The feel good factor associated with the England national team not totally negated by the defeat to Holland at Wembley can have a significant effect on some key matches this weekend. Tottenham and Leicester were well represented in England’s two friendly internationals against Germany and the Dutch and their player’s confidence can transmit to the club game in TV matches against Liverpool and Southampton respectively.
Leicester are five points clear at the top of the table with seven matches remaining. The title could be decided over the last weekend because if Leicester lose a fixture and Tottenham keep winning the gap would be two points on the final day. Arsenal are a further six points back in third place but with a game in hand but Leicester would still need to lose three matches to give Arsenal any hope of being champions.
The fixture between Aston Villa and Chelsea which begins the live coverage could provide a decent betting opportunity. Villa are relegated and Chelsea have little to play for and circumstances could make this an exceptionally low bookings game. With not much at stake for both sides tackles won’t be flying and the lack of intensity could result in a relatively small number of bookings and dismissals.
Towards the end of each football season the Premier League contains some fixtures that don’t mean much to either team. Sides that have no chance of qualifying for Europe or are safe from the drop or already in effect relegated often just go through the motions. The last few weeks of the season produces far fewer red and yellow cards but the dead matches must be identified and Aston Villa against Chelsea is one of these.
The Liverpool and Tottenham match at Anfield does not qualify. Four players from Spurs started in England’s win over Germany last weekend. These are young players with no baggage from failed tournament campaigns. In the context of the Premier League title Harry Kane and his buddies are at the top of their game and beating Liverpool will put pressure on Leicester who play Southampton at home the next day.
Fortress Anfield doesn’t exist anymore and Liverpool have lost three of 13 home league matches this season, winning just five, scoring 19 goals but conceding 17. Tottenham have the second best record on the road after Leicester who have lost just two of 16 road trips. Tottenham have also suffered defeat on their travels twice but have drawn two more matches than Leicester and played one less away match. The difference in each team’s points tally away from home is five in favour of Leicester and that is the point’s differential at the top of the table.
Tottenham can avoid defeat and pick up a point which means Leicester would be seven points clear if they beat Southampton at home on Sunday. Leicester keep grinding out 1-0 results which account for the same three points earned by flamboyant teams who win by more than one goal. If Leicester win their last seven matches 1-0 they would win the top division in English football for the first time in their history. Four years ago Jamie Vardy was playing for Fleetwood and he could play for England in Euro 2016 as a title winner with Leicester.
Manchester United versus Everton at Old Trafford is more of a local tussle than a fixture with any relevance with regards who will win the Premier League. United are just one point off the pace for Champions League qualification while Everton are becalmed in mid-table safety. Being dragged into the relegation mire is unlikely so the home team may just have enough more hunger than their opponents to win well. The match is more about bragging rights in the north-west than a key fixture in the context of relegation and winning the Premier League.
The biggest game of the weekend is Leicester’s home fixture against Southampton on Sunday. If Tottenham drop points the match could be another step onwards and a potentially tricky fixture out of the way for Leicester who could lead the Premier League by 7 or 8 points depending on the outcome of their match and Tottenham’s visit to Liverpool. More likely is two wins for the leading contenders and we are as we were ahead of the weekend.