Stoke City

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

Advertisements

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 weekend fixtures for the 30th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got six out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Man City vs West Brom (12:45)
City’s season went from bad to worse after being humbled at the Nou Camp and it was only a miraculous performance from Joe Hart that saved them from a humiliating scoreline. The Baggies, meanwhile, returned to winning ways against Stoke and will be sure to be well organised and keep City chances at a minimum. Manuel Pellegrini’s men have already endured a terrible week and he will most probably lose his job at the end of the season given their inevitable lack of trophies but they should be able to sneak a win here.
Prediction: Man City 1-0 West Brom

Aston Villa vs Swansea (15:00)
Villa’s season has been transformed with back-to-back league victories and Tim Sherwood’s feel-good factor is driving them on at the moment. The Swans have also been performing well and were unlucky to lose to Liverpool last time out. The Villans will be desperate to win this one as they have a really tough run of fixtures coming up but Swansea are no pushovers and should be able to get a point at Villa Park.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Swansea

Newcastle vs Arsenal (15:00)
The Magpies put in a very poor display against Everton last weekend and now face an in-form Arsenal. The Gunners are odds-on to finish at least third and impressed in Monaco in midweek, despite being knocked out of the Champions League overall. It’s hard to see anything other than a walkover for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-3 Arsenal

Southampton vs Burnley (15:00)
The Saints kept their Champions League hopes alive with a hard-earned draw against Chelsea but remain outsiders for a top-four finish. Burnley enjoyed a terrific result over Man City and have given themselves a real chance of escaping relegation. They are only one point behind Sunderland and they will hope that their momentum from last weekend’s win can see them through. Southampton should just about nick this game, though.
Prediction: Southampton 1-0 Burnley

Stoke vs Palace (15:00)
This is a contest between two teams whose soul aim now will be to finish as high in the league as possible. Stoke will be confident of finishing as ‘the best of the rest’ away from those competing for European qualification via the league. Palace have drastically improved under Alan Pardew and are an exciting team going forward with the likes of Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha. I think this will be quite an entertaining game and it’s hard to split them so I’ll lump for a score draw.
Prediction: Stoke 2-2 Palace

Spurs vs Leicester (15:00)
Tottenham suffered a real setback in their pursuit of the Champions League last weekend but with Man United and Liverpool facing each other on Sunday it is vital that they win against bottom side Leicester. The Foxes did pick up a point against Hull last time out but realistically needed to win that match to have a chance of survival and I think they could be on the receiving end of a heavy defeat here.
Prediction: Spurs 4-0 Leicester

West Ham vs Sunderland (17:30)
This match sees two sides in very poor form facing off against each other and a Premier League debut for new Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat. The Hammers have gone off the boil in the past few weeks and haven’t won in the league since January. Sunderland finally sacked Gus Poyet after a dreadful run of results and they will hope that their new appointment will give them a boost. This could go either way but Sunderland will be desperate not to lose and I think they will leave Upton Park with a point.
Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Sunderland

Sunday

Liverpool vs Man United (13:30)

This is undoubtedly the biggest match of the weekend and this could ultimately decide who finishes fourth. Liverpool have been in sensational form in 2015 and United were written off by many before last weekend’s hammering of Spurs but now the tie has an intriguing balance to it. It’s very difficult to predict which team will win it but I think both teams will come out guns blazing and try to win the match but as it goes on may be happy to settle for a point, which will keep the battle for fourth finely poised.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Man United

Hull vs Chelsea (16:00)
Hull aren’t quite safe yet but it would be a big shock to see them going down considering the quality of some of the sides below them. Not as big a shock, however, as if Chelsea did not win the league. Man City seem to have given up the fight and Jose Mourinho’s side are waltzing comfortably to league success. It’s hard to see anything other than an easy Chelsea win.
Prediction: Hull 0-2 Chelsea

QPR vs Everton (16:00)
This is a huge match for The R’s. Everton have been generally poor in the league this season and were thrashed in Kiev on Thursday night as they crashed out of Europe so QPR couldn’t have picked a better time to play them. Everton’s players are all likely to be tired after their long trip and Chris Ramsey needs to make sure his players make this as physical as possible to capitalise on their drained resources. I have a feeling that they will get the win and put real pressure on the teams above them.
Prediction: QPR 2-1 Everton

Weekend Preview and Predictions

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

Saturday    

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 



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

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

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

Monday

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

Weekend Preview and Predictions

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

Saturday

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

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

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

Sunday

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

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

Midweek Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the weekend fixtures for the 28th round of Premier League football. Last time out we got three out of eight predictions right and two correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Tuesday

Aston Villa vs West Brom (19:45)
Tim Sherwood has had a terrible introduction to life managing Aston Villa and The Villans have now lost their last seven league matches. The Baggies, meanwhile, earned another win against Southampton and Tony Pulis looks set to guide them to safety. These two clubs face each other twice this week as they have their FA Cup quarter-final to look forward to on Saturday but Villa simply cannot afford to lose this and Pulis is unlikely to allow Villa to close the gap on his side so a draw would be the logical outcome.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 West Brom

Hull vs Sunderland (19:45)
Last time out Hull were defeated away at Stoke while Sunderland lost away at Man United – neither of which were disastrous results. Hull have shown good form against the sides around them recently, beating both Villa and QPR, but Sunderland have demonstrated time and time again that they are very difficult to break down. This could be a cagey affair and don’t be surprised to see it finish goalless.
Prediction: Hull 0-0 Sunderland

Southampton vs Crystal Palace (19:45)
The Saints’ top-four challenge has drifted away in recent weeks and there are few people who will be genuinely surprised by that. Palace have reached 30 points, convincingly beat West Ham at the weekend and look like they will be comfortably safe. Southampton have shown throughout the season that they can bounce back from a setback and they will need to again here to keep their slim Champions League hopes alive.
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Crystal Palace

Wednesday

Man City vs Leicester (19:45)
City wasted a golden opportunity to put Chelsea under pressure whilst they weren’t in league action but were very poor and now need a minor miracle if they’re going to bag a trophy this season. Manuel Pellegrini’s job will now be under serious scrutiny from their demanding owners. Leicester enjoyed the comfort of a break at the weekend but it is unlikely to do them many favours at the Etihad.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Leicester

Newcastle vs Man United (19:45)
The Magpies bounced back from their crushing defeat at the hands of Man City to beat Aston Villa and virtually confirmed Premier League safety. United returned to winning ways but will know that they can’t drop points in this game as they prepare to face Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool in their three fixtures following this match. They may still not be at their fluent best but they should still be able to beat Newcastle.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Man United

QPR vs Arsenal (19:45)
The R’s benefitted from a rest this weekend but the arrival of The Gunners represents a tough fixture for a side that generally rely on their home results. Arsenal may as well have had the weekend off as Everton put up little resistance but this is not an easy fixture for Arsene Wenger’s men. The pitch will suit QPR more than it will Arsenal and Chris Ramsey’s side will hope to get in their face and cause them problems. Having said that, Arsenal should have enough quality to edge this.
Prediction: QPR 1-2 Arsenal

Stoke vs Everton (19:45)
Mark Hughes’ side did what they traditionally do best and won at home this weekend while Everton faltered once more. Roberto Martinez must surely want them to focus all their attention on winning the Europa League to try to earn qualification to the Champions League through that route. Their league form is less important providing they steer clear of relegation and I can’t see Stoke giving them an easy ride here.
Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Everton

Spurs vs Swansea (19:45)
Tottenham may have been disappointed to lose the Capital One Cup final but it’s important that they put that behind them quickly and focus on their push for a Champions League place. Swansea have suddenly returned to superb form and will not make this easy for Mauricio Pochettino’s team but they have enough in the tank to get a win.
Prediction: Spurs 2-1 Swansea

West Ham vs Chelsea (19:45)
The Hammers lost the plot at the weekend and it was surprising to watch them concede such a high number of goals again. Chelsea, on the other hand, enjoyed an excellent win over Spurs to lift the Capital One Cup trophy. They will have to guard against complacency but they could be catching Sam Allardyce’s team at just the right time and can keep their five-point gap at the top intact.
Prediction: West Ham 0-2 Chelsea

Liverpool vs Burnley (20:00)
The Reds’ great form continued with a win over Man City and they are breathing down the necks of Arsenal and Man United to earn Champions League football. Burnley, meanwhile, lost to Swansea at home and I am struggling to see an escape from relegation for them now. This is the last team Sean Dyche would want his side to be facing at the moment and they won’t be able to get a result at Anfield.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Burnley

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

New Year Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the New Year’s Day fixtures for the 20th round of Premier League football. Following a surprising set of results last weekend, we got two out of ten predictions right and no correct scores. Will we do better this week?

Stoke vs Man United (12:45)
The Potters have climbed to 11th after their victory over struggling West Brom and are more than capable of finishing in the top half of the table. United may have been disappointed to have not beaten Spurs but their rivals also dropped points and it shouldn’t do too much damage to their top-four hopes. Stoke are traditionally strong at home and have put in some decent performances against the big sides this season and may well get a point here too.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Man United

Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
While Fabian Delph’s red card may have been harsh, Villa’s lack of discipline is costing them dearly at the moment. Delph’s lunge was needless above anything and gave Martin Atkinson a decision that he shouldn’t have even had to make. Having said that, Villa performed admirably with ten men and can take heart from their display and earned another valuable point. Palace also battled to a draw against relegation rivals QPR and they will probably set up in a similar fashion at Villa Park with the intention of returning to London with a point. They’re capable of getting it and will frustrate the Villa faithful with another home draw to offer a springboard before Alan Pardew’s arrival.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace

Hull vs Everton (15:00)
Hull’s defeat to Leicester undid the good work they had done the previous week against Sunderland. They have to start winning the matches against their rivals at the bottom of the table else they could face the drop. Everton are enduring a similarly torrid time at the moment and a top-four place is already beyond them. Roberto Martinez needs a win desperately and there aren’t many teams in the league that are better to play to provide you with such a luxury. This will be a cagey affair and either side could get all three points but an Everton win is long overdue.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Everton

Liverpool vs Leicester (15:00)
Liverpool produced an excellent performance to thump Swansea 4-1 and will now set their sights on climbing up the table. Leicester, meanwhile, got a long-awaited win over Hull and saved Nigel Pearson’s job in the process. Had they lost that match, there would have been no way back but they have given themselves a lifeline and stayed in touch with their rivals at the bottom. To get a win at Anfield seems unlikely, though.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-0 Leicester

Man City vs Sunderland (15:00)
Manuel Pellegrini will have been furious at his side for the manner in which they dropped two points against lowly Burnley. With Chelsea dropping points, it was the ideal opportunity to put real pressure on their title rivals. Sunderland will be equally disappointed that they didn’t get three points against 10-man Aston Villa. Sunderland played very poorly considering their man advantage and should be a good opponent for City to beat, despite The Black Cats good record against them.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Sunderland

Newcastle vs Burnley (15:00)
Both these sides performed admirably to earn good results at the weekend. Newcastle battled back from a goal down to beat Everton 3-2 while The Clarets clawed themselves level having gone two goals behind against the champions Man City. Newcastle are surprisingly set to lose Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace and it will be interesting to see how the players react to his departure. Burnley have shown that they can battle against the best teams in the league and no team they play against will get an easy ride. A draw seems a likely outcome.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Burnley

QPR vs Swansea (15:00)
QPR will have been disappointed in dropping points against Crystal Palace at home but their opponents were very organised and played for a point. Swansea, who were comfortably dismantled by Liverpool, won’t arrive with that attitude and will go to Loftus Road believing they can win. The R’s home form has been generally very good and they are capable of winning this one.
Prediction: QPR 2-1 Swansea

Southampton vs Arsenal (15:00)
The Saints defied the odds with their draw against league leaders Chelsea while The Gunners saw off high-flying West Ham. Southampton have impressed in their two matches against Arsene Wenger’s men this season but came up short in their last league encounter. These are two of the stronger teams in the league and are very difficult to separate so a draw seems a sensible option.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Arsenal

West Ham vs West Brom (15:00)
The Hammers have lost back-to-back matches to two of the league’s best teams so they will be pleased to face opposition as weak as The Baggies. Alan Irvine’s reign has come to an end but a new boss won’t be in place before this one. They will hope to lure Tony Pulis to the club due to his excellent managerial record at avoiding relegation. It’s hard to see anything but a West Ham win.
Prediction: West Ham 2-0 West Brom

Spurs vs Chelsea (17:30)
Spurs will have been relieved to take a point off Man United and keep themselves firmly in the frame for Champions League football. Chelsea may have dropped points but their only real title challengers Man City dropped points as well so little damage was done. Jose Mourinho generally sets up very well against the best sides and Chelsea always seem to beat Spurs so it’s hard to bet against them doing the same here.
Prediction: Spurs 1-2 Chelsea