- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On December 20, 2011
- 1 Comments
By Geoff Reid
Wolves vs Norwich City from Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton
Mick McCarthy’s Wolves side have lost four of their last five matches and it’s fair to say they are desperate for a victory today against the promoted Norwich City. After the latest defeat, a 2-1 loss to Stoke City, the Wolves fans showed their displeasure towards the team, and McCarthy. The canaries on the other hand are currently riding high in ninth place, and making all the pre-season critics eat their words and predictions. Paul Lambert’s side have only lost once in their previous four matches.
Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Norwich City
Blackburn Rovers vs Bolton Wanderers from Ewood Park, Blackburn
This is certainly the first time that anyone can remember this Lancashire derby had so much riding on it. Both sides sit in the bottom three, and the pressure is on equally for Rovers boss Steve Kean, which never seems to go away, and Wanderers manager Owen Coyle. For Kean, not only are the supporters calling for his head, but the local press is also printing it’s time for him to go. Coyle may be sleeping a little better having a proven track record in management, but a loss for either side will leave one of the clubs bottom of the table by the festive period, and that usually means the bottom side going into the new year means guaranteed relegation.
Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 2-2 Bolton Wanderers
Aston Villa vs Arsenal from Villa Park, Birmingham
Two sides that are coming off weekend losses, and will be looking to bounce back from. Starting with Aston Villa, their performance against Liverpool on Sunday was awful to say the least. The amount of goals Villa have conceded from corners is astounding, and certainly without the injured Darren Bent, and suspended Gabriel Agbonlahor, the front line lacks punch. Arsenal on the other hand can count themselves unlucky for not coming away from the Eithad with a point against league leaders Manchester City. Arsene Wenger believes his side are too far off the pace of City now to challenge for the Premier League now, but but a top four position is still well within reach.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-3 Arsenal
Manchester City vs Stoke City from the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Roberto Mancini’s team responded in the perfect way after losing to Chelsea by beating Arsenal 1-0 on Sunday. This next period of games will determine how strong City’s strength in depth is if they want to remain at the top of the table come May. With the citizens not playing in the Champions League in the new year, one wonders whether that will help their title challenge. Stoke have been up and down this season mainly due to their Europa League games during the week. Manager Tony Pulis will look to see his side climb the table during this period of games, and will no doubt give the big spending opposition a run for it’s money in this one.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Stoke City
Newcastle United vs West Brom from Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle
After surprising everyone, including their own coaching staff, the magpies are dropping down the league, but still it’s remarkable how well they’ve done so far and credit to Alan Pardew and his coaching staff. One of the reasons why they’ve been successful this season is the starting lineup has been consistent, but now that will have to change with so many games in a short period of time, and losing Demba Ba to the African Nations Cup will not help things come the new year. West Brom are coming off a nice 2-1 away win at Blackburn on the weekend, with two simply stunning goals that we won’t see for a long time.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-1 West Brom
Everton vs Swansea City from Goodison Park, Liverpool
Twice in the matter of days Everton are hosting promoted sides that will frustrate them. On the weekend, Norwich took the lead, and while the toffees eventually equalized, were held 1-1 at home. Expect Swansea to do the same and the Welsh side have been very good defensively away from home, and will no doubt be looking for more of the same against a goal shy Everton team at this moment in time.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Swansea City
Fulham vs Manchester United from Craven Cottage, London
The cottagers had a nice win over bottom side Bolton at home 2-0 over the weekend, and while the opponents will be a lot harder then the previous ones were, manager Martin Jol is confident of his side picking up more points and climbing the table, especially since their Europa League challenge is over. For the defending champions, their second visit to west London in three days should pick up three points, although Fulham will be tougher compared to newly promoted QPR. Another big question for Sir Alex Ferguson is will be spend during the transfer window after their Champions League exit?
Prediction: Fulham 1-3 Manchester United
QPR vs Sunderland from Loftus Road, London
While QPR have had a steady season in returning to the top flight, they’ve only collected one point from their last possible 12, and manager Neil Warnock admits that his squad needs reinforcements come January. If that doesn’t happen, it could be a very long second half to the season, and a dogfight battle to stay up in the Premier League. Sunderland themselves are going to have to fight to stay in the division, and new manager Martin O’Neill knows this, and one thing his teams always do is fight and scrap until the end. In O’Neill’s first two games they’e played far better then under Steve Bruce, and if they continue to do the same, they should be okay the rest of the way.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Sunderland
Wigan Athletic vs Liverpool from the DW Stadium, Wigan
After a horrible stretch of games where Wigan couldn’t collect any points or score goals, the lactics now seem to have a little confidence about them after some positive results. How long will it last for is the question with a lot of games coming up thick and fast. Liverpool currently sit in sixth place, level on points with fifth place Arsenal and three behind Chelsea who sit in the last Champions League qualification position in forth. No doubt two clubs will be disappointed not to finish in the top four, but there is a lot of football to be played the rest of the season, and Liverpool will be in the mix.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 0-2 Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea from White Hart Lane, London
A London derby with big consequences. Both clubs sit in third and forth respectively, and both will be looking to win to close the gap between themselves and the Manchester clubs, as well as get a bit of the lead over the other and the chasing pack. Tottenham themselves were on a nice run until their defeat at Stoke, and then exiting the Europa League the following week. They rebounded with a 1-0 home win over Sunderland on Sunday, but confidence has been struck on Harry Redknapp’s side when you see them play. Chelsea are now picking up points in key games, and beating Manchester City was a big moral booster for Andre Villas-Boas. They will be disappointed however that they conceded a late equalizer to Wigan over the weekend.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Chelsea