Once in a while, fate smiles on us and provides us with a joyful occasion. It has done so this week as we get not two, but four days of glorious Premier League action!
After an exciting Match Day 24 in midweek, we kick off with a terrific pairing of the top team in the league, Leicester City, traveling to the Etihad to face second-place Manchester City. A win for the Citizens would take them top of the table on goal differential, and would likely make them the odds-on favorites to win the title. A win for the Foxes, however, would likely make many take notice that this could actually happen--a team that this time a year ago was fighting against relegation may actually defy all odds and win the biggest domestic league in the world.
The Jamie Vardy Party will look to continue after the ridiculous goal he scored against Liverpool in midweek, but Sergio Aguero will be looking to match him strike for strike. City's attack is not as strong as it was with the loss of Kevin De Bruyne, but it is still potent and will prove a test for the visitors.
The Stoke City-Everton match could be the wildest of the day--and it might not have a single thing to do with the players. The forecast for the match is calling for wind gusts of over SIXTY (yes, that's a six....followed by a zero) miles per hour (or for our friends in other countries, that's nearly 100 kmh) along with rain. This match could easily see another keeper score a goal. Which is something that Everton fans are very familiar with. Come to think of it....so are Stoke fans. Maybe they can both pull one off today?
While the leaders fight it out in Manchester, the weather will play a role as well in Birmingham, where Aston Villa and Norwich face off in a relegation six-pointer. This may very well be the last chance that the Villains have to salvage their season, as they sit ten points behind the Canaries for that valuable 17th spot in the table. The club made no transfers in during the January window, which makes you wonder if they have resigned themselves to their fate. Nonetheless, both teams should come out fighting to get a valuable three points.
The other matches of the day all have intriguing storylines. Tottenham are heavy favorites at home against Watford, and many are waiting to see if Dele Alli will be able to return from illness. Liverpool host Sunderland in a match that, on paper, seems like a one-sided affair. However, will the Reds be able to shake off their struggles of late and actually win a match they're supposed to?
Swansea City face Crystal Palace, a team in dire need of a win. Losers of five straight, it seems like ages ago since they were near the top of the table. They badly need Yohan Cabaye to return to full fitness and regain the dominant form he displayed at the start of the season. Newcastle, losers of four of the past six, will host West Bromwich Albion in a match that could see them climb out of the relegation zone with a win.
Finally, we will see Southampton host West Ham United in the match that is the toughest for me to predict. Coinciding with the return of Fraser Forster, the Soton defense has been rock solid, winning three and drawing (against Arsenal, at that) in their last four matches, all with clean sheets. West Ham, meanwhile, sit in sixth spot and have won four of their last six. A win by Southampton pulls them within two points of the visitors, and makes them legitimate contenders for that Europa League spot. Enner Valencia and Dimitri Payet will hope to instead make it an eight point gap when the day is done.
Here are my fantasy Premier League teams for the week:
Official BPL Game
De Gea, Sagna, Alderweireld, Baines, Alexis, Ozil (C), Alli, Mahrez, Payet, Vardy, Lukaku
De Gea, Baines, Fuchs, Pinto, Cabaye, Eriksen, Mahrez, Payet, Silva, Aguero, Vardy
Best of luck to everyone today, and let's enjoy some football!