BPL This Weekend: Liverpool, Man City square off in potential title decider, Jozy Altidore’s disappearing act, more

IMAGE, LIVERPOOL.CO.UK

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

With four points separating them in the table, this weekend could potentially be a title deciding game between Liverpool and Manchester City.

With two games in hand, City can close the gap to just one point, but Liverpool have been in-form as they surged to the top of the table. The Reds will have the backing of The Kop to help spur them on to victory. With Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez a devastating duo, Man City’s defense will be tested.

Martin Demichelis has been oft-maligned this season and if there is a weakness that City can exploit, his general area would be a good start. However, City can very well exploit Liverpool at the back as well. The Reds current manta has been “score more than we give up” and lately, it has worked. However, playing City with that mindset can be a dangerous proposition.

City can attack with pace. Jesus Navas on the wing and David Silva in the middle can bring pressure to any defense. Edin Dzeko could very well start up top for City and be the target man. Liverpool will also have to close down Yaya Toure anywhere near the top of the box because he has shown his ability from distance several times this season.

What To Look For

1. Jozy’s Disappearing Act– Wherefore art thou, Jozy Altidore? Well, recently for the American striker, it was with the Sunderland U-21s. The season continues to be a disaster for him, with only one goal in the campaign.

With manager Gus Poyet using two strikers of late, Altidore has fallen out of the running. More worrying is that Sunderland’s manager may be losing faith in him. It is one thing to take him out of the line-up and have him start from the bench, but to not make the squad at all proves something is very, very wrong.

All of Altidore’s poor form can’t be put squarely on his shoulders. The service has been dreadful at times and to put it frankly, the Black Cats just aren’t a very good side. Their league position tells the whole story.

Troubles dated back to Paulo Di Canio taking over and things have not improved under Poyet. With Sunderland looking bang on favorites for relegation, one question remains.

What is next for Jozy Altidore?

2. Fulham Looks To Aid Survival With Win Over Norwich– Fulham climbed their way out of the bottom of the table last weekend and will look to take another step towards Premier League survival.

Norwich sits one place above the Cottagers in the table, but five points away. The Canaries saw manager Chris Hughton get sacked after last weekend’s loss and the club will hope his dismissal can galvanize the players in the five remaining matches. New managers or not, both are in (or just about in) the relegation zone.

Fulham have been playing better of late under Felix Magath, but there is still a long way to go. Ashkan Dejagah has played extremely well recently, whether it’s been as a starter or off the bench and he is one to keep eyes on.

Just like the title could be potentially decided with Liverpool and Man City playing each other this weekend, one of these clubs could very well become more likely for the drop without a positive result.

3. Opposite Ends Of The Spectrum– Chelsea and Everton will both face teams at the bottom end of the table, playing Swansea and Sunderland respectively.

The struggles for the Black Cats have been well documented, and as poorly have they have fared, Everton have been successful. The Toffees are a single point out of the Top Four and Roberto Martinez has them all believing a Champions League place next year is on the cards. Romelu Lukaku scored a fantastic goal last weekend against Arsenal and if he is allowed any space, he will surely punish the Black Cats.

Swansea have also struggled this season. With just six points adrift from the relegation zone, the Swans are by no means out of the woods. Playing spoiler to Chelsea’s title hopes would surely be what the club needs to stay in the Premier League for another season.

For the Blues, they will have expounded a ton of energy in their fight back against Paris St. Germain in the Champions League, but will also be on a high after the comeback was successful.

It will be interesting to see if Demba Ba gets the nod up top after getting the goal that saw Chelsea advance to the semis. One player the Blues will certainly miss is Eden Hazard, who picked up an injury mid-week.

4. Looking For Safety– Cardiff and West Brom are two other teams looking to survive the drop. Cardiff is second from bottom, while the Baggies are just outside of the drop zone.

The Welsh club travel to St. Mary’s Stadium to play Southampton, who was thrashed by Man City last weekend. West Brom will play a Tottenham side, that found the goods beating Sunderland 5-1.

West Brom looks the better bet for survival, but a win for either team could build the confidence enough to do just enough to secure survival.

Here is the current Prem table:


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