- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On December 16, 2011
- 0 Comments
By Geoff Reid
Blackburn Rovers vs West Brom from Ewood Park, Blackburn
Last weekend ended up being a real kick in the teeth for Blackburn and manager Steve Kean, who were winning 1-0 away at Sunderland up until the 84th minute when they conceded two late goals losing 2-1 in Martin O’Neill’s debut at the Stadium of Light. It was a defeat that put more fuel on the fire for Rovers fans towards their manager, who has been under intense pressure since he took over from Sam Allardyce last season. Their opponents, West Brom, have been in a bad run of form having picked up only one point from their last three league games. Defeat for Roy Hodgson’s boys will put Rovers within two points of the baggies at the final whistle.
Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 1-2 West Brom
Everton vs Norwich City from Goodison Park, Liverpool
The big news coming out of Everton Football Club this week has obviously been the return of Landon Donovan on loan until the end of February. No doubt the US all time leading goal scorer will help a very weak Everton attack at current, but they’ll have to make do without him until the new year, and with only 15 league goals scored this season, he can’t come over soon enough. Norwich on the other hand have been impressing of late, and so far this season in general, but have struggled away from Carrow Road. This is the time of the season where Paul Lambert will see how strong his squad are with the run of games coming thick and fast.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Norwich City
Fulham vs Bolton Wanderers from Craven Cottage, London
This is a contest between two sides that are struggling at the moment. For the Cottagers, getting knocked out of the Europa League in the fashion they did on Wednesday will have hurt Martin Jol, and the club conceding two late goals to Odense and drawing 2-2 instead of hanging on for the win. The good news is now they can fully concentrate on the league and pull away from the relegation zone, and that is currently where Bolton sit, at the bottom of the league. Since the 5-0 win over Stoke City, Wanderers have lost four in a row, and a fifth loss in west London could end Owen Coyle’s spell at the Reebok.
Prediction: Fulham 2-1 Bolton Wanderers
Newcastle United vs Swansea City from the Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle
After such a great start, you were wondering when the wheels were going to fall off for Newcastle, and that may have very well just have happened. The magpies currently sit seventh in the table, after losing their last two league games and conceding seven goals in the process. No doubt manager Alan Pardew will see this contests against the Welsh side. For Brendan Rodgers and Swansea, while they have impressed with the start they’ve made, they still haven’t won away from home this season. This match will be the perfect opportunity to end that statistic.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-1 Swansea City
Wolves vs Stoke City from Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton
Mick McCarthy’s Wolves sit just outside the relegation zone, and will look to use this match as a springboard over the festive period to move away and get closer to safety. Stoke City have had it tough this season with trying to balance the league, and treading in new territory in the Europa League. Now that the potters will be taking part in the knockout rounds in the new year, Tony Pulis can fully concentrate on domestic matters. Pulis’ actually rested a lot of first team players away at Besiktas, so the full side should be back and raring to go. This clash should be a good, old fashioned English physical battle.
Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Stoke City
Wigan Athletic vs Chelsea from the DW Stadium, Wigan
For Wigan and manager Roberto Martinez it’s been tough this season, and their last home game was a 4-0 hammering against Arsenal. However, that performance was sandwiched in between two impressive away victories away to Sunderland and West Brom. If Martinez can get his troops organized like in those games, the lactics should cause Chelsea some problems. For the blues, after two successive victories including one over leaders Manchester City, the pressure has been lifted a little over Andre Villas-Boas. This will be another one that Chelsea will look to collect all three points.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 0-3 Chelsea
QPR vs Manchester United from Loftus Road, London
The hoops are winless in their last three games with the latest contest a 1-0 defeat away to Liverpool. Neil Warnock’s side currently sit in mid table which they would have taken at the start of the season. Manchester United on the other hand are running thin in the midfield, with Scottish midfielder Darren Fletcher the latest to experience a long term injury layoff. The win over Wolves last weekend was the perfect response for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team having crashed out of the Champions League at the group stages. The league will be the top priority for the rest of the season, and in January we should see some new reinforcements at Old Trafford.
Prediction: QPR 1-2 Manchester United
Aston Villa vs Liverpool from Villa Park, Birmingham
With a win away at Bolton last weekend, Alex McLeish and his Aston Villa side will look to build on that positive result. It does not however seem to bring the manager and the Villa faithful closer together due to his previous managerial position, at Villa’s bitter rivals Birmingham City. McLeish has made a solid, but perhaps unspectacular start to his Villa career collecting 19 points from his first 15 games. Liverpool have dropped points this season when they could have gotten all three, but more of those have been at home. It’s only a matter of time left before the chances that are being created start turning into goals.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur vs Sunderland from White Hart Lane, London
Spurs’ impressive run of form ended last week with a 2-1 defeat at Stoke City, and left manager Harry Redknapp fuming over some of the refereeing decisions. Redknapp’s future has been uncertain in recent days with the 64 year old being linked with the England job after Euro 2012. The club say that he isn’t interested though, as Spurs believe they can mount a serious title challenge next term. For Sunderland, this will be Martin O’Neill’s second game in charge, and after the gutsy effort last weekend against Blackburn, expect the same in this one from the black cats.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Sunderland
Manchester City vs Arsenal from the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
It’s not been the best of times recently for Manchester City and Roberto Mancini having been knocked out of a tough Champions League group, and suffering their first league defeat of the season away to title rivals Chelsea on Monday. While their lead at the top has been cut to two points, in form Arsenal come visit and this is by no doubt the match of the weekend. The gunners were made to work for their win over Everton on Saturday, and Robin van Persie in superb form scoring what is one of the goals of the season last weekend. If Arsene Wenger’s side can win this one, they will only be six points off City, and after their terrible start to the season, that would be an amazing achievement.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-2 Arsenal