Thursday, May 5, 2011

INFTH Premier League Predictions

Aston Villa vs Wigan- On paper this looks an easy home win for Aston Villa, but they have nothing to play for, whereas Wigan have everything on the line.

Desperate to avoid relegation, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez will know the importance of his side picking up points in every remaining game and I'm sure that he will have told his players to go for the win in this one. With Blackburn playing West Ham, and Blackpool likely to be defeated at Spurs, any type of point haul could be enough to propel Wigan out of the drop zone.

Last week, Villa suffered the embarrassment of losing a city derby despite being up a man for a large portion of the second half. Though that defeat has not impacted their hunt for safety, that was secured long ago, it still will have been a bitter pill for supporters to swallow. However, I think Villa will bounce back in this game, and secure a comfortable home win.

Prediction: 3-0

Bolton vs Sunderland- After a woeful run of form, Sunderland looked to be back in the groove following a resounding 4-2 win over Wigan, but the Black Cats were back on the losing end the very next week, going down 3-0 to Fulham.

A terrific rebound from cup semi disappointment has turned sour for Coyle's troops, after beating Arsenal they have lost two straight to Fulham and Blackburn. However, this time around they will be at home, and playing a team short on confidence as well as decimated by injuries. Sunderland's away form has not been good this season, and I think that Bolton will capitalize on that, with a win on Saturday.

Prediction: 2-0

Everton vs Man City- Last week's win over West Ham, combined with Spurs' controversial loss at Stamford Bridge has all but secured Manchester City the fourth and final Champions League spot. Having just missed out last season, Mancini will have been delighted by his team's progress this year, but they do still face a tough match, away to an in form Everton side.

Despite suffering from a plethora of injuries, the Toffees have managed to put together a fine late season run, one which has put them on the brink of Europa League football. With Saturday's opponents having already secured Champions Leaguee football, Everton will fancy themselves to cause an upset in this one, especially as many a City player will have one eye on next week's FA Cup final.

I'm going to go for a home win in this one, City looked shaky against West Ham last Sunday, and only won due to the Hammers' inability to make their lapses of concentration pay. This time though, City are coming up against a more than formidable opponent, one who will feel confident of upsetting the odds.

Prediction: 2-1

Newcastle vs Birmingham- Another two teams assured of safety, and another game set to lack a competitive edge. While the run in always brings with it a series of hugely important matches, it also encompasses several drab, boring games. This is one of them.

Both sides have done well in this last third of the season, guaranteeing safety without too much strain or duress. Birmingham in particular have done well, they entered a bit of a mini slump following their win at Wembley.

I'm going to predict a home victory in this one, Newcastle are strong with the backing of a vociferous St. James' Park crowd, and I just don't see Alex Mcleish being able to inspire his troops (shorn of key man Craig Gardner) to victory.

Prediction: 2-0

West Ham vs Blackburn- This is massive. Two teams both in need of a victory, with West Ham bottom, and Steve Kean's side a loss away from being dragged right back into the relegation dog fight.

After a little bit of a renaissance in the second third of the season, West Ham have come tumbling down to earth. Following the surrender of a 2-0 lead over Manchester United, the Irons have plummeted, losing match after match, and sinking back into the dreaded relegation places. Avram Grant has quite a job on his hands to inspire his troops, especially without the influential Scott Parker.

Last week's win over Bolton was huge result for not just the fans, but for Steve Kean and Rovers' new Indian owners. Blackburn are now just a point or so away from safety, and with a match against Manchester United coming up, Kean will want to get it sooner rather than later.

Prediction: 1-1

Tottenham vs Blackpool- Surely too far off for a return to the Champions League to be an option, Spurs will look to redeem some of their injured pride in what looks to be a potentially goal heavy home match.

After failing to beat weak teams at home, it would be just like Blackpool to pull a big result out of the bag here, but even for Ian Holloway, that could be a bridge too far. Blackpool have just lost the goal threat that made them so dangerous earlier in the season, both Adam and Campbell have run out of steam at the worst possible time.

If they want to, Tottenham can rack up a cricket score in this match, Bale, Van Der Vaart and Modric will all be eying the Blackpool defense with hunger.

Prediction: 4-0

Wolves vs WBA- Last week, West Brom mathematically guaranteed safety, a tremendous achievement, mainly thanks to the inspirational Roy Hodgson.

Wolves however, are still deep in the mire, and if they fail to win this one, they may well be on their way back down to the Championship. Without Kevin Doyle, Steven Fletcher has been forced to step up, and credit to the Scotsman, he has managed to deliver, scoring twice in his last two games.

Wolves fans will pray that an already safe West Brom team takes their foot off the pedal for this one, but I don't think Hodgson will let that happen, meaning that Wolves will be in for a tough game. Unfortunately for the home side, I see a draw in this one, and almost certain relegation for the Wolves.

Prediction: 2-2

Stoke vs Arsenal- At the start of the run in, this match was marked down as a potential stumbling block for Arsene Wenger's side. However, the Gunners have managed to mess things up elsewhere, rendering this game academic.

I find it unlikely that Stoke will stress themselves too much for this one, most of the squad will have one eye on next Saturday's cup final. Arsenal meanwhile, will still be riding a wave of confidence from their win over Manchester United, and I suspect that a certain Aaron Ramsey will be interested in making a positive impact, on a fixture that last season led to a serious injury for the Welshman.

Though I'm predicting an Arsenal win, Gunners fans should still be wary, if Stoke haven't diverted all their attentions to Wembley, then they may well pose Arsenal a real problem.

Prediction: 1-3

Manchester United vs Chelsea- Thirty-five games, all boiling down to one match that will probably decide the destination of this year's Premier League title.

Manchester United managed to rest most of their stars in midweek, yet still were able to cruise through to the Champions League final, a huge boost for all involved at the club.

The main question hanging over Chelsea's pre match preparations has been the striking conundrum, which way to get the best out of the team's wealth of attacking talent. After scoring his first in Chelsea colors against West Ham, Torres was hauled off early in the second half against Spurs, and most are still yet to be convinced by the Spaniard. On the other hand, Drogba has been in fine form, and he was Chelsea's best player during their recent Champions League loss to Manchester United.

Though it would create a thrilling conclusion to the season if Chelsea won, I'm going for a draw and another step towards number nineteen for United.

Prediction: 2-2

Fulham vs Liverpool- Both these teams are on terrific runs of form, and both also were victorious against teams from the Northeast last weekend. Fulham have steered themselves to the cusp of a top half finish, while Liverpool look certain to finish in a Europa League spot.

Fulham's form at Craven Cottage has been well documented, and their is no doubt that Mark Hughes' team will pose a significant challenge to Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish. Andy Carrol should be making a return to the starting line up for the Reds, so it will be interesting to see how Brede Hangelaand deals with his aerial prowess.

With both teams on good runs, I see a draw in store, though Fulham will fancy themselves to knick it on home turf.

Prediction: 1-1

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