The Unofficial Arsenal Blog
It’s that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcome of this weekend’s Premier League games. Last week was a bit of a wash out, as only three of the 10 games were played, and I ended up with one correct outcome and two incorrect. It meant that I lost even more ground in my predictions league, as Stephen Bradley continued his romp towards the title. I’ll try to make the outcome look a little respectable at least before the end of the season.
Fulham v West Ham
Fulham are outside the relegation zone on goal difference only, despite the fact that they have only lost as many games as second placed Arsenal. Their problem of course is too many draws, and they need to start winning games soon or Mark Hughes will be seeking alternative employment. Where better to start winning than at home to the bottom club, who haven’t won away all season so far.
West Ham are firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, but things are so tight that a win would see them level on points with Fulham. With Avram Grant having to win this game or their next one to keep his job, this is a huge game for West Ham. They played very well in their last game, and they were unlucky only to draw away to Blackburn, but failure to win here will heap the pressure on their home game against Everton on Tuesday.
West Ham really need a result in this game, but I think that Fulham will have a little bit too much for them, and just edge it.
Blackburn v Stoke
Blackburn have a temporary manager after the sacking of Big Fat Sam, and he has the chance to make the position permanent if he can provide the results that the new owners want. Things aren’t too good at Blackburn though as captain Christopher Samba apparently wants to leave, and they have serious injury problems in midfield. Their home form is good though, as only Arsenal and Chelsea have won away to them, and they will be looking to continue that form in this game.
Stoke RFC have a pretty poor away record in the two and a half seasons they have been in the Premier League, and five defeats in eight away games is not good. They will be looking to take advantage of Blackburn’s problems in midfield, although that’s an area of the pitch they tend to bypass usually.
I don’t think this will be a classic free flowing encounter, but I do think that Blackburn will just about come out on top.
Blackpool v Liverpool
Blackpool won away to Liverpool earlier in the season, and they are level on points with them, with a game in hand in the league. They have been quite superb since their promotion, and I really hope that they manage to stay up. Their home form has been a little bit erratic so far, but they play great football with committment and heart and they cannot be written off against any opposition.
Liverpool need to get their season back on track very soon, or their chances of Europa League qualification will be gone as well as their Champions League chances. They should have Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres available to play, and if they can’t score against what is a fairly poor Blackpool defence then there is something seriously wrong with Liverpool.
Almost every time I predict a Blackpool defeat they surprise me and put in a performance above their abilities and expectations, but i can’t see them getting anything in this game.
Bolton v West Brom
Bolton are seventh in the table with only one defeat in nine home games, and they are playing good football. Their biggest problem is that they haven’t kept a clean sheet since the opening day, but only “Manure” have scored more home goals than them.
West Brom have played very well since their promotion, but their away form isn’t great. They did win away to Arsenal, but otherwise they have five defeats, and they have conceded 19 goals away from home.
I think this could be a very entertaining game, with Bolton coming out on top.
Everton v Birmingham
Everton managed to get their season back on track on Monday night with a great win away to Man City. They’re still not scoring enough goals to push them nearer the European contenders, and with Tim Cahill off to the Asian Cup with Australia very soon that’s going to be a real problem for them. He has scored nine of their 20 league goals so far, and they need their strikers to help him out.
Birmingham haven’t won away from home yet this season, and it means that they’re drifting closer to the relegation zone. Like so many other teams they are drawing far too many games for their own good, and with an average of only one goal per game it’s hard to record wins.
Everton should continue where they left off on Monday night, and get the win they need to push them towards the top half of the table.
Man Utd v Sunderland
“Manure” sit proudly on top of the league with a game in hand on the teams below them. It’s a good position to be in, and they have the best home record in the league to go with it. They have won eight of their nine home games, and scored 25 goals in the process, which all points to a very tough day for their opponents.
Sunderland are a very compact unit who can hurt any team in the league. They are sixth in the table, and they have only lost three out of their nine away games so far. However, they have only won one of those games, and Steve Bruce is very fond of handing the points to his ex club on a plate.
I can see Sunderland putting up a fight, but falling short in the end, with “Manure” increasing their lead over Arsenal and Chelsea before those two teams play the next day.
Newcastle v Man City
Newcastle played very well in their last home game to beat Liverpool 3-1 under their new manager. They are an efficient unit, and with Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton back after injury and suspension they had too much for Liverpool. Andy Carroll will be a handful for the City defence too, but Newcastle will need to be tighter at the back.
Man City missed their chance to take over at the top of the league on Monday night, as they lost at home to Everton. It means that they are two points off the top, but they have played two games more than the leaders. I think that they are a better team away from home, and they have gained more points, and scored more goals on their travels. In Carlos Tevez they have a player capable of scoring for fun, and now that he has withdrawn his transfer request he should start doing that again.
I think City will get back to winning ways, as they are deadly on the break and they will get the chance to do just that in this game.
Wolves v Wigan
Wolves take on Wigan in what can most certainly be called a relegation six-pointer. Whichever team wins this game will have a very good chance of climbing out of the bottom three, and Wolves have to be favourites to do just that. They have only three defeats in nine home games, and if they sort out their away form they will be confident of staying up.
Wigan have only scored five goals in eight away games so far, and their overall return of 13 goals in 17 league games just isn’t enough to keep them in the league. They play good football at times, but they can be fairly toothless, and they need to find a killer instinct very quickly.
I think that Wolves will get the win they need to move very close to climbing out of the relegation zone.
Aston Villa v Tottenham (1730 GMT)
Aston Villa are flirting with the relegation zone, and it won’t do their manager much good if that doesn’t change soon. They have an impressive home record so far, with only Arsenal managing to win at Villa Park, but their away form is killing their chances.
The Spuds have only one clean sheet in the league so far this season, and that was on the opening day. They need to get a lot better at the back, or their chances of qualifying for the Champions League again will disappear. They are currently fifth in the league, but the teams behind them are closing more than they are catching the teams above. With a goal difference of only plus three, it shows that they tend to win close games, and get well beaten every so often. Rafael Van Der Vaart should be back after injury, and he could possibly make the difference for them.
I think that this should be an entertaining game, but that it will end in a score draw.
Arsenal v Chelsea (2000 GMT)
Arsenal need to prove their title credentials to themselves and everyone else by beating Chelsea. They should welcome Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie back to the team, but their home form has not been good this season. They have lost three of the eight home games so far, and they will have to be at their very best to win this game.
Chelsea are in the middle of their worst league run in 10 years, and if it continues they could well end up with a new manager. They have won only three of their nine away league games so far, and their confidence cannot be high going into this game. They do have all of their best players available again after various injuries, and Didier Drogba loves to play and score against Arsenal.
Arsenal could well be seen in a different light if they manage to win this game, and I think they will do just that in a very close encounter.
That’s it for this week, but I should be back on Tuesday with the predictions for the games later in the week, as they come thick and fast over the festive period. As usual feel free to tell me where I have gone wrong or right as the case may be.
That’s it for today. Here’s hoping Arsenal come out trumps. Go Gunners!
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