Thursday, February 24, 2011

INFTH Premier League Predictions

Aston Villa vs Blackburn- Both sides got the weekend off last time around, with Blackburn already knocked out of the cup, and Villa on standby due to Man City's replay against Notts County. Presumably, both sets of players will be fresh and raring to go for this one, so we should be in for an exciting encounter.

Villa will look to English trio Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Darren Bent for inspiration, a group of players more than capable of scoring goals. New Blackburn signing Roque Santa Cruz has yet to get off the mark following his return to Ewood Park, and it will be up to Villa defensive pairing Richard Dunne and James Collins to keep that run going.

Gerard Houllier will expect his side to take all three points from this encounter, but he will know full well that Blackburn are never a push over.

Prediction: 3-1

Everton vs Sunderland- Had Everton lost on penalties to Chelsea at the weekend, then I would have been one of the first to wonder what effect their tired legs would have on this encounter. However, as it transpired, Everton came out of Stamford Bridge victorious and the morale boost provided by that win will surely cure any possible bout of tiredness inflicted on the squad by their extra-time exploits.

Sunderland have lost a little momentum in the weeks following Darren Bent's move to Aston Villa, and Steve Bruce will hope to see an upturn in the fortunes of his side during their game at Goodison. Asamoah Gyan has been integral of late, and one would imagine that any Sunderland win would have to come courtesy of a strike from the Ghanaian.

David Moyes will pray that Everton's recent cup success manages to spark their league form into some life, but even if it doesn't, he will still have the consolation of a fifth round cup tie against Reading in the week.

Prediction: 2-0

Newcastle vs Bolton- Ever since the loan signing of Daniel Sturridge on transfer deadline day, Owen Coyle's Bolton side seem to have recovered their early season swagger. With Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies not on goal scoring form, it will be vital that the in form duo of Daniel Sturridge and Ivan Klasnic hit the heights of their exploits in previous weeks.

For Newcastle, this game will be perceived as very winnable, and if all three points are not gleaned on Saturday, then their will be some very disappointed Geordies. Leon Best and the returning Shola Ameobi will both be key to Newcastle's cause, and the mid-table side will hope to continue the decent run of form that they have enjoyed of late, as well as take advantage of the rest they enjoyed last weekend.

Prediction: 2-1

Wigan vs Man United- All the top teams are notorious for being very vulnerable in games directly following a European fixture, but one would imagine that United's experience in these kinds of situations will help them through this fixture.

United's away form has been shaky at best all season, and if the Red Devils make a poor start to this one, then Wigan may well find themselves with a chance of grabbing something. Once again though, United's attacking trio of Nani, Rooney and Berbatov will be crucial to their push for the points, and with some key players returning from injury United will fancy their chances in this one.

Prediciton: 0-3

Wolves vs Blackpool- Blackpool come into this game off the high of beating Tottenham in midweek, but one wonders whether their frail squad will be able to cope with two important games in a week.

Wolves will know the importance of taking the maximum from this game, especially with West Ham beginning to creep back into form. However, blunders against the little teams have not been atypical of Wolves this season, and one wonders whether Mick Mcarthy's side will become unstuck against the Seasiders.

With Charlie Adam in red hot form, and DJ Campbell a constant threat in front of goal, Ian Hollaway will know that his side is capable of claiming yet another away win, but it certainly won't come easy against a resolute Wolverhampton Wanderers side.

Prediction: 3-2

West Ham vs Liverpool- Liverpool and West Ham both enter this game after wins in cup competitions midweek, with West Ham smashing five past Burnley in the FA Cup and Liverpool just about overcoming Sparta Prague in the Europa League.

With the likes of Demba Ba, Frederic Piquionne and Thomas Hitzelsperger in tow, West Ham know that they are capable of beating Dalglish's Liverpool team, especially at Upton Park. Avram Grant will understand the importance of this game, especially if Wolves beat Blackpool on Saturday, and he will have made sure that his players aren't distracted by their fabulous cup run. If everything comes together on the day for West Ham, then they may well claim the points.

Despite their recent resurgence, only the most ridiculously optimistic of Liverpool fans will still harbor hopes of a top four finish, and for the majority of people involved with the club, this game will only serve as an opportunity to consolidate a Europa League spot.

Prediction: 2-2

Man City vs Fulham- Man City will come into this game on a high, having overcome Aris Salonika and securing a place in the last 16 of the Europa League. Meanwhile the bubble that was slowly formulating over Craven Cottage has been well and truly burst following Ivan Klasnic's heroics for Bolton at the weekend.

Earlier this season, Fulham were absolutely thrashed by Man City, and Mark Hughes will be keen to avoid a repeat of that painful encounter. For Mancini's City team, the rest of the season remains a battle to stay in the Champions League places as, following Rooney's derby goal two weeks ago, City are now all but out of the title race.

Prediction: 3-0

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