Can Arsenal recover from their ‘crisis’? Can Manchester Utd finally return to winning ways? Can Manchester City return to their awesome home form? Can Magath rescue Fulham as they clash with fellow regulation candidates West Brom? There are lots of questions to be answered this weekend in the League after an FA cup break.
Chelsea v Everton
Chelsea still haven’t lost under Mourinho at home and that’s with two spells at the club, I think that may continue but I fancy Everton to come away with a point. It will be interesting to see how Mourinho lines up against Everton, does he regard them as one of the big boys and leave Oscar out? There are no injury worries for Chelsea, Terry should return and Torres may start. Lukaku is still on his way back for Everton but Traore made a good start to his time at Everton and looks a like for like replacement. Stephen Naismith has hit some form recently too and should be available after suffering from concussion. Chelsea 1-1 Everton.
Arsenal v Sunderland
Arsenal played well at the start of Bayern and I think the media overreaction to that loss was exactly that, a massive overreaction. I would expect there to be several changes with Giroud coming back in (unless Arsene has fallen out with him over Underpantsgate) Arteta is available again and Gibbs is injured, the midfield did massive amounts of work against Bayern so I would expect most of them to be rested. They have plenty of options in there so expect Rosicky, Cazorla and Podolski to start with Ozil on the bench. Sunderland have undergone a transformation under Gus Poyet and are playing well and winning, they are 2 cupruns and they have a lot more confidence. I fancy a bit of a backlash from Arsenal though but they don’t score as freely as they have done in previous seasons. Arsenal 3-0 Sunderland.
Cardiff v Hull
Cardiff still don’t have enough firepower for my liking, but I hope Solskjaer can turn it around just because I like him. They are missing a bit of steel and creativity in midfield with Mutch and Medel likely to be sideline however they do have new signings who can help in that aspect. These are the games they really have to win to stay up. Hull have been solid all season, and now they have added a few more goals to their game in the January window. Cardiff 2-1 Hull.
Manchester City v Stoke
Demichellis looks too leggy to be a Premier League defender especially for a club trying to compete on 4 fronts. I can’t fathom why they didn’t strengthen in this area as it was probably the one that needed it the most. Aguero is still out as is Nastasic, Kompany has a slight hamstring issue but should be fit and I think they will respond to their defeat against Barca with aplomb. Stoke have good and bad days but at least you can be bothered to watch them now unlike under Pulis. They still need a bit more quality up front I feel and I think they will struggle against an aggrieved City side. Manchester City 5-1 Stoke.
West Brom v Fulham
Pepe Mel needs to get a win and I think he will get his first here. Sessegnon should be back and they have needed a bit more going forward with Anelka out too. Fulham meanwhile are in a bit of a pickle, sacking managers for fun. They need to be given a chance to get the best out of their players. New boss Magath is a hard taskmaster and I think he is a good appointment although I don’t agree with the sacking of meulensteen. However it might take a little longer to get the players used to his way of (hard) working West Brom 2-0 Fulham
West Ham v Southampton
West Ham are flying and have been since the game against Chelsea, it has all revolved around the return of Andy Carroll. He is finally living up to his potential. Southampton lost to Sunderland in the cup and am not sure why they played a weakened side, they are comfortably mid table and are unlikely to get a European place or get drawn into the relegation battle. I think they’ll bounce back here with a win and bring Big Sam back to earth with a bump West Ham 1-3 Southampton.
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
Fellaini could make a return although likely to be from the bench. It will be interesting to see how he fits in and interesting to see how United line up. Rooney is set to sign a new contract too which is a big boost for Moyes. Palace have gone from strength to strength under Pulis and have no injuries to contend with, however I think United are due to give somebody a thrashing and this is the ideal time with everyone well rested Crystal Palace 0-4 Man Utd.
Liverpool v Swansea
Liverpool were unlucky against Arsenal in the cup but have sometime struggled with the smaller teams this season. However they are at home and their attacking line up is one of the best in the League. Gerrard looks back to his best and pinging the ball about to all quarters. Swansea on the otherhand are still waiting for Michu to return, he could do that tomorrow but likely to be from the bench. They were solid if not spectacular against Napoli last night and think they will take the same approach. Liverpool may find them hard to break down. Liverpool 1-0 Swansea.
Newcastle v Aston Villa
Newcastle look like a completely different team then they were a couple of months ago. The fans are turning on Mike Ashley and the players seem to lack any sort of belief. Coloccini and Tiote could return tomorrow giving them a boost and I think they will win. However as everyone knows Villa are best away from home, their pace on the counter is frightening and Benteke is scoring again so it could be a difficult afternoon for Newcastle. Newcastle 2-1 Aston Villa.
Norwich v Tottenham
Norwich have given some top teams a tough time at home but they never seem to be able to get a win. They have one in their last ten league games and I feel they will struggle to survive. Tottenham destroyed an abject Newcastle last week but were poor last night in Ukraine although that was a weaker side. I think Norwich can hang on for a point here if they can manage to keep Adebayor quiet. Norwich 0-0 Tottenham.