Everton vs. Fulham
After taking a great point of Man Utd and snatching a late win away at the always solid Bolton, it looks like Everton may have finally got going this season. Fulham will be no pushovers though, as they too had a good win on Wednesday, with Andy Johnson finally finding his goalscoring form. Everton need to start winning at home if they’re to push for Europe as they should be, and I think that even with a goalscoring old-boy returning, the Toffees will be too strong for Fulham.
Chelsea vs. Sunderland Athletic
Roy Keane’s Sunderland have looked very good at times this season, but have slipped up a couple of times too. However, even if they play out of their skins at the Bridge, I think they’ll be doing well to take anything from the game. Chelsea have a point to prove after their defeat to Liverpool and easily overcame Hull in midweek, and I think Sunderland will be the next to fall.
Manchester United vs. Hull City
Chelsea showed in midweek that if you are good enough, then Hull can be rolled over, and I think United will be keen to show that they can defeat this season’s surprise package with such ease too. And with Ronaldo getting back to goalscoring form and Rooney and Berbatov looking ever-dangerous, I can see the Champions going one better than Chelsea’s three goal scoreline in midweek. Hull have nothing to lose, and should not be demoralized if they do lose heavily.
Middlesbrough vs. West Ham United
Southgate’s ‘Borough side have looked fairly dangerous at times this season, and with Tuncay back after a spell out, they will be looking to take advantage of the Hammers’ current rough patch. Gianfranco Zola’s good start has been forgotten after recent poor performances, and the little wizard needs to inspire his players to recreate the sort of performances he himself used to deliver. It is a high-pressure time for the Italian, and I think ‘Borough will only increase the burden.
Portsmouth vs. Wigan Athletic
Life after Harry must go on and this will be Tony Adam’s first home game in charge, after an unfortunate defeat at Anfield in midweek. Wigan find themselves in the bottom three despite having the league’s top scorer and England’s centre-forward in their ranks, which suggests Steve Bruce needs to sure up his defence a bit – something you would have thought he would have done naturally. I can see Portsmouth overcoming Wigan here today, they have a lot of quality, as long as Adams can keep them playing without Harry.
Stoke City vs. Arsenal
The Arsenal camp will be a bit shaken after Spurs’ dramatic late show in midweek, and if any team will want to take advantage of a shaken Arsenal side, it will be Stoke. They will have the aerial presence and Rory Delap’s long throws to really test Arsenal’s defence that really caved in under pressure against Tottenham. It all depends whether Arsenal can remain a solid unit, because they will always have the firepower to score goals. I think they are too good for Stoke, and may overcome a scare to run out comfortable winners.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Blackburn Rovers
West Brom have lost their last three, but have done so while playing some good football, which is a very admirable of them, when they can see Hull and Stoke to an extent, getting results from playing the rough stuff. This is a tough one to call though, with Rovers looking a little below par lately and lacking in front of goal. Normally I would say Blackburn would be solid enough to overcome Albion but I have a feeling West Brom may pick up a win that does wonders for their confidence and destroys Blackburn’s.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool
Possibly the tie of the weekend this one, with Liverpool flying high after their win over Chelsea was complimented by a typically fortunate win at home to Pompey. Spurs on the other hand have ‘Arry in place and are fresh from a mind-boggling draw with Arsenal. They will have a bit of confidence going into this one and will look to frustrate Liverpool as the Reds did to Chelsea. Unfortunately I don’t think their defence is good enough to contain Liverpool (who seem to have lady luck on their side), so I think they’ll shade it.
Bolton Wanderers vs. Manchester City (Sun)
Both teams lost in midweek, and Bolton are in a bit of trouble, conceding far too many goals and looking toothless going forward. City are hugely unpredictable, sometimes brilliant going forward, but a little fragile at the back. However, I think that Bolton will pose no particular threat, giving City’s boundless attacking talent free reign to tear Bolton apart. It could be a big scoreline, depending on how clinical City are.
Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (Mon)
It looks to me that O’Neill has got a side together that he is really happy with, and consistent results reflect this. They are playing well as a unit and even though they weren’t on top form in midweek, still got the result, which is the sign of a good team. Newcastle have sured things up under Kinnear, and have more fight about them, but think that Villa have a little bit too much for them, and that the crafty O’Neill will outmanoeuvre Kinnear in this one.