Arsenal v West Brom
Things are looking about as optimistic as Justin Lee Collins chances of a showbiz comeback at the Emirates these days. This game will be potentially huge for Arsenal and for Wenger, who are looking for their first win in the league since the 5-2 thrashing over rivals Spurs. West Brom have lost their last two but the first was due to an outstanding first half performance by Swansea City and the second was away at Stoke so the Hawthorns faithful are looking at things from a glass half full perspective.
Steve Clarke will be happy for a draw to stop the rot whereas Wenger will be desperate for a win here. Prediction: 1-1
Southampton v Reading
Last season this game was down as the Championship decider with Reading coming out on top. This year however it will be a battle between a team whose weakness is it’s goalkeeper and a team who have conceded 8 goals in 3 games.
I think there will be goals in this one. With Southampton having the home advantage Ramirez, Lambert, Lallana and Puncheon will all be looking to terrify the Reading defence that has allowed, on average, 21 shots to be shot at their goal in away games this season. Reading are poor against teams who play counter attacking football so this will most likely be a home win but with Gazzaniga in goal you never know. Prediction: 3 – 1
Aston Villa v Stoke City
With creative spark Charlie Adam suspended and surprise surprise, Michael Owen still injured along with Peter Crouch, don’t expect Stoke to pull out the total football handbook for this trip to Villa Park. Although results haven’t been going totally their way Villa have started to show some promise recently and will be hoping the Benteke can use his brute strength to good affect against the team that whose middle name would be brute strength if that were possible.
A potentially very low scoring game this one with both teams in the bottom 5 in the league when it comes to goals scored. Prediction: 1 – 0
Sunderland v Chelsea
Though geographically these teams are far apart when it comes to form they could not be more similar; both have 4 points from their last 6 games, both have poor scoring records and both managers would sell what is left of their battered and torn apart souls for a win. Martin O’Neil will not be expected to win this game as his *ahem* star striker Steve Fletcher is a doubt but at least a solid effort will be demanded by the Stadium of Light’s fans.
Rafa does not want to even think about the consequences of losing this match, if ever a time for Fernando Torres to actual do something this would be a fine time to step up. He managed an assist last weekend and got two against Norway’s finest but can El Nino do it in the league? Prediction: 1 – 1
Swansea City v Norwich City
With Swansea unbeaten in 6 and Norwich unbeaten in 8 this will be a fascinating game between two teams high on confidence. Both teams have taken significant scalps in recent weeks with Manchester United, Stoke City, Arsenal and Newcastle United falling by the wayside. The man to watch out for is everyone’s favourite new bargain buy Michu and Norwich’s Sebastien Bassong and Co. will be looking to stop the Spaniard.
In recent weeks Norwich have formed a formidable defence but Michael Laudrup’s fast flowing team will be looking to show up the Canaries. Norwich have managed only 5 away goals this season whereas Swansea are on a roll, I think one teams unbeaten run may be about to come to an end. Prediction: 3 – 0
Wigan v QPR
You never know which Wigan team will turn up. It might be the team that played Spurs off the park on their own ground or the team that loses to Sunderland. Harry Redknapp will be hoping the later of the two versions of Wigan come out of the tunnel on Saturday and he can finally register QPR’s first win of the season. The omens don’t bode well for Redknapp as Wigan’s last two defeats at home came against the undefeated Champions and early nominee for best newcomers West Brom. QPR picked up their first point away from home last weekend since August and haven’t won away in 21 attempts.
My gut is saying that QPR might nick this one but my gut does have shit for brains. Prediction: 2 – 2
Manchester City v Manchester United
The teams that are the only ones left in contention for the title, apparently. To call this a six pointer or a title decider is beyond premature but if Manchester United can do what no one has done for 37 games and win then a 6 point gap at the top will be a very nice cushion going into the bloated winter fixtures. Man United have been over reliant on their attack this season as their defence has been as bad as Sepp Blatter doing Gangnam style.
This will be a game that show cases the Premierships best defence against the Premierships best attack in a game added with the spice of that derby day feeling. The atmosphere in the city will be electric whereas the atmosphere at the Etihad will be erm…, existent but either way its got the ingredients for a wizz banger of a game. Prediction: 3 – 2
Everton v Tottenham
Even though Everton are everyone’s favourite second team they have only won 1 game in their last 8 and that came at home to Sunderland. With 6 of those 8 games ending in draws, Everton need to find the killer instinct or else will run the risk of dropping slowly down the table and leaving a tall big haired Belgium man more likely to leave.
Tottenham on the other hand have won 3 out of 3 since their 5-2 loss to Arsenal. A lot of people will be using the loss of Gareth Bale to say Spurs are weakened but AVB won’t care as he would tell you in his low gravelly tone that every game Moussa Dembele has played Spurs have won. With Defoe bang in form again I could see Spurs nicking this one but you can never write off David Moyes side. Prediction: 2 – 2
West Ham v Liverpool
When the devil on Luis Suarez shoulder shouted “Punch it” last week it showcased the side of the Uruguayan that we all love to hate, unless you support Liverpool in which case he probably headed it and it’s all part of a huge conspiracy. Either way Suarez is suspended and Liverpool don’t have a recognised striker in their team.
Coming up against a strong and well drilled Big Sam team at Upton Park will be a tough one and after their 3-1 victory over European Champions Chelsea stopped the rot after two straight defeats, confidence will be high. Whether or not Liverpool can keep Carlton Cole quiet is a key factor. With Carroll injured Cole will start and the big man scored one and set-up another last weekend.
A potentially dull or frantic affair but my cynical side is taking a hold so I think both sides will be happy with a draw. Prediction: 0 – 0
Fulham v Newcastle United
Last but not least is the Monday evening fixture. Newcastle were given a free pass to a win against Wigan last Monday when Figueroa got a red card and gifted Newcastle a penalty 10 minutes in but this trip down by the river will be a bit trickier. Fulham’s languid superstar Berbatov will hoping to get Fulham’s first win in 6 but with Bryan Ruiz out till the new year or never again if you believe the world will end on the 12/12/2012, an element of their creative spark will be missing.
Either way with Newcastle’s current injury problems and Ba doubtful due to a hamstring problem, the time is nigh for Fulham to either break out of this funk or take the flame off out of form team from Newcastle. Given their home advantage and that Newcastle haven’t won away yet I think Fulham will edge this. Prediction: 2 – 0