Fabian Delph

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

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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?

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

Monday

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

 

 

Premier League Preview: Aston Villa

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. Here we take a look at Aston Villa.

Aston Villa have been in limbo for the past 4 seasons and have faced a relegation battle throughout the majority of each season. Randy Lerner has announced that he is trying to sell the club that has added even more uncertainty to proceedings for the Villa Park faithful. Talismanic striker Christian Benteke is also injured for the foreseeable future and could be ruled out from now until any time between September and the New Year dependent on his recovery rate. Villa will be hoping for a less stressful season at the wrong end of the table but it is hard to see them climbing too high up the table unless there is a takeover in the next few weeks.

Randy Lerner has put Villa up for sale but is yet to find a buyer

Randy Lerner has put Villa up for sale but is yet to find a buyer

The Manager
Paul Lambert has been in charge of the West Midlands side for the past 2 seasons and there has been very little progression. In fairness to him there have been significant restraints and limitations placed upon him during his reign as Villa are still trying to undo the financially damaging aspects of O’Neill’s time in charge. Chairmen Randy Lerner trusts him and his position seems safe until a takeover occurs.

Lambert has endured a tough spell at Villa but still has the backing of owner Randy Lerner

Lambert has endured a tough spell at Villa but still has the backing of owner Randy Lerner

Biggest Sigining
There are limited funds to spend so Lambert is doing his best Harry Redknapp “wheeler-dealer” impression and attempting to bring in experienced performers at low cost prices. He has already lured Joe Cole, Philippe Senderos and Kieran Richardson to Villa Park and seems keen to make a couple more signings to bolster his relatively thin squad. However, Villa’s biggest signing so far has perhaps been off the field. Roy Keane has been drafted in as Paul Lambert’s number 2, a role he will assume alongside his position as Ireland’s assistant manager, and could have a big impact on the club. He has been there and done it all as a player so will instantly gain the respect of the players and could be a catalyst for an improved season for the Villans.

Roy Keane will be hoping to help Villa climb up the table

Roy Keane will be hoping to help Villa climb up the table

Who is tipped to join them?
Nicklas Bendtner has been heavily linked with a move to Aston Villa and is widely expected to sign soon. Swansea’s Ki-Sung Yueng is also tipped to be coming through the door in the next few days. Moreover, a loan deal for Chelsea winger Christian Atsu could be on the cards if he doesn’t feature in Jose Mourinho’s plans for the season.

Bendtner is expected to be wearing claret and blue next season

Bendtner is expected to be wearing claret and blue next season

Who should they sign?
Due to the lack of funding at Villa Park, it is unlikely that they can afford any player that would command a decent transfer fee so they will be scouring the market for bargains; the afore mentioned players wouldn’t be bad pieces of business for them. In honesty, Villa’s best players could be those returning from long absences from the club. Charles N’Zogbia has all the attributes to be a top performer for Aston Villa but there are question marks over his attitude and Darren Bent certainly knows how to stick the ball in the back of the net at this level. If both players are fired up and willing to prove Lambert wrong for casting them out then they could play big parts in the upcoming campaign. The return of Jores Okore from injury is also a huge boost for Paul Lambert and the thought of partnering him and Vlaar at centre-back will be an exciting prospect for the claret and blue faithful.

Can N'Zogbia find the form that persuaded Villa to part with £9.5 million to acquire his services?

Can N’Zogbia find the form that persuaded Villa to part with £9.5 million to acquire his services?

Key Player
Fabian Delph. With talismanic figure Christian Benteke being a long-term absentee, the responsibility to galvanise Villa falls largely upon the shoulders of Fabian Delph. As a midfielder he has it all: the ability to pass, shoot and he’s tenacious in the tackle. He scored a host of wonderful goals last season and is often the driving force behind the side. Villa fans will be praying that there is no serious interest in him this summer and they can cling on to one of their prize assets.

Villa fans will be desperate to keep hold of Fabian Delph this transfer window

Villa fans will be desperate to keep hold of Fabian Delph this transfer window

Prediction
Many will be tipping Aston Villa for relegation this season due to the current issues at the club but I see it rather differently. Villa may have their difficulties off the pitch but there is a decent spine to the side with the likes of Guzan, Vlaar, Delph and, when fit, Benteke. Getting Ron Vlaar alongside a more capable defender than Nathan Baker was a priority for this summer and Lambert has addressed this early on. The return of Okore is a boost and the signing of Senderos means that, all of a sudden, there is some decent competition for places in a position that was desperately weak for the Villans last season. They are proven battlers in the bottom half so a relegation scrap will be nothing new to them should it come to it. I think they have enough to see themselves through another season in the Premier League and hopefully earn a sale along the way. I suspect they will end up in the bottom half but will survive. Expect Aston Villa to finish 14th.