Each Premier League weekend has inflated importance in the spring months. The Saturday 3pm kick-offs get our attention for this piece, with several fixtures that could change the shape of the relegation battle.
Cardiff, who are currently 18th, are nearing must-win territory as they host West Ham. Fulham are beyond must-win, requiring a miracle to avoid the drop. They visit Leicester.
Newcastle, who are still a result or two from securing safety, host an Everton team feeling a renewed sense of positivity after drawing with Liverpool. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton revival has hit a blip of late, and they could fall into the bottom three if they lose to Spurs.
Cardiff City vs WEST HAM UNITED
Cardiff have lost their last three, conceding 10 goals in the process. The away defeat to Wolves last time out was expected.
The two losses at home prior to that are the glaring concern for Neil Warnock, though. If Cardiff are to defy the odds and stay up, they need to win at least two of their remaining home matches.
West Ham have recovered from a poor run, putting in three straight good performances. Victory against Newcastle was not the flashiest of displays, but the defence was solid and made it a relatively comfortable 2-0 win.
Back in the top half, the Hammers are looking to chase down Watford and Wolves for the seventh and eighth spots.
The form books points to a West Ham win. Cardiff will make it very difficult, but the visitors are the team to back in this one.
TIP: West Ham to win or draw @ 33/100
PREDICTED SCORE: Cardiff 1-1 West Ham (Priced at 21/4 with 888sport)
LEICESTER CITY vs Fulham
Both clubs started new eras at the weekend. Brendan Rodgers and Scott Parker’s managerial tenures ended in 2-1 defeats. That is where the similarities end.
Leicester are disappointed with supposed underachievement but could yet finish in the top half and have plenty to be excited about with their squad.
Fulham are as good as relegated and are set to have huge player turnover again this summer. The Cottagers have played at less than the sum of their parts all campaign.
They have lost 13 of their 15 away matches, picking up just two points. Slight improvements against Chelsea are not enough to suggest they can improve their road form at the King Power.
The hosts have struggled in front of their own fans this season but will be confident of beating this Fulham team. With Youri Tielemans pinging the ball from midfield and an electric attack, Leicester could win this comfortably.
TIP: Leicester to win @ 11/20
PREDICTED SCORE: Leicester 3-1 Fulham (Priced at 21/2 with 888sport)
NEWCASTLE UNITED vs Everton
Newcastle lost at West Ham last weekend, though defeats for fellow relegation candidates saw their six-point cushion remain.
With nine matches to play, the Magpies will be safe with just a couple of victories. The Geordie faithful will be in good voice on Saturday afternoon on the back of four straight home league wins and the arrival of the exciting Miguel Almiron.
There’s renewed positivity amongst Everton fans right now, too. A comfortable win away to Cardiff ended a three-match losing run before a hard-fought draw with Liverpool put a dent in their fiercest rivals’ Premier League title hopes.
Away performances have been patchy this term, though, making it hard to tell which Everton we will see in the northeast.
St James’ Park is a difficult away day. Newcastle will be determined to prove last weekend’s loss was no more than a blip.
TIP: Newcastle to win OR draw @ 12/25
PREDICTED SCORE: Newcastle 2-1 Everton (Priced at 9/1 with 888sport)
SOUTHAMPTON vs TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
A pair of stunning strikes gave Southampton a sniff of an upset at Old Trafford last weekend. Eventual defeat will have hurt, and it leaves them just two points above Cardiff, who occupy the final relegation spot.
A win here would be a huge boost for Saints, particularly considered their favourable remaining fixtures. Furthermore, Premier League form suggests this is an ideal time to face Spurs.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were lucky to draw with Arsenal last weekend and lost their two league matches before that.
The backs-to-the-wall win in Dortmund in midweek to book a place in the Champions League quarter-finals helped to rebuild some confidence, though fatigue may be an issue.
Southampton have struggled at home all year, winning just three times in the league. Despite consecutive away defeats, Spurs boast a strong away record. Facing Dortmund on Tuesday rather than Wednesday will make a difference for Pochettino’s side here.
TIP: Over 2.5 goals @ 10/13
PREDICTED SCORE: Southampton 1-3 Tottenham (Priced at 12/1 with 888sport)
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*