Premier League Preview and Prediction: Stoke vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Stoke City vs. Liverpool

Venue: Britannia Stadium – Sunday, August 9 – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Stoke 12/5 – Draw 12/5 – Liverpool 6/5

Match Preview

Stoke host Liverpool on Sunday afternoon in their 2015/16 Premier League season opener in what will be a repeat of their final game of the 2014/15 season, in which Stoke stunned Liverpool 6-1 at the Britannia.

That game ensured the Reds ended a disappointing season in disastrous fashion, while the Potters went into the summer in high spirits after a promising campaign.

Mark Hughes has had another impressive summer as far as transfer dealings are concerned and Stoke look to have strengthened, even with the loss of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to Chelsea.

They will be looking to start the year with another win against Liverpool as they look to improve on last season’s ninth placed finish and perhaps bring European football back to the Britannia.

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A far from impressive preseason campaign saw the Potters win just two of six games, losing their last three games on the bounce coming into the season opener.

On the other hand, Liverpool come into the new year in excellent form, having not lost any of their six preseason matches.

Brendan Rodgers is under pressure to turn things around at Anfield after a disappointing season last time out, but the losses of Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling could make that a tougher task than it seems.

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Plenty of new signings have arrived and the test will be getting them to gel quickly as they look to break back into the top four after their sixth-placed finish last season.

Team News

Stoke will still be without Bojan, although the playmaker is back in training after missing the final five months of last season. Ryan Shawcross is also ruled out, while Marc Wilson and Marko Arnautovic are doubts. Glen Johnson, who joined on a free from Liverpool this summer, could make his debut at right-back.

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Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has three injury concerns as Jon Flanagan and Daniel Sturridge are ruled out, while Joe Allen is doubtful. New signings Joe Gomez, Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner and Christian Benteke are all set to start for the Reds in what will be a new-look side. Roberto Firmino may have to settle for a place on the bench as he is not believed to be fit enough to start.

Key Points

Stoke’s preseason form: L/W/W/L/L/L

Liverpool’s preseason form: W/W/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: There have been 16 goals in the last three games between the two sides – an average of 5.3 per game.

Key Player: Christian Benteke – Liverpool’s £32.5 million summer arrival will look to start life as a Red with a goal on the way to helping his new side to three points.

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Score Prediction

Stoke City 2-2 Liverpool – Expecting another open, entertaining game at the Britannia between two sides looking to start the new season with three points. Stoke will be looking to follow up their end of season result with another victory but Liverpool should be out to impress and their new signings should earn them at least a point in this one.

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EXCLUSIVE: Maurice Edu on rise of MLS, USMNT chances and playing defence

Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu has settled back in MLS after completing a permanent move from Premier League club Stoke City in January and he is one of many who are desperate to see Major League Soccer thrive.

The 29-year-old Union captain speaks glowingly of the development of MLS and is enjoying his time in Philadelphia.

After joining on loan for the 2014 campaign, Edu returned home to America on a permanent basis in January this year, eight years after being picked first overall in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft by Toronto FC.

After earning the MLS Rookie of the Year award in his first season, Edu then moved to Scotland with Rangers in 2008 and also spent time with Stoke City and Turkish club Bursaspor before returning to MLS, something he is happy about.

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“I enjoyed my time thoroughly while I was in Europe and for me, when this opportunity presented itself, it was the best choice,” Edu exclusively told MLSGB this week.

“I always had plans to come back here at some point. It probably happened a bit sooner than maybe expected but it was still a welcome opportunity and one I’m glad I chose.

“This is a league that gave me a start in my career and it’s my home country as well so I’ve always wanted to come back here to help continually push this game forward and make it a big deal.”

He is one of many US Men’s National Team stars to make the move stateside in order to help the league develop in recent years, and Edu knows that the right steps are being taken to ensure the growth of US Soccer continues.

“I think the league is heading in the right direction,” he added. “It’s vastly improved compared to where it was when I first started off playing here and I’m enjoying being back.

“The national team has had success over the past couple of World Cups and that’s drawn more attention to the league from a domestic standpoint, but from a quality standpoint, we’ve been able to attract some quality players from abroad as well as getting some players coming in here at their prime ages.

“There are a lot more soccer-specific stadiums being developed across the country. Every club has an academy system, which is good as it’s developing our youth from a young age and getting them involved in a professional atmosphere, which is obviously going to bode well for soccer as a product of this country.”

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Edu is fully committed to the game and all aspects surrounding it. He speaks with confidence about the growth of MLS and is willing to do whatever he can to help those around him succeed.

He is vastly experienced despite being just 29, and is always looking to help the young players develop where he can as the leader of the side.

Asked whether he felt more responsibility being a Designated Player and being the team captain, he replied: “I do. Not necessarily just because I have that role but because of my experiences. I’ve been a part of the national team, I’ve played in Europe in competitions like the Champions League.

“I know a lot of young guys here aspire to do the same thing so I try to help them out in any way possible, and try to create a professional and competitive atmosphere here, and that only bodes well for them as individuals and also for this team going forward.”

Edu has made 46 appearances for the US Men’s National Team to date and despite only playing once in 2014 and missing out on the World Cup squad, he is hoping to get more opportunities now he is playing regularly.

Jurgen Klinsmann last called Edu up to a friendly against Mexico last April but with the Gold Cup just around the corner, he may look at recalling the Union captain.

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“I just focus on playing,” Edu said after being asked about a possible USMNT recall. “I think if you’re playing well you’ll get opportunities. Obviously if you’re team’s doing well, that’s a direct reflection of how you’re playing also.

“For me right now, I’m just focused on this team. We had a little bit of a rough start at the beginning of the season but we’ve had a couple wins now and we want to continue and push up the table. I think if we do that, and I continue to play well, then there will be opportunities to get back into the national team.”

Edu has been known as a midfielder for most of his career but Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has been using him at centre-back – a role Edu admits he is still learning.

“I’ve been playing at the back at lot more this season so it’s something that I’m getting used to. For me personally, I just want the opportunity to be successful so if I’m asked to play in the back, in midfield, as a striker or even in goal, I just want the team to do well and to help get us into the playoffs.

“It’s a role that I’m getting more and more comfortable with. I’m still learning bits and pieces here and there and trying to improve but I feel good playing at the back. I think some of my qualities from playing in midfield have helped me and it’s a role that forces you to be more vocal and to continue to be a leader.”

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After missing last week’s 2-0 win at the New York Red Bulls through suspension, Edu is looking forward to getting back into the team for the trip to DC United on Saturday night. He knows how important a game that is, saying: “It’s a big one for us but I’m pretty confident.”

The Union’s chances of making the playoffs may be unclear, but there is no hiding the fact that Edu is fully committed to his team and the league. His return to his homeland has made Major League Soccer a better place and his presence will continue to help the development of MLS.

Could this former Spurs star be on his way to MLS?

Stoke City have today announced that Wilson Palacios will be one of three players released following the 2014/15 Premier League season.

Nothing has been reported on where Palacios will be heading next, but MLS could be a possible destination.

The 30-year-old midfielder could be a good option for a number of MLS clubs and he might not be required to be a Designated Player.

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As an anchoring midfielder, he has the ability to play the industrial and simple passing side of the game well.

New York City FC have struggled defensively in their debut season and a player like Palacios could be what they are missing to stabilise their midfield.

Any potential MLS suitor can expect to be rivalled by clubs across Europe for his services and the Honduran may be looking for another Premier League move, having played there since 2007.

Palacios featured 65 times in the league for Tottenham Hotspur, his most appearances with one Premier League club, and has experience his next club will benefit from.

Is Major League Soccer a likely destination for Wilson Palacios and which club need him?

Premier League 2014/15 Season Review: Stoke City

Premier League Final Position: 9th 

Review

Stoke City equalled their highest ever Premier League position of 9th, beating last seasons points tally of 50, with 54. Mark Hughes has been transforming Stoke from a long-ball side to a ball playing side and this season has been very respectable. They have been very difficult to play against at the Britannia and have beaten; Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, Everton and Arsenal at home. Impressively, they won away at Manchester City and did the double over Spurs.

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Podcast Review

Best Moment

Beating Liverpool 6-1 on the final day – what an achievement this was for Stoke. To be leading at 5-0 was quite possibly the most surprising moment of the Premier League season. It showed how they have the ability to exploit a side on the back-foot and was a great way to cap off a good season.

Worst Moment

Losing 2-1 to Burnley at home. This was a disappointing result for Mark Hughes, conceding two goals in as many minutes isn’t just poor defending but it also shows a lack of concentration.

Player of the Year

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Charlie Adam – the Scottish midfielder enjoyed another good campaign, scoring seven goals and registering one assist. He played a pivotal role in the midfield and showed his ability to provide the unthinkable with his wonder goal against Chelsea.

Biggest Win 

Stoke City 6-1 Liverpool (May 24, 2015)

Biggest Defeat

Arsenal 3-0 Stoke City (Jan 11, 2015)
Stoke City 1-4 Manchester City (Feb 11, 2015)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Stoke need to start avoiding defeats to sides lower in the table if they are to improve on 54 points. Coming 9th is a great achievement and any improvement on that will be another great season.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Stoke vs Liverpool

Competition: Major League Soccer – Stoke City vs. Liverpool FC

Venue: Britannia Stadium – Sunday, May 24 – 15:00 BST (10:00 ET)

Match Odds: Stoke 9/4 – Draw 13/5 – Liverpool 11/10

Match Preview

Stoke welcome Liverpool to the Britannia in the final Premier League game of the season for two clubs that have very little to play for on the last day.

Stoke have secured a top half finish and can’t finish any higher or lower than ninth so there is no pressure on them, other than to end the campaign on a high in front of their own fans.

While Liverpool know they can’t finish lower than seventh, though that is highly unlikely and so a place in next season’s Europa League looks to be guaranteed.

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The Reds will be disappointed not to have qualified for the Champions League again but Brendan Rodgers has to try and ensure his players end the season with a positive result, especially after they lost their final home game 3-1 to Crystal Palace last weekend.

The Raheem Sterling situation is not making things easy for the Liverpool manager and so he will be looking forward to watching his side play a game for the last time this season.

Though it won’t be an easy one for the Reds as Stoke have gone unbeaten through their last three at the Britannia.

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They beat Spurs 3-0 in their last home game, and then drew 0-0 at Burnley last week, so they are in good form going into this one.

The reverse fixture this season ended 1-0 to Liverpool at Anfield, while last year’s game at Stoke ended 5-3 to the Reds in a thriller.

Team News

Stoke are without Bojan and Victor Moses. Jack Butland should keep his place in goal as Mark Hughes could name an unchanged side.

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Liverpool are without Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan, while Mamadou Sakho remains a doubt. Sterling should play but may sit out as controversy off the field continues to surround the youngster, who could have played his last game for the club. Steven Gerrard will start in his final game for the Reds.

Key Points

Stoke’s last five: W/D/L/W/D

Liverpool’s last five: D/L/W/D/L

Key Stat: There have been 15 goals in the last three matches at the Britannia between these two in all competitions, an average of five goals per game.

Key Player: Charlie Adam – The Scottish midfielder scored in this game last season and has three goals in his last five.

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Score Prediction

Stoke 2-2 Liverpool – There should be goals here on the final day of the season but the points may be shared in a close game. Stoke are strong at home and should end the season with a positive result against a Liverpool side that will be hoping next season will be a lot better.

United to turn to £8m Premier League star after DOUBLE transfer blow – report

Manchester United are prepared for a goalkeeping merry-go-round this summer as David De Gea looks increasingly unlikely to sign a new contract, and so a new shot-stopper will need to be brought in, with Stoke’s Asmir Begovic now being lined up, according to the Daily Star.

De Gea has reportedly been offered £200,00-a-week to stay at Old Trafford but he is set to reject that offer with just one year to go on his current deal, and so United will have to accept the pending offer Real Madrid are set to put on the table.

Louis Van Gaal is preparing for the worst as he looks to potential replacements for the Spaniard, but the Dutchman’s first-choice replacement, Hugo Lloris, looks out of reach as Spurs are demanding too much.

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United chief executive Ed Woodward values Lloris at £20 million but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will hold out for nearer £30 million so a deal for the Frenchman looks unlikely.

The Red Devils will therefore turn to Stoke’s Asmir Begovic, who has just one year to go on his deal, and could sign the Bosnian for around £8 million.

Begovic has been in the Premier League with Stoke for five-and-a-half seasons and has established himself as one of the league’s most consistent ‘keepers.

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Stoke would rather cash in on the 27-year-old now rather than lose him for free next summer, with young Englishman Jack Butland waiting in the wings at the Britannia.

Victor Valdes is already at United but it is believed he will remain backup, even if De Gea departs, and so Begovic could be set for a major move this summer.

Would Asmir Begovic be a good signing for Manchester United? Are the Red Devils resigned to losing De Gea now?

Premier League Predictions: Gameweek 34 – Liverpool, City and United to win

A full weekend of Premier League action means it’s time for another member of the MLSGB team to try and predict the outcomes of all ten games.

Last weekend saw Jamie Ives predict the correct result in two of the seven matches with one perfect score prediction.

It’s time for Lewis Addley to have a go and unravelling Gameweek 34’s action, as drama at either end of the Premier League table is set to continue this week.

Saturday, April 25th (All kickoffs are 15:00 unless otherwise stated)

Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur (12:45)

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Both these sides are still chasing a Champions League spot. The Saints have been solid at home this season and narrowly lost the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane. With just a point separating the sides in 6th and 7th, neither can afford to lose any ground in their push for Europe’s top competition.

Prediction: Southampton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur


Burnley vs. Leicester City

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Arguably the most important fixture of the weekend as these two will slog it out in their ongoing relegation battle.

Burnley are at the foot of the table, while Leicester are two points above in 18th, and a win for either of these sides would be a huge step towards safety.

Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Leicester City


Crystal Palace vs. Hull City 

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Palace have been a rejuvenated side since Alan Pardew took over and he has steadied them into mid-table. Steve Bruce’s Hull are fighting for their Premier League status and are on 28 points in 17th, so a loss for them will make things very difficult in the run in and they can easily slip back into the bottom three depending on other results this week.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Hull City


Newcastle United vs. Swansea City 

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The Swans have had an impressive season and barring a disastrous final five games they should easily finish in the top ten. There isn’t much to say about Newcastle’s shambolic season. The Toon Army should stay up given they are seven points above the relegation zone, but they will want the end of the season to come as quickly as possible to rebuild for next campaign.

Prediction: Newcastle United 2-2 Swansea City


Queens Park Rangers vs. West Ham United 

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The first of two London derbies this weekend. Sam Allardyce has done a fine job of keeping West Ham in mid-table this season and will be expecting another tough game this weekend. QPR are in the relegation slog and sit 19th, so Chris Ramsey needs his side to take all three points here. Loftus Road is never an easy place to go and this one could be fiery with so much at stake for The R’s.

Prediction: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 West Ham United

Stoke City vs. Sunderland 

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Mark Hughes will be pushing his side to finish as high as possible in the league in the remaining five games. Sunderland are definitely in the relegation fight and on 29 points need to put some distance between them and the four sides below them.

Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Sunderland


West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool 

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West Brom look as if they have done enough to retain their Premier League status for next season. This game has far more importance for Liverpool and after their disappointing FA Cup semi-final performance last weekend at Wembley they have to keep the pressure on Manchester City in fourth if they stand any chance of playing Champions League football next season.

Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Liverpool


Manchester City vs. Aston Villa (17:30)

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Tim Sherwood has bought Villa back from the dead this season and has now guided them to the FA Cup final, which nobody would have predicted. He clearly has the dressing room behind him and looks as if he should keep this side up. By stark contrast, Manuel Pellegrini’s season has gone from bad to worse. His City side are now fighting to keep a Champions League place when they should be fighting for the title. Although this should be a City win it could be the surprise result of the weekend.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-2 Aston Vila


Sunday, April 26th 

Everton vs. Manchester United (13:30)

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Manchester United could finish the weekend in second place if Sunday afternoon’s game between Arsenal and Chelsea goes their way. Louis Van Gaal has got his side playing well and they will be force next season. Roberto Martinez’s side will be disappointed with their season and finishing mid-table is not what they would have been hoping for. The Europa League was clearly a distraction and we can expect to see a better Everton side again without it next campaign.

Prediction: Everton 1-3 Manchester United


Arsenal vs. Chelsea (16:00)

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This is the standout fixture of the weekend but we can’t be expecting too much from this game. Jose Mourinho has never lost to Arsene Wenger as Chelsea boss and given how defensive his side have been over the last few weeks we can expect them to set up not to lose. Any chance Arsenal have on challenging Chelsea for the title lays on this game, but it looks a little too late.

Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea

MLSGB Premier League Predictions: Gameweek 32 – Spurs, Arsenal and United to win

Every Premier League game now has huge implications for sides at both ends of the table as Swansea and Everton kick the action off on Saturday lunchtime at the Liberty Stadium, while Manchester City face Manchester United in the local derby for the biggest game of the weekend on Sunday afternoon.

Last time out, Louis East correctly predicted two results and two perfect scores. Now it’s time for Ben Ashton to try and call what the outcome will be of all ten games this week.

Saturday, April 11 (All kickoffs are 15:00 unless otherwise stated)

Swansea City vs. Everton (12:45)

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Swansea and Everton will both be full of confidence coming into the game as the Swans have won two on the bounce, while the Toffees have recorded their best run of the season with three consecutive victories. These are both sides that like to play good football, so we should see goals in an entertaining draw.

Prediction: Swansea City 2-2 Everton


Southampton vs. Hull City

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Southampton have struggled for goals of late having scored just five from their last nine games, but they have been so solid at the other end of the pitch that it hasn’t been entirely detrimental. This is a massive game for Hull who desperately need every point they can get now in an extremely difficult run-in as they look to avoid the drop – they’ll struggle to get anything out of this one against tough opposition though.

Prediction: Southampton 1-0 Hull City


Sunderland vs. Crystal Palace

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Sunderland picked up their first win in nine games last weekend as they beat local rivals Newcastle 1-0 at the Stadium of Light and it also marked the first victory for new boss Dick Advocaat. Crystal Palace have been superb under Pardew and are flying after three straight wins. We should see a tight, hard-fought game in the North-East.

Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Crystal Palace


Tottenham vs. Aston Villa

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Tim Sherwood returns to White Hart Lane to face his old club with Aston Villa and he may fancy their chances after Tottenham’s abject performance at Burnley last Sunday. Spurs were disappointing and need to bounce back if any small hopes of Champions League qualification are to remain. Villa are still in a huge relegation scrap and they could knick a point here, but it will be tough.

Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa


West Brom vs. Leicester City

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Tony Pulis will be furious with his side after they were thrashed by relegation strugglers QPR last weekend. By stark contrast, Nigel Pearson will be over the moon with Leicester’s most recent performance as they picked up a vital three points against West Ham. The Albion should recover to some extent and the Foxes will be confident, but this Midlands derby will probably finish all square.

Prediction: West Brom 2-2 Leicester City


West Ham vs. Stoke City

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Sam Allardyce is under huge pressure as West Ham’s season has been in freefall since Christmas – the Hammers have only won two of their 14 games from Boxing Day onwards and confidence will have been rocked after defeat to the bottom side last weekend. Stoke have lost three games on the bounce so Mark Hughes will be looking for some sort of response. With no relegation worries or European hopes for either side, it could be a stalemate.

Prediction: West Ham 0-0 Stoke City


Burnley vs. Arsenal (17:30)

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Burnley have been playing well this season, but they’ve struggled to score enough goals and that could represent a problem as they come up against the Premier League’s form side when they welcome Arsenal to Turf Moor in the Saturday evening game. The Clarets will make it very tough for the Gunners but Wenger’s men should make it eight wins on the bounce.

Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Arsenal


Sunday, April 12

QPR vs. Chelsea (13:30)

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A trip to Loftus road is a potential banana skin for Chelsea as they look to close in on the Premier League title. The Hoops will be buoyed by their performance at West Brom last weekend as well as an important point in the thriller at Villa Park in midweek. Chelsea will be overwhelming favourites to win this, but their performances haven’t been entirely convincing as they’ve edged out games narrowly – the hallmark of potential champions some would say. It’s one of those games where you have a niggling feeling that it won’t be as easy as some may think and for that reason, I’m going for a draw.

Prediction: QPR 1-1 Chelsea


Manchester United vs. Manchester City (16:00)

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It’s the Manchester derby and it’s set to be fascinating. United come into it ahead of their rivals in the table and will fancy their chances of getting at a City side that have really struggled with just four wins from 11. Louis Van Gaal has found a system that’s working for the Red Devils and he will pile more misery on Manuel Pellegrini and his team.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City


Monday, April 13

Liverpool vs. Newcastle (20:00)

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Liverpool host Newcastle in the Monday night game and it’s just the type of fixture Brendan Rodgers would’ve hoped for after back-to-back Premier League defeats. The Reds will be delighted to have qualified for the FA Cup semi-final after a 1-0 win at Blackburn in the quarter-final replay on Wednesday and they should return to winning ways in the league against a Newcastle side who probably cannot wait for this season to be over after a run of eight games with just one win (D2, L5).

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle


 

What do you think will happen in gameweek 32 of the Premier League season?

MLSGB Premier League Predictions: Gameweek 31 – United, Chelsea and Spurs to win

Another international break is behind us and that means the Premier League can return to action this weekend with just eight games to go, as things are starting to heat up at both ends of the table.

Arsenal take on Liverpool in the biggest game of the weekend on Saturday to kick what should be another thrilling week of entertainment.

Last time out, Zack Walford correctly predicted six results without a perfect score in a solid effort. Now it’s time for Louis East to try and call the scores of all ten games this week.


Saturday, April 4 (All kickoffs are 15:00 unless stated otherwise)

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Arsenal vs. Liverpool (12:45)

Arsenal entertain Liverpool in a decisive clash at the top of the Premier League with both sides looking to solidify their top four claims. The Gunners are on a good run at the moment, having won six on the bounce and know a win in this one will put them into second place for at least two days before City play. Liverpool lost to United last time out and need to respond in a tricky fixture. With both sides needing the points, a draw could be on the cards

Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool


Everton vs. Southampton

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Everton entertain top four chasing Southampton in a game that will further reinforce the fact that the Toffees have underachieved this season. Everton should be in the position the Saints are in but have not been good enough. They have won two on the bounce now though and will prove tough to beat.

Prediction: Everton 1-1 Southampton


Leicester City vs. West Ham United

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Time is running out for Leicester at the bottom of the Premier League. They need points and fast but it looks like they are doomed. West Ham had a great start to the season but have not been as good since the turn of the year and might struggle to beat a Foxes side that are desperate.

Prediction: Leicester 2-1 West Ham


Manchester United vs. Aston Villa

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United are flying at the moment and will be in fine spirits following that win at Anfield last time out. They return to Old Trafford this week against a Villa side that are still just three points above the relegation zone. Tim Sherwood has turned things around but defeat to Swansea two weeks ago reinforced the fact that they’re not safe yet.

Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa


Swansea City vs. Hull City

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Hull are also in a relegation dogfight and despite a great effort against Chelsea last time out, they are still just three points above the drop. Swansea have little to play for but will not want to be beaten in front of their own supporters so this one could be an entertaining one.

Prediction: Swansea 2-2 Hull


West Bromwich Albion vs. Queens Park Rangers

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West Brom are a team that have really turned things around under Tony Pulis and despite losing two of their last three, their home form has been solid. QPR are in trouble and are four points adrift of safety with just eight games to go. Time is running out and a trip to the Hawthorns won’t make things any better.

Prediction: West Brom 2-0 QPR


Chelsea vs. Stoke City (17:30)

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The late game on Saturday sees league leaders Chelsea welcome Stoke to Stamford Bridge in a game they will expect to win. Jose Mourinho’s side can go nine points clear at the top with victory and should be too strong for a Stoke side that has lost two in a row.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Stoke


Sunday, April 5

Burnley vs. Tottenham Hotspur (13:30)

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This is a key clash for teams at either end of the table. Spurs need a victory to keep up with the race for Champions League places while Burnley need points to try and escape the bottom three. The Clarets are only a point off safety and will want to replicate the performance that saw them beat Manchester City at Turf Moor in their last home game. Spurs have been inconsistent but good against the lower sides and should be too strong.

Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Tottenham


Sunderland vs. Newcastle (16:00)

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The Tyne-Wear derby takes centre stage on Sunday afternoon as Sunderland look to pick up what would be three huge points against their rivals. Dick Advocaat watched his new team lose at West Ham in his first game and he will hope his first home game will be a special one. The Magpies have been poor of late and don’t need this as much as the Black Cats.

Prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle


Monday, April 6

Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City (20:00)

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Manchester City could be nine points behind Chelsea by the time they kick off at Selhurst Park and that could psychologically affect them. They have lost their last two away games and Alan Pardew has made Palace a real force since taking over. The Eagles will be up for this and should take more points away from last year’s champions.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Manchester City

What do you think will happen in the Premier League during Gameweek 31?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Stoke City

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea vs. Stoke City

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, April 4th – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Chelsea 1/4 – Draw 9/2 – Stoke 11/1

Match Preview

Chelsea face Stoke City in the late kick off on Saturday night at Stamford Bridge, with the Blues looking to further cement their place at the top of the summit towards winning their first Premier League title since the 2009/2010 season.

For Stoke, a win is much needed after suffering back-to-back defeats before the International break. If the Potters can pick up a win at Stamford Bridge then Chelsea’s lead at the top could be closed to just three points if Manchester City can win at Crystal Palace on Monday night.

Chelsea come into this game six points ahead of title rivals City and still have not lost at home all season with their record standing at eleven wins and three draws, but they do have a game in hand over their nearest challengers so everything seems to be in the Blues’ favour.

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Just before the International break, Chelsea beat Hull City in a hard fought game at the KC Stadium that should have been a lot more straightforward after they took a 2-0 lead.

Stoke City’s last two games have ended in defeat after going on a three-game win streak prior to that, with a home loss to Crystal Palace and a loss away at West Brom. Stoke currently sit in the top half of the table, where they will hope to finish up by the end of the season, perhaps building on last year’s ninth-place finish.

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The reverse fixture saw Chelsea win 2-0 away at the Britannia, with goals from captain John Terry and Cesc Fabregas.

The Blues have won the last eight meetings between the two sides at Stamford Bridge and will be confident of making that nine on Saturday evening.

Team News

Chelsea could be without Diego Costa after the forward withdrew from the Spain squad with a muscular injury and is a major doubt. Petr Cech has come back from Czech Republic duty also with a muscular injury, and so he is a also a huge doubt. Meanwhile John Obi Mikel is in line to come back from his knee injury and could make the squad.

Stoke City will be without Victor Moses who is ineligible to face his parent club, whilst Bojan Krkic is a long-term absentee along with Peter Odemwingie. The good news for the Potters is that Marc Muniesa could return to the back four after suffering with hamstring trouble.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: W/D/W/D/W

Stoke City’s last five: W/W/W/L/L

Key stat: Since Stoke’s promotion to the Premier League, Chelsea have scored 29 times against the Potters in the Premier League, including a 7-0 win at Stamford Bridge the year Chelsea won the title in 2009/2010.

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Key Player: Loic Remy – When Diego Costa doesn’t play, the Frenchman rarely fails to impress and his winner against Hull last time out could give him huge confidence ahead of this one.

Score Prediction

Chelsea 3-0 Stoke City – This should be a routine win for the Blues that will see Chelsea stretch their lead at the top to nine points before City play on Monday.