EPL Predictions 1 – 3 Feb
First off, let me apologise about Wednesday’s prediction, to put it bluntly I had a nightmare!! Seriously, who had goal shy Villa versus dull and predictable West Brom down as a 7 goal thriller, not to mention Chelsea failing to score against West Ham at home. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen!
Anyway, at the time of writing it is transfer deadline day, I’m sure there will be a big deal that will slip through the net, but these signings will have come too late to have an effect on this weekend’s fixtures, apart from a morale boost if someone manages to pull off a stellar signing.
Newcastle United v Sunderland – Saturday 1 February 2014 – 1245Ko
An early game, but surprisingly not the choice for TV companies. Presumably the early start is to try and avoid copious amounts of Newcastle Brown Ale being drunk and fans punching horses if the derby result doesn’t go their way.
On the pitch Newcastle are faltering slightly, with only one win in their last five games and that win was inspired by Yohan Cabaye who is no longer on the books after a midweek transfer to PSG. Although Ben Arfa looked quality in the first half against Norwich, they will be looking to replace him before the window closes and with a deal for Lyon’s Grenier looking unlikely, they will have to focus their attentions elsewhere and quickly.
Sunderland are a team on the up. In a cup final, out of the relegation zone for the first time since August and playing some nice football under Poyet. They will be hoping he will be sliding on his knees like ex-boss Di Canio was in this fixture last year.
Premier League Injuries: Newcastle have new signing Luuk de Jong available for the derby but he will probably have to settle for a place on the bench despite Loic Remy being suspended after a clash with Bradley Johnson in midweek. Coloccini, Cisse and Gouffran all remain doubtful. If still with the club, Sunderland expect Cattermole to be fit after missing the Stoke game whilst Bardsley will have a late fitness test.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Hatem Ben Arfa
West Ham United v Swansea City – Saturday 1 February 2014 – 1245KO
Both of these teams picked up crucial results in midweek. The Swans comfortably overcame Fulham for their first win in nine games whilst West Ham got an against all odds point at Stamford Bridge with their ‘19th Century’ park the bus tactics last seen when Jose Mourinho’s Inter beat Barcelona in the Champions League. Sam Allardyce was relishing the result, again claiming he outwitted another foreign manager, but lets be honest, is letting a team take 38 shots in a game really a tactic?
Premier League Injury News: McCartney is expected to replace O’Brien who has suffered The Hammers 3rd dislocated shoulder of the season, Italian duo Nocerino and Borriello may be handed full debuts as Diame is a doubt after falling foul of the Stamford Bridge advertising hoardings. The Swans will be hoping Vorm is fit to play in goal whilst Michu is nearing a match return.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Andy Carroll
Cardiff v Norwich– Saturday 1 February 2014 – 1500Ko
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs a win, both to get his Premier League managerial career underway and to stop his Cardiff side getting cut adrift at the bottom of the table. If they fail to pick up anything here it could be grim from now until the end of the season. He has made a lot of January signings and history tells us these signings can take a while to bed in.
The Canaries have picked up 4 points from their last two games, which is great going for any team involved in a relegation scrap. They’ve also added some Premier League experience to their defence which at times looks like it has been lacking experience with the loan signing of Joseph Yobo.
Premier League Team News: Cardiff will give debuts to Jones and Wilf Zaha and will also give Jordan Mutch as much time is necessary to prove his fitness. The Canaries have Johnson available after his red card against Newcastle was recinded. Guiterrez is also available after being unable to play against his parent club however Yobo will probably not receive international clearance in time to play.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Kenwyne Jones
Everton v Aston Villa – Saturday 1 February 2014 – 1500KO
The Toffees well and truly got stuck at Anfield on Tuesday with Danny Sturridge seemingly able to escape the reaches of Antolin Alcaraz with ease, and with Suarez in tandem unwrap the defence at will..
They will face a different sort of team in Villa who will be buoyed from winning against West Brom despite going 2 nil down so early on. Benteke has also found some form worthy of note, whilst Everton’s own scoring machine may struggle without the services of Lukaku.
Premier League Injuries: The Toffees are without top scorer Lukaku for a few weeks with an ankle problem, and new giant loan signing Traore is not yet match fit. Naismith may be used as an emergency centre forward and Distin and Coleman are still a week away from full fitness. Agbonlahor is touch and go for this game after missing the game against neighbours West Brom. Paul Lambert has a number of walking wounded as well.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Christian Benteke
Fulham v Southampton – Saturday 1 February 2014 – 1500KO
Fulham are one of those sides desperate to add something to their ageing team and have already been rebuffed over their approach for West Hams Mo Diame and Ravel Morrison. The teams also seem to be going head to head again over Greek striker Konstantinos Mitroglou for around £11m which is a hefty sum by anyone’s standard and does stink a little of desperation. Rivals QPR tried to pull off something similar last year and it wasn’t pretty come May. Lewis Holtby has been confirmed as a loan signing and will slot in to the midfield however Berbatov looks like he is on his way to Monaco, whilst Hughes has joined QPR.
The Saints were unlucky to only grab a point at home to Arsenal in midweek, the work rate shown by their players to pressure the opposition without the ball was obscene at times and they looked as comfortable as The Gunners normally do when in possession. A similar performance here and they will get all three points.
Premier League Team News: New loan signing Lewis Holtby will slot straight into The Cottagers midfield, whilst The Saints have Lambert back to full fitness. Wanyama is set to make his first start since overcoming a hairline fracture of the leg.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-3
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Adam Lallana
Hull City v Tottenham Hotspur – Saturday 1 February 2014 – 1500Ko
Tottenham always like to keep Jim White in the Sky Sports Newsroom busy right until the last moment of transfer deadline day so who knows what sort of team Tim Sherwood will wake up to on the morning of the game, especially with rumours of Capoue, Lamela and Holtby being unhappy, one already loaned out. Spurs fans will be hoping if they do bring anyone in, it is more of the quality of Luca Modric rather than Gregor Rasiak who they once bought with minutes to spare after other targets fell through.
Hull will be missing Jake Livermore as he is on-loan from Spurs, and you have to feel he will be missed as he keeps them ticking over in midfield. They will be hoping to put the fragile Tottenham defence who now have a negative goal difference after another tonking to Manchester City in midweek, but have Jelavic and Long got the goals in them?
Premier League Injury News: Harper will replace the suspended McGregor in goal for The Tigers, whilst Steve Bruce can pick the fit again Brady and Figueroa. Townsend, Vertonghen and Paulinho all return to the starting XI. At the time of writing Danny Rose is appealing his red card suffered against Manchester City and will play if overturned.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Paulinho
Stoke v Manchester United – Saturday 1 February 2014 – 1500KO
For some reason, I think Manchester United are going to have some momentum going into the crucial February stage, it’s almost like everything is going to click at once. They’ve signed Mata who looked impressive on debut, Rooney and van Persie are back from injury as is Fellaini, and whilst the latter didn’t impress after being brought in late in the August window, his recent spell on the side-lines may have helped him learn the subtle differences of being a bit part player at United rather than the star at Everton.
Momentum is one thing Stoke certainly don’t have and they were less than impressive against Sunderland in midweek. As it stands they looked to have missed out on signing Tom Ince whose speed and flair would have been a massive boost. With only one point from the last 18 available, they are a side in serious trouble.
Premier League Team News: Nzonzi is suspended after picking up two yellow cards in Stokes midweek defeat, who are also without Huth and Etherington. Ferdinand and Carrick look like they may make the United squad after recent injury problems, but Vidic continues to serve a suspension after getting sent off against Sunderland in the Capital One Cup.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Robin van Persie
West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool – Sunday 2 February 2014 – 1330Ko
If Baggies fans were unaware of what sort of football Pepe Mel might bring to The Hawthorns they might now have an idea after Wednesdays loss against Villa. It looks like it is going to be attacking and to hell with the defensive side of the game if that showing is anything to go by. Think Spurs under Ossie Ardilies!
I often knock Liverpool as I still don’t believe they have a side capable of qualifying for the Champions League and the fans of the club seem to have a mentality of telling everyone how good they are when they are winning and reminding everyone of the 80’s when they’re not. But saying that, if they manage to play like they did against Everton on Tuesday I may have to revise my opinion a little. They dug in when necessary and were very impressive going forward with the ball. These are the games where they have a tendency to come unstuck though.
Premier League Team News: Anelka limped off early in West Broms defeat to Villa and won’t be fit to face one of his old sides. Sessegnon is also unavailable. Liverpool have no new fitness doubts and may start with the same XI that beat Everton.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Daniel Sturridge
Arsenal v Crystal Palace – Sunday 2 February 2014 – 1600Ko
Arsene Wenger has always had a problem when he comes up against Tony Pulis and if the midweek showings of the two sides are anything to go by this has the potential of a perfect storm!
Arsenal were already without Ramsey and Walcott, and now Flamini will be missing for four league games after his second red card of the season. With The Gunners to face Liverpool twice, Manchester United and Bayern Munich before the 19th February, who knows how focused they will be on little old Palace.
The Eagles themselves are on an amazing run with 5 wins from their last 10 league games and if Pulis does save them he should be a certainty for manager of the season.
Premier League Injury News: As mentioned above, the Arsenal midfield is very thin on the ground with Ramsey, Flamini and Wilshere unavailable, Rosicky does return though. Palace look close to signing Joe Ledley but it looks like they will have missed the registration deadline for this game. Dikcagoi and Thomas are missing through injury.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Oliver Giroud
Manchester City v Chelsea – Monday 3 February 2014 – 2000KO
Perhaps a little premature to be talking about this as a title decider, but it is certainly a big one.
City did manage to get the rub of the green on referees decisions against Spurs on Wednesday, but don’t let that take anything away from how much better they were than the opposition and Spurs were the other form club going into that game. The loss of Aguero to a hamstring injury will be of concern as to will Dzeko’s finishing in his last game, but with their record at home this season Chelsea will be worried.
Has Mourinho’s comments about West Ham’s 19th Century and negative football made it harder for him to take his Chelsea side to The Etihad and shut up shop similar to what they did at Old Trafford and The Emirates this season? In short, the answer is no!! Mourinho will do whatever he thinks will help him get something out of the game.
Premier League Injuries: Aguero is a big doubt after suffering a hamstring injury in midweek. City are also missing Garcia, Milner and Nasri through injury. Torres is out for the London side who don’t appear to have picked up any problems in Wednesdays draw with West Ham.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Alvaro Negrado
I’ve predicted 5 away wisn on this set of fixtures, if anything like that amount comes up the bookies will be paying out a bit of cash!
Anyway that is the made the month of January all but over in my book, and we are now onto the last third of the season. Doesn’t time fly!