Soccer

Final Day Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the final round of Premier League football. There is not too much on the line for most clubs, but Newcastle and Hull fans will endure nervy afternoons. All matches kick off at 3pm.

Arsenal vs West Brom
As with most of the fixtures there is very little riding on this game but some of Arsenal’s players really need to buck up their ideas if they want to start the FA Cup final. The Baggies can climb several places if results go their way and there’s even an outside chance of them getting in to the top half. This really could go either way but as the Gunners are at home I’ll back them.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 West Brom

Aston Villa vs Burnley
The Villans utterly capitulated last weekend in their defeat to Southampton but survived relegation on the same day. Villa fans were left with mixed emotions but they will desperately be hoping for a reaction ahead of the FA Cup final. Burnley may have been relegated but they have been plucky performers throughout the season and there’s every chance they can bounce straight back up.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Burnley

Chelsea vs Sunderland
The Blues will have an enjoyable final day regardless of the result but they will be keen to finish on a high. There’s no denying that they have deserved to win the league this season and there’s every chance that they could do the same next time around. The Black Cats will be delighted to have secured survival before the final day but they must be desperate for an improved campaign next time out.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland

Crystal Palace vs Swansea
The Eagles ruined Steven Gerrard’s final match at Anfield in epic fashion and have enjoyed a really excellent season under Alan Pardew. Swansea have also enjoyed a superb year and Garry Monk deserves immense credit. Despite losing to Man City last weekend they displayed the battling qualities that Monk has instilled into their play. Neither side deserves to lose their final match of the campaign but both would be satisfied with a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Swansea

Everton vs Spurs
Roberto Martinez’s side climbed into the top ten last weekend and will be keen to stay there. They’ve endured a miserable season but a year away from the Europa League won’t do them any harm. Spurs may also be keen to avoid a European venture but may end up in the competition anyway even if they do lose here.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Spurs

Hull vs Man United
The Tigers look down and out and need a minor miracle to survive this weekend. They need to beat United and for Newcastle to not win. Not an easy task. United’s season is virtually over barring an incredible goal difference shift between them and Arsenal to finish third. That might give Hull a chance here but it’s still a stretch to see them winning this one.
Prediction: Hull 1-1 Man United

Leicester vs QPR
A month ago, this looked as if this would be a crucial fixture in the battle for survival but it is now irrelevant. Leicester have seen the benefits sticking with a manager and their turnaround this season has been magnificent. The R’s, however, really need to evaluate their long-term strategy as a club. More needs to be spent on the future rather than trying to buy immediate success. There’s no doubt that they will be back in the near future, though.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 QPR

Man City vs Southampton
Arsenal’s midweek draw ensured that City would finish in second place but there will be big changes at the Etihad this summer I’m sure. They have an ageing squad and it is time for some fresh faces. Southampton are arguably the success story of the season and there is still a possibility of Europa League qualification should results go their way. They pummelled Villa last weekend and should give City a decent game.
Prediction: Man City 2-2 Southampton

Newcastle vs West Ham
This is the other big game of the day as Newcastle look nervously over their shoulder. They can make life easy for themselves by beating the Hammers but that wouldn’t be the Newcastle way. West Ham have taken their foot off the gas but have enjoyed a good season overall. Sam Allardyce would love the chance to pour misery onto his former charges so don’t be surprised if West Ham really come after the Magpies. There could be many twists and turns
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 West Ham

Stoke vs Liverpool
Stoke have enjoyed a brilliant season but there are two major stories surrounding this match and they are both Liverpool related. First, will Raheem Sterling play? His saga descended into further chaos this week and it’s hard to believe how obnoxious a player can be who’s achieved so little. I’d personally cash in on the £50million and wash my hands of him. One player who will definitely feature is Steven Gerrard who will be making his final appearance for the Reds. He has been a legendary figure in the league and deserves a winning send-off. Unfortunately for him, his teammates are not performing and Stoke will hope to crash the party.
Prediction Stoke 2-1 Liverpool

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 37th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got a measly two out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Hopefully we will do better this week!

Saturday

Southampton vs Aston Villa (12:45)
The Saint’s season is tailing off and they are struggling to produce decent performances. They have had a terrific season overall, though, so hopefully their finish won’t put too much of a downer on things at St Mary’s. Villa, on the other hand, are in excellent form and are playing some great football. It’s hard to see the Villans being relegated even if they don’t get anything out of this match but I don’t see why they can’t win against Ronald Koeman’s floundering side.
Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Aston Villa

Burnley vs Stoke (15:00)
It was a case of too little too late last week for Burnley who ultimately did not have the quality to survive in this league. Stoke thumped Tottenham last weekend and have reached their highest ever points total. A point will guarantee them a top-half finish and I think they will get that.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Stoke

QPR vs Newcastle (15:00)
The R’s were relegated in appalling fashion last weekend but in truth they have been so poor all season that it was hardly a surprise. This is their chance to have a parting shot at the league and drag Newcastle into real trouble. The Magpies finally picked up a point last weekend and could have beaten West Brom but they are still perilously close to the drop zone. Hull have tougher fixtures but seem more likely to pick something up really. I think Newcastle will lose here to pile more pressure on them.
Prediction: QPR 2-1 Newcastle

Sunderland vs Leicester (15:00)
This is a huge game and a chance for one of these teams to virtually escape. Sunderland picked up a huge result, albeit with a bit of luck in front of goal, against Everton while Leicester continued their revival with a comfortable victory over Southampton. Both these teams will be desperate to win and to avoid defeat so it should be a tense game. A draw is not good enough to ease the nerves of either set of fans especially if Hull win but I think that’s what they will get.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-2 Leicester

Spurs vs Hull (15:00)
Tottenham are having a miserable end to the season and their defeat last weekend was extremely poor. It’s almost as if they’re trying to finish as far down the league table as possible to avoid the Europa League, which they will probably get anyway if Villa fail to win the FA Cup. Hull also endured a terrible result to lose to Burnley at home and have reason thrown themselves into trouble. They simply must win this match and I have a sneaking suspicion that they will get a something and possibly even nick it.
Prediction: Spurs 1-2 Hull

West Ham vs Everton (15:00)
This match could be seen as the battle for a top-half finish as Everton will leapfrog the Hammers with a victory. It’s been a good season for Sam Allardyce’s team but the gloss has been taken off by their performances in recent months. It’s not been such a good season for Everton but a season outside the Europa League might do them the world of good, assuming they don’t qualify through fair play. This really could go either way but I’ll lump for Everton.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Everton

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (17:30)
The Reds nabbed a draw against Chelsea but they were heavily reliant on Man United losing and a top-four place is now beyond them. Palace are another team whose season is tailing off and it’s hard to see them leaving here with three points.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace

Sunday

Swansea vs Man City (13:30)
The Swans pulled off another unlikely victory on Monday night by beating Arsenal and they may have done their opponents this weekend a huge favour in doing so. City are now in pole position to finish second and they will hope to capitalise on Arsenal’s defeat. They were ruthless against QPR but this will be a much tougher fixture. I had my doubts about Garry Monk’s credentials at the start of the season but he has done fantastically well and deserves infinite credit for the job he’s done and he may even guide them into the Europa League, should Villa lose the FA Cup final.
Prediction: Swansea 1-2 Man City

Man United vs Arsenal (16:00)
The Red Devils edged a victory over Crystal Palace to all but seal a top-four spot but will want to leapfrog Arsenal if possible to avoid Champions League qualifiers. The Gunners would have been virtually assured of avoiding them had they beaten Swansea but now face an anxious battle to the end of the season. Some players may have one eye on the Cup final too and I fancy United to grab a win.
Prediction: Man United 2-1 Arsenal

Monday

West Brom vs Chelsea (20:00)
The Baggies don’t have much to play for so their main target now might as well be to finish above Midlands’ rivals Aston Villa who are three points off them. West Brom have superior goal difference so should complete the job but Villa’s good form could close that gap before the start of play. Chelsea have won the league with ease but I still expect them to strengthen this summer as their rivals will come back stronger. They would like to finish on 90 points and I think they’ll take a further step towards that here.
Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Chelsea

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

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’s fixtures for the 24th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got five out of ten predictions right and zero correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Spurs vs Arsenal (12:45)
Both these sides are on a high after putting several goals past teams from the West Midlands last weekend. Spurs went to The Hawthorns to win 3-0 while Arsenal fired five past a hapless Aston Villa and both sides hang narrowly behind the top four spots. With both teams entering in such good form, it’s hard to split them but we should be in for an entertaining match and a high-scoring draw seems the most likely outcome.
Prediction: Spurs 2-2 Arsenal

Aston Villa vs Chelsea (15:00)
Where to start with Aston Villa? They got everything wrong they could possibly have imagined to have got wrong last weekend. The tactics were poor, the personnel selection was questionable and the effort levels were non-existent. Chelsea, meanwhile, will have been satisfied with their draw against main title rivals Manchester City and remain five points clear at the top. Villa are now only three points above the drop and have the worst goal difference in the league. Sadly for the Villans, it’s likely to get worse this weekend.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-4 Chelsea

Leicester vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
Both these sides were beaten last weekend by stronger opposition in the form of Manchester United and Everton and neither will want to lose this one. Alan Pardew has done an excellent job since taking over the Eagles and has put them six points above bottom side Leicester. Avoiding defeat will most probably be the mandate for Palace and they should succeed.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Crystal Palace

Man City vs Hull (15:00)
While City won’t have been delighted with the draw against Chelsea, it was important that they didn’t lose. Hull have now suffered back-to-back 3-0 defeats and Steve Bruce’s position is looking very perilous. It would take a brave man to back The Tigers here.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Hull

QPR vs Southampton (15:00)
Harry Redknapp’s departure may not have come as a huge surprise, although his apparent reason for leaving is certainly one of the more bizarre reasons given for a managerial department. Southampton’s defeat at home to Swansea was a poor result and underlines the inevitable feeling that they will not finish in the top four this season. It remains to be seen who will end up in charge of QPR but points at home are vital for their survival and they could get one against The Saints.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Southampton

Swansea vs Sunderland (15:00)
Both these teams recorded excellent victories last weekend and The Swans demonstrated that life goes on without Wilfried Bony. Having said that, Sunderland are renowned for their ability to grind out a goalless draw and this match could easily follow suit.
Prediction: Swansea 0-0 Sunderland

Everton vs Liverpool (17:30)
Everton’s victory away to Crystal Palace was somewhat surprising given their form going into the match but it was an important win nonetheless. However, this fixture will be of more importance to their Merseyside rivals. Liverpool have gradually closed the gap on a top-four spot to only four points. With Arsenal and Spurs playing each other this weekend, there is no reason why they can’t throw themselves firmly back into the hunt for a Champions League Spot.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Liverpool

Sunday

Burnley vs West Brom (12:00)
Neither side will have enjoyed their result or performance last weekend and both will expect a response. The Baggies are hardly scoring freely under Tony Pulis and he may focus on returning to The Hawthorns with a clean sheet and a point.
Prediction: Burnley 0-0 West Brom

Newcastle vs Stoke (14:05)
The Magpies put Hull to the sword but Stoke should offer a different proposition after looking in good form in their dismantling of QPR. There are only two points between the two sides and they should both finish in mid-table. Hopefully they can provide an action-packed draw.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Stoke

West Ham vs Man United (16:15)
The Hammers will have been delighted to have only escaped with a fine over their fielding of Diafra Sakho in the FA Cup but they have steadily slipped down the table into a position that was realistically more achievable at the start of the season. United, meanwhile, negotiated their route into the fifth round of the FA Cup but their form has been largely uninspiring. It was surprising that they didn’t sign a world-class defender in January and they will hope that it doesn’t come back to bite them. The Hammers have been a bit up and down recently but are tough to beat at home.
Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Man United

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend’s fixtures for the 23rd round of Premier League football. Last time out we got six out of ten predictions right and one correct score. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Hull vs Newcastle (12:45)
Hull were appalling in their last league match where they were thumped by West Ham and their poor form this season continued. Newcastle, meanwhile, have announced that John Carver will stay on until the end of the season – despite not displaying great form under him. Neither side is in great form so a draw looks the most likely result.
Prediction: Hull 1-1 Newcastle

Crystal Palace vs Everton (15:00)
Palace’s magical revival under Alan Pardew continued with an excellent FA Cup victory over Southampton. Everton have really struggled to find their feet so far this campaign but look more solidified at the back than earlier in the season and could return to Merseyside with a point.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Everton

Liverpool vs West Ham (15:00)
The big headline ahead of this fixture is that Daniel Sturridge is due to return in some capacity. His teammates have started to pick up their form in recent weeks but The Hammers will not be easy opponents to beat. Sam Allardyce has turned his side into a well-oiled machine that plays attractive football and will provide a stern test. The Reds should scrape a win, though.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 West Ham

Man United vs Leicester (15:00)
If the reverse fixture of this match is anything to go by then this should be an exciting contest. Leicester stunned Louis van Gaal’s men to win 5-3 at the King Power Stadium. United have struggled to put teams to the sword recently while Leicester have improved but The Red Devils should come out on top.
Prediction: Man United 2-0 Leicester

Stoke vs QPR (15:00)
The Potters marched on in the FA Cup by beating Rochdale and sit in the top half of the Premier League. QPR may be in the relegation zone but they are only one point away from safety. They are still yet to pick up a point on the road this season and it seems unlikely they’ll get one here.
Prediction: Stoke 2-0 QPR

Sunderland vs Burnley (15:00)
Gus Poyet has been criticized recently for Sunderland’s style of play and their lack of goals but he will be hoping that the acquisition of Jermain Defoe can help to change that. Burnley have battled for every point this season and there is every chance that they will fight for another one here.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Burnley

West Brom vs Spurs (15:00)
Tony Pulis appears to have instilled belief back into this West Brom team and they won’t fear anyone. Spurs booked a trip to Wembley to face Chelsea in the League Cup final but their midweek match may have taken it out of them. The Baggies could well earn another vital point towards safety.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Spurs

Chelsea vs Man City (17:30)
This is the big match of the weekend and one that City will be desperate not to lose. City have slipped to five points behind the leaders in recent weeks and won’t fancy chasing an eight-point deficit. Jose Mourinho’s side are without Diego Costa through suspension and are likely to be without Cesc Fabregas too. City may just feel they have the edge to win but Mourinho knows how to set his sides up against the top teams and they should get a point.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Man City

Sunday

Arsenal vs Aston Villa (13:30)
Arsenal are in excellent form at the moment and are only one point shy of fourth spot. Villa have made some astute signings this window and Carles Gil looks as if he could be the creative spark that they may need. Having said that, they are playing The Gunners at the wrong time and there will only be one result in this one.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa

Southampton vs Swansea (16:00)
The Saints crashed out of the FA Cup to Crystal Palace, which now has added a little bit of pressure on them to finish in the top four. I said a few weeks ago that Swansea looked slightly fatigued and the sale of Wilfried Bony leaves them looking less effective in attack. Southampton should come out on top.
Prediction: Southampton 2-0 Swansea

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

Leicester 1-0 Aston Villa

Paul Konchesky pulled Leicester to within two points of safety as The Foxes beat Aston Villa.

Konchesky struck a fine left-footed strike at the end of the first half in a match that Leicester dominated.

Matty James and Ciaran Clark were sent off in stoppage time as tempers boiled over.

The Foxes remain bottom of the table but are level with relegation rivals Crystal Palace on 17 points.

David Nugent wasted a great early opportunity by putting an effort wide in the 13th minute after Marc Albrighton slid him in.

Christian Benteke then had the ball in the net but he was flagged offside.

Nugent passed up another glorious opportunity to score, this time with his head, as he managed to put the ball wide from three yards.

He came close with a spectacular volley from the edge of the area that cannoned off the bar.

Leicester continued to pile the pressure on and Konchesky fired in a brilliant effort from just inside the area after Alan Hutton failed to clear.

The Foxes came out the traps quickly in the second half and almost doubled their lead but Brad Guazan expertly denied a Matty James header with a fingertip save.

Guzan made another excellent stop to deny former villa man Albrighton’s drive.

James lunged in on Jores Okore to earn a straight red card while Clark received a second yellow card for his reaction to the incident.

Benteke came close with a header but Leicester held on.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Lazar Markovic scored an early winner for Liverpool as they saw off ten-man Sunderland.

The former Benfica man poked the ball past Costel Pantilimon in the ninth minute that capped off an excellent performance for the Serbian.

Liverpool dominated the first half but struggled to kill the game off after Liam Bridcutt was sent off following a second booking after half time.

Neither side created too many chances but Markovic and Adam Johnson both hit the woodwork with shots from distance.

Liverpool wanted an early penalty when Markovic went down as he raced through but Craig Pawson ruled that Wes Brown didn’t make contact.

Markovic was rewarded five minutes later as he bundled the ball through Pantilimon after battling past Patrick van Aanholt in the box.

Markovic almost added a stunning second with an audacious and improvised effort that crashed against the bar.

Bridcutt was then booked for clipping Steven Gerrard’s heels in the middle of the pitch.

Jordan Henderson hit the post after a smart chest and volley but was penalised for handball.

Fabio Borini almost added a second after racing in behind Brown, skipped past Pantilimon but could only find the side netting.

Bridcutt was then sent off after receiving a second yellow for bringing down Emre Can on the right hand side.

Sunderland appeared galvanised by the red card and Johnson almost grabbed a stunning equaliser but his long-range effort swerved against the bar.

It was a brief renaissance, however, and Liverpool comfortably held on for the win.

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