Who will finish in the top 4?

If someone would have told me at the start of the season when writing this article that one team would be running away with the title, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are with 2018 beginning and every football fan with any common sense must sense that the league title race is over. Manchester City are not only picking up the points, but doing so in a style that suggest they will never be stopped. I hear fans from time to time hark back to the days when Newcastle, in the 1995-1996 season, where 12 points clear at this stage only to lose out to Man United……we are talking about different teams. Keegan’s Toon Army were a attacking machine but lacked the quality Manchester do. Newcastle got results by outscoring, not necessarily outplaying, teams whereas Manchester City are dominating every game from the first to the last moment. It would take a brave betting man to think they will blow it from here!

In a nutshell, assuming it is over let us take a look at the 5 teams aiming to fill the other 3 places in that top 4…

Manchester United – Somewhat a fall from grace as 2017 came to a close. As the season began it was United getting the rave reviews and plaudits and many predicting they would run away with the league but it simply hasn’t happened, and with several players form up and down, unless something major clicks they are going to struggle to hold on to second. Still, I believe they have enough firepower to secure that Top four place. Prediction – 2nd

Arsenal – Amidst all the Wenger out chants and contract disputes, Arsenal have kept on winning game, including some against top 4 rivals. Quietly, but surely, Arsene Wenger has got his side singing off the same hymn sheet and it all seems to be going well. Although the extensive demands of the Europa League may play into matters, Arsenal look good and if they hit form at the right time of the season could have a very happy fan base when the season ends . Prediction – 3rd

Chelsea – Solid, secure and pick up wins when they need to. Without having that X factor that City and United possess they are vulnerable to the odd shock but Conte should find himself in the Champions League next season. Prediction – 4th

Salah

Liverpool – Free scoring and fun to watch but the rate of goals and impressive results will fade. The champions League will take a toll and Van Dijk is not enough to make that defence work. Prediction – 5th

Spurs – Anything is possible when Harry Kane lines up in your side, but Spurs stuttered at the start of the season and have stuttered ever since. Already playing catch up, the fixtures don’t look kind to Spurs and they will have to endure another season without Champions League football next year…let us just hope thus doesn’t turn Harry Kane’s head

The Premiership Returns

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The Premiership returns this weekend after a fortnight break and the battle to avoid relegation can therefore rage on. With Chelsea running away with the title, it is the relegation scrap that is currently providing the most intrigue, with several teams at the bottom improving drastically in recent games, so here we have run through the leading contenders for the drop:

Sunderland

A Ladbrokes review of the odds shows that Sunderland are the heavy favourites to go down at 1/5. They are bottom of the table but it is very tight indeed: Sunderland are level on points with 19th placed Crystal Palace (but with a worse goal difference), a point behind 18th placed Hull, and just two points behind last season’s champions Leicester City, who are hovering one place above the drop zone. Middlesbrough, Swansea and Bournemouth are all looking precarious too. But what makes Sunderland favourites to go down is their recent capitulation against Southampton, where they lost 4-0 at home. 

Crystal Palace

Palace are 4/6 second favourites in the Ladbrokes review, and that looks a very good set of odds. This was not supposed to happen: when Sam Allardyce took over, everyone thought he would galvanise the struggling squad and they would finish mid-table. It has not happened and they are just as bad defensively but worse in attack than they were under Alan Pardew. Back-to-back defeats against Sunderland and Stoke have left them in trouble. On paper they look far too good to go down, blessed as they are with the talents of Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and Yohan Cabaye, but many teams that looked to good to go down have done just that and it’s not looking good for Palace right now.

Hull

Hull are 4/5 third favourites with Ladbrokes, but they look like they have a fighting chance of staying up. They have been resurgent since Marco Silva took over and, despite the small squad and lack of investment, they have the requisite pluckiness to make a good fist of it. At those odds it looks a risky bet as they are much improved since the turn of the year.

Middlesbrough

At 5/4 Boro look a great bet to go down. After a strong start they have been slowly but surely sucked into the relegation dogfight and the reason is a lack of goals. They miss having an out and out goal scorer, like Jermain Defoe at Sunderland and Benteke at Crystal Palace, and that could ultimately cost them. They defend very well and have ground out strong results against the likes of Man City and Arsenal this season, but at this stage of the campaign goals get you out of trouble and it is hard to see them finding the net many times between now and the end of the season.

Leicester City

Surely Leicester cannot go from winning the league last season to relegated this time around? They defied logic and odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League last season, but now they are just 13/8 with Ladbrokes to be relegated. The stars of last year have waned, the cohesion, unity and fighting spirit has evaporated and manager Claudio Ranieri has gone from genius to clueless in a matter of months, with some fans even calling for him to get sacked. Still, when you look at their team, they have plenty of goal scorers: Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and so on should be able to fire them clear of the drop zone, but they really need to start picking up points soon as they are in woeful form. 

Swansea

Swansea have already changed managers twice this season but seem to have finally clicked under Paul Clement and have shot up to the giddy heights of 15th after winning three of their last four. Keep it up and they will be fine, but odds of 10/3 still look interesting on them.

Bournemouth

At 7/1 the Cherries look a great outside bet to go down. They have not won in 2017 and have been defending horribly. They have a six-point cushion over Hull but the way they ship goals you would fancy them to get sucked deep into the battle.

 

Premier League Weekend Preview

Leicester City Quiz

After a short international break, the Premier League returns this weekend with what should be a fascinating array of fixtures at both the top and bottom of the League. Let’s take a look at the games played this weekend, a crucial point in the season as the race to the top and bottom of the league starts to take shape. Although we will give you an insight into the upcoming games, be sure to check out what the professionals think over at SBAT, after all, we are just humble footie quiz enthusiasts.

Manchester United vs Arsenal

The weekend kicks off with a bang with a fixture that always throws up excitement. Arsenal have made the usual confident start to the season they tend to make, and there is a quiet confidence at the Emirates that this could well be the finest team they have assembled in years. The Special One however finds himself under pressure at Old Trafford and loosing to bitter rivals Arsenal will not do his cause any favours.

Prediction: 1-3

Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

Manchester City should find victory at Selhurst Park easy to come by as Palace’s shaky defence will surely not be able to withstand the powerful attacking might City will bring. Expect a convincing win for City as they keep on their push for title glory.

Prediction: 0 – 3

Everton vs Swansea

Both teams find themselves lower in the league then would like, and would be aiming to put together a winning streak over the festive period to kick start their route to the top. Swansea look on course for a long hard season, so parking the bus and aiming to frustrate Everton may be their aim, but the Toffees will be looking for  all 3 points.

Prediction: 1-0

Sunderland vs Hull

One of the most interesting games of the weekend takes place up at the Stadium of Light where David Moyes began to ease the pressure on himself with a victory over Bournemouth, but needs to follow it up with the first home win of the season to get the Mackem faithful back on his side. Hull will provide stiff opposition but the Roker Roar should guide the hosts home.

Prediction: 2-1

Southampton vs Liverpool

The Anfield faithful are once again proclaiming that this could be their year, and with Jurgen Klopp getting the best out of the whole squad so far, a title challenge does look likely. But as the result to Burnley showed, these type of fixtures prove tricky for teams in form and the Saints could well pull off the surprise of the weekend!

Prediction: 3-2

Watford vs Leicester City

Last season Leicester were the talk of the League every week as there seemingly impossible run continued week after week to become Premier League Champions. This year, their slide down the league into a potential relegation battle is as much of a talking point for casual fans, and Ranieri’s side may face further gloom this weekend with an inform Watford sensing blood.

Prediction: 1-0

Other games this also being playing this weekend –

Stoke City vs Bournemouth (Prediction 2-0)

Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United (Prediction 3-1)

Middlesbrough vs Chelsea (Prediction 0-2)

West Bromwich Albion vs Burnley (Prediction 0-0)

 

Man City Destined For Glory – Bet On It!

Man City Quiz

Man City Destined For Glory – Bet On It!

We are only a month into the 2016-17 Premier League season and have already seen some fantastic matches. The league table is starting to take shape and it looks like Manchester City is the team to beat. Can anyone stop Manchester City from winning their third Premier League title in six season?

Let’s take a look at the frontrunners for the Premier League title, while dissecting the performances of a few teams we believe, based on the opening handful of matches, will be entrenched in the unenviable relegation battle.

Manchester City: -145 (7/10) to win the Premier League

Man City Quiz

Have you watched any of Manchester City’s games this season? They are a phenomenal team, right? While it is true that City have had an easier start to their campaign, take nothing away from their five wins from five games, in which they’ve scored 15 goals while only conceding four.

Man City’s 66-point haul from the 2015-16 campaign was their lowest since the 2008-09 season, which ultimately cost Manuel Pellegrini his job as manager. Pep Guardiola was appointed as City’s manager and the Spaniard has visibly reignited the passion that was missing from City last season.

Sergio Aguero looks like he’s in the form of his life, while Guardiola heaps praise on Kevin De Bruyne, claiming only the great Lionel Messi is currently better than his young Belgian star. We can see why he’s touted so highly.

City are odds-on favourites to win the league this season, and we think it goes without saying that whoever finishes above them will be crowned 2016-17 Premier League champions. That’s doesn’t look like happening, though.

Prediction: Champions

Liverpool: +550 (11/2) to win the Premier League

LFc Quiz

Liverpool has won English football’s top-flight title 18 times in its history, but you’ll need to peer all the way back to the 1989-90 season to find when that last occurred, which is far too long for a club the size and stature of Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp has injected the team with confidence, belief and a childlike sense of exuberance and, at times at least, look like they could be genuine title contenders. Liverpool were awesome going forward when they beat Arsenal 4-3 on the road and scintillating in the 4-1 demolishing of defending champions Leicester in front of 53,075 fans — Liverpool’s highest attendance since 1977. Oh, and let’s not forget about Liverpool’s last performance, a 2-1 away win at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool, with a few more additions including a direly needed left back, will be set to challenge for the title. Unfortunately, they’re not quite there yet. Not playing in Europe is going to help keep Klopp’s squad fit, but we can’t see them, or anyone for that matter, pipping City at the top. It’s an exciting time for Liverpool fans, though. Look out for Liverpool in the F.A. Cup.

Prediction: Top four and a Champions League place

Manchester United: +1200 (12/1) to win the Premier League

MUFC

What a difference a week makes. Manchester United were, with odds of around +500, second favourites for the Premier League title last week. But after being outclassed at home to Manchester City and losing to Feyenoord in the Europa League, followed by a dismal 3-1 away defeat at the hands of Watford, United’s odds have drifted to +1200.

Self-proclaimed “Special One” Jose Mourinho has now lost a staggering 14 of his last 32 games; it previously took 105 games for Mourinho to lose as many games, a quite telling statistic.

The odds of a United title have drifted so wildly in the last week, but we have to remember that only a month of the season has transpired so the +1200 odds still represents decent value. Mourinho, though, has to fix whatever is wrong at Old Trafford very quickly.

With so much talent in the Man United squad, and the board’s willingness to support Mourinho in the transfer market, we think this latest blip in form is exactly that, a blip. Manchester United will qualify for the Champions League this season but fall short of their title aspirations.

Prediction: Top four finish and a Champions League place

footy

Relegation Predictions:

At the other end of the table, the bookmakers have Burnley as hot favourites (-137 or 8/11) to be relegated back to The Championship. Burnley has absolutely no attacking threat, which is cause for grave concern.

Sunderland already look doomed. They can’t rely on Jermain Defoe to score all their goals and don’t have a strong enough defense to keep enough clean sheets. David Moyes has an extremely difficult task on his hands to keep the Black Cats in the top flight.

Finally, keep an eye on Stoke City, currently +200 (3/1) to be relegated after their dreadful start to the campaign. Mark Hughes guided Stoke to a respectable ninth place last season, but they only have one point this season and have already conceded a staggering 14 goals.

They should have enough talent to stay up, but if the slump continues and Hughes loses his job, Stoke could find themselves in a real relegation scrap.

Prediction: Burnley, Sunderland & West Brom Relegated

Early predictions for Championship promotion

Championship

ChampionshipThe 2016-17 Sky Bet Championship is underway, and predictions as to who is likely to make their way to the promised land of the Premier League come May have been made. Coming into the new season, Newcastle United were considered favourites to reclaim their place in the top flight, with many experts declaring them champions elect before the first game was played.

However, once the season started, it quickly became clear Newcastle won’t have it all their own way, and that they may have some unexpected competition for the automatic promotion places, as well as the title itself.

So, let’s take a look at the main contenders for promotion from the Championship this season.

Newcastle United

The overwhelming favourites, Newcastle United seemingly have everything going for them this season. Having spent more than any other club in the division in the transfer market, and with the most high-profile manager in the league in Rafa Benitez, the Magpies have put themselves in a good position to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of as king. Industry experts such as 888 Sports believe anything other than winning the Championship title would be failure for the club.

While Newcastle sold and loaned out a number of key players during the transfer window, the acquisition of Matt Richie, Dwight Gayle, Grant Hanley, Ciaran Clark and other has only strengthened the perception that the club is set to dominate this year’s Championship.

Derby County

Derby County have been among the favourites to win promotion to the Premier League for the last two or three seasons, but have flattered to deceive. However, the Rams certainly have the talent on the field in the form of players such as Will Hughes, Ikechi Anya and Tom Ince, and under the direction of new manager Nigel Pearson, they have a decent chance of finding themselves among the frontrunners at the business end of the season.

Norwich City

Considered by many to be the biggest threat to Newcastle United’s Championship title hopes this season, Norwich City will have been boosted by holding on to the majority of their best players, such as Robbie Brady and Timm Klose, in the transfer window.

While the Canaries have not strengthened as much as they would have hoped, many experts still see them finishing in the automatic promotion positions and reclaiming their place in the Premier League following their relegation last season.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Expected to be fighting for promotion from the off this season, Brighton and Hove Albion are seen as contenders for an automatic promotion position after finishing third last season. The leadership of Chris Hughton combined with the return of striker Glenn Murray means the Seagulls have all the necessary tools to make it into the Premier League for the first time.

Sheffield Wednesday

The Championship wild card this season, Sheffield Wednesday will be gunning for a play-off place after finishing sixth last season, but a top-two finish could prove beyond them.

The Owls picked up attacking midfielder Almen Abdi from Watford in the summer, and will look to get more out of Fernando Forestieri after he refused to play against Norwich City earlier in the season as he pushed for a transfer.

With the club having signed nine new players, how Wednesday fare this season will likely come down to just how well their acquisitions gel as a team.

Top 4 Premier League Predictions by Footie Quiz

EPL Quiz

As per last year I am going to put my neck out and tell you who I believ will be the winners and the losers of the 2015/16 Premier League Season in the race for the top 4.

Winners – Man City

Given the ease with which Chelsea secured the title last year many may feel this a surprise prediction. But Chelsea had an almost perfect season last year out with top class additions in the form of Fabregas and Costa hitting the ground running and improving the level of an already very good team. I don’t believe the same is likely to happen again this year and with question marks remaining over Costa’s fitness I feel Chelsea will find this seasons EPL Quiz campaign much harder. City on the other hand in my opinion can only improve on last year’s performance. The addition of Sterling will have many critics but he is after all one of the best young players in Europe, this will the likely arrival of De Bruyne will improve City offensively. If Auergo stays fit and Silva continues to weave his magic I think the title will be heading to the Blue Camp.

Runners Up – Chelsea

Despite tmy reservations above Chelsea are still a very good side with a great deal of strength in depth. I see them finishing second and possibly getting into the semis of the Champions League – something that will distract them from their League campaign. Jose is too good a manager to bet against.

Third – Arsenal

On paper the Gunners (bar one exception up front) have a potentially title winning team. They proved in the Charity Shield this year and last that they can beat the league winners on their day. However doubts remain for me. Giroud is good but not in the same mould/level as Aguero or Costa. The midfield is still missing that ‘bite’ that Toure or Matic bring City and Chelsea respectively. Two excellent spells broken up with a dreadful run will see them third.

Fourth – Liverpool

In disclosure I am a Liverpool fan! My view is that as things stand Liverpool can only ever be better than last season and the signings brought in by Rodgers indicate as such. A lot will depend on two things:

1. If Rodgers still has a job after 10 games given how unkind the fixture list has been to Liverpool with regards to away games early on.

2. How Liverpool fare against United in the North West Derbies.

United have also strengthened but as things stand they only have one recognised striker in Rooney. An injury to him and what then? United were worthy of their fourth place last year but they also had no European football to contend with. I see this as a rocky challenging season for the Red Devils. The Premier League odds don’t agree with my views but whose would have foresaw Liverpool nearly winning the league in 2013/14? Odds eh?

The massive influx in TV money from the Sky deal will see all EPL teams improve in quality making the race for the Top 4 even harder than ever before. A couple of years ago who would have thought that Stoke City  would be able to sign former Bayern starlet Shaqiri? The EPL is the league to be in as it pays and as a result it will mean that those challenging for the top 4 not being able to take any team for granted.

Lets the games commence!

NASH’S PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW WEEK 11

The opening half of the Premier League season has thrown a ton of tight match-ups and week 11 assures to be no different. BLOCKBUSTER ALERT: Table topper Arsenal would be facing current champions and an old time foe Manchester United on Sunday evening, before that match takes place, there are plenty of tricky contests to look forward to. Here is the full round ups of all the games taking place.

ASTON VILLA V CARDIFF CITY @ Villa Park

Cardiff are siting one point clear of Villa in the league table. Cardiff would be high on confidence after last week’s derby win against Swansea. For Villa, they have had a disappointing start to the season, when Benteke scores, they look a whole different team. Agbonlahor and Delph should be available for Villa to play on Saturday. I predict Villa to win it, but only so narrowly.

PREDICTION 1-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Cristian Benteke: Without him scoring Villa just look like an ordinary side, it is about time he scores and Cardiff should provide him an easier match-up, to get up and running.

CHELSEA V WEST BROM @ Stamford Bridge

The Apprentice V the Master, this could be an exciting encounter especially with Chelsea’s wobbling start to the season, West Brom themselves have made a poor start compared to last season. Chelsea would love to take the momentum from midweek’s 3-0 over Schalke and many would expect them to win, BUT Steve Clarke is a clever manager, West Brom can get a result here.

PREDICTION  2-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Eden Hazard: currently looks out of sorts with all the rotation going around him, but is an impressive player and should be the to keep an eye out on all season

Sessegnon: He has had an impressive start to his West Brom career and for West Brom to have any chance in getting a result, he would be the key.

CRYSTAL PALACE V EVERTON @ Selhurst Park

Everton have been consistently good this season and they are playing against Palace, a side who is literally struggling in the Premier League. It would be an easy day out for Everton and another clean sheet to add to the tally. I don’t see a better fortune for Palace in the near future, if they lose against Everton, it would be their seventh consecutive loss.

PREDICTION 0-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Lukaku: He is a power forward, already scored 5 goals and this couldn’t be an easier match-up for him to increase his tally. Watch out Palace defence.

LIVERPOOL V FULHAM @ Anfield

Liverpool just didn’t start their engines against Arsenal last week, they would be raring to go and get that set back off their backs against Fulham. A loss for Fulham potentially means the last game for Martin Jol. Fulham have just haven’t clicked as a team. Liverpool are too strong a team. Expect another drubbing at Anfield.

PREDICTION: 4-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Suarez/Sturridge: They can disregard the Arsenal game, for them to be a Champion team, they need to score against tough opponents, but against Arsenal, Liverpool were not working it out as a team. But now Fulham awaits and should be a tough competition in who will score more goals? Suarez? Or Sturridge?

SOUTHAMPTON V HULL CITY @ St. Mary’s Stadium

It is no fluke for both the teams, in where they sit in the Premier league table. Both teams look promising and play compact football. Southampton have the best defensive record in the premier league, allowing only four goals and the second best in Europe. Hull would find it difficult to crack the Saints defence. It would be a tough midfield battle between both teams but the Saints would eventually come out winning.

PREDICTION: 1-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Jay Rodriguez: He is still the player to watch out for this Premier League season, as the season progresses, he will do wonders. Look out for him.

NORWICH V WEST HAM UNITED @ Carrow Road

Norwich have always struggled defensively and very look bleak. The play West Ham a team who struggles to score (they don’t play a striker, you see). This equals the odds, but Norwich would wish to bounce back after last week’s 0-7 drubbing by City. Expect to be a dull game, with plenty of long balls and defensive errors and Norwich might sneak in a goal.

PREDICTION: 1-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Van Wolfswinkel: He is hopeful to make a return, if he plays Norwich chances of winning skyrockets. Norwich need his services up front.

TOTTENHAM V NEWCASTLE UNITED @ White Hart Lane

Spurs have had a decent start to the season, with all the new signings, it’s difficult to gel as a team so soon, still they are sitting 4th in the table. They can only get better. Newcastle had an impressive win over Chelsea last weekend and would be hoping to capitalise on that against the Spurs as well. Spurs are not a scoring team, so they would hold down the Magpies offensively as well as defensively. It would be a well fought encounter, ending in a draw.

PREDICTION: 1-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Loic Remy: he has been the signing of the season for Newcastle, without him the Magpies season would have been disaster, expect him to bother the Spurs defence all day.

SUNDERLAND V MANCHESTER CITY @ Stadium of Light

Well history suggests, City have always struggled at the Stadium of Light losing 1-0 for the last 3 years. Will this time be different? Well the Black Cats have found some resurgence, and winning against the Saints midweek in the Capital One Cup would have helped. City on the other hand, have been in prolific scoring form. And Negredo and Aguero are proving to be a deadly combo. This is to me is going to be an upset of the week, going with the history.

PREDICTION: 2-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Steven Fletcher: for Sunderland to do well, Fletcher needs to be scoring, he is the most experienced and a stable personality that can guide the whole team together.

Sergio Aguero: he has scored eight goals in the season and is looking in ominous form, any defensive lapse by the Black Cats and he’ll pounce upon it.

MANCHESTER UNITED V ARSENAL @ Old Trafford

Arsenal looking like The Invincibles, for which they were known for before. They are one of the best teams in form around the world. Playing world class football and on Sunday they travel to Old Trafford, the home of the current league champions; Manchester United. United have had a horrendous start to their season, Januzaj being the only saving grace. A win here for United and it can lift their whole season and David Moyes would be know that. But for United to beat Arsenal, they have to play like a Champion team that they are. Going for a United win, just to make the premier league and the league table more interesting.

PREDICTION: 3-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

RVP: Do I even have to mention him. He would be the focal point for both sides.

Ramsey: He is in brilliant form, is running high on confidence and he tends to find gold in whatever he does nowadays.

SWANSEA V STOKE CITY @ the Liberty Stadium

Swansea usually don’t play well on premier league weekends when they are playing in the Europa League midweek. They have been very inconsistent and the form of MICHU has had so much to do with it. Stoke on the other hand are just finding it tough to play a certain type of football, which they could stick to it. Scoring goals has been tough for Stoke, they have just scored seven times this season, out of which one goal came from the goalkeeper. Going by Swansea’s inconsistencies after playing the Europa league game midweek. A draw is on the cards.

PREDICTION: 0-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Michu: He plays a vital role in how his team performs as a whole, his current drought of goals, has affected Swansea as well. He is too important a player for Swansea.

 

 

Nash’s Premier League Preview Week 10

With a quarter of Premier League season is behind us, this week should bring us a clear picture, of which teams have the potential to true contend for the Premier League title. There are some cracking encounters to look forward to this weekend. Liverpool travelling to the Emirates, Spurs visiting Everton and the first top flight South Wales derby and many other teams trying to knick an upset. So let’s break down all the exciting encounters, which are going to take place this weekend.

 

NEWCASTLE UNITED V CHELSEA @ St. James’ Park

This encounter has always been exciting to watch. Newcastle are coming of a bad week, with back to back losses in the Tyne-Wear derby and against City in the Capital One Cup. They have conceded 16 goals this season, which screams of a struggling defence. On the other hand, Chelsea have scored 16 goals. Chelsea have a strong offence against a very weak defence. Chelsea would win this, if their offense clicks, will win it by some margin.

PREDICTION  1-3

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Fernando Torres: He is in amazing form, and has scored 3 goals in his last two outings and is looking like the return of El Nino is evident.

Juan Mata: Cannot emphasize enough on how he has changed the dynamic of the Chelsea team, and Mourinho has realized that, he was late but he did.

 

FULHAM V MANCHESTER UNITED @ Craven Cottage

Fulham are coming back of a disappointing loss to Leicester City in the Capital One Cup midweek. Their season has been very erratic and they rely too much upon individual players rather than playing as a team. As a team, they just haven’t jelled. Manchester United would be looking to carry on their winning streak, especially with a start they had this season. United will win this one unless any of Fulham’s brilliant individual players show their individual class.

PREDICTION  0-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

RVP; have stated before and will do again, if he struggles, United struggle. Rooney is the only saving grace on RVP’s off day. He needs to stay consistent, for United to have a hope of competing for the title this season.

 

HULL CITY V SUNDERLAND @ The KC Stadium

Hull have been the surprise package of this season, they are a team who play organized football and stick to the basics, Hull have lost their last two games, both against Spurs. They had been evenly fought games. Sunderland have finally kick started their season, winning the Tyne-Wear side derby and would be looking to capitalize on the momentum. Hull are a tough team to beat at home, Hull have not lost at home and look a tough side to beat, Sunderland with high confidence should procure a draw here.

PREDICTION 1-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Steven Fletcher: he provides experience in front of goal, he is consistent and for Sunderland to have any chance to not get relegated this season. They need Fletcher scoring on consistent basis.

 

MANCHESTER CITY V NORWICH @ Etihad Stadium

If not for Joe hart, City have made quite a progress in their style of play under Pellegrini. They have scored the maximum number of goals (21) in the premier league. Norwich gives them another tempting chance to surge ahead on their goal count. The Canaries have been just shoddy this season and show no signs of improvement. I don’t see Norwich will get any points out of the game. City will win comfortably.

PREDICTION  4-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Aguero: Has been in cracking form this season. He has scored 7 goals in eight matches and Norwich prove to light a team to deny him. He would continue his goal scoring form against Norwich.

 

STOKE SITY V SOUTHAMPTON @ The Britannia

Stoke showed signs of what they are capable of doing against United last weekend but then got back into their shell. Southampton have had an exceptional start to their season, they have only conceded 3 times this season, which would be a tough ask for Stoke especially when they are finding it so hard to score, they have scored only 6 times, two of the goals coming last week against United. Southampton should continue their dream run against Stoke.

PREDICTION: 0-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Ricky Lambert: He has catalysed the way; Southampton’s season has churned up so far. The England call up has certainly done wonders to his domestic form.

 

WEST BROM V CRYSTAL PALACE @ The Hawthorns

Crystal Palace are destined to be relegated this season, they just look like a team that don’t belong in the Premier League. This is a good game for West Brom to bounce back from the mauling they suffered on the hands of Liverpool (4-1) last week.

PREDICTION  2-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Morgan Amalfitano: He is the only creative player West Brom can boast about. He has created 10 chances for his team this season (more than any other premier player). He will be a key player for West Brom against Norwich.

 

WEST HAM UNITED V ASTON VILLA 2 @ Boleyn Ground

Both inconsistent teams face each other this weekend. West ham badly need a striker and without a striker they have just looked ordinary. Aston Villa on the other hand have been very fragile defensively. West ham though might be 15th in the league but boast of 4 clean sheets and Villa might find it tough. I would predict both teams to share the honours.

PREDICTION  0-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Cristian Benteke: the season has been inconsistent for him, but a couple of goals and he would be tough to stop. Having already scored 5 goals so far. He just needs one good outing.

 

ARSENAL V LIVERPOOL @ The Emirates

The GAME OF THE WEEK, both teams would showcase who plays better passing football. Arsenal would be without defensive midfielder Flamini, leaving Arsenal with no defensive midfielder. This would be a great advantage for Liverpool, especially when Coutinho is playing, he would be looking to penetrate that hole all day. Arsenal would be relying on Ozil, Giroud and Ramsey’s fantastic recent form. A defeat to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup might weaker Arsenal’s confidence. Expect a thrilling encounter, in which Liverpool edges past Arsenal.

PREDICTION  2-3

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Suarez/Sturridge: They have begun to ascend to greatness. With the return of Suarez, Liverpool have seemed to have found another gear. Suarez has already scored six goals in 4 matches and Sturridge eight in nine. If they hold on this form all season, I don’t see a reason Liverpool not winning the title.

Ozil: Games like this makes players stars and for him this would be a great opportunity to showcase that he is a star.

 

 

EVERTON V TOTTENHAM @ Goodison Park

Another exciting match-up. Everton have won nine of their ten home matches and would be looking to have an upper hand in this one. Only one point separates both teams. Tottenham have allowed only 5 goals this season and keeping 6 clean sheets. That is an impressive stat but the unsatisfactory fact is, Tottenham have a disappointing conversion rate of less than 5%, which is only one goal a game. Expect this to be a see-saw like match, but a draw would make either side happy.

PREDICTION: 1-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Lukaku: He has been on the rise since last season, has already scored 5 times this season and has a tendency to bring his best out in big games.

Jan Vertonghen: There is a reason for Tottenham’s six clean sheets this season and i.e. the centre force of Spurs defence, Jan has been a guiding force at the back and has made the defensive line rock solid.

 

CARDIFF V SWANSEA @ Cardiff City Stadium

The first ever South Wales derby is going to be played and it promises to be an exciting encounter. Cardiff are a hard working team and for them to stay put in the top flight, they would need to tough it out day in and day out. Swansea have had a great last season, this season they have struggled only because of their Europa League obligations. I am going for Cardiff going all stops out and wining this one.

PREDICTION  2-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Gary Medel: He has completed 90% of his passes this season, which is quiet incredible and the Bluebirds would require his services, to stop passes going to Bony or Michu.

 

 

 

 

 

PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW: THE LONDON DERBY WEEKEND

The Premier League is finally out of the beginning stages and into the business end of the season; last week was a week of upsets, with Hull City and Southampton, registering surprise wins, and the mauling of Manchester United at the Etihad, was another shocker. This week yet again throws up some fiery match-ups. So get ready.

TOTTENHAM V CHELSEA @ White Hart Lane

An early kick-off and potentially match of the week. This London derby might not be as significant or have the same intensity as the Tottenham-Arsenal one, but a lot is at stake. Both teams are vying for the top spot.  A loss here could halt the league campaign of either club. A Tottenham win could prove them serious title contenders.  Could this be a beginning of a new manager rivalry: Mourinho V AVB? This one could go either way. A draw could be on the cards.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Oscar: The gaffer has shown a lot of faith in this wonder kid, and he has proved him right. In a highly contested defensive match up, his skills could prove vital, for a Chelsea win.

Jan Vertonghen: With only one goal conceded in nine competitive games, Tottenham have been simply outstanding defensively. With “Jan the man” leading the defence. They look impenetrable. Want to bet on Football?

PREDICTION:  2-2

ASTON VILLA V MANCHESTER CITY @ Villa Park

City showed their prowess last week, in their mauling of Manchester United 4-1, hence laying stake on the Premier League title. Although Villa are playing pleasing attacking football, their defence remains a weakness, which City would be looking to seize upon. It should be an easy ride for City at Villa Park.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Sergio Aguero: He is in scintillating form, having already scored twice in the Manchester derby and with the amount of goal scoring assists he gets from a world class mid-field (Navas, Nasri, Toure), not scoring in front of a weak Villa defence, would be a shock.

PREDICTION:  1-3

FULHAM V CARDIFF CITY @ Craven Cottage

Fulham have looked out of sorts so far in their league campaign, recording just a single win, against a poor Sunderland team. Cardiff on the other hand are a hard working team and have played well so far this season. If Cardiff sticks to what they do best and work hard as a team, they could sneak out a tough win at the Cottage. Individual brilliance at disposal with Fulham might prove too much for Cardiff City.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Dimitar Berbatov: Has to get going someday soon, Fulham need some individual brilliance and Berbatov could be the go to guy. He should be desperate to get going in the League, especially after scoring in the Capital Cup tie against Everton.

PREDICTION:  1-0

HULL CITY V WEST HAM UNITED @ The KC Stadium

West Ham haven’t won in the last seven away games and they have been plagued with injuries, especially Andy Carrol. Hull are the team in form, sitting 11th in the table, an overachievement thus far. Steve Bruce would be looking to maintain the momentum. Both teams would be high on confidence, registering wins in their Capital One Cup games.  The problem is West Ham don’t have many attacking options up front. Hull City should win this one, but have to fight it out.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Sone Aluko: Having already scored a match winner and assisted in another against Newcastle last week, he is our player to watch out for.

PREDICTION:  1-0

MANCHESTER UNITED V WEST BROM @ Old Trafford

Winning against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup tie, in midweek, might have given some solace to United, after being brutally beaten last week. They won’t be facing a tough opposition in West Brom, who have had a horrific start to the season themselves. United have way too much talent at their disposal. United should win easily.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Wayne Rooney: He still has a thing or two to prove to the Man United fans, if Van Persie is sidelined again, he will be the centre of the United attack. He would be raring to score in front of his home crowd.

PREDICTION:  2-0

SOUTHAMPTON V CRYSTAL PALACE @ St. Mary’s

Pochettino’s team looks solid defensively having allowed only two goals in five matches. They have struggled offensively though having scored just thrice. But this could be a breakout game offensively against Palace. Palace have struggled so far into the Premier League campaign. Having won just once, against bottom side Sunderland. Having won back to back games against Liverpool and Bristol City (Capital One Cup), confidence should be high and Southampton should win this one.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Ricky Lambert: This is a match where, Ricky could easily score a hat-trick. Crystal Palace are weak defensively and Ricky will look to pounce upon any given opportunity to score, especially through set pieces.

PREDICTION:  3-0

 SWANSEA CITY V ARSENAL @ Liberty Stadium

Who expected Arsenal to be sitting on the top of the table, a week before the transfer window closed? Arsenal have won all of their last eight matches in all competitions. Now they face a stiff competition against a surging Swansea team, who might be low on confidence, after a loss to The Blues in the Capital One Cup tie. Both teams love to play attacking passing football; it would be a treat to watch. This could be an exciting match and it could go tilt either way, a draw is a certain possibility.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Aaron Ramsey: He has been in cracking form, having scored six of seven in 2013/14 competitive matches.

Mesut Ozil: He has settled in extremely well at the Emirates, creating assists, doing what he does best, we haven’t seen it since Cesc Fabregas and RVP days.

Michu: He can be a game-changer on his day, he just needs a glimpse of goal and when he gets it he usually scores.

PREDICTION:  2-2

 STOKE CITY V NORWICH CITY @ Britannia Stadium

With Mark Hughes at the helm, Stoke have undergone radical changes to their playing style, passing more and more, but the quality of the passing disintegrates the more they move into the opponents third. Still, they are sitting 10th in the table on the same points as Champions Man United (7 points) – so not a bad start!  Norwich has started sluggishly, Chris Hughton still hasn’t figured out what style and formation he wants his team to play since the departure of Grant Holt. Until he does, Norwich will struggle despite some quality additions on the players side of things, Stoke should win this one.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Kenwyne Jones: He has adapted to the passing style of football, while still posing an aerial threat.

PREDICTION:  2-0

SUNDERLAND V LIVERPOOL @ Stadium of Light

Liverpool are coming off back to back defeats against Southampton last week and Manchester United in the Capital One Cup tie,so the dream start for Brendan Rodger’s men has come to an end! But with Luis Suarez starting his first league game of the season after serving his 10 game ban, Liverpool should be too strong for Sunderland. Sunderland on the other hand are manager less and should remain that way until the game. They haven’t won a game this season and are sitting bottom of the table. Liverpool should be comfortable winning this one; the question is by how many goals.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Luis Suarez: He is back; could he achieve the heights of last season? Could he propel Liverpool into the Champions League, with his goal scoring maestro? He has the potential, which we’ll all see, come Sunday.

PREDICTION:  0-3

EVERTON V NEWCASTLE UNITED @ Goodison Park

Everton are the only unbeaten team in the Premier League. They have also kept clean sheets in their last seven home matches. They have easily adapted to Roberto Martinez’s style of play of passing the ball. Newcastle should be high on confidence after notching a win against Leeds United in the Capital One Cup tie. Seeing the recent stats on record, Everton seems a likely winner at home.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Leighton Baines: He is currently the best fullback in England (if not Europe), scoring two beauties last weekend against West Ham. He is the player to watch.

Romelu Lukaku: An important part of the Everton strike force and Martinez clearly has faith in him, and has been reward already with a match winner last week, definitely hungry for more goals.

PREDICTION:  2-0

 

 

Premier League Predictions

FootieQuizes Gordon Kearney gives his predictions for 2012-13

Premier League top six: Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham.

Premier League bottom three: Southampton, Wigan, Notts Forest

Leading Prem scorer: Sergio Aguero – Manchester City.

First Prem manager to be sacked: Steve Clark WBA

Biggest Prem flop: Giroud- Arsenal.

FA Cup winners: Arsenal

Capital One Cup winners: Arsenal

Champions League winners: Real Madrid.

Europa League winners: Liverpool

Championship top six: Bolton, Cardiff, Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Nottingham Forest, Birmingham .

Leading Championship scorer: Kevin Doyle – Wolves

League One champions: Sheffield United

League Two champions: Rotherham.

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