Harry Kane

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 29th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got two out of five predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday    

Crystal Palace vs QPR (12:45)
Palace may have lost last weekend but welcoming QPR at home is arguably the easiest fixture in the league at present. Palace are eight points clear of the struggling London club and it’s hard to see Chris Ramsey’s side closing that gap here.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 QPR

Arsenal vs West Ham (15:00)
The Gunners’ league form has generally been very good and I am fairly certain that they will finish third this season. At worst, their top-four place should be guaranteed. West Ham’s season has drifted away and, remarkably, Sam Allardyce’s days look numbered so it’s hard to see them really putting up much of a fight. Hammers’ fans will hope that Arsene Wenger’s team will be too focused on their trip to Monaco on Tuesday but they should still have enough.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 West Ham

Leicester vs Hull (15:00)
Nigel Pearson’s team are in desperate need of three points to give themselves any hope of survival. If Hull can win this then they will all but guarantee safety and they have generally performed well against the teams around them recently. The Foxes may not be down and out just yet but this will be one of the games they will have pinpointed as a must-win match. Sadly for them, it looks unlikely.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Hull

Sunderland vs Aston Villa (15:00)
I would be happy to wager that this match will end up last on match of the day as both sides have real trouble in front of goal. The Black Cats haven’t scored in their last three matches and are really struggling for creativity. Villa do seem to have improved under Tim Sherwood but here they will know they can’t afford to lose. What Villa do have is a good recent record at the Stadium of Light as well as a real need to win this match given their upcoming fixtures so they may pile more misery onto Gus Poyet’s men.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-1 Aston Villa

West Brom vs Stoke (15:00)
The Baggies may have lost their two previous matches to Aston Villa but they have generally been in good form and are a tough side to beat. Stoke are on course to finish in the top ten but Tony Pulis will be keen to get one over on his former club and get West Brom back to winning ways.
Prediction: West Brom 2-1 Stoke

Burnley vs Man City (17:30)
The Claret’s previous home defeat to Swansea was a hard-hitting loss and it is unlikely that they will turn their poor form around here. City can’t afford another league loss even though they may have half an eye on their trip to Barcelona. If they were to drop points here and then go out of the Champions League then it would be hard to see  Manuel Pellegrini lasting much longer.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Man City

Sunday 



Chelsea vs Southampton (13:30)
It’s been a turbulent week at Stamford Bridge after their disappointing Champions League exit at the hands of ten-man Paris St Germain. Southampton got their top-four bid back on track with a win against Palace but they have already slipped to seventh and that’s where I think they will finish. This should be a Chelsea win.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Southampton

Everton vs Newcastle (16:00)
The Toffees’ excellent Europa League form continued on Thursday but they have endured a torrid season in the league and the threat of relegation continues to lurk in the shadows. Newcastle’s recent form has been rather sporadic and it’s difficult to predict what you’re likely to get with them. Everton rarely seem to win on the weekend after a European match so The Magpies could get a point here.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Newcastle

Man United vs Spurs (16:00)
United snuck another win in their last match after Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul inexplicably gave Ashley Young the simple task of stroking the ball into the open net but they have been anything but fluent recently. Tottenham sit only three points behind them and are certainly challenging for a top-four spot. Harry Kane will fancy his chances against United’s flimsy backline but Louis van Gaal’s team do seem to get decent results against the top teams and I think they will earn a draw.
Prediction: Man United 2-2 Spurs

Monday

Swansea vs Liverpool (20:00)
The Swans recent form has taken a sudden upturn and they are starting to adapt to life without their former striker Wilfried Bony. Liverpool, meanwhile, have been in excellent form and have become most people’s favourites to finish in the Champions League spots. This game is more important for Liverpool to win and they should continue their march towards a top-four finish.
Prediction: Swansea 1-2 Liverpool

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Midweek Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the midweek fixtures for the 25th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got five out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Tuesday

Arsenal vs Leicester (19:45)
The Gunners suffered a disappointing derby defeat to bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur having been ahead and, in truth, looked the weaker side. Leicester suffered another defeat and their mini-renaissance has come to a halt. There were further problems after the match after Nigel Pearson was reportedly sacked only for those rumours to be proved as false later on. In short, Leicesterface a very uncertain future. Arsene Wenger will be looking for a response from his side to keep them in the hunt for a top-four spot and they shouldn’t have too much trouble beating The Foxes.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Leicester

Hull vs Aston Villa (19:45)
This is a huge match between two sides struggling at the bottom of the table but both will enter it with renewed optimism. Hull were moments away from leaving the Etihad with all three points and their performance has reduced the pressure on Steve Bruce, which will further decrease if they beat Villa. The Villans, meanwhile, produced a spirited display against Chelsea and if they can start performing like that against the sides around them, then they are more than capable of escaping the drop. It’s hard to predict which side will be boosted the most from their weekend endeavours but both teams will be desperate to not lose and a draw could be on the cards.
Prediction: Hull 1-1 Aston Villa

Sunderland vs QPR (19:45)
The Black Cats have started to pull clear of relegation trouble and the signing of Jermain Defoe has given the whole club a lift. On the other hand, QPR seem to be in big trouble. They conceded a late goal to lose to Southampton and could really do with a morale-boosting victory away from home. It’s hard to see that happening, though.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-0 QPR

Liverpool vs Spurs (20:00)
Liverpool missed a big opportunity to close the gap on a few of their top-four rivals with a goalless draw against Everton. Spurs had no such problem and Harry Kane emphatically fired them to victory over Arsenal to guide them into fifth. Liverpool thumped Spurs 3-0 in the reverse fixture but Mauricio Pochettino’s men have had success in their most recent matches against their rivals and you wouldn’t bet against them getting at least a draw at Anfield.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Spurs

Wednesday

Chelsea vs Everton (19:45)
Jose Mourinho’s men may not have been at their best at Villa Park on Saturday but they did what every great side does and ground out a victory. Everton have improved greatly in the last few weeks but are still not playing at the level that Roberto Martinez would expect of them. Chelsea should earn a comfortable home victory.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Everton

Man United vs Burnley (19:45)
Daley Blind scored a late equaliser to earn United a point at Upton Park while Burnley let another two goal lead slip against West Brom. Burnley’s run of fixtures looks daunting and it’s hard to make a strong case for their survival given their tendency to drop points from winning positions. United have been very up and down all season and have rarely looked like the attacking force that most people were expecting to see. Having said that, they have enough to beat The Clarets.
Prediction: Man United 2-1 Burnley

Southampton vs West Ham (19:45)
The Saints recorded an impressive away win at Loftus Road to move into third in the table and Ronald Koeman’s side continue to battle for a top-four place. The Hammers dominated Man United but just came up short to land all three points. Both these sides have demonstrated throughout the season that they are no pushovers and this should be a tight game but I fancy Southampton to nick it.
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 West Ham

Stoke vs Man City (19:45)
Both these sides scored late on to earn a point this weekend. Peter Crouch nodded home to level for The Potters against Newcastle while James Milner’s free-kick salvaged a point against Hull. It’s very difficult to predict against Stoke when they’re at home but the fact that City will be desperate to bounce back after their weekend result coupled with their wanting to avenge their defeat to Stoke in the reverse fixture should mean that they come out on top.
Prediction: Stoke 1-2 Man City

Crystal Palace vs Newcastle (20:00)
This game will mean an awful lot to Alan Pardew, who will be desperate to record a win over his former side. Pardew’s short reign at Palace has been an unqualified success and they recorded another victory against Leicester to fire themselves into 13th and six points clear of the relegation zone. John Carver, on the other hand, has done ok in his brief time in charge of The Magpies but his spell at the helm has been largely unspectacular. The atmosphere should be intense inside Selhurst Park and I’m tipping Pardew to get the win.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Newcastle

West Brom vs Swansea (20:00)
Both sides recovered from losing positions to earn a point at the weekend and Tony Pulis is yet to produce the airtight defence that many people were expecting of him. Swansea have enjoyed a very good season but I can’t see them finishing any higher than their current position in 9th but a mid-table finish would represent a success. A draw seems inevitable in this one.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Swansea

Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur

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 Tottenham Hotspur.

Last season was bitterly disappointing for Spurs fans. Their star man Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee and the money was splashed on players who seriously underperformed. Andre Villas Boas was sacked halfway through the season and Tim Sherwood took the reins before guiding Tottenham to a sixth place finish. He was subsequently fired and now Pochettino has been tasked with the job to lead Spurs back to Champions League football.

The Manager
Mauricio Pochettino is quickly becoming one of the hottest properties in football management after an extremely successful spell at Southampton. If he can mastermind a return to the Champions League places for Spurs this season then he will be heralded as a hero. Southampton played attractive possession-based football under Pochettino and he will be expected to bring such a style with him to White Hart Lane.

Pochettino is a very highly rated manager

Pochettino is a very highly rated manager

Biggest Signing
Spurs haven’t been very busy in the window so far and have only brought in two players. Goalkeeper Michel Vorm has signed from Swansea and will provide backup to Hugo Lloris. Tottenham’s more eye-catching signing was that of Vorm’s Swansea teammate Ben Davies. Davies is a talented young fullback, a far superior option to Danny Rose and Kyle Naughton, and the move will allow Pochettino to move Jan Vertonghen to his favoured centre-back position.

Ben Davies is a smart addition to White Hart Lane

Ben Davies is a smart addition to White Hart Lane

Who is tipped to join them?
Pochettino is reported to be keen to raid his former club, Southampton, and bring in Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez. Schneiderlin has handed in a transfer request, although Southampton’s board insist that the duo will not be sold. It is believed that Pochettino’s brief is to bring the best out of the players he has already got rather than completely overhaul the squad and, therefore, he may not make too many more signings this summer.

Schneiderlin is desperate to move on

Schneiderlin is desperate to move on

Who should they sign?
Pochettino will have analysed his squad and realised that he is in need of one more forward. Emmanuel Adebayor is notoriously temperamental and if he doesn’t get off on the right foot with Pochettino then he may cause problems. It remains to be seen whether Roberto Soldado will settle and rediscover the form he is capable of and Harry Kane is inexperienced at the top level. Spurs could continue their raid of Swansea and bring in Wilfried Bony who has attracted plenty of interest this summer. Bony may prove an expensive option so if Spurs can conclude a deal for Jay Rodriguez then that could bring an end to their summer spending.

Powerful forward Wilfried Bony would be a good, but expensive, addition to their front line

Powerful forward Wilfried Bony would be a good, but expensive, addition to their front line

Key Player
Christian Eriksen was possibly the only player drafted in last summer that provided the level of performance that a top club requires. The attacking midfielder is a wonderful passer of the ball and has terrific vision and creativity. He will be key to Tottenham’s hopes to reach the Champions League this season.

Eriksen will be a key part of Pochettino's plans

Eriksen will be a key part of Pochettino’s plans

Prediction
Tottenham have got a squad capable of challenging for Champions League places and Pochettino could unlock the potential of their misfiring stars. I think we will see an improved side this season but, unfortunately, all the teams who finished ahead of them them are stronger than they were last season and it seems unlikely that Spurs can climb above them. What is, perhaps, more worrying is Manchester United’s new look and approach under van Gaal and I would be surprised if they didn’t finish above Tottenham too. Expect Spurs to finish 7th.