Man United seek to strengthen grip on top-4 finish against Bournemouth
Seeking to strengthen their grip on a top-four finish in the Premier League, Manchester United travel to the Vitality Stadium to face Bournemouth on Saturday. The two teams experienced contrasting results last time out, with the Red Devils securing a two-goal win over Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Cherries losing by the same margin against Crystal Palace.
Bournemouth have proven many people wrong by cementing their status in the top flight this season, despite suffering back-to-back defeats in their last two matches.
Bournemouth have history when it comes to going out with a bang on home soil as they have won their final game at the Vitality Stadium in three of their last five Premier League seasons.
Securing Champions League football for next season is Erik ten Hag‘s sole focus as the Red Devils head into their final three league fixtures, but that task has been made tougher due to their poor away record in recent months – accumulating just eight points on the road from their last 27 available since the turn of the year.
Having secured their Premier League status with two games to spare, the pressure is off Bournemouth heading into Saturday’s contest which could play to their strengths in their final home game of the season.
The Reds are seeking an eighth successive victory to remain on the coat-tails of the top four, while Unai Emery‘s side still harbour ambitions of a spot on the continent.
The damage may have already been done earlier in the season regarding Liverpool’s top-four aspirations, but a run of three successive clean sheets is a sight for Klopp’s sore eyes, and the Reds have strung together an 11-game unbeaten home sequence in the Premier League, taking 29 points from those 33 on offer.
While Emery has turned Villa Park into an intimidating fortress, shortcomings on the road are beginning to bedevil his charges; the Lions have lost their last two away from home against Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers without scoring.
With their goalscoring powers on the road starting to wane, Villa will travel to Merseyside in hope rather than expectation against a Liverpool side who have proven adept in shutting up shop over the past few weeks.
Emery’s men certainly command plenty of respect from their Anfield adversaries, but we cannot envisage any other result than a routine success for Klopp’s Champions League-chasing crop.
Relegation-threatened Cádiz, Real Valladolid lock horns Friday evening
Cadiz are currently 16th in the division, level on points with 17th-placed Real Valladolid, with both sides only a point outside of the relegation zone heading into the next set of fixtures of Spain’s top flight. Only Elche have been relegated from La Liga at this stage of the season.
Cadiz, who beat Real Valladolid 1-0 in the reverse game earlier this season, will take on Villarreal (A), Celta Vigo (H) and Elche (A) in their last three games of the campaign, and their result on Friday is likely to have a huge say in whether they are able to avoid relegation.
Real Valladolid are not in a position to hand out any favours, though, as they are also in desperate need of the points, sitting below Cadiz in the table, just outside of the relegation zone.
Cadiz have one of the poorer home records in La Liga this season, but Real Valladolid have struggled on their travels. It is a huge game towards the bottom of the table, but the desire not to lose is likely to be stronger than the desire to win, so a tight match could end with the spoils being shared.
Sassuolo’s absence of clean sheets in their unbeaten sequence — two shut-outs in six matches — suggests a soft underbelly, thus giving Monza much-needed confidence heading into Friday.
Davide Frattesi was a doubt for Sassuolo’s visit to Inter, but the midfielder featuring at San Siro means he should be available this weekend.
Dionisi could name an unchanged side on Friday as the Neroverdi seek a return to winning ways.
Andrea Colpani has missed Monza’s games with Torino and Napoli, and the midfielder is unlikely to play this weekend.
Having scored against his old club in round 35, Andrea Petagna seeks to find the back of the net in consecutive matches this season — the striker has registered a goal contribution in back-to-back games against Torino (assist) and Napoli (goal).
Sassuolo are securing promising results at the Mapei, and Monza have thrived in recent away games, making this one tricky to call. The game should be high-scoring, with both teams pulling out all the stops on Friday night.