Saturday May 3 2014

Battle for title to go to the wire

Demba Ba celebrates his opening goal against Liverpool last weekend.

Demba Ba celebrates his opening goal against Liverpool last weekend. Ba’s effort helped Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-10. PHOTO BY AFP  

By Allan Ssekamatte

Everton 1 Man City 2

Everton have already amassed their highest points tally ever in the Premiership era. However, the pressure of dislodging Arsenal from a Champions League position is taking its toll, with kamikaze defending responsible for both goals in the 0-2 loss to Southampton. The absence, through injury, of experienced defensive stalwarts Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka means Sergio Aguero and Eden Dzeko will reign supreme. I expect a hungry Man City to see off a very tough Toffees challenge. (Live at 7:30pm on SS3)

Newcastle 1 Cardiff 0

Newcastle’s season has gone from promising, to stale and now disgusting. If Alan Pardew’s wasn’t a very close friend of the club owner, he would have received his marching orders ages ago. Six defeats on the trot is too much for a club of the Magpies’ stature. The sight of an equally struggling Cardiff should provide welcome respite to Newcastle United. Cardiff are cast-iron certainties for the drop – a humbling lesson to egocentric owner Vincent Tan.

Chelsea 2 Norwich 0

The passion with which Jose Felix Mourinho celebrated his tactical master class at Liverpool left me in no doubt he had revenge in mind when he assembled his ‘weakened’ side. All Chelsea fans are extremely frustrated by their losses to also-rans Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and especially Sunderland. It is not often that a team beats direct title rivals (Liverpool and Manchester City) home and away and still loses the trophy. Norwich City will feel Chelsea’s fury.
(Tomorrow live on SS3 at 7pm)

Aston Villa 1 Hull City 1

Paul Lambert’s reputation as an emerging manager who is not afraid of giving young players a chance is in danger of evaporating, courtesy of a string of lethargic outings. Hull showed their battling qualities at Craven Cottage, and I think they will exploit Villa’s lack of bite upfront to secure their topflight status. Steve Bruce is among a small group of managers who have punched above their weight all season.

Arsenal 2 West Brom 1

Arsene Wenger is in pole position to lead his team into the Champions League for the seventeenth consecutive season. West Brom’s victory over West Ham last weekend means Pepe Mel’s side have eased their relegation worries. Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby should be in the running to join the rampaging returning brigade – Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil who have been crucial to Arsenal’s revival. African born Saido Berahino and Stephane Sessegnon are to carry the Canaries’ threat.

(Live tomorrow at 4pm on SS3)

Man City 3 Aston Villa 0

Liverpool’s insipid capitulation to the Chelsea double-deck bus has injected new life into City’s challenge. They will therefore be in uncompromising mood when Paul Lambert’s listless villains visit the Ettihad Stadium. Africa’s most important football export at the minute, Yaya Toure, underlined his importance to the Royal Blues with another man of the match performance at Selhurst Park. You have to hope he collects the Football Writers Footballer of the Year award.

(Live Wednesday at 10pm on SS3)

Crystal Palace 1 Liverpool 2

Tony Pulis’ Palace failed to get out of second gear when Manchester City visited London. The ever competitive manager will not want to bow out of the season on a low note, so I expect them to give Liverpool a good game. Luis Suarez will be keen to mark his Professional Footballers Association award with at least a goal. I don’t think Palace will park the bus. They don’t need to, but they should get onto the score sheet. .
(Live Monday at 10pm on SS3)

Man United 2 Sunderland 1

He said he wanted United to play with passion, speed, tempo and imagination, and they did exactly that. It is a pity Ryan Giggs cannot be trusted with the task of rehabilitating their battered image in the long term, but boy, didn’t they play with gusto against Norwich. Sunderland will offer stubborn resistance but there can only be one winner. There is such a buzz about Old Trafford with the class of 92 in the house.
(Live on SS3 at 5pm)

West Ham 1 Spurs 1

Tim Sherwood is enjoying relative success as Spurs manager. Diabolical defending aside, you have to credit him with introducing youngsters Harry Kane and Nabil Bentaleb into the starting line up. Of course, he has achieved a plus 60 percent win percentage courtesy of Emmanuel Adebyaor’s goals and creative energy but I don’t think he is getting enough credit from the media. West Ham have lost four on the bounce, so I expect a reaction.

Stoke 2 Fulham 1

Have been a secret admirer of Fulham since Jean Tigana guided to the Premiership all those years ago. Over time, they have set the league alight with exuberant attacking play. Sadly, German manager Felix Magath’s gallant fire-fighting skills are not enough to save them because he was hired when it was too late. Last weekend’s draw, in which they let slip a two-goal lead was such a huge knock, I can’t see them recovering.

Swansea 2 Sout’mpton 2

Don’t know of a more lethal marksman in the division, on current form, than Swans’ striker Wilfred Bony. The giant Ivorian has plundered four goals in his last two games to take his Premiership tally for the season to 15. I am tipping him to continue with his rich vein of form when Mauricio Pochettino’s stylish Saints visit the Welsh club. This game promises to be a thriller given the freedom with which both sides are playing.