- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On August 19, 2011
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- 2011 EPL Season, Geoff Reid
By Geoff Reid
Sunderland vs Newcastle United from the Stadium of Light, Sunderland
The first northeast derby of the season comes from the home of the black cats where Steve Bruce’s side take on Alan Pardew’s magpies. While it seems a bit early in the season for a derby like this, it should be a great encounter. The home side are coming off a 1-1 away draw at Anfield last weekend against Liverpool, and Newcastle are also coming off a home draw against Arsenal. Sunderland should be favorites during this one, being that Bruce should have a full squad to choose from. For the visitors up the road, it will be tougher for Pardew with players having been lost in the transfer market, and the antics of Joey Barton are no doubt causing a distraction for his club. At this moment in time, Sunderland do boast a more quality squad then their neighbors from the north east.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-0 Newcastle United
Arsenal vs Liverpool from the Emirates Stadium, London
One could say this is the biggest game of the season so far with both sides having disappointing draws to start the season. For the home side, it has to be the most difficult time in recent memory for Arsenal with the transfer of club captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, and maybe even the sale of Samir Nasri to Manchester City before kick off. Add on top of that, new signing Gervinho is suspended for his unjust red card against Newcastle last weekend, and injuries it’s going to be a tough task for gunners manager Arsene Wenger. For the visitors, Liverpool should have most of the squad to choose from apart from club captain Steven Gerrard, and England international Glen Johnson. Now who will get the start with all the midfielders at Kenny Dalglish’s disposal is anyone’s guess at this point. At this point in time, it’s a good time to play Arsenal if you’re the opposition.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool
Aston Villa vs Blackburn Rovers from Villa Park, Birmingham
Two sides that haven’t got off to the best of starts last weekend with the home side drawing away at Fulham 0-0, and the visitors from Lancashire losing at home to Wolves. Both of these clubs had question marks over them before the season kicked off and by judging their performances during the opening weekend, a lot of them haven’t been answered, and two managers under the microscope in Alex McLeish, and Steve Kean. The Villans should be favorites here being the home side, and the slightly better squad, and more firepower with Darren Bent and new signing Charles N’Zogbia to call on. If it wasn’t for another new signing, Shay Given and his excellent performance in goal, they could have very well lost away to Fulham.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
Everton vs QPR from Goodison Park, Liverpool
This will be Everton’s first game of the season due to their match away to Tottenham being cancelled because of the riots in north London. The main frustration surrounding Everton this pre-season has been the lack of signings, and therefore the lack of transfer funds that have been made to manager David Moyes. Chairman Bill Kenwright has come out this week and said the club simply cannot continue borrowing money from the bank and cannot fully back Moyes financially the way he would like to. With the core of last season’s squad still in tact, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the toffees. As for last season’s N-Power Championship winners, it was a rough start for QPR losing 4-0 at home to Bolton on their return to the Premier League. The good news for the visitors is the ownership situation is finally sorted with Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes taking 66% controlling stake in the club. Now manager Neil Warnock should have the opportunity to strengthen his squad that clearly needs it after last sees performance.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 QPR
Swansea City vs Wigan Athletic from the Liberty Stadium, Swansea
The main talking point ahead of this contest is the return of Wigan manager Roberto Martinez to his former club he managed for a few seasons before jumping ship to the Premier League. Current Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers likes to credit Martinez for setting the platform to get the home side to where they are now. Like QPR, Swansea got a rude awakening to Premier League football with a 4-0 defeat away to free spending Manchester City. This match should however be a lot closer and with Rodgers’ boys making their home bow in the top flight expect the welsh club to get off to a fast start. Martinez will know this, but will his Wigan side be able to cope?
Prediciton: Swansea City 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Chelsea vs West Brom from Stamford Bridge, London
After being held to a goaless draw last weekend away to Stoke City, Chelsea’s expensive strike force of Fernando Torres, Nickolas Anelka, and Didier Drogba will look to pile on the goals for Andre Villas-Boas side as they look to get off to a good start at home and climb the table early. Last week Torres got the nod over Anelka and Drogba, and while he didn’t score he created chances for himself and his teammates and it looked a little like the old Fernando Torres who was prolific at Liverpool. The bad news for the blues is that goalkeeper Petr Cech will be out now for up to a month with injury. The baggies thought they were going to get at least a point at home against Manchester United last Sunday when they conceded a late goal to lose 2-1 at home. Manager Roy Hodgson couldn’t have asked for a more difficult task with the first two games being against United, and away at Chelsea, but with the announcement that striker Peter Odemwingie signing a new deal at the Hawthorns should give the side confidence with the Nigeria international possibly leaving during this window now put to bed.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 West Brom
Norwich City vs Stoke City from Carrow Road, Norwich
Norwich City will play their first home game in the Premier League since 2005 and with their opponents having played three days earlier in a Europa League qualifier, they’ll fancy their chances. Manager Paul Lambert got off to a decent start with a 1-1 away draw on opening day against Wigan, and while Stoke should provide his side with more of a test, especially on set pieces and in the air, picking up a road point is not bad for a promoted side no matter who it is. For Stoke City and Tony Pulis, holding Chelsea scoreless is something to be pleased about, but they would have been disappointed in not finishing their own chances at the other end. This weekend, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Prediction: Norwich City 1-2 Stoke City
Wolves vs Fulham from Monlineux Stadium, Wolverhampton
Wolves boss Mick McCarthy was delighted with his side’s away win against Blackburn last weekend, because it was one of those games where if they want to stay in the Premier League once again, it’s those games they have to win, or take points from. This one will be a lot tougher however, even after Fulham coming off a Europa League qualifier. We all clearly know that the home side will be coming out of the gates sharp trying to get the crowd behind them right from the start, and win their home games by being difficult to play against. Fulham, who are clearly the better footballing side out of the two, will be tested playing of two different fronts, and this puts a question mark over how his side will cope with this, and are they deep enough?
Prediction: Wolves 2-2 Fulham
Bolton Wanderers vs Manchester City from the Reebok Stadium, Bolton
Both of these sides got off to 4-0 victories to open their seasons, and both will look to continue that trend here. Of course one team has a much more deeper, and expensive squad then the other. Still in any event, Bolton have proved to be a very capable Premier League club, and had a decent run last season before injuries kicked in and showed manager Owen Coyle didn’t quite have enough depth as he wanted. One thing the 4-0 win away at QPR showed was maybe Daniel Sturridge and Johan Elmander weren’t as big a losses as first originally thought. The visitors are on a high after new star signing Sergio Aguero coming off the bench and scoring two goals in the second half with one particularly being a stunner. Two sides that can score goals should be a good one to watch here.
Prediction: Bolton 2-3 Manchester City
Manchester United vs Tottenham from Old Trafford, Manchester
The final match of the weekend sees this Monday night clash with Spurs visiting the red devils in what should be another open match with goal scoring being a priority. After the 2-1 victory at West Brom, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will look for his side to build on that win, but his top two central defenders are out for this one with Nemanja Vidic out for up to six weeks, and Rio Ferndinand is also ruled out for this one. With question marks over new Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea still around after letting in the one against West Brom, now will be the time to get at United’s defense. For Harry Redknapp’s Spurs, they opened their season officially on Thursday night beating Scottish side Hearts 5-0 in their Europa League Qualifier, having their match against Everton from last Saturday called off due to the riots. With United’ back line looking breached for the moment, and Spurs never really having a good defense under Redknapp, this one should be a very open and entertaining game.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-2 Tottenham