Football’s magic month of May: our Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and play-off predictions
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This season has provided us with some excellent entertainment in all areas of the country, from the Premier League all the way down to non-league football.
As most clubs’ campaign’s curtailed with a dramatic final day of the season, the Premier League continues as we await to find out who will lift the trophy and who will drop down to the Championship.
Meanwhile, there are a number of play-off ties on the horizion, while Liverpool have another two pieces of silverware to compete for in the English and French capital cities.
May promises to be the most exciting month of the season yet with plenty more thrilling fixtures to take place.
Ahead of some of this year’s biggest events in football, we have made our predictions...
FA Cup Final
Tomorrow’s FA Cup clash between Chelsea and Liverpool promises to be a special one following the latter’s dramatic Carabao Cup victory in February.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are in desperate need of some silverware after their Premier League campaign took a sour turn in recent weeks, while the Reds are still on the hunt for the quadruple.
Liverpool’s performances have dipped in recent matches and the absence of Fabinho will certainly benefit Chelsea, but Jurgen Klopp’s side always seem to impress in the most important games and I can’t see the Blues overcoming their poor recent form.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
Champions League Final
The tie between Liverpool and Real Madrid is arguably the one that many Reds supporters wanted over another clash with Manchester City, however that doesn’t make the Spanish giants any easier of an opponent.
Mohamed Salah already has his desire for revenge on Real Madrid, and the players will be desperate to end the campaign on a high, though Karim Benzema will certainly have something to say about that.
I expect Liverpool to put on much more of a performance than they did in the 2018 edition, however it wouldn’t surprise me if the Frenchman causes late drama like he has throughout much of their European campaign.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-3 Real Madrid
Premier League title
For me, Liverpool’s draw with Tottenham has all but confirmed a fourth Premier League for Pep Guardiola.
I have said for a few weeks now that if City drop points it could well be to West Ham, however I can’t see much more than them scraping a draw.
The Reds definitely don’t want it to go down to goal difference as they will have to make up the seven goal gap between them - an extremely unlikely scenario.
Prediction: Man City
Luton Town’s play-off semi-final clash with Huddersfield Town is huge given the size of the club and the fact that they were only promoted to League Two eight years ago.
Both teams go onto the two legs in very good form, however the Hatters were beaten 2-0 by the Terriers only a month ago.
Given that Huddersfield take the home advantage. in the second leg, it is hard to see Luton reaching Wembley this season.
Prediction: Luton 1-1 Huddersfield, Huddersfield 2-0 Luton
The other semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United could prove to be a much tighter affair, with both sides in impressive form throughout the second half of the campaign.
I think it would be much more exciting to see Forest reach the Premier League after such a long absence, though I’m not sure they have the bottle to cope with the pressure of hauling themselves over the line.
However, Steve Cooper’s side will play at the City Ground in the second leg and I expect fans to witness penalties on Tuesday evening.
Prediction: Sheff Utd 1-0 Nottingham Forest, Nottingham Forest 2-1 Sheff Utd (Sheff Utd to go through on penalties)
Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United hadn’t faced each other in nine years prior to the Blades’ relegation and that 2012 tie was certainly a memorable one for both sides.
The two clubs faced off in the 2011/12 League One Play-Off Final in an intense match that ended 0-0 before Huddersfield’s goalkeeper Alex Smithies sent them through on penalties.
Carlos Corberan’s side may take the mental advantage into this year’s final, but United will certainly be seeking revenge as they look for a swift return to the top flight.
Prediction: Huddersfield 1-0 Sheffield Utd
League One Play-Offs
If recent meetings between Sunderland and Wycombe Wanderers are anything to go by then we are in for a thriller next weekend.
Ross Stewart snatched a point last time out with his very late goal, while the Black Cats have only endured one defeat in the six times the two clubs have met.
Both sides are in good form as they head into the final, however it is very difficult to see Sunderland not finally achieve the promotion they have been waiting for for so long.
Alex Neil has dramatically improved the side and will certainly have the attendance on their side, with over 40,000 Mackems heading south, which could be over double the support that Wycombe are able to bring.
If the atmosphere in the Sunderland end can’t drive the players on to victory, then nothing can.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Wycombe
League Two Play-Offs
Northampton were forced to settle for a place in the play-offs as Bristol Rovers claimed a stunning 7-0win to secure an automatic promotion spot in the final day of the season.
The Cobblers have been in decent form in recent weeks and have only lost one of their previous eight matches - however, the defeat came to their play-off opponents, Mansfield Town.
It will be a tight game, but as always the home advantage will play a big part.
Prediction: Mansfield 2-1 Northampton, Northampton 2-0 Mansfield
Swindon Town are eager to return to League One after only a year back in the fourth tier and impressed with four consecutive wins at the end of the season to secure their place in the play-offs.
Meanwhile, despite finishing higher, Port Vale have suffered three defeats in their last four matches and could be nervy heading into the two legs.
A hard game to predict but I think The Robins’ form may give them a boost ahead of a trip to Wembley.
Prediction: Swindon 2-1 Port Vale, Port Vale 1-1 Swindon
Northampton will be heartbroken if they don’t make it to League One after their disastrous final day of the season, while Swindon will be brimming with confidence if they knock out Port Vale in the semis.
The Wembley clash could be a nervy one and fans may be subject to the pain of watching their team take penalties at the end.
Prediction: Northampton 1-1 Swindon (Swindon win on penalties)