BPL This Weekend: Moyes returns to Everton, FA Cup final preview, more

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

After doing so much for Everton over the years, David Moyes left looking for a new challenge and a better shot at trophies.

He certainly earned himself a challenge — just not the type he thought he would find at Old Trafford, with Manchester United languishing out of the Champions League places.

The Everton supporters won’t be complaining though. Roberto Martinez has the Toffees on the cusp of making the Champions League. Whether or not they reach that goal is a different story. Either way the Toffees have played a much more attractive style to great results this season.

Everton will need to regroup after a surprise 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace. Even with the loss, the Toffees showed their no-quit spirit. Ross Barkley continues to be a very bright spot with his dynamic runs and ability to take on defenders. Romelu Lukuaku should have a big influence as well.

For United, they will need Wayne Rooney to deliver against the other club in which Moyes once coached him. Juan Mata will be the creative hub. If United’s aging defense can handle Lukaku, it will be the difference in this one.

What To Look For

1. Arsenal, Hull In FA Cup Final Preview– After beating West Ham during the mid-week, Arsenal climbed back into fourth. Next up is Hull and an FA Cup final preview.

The Gunners are slowly getting healthy. Aaron Ramsey has recently returned and possibly could be in line for a start. Arsenal has missed his presence coming off the bench. Lukas Podolski had a strong game against West Ham with two goals, as well as Olivier Giroud scoring the other.

It will certainly be a game of strikers, with Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long on the pitch for Hull. The Gunners have looked more assured at the back with Laurent Koscielny, but both strikers have the ability to cause problems.

The Gunners will need all three points to win the race to fourth place. Hull is nearly safe, but any points they can pick up against Arsenal at home will be vital.

2. Two Team Title Race– After Manchester City’s draw against Sunderland, their title dreams are fading. Chelsea and table toppers Liverpool remain in the hunt.

Both title hopefuls will square-off next week, but this week’s results will balance the gravity of that match.

This weekend, both clubs get bottom of the table match-ups. Chelsea hosts Sunderland while Liverpool travel to Norwich. After the Black Cats performance against City, they could present a bigger challenge than first expected. Norwich need points to survive the drop. They have played well at home against big teams this season and will look to do it again. Liverpool continue to fill up the score sheet and this may be no different.

3. Relegation Watch– Rounding out the bottom, Fulham and Cardiff are looking to make a late push for safety.

Fulham have won two straight and one more could see them climb out of the relegation zone. Tottenham continue to have mixed results in the latter stages of the season. If Fulham are going to grab points, this is a good time to do it.

Cardiff host Stoke this weekend. The Welsh club won their last match, and with other clubs around them, they are in with a shot of avoiding the drop. They only sit three points adrift of safety. With Stoke firmly in mid-table and with not much to play for in the season’s final games, some complacency could sneak in. If it does, Cardiff will need to take advantage.

4. Can Newcastle Get A Win? Alan Pardew was suspended after head-butting David Meyle and it seems Newcastle’s form went with him.

The club is currently on a run of four losses in a row and lost five of their last six. Lucky for them, they were much stronger earlier in the season, buoying them from the relegation zone.

They play Swansea, who is a team in relegation danger. First time manager Garry Monk will have to push all the right buttons to see the Swans achieve Premier League survival. They’ve been particularly poor away from home with four losses and two draws in their previous six away fixtures.

One of the streaks needs to give. Swansea need it to be theirs and badly.

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