Thursday, February 10, 2011

INFTH Premier League Predictions

Manchester United vs Manchester City- In a match which has been dubbed "the jet lag derby," United will meet arch rivals City in a game which could prove to be crucial in the title race. Mancini made his approach to big games clear early in the season, and I don't think anybody would be surprised if City once again attempt to grind out a nil-nil draw. However, United will have other ideas, and one would expect them to be able to bounce back after the disappointment of that match at Molenieux. Certainly, if City can come out of Old Trafford with a win, we'll have a very interesting title race indeed.

Prediction: 2-0

Arsenal vs Wolves- For Wolves, this season has been one of big time scalps as well as big time disappointments. While Mick Mcarthy's men have managed to pick up big wins against the likes of United, City, Chelsea and Liverpool, they have failed to beat the teams around them, resulting in their current league position of 19th. For Arsenal, this clash is likely to be one of redemption, as the Gunners' shattered team spirit meets up with a team that they will surely be able to beat. Wenger will certainly hope that his side wrap up the game early, as his key players will need rest in preparation for a home match against FC Barcelona later this week.

Prediction: 2-0

Birmingham vs Stoke- Birmingham will come into this game full of confidence after Nikola Zigic's second half header steared them to a win at Upton Park last Sunday. The importance of that win can't be emphasized enough, not just because of the fact that it took place at the home of a relegation rival, but also because it showed that Zigic may just be beginning to adjust to life in the Premiership. However, if The Blues are to win this game then they'll have to go through Stoke and in particular goalscoring center half Robert Huth, who again proved the match winner last week, with a brace against Sunderland.

Prediction: 2-1

Blackburn vs Newcastle- Newcastle have been buoyed this week by the signing of 34 year old Finn, Shefki  Kuqi. Alan Pardew has made it clear that the experienced striker may well be thrown in instantly, and one wonders whether he will have had enough time to gel with his teammates, so as to make a decent first impression on Saturday. For Blackburn, this game will be seen as an ideal opportunity to end their two game losing streak, and you have to think that Steve Kean will be disappointed with anything less than three, vital, points.

Prediction: 1-0

Blackpool vs Aston Villa- Since their 2-1 win over Liverpool, in Kenny Dalglish's first league game of his return to coaching, everything has gone wrong for Blackpool. The Tangerines followed up that win with five straight league losses against West Brom, Sunderland, Manchester United, West Ham and Everton. To make matters worse, in three out of five of those games Blackpool held the lead only to throw it away. On the other side of the coin, Aston Villa have been enjoying a purple patch of late with wins over Manchester City, Wigan and Blackburn (in the FA Cup) before dropping points away to Manchester United and home to Fulham. During this run, new signings Darren Bent and Kyle Walker have made big impacts while the likes of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing have continued their fine form from earlier in the season. Aston Villa's success of late was truly epitomized on Wednesday as, for the last 25 minutes of the game, Fabio Capello fielded an all Aston Villa front line of Bent, Downing and Young.

Prediction: 1-3

Liverpool vs Wigan- Liverpool have been enjoying a renaissance of sorts in recent weeks, and that win at Stamford Bridge, made even more special by the presence of one Spanish striker, will surely have lifted the whole squad. This match appears to be the perfect opportunity for Kenny Dalglish to finally hand a full debut to former Ajax man, Luis Suarez. For Wigan, this trip will surely be a bonus game, one which would be nice to win but not at all detrimental to lose. Seeing as many of Liverpool's players were away on international duty during the week, Wigan may fancy their chances a little bit more than usual but I still struggle to see any result, other than a Liverpool victory.

Prediciton: 3-0

West Brom vs West Ham- In yet another crucial game in the race to survive the drop, Avram Grant's West Ham travel to the Midlands to take on a West Brom team recently shorn of their manager, former Chelsea star, Roberto Di Matteo. If West Ham are to have any chance of taking all three points from the Hawthorns then they'll need star player Victor Obinna, on loan from Inter Milan, and new signing Robbie Keane to be firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, the West Ham central defensive pairing of Matthew Upson and James Tomkins will have to be on top form if they are to avoid being punished by West Brom's Nigerian top scorer, Peter Odemwingie.

Prediction: 2-1

Sunderland vs Tottenham: Following a little bit of a rut, Tottenham have managed to find their feet, and just in time too, as a clash with AC Milan at the San Siro looms large. However, without key players Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, Spurs are not as much of a threat and I imagine that attentions may be focused on that clash at the home of the Italian league leaders, as opposed to the task in the Northeast. Steve Bruce will expect his team to make use of any lack of focus from Harry Redknapp's men and with Ghanaian duo Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan striving to make an impact at every opportunity, I fully expect Tottenham Hotspur to come undone.

Prediction: 2-1

Bolton vs Everton- After a long period of mediocrity, Bolton are finally beginning to rediscover some of their early season form, and I think some credit for that needs to go to on loan Chelsea youngster Daniel Sturridge. Having scored a last gasp winner at home to Wolves, Sturridge again struck at White Hart Lane, in a game that Bolton were unlucky to lose. For Everton, the main focus will be on the return to the starting line-up of Aussie Tim Cahill, and David Moyes will hope that his ability in the air unsettles the Bolton defense enough for his side to claim all three points.

Predicition: 1-1

Fulham vs Chelsea- Until Chelsea's match against Liverpool last Sunday, it had appeared that Chelsea had finally turned a corner, and would push on to at least put up a fight in defense of their title. However, the bubble has been well and truly burst, and it will take a gargantuan effort from Carlo Ancelotti's men to wrestle all three points from a Fulham side which has been resurgent of late.

Prediction: 1-1

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