BPL This Weekend: Liverpool, Chelsea, Giggs takes charge at United, more

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Liverpool continues to hold on to the top spot in the Premier League and it’s easy to see why. They keep scoring goals, even if they are conceding more than manager Brandon Rodgers would care to see.

The Reds have scored 96 times, having been scored upon 44 times. Their opponent Chelsea, second in the table, have only conceded 26 times. That is best in the league.

Nevertheless, the Blues trail by five points in the only column that matters. A win would go along way in any hopes of still claiming the Premier League trophy. A win for Liverpool would take them eight points clear.

Chelsea had to play a game in midweek in the Champions League, but it’s more of the way they played that could see fatigue as a concern for Jose Mourinho. Anytime you defend for the majority of the 90 minutes, it wears legs thin. The Blues should also be without John Terry and Petr CechSamuel Eto’o and Eden Hazard are still recovering as well.

Liverpool will want to attack the heart of the defense of the Blues in Terry’s absence. Luis SuarezDaniel Sturridge and even Raheem Sterling are all capable at running at defenders through the middle.

Chelsea may want to set-up defensively away from home, but they can certainly not sit back like they did against Atletico Madrid. Unlike in the Champions League, a draw really doesn’t do them much good.

What To Look For:

1. Giggs Takes Charge – The David Moyes reign at Manchester United ended swiftly, under a shroud of some cloak and dagger more akin to Game of Thrones than the football field. Now, United’s current longest-serving player Ryan Giggs will step up into the manager’s chair.

Although there isn’t a great deal for the Red Devils to play for this season, their hopes of sneaking into a Champions League qualification place already dashed, it will be interesting to see how Giggs does. Surely, the next manager will be of a high-profile, but if Giggs does well in the interim, he could land as a potential assistant under the next boss.

Or maybe United need an insider to manage next.

Moyes changed a lot of the United staff and style of play that clashed with many of the the current United squad. Giggs has an in depth knowledge of the “Red Devils way” and may be the way forward for the club with a coaching staff of the “Golden Generation” for United. The makings are already in place with Giggs being back-stopped right now with Phil Neville and Nicky Butt.

2. Race For Fourth– Just one point separate Arsenal and Everton for the final Champions League qualification spot. Everton’s next match is away to Southampton, while Arsenal host struggling Newcastle.

Both sides have a great chance at getting three points to continue their tight race. Southampton are comfortably in eight place and don’t have much to play for as the Premier League nears closure. In the Gunners match with the Magpies, Newcastle continue to spiral with four losses in a row.

However, no points can ever be guaranteed. Sunderland’s recent results against top teams proves that. If both top teams are able to play their games, they should be able to win.

3. Relegation Watch– Currently five teams are all in contention for the three relegation spots: Sunderland, Fulham, Cardiff, Norwich and West Brom.

Norwich visits Old Trafford, Fulham and West Brom host Hull and West Ham respectively. However, the most intriguing match-up at the bottom is Sunderland against Cardiff at the Stadium of Light.

With a victory, Cardiff can potentially get out of the relegation zone, depending on other results. Sunderland can’t jump to a position of safety, but they would edge ever nearer after some inspired performances of late.

The match provides the opportunity for both sides to aid their own safety push as well as dampening the others. With drama for the title and at the bottom of the table, the Premier League has many twists, turns and excitement to be had at both ends until the league finale.

4. City Look To Cling To Title Hopes– With a game in hand, Manchester City are hoping for slip-ups from Chelsea and Liverpool in their remaining matches. With those two clubs facing off this weekend, City will be for a Chelsea victory or draw.

The opponent for City will be streaking Crystal Palace. Palace has won five in a row in their run to Premier League safety. Along the way, they also ruined Everton’s control of fourth with a 3-2 win at Goodison. Should Palace get a positive result against City, it would all but signal the death knell for a league title.

HERE IS THE CURRENT TABLE: