Aaron Ramsey

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the 16th round of Premier League football. Last weekend we got four out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?


Burnley vs Southampton (15:00)
Burnley may be in the relegation zone at the moment but in the last few weeks they’ve given their fans great encouragement through their gritty performances. The loss to QPR away may have dampened the mood around Turf Moor slightly but their results at home are what can keep them in the league this season. Southampton are on a three-match run of defeats but they have played strong sides and were a little unfortunate to lose on Monday against Man United. Burnley’s need to get points at home combined with Southampton’s desire to end a losing run may lead to this one ending as a draw.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Southampton

Chelsea vs Hull (15:00)
Chelsea may have suffered their first loss of the season last week but they have been gifted the best possible fixture to bounce back. Hull have endured a miserable run of late and have not won since October. They have slipped into the relegation zone and need to stop the rot quickly but they won’t do it at Stamford Bridge.
Prediction: Chelsea 4-0 Hull

Crystal Palace vs Stoke (15:00)
Both these teams are capable of good performances and results and yet they have disappointed their fans on many occasions this season. Palace have outplayed both Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur in their last two matches but have only come away with one point while Stoke blew Arsenal away in the first half but have disappointed in some of the fixtures that you would expect them to do better in. This game could go either way but Stoke will fancy their chances of returning from Selhurst Park with a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Stoke

Leicester vs Man City (15:00)
Leicester’s miserable run of form went from bad to worse by losing to relegation rivals Aston Villa and they are now four points away from QPR who lie just above the drop zone. Kasper Schmeichel’s injury is another body blow to their survival hopes as he has been their most consistent performer this season. City, meanwhile, are starting to look like genuine title contenders and have narrowed the gap at the top of the table to just three points. It’s hard to make a case for anything other than a victory for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
Prediction: Leicester 0-3 Man City

Sunderland vs West Ham (15:00)
Sunderland have won fewer games (two) than any other team in the division apart from the sides in the relegation zone and are proving to be the draw specialists in the league. West Ham are flying high in fourth but need to be careful not to get carried away and complacent. Sunderland know how to grind out a result and The Hammers may have to settle for a point.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 West Ham

West Brom vs Aston Villa (15:00)
The Baggies are slowly sliding down the table and are five points behind their Midlands rivals before the derby. Villa have climbed up the table with back-to-back victories and could welcome both Fabian Delph and Ron Vlaar back this weekend. Both of the fixtures between these teams were brilliant spectacles last season and a high-scoring and hotly contested derby should be on the cards again.
Prediction: West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa

Arsenal vs Newcastle (17:30)
The Gunners were very poor in the first half against Stoke last weekend and need to improve defensively. It is hard to predict against Newcastle at the moment given their excellent form and they deserve great credit for being the first team to beat Jose Mourinho’s men this season. Having said that, Arsenal earned qualification for the Champions League this week with another good win and Aaron Ramsey looks as if he could return to his best form over the crucial Christmas period. It will be tight but Arsenal should just edge it.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle


Man United vs Liverpool (13:30)
United played very poorly but managed to win against Southampton on Monday night – a trait that has been missing around Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. Liverpool’s season took another turn for the worse after their Champions League exit and other teams in the division have worked Brendan Rodgers’ team out. United are in much better form than their bitter rivals and they will see this as a good chance to add further distance between themselves and their top-four rivals.
Prediction: Man United 2-1 Liverpool

Swansea vs Spurs (16:00)
Swansea had their first really poor game of the season last weekend but Garry Monk can generally be delighted with his team this season. Spurs are still yet to get going this season and Pochettino has not been as much of a success as they would have liked. Spurs also lost out on top spot in their Europa League group with defeat against Besiktas on Thursday night. A draw seems a likely result.
Prediction: Swansea 1-1 Spurs


Everton vs QPR
Everton are another team that have been sussed out this season and their defence has not been as resolute as in previous seasons. QPR have started to look solid at home but have been very poor on their travels this campaign. Everton are in need of a win to boost them up the table and they should get it here.
Prediction: Everton 3-1 QPR




Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the second weekend of Premier League football. Last week we got six out of ten correct, will we do better this time around?


Aston Villa vs Newcastle (12:45)
Villa made a fantastic start to the new season by beating a much-fancied Stoke team away from home. The Villans deployed a new look back four and one that looked infinitely more capable of dealing with the challenges faced in the Premier League. Newcastle may have fell to defeat in their first outing but they gave a decent account of themselves against a strong Man City team and can take heart from their performance. This one could go either way and I think both sides would be pleased with a point.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Newcastle

Chelsea vs Leicester (15:00)
Mourinho’s men demonstrated why they are heavily tipped to win the league this season by ably dispatching newly promoted Burnley on Monday night. They face another promoted side this weekend, in the form of Nigel Pearson’s Leicester, who began life in the Premier League with a commendable draw at Goodison Park. Leicester will be on a high from their performance last weekend but fixtures in this league don’t come much tougher than this. They should succumb to a comfortable defeat.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Leicester

Crystal Palace vs West Ham (15:00)
Palace were left devastated by a late Aaron Ramsey goal to deny them a brilliant first point after the departure of Tony Pulis. West Ham suffered a similar fate against Spurs, who were down to ten men for the majority of the match, so both sides could be low on confidence. This is likely to be a cagey match that neither side will want to risk losing. A bore draw seems the most probable outcome. 
Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-0 West Ham

Southampton vs West Brom (15:00)
The Saints began their season with a decent showing against a Liverpool side, who plucked several of their stars in the transfer window, although they did succumb to defeat. The Baggies, on the other hand, earned an early point at home to Sunderland. Saido Berahino scored twice for the Midlands side in their first match and Alan Irvine will be praying that he can be the answer to their goal scoring problems. Both these sides are tipped to struggle this season and victory in these matches could prove vital in their bids to stay afloat. Southampton have the home advantage and should be buoyed by a positive performance at Anfield so they will win this one.
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 West Brom

Swansea vs Burnley (15:00)
The Swans made the unlikeliest of starts by beating Man Utd at Old Trafford and they were thoroughly deserving of their win. Burnley’s comfortable defeat to Chelsea was less surprising, although it is difficult to gauge how they will cope at this level having only played The Blues. Swansea will be on a high after last weekend’s triumph and the confidence they have should be enough to see off Sean Dyche’s side. If they are overconfident they could find themselves dropping valuable points but Garry Monk will hope to keep them in check.
Prediction: Swansea 2-1 Burnley

Everton vs Arsenal (17:30)
This is likely to be one of the best fixtures of the weekend where two sides who love to attack go against one another. The Toffees smashed The Gunners 3-0 in the same fixture last season so the London side will be aware of how big a threat Roberto Martinez’s side are. Everton will be disappointed to have dropped points against Leicester last weekend whilst Arsene Wenger’s team can count themselves very fortunate to have taken all three points off Crystal Palace in a very laboured display. Arsenal also had to play in Turkey on Tuesday night so they will hope that the trip won’t have taken too much out of them. This should be a lively encounter and one that could end in a high-scoring draw.
Prediction: Everton 2-2 Arsenal


Hull vs Stoke (13:30)
The Tigers made a winning start to the season by narrowly defeating QPR thanks to a James Chester goal. Meanwhile, The Potters were surprisingly beaten by Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa side at home. Both sides will have pinpointed this as a potentially winnable fixture and it’s one that could go either way, as they’re two evenly matched sides. One thing that could tip the balance in Stoke’s favour was Hull’s midweek trip to Belgium, where they were defeated, in the Europa League. It should be a tight game but Stoke may just edge it to bounce back from opening day disappointment.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Stoke

Spurs vs QPR (13:30)
This is a battle between two London sides and it features Harry Redknapp doing battle against his former club. Spurs kicked off their season with a well fought victory against West Ham, despite being down to ten men for the majority of the match. QPR, on the other hand, were defeated by Hull. Tottenham faced a midweek venture to Cyprus, where they secured an away victory, and that could take its toll but, in truth, this is a match that they will be confident of winning. Both sides looked well organised defensively so it will be a low scoring affair but Spurs should come out on top.
Prediction: Spurs 1-0 QPR

Sunderland vs Man Utd (16:00)
The doom and gloom has seemingly returned around Old Trafford after a poor display and result against Swansea last weekend. Despite the disappointment, the result could prove a blessing in disguise. Louis van Gaal knows he needs to add quality to his squad urgently and their showing against The Swans will certainly have convinced Ed Woodward to let the manager buy whatever he needs. Sunderland made a decent start with a point against West Brom and will have fond memories of knocking United out of the League cup over two legs last season so they will have no fears. It will be interesting to see how much of a reaction van Gaal will prise out of his players and we think they will pinch a victory.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Man Utd


Man City vs Liverpool (20:00)
This is the other massive match this weekend and one that is very close to call. Manuel Pellegrini’s side made a very impressive start away at Newcastle and ran out comfortable 2-0 winners. Encouragingly, Sergio Aguero featured off the bench and scored their second goal and they will be hopeful that he is fit enough to spearhead their attack this weekend. Liverpool also began the new season with a victory although it was less convincing than many expected. It remains to be seen how they cope without Suarez on the really big occasions such as this one. We are expecting a fast-paced and exciting encounter where City will find a win.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Liverpool

Majestic Arsenal Batter Below-Par City

The Community Shield saw FA cup holders Arsenal run out 3-0 winners over Premier League champions Manchester City at Wembley.

Santi Cazorla fired Arsenal in front with an expertly executed finish whilst Aaron Ramsey smashed home a second just before half time.

Olivier Giroud completed the rout with a stunning long-range strike over Willy Caballero.

It was a very impressive team display from the North London side who looked solid at the back, dangerous going forward and were rarely troubled by their Premier League rivals.

City, however, offered an extremely flat performance and Manuel Pellegrini made no effort to hide his frustration on the touchline.

Calum Chambers, Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy all made their competitive debuts for Arsenal whilst Fernando and Caballero made their first starts for City.

City were missing some key players such as Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta so Pellegrini won’t be too concerned by how easily his side were dismantled.

Arsenal were also without World Cup winners Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil and will be delighted to have performed so ably without them.

The result should give them a big boost for their match against Crystal palace next weekend but City will need to recover confidence before their opener against Newcastle.

Arsenal started the brighter and Mathieu Debuchy was particularly impressive down the right hand side in the opening exchanges.

Samir Nasri, the former Arsenal player, was verbally abused every time he touched the ball by Arsenal fans.

He almost silenced their jeers in the 13th minute but Calum Chambers was quick to block his goal-bound effort.

It was Arsenal, however, who deservedly took the lead in the 22nd minute through Santi Cazorla.

The Spaniard evaded Gael Clichy on the edge of the City area before firing a low left footed strike into the corner of Caballero’s goal.

Yaya Sanogo, who scored four goals in a pre-season friendly against Benfica, had a chance to score his first competitive goal for Arsenal but dragged his shot wide.

It was Arsenal who continued to impress and Clichy deflected a long-range Cazorla shot for a corner.

Sanogo had another chance from the resulting corner but his header landed comfortably in Caballero’s arms.

City almost equalised five minutes before half time after Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic combined well during a quick break, but a swarm of Arsenal defenders managed to block.

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey scored moments later, however, to double their advantage. Sanogo held up the ball well in the box and fed Ramsey who smashed the ball past Caballero.

Alexis Sanchez had an opportunity to make it three at the end of the first half but Caballero was quickly out of his area to slide at Alexis’ feet and deny him.

David Silva, Nacho Monreal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Giroud were introduced at half time for Nasri, Alexis, Laurent Koscielny and Sanogo.

Fernando was booked early in the second half for pulling Jack Wilshire to the ground.

Jovetic came agonisingly close moments later after rising over Debuchy to thump a header against the post.

City had begun the second half much brighter than the first and Wojciech Szczesny was finally called into action to deny Jovetic, who fired a stinging shot towards the keeper’s right hand post.

James Milner and Bruno Zuculini were then introduced by Pellegrini to replace Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure.

Giroud scored an absolute screamer with his left foot from outside the area and bent it over Caballero to give Arsenal a three-goal advantage.

Jovetic, who was City’s most creative attacking force, attempted an elaborate overhead kick but it flew comfortably over the bar.

Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky were then called upon by Wenger to replace Wilshire and Cazorla.

Micah Richards came on for Aleksandar Kolarov as substitutions began to disrupt the flow of the game.

Jesus Navas was also withdrawn for Scott Sinclair and Aaron Ramsey replaced by Joel Campbell; Arsene Wenger’s final substitution.

Dedryck Boyata had a great opportunity to grab a consolation for City but his header from a corner went wide.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal

Devastatingly, the World Cup is over. But fear not. There is only a month to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. We will move alphabetically and begin with Arsenal.

Arsenal enjoyed their best season in 9 years last term, finishing fourth and achieving glory in the FA cup. They appear adamant to build upon their success and are making some decent inroads in adding to their already capable squad. Arsenal fans will be eager for the new season to start as soon as possible and will be confident of pushing the likes of Man City and Chelsea all the way.

The Manager
Arsene Wenger is an experienced Premier League customer and the longest serving boss in the league. His every move has been scrutinized over the past 9 years as they failed to deliver any silverware and he appeared to be too ponderous in the transfer market. However, after delivering big-money signing Mesut Ozil and victory in the FA cup, every Arsenal fan is behind him and they’re beginning to believe that he can challenge once more for Premier league glory.

Wenger is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League

Wenger is the longest serving manager in the Premier League

Biggest Signing
Arsenal have already pulled off a major coup in the transfer market and one that is unlikely to be topped. Alexis Sanchez has arrived from Barcelona and is a proven world-class performer. The signing has given the fans a similar buzz to when Mesut Özil arrived last summer and will give fresh belief to those fans who dream of Arsenal being the best side in England once more. Sanchez is not only a top player but he is also versatile. He can play anywhere across the front three, offering competition for the likes of Walcott and Podolski, and even an alternative option to Olivier Giroud.

Alexis Sanchez is a great signing for Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez is a great signing for Arsenal

Who is tipped to join them?
As with every transfer window, Arsenal are linked with a host of top-quality footballers that will have every supporter drooling with excitement. Mario Balotelli has been mooted as a new striking option, which would be particularly pleasing for Arsenal supporters as there are question marks over Olivier Giroud’s abilities to be a title-defining centre forward. Juan Cuadrado is also being linked with a move after an impressive World Cup and again could be a fresh and exciting option to Arsenal’s attack. Mathieu Debuchy has been selected to replace the departing Bacary Sagna at right-back and should sign within the next few days.

Debuchy is widely expected to join Arsenal in the coming days

Debuchy is widely expected to join Arsenal

Who should they sign?
I have always doubted Mikel Arteta’s ability to be a title-winning centre midfielder and they should look to replace him this transfer window. Sami Khedira has stalled on a new contract in Madrid and is reportedly keen on a move to the Premier League. Linking up with German compatriots Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski could be an intriguing proposition. Arsenal would be signing a proven centre-midfielder who has just won the Champions League and the World Cup so Wenger should make his signing a priority.

Khedira would prove a fantastic piece of business should Wenger lure him away from the Santiago Bernabeu

Khedira would prove a fantastic piece of business should Wenger lure him away from the Santiago Bernabeu

Key Player
Aaron Ramsey. Sanchez and Özil may be the global superstars of this Arsenal side but it is the Welshman who makes them tick. He was in scintillating form at the beginning of the season until unfortunately succumbing to injury and they really missed him. He offers intelligent deep runs from midfield that no other Arsenal player has in their locker and is a deadly finisher. If he remains fit, he could help Arsenal go all the way.

Arsenal fans will be hopeful that star man Aaron Ramsey can stay fit in the upcoming campaign

Arsenal fans will be hopeful that star man Aaron Ramsey can stay fit in the upcoming campaign

Arsenal performed capably last season and I expect them to improve on their performance this time around. They look like they will keep hold of all their top performers and are adding genuine quality to the squad so should keep improving. They will offer a title challenge but are just short of usurping Man City and Chelsea at the top of the pile. If they have a title challenge and can bring home more silverware in one of the cup competitions then that would be viewed as a good season for them. Expect Arsenal to finish 3rd.