Thursday, March 17, 2011

INFTH Premier League Predictions

Tottenham vs West Ham- West Ham must be cursing their luck at the timing of this game. After a whole slew of injury problems, Spurs finally have Van der Vaart, Modric, Bale and Lennon fit, a fearsome attacking quartet.

Not only are players coming back to fitness, but others are coming into form. On his last outing, Jermain Defoe showed us all why he was so successful in the Premier League last season, with a brilliant brace of goals against Wolves. With Bale supplying from the wings, and Van der Vaart and Modric weaving patterns in the middle, one would imagine Defoe will be given the chance to further his goal tally on Saturday.

West Ham come into this game off a morale sucking away loss to Stoke in the FA Cup Quarter Finals. There was real hope in the West Ham camp that the FA Cup might bring a trip to Wembley, but it was not to be, and the West Ham players must shake off that disappointment and remember how well they have been doing in the Premier League in recent weeks.

Prediction: 3-1

Aston Villa vs Wolves- It is well known that Wolverhampton Wanderers are capable of giving anyone a scare on the day, but I just don't see it happening for them against Aston Villa.

Ashley Young has been in sparkling form of late, and speculation is rife that he could be off to Manchester United in the summer. Young will be professional enough to not let those rumors effect his mindset though, and I for one would not be surprised if he at is inspirational best again on Saturday.

Wolves will see this as one of their bonus games in the race for survival, but is a local derby and you can be sure that Mick McCarthy will not let his side settle for anything less than three points. However, if those points are to be gleaned from this most difficult of away trips, then McCarthy will have to hope that his side can maintain discipline in defense, with their back four all at sea last time out against Tottenham Hotspur.

Prediction: 2-0

Blackburn vs Blackpool- Both sides have had a lengthy break from Premier League action due to their lack of participation in the FA Cup, and one wonders whether that might take away from some of the edge of this fixture.

Blackpool boss Ian Hollaway said midweek that his side should need only another two wins to guarantee survival, but with West Ham, Wolves, Birmingham and even West Brom looking capable of winning games, he may need even more than that. No matter the end total, Hollaway will hope that his side acquit themselves well in this match, just in the way they have done so on the road all season. Encouragingly for the Seasiders, Charlie Adam will be back for this match, providing the inspiration in midfield that Blackpool will need if they are to stay up this season.

For Steve Kean and all involved at Blackburn Football Club, the last few months of the season should be ones of relaxation, as the Lancashire based side is well clear of the relegation zone, while too far off Europe to have any chance of a late push into next year's Europa League. Star striker Roque Santa Cruz will see this match as an ideal chance to break his goalscoring duct, much like Torres Santa Cruz has failed to find the net since his move in January.

Prediction: 2-0

Manchester United vs Bolton- Obviously, United were active in the Champions League midweek, but I doubt that Sir Alex's experienced troops will let Tuesday's successful exertions effect their performance on Saturday.

Worryingly for United, only five defenders are fit at the moment, with news coming through today that Rio Ferdinand may well miss the remainder of the season with a troublesome calf injury. On a positive note though, Nani and Valencia are both available for selection, so Ferguson will have a variety of attacking options to choose from, as he begins the first part of a massive five match touchline ban.

Owen Coyle's Bolton side will be riding a psychological wave after their Quarter Final victory over Birmingham in the FA Cup, but they mustn't let their upcoming Wembley date with Stoke distract their preparation for this, and all their other remaining matches.

Prediction: 3-0

Stoke vs Newcastle- In the last prediction, I mentioned that Bolton must be wary of letting their Wembley semi final match distract them, and the same applies to Stoke. Tony Pulis' side have done supremely well since their promotion to the league in 07/08 and the Cup semi-final is a deserved reward for four years of over achievement, but The Potters cannot afford to let it take away from their form in the run-in.

Newcastle have been solid in the league since Andy Carrol's departure, and I fully expect them to put up a fight against this notoriously physical Stoke City team. Alan Pardew will have taken note of the form of wingers Matthew Etherington and Jermain Pennant, so one would imagine that he will have his defense fully prepared for the challenges that they will face against that duo.

Prediction: 2-1

West Brom vs Arsenal- Forget Barcelona, United, Chelsea, this is by far the most important game of Arsenal's season to date. The Gunners have suffered through a turbulent few weeks which have seen them be eliminated from three of the four major competitions. At Old Trafford in the Cup, they were poor in almost every department, and West Brom will know that Saturday is a brilliant opportunity for them to claim a rare double over their London adversaries. And if Arsenal do drop points in this match, then it may well spell the end of their valiant title charge.

Roy Hodgeson will know that if West Brom are to stay up, then they will have to cash in on all their remaining home games, no matter the opposition. With West Ham in sparkling form at the moment, and Wolves always dangerous, West Brom must keep picking up points, or else face the prospect of being marooned in the bottom three.

Prediction: 1-1

Wigan vs Birmingham- Not the most enticing tie at first glance, but for these two teams it may prove pivotal.

Birmingham have looked sluggish since their Carling Cup victory in February, and one wonders whether they will be haunted by the same poor form that defined Spurs' season following their Cup success in 2008. If Birmingham continue to drop points, then their position at the bottom end of the table will become increasingly perilous, to the point where they may have to contemplate balancing a tough Championship schedule, with that well earned stint in Europe.

Wigan are looking worse and worse every week, and if they fail to take maximum points from this game, then their Premier League obituaries may well be drafted. If the club to go down, then a whole host of above average Premier League players will find themselves on the market, and it will be interesting to see who'll choose to take a risk on players of the likes of Victor Moses, Hugo Rodallega and Charles N'Zogbia. Certainly, if Wigan are to survive, then they will have to look to that trio for much needed inspiration in front of goal.

Everton vs Fulham- In a bizarre development this week, Mark Hughes was linked to the soon to be vacant job at Bayern Munich, a rumor which I don't know to laugh or cry about. I'm sure Fulham will move to quash the rumor sooner rather than later, but the fact that this piece of gossip has even come into existence is utterly unbelievable.

Everton come into this game off the back of a disappointing 1-1 home draw with Birmingham, just the latest in a long line of dissatisfying  results for The Toffees. A year ago it would have seen inconceivable for anyone to question David Moyes' position as coach, but in the light of this season's results, a sacking is plausible.

Fulham under Mark Hughes have improved after a shaky start, and the return of Bobby Zamora to the side should add some much needed fire power. With both Andy Johnson and Zamora fit, Fulham should pose a decent threat to the Everton defense, and if The Cottagers can unsettle the Everton back line early, then they could be in for a very profitable evening.

Prediction: 1-1

Sunderland vs Liverpool- Liverpool will hope that their midweek Europa League exertions don't harm their chances of winning a difficult match away against an exciting Sunderland side.

In the weeks following the departure of Darren Bent, Sunderland looked close to implosion, but an away draw against title chasers Arsenal should steady the ship. In Asamoah Gyan, Danny Welbeck and new signing Sessegnon, Sunderland have a strike force capable of disrupting even the most miserly of defenses, and if Steve Bruce's star trio is on song, then Liverpool could be in for a tough game.

It'll be interesting to see whether Kenny Dalglish elects to play Andy Carrol and Luis Suarez along side each other for this one, with Dirk Kuyt in such fine goal scoring form. I'm sure that Carrol will be anxious to make a mark on his ex team's hated rivals, but Dalglish will have to judge for himself whether Carrol is fit enough to start two matches in a row.

Prediction: 2-2

Chelsea vs Manchester City- Unsurprisingly, this match has been dubbed the highlight of the weekend, but personally, I  don't see the appeal. City have made it clear on numerous occasions this season how they approach away games against big teams, and I'm sure Roberto Mancini would be delighted if his side could grind a 0-0 draw out of this one.

Following Wednesday's tutorial on how not to finish, Ancelotti will hope that a return to the starting line up for the "rested" Fernando Torres, will help his troops to claim the attacking impetus necessary to break down a stout City defense. If Ancelotti's side are to reclaim the league this season, then they will have to win every single game from here on in, and you have to imagine that Manchester City will provide them with a first road block on a near impossible journey.

City played the lion's share of their Europa League meeting with Dynamo Kiev with only ten men on the pitch, and one wonders whether the exertions necessary in that match will effect their performance on Sunday. Mario Balotelli was once again the villain after his stupid sending off, so Edin Dzeko will fancy his chances of starting up front along side Carlos Tevez.

Prediction: 0-0

No comments:

Post a Comment