Premier League Weekend – Previews & PredictionsBy: Wayne Farry | March 13th, 2009
Warning to all blog readers, this is one long motherlicking preview. I’ve gone through every game this weekend and it’s taken me frickin’ ages. So prepare yourselves for one hell of a read.
Anyway, another Premier League weekend is upon us. After the distraction (brilliant distraction, at that) of the FA Cup and the Champions League it’s nice to have the EPL back. Some really good games this weekend. At this stage of the season you’ll very rarely find a game that has little consequence to either side and that, indeed, appears to be the case here. There are some really important games, both at the top and the bottom and somewhere in-between. I’m not gonna explain the previews, you know the drill. This weekend is gonna be fun!
Man Utd vs Liverpool
The biggest game of the weekend by miles. It’s always one of the biggest games of the season but considering this is the closest Liverpool have pushed United in years, there’s an added sting in the tail here. In my opinion this is gonna be a cracker. As a United fan, I always look forward to these games with a hint of trepidation. For years (early 2000s) Liverpool had the rule of these derbies but lately United have had the better results, bar the 1-2 beating at Anfield this season. Both teams had very good results in midweek and they’ll both be buzzing, especially Liverpool. United however are, simply put, in breathtaking form. They’re like a bulldozer the way they dispense of some opposition. If Liverpool want to avoid this happening to them Rafa has to send his team out attacking from kick-off. If they sit back from the start, which is likely, United will take the game to them and most likely, rip them a new one. But if Liverpool attack the way they can but are rarely allowed to, they could nick this. Either way, gonna be a cracker.
Prediction: Man Utd 3 – 1 Liverpool
Arsenal vs Blackburn Rovers
Arsenal technically lost their match in midweek but thanks to the beauty of penalty shootouts they won. They played well and on the balance of play over the two legs they probably deserved their victory. While they’ll be confident following that win Blackburn will just as confident after their victory at Craven Cottage, also midweek. It was a match that they pretty much had to win, and they did. they’re now out of the drop zone and that alone will provide confidence. Due to the tight nature of this year’s bottom half of the table a few wins could see Rovers well out of trouble. That, however, is easier said than done as Big Sam knows. He won’t be expecting much here, and rightly so. I can’t see them having any chance. Arsenal’s skill should beat Rovers, but not before a fight from Blackburn.
Prediction: Arsenal 2 – 0 Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers vs Fulham
Two sides here in sort of ‘nothing form’. Fulham have done well this season, their position in the top half of the table built on a foundation based on their home form. Lately, however, the home form that has done them so well has deserted them and they’ve lost their last two home games. Bolton have done quite well this season, stuttering their way through the season but nothing that wasn’t to be expected. Irrespective of this, Gary Megson has yet to win over the Bolton faithful. There’s one point separating these two sides going into this game and I feel that this will be reflected in the match.
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 1 – 1 Fulham
Everton vs Stoke City
This is gonna be a great game I think. Two teams with everything to play for at either end of the table. Everton will be waiting to pounce on any mistake Arsenal make this weekend while Stoke are fighting to avoid a quick return to the Championship. These are two sides that play different kinds of football; Everton like to pass it from the back with Hibbert and Baines providing support for the wide men and midfielders, while Stoke like to hoof it, get a head on it and get Beattie on the end of it. It’s worked fairly well so far so they’ll no doubt continue it. I find this game hard to call, but I’m gonna stick my neck out and say that due to Arteta’s absence Stoke might just get their first away EPL win, just a hunch…
Prediction: Everton 1 – 2 Stoke City
Hull City vs Newcastle United
Good game this, from the outset at least. Hull have capitulated after a great start while Newcastle have struggled all season. Hull will have renewed optimism after Manucho’s last-minute winner at Craven Cottage and will be confident of a victory going into this one. Newcastle, however, appear to be in a dire run of form with only one win in ten EPL games. New signing Peter Lovenkrands has been a boost for Newcastle recently and he could provide some pace to their attack, but Hull have some good defenders and I expect them to handle whatever Newcastle have.
Prediction: Hull City 2 – 0 Newcastle United
Middlesbrough vs Portsmouth
Middlesbrough, after a great win at home to Liverpool appear to have slipped back into their bad form. They lost 0-4 at White Hart Lane in their last EPL game and then blew a 1-0 lead at Goodison Park in the FA Cup against Everton, eventually losing 1-2. Their ’stars’ have flattered to deceive this season. Tuncay, Afonso Alves and Stewart ‘He’s not as good as everyone thinks he is’ Downing have performed in patches but in truth they’ve been incredibly disappointing. Pompey haven’t replaced the likes of Defoe and Lass and were doing poorly. Paul Hart, however, seems to have steadied the ship somewhat and it was great to see him contracted ’til the end of the season. They were unlucky to lose against Chelsea as they had more than enough chances to score a few. This is a tough one to call. Simple as. All I can say is that I can’t see this being a classic.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 0 – 0 Portsmouth
Sunderland vs Wigan Athletic
Not gonna speak long about this one. Wigan can’t really score anymore. I think Steve Bruce really fucked up with regards to selling Palacios when he did. He couldn’t get a replacement in on time and they have a noticeable lack of creativity now. Sunderland should’ve beaten Spurs at the weekend but couldn’t close it out and paid the price. This, like the match above, probably won’t be great. But the Black Cats’ fans should be enough to drive them home.
Prediction: Sunderland 1 – 0 Wigan
Chelsea vs Man City
City played Chelsea in their first game as the ‘richest club on earth’ near the start of the season. That didn’t really go to plan. City are a very odd team; strong at home and look capable of beating anyone, but as soon as they step on a bus/train/plane/canoe they go to shit. Chelsea are in great form and Guus Hiddink probably couldn’t have hoped for a better start to his (allegedly) short tenure at the club. Their draw and aggregate win in Turin midweek would have made Guus very happy, they played well and had a good goal that wasn’t even noticed. City played on Thursday against Aalborg and will be more tired than Chelsea, who played on Tuesday. Chelsea are undeniable favourites for this game and rightly so, I’m going with them for this Sunday match.
Prediction: Chelsea 3 – 0 Man City
Aston Villa vs Spurs
This is one big bastard of a game. Villa’s form, at home especially, has been shaky lately and whereas they looked odds on for that fourth, or even third CL space only a short time ago a few bad results have left them only three points ahead of Arsenal. Spurs should be happy with their last few games; a commanding win at home to ‘Boro and a well-earned draw at the Stadium of Light. This game will be full-flowing nice football but I don’t expect as many goals as last season’s 4-4 draw!
Prediction: Aston Villa 2 – 1 Spurs
West Ham vs West Brom
West Ham seem to slowly but surely settling into mid-table nicely this season, while West Brom look like they should be planning for promotion next season already. WBA suffer a bad case of having a poor defence, dodgy goalkeeper and strikers who don’t score. This, my buddies, is never a nice combo. West Ham have a nice wee team going with Zola. He’s got them playing with some flair while Steve Clarke has drilled them well defensively. They look a distant memory of the side Zola had when he first took over. They’ll be disappointed with the loss of the very impressive Collison who looks like he’ll be oput for a good while. Regardless, this Monday game is only ending one way.
Prediction: West Ham 3 – 0 West Brom
So that’s the preview and predictions. If you made it down to the end of the page, post your own, and probably more accurate predictions in the comments section. I’m probably wrong with most of mine, I can’t predict for shit!
Anyway, enjoy the football this weekend. And aside from the football, if you’re into the Six Nations, root for Ireland on Saturday!