Friday, 23 November 2012

My Premiership predictions- 23/11/12

I've got a new contenstant joining me this week for my predictions game for gameweek 12, Predictions Pro has sent in his verdicts, alongside regulars Del, and Rami El Chamaa, the creator of football blog 'foot and ball'.

It's probably worth noting that an entertaining 35 goals were scored last weekend, in a round of matches that involved some breathtaking matches featuring Arsenal's 5-2 derby triumph of Tottenham, a massive win for Southampton down at the bottom and shock defeats for United and Chelsea. Here's to some more of the same.
The matches this week look equally as promising. In the relegation battle, Southampton look to build on their crucial win at QPR last time out when they entertain Newcastle, Wigan will want to put as much space between themselves and the drop zone as possible when they play Reading, but Villa, who are on the same number of points as the Royals attempt to climb out of the relegation zone but could have a difficult time when they host Arsenal, who will buoyant of course, after the 5-2 derby victory.
That result might just have knocked Tottenham Hotspurs back a peg, but they have the opportunity to put that right in their second derby match of the week, this time against West Ham, a fixture on Saturday sees a team with one of the best defensive records in the league, Stoke play Fulham, who are amongst the highest-scorers, Brendan Rodgers returns to Swansea, this time as manager of Liverpool but both teams are off the back of positive results, Everton need to bounce back from defeat at Reading last week but they've got a potentially tricky match against in-form Norwich, who don't seem to be giving many goals away of late.
Baring the chance of a sensational and unexpected result against managerless QPR, Manchester United fans will expect to be top of the table on Saturday night but City make the trip down to London the day after to play Chelsea, of whom Rafael Benitez has recently been appointed manager, and will hope to get off to a good start.
Here's my predictions:

Sunderland vs. West Brom
Considering that Chelsea have got to play a much tougher team in Man City this weekend, funnily enough West Brom fans might actually fancy themselves to leapfrog them into 3rd place.
I don't want to seem too negative, but I doubt Steve Clarke's honeymoon period in charge of West Brom can last much longer. It's almost like it's been too good to be true for them, I feel like there's a stage coming up for the Baggies where they get a bit of a reality check.
It looked to me like Sunderland's wonderful 3-1 win at Fulham - who have normally got such a good home record - was a sign of things to come for the Black Cats. Players like Sessegnon and Fletcher look to be coming back into form on that performance which will be key to their season. I would be surprised if such an anomalie of a result like that, considering how few goals Sunderland scored beforehand, would be followed up by a poor performance the next match.
I think O'Neill will have Sunderland well psyched up for this one so I'm going to go against the form West Brom are in and say Sunderland can bring them down to earth and win 2-1.
Del says: 0-1
Rami says: 1-0
Predictions Pro says: "both teams have demonstrated they are hard to beat and very organised, but I think Sunderland may just sneak another win here." 2-1

Everton vs. Norwich
Everton won't have it easy in this match. Norwich are on a really good run of form, in fact the last time they lost a game was early October- and that was away to Chelsea. What's been key to this unbeaten run has been their defence, they're starting to build a very solid, well organised defence under Chris Hughton, and they've conceded just 1 goal in their last 5 Premiership matches. Very impressive, you have to say, for a team that's only been promoted in the last couple of years and have had to deal with a new manager change. All credit to Chris.
I'm unsure about Everton. I just wonder whether the whole issue with Fellaini publicly saying he wants to leave for a bigger club might have upset the team a little bit, because their performance in the defeat to Reading last week simply wasn't as good as what they'd been producing of late. Although he's Everton's best player, I would say Moyes just needs to sell Fellaini quickly, and replace him quickly so the effect on the team isn't prelonged- hopefully he can get at least £20 million for the Belgian.
My 'psychic vision' for this match actually points towards a Norwich win. It would be grossly unfair of Everton to underestimated the Canaries, who have already beaten Man United and Arsenal in recent weeks, and they just don't look like they'll be broken down. When you're defence is playing with the amount of strength and solidity that Norwich's is at the moment, it's always gonna give you're strikers a boost. 1-0 to the Canaries.

Del says: 3-1
Rami says: 2-0
Predictions Pro says: "Everton don't fill me with confidence when considering their squad depth, but I still think they will find the win." 1-0

Man Utd vs. QPR

I think I'd be needlessly losing myself points if I said I could see past a Manchester United win here. At the time of writing, Fernandes has literally just sacked ex-United favourite Hughes, who after a summer of heavy spending, had leaded the team to amass just 4pts from 11 games and sit bottom of the table. What's more, the likes of Mark Bowen and Niedzwiecki can only be considered interim managers until QPR can appoint Harry Redknapp, I think having interim joint-managers will introduce a temporary feel to the club, which won't create a honeymoon period with the team in my opinion.
It might be worth knowing that Man United have lost their last two games, at Norwich the week before and at Galatasaray, but I don't think that'll bear much significance- Ferguson was right to rest the first team in Turkey with them already through, and if anything, the Norwich game should spark a reaction from the team. Whenever United lose they always bounce back in their next match.
QPR might not score many goals, but they also concede a lot of goals at the other end (hence they are bottom of the table) and I don't think their leaky defence can cope with United's firepower in Rooney, RVP and also Chicharito off the bench, so this is an easy decision for me. I'm going to go as far as 5-0, in a match that sees van Persie get a brace and Manchester United return to the top of the table.

Del says: 2-0
Rami says: 5-1
Predictions Pro says: "Some teams lose a game, and we predict a bad spell, but when United lose one, I never envy the team they come up against next." 4-0

Stoke vs. Fulham

You only need know that Stoke have only conceded one goal at home this season to know what a fortress the Britannia stadium is. Teams just hate playing there, they've always had a strong home record over the past 3/4 seasons they've been in the Premiership and their ability to grind out wins on home turf (or home mud I should say) has been what's more than kept them in the league and why I'll predict they will stay up this season.
Not an easy task then for Fulham, but the Cottagers are the joint-2nd-highest goalscorers in the league on their away record, so Stoke's tough defence shouldn't expect to have things all their own way. Martin Jol's side do need to get over a slightly disgruntling 3-1 home defeat to Sunderland last week, but I think they can do that by picking up a positive point away from home at a place like Stoke. 1 apiece.
Del says: 2-0
Rami says: 1-1
Predictions Pro says: "Never a lot of goals in a tie like this, so I will go for a tight home win." 1-0

Wigan vs. Reading
A pretty big game for both teams in terms of the battle to beat the drop, or in Wigan's case, the battle to avoid the battle to beat the drop. A couple of weeks ago, the Latics won at Spurs and looked to be set for the glamour of midtable obscurity, but a couple of defeats, firstly and in disappointing manner at home to West Brom and 3-0 against Liverpool the week after that, has dragged them a step closer in the direction of the relegation dogfight. I just have a feeling though, the inconsistent lot they are, that Wigan'll put in a good performance against Reading, because they rarely lose several games on the trot.
Reading got that all-important first win of the season over Everton last week thanks to an Adam Le Fondre-devised turnaround, and I reckon they've got their just rewards for roundly good performances so far this season. It'd have been a shame if they had to wait until December for that first win, because I don't think that would've been enough to keep them up for all their endeavors. They've got that confidence booster now which should help them going into this match.
On the whole, I'm leaning towards a high-scoring draw for this one. Wigan can play some pretty football when they want to and Reading have got a relatively weak defence so I could see a couple of goals for them, but with the attacking options the Royals have got I could see someone like Pogrebnyak coming off the bench and nicking a point for them. 2-2.

Del says: 2-1
Rami says: 1-1
Predictions Pro says: "I think the teams will even themselves out; there's actually not much between them." 1-1

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal
That 5-2 win over Tottenham last week will give Arsenal a massive lift going into this game. The confidence you can get from beating you're rivals so compoundingly can be transformative, a bit like it was last season for the Gunners, so Villa would probably want to rearrange the fixture list- they couldn't have picked a worse time to play Arsenal.
If I'm judging this with no bias at all, I do think Villa will stay up. Many Blues fans, my brother included, are jumping up and down and gloating at the fact that Villa are in the relegation zone. I think a lot of that is to cover up how badly Blues are doing in the Championship, it's a bit of sour grapes so as much as I don't like to say it, Villa fans should take that with a pinch of salt to be honest. They were very unlucky to lose to Man United and from what I'd seen of their first half, didn't deserve to lose 5-0 at City.
The crunch games for Villa really come in the next few weeks against Reading, QPR and Stoke. I reckon if they can only manager 2pts or less from those 3 games, then I'd probably reconsider Villa's position and they might go down, but at the moment I'd grudgingly back them to stay up.
In terms of Saturday though, Arsenal will be in buoyant mood after the Spurs win and Giroud is starting to look a real player for them- people were judging him far too early and now he's had a bit of time to get used to this level, I think he can make a big contribution to the Gunner's season. I can see a comfortable 3-0 away win for Arsenal, but it's not time for Villa fans to push the panic button just yet.

Del says: 1-2
Rami says: 1-3
Predictions Pro says: "Villa have proven they can be resilient in defence, but not over 90 minutes. I predict an Arsenal win." 0-2

Swansea vs. Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers returns to his old stomping ground and I hope he gets a warm reception. He did a lot for Swansea getting them into the Premier League and stabilising them there, he took on a bit of a poisoned chalice at Liverpool but they were, and are, the bigger club. Any manager who values ambition over loyalty would have taken that job and I can certainly understand why he did it.
I say this cautiously, because Liverpool have been rather inconsistent this season and are arguably besides QPR, the underachievers of the Premiership season season so far, but things do, at last, look to be moving in the right direction for him and Liverpool. They were pretty good value for a point at Chelsea a couple of weeks back and they followed that result up with a solid and impressive home win over Wigan. They've got favourable fixtures going into the new year as well and if they can put a run together then who knows? They might begin to table a decent bid for 5th place, but they need to get some momentum going if they want to do so.
Swansea have humbled their doubters so far this season, who have suggested they might go down following Rodger's departure, but they sit proudly in 10th place after a win at Newcastle last week- some 7pts away from the relegation zone. I'm sure they'll be fine this season, Laudrup has kept the style of football they played last season which has proved to be just as successful this, and Michu is continuing to shine.
I'm therefore not having an easy time calling it, especially with it being played at the Liberty stadium, but I think I'll go for a narrow Liverpool win. Suarez and Michu to get on the scoresheet- 1-2.

Del says: 2-0
Rami says: 1-2
Predictions Pro says: "I have a sneaky feeling it could be one of those games that Liverpool don't play particularly well in, but end up winning." 1-2

Southampton vs. Newcastle

Given these teams respective league positions, I would understand if there are a few eyebrows raised at how certain I am Southampton will win this, but the events of the past couple of weeks don't work in Newcastle's favour at all.
Firstly, they've got 10 players ruled out including Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Coloccini, Cisse... apart from Demba Ba these are basically are all of Newcastle's key players. Also, the few players in the squad will have had just a three days rest after the Europa League game against Maritimo on Thursday. Finally, they've lost their last two Premiership matches, at home to West Ham and Swansea. Given everything that they're having to deal with, I don't think they'll be feeling particularly confident.
Southampton, on the other hand, have had to deal with no injuries to key players and that win away to QPR last week, being able to score three goals as well, will give the team such a lift I could see them knocking a few past Newcastle to reward the fans' faith in Nigel Adkins. A bit of an extravagant prediction I know, but I'm going to go 3-0.
Del says: 0-2
Rami says: 2-1
Predictions Pro says: "Southampton's win against QPR was huge for them, a massive result and one which will help settle some nerves." 2-1
Tottenham vs. West Ham

I do worry for Tottenham that Andre Villas-Boas is struggling to gain the respect of his team. They've put in some disjointed performances lately but the 5-2 defeat at Arsenal will have really put the Portuguese in the firing line. I wouldn't want to see him get sacked but it all depends on whether the team is motivated to play for him, they don't look it at the moment and if there is a rift in the dressing room then Tottenham shouldn't continue to wear a shoe that doesn't fit them, so to speak.
West Ham are going well at the moment, and the timings of this London derby seems to have worked out very much in their favour- in fact they've only lost twice in the Premiership since August! Needless to say, they are very difficult to break down and I'm not sure Tottenham are playing with enough confidence to do that. Will say an even game finishes in a 1-1 draw.
Del says: 4-2
Rami says: 2-0
Predictions Pro says: "I struggle to see the direction AVB is taking them in, but I think the priority is bringing in another striker, and then we will see a better reflection of where they are heading." 2-1
Chelsea vs. Man City

(see previous article for full match preview)
I say: 1-3
Del says: 2-3
Rami says: 1-2
Predictions Pro says: "Flip a coin on this one. It will be open, all over the place, and anyone’s game." 2-2
Those are the games. My thanks to Del, Rami and Predictions Pro for your scores, I wish you all a good weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome preview! Really thorough and as always, your writing style is intelligent and fun to read. Thumbs up! ;)