Well, if England set out last week to do a job in managing expectations ahead of the World Cup, you could say they had a successful set of International fixtures! That’s my positive spin on the week anyway.
At least we have a very good set of fixtures to look forward to this week with the TV time on Saturday being particularly pleasing, a Merseyside derby and an always feisty East v West London meeting. The Midlands also get in on the derby action on Monday night when Villa travel to The Hawthowns.

EPL Predictions & Team News 23 - 24 Nov 2013

Everton v Liverpool – Saturday 23 November 2013 – 1245Ko

Fixtures between these two always seem to have some sort of flashpoint which has been the main focal point over the last few seasons, as truth being told nothing much has been riding on the games except pride. But today is a little different, depending on results Liverpool could go top whilst Everton could even head up to second place.

Both of these teams like to get the ball down now and play for possession, which could mean both sides sit back and try and counter each other. Or if our luck is in, it could lead to a fast flowing, open game. Lets hope it’s the latter.

Premier League Injuries: Alcaraz and Hibbert have finally escaped the treatment table for The Toffees, but in terms of match fitness this fixture probably comes too early to see them make an appearance. Enrique needs an operation for Liverpool that will see him out until the New Year and England pair Sturridge and Gerrard are doubts after Wednesdays Germany fixture took its toll. Suarez also returned later than most from his international exploits.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Tim Howard

Arsenal v Southampton – Saturday 23 November 2013 – 1500KO

Both of these sides have lit up the EPL this season with great football and deserve to be sitting where they are in the table, though interestingly in their corresponding fixtures last year, Arsenal had three more points. Southampton have probably benefited early in the season by not losing many players to the international break, but now all eyes are on them, a number were called up last week which is a sign of how the club is growing.

Arsenal will need to be on their best attacking form to break down a compact Saints side who currently boast the best defensive record in the league and have already beaten Liverpool and drawn with United on their travels this season.

Premier League Injury News: The Gunners are starting to get some players fit again with Walcott and Mertesacker (who was greatly missed in the defeat against United) back. Flamini misses out though through suspension. Southampton are without Jack Cork for a while after he turned an ankle. Ramirez may start from the bench after arriving back from international duty on Friday morning.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Santi Carzola

Fulham v Swansea – Saturday 23 November 2013 – 1500Ko

It seems very negative of me, but every time I write about Fulham I always have to put it could be Martin Jol’s last game in charge, and a 4-0 defeat against Liverpool last time out has certainly stepped up the pressure on him. To be fair he may have appointed a gem to his back room in Rene Meulensteen, the highly respected ex-United coach, but this again may just be looked upon as Fulham lining up their next manager from within.

A win for Swansea would see them travel up the table and away from relegation trouble they have been sucked into.

Premier League Team News: Fulham have defensive problems and are without skipper Hangeland who has a back problem and Riether who is suspended. Rodellega and Duff are also missing. Michu is still missing for The Swans and may still be two weeks away from full fitness. Worn will return in goal after his suspension.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Wilfried Bony

Hull v Crystal Palace – Saturday 23 November 2013 – 1500KO

Blimey, this must be the fixture which brings in all the lucrative TV money!

Hull are still plodding along nicely in the league to be fair to them and keep nabbing the odd win when they seem to be slipping in form. That will serve them well when it comes down to the business end of the season. Today’s fixture is certainly one they will have been targeting for maximum points when they looked at the fixture list when it was released.

Palace, at the time of writing, still haven’t appointed a new boss yet, but it looks like Tony Pulis will get the nod, so if he is at watching today’s fixture you would hope to see maximum effort and enthusiasm from The Eagles. How their fans would love the run of 6 consecutive season in the EPL and an FA Cup final he brought to The Potteries.

Premier League Injury News: Hull received a double boost this week with McGregor and top scorer Brady both being declared fit. Jonny Williams has recovered from an ankle knock for the visitors and is expected to start.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Tom Huddlestone

Newcastle v Norwich – Saturday 23 November 2013 – 1500KO

Both of these sides come into this fixture on the back of impressive wins. Newcastle did a job at White Hart Lane, they attacked Spurs, scored and then shut up shop for 70 minutes and held on through good fortune and the individual brilliance of Tim Krul. Whilst Norwich reversed their slump when scoring three in the second half against West Ham.

Whatever Chris Hughton said at half-time certainly worked as I’ve not seen a fixture so far this season with a more contrasting first and second half performances from either side.

Premier League Injuries: Alan Pardew, barring the suspension of Debuchy has a full side to pick from, with Taylor, Coloccini and Gutierrez all available. Antony Pilkington is expected to be fit for The Canaries after missing the Republic of Ireland’s midweek trip to Poland whilst Van Wolfswinkel is again an absentee.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Hatem Ben Arfa

Stoke v Sunderland – Saturday 23 November 2013 – 1500KO

Stoke must have thought their luck had changed when they rushed into a two-nil lead at Swansea last time out, but in the end they only grabbed a point and that was courtesy of a last minute spot-kick.

This is pretty much a must win for both sides, a win for the away side will see them start climbing out of the relegation spots and put them on level points with Stoke, whilst they themselves will be desperate to halt a run which has seen them fail to win in 8 games.

Sunderland are playing with a lot more belief under the leadership of Gus Poyet. Who would have thought a month ago that Phil Bardsley would have been starting a fixture in the red and white stripes, let alone be the furthest man forward to score a deserved winner against Manchester City!

Premier League Team News: Kenwyne Jones picked up a shoulder injury whilst on international duty and that combined with his late arrival back in the country effectively rules him out of this one. Marc Wilson also picked up a knock during the week. Cattermole and Dossena sit out the last games of their suspensions, whilst the ever fragile Wes Brown should be fit.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Peter Crouch

West Ham v Chelsea – Saturday 23 November 2013 – 1730Ko

The fixture in which West Ham fans would probably take a win in above all others, and tell their enemies on the Kings Road where they can ‘Stick their Blue Flag’. But that seems very unlikely this time round, with the Hammers on a poor run of form at home, no strikers and a lot of defensive injuries. At least they have bodies in midfield to pack it out, which seems to be Big Sam’s preferred tactic at the moment.

Jose Mourinho will probably have been glad of the break in fixtures, although he won’t have had many players to work with in Cobham this past week with most of them flying off to far flung destinations for money spinning friendlies, but it will have broken up a disappointing spell which saw them lose to Newcastle and avoid defeat at home for the first time in either of his spells at Chelsea via a last minute, very debatable penalty.

Premier League Team News: Rat joins fellow defender Winston Reid on the treatment table after being one of many players getting injured in midweek. Collins and O’Brien maybe forced into action despite carrying hamstring strains. McCartney may also be on the bench earlier than expected. Chelsea are without Torres, the man who normally torments The Hammers, whilst Ashley Cole may be rested.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-3
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Frank Lampard

Manchester City v Tottenham – Sunday 23 November 2013 – 1330KO

The difference between City at home and on the road is immense, at home they play fast, free flowing attacking football whilst away, the win at West Ham apart, they would struggle to beat my old Sunday morning side, Putterills!

Spurs have the opposite problem, sides are now coming to White Hart Lane and setting out their stall, and in the last two seasons they have lost players in Modric and Bale who could unlock any side with a pass or a moment of brilliance. But AVB seems to set his side up ever more cautiously and insists on playing a certain shape which leads to them relying on a lot of long range efforts. The fact that only 4 Spurs players have scored this season perhaps highlights this.

Premier League Injuries: City still have their fair share of injury problems with Kompany, Silva and Jovetic still missing. Fernandinho and Nastasic do return though. Adebayor, may return for Spurs in place of the ineffective Saldado whilst Erikson is out for a month with ankle trouble.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 3-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Sergio Aguero

Cardiff v Manchester United – Sunday 24 November 2013 – 1600Ko

Cardiff seem to put on a very good display when on TV, they’ve put up a good show against City earlier in the campaign and triumphed in El Taffico this month. But they will need to show something extra if they are to get something against United who are gradually grinding their way back to form and now have four wins from their last five league outings.

Despite the win against Swansea, The Bluebirds are on a tricky run which has seen them win only one in five.

Premier League Injury News: It’s a pleasure to write this after saying he is nearing fitness every week for the last 3 months but Andreas Cornelius is finally fit for the home side meaning they have a full side to pick from. United are without Phil Jones who was so impressive against Arsenal. Also missing are Carrick and Welbeck. Vidic will also be checked for fitness after a concussion.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Adnan Janujaz

West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa – Monday 25 November 2013 – 2000Ko

The football keeps on coming this week and we have an intriguing derby to finish this round of fixures.

The Baggies are in talks about extending Steve Clarke’s contract and that can only be a wise thing, I can imagine him being quite in demand if he became available and it is also refreshing to see someone get a chance after serving out an apprenticeship as a second in command for so long.

His side come into this one full of confidence after going so well at Clarke’s old stomping ground last time out.

Villa finally broke their scoring duck against Cardiff via a superb set piece which was their first goal in over seven and a half hours, and just like buses they added a second seven minutes later!

Premier League Team News: The Baggies are waiting on the fitness of both Anelka and Scott Sinclair so will be pleased with the extra day that may aid there recovery. Brunt, Myhill and McAuley are all fit despite missing games for their respective countries. Villa welcome back a host of players for this one including Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor. Benteke had a problem in midweek but is expected to be fit as is Delph.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Brad Guzan

There we have it, three days of footballing goodness to hopefully make us forget about the torrid time England are having against the Aussies. What do you think? Are we way off, or will we predict them all? Let us know below!



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