Predictions for Premier League run-in

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With the run-in now here, the next few weeks are going to be incredibly exciting across the Premier League.

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With that in mind, we asked our writers a series of questions about how they think things will shake out across the Premier League, FA Cup, European competitions and the promotion picture.

Here’s a look at what they believe will happen in the frantic race to the finish line.


Who will win the Premier League title? Have you changed your mind from your original pick?

Joe Prince-Wright: Nope. I said Man City at the start, and I am sticking with them. But this is going to be one heck of a title race. I can see this going into the final minutes on the final day of the season, and goal difference or a single point will likely decide the title. I’m going with City, just, to win the title.

Nick Mendola: I haven’t changed my mind from my original pick of Manchester City, but obviously I’m very close to thinking Liverpool can do this given schedule congestion. The last obstacle seems to be whether the Reds can get through the first Porto match with a decent lead and be able to focus on defeating Chelsea and navigating the 2nd leg.

Andy Edwards: Everybody in the world picked Man City at the start of the season, and for good reason. Now, though, Liverpool’s “easier” run-in has me leaning their way, for the simple fact they showed last year they’re more than happy to punt one competition to chase another, and I’m not sure that concept exists within Pep Guardiola‘s DNA. Obviously it’s a massive gamble to look past a Champions League quarterfinal, but if Jurgen Klopp really wants to win the league…

Dan Karell: I still think Manchester City will do it. Ultimately, Manchester City has the title-winning and big game experience that should just set them apart from Liverpool. I think it will come down to a 2-3 point difference in the table at the end.

Kyle Bonn: Manchester City. That’s who I originally picked, and based on current form, Pep Guardiola’s squad is still the most equipped to finish the season strong. With the 1 point lead, they would need to slip and Liverpool would need to be near-perfect the rest of the way to capitalize. Liverpool’s a likable team, and it’s hard not to root for them to get over the hump, but the struggles a few weeks ago severely cost them.


Which teams finish in the top 4, and why?

(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

JPW: Man, this is very tough. Man City and Liverpool will be the top two, obvs., but then I’d go with Tottenham and Arsenal to finish in third and fourth respectively. With a tougher schedule and having the Europa League to fall back on, I think Chelsea will just miss out, while Man United have run out of steam in a big way.

NM: Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs. There’s definitely enough quality in Chelsea and Manchester United to slip into third and fourth, but the way the fixtures fall and who is home makes me think their paths have more obstacles than Arsenal and Spurs.

AE: Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Tottenham. Why that particular order, you ask? Have you looked at Arsenal’s schedule to finish the season?

KB: The Champions League race is going to be FUN! Four teams fighting for two spots, all within three points. I think Spurs will make it as they limp to the finish line, and I like Chelsea to pip Arsenal for the last spot. All these teams have flaws, but I think Chelsea has slightly better players, and Eden Hazard will finish his Blues career strong.


How far do each of the six Premier League teams still in the Champions League and Europa League advance?

JPW:
Man City – lose to Barcelona in the final
Liverpool – lose to Barcelona in the semifinal
Man United – lose to Barcelona in the quarterfinals
Spurs – lose to Man City in the quarterfinals
Arsenal – lose to Chelsea in the Europa League final
Chelsea – beat Arsenal in the Europa League final

NM:
Man City – champions unless they hit Barcelona
Liverpool – out in semis
Man United – lose to Barca in quarters
Spurs – lose to Man City in quarters
Arsenal – lose to Napoli in UEL quarters
Chelsea – defeat Napoli in UEL Final

AE:
Spurs – lose to Man City in quarters
Man United: lose to Barca in quarters
Liverpool and Man City: out in whichever round they face Barcelona.
If Arsenal get by Napoli in the quarterfinals, it’ll be Arsenal v. Chelsea in the final.

KB:
If you asked me a week ago I liked Manchester United’s chances to go far, but given their struggles of late, Solskjaer isn’t exactly equipped to lead them out of the pit quickly enough. However, there’s no better time to match up with Barcelona than now as the Catalan giants are in a bit of a defensive rut. I like Liverpool’s chances to reach the final, and Manchester City too.

Man United: lose to Barca in quarters
Spurs: lose to Man City in quarters
Liverpool: to reach the final
Manchester City: to reach the final
Imagine a Man City/Liverpool final with one looking for revenge on missing the PL title? Goodness me that would be fun. In the Europa League, given the teams remaining, if Arsenal can get by Napoli they can get by anyone, but I don’t think that will happen. Chelsea is poised to make the final, however, with little standing in their way.

DK: I think Manchester City can go all the way in the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool hasn’t seemed as good, but should at least make the semifinal, and who knows, maybe Man United will as well. Tottenham would do amazing to get past Man City. Chelsea should make the semifinal of the Europa League but the quarterfinals may be the end of the line for Arsenal against Napoli.


Which team finishes in 7th and grabs the Europa League spot?

JPW: I expect the April 27 showdown between Watford and Wolves to decide who finishes seventh, and I fancy Watford to just knick it. Wolves have a tougher run-in, and I think they will beat Watford in the FA Cup semifinal this weekend meaning their focus will be on an FA Cup final in the final weeks of the campaign. Four of Watford’s last six games are at home, where they have been very good this season. Don’t rule out Leicester for a late charge though…

NM: Wolves. The fixtures are more forgiving to them than others. It’s going to be particularly interesting to see how Leicester fares considering their fixtures should have them in seventh ahead of their final four matches: at West Ham, home Arsenal, at Man City, home Chelsea. Poor Brendan.

KB: I still think Wolves is the easy pick here, and as long as they can avoid any more Burnley or Huddersfield-sized slips, they’ll snag that spot.

DK: Leicester City. The Brog effect leads Leicester back into Europe with a late-season surge.

AE: Wolves finish the season at Anfield. All I’m saying is, if the want the Europa League spot they had better lock it up before then.


Fill in the blanks: ____ will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because ____.

JPW: Cardiff City will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because of their tough schedule and injuries to Sol Bamba and Callum Paterson.

NM: Cardiff City will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because of referees.

KB: Cardiff City will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because five points is far too much to overcome this late, especially with Liverpool and Manchester United still on the docket.

DK: Cardiff City will join Fulham and Huddersfield in the bottom 3 because they haven’t found a consistent goal scorer. Emiliano Sala might have solved that but tragically we never got to see him for the Bluebirds. Rest In Peace.

AE: Cardiff City will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the bottom three because they have the second-worst number in both the goals scored and goals conceded columns. Put simply, that’s a recipe for relegation.


Name one team that will make a late charge up the table and into the top 10. There’s always one…

(Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

JPW: Crystal Palace’s tough schedule rules them out. Buoyed by a late-season surge and with a favorable schedule, I could see Newcastle or Southampton steaming up the table to at least finish 11th.

NM: Bournemouth were it not for inconsistency. I’ll choose Newcastle United for the second year in-a-row and regret it immediately.

KB: Give me Bournemouth. They’re a scrappy group and their run-in includes Fulham, Burnley, Brighton, and Saints.

DK: Newcastle. They’ve looked a different team since Miguel Almiron joined and they could see them getting 12-15 out of a possible 18 points in their last 6 games of the season.

AE: West Ham United have “screw around and waste 80 percent of the season but finish strongly this season before another expensive summer of transfers and renewed expectations under which they’ll screw around next season” written all over them.


If you had to pick 3 teams to be promoted to the Premier League right now, who would you pick?

JPW: Norwich City and Sheffield United for the automatic spots, as I think the pressure is starting to get to Leeds United. Aston Villa and West Brom would be the obvious picks via the playoffs, but beware of the form team: Bristol City to go up after a glorious win at Wembley.

NM: Norwich City, Sheffield United, Aston Villa.

KB: Leeds would be a fun group to see in the Premier League, and it appears nobody’s stopping Norwich City at the top of the table. Aston Villa fans have waited for their return with baited breath, and it would be fun to see them win the playoff, having won each of their last six.

AE: Norwich City and Leeds United are the obvious choices, because they’ve paced the Championship all season and appear to have squads that are close to PL-ready. As for the third spot, West Bromwich Albion probably best fits that same mold from the seven or eight sides headed for or chasing the playoffs.

DK: Leeds United, Sheffield United, Aston Villa. While Man United and Man City are big clubs in the north of England, it’s nice to see other traditional soccer hotspots such as Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds get to be showcased in the Premier League.


Who will be the Premier League top goalscorer?

(AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

JPW: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
NM: Sergio Aguero.
AE: If Liverpool pull off the title, it’ll be because Mohamed Salah returned to his 2017-18 form for a few weeks and willed them there.
KB: Sadio Mane.
DK: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal stays hot late thanks to a flurry of goals from the French-born Gabon international.


Which team will win the FA Cup?

JPW: Wolves.
NM: Manchester City.
AE: While it’s great that clubs like Wolves, Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion got to the semifinals, it also sets up the most predictable outcome for the final three games that could be imagined. It’ll be Man City, at a trot.
KB: Wolves. Because, why not?
DK: Manchester City. Pep Guardiola is on a mission for the quadruple and nothing will stop them on the path to the FA Cup title. Wolves would be my second choice.


Arsenal edge past battling Cardiff (video)

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  • Aubameyang, Lacazette score in 2nd half
  • Gunners win two-straight PL games
  • No win in 4 PL games for Cardiff

Arsenal beat Cardiff City 2-1 Tuesday, on an emotional evening at the Emirates Stadium. Playing for the first time since their club-record signing Emiliano Sala disappeared, Neil Warnock, his players and everyone inside the Emirates paid tribute to the Argentine striker.

Second half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette sealed all three points for the Gunners, but Cardiff were the better team in the first half. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scored a late consolation for Cardiff.

With the win Unai Emery‘s men move on to 47 points and are level with fourth place Chelsea, while Cardiff remain in the bottom three.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal were on the front-foot from the start and Lacazette almost tapped home at the back post after a teasing cross from Sead Kolasinac.

Cardiff battled their way back into the game as Oumar Niasse and Bobby Reid combined well and the latter flashed an effort inches wide of the post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Reid then went close again soon after as Callum Paterson whipped in a delightful cross which Reid headed over. Niasse then felt like he was clipped in the box but no penalty kick was given, while Skhodran Mustafi somehow missed a chance from a corner soon after.

The Bluebirds continued to have the best chances as Paterson and Reid got in great positions but Arsenal cleared. Lacazette went down in the box but no penalty kick was given as the game turned into an end-to-end encounter.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

At the start of the second half it was Cardiff who did all the pressing as Paterson surged into the box on numerous occasions.

The first goal of the game arrived via the penalty spot as Aubameyang slotted home after Manga brought down Kolasinac in the box.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Half time sub Alexi Iwobi then linked up with Ozil down the left and his shot was saved by Neil Etheridge as Arsenal threatened to pull away from the Bluebirds.

In the end they did, as Lacazette was played in and his drilled shot was only pushed into the corner of his own net by Etheridge. 2-0.

Aaron Ramsey almost nodded home late on, while at the other end the Gunners failed to record a clean sheet. Mendez-Laing struck late on to make it 2-1, but Arsenal held on for the win.

Cardiff held by Huddersfield (video)

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  • Huddersfield end run of 8-straight defeats
  • 1 win in six for Cardiff
  • Terriers remain bottom of table

Cardiff City and Huddersfield played out a tight, tense scoreless draw at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday as the away side had the better chances and their bad luck continues.

In the second half Huddersfield’s Florent Hadergjonaj had won a penalty kick but referee Lee Mason consulted with his linesman and decided to overturn the decision.

With the draw Huddersfield have 11 points, while Cardiff have 19 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

The first big chance of the game fell to Huddersfield as Jason Puncheon fired just wide from distance.

At the other end Nathaniel Mendez-Laing found Junior Hoilett at the back post with a wonderful cross, but the Canadian winger was just put off by Florent Hadergjonaj at the crucial moment.

Huddersfield continued to look bright as Jason Puncheon played in Elias Kachunga but Joe Bennett blocked superbly to deny the Terriers.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Neil Etheridge then pushed the ball over after Steve Mounie mishit an effort and it spun up into the air awkwardly.

Huddersfield were by far the better team in the first half as Cardiff just couldn’t get going.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

In the second half Huddersfield continued to look sharper in attack as Cardiff couldn’t get anything going.

Puncheon’s shot from distance was headed wide by Sol Bamba and Huddersfield just kept pushing Cardiff back. Callum Paterson‘s deflected shot looped just over as the Bluebirds finally woke up late in the game.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Huddersfield thought they had been given a penalty kick as Hadergjonaj was pushed in the box by Bennett, but referee Lee Mason consulted with his linesman and they then decided it was not a penalty kick. The contact was minimal but Huddersfield had every right to feel hard done by.

Late on Etheridge denied Laurent Depoitre’s header, as both teams had to settle for a point.

Southampton hand Cardiff victory

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  • Paterson scores after Vestergaard howler
  • Hasenhuttl loses on Saints debut
  • Saints have just one win from 16 
  • All 4 of Cardiff’s wins this season have come at home

Cardiff City beat Southampton 1-0 at a rainy Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, as Callum Paterson scored but he was given a huge helping hand by Jannik Vestergaard.

Cardiff dominated the first half and Southampton the second, and although it looked like it would be a draw Vestergaard’s slip as the last man allowed Paterson to score and lift the Bluebirds further away from the drop zone.

With the win Cardiff move up to 14th place on 14 points, while Southampton remain in the bottom three and have just nine points this season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Cardiff started well and Harry Arter popped up in the box but Alex McCarthy saved his effort calmly.

The Bluebirds continued to cause Saints problems, with Jan Bednarek coming to the rescue after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing surged forward following a mistake from Matt Targett.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Saints worked there way into the game but Cardiff continued to look the most likely and McCarthy again saved Saints. Jacob Murphy looked set to poke home but McCarthy clawed the ball back at the vital moment.

Southampton’s best chance of the first half came and went as a corner looped into the air and found Mario Lemina but he volleyed over the bar. Mendez-Laing then smashed just over the bar before the half.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

After the break Saints dragged themselves back into the game as they had the majority of the play with Nathan Redmond dangerous.

Saints were then livid they did not win a penalty kick as Armstrong went down in the box under a challenge from Victor Camarasa but Jon Moss waved the PK calls away.

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Matt Targett then whipped a free kick over the bar but the opening goal of the game came at the other end.

As he went to play the ball back to McCarthy, Vestergaard tripped over his own feet as last man and gave the ball straight to Paterson who scored to send the home fans wild.

Sean Morrison headed a glorious chance wide late on as Cardiff could have wrapped up all three points, but Warnock’s men did hold on for a fourth home victory of the season to spark wild celebrations at the final whistle.

Cardiff City 2-1 Wolves: Hoilett stunner caps Cardiff comeback

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Cardiff City came back from a 1-0 first-half deficit to defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers at home 2-1 for a massive three points in the relegation battle. Aron Gunnarsson and Junior Hoilett were the goalscorers who gave the home fans the day’s excitement, striking 12 minutes apart for the victory.

Wolves struck first 18 minutes in off a corner, the seventh goal Cardiff has conceded from a set-piece this year. The ball swung in and came to the head of Raul Jiminez at the near post. His header was destined for the far corner, but Neil Etheridge made a diving save to push the ball away. His touch fell to a streaking Matt Doherty at the far post, and he roofed the effort from point-blank range.

Cardiff came incredibly close to an equalizer past the half-hour mark after a mad scramble in front of net led to a long-distance volley by Harry Arter that rattled the post, nearly producing a stunning strike.

After the break, Gunnarsson took advantage of poor defending from Wolves to bring Cardiff level. Arter pumped the ball into the box with a clumsy swing that popped it high in the air. Sean Morrison got his head to it, and with Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio indecisive and the rest of the defense nowhere to be found, Gunnarsson lept into the air and scissor-kicked the ball into the net from close range.

That set Cardiff up for the moment of the match came the hosts as Hoilett put them into the lead with 13 minutes to go. Morrison chested down a deep cross into the box, laying it off for Callum Paterson right on the penalty spot, but he whiffed. The ball trickled to substitute Bobby Reid whose wild swing was blocked, and eventually the ball landed at the feet of Hoilett at the top-left corner of the box. He produced what the others could not, a moment of perfection that sailed effortlessly into the top corner of the net, past a helplessly outstretched Rui Patricio.

That strike against the run of play set Cardiff City up for all three points, as the home side kept Wolves off the scoreboard the rest of the way and earned the three points. It was the perfect 70th birthday for Neil Warnock, as his side moved out of the relegation zone with its third win of the season.

For Wolves, it’s a disappointing result against a team they were expected to beat. They miss the chance to jump into the top half of the table, instead sitting in 11th, two points back of Leicester City.