It’s the big one for us this weekend. All or nothing. We have to equal Chelsea’s result to remain top for Christmas for the first time since 1996, and after Rafa predicing that there’s an 80% chance we’ll win the League if we do accomplish such a fine feat … well it goes without saying that we have to beat Arsenal!
Now then, last week I got more than just a few predictions wrong, let’s see if I can do any better this week. All quotes are by JD.
(15:00) Blackburn v Stoke
“Blackburn to win 5-0. Fat Sam to walk around thinking he’s the new Christ 2008 years on.“
11 games and counting for a weak Blackburn side that have been showing no signs of improvement – however, the sacking of Paul Ince may help, as they have a new manager in Sam Allardyce. Sam did a good job at Newcastle while he was there, and I’m sure he’ll do equally as well with a Blackburn side that has got, on paper, a good quality side.
Stoke will need to watch out, as Blackburn will be looking for the win – especially as they are out to impress their new manager. Rory Delap’s throws didn’t seem to uhh … work – last week, but maybe that was due to the fact he had a sore shoulder? Who knows. Either way, if Stoke want to get something out of this game they’ll need to be at their very best – but I’m not sure even that will be enough right now.
Blackburn 3 – 1 Stoke.
Bolton v Portsmouth
“A draw. And an unexciting one at that – definitely featuring lots of pairs of gloves.“
Bolton looked slightly lacklustre last week – well, it was either that or an exquisite Aston Villa team made them look very bad, I don’t know! Anyway, they were on fire up until a couple of weeks back, and if they can regain that form against Portsmouth then I see no reason why they can’t go on to win this match. They have a good manager, a good set of players and by the looks of it a good mentality.
Portsmouth are a side I like, they’re always hungry for wins and will often do anything to get that win … but recently, well, I only need to say one word – Newcastle. How could they lose 3-0 on home turf? It’s almost unthinkable, especially against a very under-achieving Newcastle side. Probably just a blip in their form, as all sides go through it at one stage or another. They’ll need to watch out for Bolton this time, they’re a very organised side that will attack and attack.
Bolton 2 – 1 Portsmouth.
Fulham v Middlesbrough
“Fulham win. Middlesbrough to get shafted on some decisions – but once again Gareth Southgate ‘doesn’t like to talk about it cos he is such a nice bloke.’“
Fulham have become a regular fixture in the Premier League and will probably know how to deal with teams like ‘Boro – but isn’t to say they’ll win, just to say that they know how not to play against them. Fulham are a very well organised defensively, and their attack and midfield aren’t bad either, but they need to start scoring more in order to get their points tally up. We all know they’re capable. No more Pantsil crying on the floor though!
‘Boro will be on a high after a well-earned draw with Arsenal, and as we’ve learned – teams that are on a high do not come down easily. Gareth Southgate’s side will be fighting for all they’re worth, but with a key defender out injured for just over a month, they’ll be quite frail at the back. Fulham will expose this weakness and cash-in on it.
Fulham 1 – 0 Middlesbrough.
Hull v Sunderland
“Sunderland are on a high after their big win last week. Have they turned the corner? Hull 3-0 win.“
Hull are quickly becoming contenders for Europe. Not just because they got a draw at Anfield last weekend, but because they’ve put every Premier League club they’ve faced under pressure. Newly-promoted teams don’t do that! They’re supposed to be on the floor begging for forgiveness while the bigger clubs steamroll them for the three points! ~Sigh~ I guess the League will never be the same after this season, eh? Anyway, back on the money – Hull will give Sunderland a good seeing to, and I can’t see the Black Cats holding out in this fixture. Hull are creativity, flair and experience all rolled into one.
Sunderland were due a result – and that happened last weekend. Now it’s back to business as usual; they’re manager-less, but full of confidence … but that won’t last long. They don’t offer enough to thwart a very over-achieving Hull side. Sunderland really don’t have enough quality. Sure, they may score a goal or two, but Hull will score more.
Hull 4 – 2 Sunderland.
(17:30) West Ham v Aston Villa
“Aston Villa will show again that they are intent on getting involved at the top. Craig Bellamy and Gareth Barry to have a scrap.“
I’d pay to see that, but we all know Bellers would win! 😉
Anywho, Villa have shown they can play when the chips are down, and are looking like a very likely candidate to either rename the Big Four the Big Five, or just simply knock someone out of the Big Four. No guesses as to who! They play with pace and style and usually adjust the game’s tempo to suit them. I consider their poor result in the UEFA Cup – sorry – “Copa Europa” to be a one-off.
West Ham are living proof that the “gap” between the Big Four and the rest is being closed – and fast. Draws against Liverpool at Anfield and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge are something they would never have dreamed of achieving last season, but they’ve gone and done it. Organisation and tactics are the key in the Premier League, and it looks like the smaller teams have finally figured it out. I tell you what, West Ham will definitely give Villa a run for their money if their display at Chelsea is anything to go by, but I can’t see past a draw here. The two teams will probably cancel each other out.
West Ham 1 – 1 Aston Villa.
(13:30) West Brom v Man City
“Man City been a bit off form recently but this is an ideal time for them to get back in the groove ahead of the winter transfer blitz.“
Brom won’t win this. City gave Hull a really hard time at their home ground, and WBA are considerably the more weaker side than Hull are. West Brom will start this match pushing about 10 players forward … again … then they’ll get hit on the break. It’s like reading a book that you know word-for-word; you know exactly what’s going to happen with this team.
City have it made travelling here. No team is a guaranteed three points, but WBA is as close as you’ll get. City though, are missing Robinho who seems to be on a long-term injury – though I’m not sure exactly what it is. They still have Elano, Jo and Ireland as backup, and they’ll be more than enough for a weak WBA side.
West Brom 0 – 3 Man City.
(15:00) Newcastle v Tottenham
“Away win. Owen to break down with an injury thus scuppering his transfer plans.“
Newcastle will be brought back down to earth with this fixture. Their 3-0 victory over Portsmouth last weekend was more like a one-off. There, I said it. Portsmouth weren’t organised, and were probably reminiscing over the game before – where they were booted out of the UEFA Cup. (After all, going out of Europe is something awful, most of us have been there, eh?) Anyway, I’m sure the Magpies will be ready for this game, but I’m not convinced they’ll get anything out of it.
Tottenham just have too much quality all over the pitch, and Redknapp sure knows how to use that quality. They will find this a challenge more than anything else – they’ll see that Newcastle are a resilient side under Kinnear, and may find it hard to break them down. But they will manage it in the end. Not that anybody will see the end, ‘cos the Liverpool game is on an hour after this kicks off!
Newcastle 0 – 2 Tottenham.
(16:00) Arsenal v Liverpool
No quotes. The pre-match thread is here if you wish to discuss and view comments on the game.
Arsenal have been shaky all season, and it doesn’t look as though it’s going to stop any time soon. As much as I want to big Arsenal up for this game (and I sooo do!), I just can’t. They don’t offer anything defensively, they’re completely inbalanced as a team, their manager is completely losing the plot. And what’s all this about sharpness? A team of youngsters isn’t going to be very sharp Mr. Wenger!
Now, Liverpool have had a pretty torrid run of results recently, and our play has been tepid at best in the League recently. But, unlike previous seasons, we’re somehow managing to completely up our game against the top clubs – and that makes for a title-winning side! All we have to do now is drag out the results at home. I don’t fear for us against Arsenal; we’ve played better away this season, our support has been better and we seem more confident and creative on and off the ball. As I’ve said before, if Agger stays handcuffed to Adebayor and Mascherano stays tied to Fabregas, this game is ours … hopefully.
Arsenal 1 – 2 Liverpool.
(20:00) Everton v Chelsea
Three things are against Everton in this fixture. The first being that Chelsea have a 100% away record in the League thus far. The second being they’re short of any natural strikers. The third being that Chelsea are a very, very difficult team to beat. But I’ll still back Everton … this once! I hope they put in a solid, defensive display and do what is required of them. But they’ll probably lose.
Chelsea have been on our backs since the beginning of the season. They’ve scored more, conceded less … but still have one less point. I’d pay anything for them to lose this match, but I feel they have far too much for Everton to handle. Drogba is back to his old coin-throwing, diving, pitiful self, Anelka back to his grumpy, goal-scoring self. Though I have to admit, it’d be funny to see Cahill score the winner here too.
Everton 0 – 2 Chelsea.
That’s it from me this week then – see you soon!