Chelsea vs. Newcastle United
Both sides got good results last week, Chelsea taking a comfortable three points from West Brom and the Magpies getting a commendable draw with Wigan. But Kinnear’s men don’t look convincing away from St. James’ yet, and Stamford Bridge is one of the toughest places in the country to go. Some would suggest that Chelsea will suffer because they had plenty of players on international duty, but they also have a squad with strength in depth, and I think they’ll overcome Newcastle fairly easily.
Liverpool vs. Fulham
Though Fulham have been picking up the points at home in recent weeks, they are yet, like Newcastle, to become much of a threat away from the Cottage, and Hodgson will certainly need to try and recreate their home form if they are to get anything at all from Anfield. Liverpool are playing well and are finally starting to find goals from sources other than Gerrard and Torres, with Keane coming good and Alonso playing well in midfield. Still I think Fulham will have enough about them to make Liverpool work hard to break them down and may even grab a goal on the counter, but I don’t think it’ll quite be enough.
Manchester City vs. Arsenal
Well, Arsenal are a bit up in the air at the moment, but desperately need to get back to winning ways after last weeks defeat to Aston Villa. City themselves aren’t looking too healthy at the moment either, as though they are a potent force going forward, they look very fragile at the back. This means that I think we’ll see some goals, as Arsenal aren’t best defensively, and expect to see Gallas miss out for obvious reasons. However I think Arsenal may just shade it, as they are so good on the ball and will not have to work too hard to keep hold of it for long periods. But it all depends on the mood in the camp too, so Hughes’ team have every chance of snatching what would be a very valuable three points.
Middlesbrough vs. Bolton Wanderers
Well Borough managed to get a point from Everton last week with a stout defensive display, but they have a lot about them going forwards too, and I expect them to confidently overcome Bolton. The visitors will put up a physical challenge of course, but they don’t seem to have much firepower at all, which will not help them break down a solid Borough back line. Borough on the other hand have a good partnership developing between Tuncay and Alves, and a great supply line in Stewart Downing, who will still be buzzing from his excellent England display in midweek.
Portsmouth vs. Hull City
This is going to be a tight one I think. Adams is starting to get Pompey going and they look reasonably well organised as you’d expect with the legendary defender in charge, and have the obviously potent duo of Crouch and Defoe up front. Defoe may have a slight knock though from midweek, and Hull will provide a stiff challenge. They are always willing to have a real go, and I think that sort of attitude may overwhelm Pompey a little bit, and with a bot of luck (which they seem to have had so far this season) they may pick up a surprise away win.
Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion
Well this is clearly going to be a big match for both teams. Stoke have been doing slightly better points wise, but both are still further down the ladder than they’d like and they both know that one win in the league as it is at the moment, will almost be as good as six points – it’s a real six pointer then. It’s also going to be a clash of opposites, as these two sides have taken very opposite approaches to their football: in other words, West Brom do play, Stoke don’t. I think it will be a tight game, partly because of the nerves, and the winner may be the one who can get hold of it first. However I think eventually it may become a bit of a stalemate, denying both teams their six points.
Aston Villa vs. Manchester United
Villa obviously had a great game and got a great result against Arsenal last week. However, I think even the most optimistic Villa fans would be down to earth enough to know that Man Utd provide a very different test. They are much more difficult to get in and at, and are more potent on the attack too. That said, Villa will definitely provide a big test for the champions. They are well organised and with Agbonlahor and Young they have great pace to counter with. O’Neill I’m sure will set his side up strongly, and in the end I think it will come down to whether they can hold up against a barrage of United attacks.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Blackburn Rovers
Well I think here we see two teams going in opposite directions. Obviously everyone is well aware of the turnaround in Tottenham’s fortunes, but Blackburn, after a reasonable start under Paul Ince, seem to be really struggling lately. I think that they lack absolute quality in both attack and defence, and so cannot really put together a great team performance. They will hope to take advantage of Gomes in the Spurs goal (if he plays) though, and with Roque Santa Cruz providing a good aerial threat, they will overload the box with crosses. I think Tottenham have enough about them to get the points though.
Sunderland Athletic vs. West Ham United
Sunderland got back to winning ways last week against Blackburn, and will hope to kick on with another three against a troubled Hammers outfit today. West Ham have looked good at times in recent weeks, but Zola needs to get his side playing consistently for 90 minutes, as they are too error prone at the moment. Keane’s men have a strong attacking line up though, and at the Stadium of Light, should be able to break down a low in confidence West Ham defence with relative ease.
Wigan Athletic vs. Everton
Wigan got a draw from Newcastle last week but it perhaps should have been all three points. Steve Bruce will be hopeful that his side will have more of a killer instinct this week against Everton, as they will need it. The Toffees look solid defensively for the most part, and goals are always looking likely to come from somewhere, especially with Yakubu and Saha both netting recently. Moyes has a few selection dilemmas which can only be a good thing and will hope that his team can start to perform better as well as getting the results that they have been. I think this will be a closely contested game, but I think we will shade it, continuing our excellent away form with another three points.