There are some decisive-looking games on this weekend… Manchester United look to go top of the table when they play rivals Arsenal, Chelsea travel to South Wales, Defoe will be hoping for a repeat of his previous record-breaking goalscoring performance against Wigan, Man City can’t afford any slip-ups at West Ham, QPR battle it out at the bottom with Reading and Liverpool and Newcastle seemingly must win if they want to stay in contention for a Europa League place. Plenty to look forward to then, as Saturday approaches…
Sending in his predictions this week, is the owner of this blog, Rami, who won the prediction game last week, and a friend of mine Del. Basically this is a game to see who can most accurately predict the results, you get 1pt for predicting the right result (e.g. you say 1-0 and it actually finishes 2-0) and 3pts for guessing the exact scoreline (e.g. you say 2-0 and it finishes 2-0).
By the way, anyone is more than welcome to have a go at this game for next week, I think my twitter account is listed on my profile.
So, let’s get to the games…
Man Utd vs. Arsenal
An intriguing, and no-doubt heated clash, will see the team with the best ‘goals scored’ record in the Premiership play that with the best ‘goals against’. How Arsenal seem to have solidified under Steve Bould’s new assistant role, that crazy Reading game in midweek aside, makes me think this won’t be a repeat of this fixture last season, when United hammered the Gunners 8-2. Having said that, Wenger’s side haven’t exactly been producing confident performances of late; they went down to a shock defeat at Norwich, badly lost at home to German outfit Schalke, and it took them a red card and a scrappy late goal from Arteta to see off bottom-of-the-table QPR last week. With United on a high after getting a late winner of their own against Chelsea, and the attention slightly off Arsenal old-boy RVP who’s scored his first few goals for his new club now, I think the Red Devils will win this. 2-0, and van Persie to get one of the goals with hopefully a modest celebration.
Rami says: 2-1
Fulham vs. Everton
The fact that Fulham have picked up as many points at home this season as Manchester United tells you that this will be a difficult game for Everton, but it’s one they should be looking to win if they want to beat either Arsenal or Tottenham to a European spot. Fulham could be potentially looking at European football next season themselves had they managed to hold on to away wins at Southampton and Reading- with an extra 4 points they would actually currently occupy 4th spot, but it seems like it’ll be their home form that they will solely rely on this season, which I don’t think will be quite enough for them to get into the Europa League, and I think Everton might miss out as well. 1-1.
Rami says: 2-2
Norwich vs. Stoke
Chances will be at a premium in this game. Both of these teams established themselves in the Premier League last season because of their team spirit and competitive edge, which has made up for their lack of obvious technical talent. With both being such hardworking sides, I don’t think there’ll be much space for the attacking players to really show us what they can do, I’m predicting a game of few, if any goals. Because Norwich seem to be on a run of form, good performances against Arsenal and Villa, I’m going to say they can clinch a hard-fought victory. 1-0, Holt to score.
Rami says: 2-1
Sunderland vs. Aston Villa
Both O’Neill and Lambert opted to field practically their first team in the Carling Cup in midweek, which seemed to me like a dubious decision- how can they expect to keep players fresh and the other 14 players in the 25-man squad happy if they do that? For that reason, I think there could be an element of lethargy in these teams’ play on Saturday, so I’m seeing a bore draw. Sunderland do seem to have problems scoring goals at the moment, only 6 of them from 8 Premiership games isn’t a good return and if the Villains can keep Steven Fletcher quiet on Saturday I would argue they can keep a clean sheet. However, the Villa have got goalscoring problems of their own- Darren Bent is probably somewhere within the top 10/15 strikers in the Premiership and I just can’t understand why Lambert doesn’t play him, and if it’s for confrontational reasons, well then you’ve got to question his handling of Bent from the outset. A goalless draw feels the most likely outcome.
Rami says: 1-0
Swansea vs. Chelsea
I’d be inclined to say there’s a goal in this game for the Swans. Chelsea will be without a number of important players for this match and could suffer from fatigue having been involved in back-to-back dramatic clashes with Manchester United over the past week, the Carling Cup game going to extra time, so Swansea, having just knocked Liverpool out of the cup, might just fancy themselves a bit. I think this game is a big opportunity for the likes of Sturridge and Marko Marin (if Mata is given a rest) to come in and prove their worth to the team; with Chelsea oozing quality in the attacking midfield and wide areas I can’t see them missing the Spanish number 9 as much as some might suggest. 1-3.
Rami says: 1-3
Tottenham vs. Wigan
Jermain Defoe will have happy memories of playing against Wigan- his five goals back in November 2009 helped Spurs to a remarkable 9-1 win in which he equalled Alan Shearer and Andy Cole’s record for most number of goals a player has scored in a Premiership match (5). He is a deadly finisher; if you give him the ball in the box he will score goals, it’s as simple as that. Tottenham will have been knocked off their, rather comfy, perch by conceding two late goals to the Canaries in midweek and crashing out of the Carling Cup but if anything that competition can prove to become more a distraction in the long-term. Wigan had a cup nightmare of their own losing on penalties to Bradford, albeit with a second string side, but this match was always going to be the priority. I think Wigan will turn up and play some decent football at White Hart Lane, like they did against West Ham, and I have a feeling they might score the opening goal but Tottenham ought to win this eventually. 2-1, and I can see another goal for Defoe to add to his proud collection.
Rami says: 2-0
West Ham vs. Man City
I see this as a banana-skin game for Man City. They did look sluggish in the match against Swansea last week, albeit having just come back from Holland, but I expected them to put in a strong performance to make up for that defeat and they didn’t. It does make me think the players don’t seem to have that dying allegiance to Mancini, like the Chelsea team did when they won the title under Mourinho a few years ago, they just don’t look fully committed to the cause. For West Ham, I’m sure Allardyce will let the players know in no uncertain terms that the performance at Wigan last week wasn’t really good enough, and the Hammers being the home team here I think they can bounce back from that to pick up a point. 1-1
Rami says: 0-1
QPR vs. Reading
I think it’ll be QPR who get their first win of the season in this game. They defended reasonably well at Arsenal, although the Gunners had the majority of the play, and showed encouraging signs in getting a draw the week before against Everton, who were 4th at the time. To be fair to them, they’ve had a tougher opening quarter of the season than the average team but they should still have had their first win by now. This will be a must-win for Hughes. As for Reading, it’s a crucial game for them as well but their preparation for this match has hardly been ideal; they might still be in a state of shellshock having thrown away a 4-0 lead to lose to Arsenal in the cup midweek, and some players playing 120 minutes in that game won’t have done their fitness and mental planning for this match any favours. For that reason, I’m going to go with QPR, 3-1.
Rami says: 2-0
Liverpool vs. Newcastle
Liverpool haven’t exactly got a reliable home record, they draw more games than they win at Anfield which is a recurring problem they haven’t stamped out since last season, and that’s what you’ve got to have, home consistency, if you want a place in Europe. Despite their defeat in midweek to Rodger’s old club Swansea, going out of the cup could be a blessing in disguise because they’ve not got the biggest squad, and the tiki-taka man will want to prioritize getting their league form right before anything else. For Newcastle, they are yet to win an away game this season but you’ve always got a chance of scoring goals with a player like Demba Ba in your team, he’s so sharp, so I think they will get a draw, which they’ll be reasonably pleased with. 1-1.
Rami says: 2-1
West Brom vs. Southampton
Despite an 11-place difference between the teams in the table, Southampton have actually scored more goals than West Brom this season, and are the joint-highest scorers with Swansea in the bottom half of the table. This for me, epitomizes my dilemma in predicting who will go down: Norwich are ticking now under Chris Hughton, QPR have got so much money either Hughes will turn it around or someone will replace him, Reading do look capable of scoring goals and might have some money in the kitty themselves, West Ham and Baggies have started very well, Villa seem like too big a club to go down and Martinez has got Wigan playing with a lot of confidence. Might do an article on this later, because I think it’s a very difficult one to call. I just think Southampton, if they can address their problems at the back, and Adkins has shown such defiancy in recent interviews, I have a feeling they can do it as well. But of course ultimately there will be three teams who go down, it’s dog-eat-dog. I’m struggling to see West Brom getting sucked into the relegation mixer with performances like they put in at Newcastle last week, might go for another 1-1 draw to finish off with.
Rami says: 1-1
That’s all for this week, good luck if your team is playing. I’m going to watch Birmingham City play at home to bottom-of-the-table Ipswich, who have just sacked their manager and have lost their last four matches… if we’re lucky, we might be able to sneak a draw.
(If you want to have a go at the predictions game next week, you’re more than welcome tweet me @_thescore)
Have a good weekend.