger man for me though, if he starts is Sadio Mane, as he’s been revitalized as a central striker in recent weeks. His movement has caused opponents issues and his goal return has been massive as Liverpool, after securing one cup earlier this year, is fighting for three more titles before the curtain comes down on the season on May 28th. As we talk about the attack a lot in these posts, we have to give a nod to the back line as well. Just 22 goals conceded so far, only one more than City. As both of these teams fly at a record setting pace at both ends of the pitch.

Prediction

I fully expect a tight affair. It might even be a little nervy for both teams, as Spurs are also in a fight for top 4 sitting two points behind London rivals, Arsenal. This is massive for both teams. But Liverpool at home? Should just scrape by.

Manchester City Vs Newcastle United

This match finishes off the round for the weekend on Sunday, and the 9:30 a.m. kick can be watched on USA or Telemundo. Newcastle come into the Etihad stadium with not much to play for.

They’re safely in 10th place on 43 points. Something that was in question, even before the January transfer window. Yes, they spent quite a lot, but they added some real quality and then also added some much-needed options.

Add in what Eddie Howe has done to get his ideas and philosophy across to the squad, it really is quite remarkable.

Their style still needs some work, but honestly, the resilience they’ve shown and some of the defensive work that has been done has gotten them to this point.

As Bruno Guimarães initially settled in off the bench, he has exploded into one of the more exciting central midfielders in the league. I remember writing at the time of his signing that Bruno was a Champions League caliber player. His 4 goals and an assist has certainly helped the Toon to charge up the table and with him being versatile in the midfield and able to play different roles, he will be vital to this game. His passing range has never been in question, but against City he won’t have the ball very much, so this will be a test for him to make sure he uses it wisely.

His outlet Allan Saint-Maximin, whilst excellent to watch, can be wasteful. He’s an entertainer for sure, but sometimes his end product can be left wanting, and Howe will be looking to develop him more on the consistency side of things. He’ll be vital to the counter attacks for Newcastle as he’s going to be the main outlet for the backline and midfield to find on the left side of the attack.

It seems we say the same thing most times when we write about City. They’ll have the ball, a lot. They’re attractive. Their mentality is consistent, and their coach is one of the finest the world has ever seen. But Sunday’s game will be a massive mental test for them.

They should be fighting Liverpool on two fronts. The EPL, where they sit top by a point and the Champions League where they should’ve been meeting them in Paris on May 28th. But a late collapse in Madrid where they conceded two in two minutes just before injury time and in injury time, to send the tie to extra time, only to be undone by a penalty and crash out must’ve been heartbreaking for the whole club.

I fully expected them to find a way, but they looked shot to pieces mentally.

And this is where Pep Guardiola will earn his salary. It’s about getting the lads together and helping them heal and push through the disappointment of something that was in their grasp.

Mentally the players might be a little off, and we’re talking minor things. Maybe a pass too slow, or a phase of play where a pass is missed and the whole unit breaks down. City have been a machine for so long, that Pep is going to have to get them to switch a little bit. It’ll be about grit and determination rather than slick and attractive soccer.

Prediction

It will be a tough game for City, but don’t be surprised if they come out of the blocks flying and try to immediately impose themselves. Newcastle, as they did against Liverpool, will sit deep and try to frustrate City, and then explode on the counterattack. It’ll be a little cat and mouse. But as City settle and get into their rhythm, they’ll start moving the ball from side to side and pulling Newcastle players out of position to open up gaps. City will likely win, but you never know, it might be one of those games where they do everything right until putting the ball in the back of the net, which happens once in a blue moon.

That’ll do it for this week, enjoy all that is on offer soccer wise, and we should be back midweek for an interesting catch up round.

 

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Important Matches On The Horizon As EPL Season Winds Down