GW 41 – Ones to Watch
Matt: It’s a crucial stage of the season in the football world and the same can very much be said for TUG. The Easter weekend brings back-to-back gameweeks with the addition of Easter Monday’s ‘bonus round’, so it’s going to be an action packed four day weekend!
Friday sees a full set of Championship fixtures, many of which look primed for goals, so it’s there i’m heading for both of my tips. In the race for promotion, Leeds United will look upon a home game against relegation threatened Wigan Athletic as an absolute must win. With leaders Norwich City not in action until the evening, second placed Leeds can cut the gap to just a single point and really apply some pressure in their bid for the title. The Whites boast the joint best home record in the league, so a fixture against a team who haven’t won on the road since August and who have picked up a woeful 4 points/4 draws on the road since that victory eight months ago, will be regarded by many as a banker. This is the English Championship though remember!!
Staying put in the same division, it’s almost impossible to ignore the incredible form of Aston Villa. The Villains are aiming to equal a club record of nine consecutive wins and a trip to crisis team Bolton Wanderers will be of little concern. Whilst Villa aren’t yet assured of a play off place, it’s highly unlikely they’ll miss out following this inspired run of results and although there are slight doubts over key players such as Jack Grealish, i just cannot see them not carrying on in the same vein against a club who are in absolute turmoil on and off the pitch. Bolton, who were in the Premier League as recently as 2012, look destined for a return to League One and their relegation can be confirmed if they don’t beat Villa. Given that they’ve lost five of their previous six home games, including a horror 2-0 reverse against already relegated Ipswich Town, i don’t think many people will be backing them to do that! Good luck to you all.
Ally: For my first tip I’m going for the repeat of Tuesday night’s epic Champions League quarter final, which pits Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur. The hosts will surely still be smarting at the manner of their exit from Europe’s elite club competition, which saw the controversial VAR rule out a late winner and instead see Spurs emerge victorious on the away goals rule. City of course are still in the hunt to complete a domestic ‘treble’, as they occupy second place in the Premier League, two points and a game in hand behind leaders Liverpool, and will surely see this as an opportunity to exorcise the ghosts of midweek and regain the lead at the top of the table, if only for 24 hours at least. If more City credentials were needed, they have scored in every home match this season, scoring close to 100 goals in the process in all competitions, while Spurs are in a four way battle for third spot in the League but might just be caught in the euphoria of Tuesday’s events, and as we know City are not the sort of team to have an off day against.
Staying in the Premier League, I’m going for the hugely inconsistent Bournemouth to compound Fulham’s away day woes by getting in amongst the goals at the Vitality Stadium. The Cherries had some excellent results, particularly at home during the first half of the season to prompt talks of potential European qualification but have since fallen away badly. They did however register a superb 5-0 win at Brighton last weekend, and Saturday’s visit of Fulham should have players and fans alike rubbing their hands together. The Cottagers have been abject on their travels all season, registering just 2 points away courtesy of draws at Brighton and Newcastle, and conceding 44 goals. Bournemouth meanwhile are winless in their last 4 home league games since thrashing Chelsea 4-0 at the end of January, and I fancy Eddie Howe’s men to get back to winning ways here.