Steve Bruce

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 26th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got four out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Saturday

Aston Villa vs Stoke (15:00)
A lot has changed at Villa Park since their defeat at Hull where they were utterly appalling. They have sacked Paul Lambert, hired Tim Sherwood and moved into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – a busy week or so. Stoke have conceded eight in their last two games and Mark Hughes will be expecting a reaction from his players. Sadly for Hughes, he might have picked the wrong weekend to play Villa and Sherwood may provide the spark for The Villans to get a much-needed win.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Stoke

Chelsea vs Burnley (15:00)
Jose Mourinho’s side continued their march towards the title with another victory over Everton and it would take a brave man to bet against them winning it now. It would perhaps take similar bravery for someone to back Burnley to stay up. They have battled hard all season but have had some poor recent results against some of their relegation rivals and it’s hard to see them getting anything at Stamford Bridge.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Burnley

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal (15:00)
Alan Pardew’s team earned another point at home to Newcastle in their bid for safety and now sit five points clear of the relegation zone. Arsenal, meanwhile, are one point off fourth but with Spurs, Liverpool and Southampton playing on Sunday, they have an opportunity to put pressure on their rivals and it’s hard to see them wasting that chance.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal

Hull vs QPR (15:00)
Hull climbed out of the relgation zone with a big win against relegation rivals Villa and Steve Bruce will be desperate for them to follow it up with another three points against fellow strugglers QPR. The R’s also pulled themselves out of trouble with victory over Sunderland, their first away win of the season, to keep the battle to avoid relegation wide open. This could prove a pivotal game in the hunt for survival but I’ll opt for Hull due to their home advantage.
Prediction: Hull 2-1 QPR

Sunderland vs West Brom (15:00)
Had Sunderland beaten QPR at home last time out I would have said they were all but guaranteed to beat the drop but they have allowed their rivals to draw closer to them and Gus Poyet’s position looks under threat, especially after being knocked out of the FA Cup by Bradford. The Baggies, on the other hand, are four points clear of the relegation zone and are through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Tony Pulis has solidified West Brom since his arrival and may be happy to return from the Stadium of Light with a point.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-0 West Brom

Swansea vs Man United (15:00)
Swansea have generally struggled going forward without Wilfried Bony and they’ll be pleased that they acquired enough points with him as they may struggle to win matches without him. United have been heavily criticized for their playing style but they keep coming up with the results and they should pick up three more points here.
Prediction: Swansea 0-1 Man United

Man City vs Newcastle (17:30)
City welcome Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony into their matchday squad and that can only spell trouble for Newcastle. The Magpies have been very hit and miss in recent weeks and will need to be at the top of their game to get a result. City can’t afford to slip up again and need to go on a big winning streak to have a chance of lifting the title but they shouldn’t come up against too much resistance from Newcastle.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Newcastle

Sunday

Spurs vs West Ham (12:00)
Tottenham will have been disappointed with their Europa League result at home to Fiorentina and the arrival of West Ham will be a daunting prospect as they look to keep up their push for a Champions League spot. However, the Hammers haven’t had a straightforward week either. They signed Nene on a free transfer but a reported boardroom argument has erupted and there is a lot of speculation over the future of Sam Allardyce, whose contract is up at the end of the season. This could be a tight game but Spurs should have enough to get the win.
Prediction: Spurs 2-1 West Ham

Everton vs Leicester (14:05)
The Toffees produced an excellent performance to dismantle BSC Young Boys and Romelu Lukaku’s return to form will offer great encouragement. Leicester, meanwhile, crashed out of the FA Cup last weekend, are still five points clear of safety and Nigel Pearson remains under pressure. The Foxes can hope that Everton will be jaded from their trip to Switzerland but Roberto Martinez’s team should claim victory.
Prediction: Everton 1-0 Leicester

Southampton vs Liverpool (16:15)
This is a very important game in the race for the Champions League spots and one that both teams could do with winning. The Saints are likely to be outside the top four by the time the match kicks off if Arsenal beat Crystal Palace and it remains to see how long their challenge to finish in the coveted Champions League spots can last. Liverpool managed to earn a win against Besiktas in the Europa League and if they lose here that may be their only route back into Europe’s elite competition. It will be interesting to see how much each side goes for this match but I suspect it will be a cagey affair and that neither side will be able to land a knockout blow.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Liverpool

Midweek Preview and Predictions

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

Tuesday

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

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

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

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

Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

Boxing Day Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the Boxing Day fixtures for the 18th round of Premier League football. Last weekend we got six out of ten predictions right and two correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Chelsea vs West Ham (12:45)
Jose Mourinho’s men produced yet another solid display to win away at Stoke and ensure that they remained top of the Premier League tree this Christmas. West Ham continue to be the surprise package of the season and Andy Carroll is reminding us all that he is a large asset, when he stays fit. West Ham will be competitive, as the have been all season, but Chelsea should put early pressure on Manchester City.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 West Ham

Burnley vs Liverpool (15:00)
Results largely went against Burnley last weekend and returned them to the drop-zone but The Clarets are proving to be a competitive side who will fight until the end. Liverpool, meanwhile, will be encouraged by their performance against Arsenal but there are still question marks over their ability to defend. If Burnley can take the opportunities that Liverpool will almost undoubtedly present them, then they can get a result here.
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Liverpool

Crystal Palace vs Southampton (15:00)
Palace are nervously looking over their shoulder and are yet to win in December. Southampton emphatically shook off fears that their season was coming to a grinding halt with an emphatic victory over Everton, who they will believe they can finish above. This could go either way but Palace have demonstrated a lack of killer instinct and The Saints can exploit that.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton

Everton vs Stoke (15:00)
The Toffees are having a dreadful season and are closer to the relegation zone, in terms of points, than they are to the top four. Another poor result against Southampton has added weight to the theory that teams know how to play against them and there is no plan B. Stoke have had a strange season and continually produce unpredictable results but they are capable of doing better. Roberto Martinez will be desperate to get a response from his players this week and they should have enough to see off The Potters.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Stoke

Leicester vs Spurs (15:00)
The Foxes suffered another loss against West Ham last weekend and Nigel Pearson’s days look numbered. Spurs edged to yet another win and are now level with top-four rivals Arsenal. They will want to keep the pressure up on The Gunners before their match later in the day and should have enough to beat Leicester.
Prediction: Leicester 1-2 Spurs

Man United vs Newcastle (15:00)
United stuttered to a draw against 10-man Aston Villa but they can still take heart from the fact that they sit five points ahead of their realistic top-four contenders in the form of Arsenal and Spurs. Newcastle have started to slide since their good run of form and the late loss to Sunderland was a big blow for Alan Pardew’s team. United should return to winning ways.
Prediction: Man United 3-1 Newcastle

Sunderland vs Hull (15:00)
This is a massive fixture for both these teams. Adam Johnson produced another moment of magic in the latest Tyne-Wear derby to give The Black Cats some breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone. Hull continued their struggles with a home loss against Swansea but know that if they can beat their relegation rivals here that they could rise out of the drop zone. Steve Bruce would love to put one over on his former side but Gus Poyet has made Sunderland difficult to beat and they could record back-to-back victories here.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-0 Hull

Swansea vs Aston Villa (15:00)
Swansea will be very pleased with their season so far and enjoyed another good win last weekend. Villa will also be happy with their draw against Man United last weekend and put in a plucky display. They are quietly going about their business and have reached the halfway mark of the magic 40 points so are on track for survival. Having said that, Villa’s record against Swansea in the Premier League is dire and The Swans will fancy their chances at home.
Prediction: Swansea 2-1 Aston Villa

West Brom vs Man City (15:00)
West Brom put in a catastrophic performance last weekend and threw away a two-goal lead to allow fellow strugglers QPR to draw level with them on points. City have closed the gap significantly on Chelsea and are in good form, especially considering their shortage of strikers. There will only be one outcome in this game and it’s not good news for Baggies fans.
Prediction: West Brom 1-3 Man City

Arsenal vs QPR (17:30)
The Gunners didn’t show up last weekend and still almost beat Liverpool. The manner in which they threw away their lead will not have gone down well with Arsene Wenger and QPR may be in for a tough afternoon. The R’s are beating their relegation rivals and winning at home but continue to offer very little away from home and they will lose again here.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 QPR

Weekend Preview and Predictions

The long-anticipated first weekend of the new Premier League season is set to begin. Here @0riginalfooty takes a look at the opening round of fixtures and offers predictions as to who will emerge victorious.

Saturday

Man Utd vs Swansea (12:45)
This is the first competitive fixture of Louis van Gaal’s reign and the Dutchman will be keen to get off to a flying start. Wayne Rooney has been announced as the new club captain, so don’t be surprised to see him get off the mark this weekend. This is a tough start for Garry Monk in his first full season as a manager and it’s hard to see them picking up anything from this one.
Prediction: Man Utd 3-1 Swansea

Leicester vs Everton (15:00)
Nigel Pearson will hope that his newly promoted side can carry their title-winning form forward to this season and establish themselves as a Premier League side. The Foxes have been disappointing in the transfer market, despite having money to spend, and face a tough encounter in their first match of the new campaign. Roberto Martinez, in comparison, has splashed £28 million alone on Romelu Lukaku and the Toffees will be hoping to challenge for a Champions League place. This won’t be an easy match for Everton but they should return to Merseyside with a hard fought three points.
Prediction: Leicester 0-1 Everton

QPR vs Hull (15:00)
Harry Redknapp’s team are the favourites of the newly promoted sides to survive in the division and will be hopeful of securing a mid-table finish. Their new signings, such as centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker, signal their intentions of doing just that. Hull’s ambitions will be similar to their opponents and they should steer well clear of trouble this season, although a venture into Europe could test the depth of their squad. The sale of Shane Long to Southampton was a surprise, given that he only arrived in January, and Steve Bruce will have to replace him sooner rather than later. This match has draw written all over it.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Hull

Stoke vs Aston Villa (15:00)
Mark Hughes is building a decent side at the Brittania Stadium and has instilled a much more exciting style of play than Tony Pulis ever did. The Potters have added some stimulating signings this summer, such as Bojan Krkic and Mame Biram Diouf, and should finish in the top half once more. Aston Villa have opted to add experienced players to their youthful squad throughout the transfer window and are desperate to avoid yet another relegation battle. Stoke are notoriously strong at home and should edge Villa in this one.
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Aston Villa

West Brom vs Sunderland (15:00)
These are nervous times for Alan Irvine’s team. There are question marks over whether Brown Ideye can provide the goal-scoring touch that was so desperately missing last season. If he fails to hit the ground running then this could be a very difficult season for The Baggies. Sunderland, on the other hand, will feel relatively optimistic after an encouraging run of form at the end of last season. The Black Cats have added some decent quality to their squad, with the likes of Jack Rodwell and Costel Pantilimon arriving, and the mood around the Stadium of Light is generally positive. This one could go either way so we’ll sit on the fence and go for a draw.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Sunderland

West Ham vs Tottenham (15:00)
The Hammers have been proactive in the transfer market as Sam Allardyce attempts to develop a more expansive style of play. Players such as Mauro Zarate and Enner Valencia will bolster their attacking options in the absence of target man Andy Carroll. Mauricio Pochettino believes that his Spurs side is strong enough to secure a top four finish and if they are to achieve that then they will have to win matches like this one. Pochettino will be confident of bringing the best out of Tottenham’s misfiring stars and they should emerge victorious here.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Tottenham

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace (17.30)
The Gunners have enjoyed a terrific pre-season and there is a real buzz surrounding Arsene Wenger’s side. The transfer of Alexis Sanchez has been widely proclaimed as the best signing of the window and Arsenal fans genuinely believe that their team can be successful on all fronts this season. Conversely, Palace have been rocked by the news that manager Tony Pulis has left the club by mutual consent. Palace have suddenly emerged as possible relegation candidates, such was Pulis’ effect on their fortunes. The air of uncertainty around The Eagles should work in Arsenal’s favour and they should run out comfortable winners.
Prediction: Arsenal 4-0 Crystal Palace

Sunday

Liverpool vs Southampton (13:30)
This is arguably the tastiest fixture of this round of matches due to Liverpool’s continuous raid of The Saints this summer. Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren have all moved from St Marys to Anfield, which should add an element of spice to this match. Southampton fans have been extremely disappointed by the mass exodus this summer and will hope that Ronald Koeman and his new signings can adapt to the demands of the Premier League. Liverpool should emerge victorious in this one.
Liverpool 3-1 Southampton

Newcastle vs Man City (16:00)
The Magpies ended last season in appalling form and will hope that the new season brings a halt to their dreadful run. Alan Pardew has been very active in the transfer market and players such as Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong will be expected to stop their slide. City have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, only adding quality to specific areas. In truth, their squad is already strong enough to compete on all fronts and they should enjoy another good season. It won’t be straightforward but City will have enough about them to see off Newcastle.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Man City

Monday

Burnley vs Chelsea (20:00)
Burnley mark their return to the Premier League by hosting Chelsea, a side widely tipped to win the league. Sean Dyche’s team finished second in the Championship last season and are expected to struggle to maintain their Premier League status beyond this campaign. If they are to survive they will have to make Turf Moor a fortress and ensure that sides do not leave there with all three points. Chelsea have strengthened extremely well this summer and have added balance, as well as quality, to their squad. This could be a tough opener for the Blues as Burnley are likely to be tough to break down but Mourinho’s side should find a way through.
Burnley 0-1 Chelsea

A First Time Footballer

As the Original Footy know-it-alls near the end of their Premier League previews, I still feel completely and utterly lost. I have been reading the posts, but there is mountains upon mountains of information about the teams involved – names I can’t spell or even begin to pronounce, movements of players from foreign and exciting lands, absurd sums of money in the fight for the best footballers – all of which I find baffling. For those of you who, like me, want to learn a bit more about the game but can’t hope to retain all the information in the Original Footy previews, the key is to go at it in bite-size chunks. So, we will begin today with the managers of the Premier League teams. I’m going to ask one of the guys at @0riginalFooty to test me on this at some point next week, so it’s time to start learning!
Arsenal – Arsene Wenger
Aston Villa – Paul Lambert
Burnley – Sean Dyche
Chelsea – Jose Mourinho
Crystal Palace – Tony Pulis
Everton – Roberto Martinez
Hull – Steve Bruce
Leicester – Nigel Pearson
Liverpool – Brendan Rodgers
Manchester City – Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester United – Louis van Gaal
Newcastle – Alan Pardew
QPR – Harry Redknapp
Southampton – Ronald Koeman
Stoke – Mark Hughes
Sunderland – Gus Poyet
Swansea – Garry Monk
Tottenham – Mauricio Pochettino
West Brom – Alan Irvine
West Ham – Sam Allardyce

At present I would say that I know 3 of these for sure. A measly 3 managers. Arsene Wenger is one of them and is an easy one to remember because his name is so similar to the name of his team. I actually know Paul Lambert and Aston Villa, but only because a good friend of mine speaks of very little else other than his favourite team. Finally, Manuel Pellegrini is where my knowledge of Premier League managers ends. I was on a flight back from Malaga last summer and he happened to be on the same plane as me. When collecting our luggage, he was stood with all the “normal” people and I noticed lots of passengers going up to him and asking for his autograph. Needless to say, I had no idea who he was so I sneaked a photo of him and sent it to a few of my football-savvy friends who confirmed that it was Manchester City’s new manager. So, I currently stand at a meagre 3 out of 20. I have a lot of work to do. Look out for A First Time Footballer’s post next week to find out how well (or not as the case may be) I fare in my Football Manager test…

Premier League Preview: Hull City

There are only 4 weeks to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. Here we take a look at Hull.

On the face of things, referring purely to the Premier League table from last year, Hull had a pretty bad season, finishing in 16th place and a mere 4 points above the relegation zone. However, in reality, Hull had a very successful season. They reached the final of the FA Cup, which affected their league form towards the back end of the season, and for the majority of the campaign they looked a solid Premier League side.

The Manager
Steve Bruce has been the manager of Hull City for two years now, getting Hull promoted to the Premier League in his first season in charge through automatic promotion and keeping them afloat in his second. He’s a well-respected and liked manager throughout the game with previous spells at Wigan Athletic and Birmingham City.

Steve Bruce has enjoyed 2 very good seasons in Hull

Steve Bruce has enjoyed 2 very good seasons in Hull

Biggest Signing
Hull City’s chairman, Assem Allam, seems to have confidence in Steve Bruce as shown by his willingness to pay good money for proven Premier League players such as Tom Huddlestone, Shane Long and Nikica Jelavić. Despite signing Tom Ince on a free this summer I would argue that the purchase of Robert Snodgrass will be their best signing as he has performed well in the Premier League previously with Norwich City whereas Ince hardly impressed in his spell with Palace. Hull have also secured the services of Jake Livermore on a permanent basis, who was an important part of their midfield last season, and that is a good piece of business from the club.

Robert Snodgrass is a proven Premier League performer

Robert Snodgrass is a proven Premier League performer

Who is tipped to join them?
Michael Dawson has been linked and Bruce declared his admiration for the player but also admitted it may be hard to persuade Tottenham to sell at the price they are offering due to the number of years left on Dawson’s contract. Steve Bruce is also hopeful of making Harry Maguire from Sheffield United his fourth signing of the summer with a fee close to being agreed with United.

Harry Maguire is reported to be en route to the KC Stadium

Harry Maguire is reported to be en route to the KC Stadium

Who should they sign?
Hull have a strong squad and Steve Bruce is right in declaring that it’s the best squad the club has ever had in it’s history. One area they could perhaps strengthen is the centre-back area, which they are looking to do because of a lack of partners for Curtis Davies. Dawson would be an excellent acquisition in that respect and Bruce seems to be on the right track with his recruitment drive.

Michael Dawson would be a terrific capture for Hull

Michael Dawson would be a terrific capture for Hull

Key Player
Voted player of the season last year Curtis Davies will once again be Hull’s key player for the coming season. It’s always important to build from the defence when forming a good, solid team and Davies provides just that for Hull. Hull will need big performances from Davies once again in order to build on last season’s success.

Davies is crucial to Hull's Premier League aspirations

Davies is crucial to Hull’s Premier League aspirations

Prediction
I think that Hull will go from strength to strength this coming season with the Long/Jelavić partnership having had a whole pre-season to develop and Huddlestone/Livermore providing a good platform in the centre of midfield. I expect them to finish in the top half of the table, which would represent an excellent campaign. Expect Hull to finish 10th.