Louis Van Gaal

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 31st round of Premier League football. Last time out we got five out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Arsenal vs Liverpool (12:45)
As far as I’m concerned, Arsene Wenger’s side have already confirmed a top-four spot and there is a genuine possibility that they will finish second as Man City continue to falter. Liverpool lost a crucial battle in the race for the Champions League places and this match could prove to be a last hurrah for them. They are under pressure following their defeat to Man United and Raheem Sterling’s contract saga is not making life any more comfortable around Anfield. With home advantage for The Gunners, I’d expect them to come out on top.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool

Everton vs Southampton (15:00)
The Toffees have strung together some decent results in the last few weeks and their safety is all but confirmed. Southampton, meanwhile, refuse to give up the possibility of nabbing a Champions League spot but realistically it will be beyond them. Having said that, they are more than capable of winning against a team who have nothing to play for.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Southampton

Leicester vs West Ham (15:00)
This is a must-win game for Nigel Pearson’s team. If they fail to win then I can’t see any way back for them. The Hammers did every relegation-threatened side a huge favour by beating Sunderland last time out but Leicester will know that this is a team whose season is over and they simply have to win. I still think The Foxes will be relegated but I’ll back them to make things at the bottom even more interesting with a home win.
Prediction: Leicester 1-0 West Ham

Man United vs Aston Villa (15:00)
Louis van Gaal was under great pressure prior to the matches against Spurs and Liverpool but his side have come away with two excellent victories to put them in complete control of earning a top-four spot. Villa suffered a poor home result against Swansea in their last match and it has thrown them firmly back into the relegation mix. Tim Sherwood’s side may have half an eye on the crucial home match against QPR on Tuesday night but it is important that they put in a good performance to keep morale in the camp high. Villa certainly have the weapons to hurt van Gaal’s team if they play to their best and they will make a game of it but it’s hard to look past United in this one.
Prediction: Man United 3-1 Aston Villa

Swansea vs Hull (15:00)
The Swans continue to impress and look determined to end their season on a high. Hull have also been in decent form and gave Chelsea a run for their money in their last match. Two more wins would virtually guarantee safety for The Tigers and this is a game they could certainly get something out of but Garry Monk seems intent on finishing the season strongly and I think they will get the three points.
Prediction: Swansea 2-1 Hull

West Brom vs QPR (15:00)
The Baggies are another team looking to secure their top-flight status and Tony Pulis will be confident of achieving safety if they manage to beat hapless QPR. The R’s continue to put in poor performance after poor performance but this is the biggest week of their season. West Brom are by no means unbeatable and then they face one of the sides they could realistically catch in the form of Aston Villa on Tuesday. If they could get four points from those two matches then they would be right back in it. Sadly for them, I fancy Pulis’ team to be too strong for them.
Prediction: West Brom 2-0 QPR

Chelsea vs Stoke (17:30)
The Blues edged another step closer to claiming the title with a nervy 3-2 win over Hull and it would be amazing to witness anything other than Chelsea’s colours around the trophy this season. Stoke have tied Mark Hughes down to a new contract while the international break has been going on and they have enjoyed another solid campaign. It won’t be an easy match for Jose Mourinho’s team but one they should win.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Stoke

Sunday

Burnley vs Spurs (13:30)
The Clarets are still in the frame for survival and a win here would lift them out of the relegation places for at least a couple of hours. Their opponents, however, will have seen at least one of their rivals for a top-four spot drop points on Saturday as Liverpool and Arsenal face off against each other and simply cannot afford to slip up against opposition of this ilk. Sean Dyche’s team won’t let them have it easy but I fancy Tottenham to just about nick it.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Spurs

Sunderland vs Newcastle (16:00)
This Tyne-Wear derby has plenty riding on it, particularly for Sunderland. The Black Cats sit a point above the relegation places and are in atrocious form. Dick Advocaat got off to a losing start against West Ham but will have had time to work with his team during the international break. Newcastle, on the other hand, are meandering towards the end of another mediocre season and defeat here would not go down well with their support. This could go either way so I’ll go for a draw.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle

Monday

Crystal Palace vs Man City (20:00)
Alan Pardew’s new team rose above his former charges in the table with their victory over Stoke and he deserves great credit for what he has achieved at Selhurst Park. City put in a much better performance against West Brom in their last match but they can’t afford to drop another point if they are to have any chance of winning the title. This is not an easy fixture and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Palace get something out of it but City should edge it.
Crystal Palace 1-2 Man City

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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

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the four FA Cup quarter-final matches as well as the one Premier League fixture. Last time out we got nine out of ten predictions right and two correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Bradford vs Reading (12:45)
The Bantams are entering this match as favourites given their recent cup history in both the FA Cup and the League Cup and particularly considering their home form in cup competitions. Reading may be a division above them but pundits have largely written them off, however, I’m not sure that they will roll over so easily. The Royals will be fully aware of the dangers that Bradford will pose in this tie so they shouldn’t underestimate them. In addition to this, there are question marks over whether the Bantams will be able to be motivate themselves to perform at the levels they have in previous rounds because Reading aren’t such a big name. For those reasons, I think the tie might go back to the Madjeski Stadium.
Prediction: Bradford 1-1 Reading

QPR vs Spurs (15:00)
The weekend’s only Premier League fixture features two sides facing very different battles. The R’s are back in the relegation zone following their defeat to Arsenal in midweek, whereas Spurs put themselves firmly in contention for a top-four spot with their 3-2 victory over Swansea. Mauricio Pochettino will be expecting his side to use their game in hand wisely and put real pressure on the sides above them and they should do that.
Prediction: QPR 1-2 Spurs

Aston Villa vs West Brom (17:30)
This is a very interesting cup-tie. It’s a local derby and the same fixture was played on Tuesday night where Villa came out on top 2-1 through a late Christian Benteke penalty. The atmosphere should be electric and both sets of players will be up for it, especially because a trip to Wembley awaits the winner. The Villans were the stronger side when the sides last met but Baggies’ boss Tony Pulis will get a reaction out of his players. It could go either way and neither side will want a replay but I’ll sit on the fence and say that’s what they’ll get.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 West Brom

Sunday

Liverpool vs Blackburn (16:00)
Brendan Rodgers’ side are the form team of 2015 and Rovers couldn’t have picked a worse time to play them. Having said that, Liverpool must guard against complacency as Blackburn have knocked out Premier League opposition in the form of Stoke and Swansea already this competition but this is a real opportunity for The Reds to lift a trophy and it’s hard to see Rovers stopping them.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Blackburn

Man United vs Arsenal (20:00)
This should be a fascinating tie. Louis van Gaal’s team are yet to convince anyone of their powers but United always seem to have a hold over The Gunners. Arsenal, meanwhile, have been in good league form but are still susceptible to conceding silly goals and gifting opportunities to the opposition. United have the firepower to capitalise on those sort of chances and I think this will end up as a high-scoring draw.
Prediction: Man United 2-2 Arsenal

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 27th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got four out of ten predictions right and three correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

West Ham vs Crystal Palace (12:45)
The Hammers performed well against Spurs but threw the match away in spectacular fashion and their season is in danger of meandering into mediocrity. Palace’s charge up the table has also slowed somewhat in recent weeks but they should avoid relegation and that would be a good achievement for The Eagles. Alan Pardew will probably set his stall up to get a draw and I think they’ll get it.
Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace

Burnley vs Swansea (15:00)
The Clarets returned from Stamford Bridge with a miraculous point and renewed hope of survival. Swansea also earned a shock win over Man United and perhaps their season will not begin to drift as expected. Having said that, this is a very important match for Burnley and the atmosphere at Turf Moor should galvanize their team to earn a vital three points.
Prediction: Burnley 2-1 Swansea

Man United vs Sunderland (15:00)
United stuttered once again and wasted an opportunity to create breathing space between them and their top-four rivals, which leaves them susceptible to dropping out of the Champions League spots if they slip up again. Sunderland couldn’t beat relegation rivals West Brom at home and are struggling to find the back of the net. While United are not at their best, Sunderland are offering little resistance and Louis van Gaal will have no excuse if they fail to win.
Prediction: Man United 2-0 Sunderland

Newcastle vs Aston Villa (15:00)
If I could predict that both these teams would lose then I would. Newcastle’s performance was utterly appalling as they slumped to a 5-0 defeat at the Etihad and Villa’s captain Ron Vlaar gave away the most ludicrous of penalties deep into stoppage time to deny Tim Sherwood his first point for the club and to keep them firmly rooted at the bottom of the table. Sherwood has claimed that Villa need to win six of their remaining matches, having won five all season, and if you look at their fixtures you suspect that if they’re to meet that target then they will have to win here. If Newcastle play as badly as they did last week then the Villans will have a chance but there should be some sort of a response from John Carver’s men and a draw seems the most likely result.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Aston Villa

Stoke vs Hull (15:00)
Stoke nicked a late win at Villa Park and look set for a top-ten finish. Hull, meanwhile, have clawed their way away from the relegation zone with wins against rivals Villa and QPR and are now four points clear of the drop in 15th. They may not be safe just yet but they have shown more mettle than the other sides around them and that will give them a big boost going into the end of season run-in. Stoke are a tough team to get the better of, however, and will keep Hull nervously looking over their shoulders.
Prediction: Stoke 1-0 Hull

West Brom vs Southampton (15:00)
Tony Pulis set his side up perfectly to take a point back to the Midlands from the Stadium of Light and will continue to make sure his side are hard to beat. Southampton may have lost to their top-four rivals but they were unfortunate not to get a penalty early on in the match and were by no means embarrassed. With only one point between them and fourth, it’s important for Ronald Koeman’s men to keep their challenge up and I think they’ll win here.
Prediction: West Brom 0-1 Southampton

Sunday

Liverpool vs Man City (12:00)
Liverpool crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday night after extra time and it will be interesting to see if playing a further 30 minutes will damage their chances against a City side who can close the gap at the top of the table to just two points. Manuel Pellegrini’s team thumped Newcastle but lost at home to Barcelona in the Champions League and are in great danger of failing to win a trophy this season. There is a lot riding on this game and both sides will be desperate to send a message to their top-four and title rivals respectively but City are the stronger side and can apply real pressure on Chelsea.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Man City

Arsenal vs Everton (14:05)
The Gunners’ result against Monaco on Wednesday was one of the most shocking results in Arsene Wenger’s tenure and their Champions League hopes now dangle by a thread. Everton had no such problem as they cruised into the last 16 of the Europa League and their season now revolves around winning that competition. Despite Arsenal’s poor display against Monaco, they have the quality to beat Everton and tighten the grip on a top-four spot.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Everton

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the 19th round of Premier League football. On Boxing Day we got seven out of ten predictions right and three correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Sunday

Spurs vs Man United (12:00)
Spurs’ recent upturn in form means that if they win this match, they will be within two points of United. Having said that, their recent matches have been against relatively weak opposition so it may be too soon for their fans to get ahead of themselves. Louis van Gaal’s side overcame their blip against Aston Villa with an emphatic win over Newcastle on Boxing Day. This should be a good match but United look the stronger team and should have the edge.
Prediction: Spurs 1-2 Man United

Southampton vs Chelsea (14:05)
Southampton have returned to the top four after another good victory but they are yet to really dominate one of the league’s top sides. Chelsea were comfortable against West Ham until the last five minutes and they are a very strong team. Southampton will be competitive but it’s hard to predict against Chelsea at the moment.
Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Chelsea

Aston Villa vs Sunderland (15:00)
Villa may have lost two of their last three games but they were very unfortunate to lose in both those instances and Paul Lambert’s side have been on the receiving end of several poor refereeing decisions in recent weeks. Sunderland, meanwhile, let a home lead slip against struggling Hull and will be nervously looking over their shoulders again. Had they beaten Hull I would have backed The Black Cats to nick a draw but Villa are due a win and some good luck and they have a good record against their opponents.
Prediction: Aston Villa 3-1 Sunderland

Hull vs Leicester (15:00)
Hull’s fight-back may have saved Steve Bruce from increasing pressure and now gifts them an opportunity to catapult themselves towards safety with a win against bottom side Leicester. The Foxes are playing for Nigel Pearson’s job, in my opinion, and defeat here will condemn him to the sack. Back-to-back wins can utterly change a team’s standing in this league and Hull are about to demonstrate that.
Prediction: Hull 2-0 Leicester

Man City vs Burnley (15:00)
City are playing very well at the moment and are brushing weaker opposition aside. Burnley, on the other hand, are in the middle of a tough run of fixtures that they will be glad to see the back of. City should put The Clarets to the sword, even if they are without their strikers once more.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Burnley

QPR vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
This is a massive game and is filled with uncertainty now that Neil Warnock has been sacked from his post as Palace manager. QPR almost snatched a point against Arsenal at the weekend but this match is far more important to them and they can reach the 20-point mark with victory. Palace sacked their manager at the most bizarre moment of the season possible. Warnock should have been given the chance to get a result out of this match rather than being given the boot just before it. Sometimes a change in personnel can give a team a boost but QPR are strong at home and seem to beat their relegation rivals consistently and I don’t see that changing here.
Prediction: QPR 3-0 Crystal Palace

Stoke vs West Brom (15:00)
Stoke again surprised me last weekend with another outstanding result and they look assured of a place in the Premier League once more. West Brom, however, do not. Alan Irvine has already admitted his job is under threat and if they lose this one, he could be fired. Stoke seem to slip up randomly, which can offer The Baggies hope, but I’d be surprised if West Brom got a result.
Prediction: Stoke 1-0 West Brom

West Ham vs Arsenal (15:00)
The Hammers rested a couple of players in their defeat to Chelsea and they will have targeted this match as a more winnable game. The Gunners did well to hang on with 10 men against QPR but West Ham have shown that they are no pushovers and they have the firepower up front to hurt Arsene Wenger’s men. This should be quite a fast-paced and entertaining game and these teams are difficult to separate. For all of Alexis Sanchez’s brilliance, Arsenal look too lightweight in midfield and catastrophic at the back. West Ham have big strong forwards who will fancy their chances against Arsenal’s weakened back-line and they are capable of getting a result here.
Prediction: West Ham 2-2 Arsenal

Newcastle vs Everton (16:15)
Both these teams are in poor form and it will be interesting to see how this one pans out. Alan Pardew’s men have lost every match since beating Chelsea and don’t look like producing a good result anytime soon. Having said that, Everton have been appalling this season and another home loss to Stoke was very disappointing. They are already 10 points off the guaranteed Europa League spot and their form is extremely poor. Roberto Martinez may decide to gamble and go for broke in the Europa League because qualification through the Premier League seems improbable. This could go either way but both defences look leaky so there should be goals.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Everton

Monday

Liverpool vs Swansea (20:00)
Both these teams won on Boxing Day but neither won convincingly. Liverpool edged out Burnley while Swansea held off an Aston Villa fightback. Neither side is in incredible form but Swansea’s squad looks tired to me and Liverpool may just have enough to earn an important win.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Swansea

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

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

Saturday

QPR vs Stoke (12:45)
Both these sides have made very poor starts to the campaign. QPR have the worst goal difference in the league and have lost three of their opening four matches. Stoke, on the other hand, have had what on paper looked like a relatively easy start and only a shock win over Manchester City has saved them from being glued to the bottom of the table. They will be desperate to get a win against one of the sides around them but a draw seems more likely here.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Stoke

Aston Villa vs Arsenal (15:00)
Villa have been one of the best sides in the league to date and put in a magnificently gritty performance to earn a victory at Anfield last weekend. Arsenal, meanwhile, have made an indifferent start to the campaign and were battered by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday. However, they still remain undefeated in the league. There are serious concerns over Arsenal’s defence but they are always a threat going forward and should bounce back against Paul Lambert’s side.
Prediction: Villa 1-2 Arsenal

Burnley vs Sunderland (15:00)
Burnley were agonisingly close to sealing their first league victory of the season against Crystal Palace and saw a late penalty wonderfully saved by Julian Speroni. They are proving to be no pushovers though and can take heart from their start. Sunderland have started decently enough and have earned draws against Spurs and Manchester United but they look a little toothless in attack. A low scoring draw seems the most likely outcome in this one.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Sunderland

Newcastle vs Hull (15:00)
Newcastle have won the award for worst performance of the season so far with their dismal showing against Southampton and Alan Pardew is under huge pressure to get a result here. Hull have made an okay start to the season and will fancy their chances of picking up at least a point here. Pardew will probably need a win to keep his job but it’s hard to see them getting it.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Hull

Swansea vs Southampton (15:00)
This could be one of the games of the weekend as two sides who have played some excellent football go head to head. Swansea’s winning streak was brought to an end by Chelsea last weekend whilst Southampton mauled Alan Pardew’s hapless Newcastle side. Both these sides were tipped to struggle this season due to their manager’s lack of experience in the league and, in Southampton’s case, a mass exodus of their playing staff. However, both sides and managers deserve immense praise for their start and this is a tough game to call. It should be a game full of goals and a great one for the neutral.
Prediction: Swansea 2-2 Southampton

West Ham vs Liverpool (17:30)
West Ham have had a decent start to the season and fought back well to draw against Hull on Monday night. Liverpool, on the other hand, dropped points against Villa at the weekend when trying to rotate their squad. They were very easy to defend against in the absence of Sterling and Sturridge. Fortunately for Liverpool, West Ham aren’t as solid as Villa are at the moment and an away win is on the cards.
Prediction: West Ham 1-3 Liverpool

Sunday

Leicester vs Manchester United (13:30)
What a start to the season Leicester have made. They have been a brilliant addition to the league and have secured some fantastic results. Leonardo Ulloa is proving to be a superb buy and will cause this weak Manchester United defence a lot of problems. United, however, managed a good result and performance themselves last weekend, albeit against a very poor QPR side, but there are still questions to be answered at the back. Leicester won’t be afraid here and can continue their brilliant campaign.
Prediction: Leicester 2-2 Manchester United

Spurs vs West Brom (13:30)
Spurs threw away three points against Sunderland last weekend and were guilty of not taking several great chances in the second half. They did play well though and Pochettino can be encouraged, on the whole, by his sides performances. At the other end of the scale, The Baggies look like a very average side and they will struggle to score against this Spurs team. Don’t be surprised to see Alan Irvine’s team rooted to the bottom of the league after this weekend.
Prediction: Spurs 3-0 West Brom

Everton vs Crystal Palace (16:00)
The Toffees finally got off the mark with an away win at West Brom and that should kick start Roberto Martinez and his side’s season. Palace are still finding their feet under Neil Warnock and were very grateful to Julian Speroni and his penalty save to avoid defeat last weekend. This should be a fairly routine win for Everton.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Crystal Palace

Man City vs Chelsea (16:00)
This is a clash between the two sides most people believe will win the league this season. City have made a fairly poor start by their lofty standards and are without a win in their last three matches after defeat in Munich. Chelsea, on the other hand, have been magnificent in the league but a midweek home draw with Schalke demonstrated their reliance on Diego Costa. Mourinho ended City’s fantastic run at home last season but he would be happy with a draw to maintain the early five-point gap.
Prediction: Man City 1-1 Chelsea

A First Time Footballer

Having watched snippets of last weekend’s games and spent a fair bit of time with two of my football-mad friends, I feel relatively clued-up about the Premier League’s latest happenings. The core theme of my post this week is the unpredictable, exciting and, often, cruel nature of the Premier League.

I’ll begin with Manchester United. A couple of weeks ago, after Man United’s surprise loss against Swansea, I appealed to fans to give poor Louis van Gaal more time before giving up hope. I felt bad for the United manager – who hadn’t had much time to settle into his new role and was dealing with injuries plus a lack of decent arrivals over the Summer. So, I was pleased to see their hefty 4-0 win over QPR at the weekend: “By the end I hope to be a Premier League champion, if not this year, then in the second or third”, rejoiced van Gaal. Now Louis, whilst it was great to see a stadium full of delighted fans and a team refuelled with self-belief, you can’t afford to get too carried away. Even I am fully aware of how quickly the fate of certain teams can change from match to match.

Take Brazil in the 2014 World Cup – they more or less cruised through the group stages and were many people’s favourite to go all the way in the competition. This was before one of the biggest shocks in footballing memory took place where Germany thrashed the Brazilians 7-1 in the semi-finals – a game that will go down in history! The Man United manager might want to calm down a bit and not get supporters fired up in a frenzy with rash predictions about a league that has only really just started. Not only is it a rather hasty projection so early in the competition, but also the impressive victory was down to a number of factors that have the potential to drastically change throughout the season.

Di Maria was supposedly the man that made the difference at the weekend, scoring his first United goal within half an hour of his home debut – it seems that the £59.7 million signing was worth every penny. However, it’s a dangerous idea to put all your eggs in one basket – we saw how Uruguay lost all momentum after superstar Suarez was banned in the World Cup. Di Maria’s future performance is dependant on a lot of factors – not meshing well with his new club, personal issues or injury all have the potential to rule him out of the season. Furthermore, QPR put on a particularly poor performance and United still face some challenging games.

Aston Villa have also showcased the unpredictable nature of the Premier League – with a pleasantly surprising victory against Liverpool at the weekend. I was busy in my kitchen late on Saturday afternoon, when I heard an ecstatic screeching, followed by a series of bangs, coming from my living room. When I went to investigate, I found my Villa obsessed friend grinning on the sofa after Agbonlahor had just scored, 9 minutes into the match. From my limited knowledge of Villa, I knew better than to let him get over-excited – there was still plenty of time for it to go to pot. I was surprised to return, 63 minutes into the match, to find the score line still at 1-0 to Aston Villa. When the final whistle was blown, there was further screeching from the sofa followed by more than a couple of beers. To my restricted Premier League knowledge, Villa don’t have the most fantastic reputation with regard to their performance, so I have to hand it to them – they’ve had a brilliant start to the league, where they currently sit in 2nd place.

There is, of course, a however. They haven’t had such a promising start to their Premier League campaign since 1998-99 and even then they dropped from the top spot at Christmas 1998 to finish 6th at the end of that season. Furthermore, their next four games are going to be extremely tough, even the most optimistic Villa supporter isn’t expecting four wins, and so it looks like their luck could be rapidly changing fortunes. Even just by looking at the first few games played by only two Premier League teams – with an array of surprise wins and shocking losses – it’s easy to see why it can be such an addictive sport to watch. Hopes are regularly raised and dashed as the unpredictable, exciting and, often, cruel Premier League progresses. 

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the fourth weekend of Premier League football. Last week proved to be an absolute shocker on the prediction front with a measly one correct result out of ten. We’ll surely do better this week…

Saturday

Arsenal vs Manchester City (12:45)
Neither of these sides will have been too happy to head off for the international break on the back of poor results. Arsenal will be even more incensed with the injury to Aaron Ramsey that could rule him out of this one. The Gunners were very poor against Leicester and were fortunate to get a point against Everton after being wholly outplayed. City, on the other hand, suffered an unbelievable home defeat at the hands of Stoke. It goes to show how unpredictable this league can be. Arsenal were very poor against the big teams last season and City will be out to avenge that Community Shield defeat at the start of this campaign so expect a City win.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-3 Man City

Chelsea vs Swansea (15:00)
1st plays 2nd in an early top of the table clash. It seems unlikely that The Swans will continue their push at the top of the league for much longer but they should enjoy their run whilst it lasts. Chelsea have made an equally impressive start to the season and are full of goals. They should have too much for Garry Monk’s side in this one despite Swansea’s confident outlook.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Swansea

Crystal Palace vs Burnley (15:00)
This is a clash between the bottom two sides in the division, on one point respectively, and they will both be desperate to hoist themselves out of the relegation zone with this one. Although it’s very early on in the season, psychologically you don’t want to be stuck down at the bottom of the pile. Whilst a trip to Selhurst Park is never easy, Burnley will give The Eagles a good match. Neil Warnock is still getting to know his side and may have to settle for a point here. Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Burnley

Southampton vs Newcastle
Southampton have started the season fairly convincingly under Ronald Koeman and don’t seem to be suffering too much from the mass exodus in the summer. Newcastle, in comparison, are still desperate for a win and there is talk of Alan Pardew having only two games to save his job. The Magpies probably need this win more but an entertaining draw is a more likely outcome.
Prediction: Southampton 2-2 Newcastle

Stoke vs Leicester Stoke secured the most unlikely of results by beating Mark Hughes’ former club Man City at the Etihad Stadium and that has really saved them from what had otherwise been a very poor start. Leicester have been one of the surprise packages of the season so far and have done remarkably well to get two points out of three of the best teams in the division. A note of caution, however, it is often easier to get fired up against the big teams where there is no pressure and it’s the results against the smaller sides that keeps you in the division. Leicester may find that out the hard way here.
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Leicester

Sunderland vs Spurs
Both sides will be keen to bounce back after disappointing defeats prior to the international break. Sunderland succumbed to defeat away at Loftus road whereas Spurs were hammered by Liverpool at home. It will be interesting to see how both sides recover. Sunderland, on the whole, have looked pretty tough to beat but don’t seem to have that killer instinct in front of goal. Spurs, on the other hand, have performed admirably against weaker sides but there still seems to be a gap to bridge with the big boys. Expect Spurs to just edge a victory.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-1 Spurs

West Brom vs Everton (15:00)
These teams find themselves in and around the relegation zone at this early stage. The Baggies were thrashed last time out by a rampant Swansea and scoring goals seems to be their Achilles heel. Everton, conversely, have made a really disappointing start to the season. Although they’ve had relatively tough fixtures that included Chelsea and Arsenal, they have thrown away several leads in their opening two fixtures and conceded six against a rampant Chelsea. West Brom shouldn’t threaten the Toffees though and an away win should kick start their season.
Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Everton

Liverpool vs Aston Villa (17:30)
Liverpool negotiated a potentially tough trip to White Hart Lane with ease and they have made a decent start to the season. Villa have also made a terrific start, however, they are about to embark on a tough run that sees them play five sides out of last season’s top six. Villa have been remarkably good at Anfield in the last two seasons beating Liverpool 3-1 in the campaign before last and drawing 2-2 earlier this year. Despite their good start and the injury to Daniel Sturridge, it’s hard to see anything other than a Liverpool victory.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Aston Villa  

Sunday

Man United vs QPR (16:00)
Rio Ferdinand returns to play against his old club and Radamel Falcao could be in line for his Manchester United debut; two subplots that make Sunday’s tie a mouth-watering clash. Louis van Gaal will need to get a win sooner rather than later after an uninspiring start that sees them languishing in the bottom half of the table. QPR changed their formation last weekend at home to Sunderland and looked instantly more solid as they came away with a good win. This should be an entertaining game and United should, finally, come away with three points.
Prediction: Man United 3-1 QPR

Monday

Hull City vs West Ham (20:00) Hull were absolutely terrible in the first half against Villa last weekend and their exit from the Europa League could prove a blessing in disguise so that they avoid abject performances like that in future. West Ham are trying to improve their style of play, with mixed results, but I think they’ll go back to basics here and try to grind out an away point.
Prediction: Hull City 1-1 West Ham

Top Signing Per Club: M-W

The transfer window has now closed and the Premier League sides will have to make do with what they have until January. Here @0riginalfooty takes a look at the top signing made by each club whose name begins between M and W.

Manchester City
Fernando (FC Porto, undisclosed). Fernando was signed to bolster City’s options in midfield and has slotted seamlessly into the side thus far. He is a strong and powerful midfielder who will do the dirty work in midfield to allow Manuel Pellegrini’s attacking options more freedom so they can maximise the damage they inflict on the opposition.
Other notable signings: Willy Caballero (Malaga, undisclosed), Eliaquim Mangala (FC Porto, £32m), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal, free).

Manchester United
Angel di Maria (Real Madrid, £59.7m). Louis van Gaal has smashed the British transfer record by acquiring the services of Argentine winger di Maria. Di Maria was influential in Real Madrid’s Champions League victory last season and was a key member of the Argentina side that reached the World Cup final. United have signed a world class player and one that has the ability to turn their fortunes around.
Other notable signings: Daley Blind (Ajax, £14m), Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco, loan), Ander Herrera (Athletic Bilbao, £29m), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon, £16m), Luke Shaw (Southampton, £27m).

Newcastle United
Jack Colback (Sunderland, free). Sunderland fans were furious that Jack Colback was allowed to move to their bitter rivals for no fee. Sunderland’s loss is Newcastle’s gain and Colback should play a big role at the heart of their midfield. He was recently called up to the England squad and, although he had to leave the squad with an injury, has a bright future in front of him.
Other notable signings: Remy Cabella (Montpellier, undisclosed), Karl Darlow (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed), Facundo Ferreyra (Shakhtar Donetsk, loan), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord, undisclosed), Siem de Jong (Ajax, undisclosed), Jamaal Lascelles (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed), Ayoze Perez (Tenerife, undisclosed), Emmanuel Riviere (AS Monaco, undisclosed).

QPR
Steven Caulker (Cardiff, £8m). QPR manager Harry Redknapp has been keen to add solidity to his back line this summer and highly rated English centre-back Steven Caulker fits the bill perfectly. QPR kept their first clean sheet of the season in their last match against Sunderland and there were encouraging signs that the Caulker-Ferdinand partnership is ready to blossom.
Other notable signings: Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United, free), Leroy Fer (Norwich City, £8m), Mauricio Isla (Juventus, loan), Alex McCarthy (Reading, undisclosed), Jordan Mutch (Cardiff City, £6m), Jack Robinson (Liverpool, undisclosed).

Southampton
Fraser Forster (Celtic, £10m). A lot of the focus of Southampton’s summer spending has been on replacing the key players who left for pastures new. There are question marks over how successful their recruitment drive has been, however, one position they have certainly strengthened is in goal. Forster is a top young goalkeeper who has the potential to challenge Joe Hart for the England goalkeeping jersey and represents a major coup for The Saints.
Other notable signings: Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid, loan) Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea, loan), Florin Gardos (FC Steaua Bucharest, £6m), Shane Long (Hull City, £12m), Sadio Mane (Red Bull Salzburg, £10m), Graziano Pelle (Feyenoord, undisclosed), Dusan Tadic (FC Twente, £10.9m).

Stoke City
Victor Moses (Chelsea, loan). Mark Hughes has largely spent the summer bolstering his attacking options and Victor Moses represents a good piece of business for The Potters. After an uninspiring loan move at Liverpool, he will be keen to get back on track with Stoke and rediscover the form that made him heralded as a highly rated prospect.
Other notable signings: Oussama Assaidi (Liverpool, loan), Phil Bardsley (Sunderland, free), Bojan (Barcelona, £3m), Mame Biram Diouf (Hannover 96, free), Steve Sidwell (Fulham, free).

Sunderland
Jack Rodwell (Manchester City, free). Rodwell’s career may have stalled at Manchester City but The Black Cats have pulled off a major coup in landing him. He is a tall combative midfielder but has rediscovered the attacking side to his game that was evident in his goal against Manchester United. Sunderland fans can expect Rodwell to really kick on and become a key player for them.
Other notable signings: Patrick van Aanholt (Chelsea, undisclosed), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan, loan), Will Buckley (Brighton and Hove Albion, £2.5m), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool, loan), Jordi Gomez (Wigan Athletic, free), Billy Jones (West Bromwich Albion, free), Costel Pantilimon (Manchester City, free), Santiago Vergini (Estudiantes, loan).

Swansea
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Spurs, undisclosed). Sigurdsson has been one of the stars of the Premier League season so far and has played a large part in guiding Swansea towards the top of the table. Swansea fans will expect more of the same from a man who looks to be enjoying his football again after an indifferent spell at Spurs.
Other notable signings: Tom Carroll (Spurs, loan), Marvin Emnes (Middlesbrough, undisclosed), Lukasz Fabianski, Federico Fernandez (Napoli, undisclosed), Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon, free), Raheem Hanley (Blackburn Rovers, undisclosed), Stephen Kingsley (Falkirk, undisclosed), Jefferson Montero (Morelia, undisclosed).

Tottenham Hotspur
Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon, £4m). Spurs haven’t splashed too much cash this window as Mauricio Pochettino has been briefed to bring the best out of the players already at the club. However, the signing of Eric Dier looks to be an excellent piece of business. Not only is he solid at the back, he is also a threat going forward and already has two league goals this season. He is still a young prospect and will be a major asset to Spurs in the future.
Other notable signings: Ben Davies (Swansea, £10m), Federico Fazio (Sevilla, undisclosed), Benjamin Stambouli (Montpellier, £4.7m), Michel Vorm (Swansea, £5m), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC, undisclosed).

West Bromwich Albion
Joleon Lescott (Manchester City, free). It’s been a summer of change for West Brom. The Baggies have brought in more new faces than any other side in the Premier League as they hope to draw a line under last season. Their most impressive signing is that of Joleon Lescott. Lescott has vast amounts of Premier League experience as well as playing international football and in the Champions League. Once fully fit, he will be a vital part of West Brom’s plans to stay in the division.
Other notable signings: Chris Baird (Burnley, free), Sebastian Blanco (Metalist Kharkiv, undisclosed), Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo, undisclosed), Cristian Gamboa (Rosenborg, undisclosed), Craig Gardner (Sunderland, free), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev, £10m), Sebastien Pocognoli (Hannover 96, undisclosed), Georgios Samaras (Celtic, free), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool, loan)

West Ham United
Alex Song (Barcelona, loan). Sam Allardyce has been told he must bring style rather than just substance to Upton Park and he has brought in some exciting attacking prospects to do just that. However, The Hammers’ most high profile signing is Alex Song who has joined on loan from Catalan giants Barcelona. The former Arsenal man is a quality defensive midfielder who has an excellent range of passing and will drastically improve the quality of the London club’s midfield.
Other notable signings: Aaron Cresswell (Ipswich Town, undisclosed), Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal, loan), Cheikhou Kouyate (Anderlecht, undisclosed), Diego Poyet (Charlton Athletic, free), Diafra Sakho (Metz, undisclosed), Enner Valencia (Pachuca, £12m), Mauro Zarate (Velez Sarsfield, undisclosed).