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EPL: Week 35 Preview

The champion has been crowned, and a star player remains engulfed in controversy. Riley Beveridge talks us through a momentous week in the EPL.

A stunning Robin Van Persie treble ensured Manchester United was guaranteed its 20th English Premier League title on Monday evening.

Van Persie’s sublime first-half hat trick created a party-like atmosphere inside Old Trafford as United was crowned champion with four games still remaining in the season.

The crushing 3-0 win over Aston Villa was fitting, considering how dominant United has been this season.

Manchester United’s defence was impenetrable, as it has been since the turn of the New Year. The midfield was controlling, while the strike force was simply lethal.

Unlike Alex Ferguson’s teams of ’99, ’07 and ’08, many believe this United team isn’t perfect. It will be a testament to the character and determination of the players if they finish the season as the best Premier League side of all time – statistically speaking.

If the Red Devils win their remaining four matches – against Arsenal, Chelsea, Swansea and West Brom – they will record 96 points for the season. No side has ever achieved this. That result, coming off the back of a heartbreaking conclusion last season, would be the perfect reflection of Ferguson’s time in charge at Old Trafford.

Ferguson builds squads that are hard working, and have an abundance of quality and depth. The likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will be preceded by the talented and youthful duo of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. The evergreen Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes seamlessly fill the void left by the impeccable Michael Carrick and the serviceable Tom Cleverley. Multi million pound signings such as Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa struggle to get games, purely due to the quality United possesses in the final third.

Has there ever been a better strike quartet than Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck? Together, they’ve combined for 45 Premier League goals this season.

Considering the quality that Premier League supporters have come to witness at Old Trafford over the years, this United side may not be the best ever. They are however, one of the more deserving champion sides in recent memory.

While United’s success was the feel-good story of the week, the other big EPL story centred on a rather unsavory incident.

Luis Suarez found his name in the headlines once again following Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. The Uruguayan appeared to bite Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic midway through the second-half, causing outrage across the football community.


The FA has handed down a 10-game ban for the Uruguayan. However, Liverpool has released a statement that outlines their intention to appeal the length of the suspension.

While biting is an inexplicable, inhumane and indefensible act, the Reds are set to query whether it warrants a larger penalty than a studs-up, leg-breaking tackle.

Liverpool must be considering the worth of Suarez, given his series of mental lapses on the football pitch. The Reds appear likely to retain Suarez over the summer, but – regardless of his on-field heroics – must be assessing whether he’s really worth the trouble.

There are two significant fixtures this weekend involving sides at risk of relegation.

On Sunday, bottom-placed Reading faces second-bottom QPR in what could be a last hurrah for these two sides. Both teams need to win every game for the rest of the season, and rely on Aston Villa to lose every remaining game, to stay afloat.

Therefore, a draw would be meaningless to both the Royals and the Rangers. Expect lots of goals at the Madejski Stadium.

Then, on Monday night, Aston Villa will host a suddenly in-form Sunderland at Villa Park. The Black Cats moved six points clear of the relegation zone with a second consecutive victory – this time over Everton – under Paolo Di Canio.

The controversial Italian’s energetic and exuberant style appears to be breathing new life into Sunderland’s campaign. A third straight win on the weekend could be enough to guarantee the team’s safety.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa is coming off a 3-0 loss to this season’s champions, Manchester United. Villa is currently three points from safety, but a game ahead of Wigan, who currently sits inside the relegation zone. The Latics host Tottenham this weekend, before playing Swansea in two weeks.


Predictions (Kickoff times are AEST)


Saturday April 27 at 9.45pm

Manchester City 2-0 West Ham


Sunday April 28 at 12.00am

Everton 2-1 Fulham

Southampton 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Stoke 1-1 Norwich

Wigan 1-3 Tottenham


Sunday April 28 at 2.30am

Newcastle 1-1 Liverpool


Sunday April 28 at 10.30pm

Reading 2-3 QPR


Monday April 29 at 12.00am

Chelsea 2-1 Swansea


Monday April 29 at 1.00am

Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United


Tuesday April 30 at 5.00am

Aston Villa 1-1 Sunderland


Riley Beveridge is a second-year Bachelor of Sports Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter: @RileyBev.

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