Premier League Previews & Score Predictions
Another week of Premier league action is upon us, and the pick of the games in the North London Derby. Here are previews and predictions for all the games:
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Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool. Who will take the coveted 4th spot? The race continues this weekend with Chelsea and Arsenal hoping to get back to winning ways, after their UEFA Champions League heartaches.
Liverpool and Everton will take no part in this weekend’s Premier League fixtures as the former will be at Wembley on Sunday to play Cardiff for the Carling Cup trophy.
Here are previews for the weekends games and predictions for the outcomes:
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
The balance of power in north-London is shifting. Arsenal will go into the north-London derby on the back of a couple of disappointing results. The Gunners were humiliated in the UEFA Champions League as they succumbed 4-0 to AC Milan and were subsequently dumped out of the FA Cup last weekend away at Sunderland.
Things have never been this tough at the Emirates, the club is on a seven-year run without a trophy and the fans have been very vocal in the past couple of weeks on their displeasure at the way results have gone at the club this season, and a loss against their arch-rivals will be one bitter pill swallow for them.
Tottenham have proven over the course of the season they are title-contenders. They are third behind the Manchester clubs and with a 10-point gap from fourth-placed Arsenal, they can almost cement their top-three place with a result this Sunday.
In their last Premier League match, Tottenham waltzed past Newcastle with a beautiful display of attacking football matched with FIVE goals on the night. They were shut out from scoring last weekend in their FA Cup 5th round tie at Stevanage when they were held to a goalless draw.
Tottenham won the fixture at the Emirates last season, storming back from a 2-0 deficit to claim a 3-2 victory. This fixture hasn’t lacked goals in the past meetings so expect at least a couple on Sunday.
Arsenal are not in the right form at the moment and much will depend on how much Arsene Wenger can galvanize his troops after the last couple of poor results. A result means everything to Arsenal’s season and a victory will all but crown Tottenham as the best team in London.
The rivalry of course will be intense as ever. Form is thrown out of the window for derbies, and I think Arsenal, playing at home can emerge winners – they have more to lose if they don’t. It would be a fight though, Tottenham are 3rd and they won’t just roll over.
Chelsea vs Bolton Wanderers
Chelsea have now gone five matches without a win after they were beaten in Naples in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, and it is hard to see them turning the Champions League tie around unless they can stop the rot, that is threatening to derail their charge for a top 4 place (as well) this season. Manager Andre Villas-Boas has overseen the worst Chelsea performances in the Roman era and personally I’m a little surprised he still has a job.
Chelsea’s poor form at home this season continued in their last match at Stamford Bridge when Birmingham forced an FA Cup 5th round replay. The match ended 1-1 and the performance was the sort we have seen a lot from the Blues this season.
Bolton wanders are 19th in the league and were beaten at home by fellow relegation fighters Wigan Athletic their last Premier League outing, but Owen Coyle’s men worked their socks off and progressed into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup after a 2-0 victory over Millwall last weekend.
Chelsea have taken maximum points in the last six matches between these two sides, and I think they could pull off a slim victory in front of their fans. Bolton will give Chelsea a game, but Chelsea are due a good result soon after their poor run of results.
Manchester City vs Blackburn Rovers
League-leaders Manchester City welcome relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers to the Etihad Stadium, knowing at the back of their mind, that they can’t afford to drop points with Manchester United breathing down their neck in second place.
Roberto Mancini’s men recorded an away victory against Villa, winning 2-1 the last time in the Premier League. The win was only Manchester City’s second in their last seven away matches. They then traveled to the Estadio do Dragao to face Porto (who had not been beaten at home in a major competition all season) in the Europa League where they secured a 2-1 first leg victory.
Blackburn Rovers responded to their humiliating 7-1 defeat at Arsenal with a nervy, but precious victory at home to QPR in their last Premier League outing. The victory moved them out of the relegation spots and onto 17th place.
Blackburn Rovers have won only once away all season and guess where they recorded that victory? In Manchester, at Old Trafford. Can they make another Manchester team pay? I seriously doubt it as Manchester City are flawless at home in the Premier League, recording maximum 36 points from their 12 home matches. They would be very confident about this fixture, especially on their home turf.
Norwich City vs Manchester United
Norwich became just the second side, after Manchester United, to beat Swansea on their own turf this season when Grant Holt scored a double to help his team to a 3-2 victory over Swansea at the Liberty stadium, but the Canaries’ high-flying season took an unexpected jolt at the weekend when Leicester City claimed a 2-1 victory at Carrow Road to dump them out of the FA Cup.
Manchester United kept pace with League-leaders Manchester City in a composed performance against Liverpool, winning 2-1. They followed that victory up with a Europa League triumph away in Holland against Ajax, where they recorded a 2-0 first leg victory.
The return to fitness of a number of players for Manchester United is a very big boost ahead of this encounter. Nani, Young, Jones and Smalling all featured in the victory last Thursday.
Norwich City, bar their FA Cup loss at the weekend, have been in very good form winning three of their last five games, including the last two in the Premier League. Manchester United have won eight times away this season, including three of their last five away matches.
Norwich have adjusted well to the pace of the Premier League. What I especially like about them is that you never know when or how they will hit you. They are not afraid to go forward and know when to defend too. But facing champions Manchester United is another kettle of fish entirely and I think United’s experience will shine through on Sunday afternoon.
Newcastle United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Newcastle were brutally hammered in their last Premier League outing, losing 5-0 at White Hart Lane to Tottenham. It was the worst performance I have seen from Alan Pardew’s team this season, especially in the first half where they were played off the pack by a fantastic Tottenham side.
Mick McCarthy had to go after Wolves were beaten 5-1 in the Black Country derby against West Brom two weeks ago. Wolves sit precariously in 18th place.
Newcastle could go 4th, if Chelsea and Arsenal both lose their respective matches this weekend. And a win for Wolves would be the perfect response to their Derby humiliation. Wolves have been pretty poor on their travels this season and with everything happening at the club at this point in time, they don’t look like getting anything away from the Sports Direct Arena. Newcastle have won 7 of their 12 matches at home this season, Wolves won’t stop them recording an 8th.
Queens Park Rangers vs Fulham
Mark Hughes will come up against his former employers for the first time after his not too pleasant resignation at Fulham just before the Premier League started. He has taken up the job at Loftus Road and though results haven’t as expected since, I think he has got the right blend of players in place, and I think the team is in the right direction and he will help Rangers to safety come the end of the season.
In the first meeting between these two teams back in October, Martin Jol’s men ran the rule over Rangers in a 6-0 rout of the Premier League newcomers. Fulham haven’t lit up the Premier League this season but still sit a very respectable 12th place. Their away form has been poor with just one win all season. QPR have been poor as well, this time at home with just two home victories all season.
QPR are one of three teams with 21 points and sit precariously in 16th place. They have brought many players in during the January transfer window and they MUST find their feet quickly if their top-flight adventure won’t end soon.
QPR need the points badly but with Fulham drawing five of their 12 Premier League games and QPR are not always strong at home, so I’m going for a draw in this match up.
West Bromwich Albion vs Sunderland
Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie scored a hat-trick to propel West Brom to their sixth away win of the season in a 5-1 victory away at Wolves two weeks ago. It was no more than Albion deserved as they produced some breathtaking football against a woeful Wolves side on the day.
West Brom quite alarmingly haven’t been able to replicate their away successes at home as they have won just two and lost eight in front of their fans this season. In fact, their home record is so poor that they have recorded four losses in their last five matches.
Sunderland took on Arsenal twice in a week as they played the Gunners first in the Premier League where they lost in the final minute. Martin O’Neill’s men though got their magic back last weekend as they condemned Arsenal to a seventh successive trophyless campaign after they recorded a deserved 2-0 win in their FA Cup 5th round match.
Sunderland have been a much changed side since O’Neill’s arrival. Sunderland have won four matches away all season but have won three of their last five away matches since Martin O’Neill’s arrival. With players like Stephane Sessegnon, Frazier Campbell and others in good form plus West Brom’s pathetic home record, it’s hard for me to see past another Sunderland away victory. But the last few matches between both sides has seen some quite close results so you can’t rule out the possibility of both teams sharing the spoils.
Wigan Athletic vs Aston Villa
How will a team survive relegation after having just won one match at home all season? I have absolutely no idea how Roberto Martinez is going to get Wigan out of the trouble, as they sit with just 19 points. A late winner by James McArthur earned Wigan a lifeline and a 2-1 victory away at the Reebok Stadium against Bolton two weeks ago.
Aston Villa have won just three matches at home all season and their woes were further compounded when Manchester City came into town and snatch a 1-0 victory at Villa Park 12 days ago to leave them 15th in the table, seven points adrift of the relegation zone.
Aston Villa have won just six matches all season and interestingly, their last five travels has recorded three victories. Alex McLeish’s men can take confidence in their away form of late and hurt a Wigan side that more often than not falters in front of their fans.
Aston Villa have won on their last two travels to face Wigan and coupled with their away form of late, I can’t see Wigan stopping them from a third consecutive victory on their own turf.
Stoke City vs Swansea City
Stoke City have been very poor in their last few matches as they are without a win in their last five Premier League matches and are languishing in 13th place on the standings. Mehmet Topal’s 30-yard screamer further compounded Stoke City’s woes as Valencia won 1-0 in their Europa League first leg victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium last week Thursday. They however returned to winning ways when they crushed Crawley Town 2-0 at Broadfield Stadium in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Swansea City registered only their second Premier League away win of the season when they won 2-1 at West Brom. This was after they had impressively held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at home. They were however brought down back to earth when Norwich City beat them 3-2 in front of their own fans at the Liberty stadium in their last Premier League outing before the FA Cup break.
Swansea City have lost seven times in twelve travels in the Premier League this season and Stoke, by their standards have been woeful this term with just four Premier League wins at home all season.
This will be a very interesting fixture, Swansea are bad travelers and Stoke are poor at home. Stoke’s FA Cup victory could kick start their season, I think they will get their fifth Premier League home victory in this one.
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