Month: April 2015

Midweek Preview and Predictions

Tuesday

Hull vs Liverpool (19:45)
This is a fixture that should mean a lot to both sides who both have a lot to play for. Hull are fighting for their lives down at the bottom and have one of the toughest run-ins. Liverpool can close the gap on United to four points with a win and give themselves an outside chance of a top-four spot. Hull recorded a vital away win at the weekend to give them hope of survival while Liverpool fluffed their lines once more. Had the Reds won that match they would have really been in with a shout of getting a top-four spot but they simply cannot afford to lose this. This will come down to who wants it more but Liverpool should have enough to get it.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Liverpool

Wednesday

Leicester vs Chelsea (19:45)
What a run Leicester have been on! Some may say they were slightly fortuitous to get the win against Burnley last time out but they have pulled themselves out of the relegation in the most unlikely fashion and could yet survive – a terrific achievement. Chelsea, meanwhile, showed once again why they are deserving champions with an excellent defensive performance against Arsenal and they will be confident of extending their lead at the top tonight. Leicester will play for a point but will keep looking nervously over their shoulder.
Prediction: Leicester 0-1 Chelsea

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WEEKEND PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 34th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got four out of seven predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Southampton v Tottenham (12:45)
This is sure to be a really exciting game. It is Pochettino’s first trip back to St Marys since he left for North London, and despite his very successful 18-month spell in charge I’m not sure he’ll receive the warmest of welcomes from the Southampton faithful. A lot of people will have felt very let down by his departure, but I’m sure the Spaniard will be very keen to show that his new club are a step above. Both teams are in pursuit of a Europa League spot, so it’s sure to be a fiercely contested clash. Neither side are on a great run and it’s a tough one to call, but Southampton’s home form is enough to suggest that they’ll edge this one.
Prediction: Southampton 1-0 Tottenham

Burnley v Leicester (15 :00)
What a run Leicester are on! Three wins in three for the Foxes has brought them back from the brink of relegation. They’re now the favourite from the bottom three to stay up, and if they continue playing the way they have recently, they surely will. Burnley on the other hand haven’t had much luck of late and are desperate for a win. They put in a really spirited performance against Arsenal and they’ll be massively frustrated by Ashley Barnes’ sending off against Everton which stopped them really competing for the points. Both teams will put everything into this one but I can see Burnley stopping Leicester’s run.
Prediction: Burnley 2-1 Leicester

Crystal Palace v Hull (15:00)
I think most were surprised to see Crystal Palace fail to get a fifth successive win against West Brom, but to be fair to them they’ve done more than enough to be forgiven for an off day. Hull on the other hand can’t buy a win at the moment. It seems a long time ago since they saw off QPR and Villa in successive games. After that we all thought they’d probably be ok, but they’ve found themselves right back in the thick of it. Unfortunately they don’t have many ‘winnable’ games left and this is certainly one of their easier remaining fixtures, but I can’t see Pardew’s side making this anything like easy for Hull. I fancy this one to end all square.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Hull

Newcastle v Swansea (15:00)
Swansea have had a solid season and will be keen to hold on to a spot in the top half. Newcastle, however, are in disarray at the moment. That said, I can’t see them sliding into a relegation scrap. You have to feel sorry for John Carver; his players really don’t seem up for it but he’ll be desperate to show that he has what it takes to be a top-flight manager. Newcastle have got some pretty comfortable fixtures coming up so if they can buck their ideas up they could go on a bit of a run. I’m going for a drab draw here, though.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-0 Swansea

QPR v West Ham (15:00)
QPR gave Chelsea a run for their money, and I’m not sure they’ll have wanted a 12-day gap before this game. They were really impressive against the soon-to-be champions and were building up momentum in their bid to stay up. West Ham were very sloppy against Man City, it was a really poor performance. It looks like Big Sam will be moving on, but he’ll still be keen to grab his side a top half finish. The R’s really need to win this one though. I’m backing them to get all 3 points here, they’ll be right up for it and will simply want it more than the Hammers’ players.
Prediction: QPR 2-1 West Ham

Stoke v Sunderland (15:00)
Sunderland are in real danger of going down, they’ve got some tricky fixtures and they look frail defensively. Stoke meanwhile are usually solid at home, maybe not quite as much as they were under Tony Pulis, but they’ve been doing better on they’re travels which has seen them through an impressive season. The Black Cats could really do with at least a point here but I can’t see them getting anything.
Prediction: Stoke 3-1 Sunderland

West Brom v Liverpool (15:00)
West Brom are looking much more comfortable after their impressive win against Crystal Palace. They surely won’t get pulled back into the relegation battle now. Liverpool won’t believe they threw away the chance to get into the FA cup final. Brendan Rodgers will be furious with how poor his team were and will demand that they bounce back. They should be able to win this one but Pulis won’t make it easy for them.
Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Liverpool

Man City v Aston Villa (17:30)
City didn’t need to be at their best to see off a lackadaisical West Ham. They’ll be glad to be back to winning ways after two poor losses and will be keen to make sure they don’t slip up again. To be honest they can’t really afford to. Aston Villa will be on a high after their sensational performance against Liverpool. They were really impressive and fully deserve to be in the final. For now though, it’s back to the harsh reality that they still need some vital points to ensure their Premier League status. I can’t see them getting anything against City, however, who should win this one fairly comfortably.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Aston Villa

Sunday

Everton v Man Utd (13:30)
Everton have been good of late and are on a decent run which has gone a little unnoticed. It’s been a pretty poor season for The Toffees but fans will be happy that they’ve found some form when it’s really mattered. Man U had also been on an impressive run, until Chelsea halted them last week. They were the better side but for all their possession they only managed two shots on target. Their fans will be so frustrated by that. United’s injury list is still quite long, but they could be boosted by Blind’s return to action which will give them a bit of bite in midfield. This is another tough one to call, but I’m going down the middle with a score draw.
Prediction: Everton 2-2 Man Utd

Arsenal v Chelsea (16:00)
We all know about Arsene Wenger’s record against Mourinho. You have to say that for such an accomplished manager, it must secretly be a source of embarrassment for the Frenchman, no matter how much he has tried to play it down. Mourinho’s Chelsea team are just so good against the top teams though, and when they don’t have to win, they’re even more difficult to beat. They will be as organized as ever, and probably quite happy to let Arsenal play and wait for the counter-attacks where The Blues are so lethal. That said, the Gunners are playing some great football at the moment and have so much quality going forward that it will take a stellar effort from Chelsea to stop them scoring.
The balance of the game could rest on whether or not Diego Costa passes a late fitness test. While his form had begun to slip, Chelsea are a different animal going forward with him in the side. Nobody seems to think that Wenger’s hoodoo against Mourinho will end anytime soon, but this is the strongest side he’s had at his disposal in years. Home win, just.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 33rd round of Premier League football. Last time out we got six out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Crystal Palace vs West Brom (15:00)
Alan Pardew’s team are in sensational form and should jump into the top half of the table this weekend; a magnificent achievement considering where they were when he took over. The Baggies are heading in the opposite direction and are in danger of being dragged in to a relegation battle. Normally playing a team in Palace’s position would be a blessing in disguise for West Brom as they have nothing to worry about in terms of relegation, sadly the Eagles are more concerned with finishing as high up the table as possible. Comfortable home win here.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 West Brom

Everton vs Burnley (15:00)
The Toffees have really picked up in recent weeks and have an outside chance of pushing for a top half finish but in truth they will just want the season to end as soon as possible. Burnley, meanwhile, are scrapping for their lives at the bottom of the table but there is just the sense that they can escape danger. If they were to get anything from this they would put themselves in a really strong position but I think Roberto Martinez’s side will be too strong.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Burnley

Leicester vs Swansea (15:00)
Nigel Pearson’s side have given themselves a real shot of staying in this division with back-to-back wins but they need to keep that momentum going. A win in this game would put them level on points with Hull in 17th and would give them belief that they will survive. The Swans won’t roll over easily, though, and have beaten most the teams in a similar position to Leicester in the last few weeks. This could go either way. The Foxes will be desperate to get a win but Swansea are so consistent at the moment and a draw seems more likely.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Swansea

Stoke vs Southampton (15:00)
This match has very little riding on it, although Southampton still have an outside chance of getting a Champions League place. Stoke have been as solid as ever this season and Mark Hughes has done a good job. The Saints have struggled to score a multitude of goals all season and have relied on being solid defensively and I just fancy Stoke to shut them out and end their faint hopes of competing in the Champions League next season.
Prediction: Stoke 1-0 Southampton

Chelsea vs Man United (17:30)
There is only one result in this match that could salvage a shred of interest in the title race and that would be a Manchester United win. Sadly, Chelsea have been very consistent over the season and look unlikely to surrender the title now. United have also improved recently and you get the feeling they will be challenging for first place next season. Mourinho always sets his side up well for the big games and I can’t see them losing.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Man United

Sunday

Man City vs West Ham (13:30)
City are in big trouble of seeing their season spiral out of control and if they drop out of the Champions League spots then heads will roll. This is the perfect game to get back on track though as West Ham are on holiday already. Aguero returning to form last weekend was a boost and he should grab a goal or two here in a comfortable win.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 West Ham

Newcastle vs Spurs (16:00)
This is a bit of a nothing game for everyone involved and these are two sides that are ready for the season to be over. Newcastle are sliding down the table rapidly and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they didn’t pick up another point this season. Spurs look jaded and their European challenge is all but over but they should still win this.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-2 Spurs

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 32nd round of Premier League football.

Saturday

Swansea vs Everton (12:45)
Both sides were victorious in their last outings and there is very little riding on this game besides pride and the financial benefit of being placed slightly higher in the league. For that reason, the two teams can play with a freedom that is not afforded to other sides in more precarious positions and this should be an entertaining game that could easily go either way. I think both teams will be pleased with another point and a couple of goals.
Prediction: Swansea 2-2 Everton

Southampton vs Hull (15:00)
The Saint’s top-four challenge all but came to an end last weekend with defeat against Everton but they have enjoyed a terrific season and there is still the possibility of a Europa League place to show for it. Hull, meanwhile, are in serious danger of being relegated. They have a horrible run of fixtures and are relying on teams around them not picking up points. This is a game that Steve Bruce’s team could really do with getting something out of, but I just don’t see it.
Prediction: Southampton 1-0 Hull

Sunderland vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
The Black Cats are another team hanging perilously above the relegation places who also have a tough run of fixtures but they produced the goods last weekend with a win over their rivals Newcastle. Palace, on the other hand, are in fantastic form and beat Manchester City on Monday night. They will fear nobody and Alan Pardew will have no qualms about taking all three points off his former Toon rivals.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-1 Crystal Palace

Spurs vs Aston Villa (15:00)
Tottenham Hotspur endured another disappointing weekend and their Champions League challenge looks over for yet another season. Villa were involved in possibly the most chaotic game of the season against relegation rivals Queens Park Rangers that ended in a 3-3 draw. They will have been disappointed not to emerge with all three points but they looked far more menacing in attack and should provide a threat to Spurs’ backline. Villa boss Tim Sherwood returns to his former club to add a nice subplot to this tail but Tottenham should have too much for them.
Prediction: Spurs 2-1 Aston Villa

West Brom vs Leicester (15:00)
What has happened to West Brom? They were thumped 4-1 by a revived QPR at home in their last match and are by no means completely away from danger just yet. The Foxes got their much-needed win against a West Ham team that is already on their summer holidays and have given themselves a chance at survival, albeit a small chance. The Baggies dare not lose this one and it could be a classic Tony Pulis stalemate.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Leicester

West Ham vs Stoke (15:00)
The Hammers have nothing to play for now and it’s showing in their performances. Sam Allardyce looks set to leave the club and there is a sense of uncertainty around the club at the moment. Stoke are plodding along nicely and should finish in the top half of the table which would represent a good season. This is a bit of a nothing game in the grand scheme of things but I think Stoke are good value for the win.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Stoke

Burnley vs Arsenal (17:30)
The Clarets improved their survival prospects with a good draw against Spurs and there is a genuine possibility that they will stay up this season due to the difficulty of the fixtures their relegation rivals have to play. Arsenal are in great form and could easily finish second in the table and win the FA Cup this season, which would represent great progress for Arsene Wenger’s team. Burnley will be tough to break down but The Gunners have the quality to find a way through.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Arsenal

Sunday

QPR vs Chelsea (13:30)
The R’s enjoyed an excellent week, picking up four points on the road against relegation rivals. Chelsea continue to impress while their rivals falter and it’s just a matter of time before they win the league. Any result other than a Chelsea win could have a very significant bearing on the table at the end of the season but it’s hard to see them slipping up in this one.
Prediction: QPR 1-2 Chelsea

Man United vs Man City (16:00)
This is a massive game for both clubs but particularly for Manchester City. United have stolen a march in the race for finishing in the automatic Champions League group stage qualifying spots and lead their rivals by one point. City’s season has been in a constant decline and is showing no sign of improving but they have been very good against their rivals in recent times. This could easily go either way but it should be an entertaining match and hopefully with plenty of goals.
Prediction: Man United 2-2 Man City

Monday

Liverpool vs Newcastle (20:00)
In a weekend where every fixture looks rather uncertain, this stands alone as the banker. Liverpool may not be in their most petrifying form of the season but Newcastle have been so poor recently that it seems very unlikely they will make a good fist of making this a close-fought contest. This should be a comfortable win for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle

Aston Villa vs QPR preview and prediction

@0riginalfooty takes a look at this midweek fixture between two clubs fighting for their lives at the bottom of the Premier League table. Last time out we got five out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Villa Park – Tuesday (19:45)

Games don’t come much bigger than this. Two relegation-threatened sides with three points separating them. One in the relegation zone, the other hovering dangerously above it. But this isn’t just a traditional relegation six-pointer, it’s a fixture riddled with sub-plots. This is a clash between two great friends, a battle between one of the league’s best strikers this season against one who has returned to form and a scrap for two sides desperate to feed on the succulent financial teat that is the Premier League’s TV deal.

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood takes on his former assistant coach, close friend and current QPR manager Chris Ramsey. The two have spoken fondly of each other prior to the match and say they speak at least once a week on the phone but this is the sort of fixture that can tear friendships apart.

“This is without doubt the biggest game of the season for Villa and possibly one of the biggest in a number of years and this is the biggest of my managerial career,” said Sherwood.

There are few who would argue with him. The former Tottenham Hotspur boss got off to a poor start at Villa with narrow defeats to Stoke and Newcastle, the latter being a particularly disappointing result, before renewing optimism and belief as they beat bitter rivals West Brom and smashed relegation rivals Sunderland 4-0. However, that belief is facing a severe test now as an important home game against Swansea became a loss and was followed by a routine defeat to Manchester United.

It may sound melodramatic to some to describe tonight’s match as must-win when there are seven matches to play but Villa’s fixture list justifies the claim. Following tonight’s game there are trips to Spurs and Man City, home matches against Everton and West Ham, an away day at Southampton and finally the crucial last day of the season clash with Burnley. The match against fast-sinking West Ham now looks winnable and there is no question they must beat Burnley but the other fixtures look tough to even earn a draw in. Villa simply must win tonight.

QPR’s fixture list is also treacherous. They face Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City in their last six games but also have winnable fixtures at home to West Ham and Newcastle before a final away trip to bottom side Leicester – could the fixture generator cough up more cutthroat final day clashes?

The R’s looked down-and-out before they thumped Tony Pulis’ West Brom 4-1 in the Midlands this weekend. That was possibly the worst possible result for Villa in a weekend where every side in the relegation battle picked up at least a point, besides them and Hull.

I predicted at the start of the season that both of these teams would survive and I still believe they both could, but it is far more probable that at least one of them will face the drop. Whichever team survives will probably have one of their star forwards to thank. QPR’s Charlie Austin has had a brilliant season and has an outside chance of finishing as top scorer in the league. He currently has 16 goals and has already scored against Villa this season in the 2-0 win at Loftus Road.

Villa’s own talisman Christian Benteke has endured a frustrating campaign that included working his way back from injury but he has scored four in his last four matches in all competitions and there is a feeling that he could be returning to form at just the right time. Whoever comes out on top tonight could keep their side in the top flight.

Both sides have fresh injury worries with Alan Hutton set to miss the fixture with an ankle problem while QPR have also added Eduardo Vargos and Yun Suk-young to the injury table. For Villa, Aly Cissokho could return along with Philippe Senderos, Kieran Richardson and Tom Cleverley.

Regardless of everything else, all that matters come kick-off is who wins on the pitch. This could go either way but I fancy Villa to come up with the goods when it matters the most. They have been in a relegation battle for the last four years and always seem to have a season-defining fixture around this time of year where they beat one of their rivals convincingly. If they don’t win tonight then I believe they will be relegated but QPR could still survive even with a loss. Sherwood to win this battle of the best friends.
Prediction: Villa 3-1 QPR

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 31st round of Premier League football. Last time out we got five out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Arsenal vs Liverpool (12:45)
As far as I’m concerned, Arsene Wenger’s side have already confirmed a top-four spot and there is a genuine possibility that they will finish second as Man City continue to falter. Liverpool lost a crucial battle in the race for the Champions League places and this match could prove to be a last hurrah for them. They are under pressure following their defeat to Man United and Raheem Sterling’s contract saga is not making life any more comfortable around Anfield. With home advantage for The Gunners, I’d expect them to come out on top.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool

Everton vs Southampton (15:00)
The Toffees have strung together some decent results in the last few weeks and their safety is all but confirmed. Southampton, meanwhile, refuse to give up the possibility of nabbing a Champions League spot but realistically it will be beyond them. Having said that, they are more than capable of winning against a team who have nothing to play for.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Southampton

Leicester vs West Ham (15:00)
This is a must-win game for Nigel Pearson’s team. If they fail to win then I can’t see any way back for them. The Hammers did every relegation-threatened side a huge favour by beating Sunderland last time out but Leicester will know that this is a team whose season is over and they simply have to win. I still think The Foxes will be relegated but I’ll back them to make things at the bottom even more interesting with a home win.
Prediction: Leicester 1-0 West Ham

Man United vs Aston Villa (15:00)
Louis van Gaal was under great pressure prior to the matches against Spurs and Liverpool but his side have come away with two excellent victories to put them in complete control of earning a top-four spot. Villa suffered a poor home result against Swansea in their last match and it has thrown them firmly back into the relegation mix. Tim Sherwood’s side may have half an eye on the crucial home match against QPR on Tuesday night but it is important that they put in a good performance to keep morale in the camp high. Villa certainly have the weapons to hurt van Gaal’s team if they play to their best and they will make a game of it but it’s hard to look past United in this one.
Prediction: Man United 3-1 Aston Villa

Swansea vs Hull (15:00)
The Swans continue to impress and look determined to end their season on a high. Hull have also been in decent form and gave Chelsea a run for their money in their last match. Two more wins would virtually guarantee safety for The Tigers and this is a game they could certainly get something out of but Garry Monk seems intent on finishing the season strongly and I think they will get the three points.
Prediction: Swansea 2-1 Hull

West Brom vs QPR (15:00)
The Baggies are another team looking to secure their top-flight status and Tony Pulis will be confident of achieving safety if they manage to beat hapless QPR. The R’s continue to put in poor performance after poor performance but this is the biggest week of their season. West Brom are by no means unbeatable and then they face one of the sides they could realistically catch in the form of Aston Villa on Tuesday. If they could get four points from those two matches then they would be right back in it. Sadly for them, I fancy Pulis’ team to be too strong for them.
Prediction: West Brom 2-0 QPR

Chelsea vs Stoke (17:30)
The Blues edged another step closer to claiming the title with a nervy 3-2 win over Hull and it would be amazing to witness anything other than Chelsea’s colours around the trophy this season. Stoke have tied Mark Hughes down to a new contract while the international break has been going on and they have enjoyed another solid campaign. It won’t be an easy match for Jose Mourinho’s team but one they should win.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Stoke

Sunday

Burnley vs Spurs (13:30)
The Clarets are still in the frame for survival and a win here would lift them out of the relegation places for at least a couple of hours. Their opponents, however, will have seen at least one of their rivals for a top-four spot drop points on Saturday as Liverpool and Arsenal face off against each other and simply cannot afford to slip up against opposition of this ilk. Sean Dyche’s team won’t let them have it easy but I fancy Tottenham to just about nick it.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Spurs

Sunderland vs Newcastle (16:00)
This Tyne-Wear derby has plenty riding on it, particularly for Sunderland. The Black Cats sit a point above the relegation places and are in atrocious form. Dick Advocaat got off to a losing start against West Ham but will have had time to work with his team during the international break. Newcastle, on the other hand, are meandering towards the end of another mediocre season and defeat here would not go down well with their support. This could go either way so I’ll go for a draw.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle

Monday

Crystal Palace vs Man City (20:00)
Alan Pardew’s new team rose above his former charges in the table with their victory over Stoke and he deserves great credit for what he has achieved at Selhurst Park. City put in a much better performance against West Brom in their last match but they can’t afford to drop another point if they are to have any chance of winning the title. This is not an easy fixture and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Palace get something out of it but City should edge it.
Crystal Palace 1-2 Man City