Man United

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 weekend’s fixtures for the 22nd 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

Aston Villa vs Liverpool (15:00)
Villa are in a real mess at the moment and were fortunate to not lose to Leicester by five or six last weekend. Liverpool, meanwhile, performed well in the first half of their victory over Sunderland with Lazar Markovic finally beginning to demonstrate why they forked out £20m for him. Villa fans are due to launch a protest this weekend over how the club is being run which will only add to the already toxic atmosphere at Villa Park. Another defeat without scoring could really add to Paul Lambert’s woes but it’s hard to see any other outcome.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool

Burnley vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
Burnley will have been disappointed in the manner of their defeat to Tottenham Hotspur to be knocked out of the FA cup but realistically The Clarets will be better served focusing on survival. Crystal Palace’s new boss Alan Pardew got off to the best possible start with their win over Spurs last weekend but this is a more important game in terms of doing damage to their rivals. Burnley are generally strong at home and the honeymoon period may end swiftly for Pardew this weekend.
Prediction: Burnley 2-1 Crystal Palace

Leicester vs Stoke (15:00)
The Foxes are on a decent run of form at the minute but their big problem is their inability to take chances. David Nugent could have scored a hat-trick last weekend against Villa but wasted all his opportunities. Stoke were very poor against Arsenal last weekend but it’s not often they perform poorly in two consecutive games and they can come away from The King Power Stadium with a point.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Stoke

QPR vs Man United (15:00)
There has been a lot of talk surrounding Harry Redknapp’s position at QPR but I still believe he’ll keep them in the Premier League this season, largely due to their home form. United have hit a sticky patch in their season and have slipped to fourth place following their defeat to Southampton. Due to QPR’s strength at home they are well placed to earn a draw.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Man United

Swansea vs Chelsea (15:00)
The Swans have lost Wilfried Bony and it will be interesting to see how many goals they score without him. I suspect their outlay will decrease significantly. Chelsea are having no such problem and extended their lead at the top to two points – a lead they will be in no mood to relinquish here.
Prediction: Swansea 0-2 Chelsea

Spurs vs Sunderland (15:00)
It was typical of Spurs to beat Chelsea and then lose to Crystal Palace in the following match – they lack consistency. Sunderland performed admirably in the second half when they were down to ten men but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal. Jermain Defoe should add firepower to their attack but it’s hard to see him doing any damage against his former club here.
Prediction: Spurs 2-0 Sunderland

Newcastle vs Southampton (17:30)
Newcastle are another team who lack consistency and their lack of manager is hardly ideal. Southampton, however, keep marching on and will hope to maintain their push for a top-four spot. I’m still not convinced that they’ll get it but they should win this one.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Southampton

Sunday

West Ham vs Hull (13:30)
The Hammers have slipped to seventh in recent weeks but are still enjoying an excellent season and should finish inside the top ten. Hull continue to struggle and the supporters have accepted that this relegation battle could last to the end of the season. It’s hard to see anything but a home win.
Prediction: West Ham 2-0 Hull

Man City vs Arsenal (16:00)
This is the game of the weekend. City dropped points last weekend to Everton and won’t want to give Chelsea any more impetus in the title race, while Arsenal played as well as they have done for a while as they dismantled Stoke. If they can play like that at The Etihad then they will certainly have a chance but City could call upon Sergio Aguero from the start this weekend, which makes a huge difference. This should be an entertaining game but City will most probably come out on top.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Arsenal

Monday

Everton vs West Brom (20:00)
The Toffees stopped their slide with a good draw against Man City but they have struggled for form all season and Tony Pulis’ side are no pushovers. It was no surprise to see The Baggies win their first match under Pulis and they will be tough to beat under his stewardship. It could be another frustrating evening for Roberto Martinez’s side.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 West Brom

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 17th round of Premier League football. Last weekend we got seven out of ten predictions right and three correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Man City vs Crystal Palace (12:45)
City may not have been at their best last weekend but they still ground out a result and head into the Christmas period in good form. Palace picked up another point towards safety last weekend but will be second best here. This should be a comfortable win for the home team.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Crystal Palace

Aston Villa vs Man United (15:00)
Villa may have lost last weekend but they looked in control until Kieran Richardson got sent off and they performed admirably with 10 men for 70 minutes. United have won six on the spin but haven’t played particularly well in many of those fixtures. Winning when you’re not playing well is a good sign but Christian Benteke is a different kettle of fish to most other strikers in the league and he will put a lot of pressure on United’s weak backline. Having said that, United’s strikers are starting to find the back of the net and should be able to outscore Villa.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-3 Man United

Hull vs Swansea (15:00)
Hull are in terrible form and are showing few signs of turning it around. Swansea saw Spurs leapfrog them last season and now sit in ninth, which is roughly where I’d expect them to finish this season. Hull desperately need to win their home games but Swansea should have too much for them.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Swansea

QPR vs West Brom (15:00)
QPR suffered yet another away loss to Everton last weekend but teams really struggle to go to Loftus Road and get a result. West Brom recorded victory over their local rivals last weekend but were by no means convincing given that they had a man advantage for the majority of the game. QPR’s home form is what will keep them up this season and they should drag West Brom back into trouble here.
Prediction: QPR 2-0 West Brom

Southampton vs Everton (15:00)
Southampton have now lost five in a row and are suffering a small crisis. The loss to Burnley was really disappointing for Ronald Koeman’s team and their squad is being stretched very thin during the Christmas period. Everton, meanwhile, look like they’re about to kick on and then suffer a surprising result – they are really lacking consistency. A draw looks probable here.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Everton

Spurs vs Burnley (15:00)
Spurs have suddenly began a climb towards the top-four and are only two points behind their main rivals Arsenal who face fellow rivals Liverpool later in the weekend. Burnley earned a magical win over Southampton and pulled themselves out of the relegation zone. Away from home they look more vunerable, however, and Spurs should take advantage of one of their main rivals dropping points and win here.
Prediction: Spurs 3-1 Burnley

West Ham vs Leicester (15:00)
West Ham are proving to be the surprise package of the season but there appears to have been some unrest in the camp this week over their wage structure. Sam Allardyce was rightly furious at certain members of his squad demanding a pay rise when they are yet to achieve anything this season. Leicester, meanwhile, are now five points away from Burnley who are just above the relegation zone and I’ll be surprised, if they don’t win before the New Year, if Nigel Pearson keeps his job. This should be a comfortable victory for The Hammers.
Prediction: West Ham 2-0 Leicester

Sunday
Newcastle vs Sunderland (13:30)
This derby matchup should provide entertaining viewing and Newcastle’s goalkeeping woes aren’t helping them. They suffered a heavy defeat to Spurs and were knocked out of the Capital One Cup but their league form is still stronger than their rivals. Sunderland drew yet again last week but the fans will want a victory here, which may leave spaces for Newcastle to exploit.
Prediction: Newcastle 3-1 Sunderland

Liverpool vs Arsenal (16:00)
This is a vitally important match for both these clubs. Arsenal need to keep pressure on Manchester United and keep distance between themselves and Liverpool while Liverpool desperately need to close the gap on their top-four rivals. Arsenal are certainly in better form following their 4-1 victory over Newcastle and pressure is really mounting on Brendan Rodgers. While Liverpool are in the bottom half, they are still only five points behind The Gunners and this is a great opportunity to really close that gap. Having said that, Arsenal will see it as a chance to put Liverpool’s top-four challenge to rest and I think they’ll have too much for The Reds.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal

Monday
 
Stoke vs Chelsea (20:00)
This is a game Man City will be looking at and hoping that Chelsea will slip up. Stoke are known for being solid at home but have been less consistent there this season. Chelsea are still viewed as favourites for the title and won’t give Manuel Pellegrini an early Christmas present by losing here.
Prediction: Stoke 1-2  Chelsea

Weekend Preview and Predictions

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

Saturday

Newcastle vs Liverpool (12:45)
Alan Pardew’s men recorded an excellent midweek victory over Manchester City in the League Cup and are looking a far more solid outfit. Liverpool also earned a League Cup win, although it was fairly unconvincing. The atmosphere in the northeast is far more positive and their side are picking up results. Liverpool are on a similar points total to all their top-4 rivals despite their poor start to the season and they should nick all three points here.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Liverpool

Arsenal vs Burnley (15:00)
The Gunners returned to winning ways last weekend but were rather gifted the three points by some hopeless Sunderland defending. Burnley are still awaiting their first win of the season and it seems unlikely that they will get anything from this one.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Burnley

Chelsea vs QPR (15:00)
Jose Mourinho will have been very disappointed that his side didn’t hang on to secure all three points against United last weekend but won’t be too concerned by the visit of their west London rivals. QPR earned a good win over a hapless Aston Villa side on Monday night and Harry Redknapp will have been pleased to see Charlie Austin finding the back of the net.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 QPR

Everton vs Swansea (15:00)
The Toffees have turned their form around and are right back in the frame for the all-important top-four places. Swansea also returned to winning ways and have two more points than their opponents this weekend. Garry Monk’s side won’t make it easy for Roberto Martinez’s team but Everton should find a way through.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Swansea

Hull vs Southampton (15:00)
Hull have recorded two excellent recent draws against Liverpool and Arsenal and confidence will be high amongst the group. Southampton, on the other hand, have been the best side in the league other than Chelsea and there is talk of them being surprise contenders for a top-four berth. Whether they can maintain their form over the course of the season remains to be seen but they should be able to beat Hull this weekend.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Southampton

Leicester vs West Brom (15:00)
Leicester’s form has been getting gradually worse since their excellent start to the campaign and they are in danger of sliding into the relegation zone should results go against them this weekend. The Baggies have been in decent enough form but were fortunate to earn a point against Palace last weekend. This should be quite an open and entertaining game and I’m backing both sides to share the spoils.
Prediction: Leicester 2-2 West Brom

Stoke vs West Ham (15:00)
The Potters have lost twice to Southampton in this past week but gave a decent account of themselves in both matches so should come into this match feeling fairly confident. The Hammers find themselves riding high in fourth place and have played some excellent football this season. West Ham will probably enter this game as slight favourites but Stoke are generally good at home and should be able to get a point here.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 West Ham

Sunday

Man City vs Man Utd (13:30)
This is the biggest game of the weekend and one that shouldn’t disappoint. City have made a sluggish start by their lofty standards and United look very open at the back. Their defensive deficiencies should be exploited by the likes of Sergio Aguero, although United will fancy their chances of getting at City’s back line. It should be an end to end all-out attacking display from both sides with plenty of goals but City will expect to win.
Prediction: Man City 3-2 Man Utd

Aston Villa vs Spurs (16:00)
Villa are in free-fall and don’t look like scoring any time soon. Benteke looks off the pace and Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor are offering little going forward. Spurs suffered a poor defeat to Newcastle last weekend and their lapses in concentration at the back don’t appear to have been stamped out by Mauricio Pochettino. Having said that, Villa are the team everyone wants to play at the moment and Spurs should blow them away.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-3 Spurs

Monday

Crystal Palace vs Sunderland (20:00)
Palace played well for large spells of the match against West Brom last weekend and will have been disappointed to let a two-goal lead slip late on. Sunderland, meanwhile, are full of errors at the moment and are gifting victory to opponents. They were improved at the back against Arsenal, errors aside, but look toothless going forward and Palace can scrape a victory.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-0 Sunderland

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

A First Time Footballer

So, the Premier League is back in full swing and it seems that everyone is very excited. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have already been inundated with messages of support, disappointment and joy surrounding the first few games of the season.  It would appear that some people have simply spent the past few months mourning the end of last season and eagerly awaiting the return of the Premier League – their lives incomplete without the competition.

Having not actually watched any of the matches thus far, I can’t say that I am one of those people.

Via twitter and Facebook, I did manage to work out that 1.) Aston Villa won their first game and didn’t play too badly against a favoured Stoke and 2.) Louis van Gaal and his team did not perform to the high expectations placed upon them. I can certainly appreciate the disappointment that fans must be feeling to lose their first game (apparently it was Man U’s first opening-day loss at home since 1972), however, I do feel a strong pang of sympathy for poor Louis. The Dutch manager, after a pretty successful World Cup campaign, was welcomed into Old Trafford by rapturous applause, and after only one (albeit disappointing) game, the fans seemed to turn on him. Football can certainly be a cruel industry sometimes. The pressure, plus injuries, plus the lack of decent arrivals over the summer, meant that Swansea swept into to steal a 2-1 win. It certainly wasn’t ALL Louis van Gaal’s fault, and he can hardly be judged purely on that one performance. It takes time for a new manager to settle into the job and get his team working as best as they can. Don’t be writing him off just yet, give him at least a few more games to prove himself. I’ve got my fingers crossed for poor Louis, I dread to think what even one more loss would do to the frenzied United fans…

Now, back onto furthering my football knowledge. With a solid 80% in my Premier League managers test, it’s time to take another baby step. This time, I’ll be looking to memorise the Premier League stadiums – a topic about which I know even less than football managers. I reckon I’ve got a total of two…

Villa Park (Aston Villa) and Old Trafford (Man United). Looks like I’ve got a bit of work to do over the next week.

Arsenal – Emirates Stadium

Aston Villa – Villa Park

Burnley – Turf Moor

Chelsea – Stamford Bridge

Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park

Everton – Goodison Park

Hull – KC Stadium

Leicester – King Power Stadium

Liverpool – Anfield

Manchester City – Etihad Stadium

Manchester United – Old Trafford

Newcastle – St James’ Park

QPR – Loftus Road

Southampton – St Mary’s Stadium

Sunderland – Stadium of Light

Stoke – Britannia Stadium

Swansea – Liberty Stadium

Tottenham – White Hart Lane

West Brom – The Hawthorns

West Ham – Upton Park

Having written them down, I realise that I actually recognise more of the names than I thought I would. It’s just a matter of matching them to their team PLUS recalling the names of the managers that I learnt 2 weeks ago. Let’s see how I get on next week…