The Premier League ramps up this weekend as all teams sit at 29 games played. There is a lot to be determined in the last nine games of the season despite the league champion being virtually decided. Friday’s matches reflect exactly that as clubs fight for European positions and relegation.
Norwich City vs. Southampton | 1:00 p.m. ET
Perhaps no team could benefit from the stoppage of play more than Norwich. The Canaries were awful when played was halted, so things can only improve. The improvements will need to come immediately if they’ll have any hopes of avoiding relegation. Sloppy play from the back is their biggest weakness as it resulted in conceding easy goals to the opponent. It may be time to start playing defensively and clawing their way to a few points to see if they have any hopes when just a few games remain at the end.
Southampton is always an entertaining watch. They possess the playmakers to keep anyone interested. Forwards Shane Long and Danny Ings have the ability to dazzle you with brilliance. Perhaps the league’s best set-piece taker resides on the right foot of James Ward-Prowse. The Saints’ lack of consistency is what prevents them from being more of a middle-table team.
Prediction: Southampton 2, Norwich 0
Tottenham vs. Manchester United | 3:15 p.m. ET
This game will likely be won by the team that can impose their style of play on the other. Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho loves a good 1-0 win. That game plan could definitely be used, especially in a game in which you’ll likely see offenses slow to recover top form coming off the long break. Mourinho will be glad he can finally pencil Harry Kane into the lineup. The Spurs struggled for goals without one of the league’s top goal scorers. The return of Kane could be just what the doctor ordered. However, Dele Alli will miss the clash due to suspension.
Manchester United won’t be looking to play defensively. If it is to be played their way, they’ll win this game 3-1 in an open attacking style. They, too, will welcome back top injured players in Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford. Fans will be excited to see the midfield pairing of Pogba and Bruno Fernandes for the first time. The Reds were one of the hottest teams before the break and will be hoping the long layoff hasn’t cooled them off.
Both teams can almost touch the all-important fourth-place finish so claiming three points for either is vital.
Prediction: Manchester United 2, Tottenham 1