Manchester City are the champions elect, the three other Champions League places have been decided and West Brom are going down. We are now at the stage of the Premier League season when there are a number of meaningless matches. This weekend the most significant live fixtures are West Ham at home to Stoke and Southampton at home to Chelsea but the other televised matches bring together teams with not much on the line. This is the stage of the season to go low on bookings points because 50/50 challenges are avoided.
Despite sacking Mark Hughes Stoke are still in the relegation mire and since his departure things have actually got worse. Stoke are the only team in the Premier League to have lost their last four matches and the previous fixture was drawn. Chairman believe a new manager will increase the number of points won. Despite an initial upturn in form teams maintain the season long average despite a fresh face. A poor team lacking in confidence is not transformed by a new manager.
West Ham are now six points and 4 places above the drop zone so David Moyes has almost accomplished the objective of keeping West Ham in the Premier League. Assuming West Brom are relegated any two teams from eight could still go down because they have not reached the safety target of 40 points. West Ham have won and drawn their last two matches but that followed three losses on the bounce. A home win will take them closer to safety but that would leave Stoke closer to the drop.
Southampton have hit a poor run of form at the wrong time. They were on the periphery of the relegation dog fight but two draws and three defeats has left them third from bottom and three points adrift of safety. They desperately need a home win against Chelsea on Saturday but that side are out of contention for Champions League qualification. Southampton should have the hunger to pick up three points which would drag the three teams above them into the battle if they lose their matches.
The match between Liverpool and Bournemouth at Anfield is one of those fixtures with low bookings count potential. Liverpool have the massive distraction of the Champions League semi-final and have just about qualified for next year. Bournemouth are in the mid-table no issues zone even though they have not quite reached the magic points tally to definitely stay in the division.
There were no bookings when Liverpool played at Everton and the Merseyside derby is known for producing more than its fair share of yellow and red cards. The home match against Bournemouth kicks off at 5.30 which surprisingly is just 15 minutes after the Grand National at Aintree about five miles away. It seems a strange clash and there will probably be more excitement over the nine minutes of the National than the full 90 minutes at Anfield where a draw could bust some coupons.
The other three live fixtures are ones with not a great deal at stake. Manchester United should take care of West Brom at Old Trafford, Newcastle can avoid defeat at Arsenal and Tottenham and Manchester City can share the points at Wembley. City have lost their last three matches and the title is agonisingly close but the meaningful season at the top can extend for another week but there should be no slip ups now. However, if United beat West Brom and City lose to Tottenham it could get a bit interesting. Stranger things have happened in sport.