Our experts envisage the Red Devils regaining their grip on the title race in the season's penultimate weekend with Arsenal consolidating third and the Reds lifiting the FA Cup
FA Cup final weekend is upon us, with Chelsea and Liverpool set to meet at Wembley on Saturday evening to put a shine on a disappointing Premier League campaign.
Incredibly, the clash will be the 31st meeting between the sides in the past eight seasons and familiarity has bred contempt with a strong rivalry developing between the clubs in recent years.
Kenny Dalglish's side have already won the League Cup and are therefore gunning for their first domestic cup double since 2001, while the Blues are eyeing two trophies of their own with the Champions League final just 14 days later.
There is also plenty of Premier League action this weekend with the majority of games being held on Sunday, Saturday's tie sees Norwich City, guaranteed of their top-tier survival, visit Arsenal, who are chasing the points to secure third place and Champions League football next season.
Then on the seventh day, the title race takes over.
Manchester City are out of the blocks first and have a chance to get their noses in front when they take a trip to the North East and the Sports Direct Arena. City will be on a high after their derby win on Monday night but a Papiss Cisse-inspired Newcastle also picked up a fine win in midweek at Stamford Bridge.
Roberto Mancini's side will have to be at their best to beat the Magpies and Alan Pardew's high-flyers could be City's undoing as they search for a first top-flight title win in 44 years.
Old Trafford hosts Sunday's late kick-off and Manchester United welcome another of the league's surprise packages, Swansea City.
The Swans have been lauded for their style of play under Brendan Rodgers but United will be desperate for a win and, depending on the day's earlier result, could be looking to go back to the summit of the table.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Tottenham travel to Aston Villa attempting to tighten their grip on fourth place in the league while the Villans will be scratching for every point that they can gain in their last two games to keep themselves above the dreaded drop-zone.
QPR travel to Stoke City looking for a win to keep themselves above fellow strugglers Bolton, who host West Brom. Mark Hughes' and Owen Coyle's sides are currently tied on 34 points in 17th and 18th, respectively, the Hoops with a better goal difference by eight.
Fulham also welcome Sunderland to Craven Cottage, with neither having much left to play for, and relegated Wolves host Everton, similarly with little riding on the encounter.
Monday night has a huge clash at the bottom of the league, however, as Wigan travel to Ewood Park. A point for QPR and Bolton coupled with a Latics win would see Blackburn relegated to the Championship, making victory imperative for Steve Kean.
As ever, Goal.com will have our team of correspondents at the stadiums up and down the land - so what do the experts predict will happen this weekend?
WAYNE VEYSEY SAYS...
Which Liverpool will turn up? The cup specialists who swatted aside Everton in the semi-finals to keep alive their hopes of a domestic cup double?
Or the passive, anaemic fraud, that faints at the mere sight of bottom-of-the-table opponents pitching their tents at the once-mighty Anfield fortress?
Luckily for the Reds, the FA Cup final is not being played on home soil and Chelsea are the sort of team that gets the juices flowing in Kenny Dalglish's Jekyll and Hyde charges.
|9/1||Wayne Veysey's predicted 2-1 win for Liverpool is 9/1 with PaddyPower
Since Kenny Dalglish's return to the dugout 16 months ago, Liverpool have played Chelsea three times. And have won on each occasion (1-0, 2-1 and 2-0). All in London.
JOSH CLARKE SAYS...
With Tottenham and Newcastle convincingly back on the wagon, it will be a nervy last home game for the Gunners, who have taken just two points from the last nine available.
The race to finish in the top four is further exasperated by the fact that fourth may not even be enough for Champions League qualification if Chelsea win this season’s tournament.
Either way, Arsene Wenger will be thankful that they face Norwich at the Emirates, with Paul Lambert’s men currently embarking on the worst run of the Scot’s tenure. Three defeats on the bounce present stark evidence that the Canaries may have run out of steam following the guarantee of Premier League survival.
|13/2||Josh Clarke's predicted 2-0 win for Arsenal is 13/2 with PaddyPower
With Arsenal also struggling for fluency, I’m not predicting a barnstormer at the Emirates. The Gunners know that two wins from their remaining two is all they need and I think that the north Londoners have the nous to stumble over the line.
ROB STEWART SAYS...
This is payback time for Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, because he owes a debt to Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson.
Pardew was offered the hand of friendship by the Scot after he was sacked by Southampton last season, and invited to watch the master at work at United’s Carrington training ground.
Within weeks the 50-year-old was back in work at Newcastle and it is fair to say that he has not looked back since.
However, Pardew repaid him with a 3-0 walloping of United at the turn of 2012 and Sir Alex will be hoping for a repeat performance when Manchester City negotiate the last major hurdle as they close in on their neighbours’ Premier League crown.
|6/1||Rob Stewart's predicted 1-1 draw is 6/1 with PaddyPower
But I am predicting a tight score-draw. The Magpies have shown time and time again that they have the capability at the back and up front to unsettle the biggest teams, and City will be desperate not to collapse now the pressure is back on.
JAKE WATSON SAYS...
Two clubs that have not been far apart in the league over the years come into the penultimate game of this season fighting for very different positions.
Aston Villa have endured a torrid couple of campaigns and are in grave danger of falling out of the Premier League under the stewardship of Alex McLeish, who will be looking to avoid back-to-back relegations after taking city rivals Birmingham down last season.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp looked all but certain to become the next England manager at one point and the club’s form slipped alarmingly throughout the speculation. With Roy Hodgson now appointed at Wembley, Spurs convincingly beat Bolton 4-1 to register their highest scoreline away from home since August 2009.
|8/1||Jake Watson's predicted 2-0 win for Tottenham is 8/1 with PaddyPower
This is not my first trip to Villa Park this season, and I fear for the Villans' top-flight status. Spurs are back on form and I feel that Villa will be easy pickings for Redknapp’s men with the home side barely causing a dent in their back line.
RYAN BENSON SAYS...
When West Brom travel to Bolton on Saturday, much of the focus will inevitably be on Roy Hodgson as he takes charge of his penultimate match for the Baggies before taking up the role of national boss, but there is a lot at stake for the hosts.
Throughout the season Owen Coyle has insisted that Bolton will get themselves out of the relegation zone, adamant that his team have the quality to see them reach safety, but time is running out for the Trotters, and fast.
Currently occupying the final place in the drop-zone, Bolton are level on points with QPR, but they will undoubtedly be hoping their visitors are either feeling downbeat regarding Hodgson’s imminent departure or complacent with little left to play for.
|10/1||Ryan Benson's predicted 2-2 draw is 10/1 with PaddyPower
Either way, Bolton must get a result on Saturday with their Premier League status hanging by a thread, but history suggests that this will be a draw, with four of their last six meetings ending level.
JOE DOYLE SAYS...
It's been a mixed week for the Cottagers as they were put to the sword by a strong Everton performance, but followed it up with their first ever win on Merseyside against Liverpool.
Midfielder Clint Dempsey has been touted for a move away from the club, with some big sides reportedly batting their eyelashes in his direction. However, he has stated that he will remain focused on Fulham until, at least, the end of the season, and Sunderland will have to be on the lookout for him at all times at Craven Cottage.
For the Black Cats, it's another chance for them to break their winless streak, which now stretches to six games, though five of those results were draws.
|8/1||Joe Doyle's predicted 2-0 win for Fulham is 8/1 with PaddyPower
They seem to have faltered since Martin O'Neill's arrival brought in some fine form and football, and I can see them going another game without picking up three points on Sunday.
JOHN STAMMERS SAYS...
QPR have been incredibly unpredictable this season. Home wins against Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Swansea in their last eight games have been undermined by defeats at Sunderland, Manchester United and West Brom.
Last time out at Stamford Bridge the Rs completely failed to turn up and were put to the sword by their west London rivals, Chelsea, eventually capitulating to a 6-1 mauling.
With two matches left to save their skin, as midfielder Adel Taarabt has said, the Hoops must believe that they can stay up and a home tie against a Stoke side with little to play for is a golden opportunity to do so.
|7/1||John Stammers' predicted 2-1 win for QPR is 7/1 with PaddyPower
The Potters are without a win in four, and also have problems off the field following Jermaine Pennant's arrest. If the right QPR team show up on Sunday then they should take all three points.
ALEX FISHER SAYS...
There’s no let-up in tough games for Wolves. After defeat to Manchester City and a draw against Swansea they face in-form Everton in their final home game of the season.
Now that relegation to the Championship is confirmed, Wolves will hope that the battling qualities they showed at the Liberty Stadium continue into this game and that they give their fans something to cheer about.
Unfortunately for Terry Connor, Everton are on fire at the moment. The normally goal-shy Toffees have scored 13 times in their last four league games and, in Nikica Jelavic, have one of the league's hottest properties.
|11/1||Alex Fisher's predicted 3-1 win for Everton is 11/1 with PaddyPower
Given Everton's and Jelavic's form, I can only see an away win in this game. David Moyes' men may not have much to play for but they know that three points in this game will go a long way towards them finishing above Liverpool in the table at the end of the season.
GREG STOBART SAYS...
Dark clouds and red mist have been swirling over Old Trafford this week - and the mood around the stadium will be almost entirely dictated by the result of Manchester City's trip to Newcastle earlier in the day.
United think that they have blown it but the important thing for Sir Alex Ferguson's side is that they win their last two games and are ready to take advantage if Roberto Mancini’s charges slip up.
It will be interesting to see whether any heads have dropped in the United squad after such a half-hearted performance in the Manchester derby.
I think that Sir Alex will revert to a more familiar line-up after his tinkering failed on Monday night.
|9/1||Greg Stobart's predicted 3-1 for Manchester United is 9/1 with PaddyPower
Swansea will play their usual neat football but the Welsh side always look likely to concede - and United will feel that they have a point to prove.
ALEX FISHER SAYS...
Things are looking bleak at Blackburn. After their mini-revival in March things have gone downhill and defeat in this game could confirm their relegation.
Rovers didn’t manage a shot at goal against Tottenham last time out so they have to hope that they can improve in this crucial Lancashire derby.
Wigan are finding form at the right time but they cannot afford to relax as they are still very much in the relegation battle. However, after victories over Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle, they will be confident that they can secure their sixth away win of the season.
|9/1||Alex Fisher's predicted 2-1 win for Wigan is 9/1 with PaddyPower
The atmosphere inside Ewood Park is bound to be tense and the team who handles the pressure best should come out on top.
Given Wigan’s recent form I expect to see an away win, which could be the final nail in the coffin for Blackburn - and Steve Kean.