Alan Irvine

New Year Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the New Year’s Day fixtures for the 20th round of Premier League football. Following a surprising set of results last weekend, we got two out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Stoke vs Man United (12:45)
The Potters have climbed to 11th after their victory over struggling West Brom and are more than capable of finishing in the top half of the table. United may have been disappointed to have not beaten Spurs but their rivals also dropped points and it shouldn’t do too much damage to their top-four hopes. Stoke are traditionally strong at home and have put in some decent performances against the big sides this season and may well get a point here too.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Man United

Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
While Fabian Delph’s red card may have been harsh, Villa’s lack of discipline is costing them dearly at the moment. Delph’s lunge was needless above anything and gave Martin Atkinson a decision that he shouldn’t have even had to make. Having said that, Villa performed admirably with ten men and can take heart from their display and earned another valuable point. Palace also battled to a draw against relegation rivals QPR and they will probably set up in a similar fashion at Villa Park with the intention of returning to London with a point. They’re capable of getting it and will frustrate the Villa faithful with another home draw to offer a springboard before Alan Pardew’s arrival.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace

Hull vs Everton (15:00)
Hull’s defeat to Leicester undid the good work they had done the previous week against Sunderland. They have to start winning the matches against their rivals at the bottom of the table else they could face the drop. Everton are enduring a similarly torrid time at the moment and a top-four place is already beyond them. Roberto Martinez needs a win desperately and there aren’t many teams in the league that are better to play to provide you with such a luxury. This will be a cagey affair and either side could get all three points but an Everton win is long overdue.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Everton

Liverpool vs Leicester (15:00)
Liverpool produced an excellent performance to thump Swansea 4-1 and will now set their sights on climbing up the table. Leicester, meanwhile, got a long-awaited win over Hull and saved Nigel Pearson’s job in the process. Had they lost that match, there would have been no way back but they have given themselves a lifeline and stayed in touch with their rivals at the bottom. To get a win at Anfield seems unlikely, though.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-0 Leicester

Man City vs Sunderland (15:00)
Manuel Pellegrini will have been furious at his side for the manner in which they dropped two points against lowly Burnley. With Chelsea dropping points, it was the ideal opportunity to put real pressure on their title rivals. Sunderland will be equally disappointed that they didn’t get three points against 10-man Aston Villa. Sunderland played very poorly considering their man advantage and should be a good opponent for City to beat, despite The Black Cats good record against them.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Sunderland

Newcastle vs Burnley (15:00)
Both these sides performed admirably to earn good results at the weekend. Newcastle battled back from a goal down to beat Everton 3-2 while The Clarets clawed themselves level having gone two goals behind against the champions Man City. Newcastle are surprisingly set to lose Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace and it will be interesting to see how the players react to his departure. Burnley have shown that they can battle against the best teams in the league and no team they play against will get an easy ride. A draw seems a likely outcome.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Burnley

QPR vs Swansea (15:00)
QPR will have been disappointed in dropping points against Crystal Palace at home but their opponents were very organised and played for a point. Swansea, who were comfortably dismantled by Liverpool, won’t arrive with that attitude and will go to Loftus Road believing they can win. The R’s home form has been generally very good and they are capable of winning this one.
Prediction: QPR 2-1 Swansea

Southampton vs Arsenal (15:00)
The Saints defied the odds with their draw against league leaders Chelsea while The Gunners saw off high-flying West Ham. Southampton have impressed in their two matches against Arsene Wenger’s men this season but came up short in their last league encounter. These are two of the stronger teams in the league and are very difficult to separate so a draw seems a sensible option.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Arsenal

West Ham vs West Brom (15:00)
The Hammers have lost back-to-back matches to two of the league’s best teams so they will be pleased to face opposition as weak as The Baggies. Alan Irvine’s reign has come to an end but a new boss won’t be in place before this one. They will hope to lure Tony Pulis to the club due to his excellent managerial record at avoiding relegation. It’s hard to see anything but a West Ham win.
Prediction: West Ham 2-0 West Brom

Spurs vs Chelsea (17:30)
Spurs will have been relieved to take a point off Man United and keep themselves firmly in the frame for Champions League football. Chelsea may have dropped points but their only real title challengers Man City dropped points as well so little damage was done. Jose Mourinho generally sets up very well against the best sides and Chelsea always seem to beat Spurs so it’s hard to bet against them doing the same here.
Prediction: Spurs 1-2 Chelsea

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?

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

Monday

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

Weekend Preview and Predictions

The long-anticipated first weekend of the new Premier League season is set to begin. Here @0riginalfooty takes a look at the opening round of fixtures and offers predictions as to who will emerge victorious.

Saturday

Man Utd vs Swansea (12:45)
This is the first competitive fixture of Louis van Gaal’s reign and the Dutchman will be keen to get off to a flying start. Wayne Rooney has been announced as the new club captain, so don’t be surprised to see him get off the mark this weekend. This is a tough start for Garry Monk in his first full season as a manager and it’s hard to see them picking up anything from this one.
Prediction: Man Utd 3-1 Swansea

Leicester vs Everton (15:00)
Nigel Pearson will hope that his newly promoted side can carry their title-winning form forward to this season and establish themselves as a Premier League side. The Foxes have been disappointing in the transfer market, despite having money to spend, and face a tough encounter in their first match of the new campaign. Roberto Martinez, in comparison, has splashed £28 million alone on Romelu Lukaku and the Toffees will be hoping to challenge for a Champions League place. This won’t be an easy match for Everton but they should return to Merseyside with a hard fought three points.
Prediction: Leicester 0-1 Everton

QPR vs Hull (15:00)
Harry Redknapp’s team are the favourites of the newly promoted sides to survive in the division and will be hopeful of securing a mid-table finish. Their new signings, such as centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker, signal their intentions of doing just that. Hull’s ambitions will be similar to their opponents and they should steer well clear of trouble this season, although a venture into Europe could test the depth of their squad. The sale of Shane Long to Southampton was a surprise, given that he only arrived in January, and Steve Bruce will have to replace him sooner rather than later. This match has draw written all over it.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Hull

Stoke vs Aston Villa (15:00)
Mark Hughes is building a decent side at the Brittania Stadium and has instilled a much more exciting style of play than Tony Pulis ever did. The Potters have added some stimulating signings this summer, such as Bojan Krkic and Mame Biram Diouf, and should finish in the top half once more. Aston Villa have opted to add experienced players to their youthful squad throughout the transfer window and are desperate to avoid yet another relegation battle. Stoke are notoriously strong at home and should edge Villa in this one.
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Aston Villa

West Brom vs Sunderland (15:00)
These are nervous times for Alan Irvine’s team. There are question marks over whether Brown Ideye can provide the goal-scoring touch that was so desperately missing last season. If he fails to hit the ground running then this could be a very difficult season for The Baggies. Sunderland, on the other hand, will feel relatively optimistic after an encouraging run of form at the end of last season. The Black Cats have added some decent quality to their squad, with the likes of Jack Rodwell and Costel Pantilimon arriving, and the mood around the Stadium of Light is generally positive. This one could go either way so we’ll sit on the fence and go for a draw.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Sunderland

West Ham vs Tottenham (15:00)
The Hammers have been proactive in the transfer market as Sam Allardyce attempts to develop a more expansive style of play. Players such as Mauro Zarate and Enner Valencia will bolster their attacking options in the absence of target man Andy Carroll. Mauricio Pochettino believes that his Spurs side is strong enough to secure a top four finish and if they are to achieve that then they will have to win matches like this one. Pochettino will be confident of bringing the best out of Tottenham’s misfiring stars and they should emerge victorious here.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Tottenham

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace (17.30)
The Gunners have enjoyed a terrific pre-season and there is a real buzz surrounding Arsene Wenger’s side. The transfer of Alexis Sanchez has been widely proclaimed as the best signing of the window and Arsenal fans genuinely believe that their team can be successful on all fronts this season. Conversely, Palace have been rocked by the news that manager Tony Pulis has left the club by mutual consent. Palace have suddenly emerged as possible relegation candidates, such was Pulis’ effect on their fortunes. The air of uncertainty around The Eagles should work in Arsenal’s favour and they should run out comfortable winners.
Prediction: Arsenal 4-0 Crystal Palace

Sunday

Liverpool vs Southampton (13:30)
This is arguably the tastiest fixture of this round of matches due to Liverpool’s continuous raid of The Saints this summer. Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren have all moved from St Marys to Anfield, which should add an element of spice to this match. Southampton fans have been extremely disappointed by the mass exodus this summer and will hope that Ronald Koeman and his new signings can adapt to the demands of the Premier League. Liverpool should emerge victorious in this one.
Liverpool 3-1 Southampton

Newcastle vs Man City (16:00)
The Magpies ended last season in appalling form and will hope that the new season brings a halt to their dreadful run. Alan Pardew has been very active in the transfer market and players such as Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong will be expected to stop their slide. City have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, only adding quality to specific areas. In truth, their squad is already strong enough to compete on all fronts and they should enjoy another good season. It won’t be straightforward but City will have enough about them to see off Newcastle.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Man City

Monday

Burnley vs Chelsea (20:00)
Burnley mark their return to the Premier League by hosting Chelsea, a side widely tipped to win the league. Sean Dyche’s team finished second in the Championship last season and are expected to struggle to maintain their Premier League status beyond this campaign. If they are to survive they will have to make Turf Moor a fortress and ensure that sides do not leave there with all three points. Chelsea have strengthened extremely well this summer and have added balance, as well as quality, to their squad. This could be a tough opener for the Blues as Burnley are likely to be tough to break down but Mourinho’s side should find a way through.
Burnley 0-1 Chelsea

Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion

There are only 2 weeks 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. Here we take a look at West Brom.

Last year was a difficult season for the Baggies as they finished in 17th place and only 3 points above the relegation zone. A lack of goals was a major concern and their top scorers, Saido Berahino and Stephen Sessegnon, ended the season on a measly 5 league goals. Manager Steve Clarke was sacked after a poor start to the season and Pepe Mel replaced him. Mel kept West Brom in the Premier League but left the club, by mutual consent, at the end of the season. The Baggies have since hired Alan Irvine and will hope that he can turn their fortunes around.

The Manager
Alan Irvine is an unknown entity in Premier League management so it is difficult to know how he will adapt to his new surroundings. He has previously managed Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday and, most recently, Everton’s youth team. He was sacked at both Preston and Wednesday after poor runs of form at each club so Irvine’s appointment represents a gamble on Chairman Jeremy Peace’s part.

This is Alan Irvine's first job as a Premier League manager

This is Alan Irvine’s first job as a Premier League manager

Biggest Signing
The Baggies have been busy in the market so far and drafted in 6 new recruits. Albion’s biggest signing, in money terms, is Brown Ideye who joined from Dynamo Kiev for £10 million, a club record. Remarkably, Irvine admitted that he had never seen Ideye play before splashing the cash on him, which is bizarre given the large fee involved. However, the transfer that will excite the Albion fans more is the arrival of Joleon Lescott from Manchester City. Lescott is an experienced defender who the Midlands club will be delighted to have landed on a free.

Lescott is a quality signing for the Baggies

Lescott is a quality signing for the Baggies

Who is tipped to join them?
Alan Irvine will be keen to add reinforcements to what, on paper, looks like a side that will struggle to score goals. The main player currently linked with a move to the Midlands is Jonathan Biabiany from Parma. Biabiany is a French Winger who was a product of Inter Milan’s youth system and is likely to cost around £5 million.

Biabiany would be an exciting addition to the Premier League

Biabiany would be an exciting addition to the Premier League

Who should they sign?
As mentioned previously, the Baggies are a team who are short of goals and will, therefore, be looking to add to their attacking options. Brown Ideye is an unknown entity and if he fails to meet expectations then West Brom’s season could become disastrous. Berahino has great potential but they won’t want to rely solely upon him for goals and Victor Anichebe, frankly, does not look good enough to lead a potent attack. Albion should bring in a more experienced Premier League attacker to bolster their options. Unfortunately, Jeremy Peace runs a tight ship and Irvine will have to operate on a strict budget. A loan move for Victor Moses would make sense for both player and club.

Victor Moses will be available on loan from Chelsea again this season

Victor Moses will be available on loan from Chelsea again this season

Key Player
Ben Foster. One position that West Brom is not lacking in quality is in goal and keeper Ben Foster is a safe pair of hands for them to rely on. He has recently returned to the England set up and the Baggies will need him to maintain his excellent form in order for them to survive.

Foster is vital to West Brom's survival plans

Foster is vital to West Brom’s survival plans

Prediction
The Midlands side were perilously close to the drop last season and I haven’t seen enough improvement to their squad to suggest that they will pull away from a relegation battle this season. Of course, Irvine could prove to be a masterful manager and Brown Ideye could turn out to be a player of the quality of Benteke or Bony to fire them up the table but I just don’t see it. West Brom are notoriously a yoyo club who bounced between the Premier League and the Championship and I think that they will return to England’s second division after this campaign. Expect West Brom to finish 19th.

A First Time Footballer

As the Original Footy know-it-alls near the end of their Premier League previews, I still feel completely and utterly lost. I have been reading the posts, but there is mountains upon mountains of information about the teams involved – names I can’t spell or even begin to pronounce, movements of players from foreign and exciting lands, absurd sums of money in the fight for the best footballers – all of which I find baffling. For those of you who, like me, want to learn a bit more about the game but can’t hope to retain all the information in the Original Footy previews, the key is to go at it in bite-size chunks. So, we will begin today with the managers of the Premier League teams. I’m going to ask one of the guys at @0riginalFooty to test me on this at some point next week, so it’s time to start learning!
Arsenal – Arsene Wenger
Aston Villa – Paul Lambert
Burnley – Sean Dyche
Chelsea – Jose Mourinho
Crystal Palace – Tony Pulis
Everton – Roberto Martinez
Hull – Steve Bruce
Leicester – Nigel Pearson
Liverpool – Brendan Rodgers
Manchester City – Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester United – Louis van Gaal
Newcastle – Alan Pardew
QPR – Harry Redknapp
Southampton – Ronald Koeman
Stoke – Mark Hughes
Sunderland – Gus Poyet
Swansea – Garry Monk
Tottenham – Mauricio Pochettino
West Brom – Alan Irvine
West Ham – Sam Allardyce

At present I would say that I know 3 of these for sure. A measly 3 managers. Arsene Wenger is one of them and is an easy one to remember because his name is so similar to the name of his team. I actually know Paul Lambert and Aston Villa, but only because a good friend of mine speaks of very little else other than his favourite team. Finally, Manuel Pellegrini is where my knowledge of Premier League managers ends. I was on a flight back from Malaga last summer and he happened to be on the same plane as me. When collecting our luggage, he was stood with all the “normal” people and I noticed lots of passengers going up to him and asking for his autograph. Needless to say, I had no idea who he was so I sneaked a photo of him and sent it to a few of my football-savvy friends who confirmed that it was Manchester City’s new manager. So, I currently stand at a meagre 3 out of 20. I have a lot of work to do. Look out for A First Time Footballer’s post next week to find out how well (or not as the case may be) I fare in my Football Manager test…