Liverpool kick off vital weekend as Rafa takes on Roy – Premier League & FA Cup semi-final preview

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There is Premier League and FA Cup semi-final action on offer this weekend, as the domestic season enters its final six weeks.

Liverpool enjoyed their most important win of the campaign so far last Sunday, beating Tottenham 2-1 in the dying moments after Toby Alderweireld’s own goal.

The Reds are one point behind Man City ahead of Friday’s trip to Southampton, in another huge test against a team equally desperate for a win.

Once Jurgen Klopp‘s side have been in action, there are three more days of fixtures to look forward, including the cup semi-finals at Wembley.

Here’s a look at the other seven matches taking place.

 

Premier League

Bournemouth's Nathaniel Clyne (Image: Mark Kerton/PA Wire. )

Bournemouth vs. Burnley – Saturday, 3pm

Bournemouth‘s season has fallen apart after such a promising first half of the campaign, winning just once since the end of January, against relegated Huddersfield.

The Cherries are performing like a team with nothing to play for, but that couldn’t be further from the case with Burnley this weekend.

Sean Dyche’s side are still far from safe, despite their vital win at home to Wolves last Saturday, sitting 17th and five points ahead of Cardiff.

The Clarets have every chance of getting a result at Dean Court, pulling further clear and preserving their top-flight status for another year.

Prediction: Bournemouth 1-1 Burnley

 

Huddersfield vs. Leicester – Saturday, 3pm

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2013: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers before the Premiership match against Newcastle United at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Huddersfield’s fate was sealed at Crystal Palace, equalling the earliest time to be relegated in Premier League history, along with Derby County in 2007/08.

It is now a case of playing for pride for the Terriers, who have to start planning for life in the Championship.

Their opponents this weekend, Leicester, have made a promising start under Brendan Rodgers, winning three of their first four matches.

Another victory should come the former Liverpool manager’s way on Saturday.

Prediction: Huddersfield 0-2 Leicester

 

Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace – Saturday, 3pm

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 3, 2018. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications

Newcastle and Crystal Palace are still not completely safe from the drop, although it would take a capitulation from either to go down now.

The game pits two ex-Reds bosses with very different reputations on Merseyside against each other, with Liverpool fans no doubt cheering on Rafa Benitez.

Both the Spaniard and Roy Hodgson would probably take a point apiece, simply to keep ticking along, and that is how it may end up.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Crystal Palace

 

Everton vs. Arsenal – Sunday, 2.05pm – Sky Sports

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, September 2, 2018: Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Cardiff City FC and Arsenal FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arsenal have jumped to third in the table, following Tottenham‘s poor run of results and a strong home run from the Gunners.

They have won 10 matches in a row at the Emirates, but Sunday is a time to show they can also perform on the road in the top-four run-in.

Everton have recovered well from their 3-2 loss at Newcastle, winning back-to-back matches, and they will give Unai Emery’s side a good game at Goodison Park.

The north Londoners should have enough to squeeze past Liverpool’s local rivals, further strengthening their Champions League qualification hopes.

Prediction: Everton 1-2 Arsenal

 

Chelsea vs. West Ham – Monday, 8pm – Sky Sports

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Chelsea's manager Maurizio Sarri during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The last of five Premier League games this weekend takes place on Monday night, as Chelsea host West Ham in one of the many London derbies.

The Blues are still struggling to get going under Maurizio Sarri, even though they recorded a much-needed 3-0 win over Brighton on Wednesday night.

This is a must-win game if they want to finish in the top four, but the Hammers will make life tough for their opponents.

Sarri’s men will probably just edge it, but it is unlikely to be pretty.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 West Ham

 

FA Cup

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 9, 2019: Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Watford FC at City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Man City vs. Brighton – Saturday, 5.30pm – BBC One

The first of the two FA Cup semi-finals comes on Saturday evening, at the same time as Liverpool hosts the Grand National at Aintree.

While the world-famous horse race is often a complete lottery, Man City‘s clash with Brighton has the potential to be a one-sided affair.

Pep Guardiola’s team are still going for an unprecedented quadruple and they will not be tested by a Seagulls side lacking top quality and also having one eye on the relegation battle.

City will take another step towards immortality—it may be up to Liverpool to prevent them from winning the lot this season.

Prediction: Man City 3-0 Brighton

 

Watford vs. Wolves – Sunday, 4pm – BT Sport

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Wolverhampton Wanderers' captain Conor Coady during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Saturday’s semi-final has a dull look to it, Sunday’s meeting sees two talented, evenly matched outfits do battle.

This is a huge day for fans of Watford and Wolves, who rarely experience the opportunity of reaching one of domestic football’s biggest matches.

Wolves have the edge, given their superior league position, and Wednesday’s victory over Man United will have given them an extra boost.

The Hornets will believe they can cause a minor upset but their opponents will prevail, reaching their first FA Cup final since 1960.

Prediction: Watford 1-2 Wolves

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