After taking a break over the congested Easter schedule, Saturday Select is back for the final run in as teams across the divisions of English football battle it out for Promotion, Playoffs or relegation survival. This time we feature four key fixtures from the Premier League down to the Conference Premier that are all well worth looking at. Find out which games we have selected this week…
Burnley v Arsenal
Burnley have displayed admirable spirit and togetherness as a group of players this season which has helped them to stay in the fight for Premier League survival. Manager Sean Dyche has been nothing but a picture of positivity right from the get go and his demeanour seems to be reflected in the way that his side go about their business on the pitch. A win over Man City and a draw against Spurs in their last 3 games illustrate that sometimes it is the smallest dogs that have the biggest fight. However despite putting in some good performances they are still in the bottom three as it stands and have only picked up one victory in their last 10 matches and scored just one goal in their last 5.
Arsenal are on a really good run at the moment; they have won 7 consecutive matches. The Gunners will want to finish the season strongly and hold off the Manchester clubs in order to claim second spot whilst keeping a small amount of pressure on League Leaders Chelsea should the unthinkable happen. Arsenal’s fine form has coincided with the fine form of Olivier Giroud who has scored in every one of his last six appearances, whilst Mesut Ozil looks to have rediscovered himself to add to the potency of Alexis Sanchez and co. Wenger will know Burnley are no pushovers but Arsenal look to be in great shape to win.
Sunderland v Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace are flying under Alan Pardew’s managerial stewardship. He looks like a great fit in SE25 and it could be a case of right man at the right club. They beat Manchester City by 2-1 at Selhurst Park in their last outing to put together a run of 3 consecutive victories and climb into 11th position in the Premier League table.
The likes of Puncheon and Bolasie have impressed all season but Pardew has completely rejuvenated striker Glenn Murray who looked like a Championship level target man at best. He has scored 5 goals in his last 5 appearances. The Eagles have lost just once in 9 away games and will be full of confidence at present.
New Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat claimed a win in his first Tyneside derby as his side beat Newcastle last time out. It was their first win in 9 matches in all competitions. However the players were always going to be right up for it given the magnitude of the game and the atmosphere with the fans. Sunderland are still hovering precariously over the drop zone; they are just 3 points clear and like every club down there in desperate need of points. Form certainly favours Palace to nick something from this match though.
Ipswich v Blackpool
Ipswich are gunning to get into the playoffs but after losing away to Huddersfield in their last outing they slipped to 8th position in the league table and are now 3 points behind 6th placed Wolverhampton Wanderers. This is therefore a must win for the Tractor Boys as there are only 5 games left of the season to rise into the top 6 playoff zone.
Blackpool were officially relegated from the Championship into League One with 6 games still remaining in the 2014/15 season. They are so far adrift they will have known for a while that they were going to be relegated so the players are unlikely to be anymore deflated than usual. Manager Lee Clark will no doubt be casting his eye to the future and be looking at how he is going to shape his squad for next season for life in English football’s third tier. They have managed to draw their last 3 matches against teams near the bottom but have often been well beaten by teams who are battling in the top half of the table.
Bristol Rovers v Southport
Bristol Rovers are on a 5 game unbeaten run and have smashed in 8 goals in their last 2 league matches routing Chester 5-1 and Kidderminster by 3-0. They sit second in the league table just one point behind leaders Barnet and with the title and automatic promotion race looking as if it will go right down to the wire there is no room for a slip up against Southport. Rovers have only lost 1 league game in their last 24.
Southport are down in 19th position in the Conference Premier but they are a comfortable 9 points clear of the drop zone with just 4 games remaining. They have lost their last 2 matches and in their most recent outing were thrashed by 3 goals to nil by rock bottom of the league and Conference North bound AFC Telford. The Bristol Rovers strike-force will surely be looking to feast against a defence that may already be on the beach for their holidays.