After a week without Premier League football, we are back and with less than a third of the season to go every point now is now vital. and in the week where I don’t write a column, due to no Premier League matches, we see managers accused of being failures and Fulham seemingly appointing managers as often as they win games! Typical!

EPL Predictions 22 - 23 Feb 2014

Let’s start with this weekends Games:

Chelsea v Everton– Saturday 22 February 2014 – 1245Ko

Chelsea start this weekend’s proceedings and it gives them a chance to heap some pressure on the teams following them. A win will see them go 4 points clear.

They looked a bit lacklustre against Manchester City in the cup last week, but I think they will bounce back comfortably against an Everton side lacking a cutting edge.

Premier League Team News: The good news for Chelsea is John Terry is back, however they will be missing David Luiz for a few weeks as he has suffered a similar injury to the one Terry has recovered from.  On Loan Lukaku is fit again for Everton but is ineligible, whilst Naismith should be fit to start despite going off with a head injury last weekend.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Eden Hazard

Arsenal v Sunderland – Saturday 22 February 2014 – 1500KO

Reading the press Arsenal get after every defeat you would think they are sitting down the table with Manchester United, but the fact is they are still very much contenders. February hasn’t gone the way they would have wished, with morale sapping losses to Bayern and Liverpool. They did pick up a point against United and a home game against a Sunderland side who might have an eye on next week’s League Cup final gives a good chance of getting back on track.

Sunderland did manage to rest a lot of players whilst beating Southampton in the FA Cup last weekend, and will be desperate to gain something after slipping back into the bottom three.

Premier League Inuries: Ozil is expected to retain a starting place for Arsenal despite a recent dip in form.  Gibbs will miss out after going off against Bayern with a hamstring problem.  Wes Brown is still suspended for The Black Cats who do have Cueller available for the first time since November.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Mikel Arteta

Cardiff v Hull City– Saturday 22 February 2014 – 1500Ko

Changing your manager doesn’t always give you the boost you are after, the bottom four in the table are all clubs who have replaced their manager at some point this season. Cardiff still only have a solitary win since Christmas and could be cut adrift if they don’t win this one.  Hull are still on course to survive, and need to pick up somewhere between 11 and 13 points in their remaining 12 games.

Premier League Injury News: Cardiff are without Bellamy who is suspended and vital defensive midfielder Gary Medel who is injured. Jones and Fabio return after missing last weeks cup game whilst being cup-tied. Rosenior will return at full-back for Hull who also have James Chester and Aluko fit again after recent injuries.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Wilf Zaha

Manchester City v Stoke – Saturday 22 February 2014 – 1500KO

There were a lot of cruel jibes going around this week, Barcelona apparently thinking of appealing Demichelis sending off in off for Manchester City to enable him to play in the return leg! An early exit for them in the Champions League may not be the worst thing for City, especially if Chelsea manage to get through against Galatasaray as expected.

Mark Hughes returns to the blue side of Manchester with his Stoke side unbeaten in three games. After beating United at the start of the month, could he do the same to City or will he set the team out just to try and nab a point?

Premier League Injury News: City are still without Sergio Aguero, who looks like retuning for next week’s League Cup final.  Milner returns to the squad after a midweek suspension whilst Nastasic still isn’t fit.  Stoke will be without two on loan players, Assaidi picked up an injury in warm weather training whilst Guidetti is ineligible to play against his parent club.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Fernandinho

West Brom v Fulham – Saturday 22 February 2014 – 1500KO

Pepe Mel hasn’t had the easiest first four games in charge of West Brom and has only picked up two points, however those points were against Chelsea and Liverpool, so they at least have something to work on.  A win at home for them against fellow relegation fodder Fulham is a must though.

What must you think if you are a Fulham fan at present, Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen and to a lesser extent Alan Curbishley and Ray Wilkins have all been and gone and they’ve looked to Germany now and a man who this week has been likened to Red Adair and Saddam Hussain. Personally, I’m still struggling to decide who he looks most like.  nvcAt the moment I think it is Penfold from Dangermouse!

He is a manager who is known for his strict discipline and high levels of fitness, but will he be able to get this over to his side so late in the season?  If he can tighten the defence up, especially away from home, he may well have a punchers chance.

Premier League Team News: Yacob is out for the Baggies with a hamstring injury and despite returning to training this week after a shin problem Nicolas Anelka isn’t fit enough to be in contention.  Who knows how Magath will start his Fulham troops!!  Lewis Holtby will start despite reports of a previous fall-out with his new manager whilst Mitroglou is still not fully fit.  Keeper Martin Stekelenburg will be assessed after suffering an eye injury.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Chris Brunt

West Ham v Southampton – Saturday 22 February 2014 – 1500Ko

A battle of two of the form teams in the league!! The Hammers have managed to put a run together from seemingly nowhere, and haven’t conceded a goal now for 4 games, something they haven’t done in the top flight since 1985/86.

Southampton came in for a lot of criticism last weekend for the weakened side they fielded in the FA Cup, which did seem a little strange as they are certainties for 8th place in the league, and with only 2 of the big clubs left in the cup they stood a good chance of a decent run.

This game was a dull 0-0 earlier in the season, and the Saints will be desperate to break down the West Ham self-styled Adrian’s Wall.

Premier League Injuries: With Andy Carroll seeing out the last game of his suspension, West Ham are expected to stick with the same side that beat Norwich 2-0 last time out. Yoshida and Fonte are expected to start at Centre-Backs for Southampton with both Hooiveld and Lovren ruled out.  Ramirez is also injured.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 0-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Rickie Lambert

Crystal Palace v Manchester United – Saturday 22 February 2014 – 1730Ko

So, Wayne Rooney has signed a new 5 year deal worth a reported £300k a week, nice work if you can get it! I think there will be a few envious eyes on that sort of deal from Buckingham Palace let alone Crystal Palace!!

Tony Pulis will be looking to heap more pressure on United and kill of whatever slim hopes they have of getting back into the Premier Leagues top four.  Selhurst Park seems to create a great atmosphere under lights and expect a few renditions of Glad All Over and a good long Dale Cavase.

Premier League Team News: Palace are nearing full fitness with only Jerome Thomas missing.  Glenn Murray is also continuing his reintegration to the first team after 10 months out with cruciate knee damage.  United themselves are nearing full strength again with Jonny Evans the only doubt.  Fellaini is fit for the first time in 17 fixtures.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Wayne Rooney

Liverpool v Swansea – Sunday 23 February 2014 – 1330Ko

Will Liverpool continue their dominant home form?  Looking at the form of both of these sides you would have to say so, especially with Swansea only managing one win in their last 10 games and having the added burden of their game against Napoli on Thursday night.

If Liverpool start like they did against Arsenal at home it could be a cricket score!

Premier League Team News: Glen Johnson is fit for the first time in two months but faces a fight for first XI football after the impressive form of Jon Flanagan.  Sakho is also nearing full fitness.  The Swans have everyone available but Michu is only expected to make the bench.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-0
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Danny Sturridge

Newcastle v Aston Villa – Sunday 23 February 2014 – 1330Ko

There seems to have been two big rumours going around Newcastle this week, the first one being that if they lose this game, Alan Pardew will be a dead man walking, which to me seems a harsh.  I know nobody in football has a higher opinion of his talents than Alan Pardew himself, but I think he’s done a good job under difficult circumstances up there, Having your most important player sold from underneath you with getting in a replacement is always going to leave you on a hiding to nothing.

The second rumour is that Vince McMahon is priming himself to take over the club.  Yes, that is right Vince McMahon who owns WWE Wrestling,  If that does happen the jokes will be relentless!!!

Villa seem to play better away from home and if they manage to keep the returning Remy quiet should have a reasonable chance of taking something from this game.

Premier League Team News: Newcastle could be boosted by the return to fitness of Coloccini and Tiote as well as Loic Remy from suspension.  Villa have no new problems and have enjoyed the week warm weather training in Portugal.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-1
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Gabby Agbonlahor

Norwich v Tottenham –Sunday 23 February 2014 – 1600KO

Chris Hughton is another manager who is under-pressure from within after Chief Executive David McNally revealed ‘It would be ‘delinquent’ (of the board) not to be looking at the market to make plans should results not pick up’.  By all means do this in private but to go public with it just adds more pressure to both the manager and team.  What does Hughton do now, go for broke thinking it is a must win game or play sensibly and try and take a respectable point of a form team?

Tottenham will be looking to bounce back from their uncomfortable trip to Ukraine in midweek.  Whilst they managed to rest a few first team players they looked unthreatening without the potent Adebayor in their ranks and Tim Sherwood will not have been impressed on how easily a nearly full strength Spurs defence got opened up with ease at times.

Premier League Team News: Norwich are looking forward to having Jonny Howson available for the first time in two months for the crunch fixture against Spurs.  Lloris, Adebayor, Walker and Lennon are expected to be recalled after being rested in midweek, however Sandro, Defoe and Lamela are all still injured.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-2
Sky Sports Fantasy Star Man: Emmanuel Adebayor

There we have it, a full set over 2 days. And we cant wait!



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