Premier League Week 34 Preview

FA Cup semi-final weekend leaves a rather depleted fixture list in the Premier League. Just two games take place on Saturday, but both are likely to be fiercely competitive with plenty at stake for the sides in action. The first game sees Hull City take on Burnley at the KC stadium, a game that neither side can really afford to lose.

Since the appointment of Iain Dowie as Phil Brown’s successor, Hull have shown promising signs in recent games and a 2-0 win against Fulham continued their impressive home form. Burnley on the other hand have struggled since the departure of Owen Coyle in January and their woeful form of late has resulted in a four point gap between them and safety. Their away form does nothing to inspire confidence for the trip to Hull on Saturday, with just one point away from Turf Moor in 16 games this season. On Saturday night, if results go against them they could conceivably end up seven points adrift of safety with just four games remaining.

West Ham United are also in the thick of things at the bottom of the league table, but they showed battling qualities to secure a vital point away at Goodison Park last Sunday and will be keen to build on that when they welcome Sunderland to Upton Park on Saturday. The Hammer’s will have to do without suspended midfielder Scott Parker , and will look towards Czech Republic international Radoslav Kovac to fill in during his absence.

Sunderland entered the New Year in poor form and it continued that way for the next two months as the club went fourteen games without a victory. As a result, they began to slip closer and closer to the relegation zone, but March saw a change in fortune, picking up victories at home to Birmingham and Bolton while also taking points off Aston Villa and Manchester City. Now 11 points clear of the bottom three, Sunderland are almost guaranteed another season in the Premier League but manager Steve Bruce won’t be able to relax until they break the 40 points barrier.

The action on Sunday will be at the opposite end of the table. Manchester United will have the opportunity to regain top spot taking on in-form Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Wayne Rooney made a remarkable recovery for the Champions League game in midweek, but limped off and could well miss a game where defeat for the champions could spell the end of their title challenge.

After being held to a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City last Sunday, victory over Fulham at Anfield is a must for Liverpool if they are to retain any hopes of capturing fourth spot. Manchester City are now narrow favourites to grab the final Champions League spot and can open up a gap of four points between them and the chasers when they take on Birmingham at the City of Manchester stadium. Roberto Mancini has expressed his desire for a repeat performance of last weekend’s 6-1 demolition of Burnley but Birmingham will travel to Manchester looking to make life difficult for the hosts and have already taken points off the top three this season.

Game of the weekend: Hull vs. Burnley

With both sides currently occupying a spot in the bottom three, Saturday’s clash is one that neither side can afford to lose. The Tigers solid home form gives them the edge over a Burnley side currently in turmoil after going nine Premier League games without a win, including last weekend’s embarrassing 6-1 defeat to Manchester City.

Blast from the past: 1st February 2006 – Blackburn 4-3 Manchester Utd

David Bentley secured a place in Premier League history books scoring the first ever Premier League hat-trick against Manchester United in a thrilling game at Ewood Park. After looking all out winners Blackburn had to dig deep when Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s two goals in the space of five minutes set up a pulsating finale.

On this week : 10 years ago – 1999/00

There were goals in abundance at Valley Parade where Bradford City and Derby shared the spoils in a stunning 4-4 draw. Dean Windass completed a hat-trick for Bradford in a first half which saw a staggering seven goals scored.

Five years ago – 2004/05

Everton secured an historic 1-0 win over Manchester United at Goodison Park, while Chelsea all but secured the Premier League title after a 0-0 stalemate with nearest challengers Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

One year ago – 2008/09

Manchester United produced a rampant second half display to come from 2-0 down at half-time to defeat Tottenham 5-2 at Old Trafford with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo both netting a brace.

Week 34 fixtures

Saturday April 10th

Hull vs. Burnley – 15.00

West Ham vs. Sunderland – 15.00

Sunday April 11th

Blackburn vs. Manchester Utd- 13.30 Live on Sky Sports

Liverpool vs. Fulham – 15.00

Manchester City vs. Birmingham – 16.00 Live on Sky Sports

Wolverhampton vs. Stoke City – 12.00

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