Cleat Geeks

Three things to look out for this Premier League weekend

The Premier League season is drawing to a close, but there are still plenty of issues to settled and plenty to play for. Here are three things to look out for over the weekend in the 32nd round of matches:

1) Loic Remy remy

The French striker will be charged with seeing Chelsea over the line as they close in on the title. With Diego Costa facing at least one month on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, Remy will be leading the line for The Blues as we enter the final furlong of the Championship race. Costa has been in superb goal scoring form for Chelsea this season, particularly in the league, netting 19 times – making him the division’s joint top goal scorer. His form has kept Remy out of the starting XI, but his persistent hamstring trouble has caught up with him and now the former Newcastle and QPR man will get an extended run of starts as Chelsea move closer to the title.

Chelsea were clinical and pragmatic against Stoke City last week. They seem to have a knack of picking up three points – especially at Stamford Bridge – and then move on to the next fixture. It isn’t necessarily all that easy on the eye, but it is impressive and their consistency over the last seven months or so has given them a seven point buffer at the summit of the league. But up front against the Potters last week they didn’t carry anywhere near as much of a threat as they would have done with a fully fit Costa, and his injury could now give hope to Manchester United and Arsenal that Chelsea can still be caught.

remEden Hazard has been the best player in the league this season, but he needs to be playing behind a top class striker who can take the chances that he creates. Is Remy that striker? Possibly. The 28 year-old has scored decent 25 goals in 58 Premier League appearances and notched the winner against Stoke last week. In only 10 games for Chelsea this season, he has seven goals, a ratio that would be fitting for any top class striker.

Remy returns to his old club QPR in a West London derby on Sunday but Loftus Road is a ground where Chelsea have struggled in the past. The game will be a test of not only their title credentials, but of Remy’s ability to fire Chelsea over the line in the Championship race.

2) Manchester derby

It is one of the best derby matches in the world, and Sunday’s instalment of United v City could be one of the best for years.man

United are flying at the moment, having won their last five straight Premier League matches and losing just one of their last ten. That form has put Louis Van Gaal’s men in a strong position for a top four finish and some are even tipping them to catch Chelsea at the top.

In contrast, cross-city rivals City have fallen away from a potential title challenge to 4th place in the table, one point and one place below United. The Blues have lost their last three successive away games at Liverpool, Burnley and Crystal Palace and are facing a trophiless season.

City captain Vincent Kompany believes that this is the perfect time to face their arch rivals and make amends for their recent dip in form, while Wayne Rooney is says he is determined to win the derby for the United fans.

City have had the better of United in recent years, winning seven of the last ten matches between the two sides, including their biggest ever victory over The Red Devils – a 6-1 demolishion at Old Trafford. In fact, United haven’t beaten their fierce rivals at home since February 2011.

Rooney usually enjoys playing in Manchester derbies having scored five goals in his last seven appearances for United against City.  rooneydddd

With City boss Manuel Pellegrini starting to come under pressure and United hitting their straps under Van Gaal, Sunday will be a huge challenge for both managers. United have home advantage and have the form heading into the game, but City have the edge in recent years and will be desperate to restore some pride after their title challenge fizzled out so tamely.

3) Tottenham return for Tim Sherwood

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood returns to White Hart Lane on Saturday still embroiled in a battle to keep his side in the Premier League.

sherwoodSherwood made 93 appearances for Spurs between 1999 and 2003 and went onto become a coach under Harry Redknapp in 2008. He became the club’s manager at the end of 2013 only to be dismissed five and-a-half months later.

How sweet it would be, then, to get one over his former employers. “I knew it would be a tough job at Tottenham and it proved that,” Sherwood told the BBC.

“But I was very successful, both as a development coach and as a manager.”

And successful he was – statistically speaking. He won 13 of his 22 games in charge and his win rate of 59% is the best of any Tottenham manager in the Premier League.

Now he returns with his Villa side sitting just three points above the relegation zone after a thrilling 3-3 draw with QPR on Tuesday. Sherwood has won three of his eight games in charge at Villa Park, but has got Villa scoring goals. They have netted 13 times in those eight matches, having only managed 12 in 25 prior Premier League games this season.

Spurs themselves failed to find the net away at Burnley last week and looked as though their hectic season may have started to catch up with them. Saturday’s game is the perfect chance for Sherwood to get one over his old side and move Villa closer to safety.

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