Finally the Premier League is back! The internationals gave England a pointless trip to Qatar and Ireland were robbed after outplaying the French and Thierry Henry has single handily caused debate all over the football world. We’re not angry, just disappointed!
Liverpool and Man City kick us off at 12.45 with an interesting clash at Anfield. These two look to be competing for the final champions league spot and this is a game both will want to win to achieve that 4th place. Liverpool should have Gerrard back which is a huge boost for them. Torres is still a doubt but don’t be surprised if he makes an appearance at some stage during the game. Man City are boosted by the news that Gareth Barry will be fit. Robinho is in contention to make the squad but is 50/50 at best. Both teams can win this so were going to go for a score draw (2-2 anyone?)
Three o’clock features some of the ‘big 4’ for a change. Arsenal face a challenging trip up north to face Sunderland. Arsenal has a busy injury room at the moment and lost Robin Van Persie for 6 weeks during the international break. Sunderland are without Craig Gordon and Lee Cattermole who are both long term casualties. Sunderland have made a solid start to the season and have already held Man Utd to a draw and beaten Liverpool at home. This should be another tight game but we fancy Arshavin and Fabregas to shine with Arsenal sneaking a win.
Birmingham take on Fulham at St Andrews. Birmingham almost grabbed a shock victory at Anfield last time out but were denied by a shocking penalty decision with a certain French striker deceiving the ref (no not that one). Becoming a regular occurrence these days hey? If Fulham turn up for this one we can see a score draw. Watch out for Benitez who will be looking to grab another goal.
Aston Villa will be looking to break Burnleys excellent record at home this weekend. Emile Heskey will be fit for the trip and this has to be a game that Villa win if they are to push on in the Premier League and jump above spurs into 4th. Burnley have gained all of their points at home so it wont be an easy three points should Villa win.
Hull vs West Ham wont be a game where you are going to see attractive football, but it could be entertaining none-the-less. A win for West Ham will see them jump out of the relegation zone and put Hull in the bottom three. A tough game for both sides but with Hull winning at home last time out we fancy another home win.
Chelsea host Wolves at Stamford bridge with an outstanding home record. One goal conceded and plenty of goals scored along the way. Expect more of the same this weekend. Chelsea will be without Frank Lampard who has injured his thigh and should be back for the Man City game in a couple of weeks. Drogba, A Cole, Terry and Ballack have all had knocks and are all looking to make the starting XI. If not expect them to be on the bench. Wolves face a massive task here and will be doing well to keep the score under 3!
The evening game features Manchester Utd and Everton. Utd still have a few defensive injuries but are hopeful of Nemanja Vidic returning to the centre of defence. Expect Rooney to be fired up for this one and will be looking to net past his former club. Everton have had a very up and down season so far. With their treatment room full up David Moyes has a few selection headaches. We can see Utd being too strong over the 90 minutes and win by a couple of goals.
Sunday kicks off with a battle at the Reebok which sees big Sam return to his former club. Blackburn virtually have a fully fit squad to choose from with most of his players now fully recovered from swine flu. Di Santo and Dunn have formed a decent partnership upfront for Rovers and have the ability to get a goal or two. Bolton could climb above Blackburn with a win but this wont be an easy game for them. Expect a tough game with a handful of tasty challenges and yellow cards. We’re going to sit firmly on the fence with this one and go for a draw.
Tottenham take on Wigan at 3pm at White Hart Lane. Spurs will be without Cudicini who his recovering from a bike accident that will see him out for the rest of the season. Spurs main strength has been their attacking play and expect this to prevail once again. Jermaine Defoe is due to get back on the scoresheet and will be looking to give the Wigan defence a tough afternoon. Wigan have a fully (near) fit squad (except Figueroa) to choose from. Rodagella upfront has the ability to grab some goals but we expect Spurs to be too strong all round.
The final game of the weekend sees Stoke take on Portsmouth. A tough trip for Portsmouth who have a number of injury doubts. A recent improvement in results from pompey has seen them close the gap on the teams above them. Stoke have a decent home record and should be able to continue this and gain three points. If Liverpool lose to Man City and Stoke win they will be on even points, interesting. (Thanks! Joe)
We are hoping to get more than 50% correct this week. But as we have been saying that for the past 3 weeks and failing, we wont be holding our breath.
Weekend predictions in full:
Liverpool VS Manchester City – Draw (home win ob! – joe)
Birmingham VS Fulham – Draw (away win, joe)
Burnley VS Aston Villa – Away win (home win, joe)
Chelsea VS Wolves – Home Win (agreed! – joe)
Hull VS West Ham – Home win
Sunderland VS Arsenal – Away win
Manchester Utd VS Everton – Home Win
Bolton VS Blackburn – Draw
Tottenham VS Wigan – Home Win
Stoke VS Pompey – Home Win