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With the FA Cup semi-finals set to take place at Wembley Stadium this weekend, the Premier League takes something of a back seat, especially with so much seemingly already sorted in English football’s top flight.
Manchester City were confirmed as champions on April 15 and face Swansea City in their first game since top-spot was secured. Meanwhile, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur—the latter two meet each other in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley—all appear safe in the top-four berths.
At the bottom, there still may be something to play for. Stoke City remain in deep trouble and host a Burnley side chasing sixth position, while Crystal Palace head to Watford looking to pull away from trouble.
Here are the fixtures to come in Week 35, a prediction for each and a look at a couple of star men that will make the difference in some of the most important games.
Week 35 Fixtures
Saturday, April 21
12:30 p.m. — West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool (0-2)
3 p.m. — Watford vs. Crystal Palace (1-2)
Sunday, April 22
1:30 p.m. — Arsenal vs. West Ham United (2-1)
1:30 p.m. — Stoke City vs. Burnley (1-1)
4:30 p.m. — Manchester City vs. Swansea City (3-0)
Monday, April 23
8 p.m. — Everton vs. Newcastle United (1-1)
Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace
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At this point in the season, teams battling relegation need a little something extra in the final third to pull them out of trouble. Zaha is doing exactly that for this Crystal Palace team.
A week on from his stunning goal against Bournemouth, the Ivory Coast international was sensational in the Eagles’ win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. Zaha was on the scoresheet twice in that encounter as Palace earned a priceless 3-2 victory.
Per the HLTCO Twitter account, the Palace man has proved to be a crucial presence in the final third for his side since his return from injury:
Since returning from injury on March 10th, Zaha ranks 1st for goals scored, joint 1st for assists, 2nd for chances created and 1st for successful dribbles in Palace’s squad… No end product? LOL
Without Zaha, the Eagles have been lacking any attacking potency, with their star forward Christian Benteke totally bereft of confidence this season. It means a massive onus has been thrust on to the shoulders of the Palace No. 11.
It’s clear Zaha has matured and is relishing that extra responsibility. And whether it’s on the right, the left or through the middle, he is making a consistent impact on matches.
You sense he’ll do the same this weekend, with Palace sure to implement a counter-attacking blueprint against Watford. If they can find a way of getting Zaha the ball with space to surge into, then he can be the difference for the Eagles once again.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
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Arsenal’s Premier League season appeared set to fizzle out, with all focus now on the UEFA Europa League semi-finals. But with Burnley breathing down their necks, the visit of West Ham United this weekend is an important one.
In this fixture, they’ll be looking to Aubameyang to continue his strong start to life in English football. For all the doom and gloom that’s engulfed the Emirates Stadium in recent months, the January capture of the Gabon international has looked like inspired business.
As noted by WhoScored.com, the forward has been deadly in front of goal since arriving in the Premier League:
Best conversion rate in the Premier League this season (5+ goals) 🥇P-E. Aubameyang — 30% 🥈Chicharito — 29.6% 🥉J. Vardy — 28.3% https://t.co/BIw8fiiPO3 https://t.co/UyUhjxVANE
Aubameyang was on hand to set up Alexandre Lacazette for Arsenal’s goal against Newcastle United last weekend, although he could do little as the Gunners defence crumbled and the team suffered another defeat on the road.
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Getting back to the Emirates will be a relief to manager Arsene Wenger and his side. Aubameyang has been prolific at his new home, too, with five of his six goals for the club coming in north London.
West Ham will come to the Emirates, sit deep and try to grind out a point. Arsenal’s record signing will be expected to find an edge for his team in such circumstances.