Bolton Wanderers vs. Liverpool
Well this is actually a pretty tough one to call, as Bolton have had a couple of decent results of late and Liverpool have hit a slight rocky patch, losing to Tottenham again in midweek. However, they did field an understrength side in the Carling Cup and with Torres coming back and of course Gerrard back in the team, they’re a totally different proposition, and I think they will more than likely bounce back from the Cup upset.
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa
Well Arsenal have come good with a great win over Man Utd last week and the kids showing how good they are in midweek, don’t be surprised if Wenger doesn’t pop a couple of them on the bench to keep the first teamers on their toes. Villa have had a similar change of fortunes, but theirs has gone the other way, where they had looked to be flying but now have come back to earth with a bump. O’Neill will no doubt look to try and rough Arsenal up a bit, but that’s not how they play and I think the Gunners will triumph in a good game.
Blackburn Rovers vs. Sunderland Athletic
This is a re-match of the Carling Cup game from midweek (except at Ewood Park instead of the Stadium of Light) and Paul Ince will be hoping to get a similar result to give Rovers a much needed League win, as they’ve been struggling of late. But Sunderland are struggling a bit too, and the pressure is starting to mount on Roy Keane. As players both managers thrived on the big pressure games and they will certainly get both sets of players fired up for this one, but I must admit I see the Black Cats sneaking this one, as Santa Cruz isn’t firing for Rovers and Sunderland therefore have more about them going forward.
Fulham vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Well Harry has had the magic touch in recent weeks, and he’s really got the Spurs squad buzzing. a tricky trip this one though, as Fulham are looking a solid side at home and will no doubt be determined to frustrate their London rivals, while the pace of an in form Andy Johnson could put Spurs to the sword. This one could be close, but i fancy there to be goals, and don’t be surprised if Tottenham somehow snatch all three points again.
Manchester United vs. Stoke City
Regular readers will know that I’m not the biggest fan of Stoke’s style of play, but neither am I very fond of United to be honest (is anyone?). That said, it would give me quite some satisfaction of the Champions give Stoke an absolute footballing lesson today, to show them what they should be doing, rather than all this long throw nonsense. Having said that, Stoke will be a threat if they do get any throw ins in the United half, as Mauro Fellaini showed a few weeks ago, Ferdinand and Vidic aren’t invincible in the air. I think United will be too good for them though.
Newcastle United vs. Wigan Athletic
A few weeks ago, Amr Zaki was all the rage and the debate was on about where he would end up next season. (As I suggested) The goals have now dried up a bit for the big Egyptian and his English partner Heskey, and as such, Wigan find themselves in a spot of bother. Newcastle on the other hand are looking better every week, with Damien Duff especially impressing me when I see them, the little Irishman seems to be re-discovering the form that made him Claudio Ranieri’s wifes favourite player a few years back. I think the Magpies will edge this one again, but don’t expect it to be too pretty.
West Ham United vs. Portsmouth
I still have to stifle a chuckle when I think of Everton’s miraculous turnaround against the Hammers last week, but it does go to show that they are actually playing quite well, they just can’t quite get that elusive win in the bag. Zola is therefore being put under a bit of pressure (ridiculously, how long’s he been there?) but I think it’s only a matter of time until it clicks for them. Pompey haven’t looked too convincing since Harry left but Tony Adams got a win last week and will be looking to follow that up with a solid performance against the Hammers. With West Ham at the moment, it’s really hard to predict, but I reckon they might just overcome Pompey and their bad luck today.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Chelsea
Well Chelsea lost to Burnley on penalties in midweek, and you can bet anything that Tony Mowbray has been studying the tapes non-stop to try and figure out how they managed to restrict Chelsea to a single goal. Chelsea have looked a bit suspect at times recently (I’m thinking Roma and Liverpool mainly) but Anelka can’t seem to stop scoring and Drogba got one on Wednesday, his return will be a big boost, and certainly some have argued that if he hadn’t been subbed, they wouldn’t have lost. All in all, West Brom don’t have the solidarity to hold Chelsea off, and I can see Chelsea bouncing back and tucking a few past them.
Everton vs. Middlesbrough (Sun)
Well this should be a good game I reckon. Middlesbrough have had a pretty good season so far and will be looking to kick on, but are also encountering an Everton side that is really starting to get going. And with Fellaini back from suspension, Louis Saha in the goals and Tim Cahill bound to score again soon, as well as Yakubu coming back to face his own club, Pienaar who ripped them apart last season and Mikel Arteta who is pure class, not to mention Osman and Lescott who got on the score sheet at last against West Ham, I think Everton will get another home win. I hope so, oh do I hope so.
Hull City vs. Manchester City
Well, well, well. This will be interesting. The leagues over-performing underdogs against the leagues under-performing moneybags. Hull will need to start picking up points again soon if they are to prevent sliding to far down after a tough few fixtures, but Hughes will also be desperate to start getting City back to winning ways after his public backing in the week. The trouble City have is a little bit of indiscipline, with the defence often going walkabout and of course, frequent sendings off giving them mountains to climb. If Hughes can plug those gaps and keep his players focused, they’ve definitely got the goals, and Hull I think are far too reliant on their own Brazilian, Geovanni can only score so many free kicks.