- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On September 9, 2011
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- 2011 EPL Season, Geoff Reid
By Geoff Reid
Arsenal vs Swansea from the Emirates Stadium, London
So many question marks heading into this one for Arsenal. Will their new signings work out? Of course the answer to that will take some time, and we’ll see over the course of the season, not just one game. But after the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford to Manchester United nearly two weeks ago, manager Arsene Wenger took that as a wake up call. Make no mistake about it, the departures of both club captain Cesc Fabregas and Frenchman Samir Nasri are huge blows and are massive shoes to fill. With defender Thomas Vermaelen out for six weeks, new signing Per Mertesacker will likely make his debut and will have to settle in quickly. Same will probably happen to midfielders Mikel Arteta, and Yossi Benayoun. For Swansea, having to play Arsenal and Manchester City in two of the first four games of the season is extremely tough. So far, they seem to have found a problem scoring goals, but again, this might be the best time to play Arsenal in their current state, and get some points.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Swansea
Everton vs Aston Villa from Goodison Park, Liverpool
The news out of Merseyside recently was that Everton chairman Bill Kenwright was looking to sell his club and had three potential buyers he was meeting. Will this be a distraction for the team? Probably not, but losing midfield playmaker Arteta on the last day of the transfer window certainly doesn’t help things for David Moyes’ side. They did make some moves though before the window closed in signing Argentine striker Denis Stracqualursi from Tigres and loan signing Royston Drenthe from Real Madrid, so these players should definitely feature. For the visitors, Aston Villa’s main pick-ups were from Tottenham in Jermaine Jenas, and Alan Hutton. Jenas has been a player with massive potential down the years, but has had his fair share of injury troubles, and with Tottenham’s squad getting bigger, these two had to move on if they wanted more playing time. In what should be two evenly matched teams, it’s tough to pick a winner here.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
Manchester City vs Wigan Athletic from the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
If the blue half of Manchester want to challenge their cross town rivals for the Premier League title, they need to win games like this at home, and win handsomely at that. They simply cannot afford any slip ups, like they did a little last season. This season’s squad is filled with more quality, that is clear to see. The key is for Roberto Mancini is not only how he keeps a big squad of stars happy, but how do you get them motivated to play the likes of Wigan Athletic? For Roberto Martinez’s side, the signing of Shaun Maloney from Celtic should give them more attacking quality in the final third. Nobody in their right mind expects Wigan to get anything out of this game, and will City take their eye off the ball with their Champions League opener coming up next week?
Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Wigan
Stoke City vs Liverpool from the Britannia Stadium, Stoke
The hosts were one of the clubs that had more of a quiet deadline day transfer dealing, and went under the radar, but the additions of Peter Crouch, and Wilson Palacios from Tottenham, and Cameron Jerome from Birmingham City, manager Tony Pulis pulled off a coup that will add to a fairly decent squad, as well as competing in the Europa League this season. All three players should be available to make their debuts and it’ll be interesting how they fit in to the system Stoke play in the more direct route. Certainly Crouch shouldn’t have much trouble for obvious reasons, and going against one of his old clubs, he won’t need extra motivation. For the visitors, this should be a real test of how far Liverpool have come under Kenny Dalglish. It’s never easy to play at Stoke, and the squad strength will be tested here.
Prediction: Stoke City 2-2 Liverpool
Sunderland vs Chelsea from the Stadium of Light, Sunderland
This should be one of the more entertaining games this weekend. Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has made a ton of new signings, all of which seem to have points to prove to their old clubs for deciding to sell them in the first place. The perfect example is striker Nicklas Bendtner who was signed on a one year loan deal from Arsenal, which Bruce believes the Dane will be determined to prove Arsenal and Arsene Wenger wrong. For Andre Villas-Boas and Chelsea, the pressure is on, and the boss has warned striker Fernando Torres that if he doesn’t start performing up to his standards he will be dropped. Same with Frank Lampard, and the rest of the squad. The midfield especially just got much more competitive with the signings of Raul Mereiles and Juan Mata, which is not a bad thing at all.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea
Wolves vs Tottenham from Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton
Will me see another goal fest from these two teams? On current form, probably. The home side have made a sensational start to this season picking up seven points from three games so far. Of course this form won’t continue over the season, but it should give Mick McCarthy’s side confidence of getting results and not having to battle relegation again towards the end of the season. For Spurs, the only acquisition was England midfielder Scott Parker from West Ham, which is strange because the midfield is not where Harry Redknapp’s side needs help, it’s in defense. They missed out on Gary Cahill who would have helped in that department, but all through Redknapp’s managerial career he;s never had the best defenses so we shouldn’t be surprised if this was another goal fest.
Prediction: Wolves 3-3 Tottenham
Bolton vs Manchester United from the Reebok Stadium, Bolton
Either side of the international break, Bolton are having to play Liverpool at Anfield, and Manchester United at home, very tough for Owen Coyle’s men. Keeping Gary Cahill has a major boost during the window, and while the result and performance against Liverpool was not good, it shouldn’t effect the outcome of this match. After the 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal, Manchester United will be in full confidence going into this one, and it’ll be interesting to see what team Sir Alex Ferguson puts out ahead of their first Champions League game this season in midweek.
Prediction: Bolton 0-2 Manchester United
Norwich City vs West Brom from Carrow Road, Norwich
If the hosts haven’t realized yet, they will do they certainly have now in that this league is extremely tough, especially for promoted sides. After doing so well against Chelsea before the international break, and holding them late on at 1-1 before giving up two more goals, it was a harsh lesson for Paul Lambert’s men. It’s going to be matches like these that they will need to take maximum points from if they want to stay in the top flight, and picking up wins at home. For West Brom, this will be a match where they can think they will be able to get all three points from. Manager Roy Hodgson should have a fully fit squad to choose from for this match.
Prediction: Norwich 1-2 West Brom
Fulham vs Blackburn from Craven Cottage, London
The Cottagers were another side who brought in some names before the window closed, and added more firepower up front with the signing of Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz from FC Twente, and he should give Martin Jol’s lads a boost since they seemed to be a little goal shy at the start of the Premiership season. Being up against a Blackburn side, Fulham should expect to win this one at home, and score a few goals. For Blackburn themselves, their are still many questions marks over this club with the manager, and the players. Steve Kean has never been a favorite amongst the supporters, as have the owners, and apart from bringing in striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni from Everton on loan, one wonders how much ambition this club now have, or how long before Kean eventually leaves the club on way or another?
Prediction: Fulham 2-0 Blackburn
QPR vs Newcastle from Loftus Road, London
Neil Warnock brought in some reinforcements right before the deadline with the highlight signings of Shaun Wright-Phillips from Manchester City, Anton Ferdinand from Sunderland, and Joey Barton from Newcastle all expected to make their debuts. Barton in particular should make more headlines going against the club who just sold him and his distaste for the Newcastle owners should be apparent. Alan Pardew will not say publicly he’s disappointed in the magpies transfer policy recently, but he has to, as he’s lost a good amount of his first 11, and not had the real chance to replace them. This could be a long season for Newcastle and the black and white faithful.
Prediction: QPR 1-0 Newcastle