There are two games tonight in the Premier League, which is extremely odd for a Friday. Cardiff host Watford at the Cardiff City Stadium and West Ham play Fulham at the London Stadium. Both games are set to kick off at 19:45.
Cardiff vs Watford
Cardiff are 17th in the Premier League table; just one point clear of the relegation zone. They’ve won their last two games in a row – against Bournemouth and Southampton – which have helped them stay outside the drop zone. They’ve been quite impressive this season and have surprised with how many points they’ve managed to pick up. Many thought they would be relegated straight back down to the Championship, which may still happen, but they’re not going without a fight.
A win for the Bluebirds tonight would see them rise all the way up to 13th in the table. That just shows how tight this relegation battle is; anybody from Crystal Palace in 13th and below could realistically be relegated. With 12 league games still to play, anybody could go down.
Tonight’s game will be tricky against a good Watford side, but Neil Warnock’s men will be confident of getting a result with them being at home. With Southampton playing Arsenal on Sunday, this is a chance for Cardiff to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three. It’s a massive game for them, and one that they really could do with winning. Three points would give them a huge boost.
Watford are eighth in the table and are battling it out with Wolves for seventh place and a likely Europa League qualification spot. They’re also looking at the FA Cup, with them being in the quarter-final. It’s been a good season so far for the Hornets, and they’ll be hoping to finish it strongly. There’s no chance of Javi Gracia’s side being relegated either. It’s just important that they keep fighting and don’t go on their holidays early. We’ve seen them do that in previous seasons, but Gracia must ensure they don’t this time around. Watford will be confident that they’ll have enough about them to beat Cardiff tonight, but it will be a tricky game for them.
Victor Camarasa may return to Cardiff’s starting line-up tonight. Sean Morrison may also return to the squad. He’s now fit after an appendix operation.
Kiko Femenia misses out for Watford, but he’s likely to be their only absentee. Roberto Pereyra, Sebastian Prodl and Isaac Success are fit.
West Ham vs Fulham
West Ham are 10th in the Premier League table. But they’re marooned in mid-table without much of a chance of doing anything else this season. A seventh-placed finish would have been on the agenda a few weeks ago, but after some poor recent results, they’re now nine points behind Wolves. The Irons haven’t won in their last five in all competitions and need to get back to winning ways. Marko Arnautovic came off the bench against Crystal Palace in their last game, so he should be fit to start. They could do with the added firepower, even if he is toxic to the team. He’ll likely be off in the summer anyway as he chases the money.
At this stage of the season, Fulham need a miracle to stay up. They’re 19th in the table and eight points from survival. It’s going to take something special for them to avoid playing Championship football next season, but it would be a huge surprise if they managed it. Scoring goals isn’t that much of a problem for them; they’re on a par with many of the teams around them. But their defence is woeful. They’ve conceded a whopping 58 goals this season. That’s 10 more than Huddersfield. It doesn’t seem that they’ll be able to sort that out, either.
In truth, this should be a routine win for West Ham. They should have more than enough quality for Fulham and should be able to blow them away with their firepower. The likes of Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson could absolutely batter Fulham tonight. Fulham can’t be written off completely as they do have some good players, but it’s difficult to see them winning this tie. They’ll have to be a completely different team to the one we’ve seen for the majority of this season if they are to get anything from the game.
Manuel Lanzini may return to the West Ham squad for the first time since he tore his anterior cruciate ligament back in June. It would be fantastic to see the Argentine playmaker back. He’s a very talented player and West Ham have missed him hugely. He may get on for a cameo towards the end of the game, but they won’t rush him. Samir Nasri is also back, but Jack Wilshere remains out.
Alfie Mawson seems to be the only player that Fulham will be without. Lazar Markovic and Havard Nordtveit could make their debuts.
It’s quite strange to see two games played on a Friday. There’s obviously a reason for it, but I don’t know what that is. We won’t complain about having something to watch, though! Let’s hope they’re two good games.
I’m going to leave it there for now. I’ll be back here over the weekend with more previews. I’ll see you then; I hope you have a great Friday!