The English FA Cup takes centre-stage this week with the highlight falling on the Manchester United-Tottenham fixture, where both teams vie for their only hope for silverware this season.
Elsewhere in England, an Arsenal-West Ham derby kicks off while Burnley face former PL champs to continue their fight for a European berth next season. Will the neutrals be treated to upsets like last week, or will we see a return to the status quo? Here we look at the hottest games happening this week.
Burnley vs Chelsea
|Date||:||Friday, 20 April 2018|
|Kick-off||:||2:45am (GMT +8)|
|Venue||:||Turf Moor (Burnley)|
Chelsea have been mere shadows of their former selves as defending Premier League this season, but Burnley on the other hand, have impressed on several occasions, as they look prime to book a spot in Europe next season.
The Blues struggled with Southampton last week, showing poor defensive organisation, but they pulled off a comeback when Giroud came off the bench to inspire a win with a brace in less than eight minutes. If Conte has his mind set straight, he’ll field the Frenchman for this tie with Morata and Pedro, because he’s going to need all the firepower he can afford to get goals past the on-form Pope between Burnley’s posts.
The young goalkeeper has caught the attention of England head coach Southgate with his stellar performances as of late and it’s going to take some sublime shooting to beat him as he has an eye on the 2018 World Cup. And while the Clarets are boosted at the back, they are also quite prolific in front of goal with Wood and Long. Chelsea are favourites going into this tie, but it’s going to be tough.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Chelsea
Arsenal vs West Ham United
|Date||:||Sunday, 22 April 2018|
|Kick-off||:||8:30pm (GMT +8)|
|Venue||:||Emirates Stadium (London)|
It’s derby day again, and this time it takes place in London at the Emirates Stadium. And it also happens to the time of the season where Wenger and his Gunners drop unnecessary points in the stretch leading up to the end of the season.
Nothing against Arsenal – they have the ability to play good football. They hold the ball well, maintaining a whole lot of possession, and they do take a lot of chances, but unfortunately they are wasteful not to score. We saw how this cost them dearly at Newcastle, and if the same Arsenal show up this week, West Ham have it all to cause an upset.
Defensively, the Hammers have the likes of Evra, Zabaleta and Hart. If these lads hold out and keep the momentum in their favour, ‘Wenger out’ chants could fill the stadium once again.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 West Ham United
Manchester United vs Tottenham
|Date||:||Sunday, 22 April 2018|
|Kick-off||:||12:15am (GMT +8)|
|Venue||:||Wembley Stadium (London)|
Both teams only have one trophy left to play for and that’s the FA Cup. However, none of them have anything to brag about after last week when they both suffered defeats to West Brom and Manchester City respectively.
For Mourinho to win this game, he needs to inspire a similar performance that allowed the Red Devils to deny Man City an early title celebration. Which means, Man Utd must dominate the midfield with the likes of Pogba and Matic, to make sure that Lingaard and Rashford have enough opportunities in front to goal.
Spurs however, need to be defensively solid, and if they get their strategy right, Kane should have chances to punish Man Utd, alongside free-scoring Eriksen. But the Red Devils have big-match De Gea to overcome. The winner of this tie will be the team that scores first.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham
Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao
|Date||:||Thursday, 19 April 2018|
|Kick-off||:||3:30am (GMT +8)|
|Venue||:||Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (Madrid)|
Who’s going to rule out a Real Madrid win when they take on 14-placed Athletic Bilbao? Well, with the recent Champions League semi-final draw putting Los Blancos with Bayern Munich, an upset at the Bernabeau could be on the cards.
Zidane would want his best 11 to be fit come April 26 and that would only mean that key players like Ronaldo, Isco, Bale, Marcelo and the like could be benched. We’ve also seen how Real can be overconfident in the back, and without a stronghold in midfield, Athletic Bilbao have the opening to take advantage.
But then again, it’s Los Leones, whom themselves are guilty of slip-short defending and wasteful shooting. Although Barcelona and Athletico Madrid fans would love to see Real falter, an upset of that variety seems highly unlikely.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao
Hannover 96 vs Bayern München
|Date||:||Saturday, 21 April 2018|
|Kick-off||:||9:30pm (GMT +8)|
Despite the Bundesliga title already in the bag for Bayern, the Champions will not look to disappoint their fans as they continue to seek for more wins in the league – though, we will see a couple of important players get rested in their preparation for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals against Real Madrid next week, alongside with Arturo Vidal, who is out for the rest of the season following a knee surgery.
Hannover will also be looking to take some points from this match as they are not completely clear from relegation zone, though still in a decent position. This match will be a close one between the two, but a more positive one for Bayern.
Prediction: Hannover 96 1-2 Bayern München
Bordeaux vs PSG
|Date||:||Monday, 23 April 2018|
|Kick-off||:||3:00am (GMT +8)|
|Venue||:||Stade Matmut-Atlantique (Bordeaux)|
Last weekend also saw PSG clinch the Ligue 1 title following a 7-1 thrashing against their rivals, Monaco, and it is very unlikely that this match-up would see the title winners slip-up. Though the rumours surrounding Neymar, as well as Bordeaux key player, Malcom, could be unsettling for both clubs, PSG will do just enough to continue their unbeaten run since December.
Prediction: Bordeaux 0-3 PSG