Weekend Preview

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 windowCardiff 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.



Weekend Preview

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.