Thursday, April 14, 2011

INFTH Premier League Predictions

Birmingham vs Sunderland- Embroiled in a relegation scrap, Birmingham will see a home match against struggling Sunderland as an ideal opportunity to gain a precious three points. Last weekend, the Black Cats losing run continued with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of West Brom, a result that leaves the side in dire need of a win.

However, a trip to St. Andrews will pose a multitude of problems to Sunderland, the Blues are renowned for their excellent home form. On the other hand, Steve Bruce will know very well that a win in the Midlands could be just the tonic for Sunderland's faltering season, a result that could spark a fine end of year run.

I'm going to go for Birmingham in this one, I simply can't see the Black Cats returning to form at such a tough venue against a team that will be desperate for points.

Prediction: 2-0

Blackpool vs Wigan- This match has the air of a six pointer around it, both teams involved are great need of a win, with Blackpool on the brink of the bottom three, and Wigan fully entrenched in it. Last week, Blackpool showed superb fight to avoid a mauling at the hands of Arsenal, and Tangerines supporters will hope that similar resolve is displayed in this match.

Meanwhile, Wigan come into this game after a morale sapping one-nil defeat at Stamford Bridge, a result that was wholly unjust considering Wigan's magnificent display under huge Chelsea pressure. Roberto Martinez will know that his side's shaky defense will come under more intense pressure this weekend, as a vibrant Blackpool attack boasting the likes of DJ Campbell and Charlie Adam will seek to prey on the Latics' defensive fragility.

Ali Al Hasbi was superb in goal for Wigan last week, and he'll have to be again if they are to stand any chance of overcoming their relegation threatened adversaries.

Prediction: 3-1

Everton vs Blackburn- Last week, Everton pulled off one of their finest wins of the season, as a first half blitz was enough to see off Wolverhampton Wanderers. Decimated by injuries, David Moyes was forced to blood a fair amount of youth in that game, and he will have to rely on the younger members of the squad again come Saturday.

Blackburn are technically still involved in the relegation scrap but personally, I don't see them as real candidates to go down. There are at least three or four teams in the league that are inferior to them, and at Ewood Park, most observers would fancy them to get a result against anyone.

Seeing as this match is at Goodison Park, I have to fancy Everton to win this one, but a careful study of Rovers' away draw at Arsenal should be enough to convince any watcher on that Steve Kean's side are more than capable of pulling a shock.

Prediction: 2-0

West Brom vs Chelsea- Following a disastrous loss at Old Trafford, The Hawthorns is the very last place Carlo Ancelotti would want his team to go. Roy Hodgson has reinvigorated the Baggies since his arrival, and the minnows look on their way to another season in the top flight.

While Hodgson has been lauded since his move, Ancelotti has faced a tougher time of it. The Chelsea boss was victim of yet more criticism this week, following his decision to start Fernando Torres ahead of Didier Drogba against Manchester United. However, while widely tipped to leave at the end of the season, Ancelotti will be desperate to secure Champions League football for the Blues next season, a process which begins on  Saturday.

I'm going to go for West Brom in this one, the Baggies have proved on more than one occasion this season that they are capable of mixing it with the big boys, and following Champions League disappointment, Chelsea are ripe for a beating.

Prediction: 3-1

West Ham vs Aston Villa- Since surrendering a 2-0 lead at home to Manchester United, the West Ham capitulation has been sad to see. In their next match, the team from East London looked devoid of any confidence as a Daniel Sturridge inspire Bolton romped to a 3-0 victory.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa seem to have recovered a little of their swagger, as any relegation worries were palliated by a win over Newcastle on Sunday. Gerard Houllier has since said that he hopes his team can go unbeaten to the end of the season, something that although possible, is easier said than done.

Despite their poor form of late, I think that West Ham will win this game, and kick start a revival which will see them stay up. In Demba Ba, Thomas Hitzelsperger, Mark Noble, and PFA Player of the Year candidate Scott Parker, West Ham boast four top tier players, four that will not be retained if the club goes down, but also four that are more than capable of helping West Ham avoid that fate. I'm still not totally convinced by Aston Villa, and though they won't go down, they are certainly a team that will need a lot of work in the summer.

Prediction: 2-1

Manchester United vs Manchester City- We're just starting to get "that" feeling about Manchester United, aren't we. A win in midweek saw them through to the Champions League semi-finals, and a win on Saturday would all but secure an FA Cup triumph. As usual, the Red Devils are clicking into gear at exactly the right time and they are only a few wins away from guaranteeing a 19th Premier League title.

Even more encouragingly, their opposition, city rivals Manchester City, are in a dire situation, shorn of their top goalscorer Carlos Tevez, and devoid of confidence following a thrashing at Anfield. However, the FA Cup always has the capacity to surprise which is why I'm tipping City to reach the final.

Despite, their good form, I get the sense that the Red Devils will slip up somewhere, and an emotionally charged fixture at Wembley could mark the moment of that slip up. The City players will know that a win on Saturday would do much for the history of the club, and you can be sure that Roberto Mancini will have his players up for this game.

Prediction: 1-2

Arsenal vs Liverpool- Boosted by the return of Szczesny and Djourou, Arsenal will feel slightly better about themselves then they did this time last week. The Gunners are back on the winning trail in the League following a 3-1 success at Bloomfield Road, but they are likely to face a much tougher test on Sunday.

Liverpool looked absolutely superb against Manchester City on Monday, but Kenny Dalglish's team has blown hot and cold for large portions of the second half of the season. Key to the Reds chances will be the form of strikers Carrol and Suarez, who both looked majestic in the aforementioned victory over City.

During Newcastle's visit to The Emirates, Andy Carrol caused the Arsenal back line all kinds of trouble, scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory. Despite the Englishman's aerial threat, I'm going to predict an Arsenal success, Wenger's team knows that they simply cannot afford anymore slip ups.

Prediction: 2-0

Stoke vs Bolton- The second, and perhaps less appealing of the two FA Cup semi-finals, but an important occasion nonetheless. Both managers will be convinced that their side is favorite to reach the final, a fact which should make this game quite compelling.

Having watched Birmingham shock Arsenal in the League Cup, both sets of players will know that an FA Cup winners medal is not too far out of their grasp, something that makes this game all the more intense. Both teams have refused to take their eyes off the ball in the Premier League despite their respective cup runs so current form doesn't provide much of an assistance in separating the sides.

However, in my toughest prediction of the week, I have decided to go with Bolton, their more expansive style of football is likely to better suit the wide Wembley pitch, and I see them winning despite the absence of key men Sturridge and Holden.

Prediction: 2-3

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