EPL Predictions 8 – 9 March 14
Last updated on November 15th, 2015 at 12:08 pm
There is only one place I can possibly start this week and that is talking about the Alan Pardew incident from last weekend. If you are a regular reader of this column, you will know that I have a bit of a love/hate opinion of the man. I really enjoy the football he gets his sides to play, it can be fast moving and attacking but the man himself has an unnervingly high opinion of himself.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to think all week of how to capture my own view of the head-butt and the best I can come up with is to borrow Nick Hancock’s words he used to sum up Cantona’s kung-fu kicking of a fan in 1995 on ‘Fantasy Football’ as I think it is perfect for this incident. ‘It was appalling, it was terrible, it was tragic. But most of all it was very, very funny!’
Back onto this week’s action and like last week it is a shortened fixture list due to cup commitments, which sees all five league games being played on Saturday.
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United – Saturday 8 March 2014 – 1245KO
Pepe Mel remains in charge at The Hawthorns and not having a fixture last weekend has perhaps taken a little bit of pressure off the boss. He has yet to win in 6 league fixtures and if this fixture was a year ago you would have expected that to be an unlucky 7. However, both clubs seem to have players at the club who are unhappy with their manager’s style of football.
Whilst a point may be regarded as a good result for The Baggies, it is a must win for United who are now realistically fighting for a Europa League spot, a cause that was actually helped by noisy neighbours City winning the League Cup meaning 6th in the league will now qualify.
Premier League Team News: The Baggies are expected to have both Sessegnon and Yacob fit but will be without Billy Jones for a month with an ankle problem. Nicolas Anelka starts a 5 game ban from the FA after his controversial goal celebration. Manchester United will recall Juan Mata who was cup tied for their last fixture against Olympiacos, whilst 4th choice striker Javier Hernandez suffered a knee injury in midweek and is rated as doubtful at best.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Adnan Januzaj
Cardiff City v Fulham – Saturday 8 March 2014 – 1500KO
I’m pretty sure we can put a big ‘R’ alongside whatever side loses this fixture and a draw means we can put it next to both. They would need to win over half their remaining fixtures to stay up and I just can’t see that happening especially when the win count so far is 5 and 6 respectively.
Cardiff did look a lot more solid against Tottenham last Sunday switching to 3 at the back and Caulker continued to impress. Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer really seems to be struggling to find his best side and I’m not yet convinced Felix Magath knows his either.
Premier League Team News: Cardiff will give Craig Noone and Andrew Taylor as much time as possible to prove their fitness after missing last Sunday’s fixture. The away side have a number of injury problems ahead of the big clash. Scott Parker is troubled by a hamstring injury but should play and Mitroglou will feature at some point. Damian Duff looks like he has played his last game for the club after a muscle problem appears to have ruled him out for the season. Kvist is also a doubt after playing 90 minutes against England in midweek.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Steven Caulker
Crystal Palace v Southampton – Saturday 8 March 2014 – 1500KO
What I like about Tony Pulis is his ability to have a plan B. They were awful in the first half against Swansea, but he stuck on a second forward and went very direct and grabbed themselves a point which could prove crucial come the end of the season. He should also be applauded for making a public stand saying he will fine two of his players who dived. Whether he does in private is another matter though!
I imagine after seeing Southampton struggle against a West Ham side that got the ball wide and then into the box early two weeks ago, we will see Palace try something similar. Southampton recovered well last weekend and played some very good stuff against Liverpool in the first half, but will be disappointed they failed to make the most of their early chances. Something that they will have to rectify in this one as I can’t see them having many clear-cut chances against a stubborn defence.
Premier League Team News: Chamakh is a doubt for Palace but he is included in the squad, whilst Dikgacoi should start despite missing international duty. Southampton are expected to recall Ramirez to the first XI after making his comeback from injury from the bench last week. Lovren is also now fully fit.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Glenn Murray
Norwich City v Stoke City – Saturday 8 March 2014 – 1500KO
I’ve heard of players not celebrating against their old clubs (which I still think is wrong!) but Wes Hoolahan took this to another level when scoring early against a club he wanted to join in January by not celebrating. After that bright start Norwich fell to pieces and conceded 4 quick goals against Villa, something that hasn’t helped out their dreadful goal difference which could prove the deciding factor to their Premier League status as it is considerable worse than those around them.
Stoke put in the surprise performance of last weekend when beating Arsenal at home meaning that Mark Hughes has now triumphed over Arsene Wenger whilst in charge of 4 different clubs. That result gives them a bit of breathing space between to the foot of the table and three wins in the final ten fixtures should see them safe.
Premier League Team News: Howson is expected to be recalled to the first XI after injury. The Canaries will leave it late to finalise their side with doubts over Van Wolfswinkel, Snodgrass and Yobo. Stoke are without Charlie Adam who picked up a retrospective 3 match ban for a stamp against Arsenal.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Asmir Begovic
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur – Saturday 8 March 2014 – 1730KO
The Blues can really stamp their authority on the title race by beating London rivals Spurs and taking a 7 point lead over their closest challengers.
Last time these two played, we had a good old fashioned game of two halves with Tottenham edging the first one and Chelsea dominating the second half until Torres harshly got himself sent off following a running battle with Vertonghen.
Spurs under Sherwood have generally looked good and will be happy with their form, however they’ve had trouble against top quality sides that have the intelligence to move a defence out of position as shown in their losses to both Arsenal and City. I fear the ability of Hazard, Oscar and co will do a similar job again to foil the chances of Spurs’ first league away win at Stamford Bridge since February 1990.
Interestingly, this game also sees the league’s best team at home meet the team with the best away record.
Premier League Team News: Both sides have doubts over creative players with Hazard picking up a knock on international duty and Eriksen missing Denmark’s midweek defeat against England. Torres is expected to start up front for Chelsea after a week’s rest following not being called up for Spain, whilst Spurs are expected to still be without Walker who has a hip problem.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Eden Hazard
Well that’s it for this week, we are back with a full fixture list next week including a proper Super Sunday featuring the North West derby of United v Liverpool and the North London derby.