As I write this, police have confirmed they have found the body of Emiliano Sala. For a couple of weeks, we feared the worst but clung to the small percentage of hope. Not knowing must have made it agonising for his family who at least now can grieve. Earlier in the week I was disgusted with the news that Nantes and Cardiff were rowing over payments/insurance, etc. All of that can wait, and I hope in light of this breaking news the clubs can put the issue of money on the back burner.
This is a reminder. Football is a great game, but it is just a game …..
Much love to Sala and his loved ones.
Okay so here are my predictions…
Fulham 0-1 Man United
United will temporarily go third if they win here, they were 11 points behind us when Jose was sacked. Fulham’s best chance of survival is to attack. They have players who can hurt United’s defence and that’s more likely than their defence trying to keep them out. The Red Devils are picking up that habit you get when you’re on a winning run, they seem to be getting luck at key moments in matches.
Palace 1- 1 West Ham
Palace have an attack that their relegation rivals are envious of, but they have the same inconsistency problem as West Ham. How can the Hammers perform like they did against Liverpool a week after being outplayed at Wolves? Mark Noble blamed the transfer window for distracting the squad, failing to mention the other 19 clubs have the same issue. The reality is if you have a talent who shows up against Liverpool but not Wolves, that is what separates you playing at the highest level compared to a mid-table club. Why has there also not been more media coverage on video footage of Salah being racially abused? Compare this allegation to the incident involving Sterling at the Bridge, are we starting to get used to this in our game to the point it’s no longer a talking point?
Huddersfield 1-2 Arsenal
With Chelsea at Man City a day after this is a must win game for the Gunners. Our away from is still dodgy and it would be very Arsenal-like to show up with the wrong attitude and be guilty of complacency. Huddersfield are bottom of the league due to a lack of quality but there is nothing wrong with their work rate or desire. Arsenal must earn the right to play and based on previous performances on our travels, I can see us making life difficult for ourselves.
Southampton 1-0 Cardiff
The Saints have conceded two late equalisers in their last 2 games. It’s a chance missed as now Cardiff have the chance to climb above them. Under their new boss they have been a lot more positive but it’s interesting to see if the stakes affect them. Cardiff will give 100 percent, but they haven’t got the likes of Ings or Austin.
Watford 3-0 Everton
It’s ironic that as he’s struggling, Silva should come up against his old club, the one he left assuming the grass was greener. It’s an FA Cup break after this, making it a long 2 weeks if the Toffees are soundly beaten. It’s incredible how much experience they have, that no one in the Everton squad is taking any responsibility. Silva’s had the dreaded vote of confidence, and given the hassle they went to employing him you like to think a successful business man’s judgement would not change based on the short term. Owners only act once it’s clear a boss has lost the dressing room. I think his players are trying for him, but he lacks the ability to lift their confidence.
Liverpool 2- 1 Cherries
Under 2 weeks ago Liverpool were playing to go 7 points clear at the top now there’s talk that they are bottling it (why I think it’s genius that City moved the Everton fixture forward to pile the pressure on). It’s quite defeatist when in February you are joint points with the champions having lost one fixture. Man City have the advantage of individuals who have experience of dealing with a title run in which is why I’m surprised Klopp, one of the few at Anfield to win a league, has been so defeatist this week. Surely he and his men discussed how to react to dropped points, 29 years in the waiting, this was never going to be simple getting over the line.
So, with a football mad city, nervous, looking to their leader for inspiration, I’m not sure if was a good idea to act like you had just lost. So, the Kop will be anxious on Saturday and Eddie Howe has the talent to take advantage going forward, but not to survive an onslaught in the last 20 minutes.
Brighton 0-0 Burnley
How did this get picked for TV? Using Crouch to get a 90th minute equaliser in 2019 is probably why Sean Dyche doesn’t get considered for a better job. Two well organised sides, this could be a case of who blinks first. Last on Match Of The Day?
Spurs 1-1 Leicester
Spurs easily could have dropped points in their last 2 games, digging deep to win, to be fair we don’t normally associate Spurs with mental toughness. I can already see a summer of “Spurs would have won title if Kane was fit”. A repeat of recent performances and the Foxes are good enough to get something. They have more about them than Watford or Newcastle not to cave in late on. Their performance at Anfield will help here.
Man City 2-1 Chelsea
A lot been made of Sarri’s tactics this season but it’s worth remembering he outsmarted the Champions at the Bridge. Unlike us, he has the talent to park the bus if he wants to, but there’s a spotlight on the Italian getting the best out of Hazard, Kante, etc. He needs to do more than beat Huddersfield to convince us he knows his best team. If Aguero keeps scoring crucial goals in the title race this should be the year that he gets recognition with a player of the year award.
Wolves 3-0 Newcastle
Earlier in the season Wolves lacked a cutting edge in the final third but they seem to have found their killer instinct in the last few weeks, and are looking like the best of the rest. This could see the debut of Almiron. He’s the type of flair player the Toon will fall in love with, but does he have the right manager? While adjusting from the MLS he doesn’t need Rafa barking at him to chase back a winger. I just hope he’s allowed to express himself.