Week two of the Premier League season and my predictions got off to a pretty inauspicious start last week. Some pretty interesting results were had though and I get the feeling that this season is going to be just as tough as ever to predict. This weekend sees Manchester City and Liverpool continue their tough starts to the season on Monday night and each will be keen to add to their opening day draws, while Arsenal face Blackpool in a match that has the makings of a classic if the newly promoted sides play as they did last time out.
Saturday fixtures, kick-offs 3pm unless stated.
Arsenal vs. Blackpool
Blackpool signalled their intentions to give the Premier League a real go with their emphatic destruction of Wigan last week, and it’s great to see. It would easy for a team to go ‘the Stoke route’ and try to physically force their way to survival, so Blackpool should be commended. However, any team that tries to out-football Arsenal will be facing an uphill struggle and I think at home and with the likely return of Captain Cesc, Arsenal should triumph here in relative comfort.
Birmingham City vs. Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn got off to a winning start against Everton last week but weren’t exactly convincing. A howler from Tim Howard allowed them to sit back and fend off a below par Everton team and they didn’t suggest to me that they have the necessary craft or quality to succeed often on the road. Birmingham recovered from a shaky start against Sunderland to snatch a handy point and McLeish will be keen to re-establish their strong home record of last season with a win here today, and I think he’ll get it.
Everton vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves have added to their squad well this summer and picked up a very good win against Stoke last weekend, they could be in for a more comfortable season. Everton will be hoping that they can make amends for a very poor showing last week at Blackburn. Despite dominating possession for most of the game they failed to threaten meaningfully and looked generally out of sorts. Phil Neville has a knock which may mean we get to see Seamus Coleman which would add greater attacking impetus and at Goodison Park Moyes must be more adventurous. If he is, it should be a home win. If not, Wolves could frustrate us for a draw as they did twice last season.
Stoke City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs had a really tough outing against Young Boys in midweek, especially having to play on an unfamiliar artificial surface and with the return leg this week being make or break for the club’s Champions League aspirations, Redknapp’s selections for this match will be interesting. That said, they can’t afford to sacrifice points in what will be a very tight League either and going to Stoke is never easy. Stoke will attempt to overwhelm them with their physicality and intimidate them with the atmosphere and I’d be surprised if Spurs were focused enough to grind out a win here.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Sunderland
West Brom took quite a beating from Chelsea last weekend, but unfortunately for Baggies fans I see it as starting as they mean to go on. I’m not saying they’ll ship that many goals very often, but they’re very definitely among the weaker sides in the league and Di Matteo will need to quickly cultivate a determined, ‘backs to the wall’ attitude in his players if they’re to fight their way to survival. Sunderland will not relish this trip though, especially after giving up a two goal lead at home last weekend, but they should have too much for WBA.
West Ham United vs. Bolton Wanderers
It’s tough to call this one, West Ham were plain awful last week but whether that will turn out to be anomalous or the rule this season we must wait and find out. They appear to have more quality on paper than they showed, and they must start to show it, especially in their home games, or they’ll be in for a long season. Bolton too, are a difficult side to weigh up. I think they’ll certainly be tough to beat and Owen Coyle is slowly improving them in terms of attacking threat – even Johan Elmander looked dangerous last week – but this one could end honours even I think.
Wigan Athletic vs. Chelsea (5.15pm)
I would not like to be Roberto Martinez right now. After last week’s dismal showing and 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Blackpool, they must now face Carlo Ancelotti’s champions, rampant after a 6-0 destroyal of West Brom last week. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that Wigan’s last Premier League outing prior to their embarrassment by Blackpool was a whopping 8-0 hammering at the hands of… you guessed it, Chelsea. One would be tempted to console Lactics fans with “home advantage” but they had that last week too. Away win. Nailed on. Surely…?
Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (1.30pm)
Newcastle weren’t humiliated by Manchester United last week, and if anything the 3-0 scoreline perhaps flattered the Manchester club slightly. The Geordies will be looking to get off to a winning start at St James’, and with Aston Villa a little up in the air at present, anything is possible. That said, Villa were pretty good last week against West Ham, but the departure of Milner and arrival of Ireland may take them a little while to adjust to. That said, I think they still have a lot of quality and McDonald’s faith in some hungrier young players could pay off again.
Fulham vs. Manchester United (4pm)
Fulham are still adapting to life after Roy Hodgson and things aren’t going to settle down for a while yet, especially with some players seemingly angling for a move away from the club. Hughes though, will realise the importance of trying to fortify Craven Cottage in a similar manner to his predecessor and would love to be able to give Man Utd a real game here. If United hit their straps as we know they can though, I think they’ll simply prove too good for Fulham. Paul Scholes looks like he’s 21 again with his performances lately and gives United the driving force that they otherwise lack from midfield. Can he keep it up all season though?
Manchester City vs. Liverpool (8pm)
Mancini demonstrated exactly the problems he will have this season at Spurs last week. He tried to shoehorn in so many of his big name players that they ended up playing like strangers in a bizarre system that didn’t work, with three defensive midfielders and two free wingers, while Tevez did his roaming ‘thang’ and there was no point to their attack. Balotelli apparently made an instant impact in Europe the other night, so maybe he’s the answer. Liverpool literally threw away two points against Arsenal last weekend, and I think Hodgson will be cautious on his travels, and may set up content to take a point from Eastlands, which he’ll probably get.
That’s the lot of Premiership Predictions for this week, what are your thoughts? Have I made any glaring errors? Let me know by leaving your own predictions below…