My first blog post comes prior to a busy weekend in the Premier League with the start of Arsenal’s ‘do or die’ couple of months along with the derby down in Wales. I’ll give my predictions on what I think will happen in each game.
Liverpool v Arsenal
Arsenal are still the underdogs in the title race even though they occupy the top of the table. Wilshere will be back but likely to start from the bench, and I think Arsene will make a couple of changes with Rosicky coming in for Podolski and Gibbs in for Monreal.
I think Brendan Rodgers will go 4 at the back rather than the 3 at the back he played at the Emirates, which allowed Arsenal’s full backs too much freedom and left Liverpool on the back foot. No new injury news for Liverpool which will leave Gerrard playing his new deeper role. I think without Lucas, their midfield may struggle against the movement of Arsenal’s and the gunners will nick the win. Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal.
Aston Villa v West Ham
The FA have announced this morning they are reviewing Andy Carroll’s red card, after they rejected the initial appeal, if he is available it will be a massive boost for Big Sam as they look a completely different team with him in it.
Ron Vlaar and Gabby Agbonlahor should be back for Villa, who haven’t a great home record, but this should give them a boost. I think both teams will score but can’t pick a winner. Aston Villa 1-1 West Ham.
Chelsea v Newcastle
Chelsea were immense against City with Mourinho taking everyone by surprise and taking the game to City, Hazard is quickly establishing himself as one of the league’s finest and their defence as expected under Mourinho is the best in the league.
Newcastle have stalled and with the sale of Cabaye, the injury to Coloccini and Kinnear doing a disappearing act (not sure what he did anyway!), they could be on a downward spiral as they are unlikely to get anything at the Bridge and then host Spurs midweek. Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle.
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Palace did well last time out at Arsenal but then tired late on and didn’t pick up late runs from the Ox. Pulis has put his trademark on the and made them hard to beat and it looks like he may keep them safe.
West Brom also did well against Liverpool but with Anelka and Sessegnon missing they lack in the final third, but I do think they can get something out of this match and Pepe Mel is a great coach. Crystal Palace 0-1 West Brom.
Norwich v Man City
City are slightly short in midfield, Demichelis played there against Chelsea and was overrun, with Fernandinho still injured he may have to play there again although Javi Garcia could return.
I can’t see Norwich getting anything out of this and I can’t see them staying up, the teams around them are improving whereas they are fairly static. Norwich 1-2 Man City
Southampton v Stoke
Southampton have turned it around again and Lallana looks in inspired form, Pochettino has done a great job since coming in and I can see them pushing onwards again next season if they can manage to keep some of their young stars.
Stoke managed to get a win with a superb victory over Manchester United last week but I think they may find it tougher against the Saints. Southampton 2-0 Stoke.
Sunderland v Hull
Sunderland also seem to be turning it around and after their mauling of Newcastle are riding on a high. Poyet looks absolutely bonkers with his mafia scarf but seems to be doing a good job.
Hull have been in bad form recently, but they still have an excellent defensive record and have added goals to their game with Long and Jelavic coming in, I think they’ll just shade it here. Sunderland 1-2 Hull.
Swansea v Cardiff
The bizarre sacking of Laudrup has been the major news this week, I don’t think he could have done any better though with a small squad and 4 competitions. Michu and Vorm could feature for the Swans, although the former is likely to start on the bench, providing a much needed boost.
Cardiff did some good work in the transfer market and Zaha will be looking to prove himself. Although I think they may struggle against Swansea who will be looking to prove a point with the loss of their manager. Swansea 2-1 Cardiff.
Tottenham v Everton
Spurs are having their first blip under Tim Sherwood with a hammering by City and then a draw against Hull. Dembele and Townsend could feature after returning from injury which would give them bit more muscle in midfield.
Everton don’t look the same team without Lukaku and with new signing Traore still injured I’m not sure they carry a big enough goal threat. Tottenham 2-0 Everton.
Manchester United v Fulham
Rene Meulensteen returns to Old Trafford for the first time since leaving in the summer. He is obviously a great loss for them but is still to prove himself as a manager. Fulham made some smart acquisitions in January and really need to start picking up points.
Man Utd also need to start picking up points, just when you think they are going to come good they fail again. Fellaini may be back but am not sure where he fits in. But with all the attacking resource available they should beat Fulham comfortably. Manchester United 4-0 Fulham.