Garry Monk

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend’s fixtures for the 21st round of Premier League football. Last time out we got four out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Sunderland vs Liverpool (12:45)
Sunderland are continually proving themselves to be difficult to beat, although they don’t win enough games. Liverpool slipped up against Leicester in their last match and were very lucky to even get a draw after earning some very dubious penalties. Sunderland have enough about them to get a point.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Liverpool

Burnley vs QPR (15:00)
This is a big game for both these teams. A win will do great damage to their relegation rivals and allow the other breathing space. Burnley fought hard for a point against Newcastle while QPR dropped two points against 10-man Swansea. The R’s are yet to pick up a point on the road this season but they will know how important it is not to lose this match and I think they can get a draw.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 QPR

Chelsea vs Newcastle (15:00)
Chelsea’s remarkable loss to Spurs was completely unexpected and nobody would have thought that they would concede five goals in a single match this season. Newcastle were also involved in a goal fest against Burnley and will have confidence coming into this game having beaten Chelsea earlier in the season. Having said that, Chelsea rarely lose two league matches in a row and normally make a statement to their rivals after defeat. A comfortable home win.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle

Everton vs Man City (15:00)
Everton are close to scooping the prize for most disappointing team of the season and if they continue this form, they could get relegated. I’ve been expecting them to turn things around for a while but they look shot of confidence and are really struggling. City, on the other hand, pulled level with Chelsea at the top of the table and will believe they can regain their title. Everton’s misery will go on.
Prediction: Everton 0-3 Man City

Leicester vs Aston Villa (15:00)
This is another big game at the bottom of the table. Leicester have clawed their way back into contention after appearing dead and buried a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Villa may be sitting in 12th but they are struggling in front of goal and face a tough run of fixtures against three of last seasons top four in their next three matches. Paul Lambert is coming under increasing pressure from the fans and will be desperate for all three points here. They might be playing Leicester at the wrong time, though, and The Foxes are good value for at least a draw.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Aston Villa

Swansea vs West Ham (15:00)
The Swans have lost top scorer Wilfried Bony to international duty and that will prove a huge miss. There’s a good chance that he has played his last game for Garry Monk’s side and will join Man City in this transfer window. West Ham dropped two points in what should have been a comfortable win against West Brom but they have enough to get a point from this one.
Prediction: Swansea 1-1 West Ham

West Brom vs Hull (15:00)
This is another huge relegation matchup this weekend between two struggling sides. Hull pulled off a good victory against Everton in their last league match, while The Baggies fought hard for a point away at West Ham. Only a point separates the two teams but West Brom have Tony Pulis in charge now who oversaw a comfortable FA Cup victory last weekend and he has a knack of earning good results.
Prediction: West Brom 3-2 Hull

Crystal Palace vs Spurs (17:30)
Alan Pardew takes charge of his first league game against London rivals Spurs who demolished Chelsea in their last match. The Eagles will be up for this game and Selhurst Park should be rocking and I fancy Palace to nick a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Spurs

Sunday

Arsenal vs Stoke (13:30)
The Gunners were very poor in their last fixture against Southampton and Wojciech Szczesny is under pressure following a very poor performance and for being fined for smoking in the team’s showers. The Potters did well against Man United and beat Arsenal earlier in the season. Stoke will be confident of attacking Arsenal’s defence but Arsenal are generally strong at home and should have too much for them.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Stoke

Man United vs Southampton (16:00)
This is a battle between two sides who believe that a top-four spot is achievable this season. United have dropped points in recent weeks and the gap between them and their rivals has shrunk. Southampton, on the other hand, have battled back into contention after a poor run of form and Ronald Koeman is confident that they will be fighting at the top of the table for the rest of the season. This could go either way and should be an entertaining game but I’ll sit on the fence and predict a draw.
Prediction: Man United 2-2 Southampton

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

 

 

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the 12th weekend of Premier League football. Last weekend we got four out of ten predictions correct and two correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Chelsea vs West Brom (15:00)
While the rest of the league has been unpredictable, Chelsea have consistently been the team to perform well week in week out. West Brom were disappointed with their home loss to Newcastle and it’s a stretch of the imagination to see them returning to winning ways here. This should be a comfortable win for Chelsea.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 West Brom

Everton vs West Ham (15:00)
Both sides slipped up to draw against weaker opposition last weekend and Everton, in particular, will be keen to return to winning ways and put a run together to climb up the table. West Ham have made a brilliant start to the season and will be competitive against every team they play against but I fancy Everton to narrowly claim victory.
Prediction: Everton 1-0 West Ham

Leicester vs Sunderland (15:00)
Leicester have had a very poor run of form and find themselves in the relegation zone. Sunderland have recovered from their string of high-profile defensive errors to earn four points in their last two matches. Nevertheless, I expect these teams to be near to the bottom of the table at the end of the season and both sides will be keen to avoid defeat to relegation rivals.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Sunderland

Man City vs Swansea (15:00)
City have been very poor this season and look short of confidence but they still have an abundance of quality in their squad and one good result could kick-start their season. Swansea recorded an excellent win over Arsenal last weekend and have been one of the success stories of the season. For Garry Monk’s side to only be three points behind City before this match is testament to their wonderful form this campaign. This should be a good game but City need to win and they should find away past Monk’s team.
Prediction: Man City 2-1 Swansea

Newcastle vs QPR (15:00)
For Alan Pardew’s side to be level on points with Manchester United and one point behind Arsenal after their terrible start to the season is nothing short of incredible and Pardew deserves great credit. QPR are also starting to perform to Premier League level and look far more competitive. QPR’s recent improvement means that this should be a more interesting game but Newcastle are playing well enough to secure another victory.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 QPR

Stoke vs Burnley (15:00)
Stoke took advantage of Spurs’ problems last weekend to win and climb into the top half of the table. Burnley also recorded their first win of the season and that will be a huge weight off Sean Dyche’s shoulders. They are working hard for each other and, whilst they may lack the quality to survive, they will make it difficult for other teams to beat them. Stoke, however, are only three points away from the top four and their fans will expect them to climb higher up the table after this one.
Prediction: Stoke 1-0 Burnley

Arsenal vs Man United (17:30)
Arsenal put in another disappointing display last weekend and their fans must be desperately frustrated that their side have not taken advantage of their rivals’ poor starts to the season. Arsenal are one of the most settled sides in the league and after their success last season it was expected that they could kick on but they seem to have gone backwards. United are also not performing to the best of their ability and are crippled by several injuries to their squad. Having said that, they did not add enough bulk to their squad in key areas in the summer and they are suffering because of it. Neither side is defending particularly well but both teams can score and it should be an entertaining, high-scoring draw.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Man United

Sunday

Crystal Palace vs Liverpool (13:30)
Palace have been slowly sliding under Neil Warnock and there are serious concerns over their ability to survive this season. Fortunately for them, Liverpool arrive in terrible form and they are struggling to score goals. Palace put in a resolute display against United last weekend and if they put in a similar performance this weekend then Liverpool won’t have enough firepower to find a win.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Liverpool

Hull City vs Spurs (16:00)
Hull performed very poorly last weekend and they are another side who are struggling to score goals. Spurs are also in very poor form and their only win for a month was against Aston Villa who were down to ten men. Pressure will start to mount on Pochettino if results aren’t turned around soon but they are due a win and being away from home should help them.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Spurs

Monday

Aston Villa vs Southampton (20:00)
Villa stopped the rot last weekend with a good draw away at in-form West Ham but without Christian Benteke they lack a serious goal threat. Southampton have been the best side in the league, Chelsea aside, and there are not enough superlatives to throw towards Ronald Koeman and his team. Villa need the big Belgian back up front before they can improve their performances and a comfortable win for The Saints is on the cards.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-2 Southampton

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@Originalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the ninth weekend of Premier League football. Last weekend we got six out of ten predictions correct and one correct score. Will we do better this week? 

Saturday

West Ham vs Man City (12:45)
West Ham maintained their excellent start to the season by beating Burnley and now find themselves sitting fourth in the table. City are achieving what people would expect of them in the league but seem to have lost the swagger of last season and the ability to brush past sides with heavy score-lines. Their midweek capitulation against CSKA Moscow could lead to an early Champions League exit, which makes every league game vital for them. West Ham have played well so far but this is a different calibre of opponent who should have too much for them.
Prediction: West Ham 1-3 Man City

Liverpool vs Hull (15:00)
The Reds are really struggling at the moment. A lot of the blame is being pinned on Mario Balotelli but, whilst he has been poor, it is ludicrous to hold him singlehandedly responsible for the clubs decline this season. Teams in the division believe they can beat this Liverpool team who look just as vulnerable at the back but without the attacking swagger provided by the likes of Luis Suarez. Hull are sitting 11th in the table, which is not far off where I’d expect them to finish at the season’s close. They will put up a fight but Liverpool should scrape a victory.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Hull

Southampton vs Stoke (15:00)
Chelsea aside, Southampton are the form team this season and completely blew Sunderland away this weekend. Sunderland were very poor but The Saints played some great stuff and Koeman and his side deserve great credit. Stoke managed to come away with a contentious win over Swansea without playing particularly well – a good sign. They are a solid mid-table side but The Saints won’t fear them here.
Prediction: Southampton 3-1 Stoke

Sunderland vs Arsenal (15:00)
Sunderland will be determined to make amends for last weekend’s mauling at the hands of Southampton and will fancy their chances against an Arsenal side who aren’t in great form at the moment. Despite not playing well at the moment, Wenger’s side are showing great battle and determination to get a result and points that could be valuable come the end of the campaign. This should be close but Arsenal will most likely come out on top.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Arsenal

West Brom vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
The Baggies have surprised many people with their recent performances and Saido Berahino is in stunning form. Palace, meanwhile, are struggling for a little bit of form but there still remains only one point between these sides and there shouldn’t be too much in it.
Prediction: West Brom 2-2 Crystal Palace

Swansea vs Leicester (17:30)
Swans boss Garry Monk was incensed at Victor Moses’ alleged dive last weekend but in truth he will be upset that his side didn’t put Stoke to the sword after dominating the match. Leicester have tailed off in recent weeks and teams are starting to work out how to play against them. This should be an entertaining game but Swansea should come away with all three points.
Prediction: Swansea 2-1 Leicester

Sunday

Burnley vs Everton (13:30)
Burnley are in desperate need of a win before they get completely cut off from the rest of the league along with QPR. Everton finally clinched three points at home against Aston Villa and were in complete control throughout the match. The return of Ross Barkley has come at a good time for The Toffees who, despite a poor start, are still within touching distance of most of their rivals.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Everton

Spurs vs Newcastle (13:30)
Spurs may have lost to Man City last weekend but they played some very good football and the likes of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela are offering them a good attacking outlook. Alan Pardew’s job looks safe for the time being after some good recent form and he deserves credit for not hiding away in times of adversity. This should bring the end of their three-match unbeaten run, however.
Prediction: Spurs 2-1 Newcastle

Man Utd vs Chelsea (16:00)
This is the big game of the weekend and one that should be thoroughly entertaining. United still look vulnerable at the back but are a serious threat going forward and will be confident of scoring against any side in the league. Chelsea have been the strongest team in the division so far and no one looks close to matching them at the moment. Louis van Gaal will be praying that Diego Costa has not recovered from his various problems in time for the match as Costa would be licking his lips at the chance to play against United’s porous back line. Chelsea should win but it could be very high scoring.
Prediction: Man Utd 2-4 Chelsea

Monday

QPR vs Aston Villa (20:00)
QPR delivered their best performance of the season last weekend and if it wasn’t for three lapses in concentration they could have got something from Liverpool. Redknapp has since been embroiled with a public, and largely embarrassing, war of words with Adel Taarabt and there are questions arising over Harry’s judgement at the moment. Villa have just finished a terrible run of fixtures and this match should see Benteke closer to making an impact – bad news for QPR fans. Having said that, Villa’s performance levels have dropped in the last couple of weeks so this could easily end in a draw.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Aston Villa

 

Weekend Preview and Predictions

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

Saturday

Burnley vs Man Utd (12:45)
Neither side has recorded a Premier League win this season and The Clarets are yet to register a point. In fairness to Burnley, they produced a good second half display against Swansea and they will be encouraged that they won’t be pointless for too long. United, on the other hand, have made a terrible start to the season and, worryingly, are showing no attacking creativity or incisiveness to strike fear into any opposition. Their midweek hammering by the MK Dons has made things even worse and confidence will be at an all time low. On the plus side, United have brought in a world class player in Angel Di Maria, one of the stars of Real Madrid’s Champions League victory last season. Playing away from home should take some pressure off the players and they will hope that the signing of Di Maria will give them enough of a lift to record their first three points. Judging by their current form, however, don’t be surprised to see them slip up once more.
Prediction: Burnley 0-1 Man Utd

Man City vs Stoke (15:00)
Manchester City may not have hit their best form so far but they have still recorded two relatively comfortable victories over decent opposition. In contrast, Stoke have made a stuttering start to the season by losing at home to an unfancied Villa side and only managing a draw against ten-man Hull. On the plus side, they did record a comfortable victory against Portsmouth in the Capital One Cup, although they will face a much sterner test here. Stevan Jovetic appears to have put his previous injury concerns behind him and looks a real threat going forward, which will really please Manuel Pellegrini. Provided City aren’t overconfident, this should be a straightforward home victory.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Stoke

Newcastle vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
Newcastle, whilst only having one point on the board, have made a solid start and look set for a good season. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace have had a nightmare start to the campaign, although they avoided an upset against Walsall in the cup with a confident three goal victory. They have appointed Neil Warnock as their new manager, so they will have some stability on that front, and are set to re-sign Wilfried Zaha on loan so there should be a slightly more positive buzz around Selhurst Park. Having said that, Warnock’s record at this level is fairly poor and fans may question the appointment. Newcastle will feel confident going into this one and should have enough to earn their first three points of the season.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-0 Crystal Palace

QPR vs Sunderland (15:00)
Harry Redknapp and his side have made a really disappointing start to the campaign and there is already talk of him facing the axe. Sunderland, in comparison, have drawn both their matches and performed very well against a struggling Man Utd last weekend. Redknapp’s players will be shot of confidence after their thumping at the hands of Spurs and the fans will be expecting a big performance this weekend. Sunderland look like a tough side to beat and they should come away with another point here.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Sunderland

Swansea vs West Brom (15:00)
Swansea have made a truly magnificent start to the season and Garry Monk will be delighted with the performances of all his players thus far. West Brom may not have made such a glamorous start but they have a couple of points on the board and Alan Irvine will be pleased with the battling qualities his side have demonstrated to date. Irvine’s side seem well organised and won’t roll over easily so Swansea’s 100% record may come under threat here. A draw seems the most likely outcome in this one.
Prediction: Swansea 2-2 West Brom

West Ham vs Southampton (15:00)
The Hammers bounced back from opening day disappointment to easily dispense of Crystal Palace with the free-flowing football that Allardyce has promised. Ronald Koeman won’t be too disheartened by his side’s performances so far, although they appear less dangerous in attack this season. This is yet another game that’s very difficult to call but West Ham seem to be on a high and should just about manage a victory, although with less ease than last weeks encounter.
Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Southampton

Everton vs Chelsea (17:30)
Everton have thrown away leads late on in their first matches of the season and will be bitterly disappointed to only have two points when they could easily have had six. Chelsea have waltzed to two comfortable victories against the promoted sides but this is their first real test. Jose Mourinho won’t underestimate his opposition and will be likely to keep it fairly tight, making sure they don’t lose the game, and try to nick the three points. Roberto Martinez won’t change his attacking philosophy and will go all out to try and win this one but Chelsea have the quality to pick them off. This should be an entertaining fixture and one Chelsea will just nick.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Chelsea

Sunday

Aston Villa vs Hull (13:30)
The Villans had made an excellent start to the season until their midweek home loss to League One side Leyton Orient. Goals seem to be the biggest issue for Paul Lambert’s side but they will be happy enough defensively (https://originalfooty.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/villa-solidity-gives-great-reason-for-optimism/). Lambert will also be aware of their terrible run of fixtures following this match that combines trips to Anfield, Stamford Bridge and Goodison Park with hosting Arsenal and Manchester City. They will want to leave this match with all three points so they don’t slip too far down the table in a period where they are unlikely to pick up many points. Hull, like Villa, have also made a good start to the season and will be feeling buoyant about their chances of finishing well in the league. They will be disappointed to have crashed out of the Europa League on away goals but it could prove to be a blessing in disguise. Hull were, realistically, unlikely to win the competition and it would have added a large number of fixtures to their season that may have effected their league form. Villa could do with the win but a low scoring draw seems the more likely scenario.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Hull

Spurs vs Liverpool (13:30)
This should be a very interesting encounter and will give us more of an indication of how far Spurs have come since Mauricio Pochettino’s arrival. They have been very good so far this season and have won all their matches. Liverpool haven’t made the start they might have hoped for and, once again, defensive errors cost them against Manchester City. On current form there doesn’t seem to be too much between the two sides so we can expect an entertaining draw.
Prediction: Spurs 2-2 Liverpool

Leicester vs Arsenal (16:00)
Leicester have had a terrible run of fixtures to start the season but have performed admirably. Earning a point against Everton was a good result and there is no shame in defeat at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal have made a slower start than many people expected but showed good fight to score late goals in both their matches to earn four points as opposed to one. Arsene Wenger has been rocked by the news that Olivier Giroud has been ruled out until late December with an ankle injury and it remains to be seen if he drafts in a replacement for him. Leicester, on the other hand, have added experienced midfielder Esteban Cambiasso to their ranks and they will hope that he can provide some additional quality and bite to their midfield. Regardless of whether he plays or not, Arsenal should still have too much for them.
Prediction: Leicester 0-2 Arsenal

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

A First Time Footballer

Last week, A First Time Footballer took on the challenge of trying to learn the managers of the Premier League teams. Having only known 3 prior to the test, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident. The results are in…

1. Who is Harry Redknapp the manager of? QPR
2. Who is Everton’s manager? Roberto Martinez
3. The manager of Leicester is…? Nigel Pearson
4. Man Utd have recently employed…? Louis van gaal
5. Liverpool are managed by…? Brendan Rodgers
6. Tony Pulis manages which club? Crystal Palace
7. Garry Monk is the manager of which team? Swansea
8. Who is the boss of West Ham United? Pass
9. Who manages West Bromwich Albion? Alan someone?
10. Alan Pardew manages which side? Newcastle

8/10

I am actually quite pleased with my 80%. By no means did I spend the past week or so studying the managers religiously. In fact, I’ve been on holiday and Premier League revision has been far from my mind. However, I did try and come up with some random yet memorable ways of getting the names to stick in my head (e.g. Surely the Queen and red-headed Harry don’t take knapps in the park = QPR Harry Redknapp) and I think it turned out pretty well. I’ve still got a little bit of work to do, but it’s all about baby steps when you are trying to tackle something as varied and ever-changing as football.

Whilst I was on holiday, I visited some family friends who live in LA. The son of the family is soccer mad and often stays up until the early hours of the morning to follow English football, particularly to support his beloved Manchester City. He plays for a team called ‘Santa Monica United’ and apparently it is quite a costly hobby.

A large reason for the high membership price is that a lot of very poor children want to play football for a team. In many cases they don’t speak English, can’t afford football boots and couldn’t dream of being able to pay for membership at a club. However, they play phenomenal football and are blessed with raw skill and talent. So, the families that can afford to pay their membership, cover the costs for the children that can’t. The system works because it benefits everybody involved – the kids desperate to train can do so, the families that are paying extra don’t mind because their team becomes stronger and improving the side is the main goal.

I don’t really know if this is what happens in all clubs or not, but I was really impressed with the idea. It just goes to show that despite the many criticisms of football and the money involved in the industry, it does bring together people from an array of upbringings and backgrounds because of their shared love of the game. Actually, football is pretty great.

Premier League Preview: Swansea

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 Swansea.

Halfway through last season Swansea looked to be in trouble. The squad was apparently divided as they found themselves scrapping against relegation as well as, reportedly, with one another. The board decided to sack Michael Laudrup, one of the highest rated young managers in Europe, and gave player/coach, Garry Monk, the task of bringing calm to the club and avoiding the drop. They finished in a respectable 12th place but this was somewhat flattering considering how much they struggled and the Swans will be disappointed to have dropped three places from the previous season.

The Manager
Monk did a decent job of steadying the ship and keeping Swansea in the top flight, but it will be interesting to see how he fares in his first full season as a manager. Needless to say he’s been dropped in at the deep-end and some believe that the task will prove too much for him at such an early stage of his managerial career.

Will Gary Monk be able to continue the good work he did with Swansea last season?

Will Garry Monk be able to continue the good work he did with Swansea last season?

Biggest Signing
Despite a disappointing and injury plagued last season, Michu needed replacing after moving to Napoli. Gylfi Sigurðsson has returned to The Liberty Stadium, a man who showed promise on loan two years ago but chose a permanent move to Tottenham over Swansea. He failed to find his feet in north London, but there is hope that the Icelandic midfielder can fulfill his potential this season and could be an astute transfer by Monk. Furthermore, Jefferson Montero is a player of real quality and showed his class at the World Cup with Ecuador. Signing such a player is a real statement of intent from Monk, as Montero has the ability to cause defences all sort of problems.

Gylfi Sigurdsson won Premier League Player of The Month during his spell brief with Swansea

Gylfi Sigurdsson won Premier League Player of The Month during his spell brief with Swansea

Who is tipped to join them?
Kyle Naughton has been tipped to link up with Monk’s men as defensive cover and has shown himself to be an able full-back on either side. Apart from this the rumour mill surrounding Swansea is rather quiet as they have already made some solid acquisitions.

Who should they sign?
Getting Naughton would be a good signing, but Swansea will certainly need at least one extra defender to bolster their ranks. A bid for relegated Norwich’s versatile Martin Olsson could be a good move for Monk and it wouldn’t be too expensive, either. Moreover, they have replaced goalkeeper Michel Vorm with Arsenal’s number 2 stopper Fabianski. The Pole has show himself to be a good shot-stopper but has also had a few moments of calamity which raise question marks over his ability to be Swansea’s first choice. Regardless, people are even less convinced by their other keeper Gerhard Tremmel, and therefore another goalkeeping addition would not be a bad idea.

Obviously holding on to Wilfried Bony will be the most important bit of business for Swansea. Losing their star striker would be a huge blow for their bid to push further up the table this season. He is a superb all-rounder who has shown that he can win the club points almost on his own. Though if the Ivorian does leave, they will certainly need to replace him with a similarly big signing. Relying solely on new signing Gomis to lead their front line would be too much of a gamble for The Swans.

Gomis might not have the quality to replace Bony on his own.

Gomis might not have the quality to replace Bony on his own.

Key Player
Bony’s 16 goals last season were crucial in helping Swansea beat the drop, and he is clearly the most important player in their squad. He is incredible in the air, very strong as well as being quick and possessing great technical ability. He would get into most teams in the league, even in the top four, and Swansea will have to fight hard to keep hold of him. If they can achieve that and providing he can maintain the same great form of last season, he would make a huge difference to Swansea’s fortunes.

Bony is a wanted man across Europe after a superb debut season with Swansea

Bony is a wanted man across Europe after a superb debut season with Swansea

 Prediction
With a shaky looking defence there is a real worry that Swansea will simply concede too many goals this season. However, they have an attack full of pace and trickery, which should be enough to keep them in the league. That said, if Bony does stay at The Liberty, and their defence is strengthened, they could easily push further up the table. Expect Swansea to finish 15th.

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…