Friday, 9 November 2012

Weekend preview- 08/11/12

Hello and welcome to another weekend preview, for gameweek 11, we're now over a quarter of the way into the season and it's already been an interesting start to the season in terms of the race for the title, the relegation battle down at the bottom, and the competition for that last Champions League spot. Del has belatedly sent in her predictions for this weekend's games, so she is this week's contestent. 

We've got several big games on this weekend: the tenacious Toffees look to hold on to 4th by beating goal-shy Black Cats, but Arsenal will be right on their backs if they can beat Martin Jol's Fulham, Southampton, Reading and QPR have must-win encounters against Laudrup-style tiki-taka Swansea, in-form Norwich and tough-tackling Stoke to bridge the gap between themselves and safety, it's a match between two rogues as the Villains prepare to do battle with the Red Devils, the Blues play the Reds, Steve Clarke's overachieving Baggies play entertaining Wigan, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce go against their old clubs and it's the clash of the bizarre tacticians as '3-at-the-back' Mancini goes against 'Defoe-off' AVB. Phew. I think I need a glass of water. Let's take a look at the games then:
Arsenal vs. Fulham

Arsenal haven't exactly covered themselves in glory in recent weeks so I think this will be a  closer scoreline than many predict, given Arsenal's current goalscoring problems and that it's a derby match. Over the past two or three weeks they've been putting in performances that won't have breeded an awful lot of confidence with Gunners fans, and despite having the best defensive record in the Premiership, the likes of Santos, Mertesacker and Vermaelen have looked dodgy at the back of late. On the whole though, I think Arsenal will have just enough to nip the game in the bud and beat what is an experienced Fulham team 1-0.
Del says: 2-1

Everton vs. Sunderland

I can't see past a comfortable Everton win here. The Black Cats are okay defensively but they just don't score enough goals and if they're not careful, that problem can affect the overall confidence of the team because once they concede the first goal, there's no belief they can get back into it, and some of their best attacking players in Fletcher, McClean, Sessegnon and Johnson are all out of form. Fellaini will no-doubt boss the game as he always does, and if so I don't think Sunderland can get anything. 2-0 Everton, quite fancy Mirallas for a goal.

Del says: 2-0

Reading vs. Norwich

Chris Hughton's Norwich are hitting a bit of form now, 5pts clear of the drop-zone with 7 from their last 3, and I think playing away from home, combined with not necessarily having to win this game will take the pressure off a bit and it might actually work in their favour psychologically. Contrarily, the Royals must win; they arguably deserved a point at QPR, but the worrying thing from their perspective is that they do rely on keeper McCarthy quite a lot at the back - he made a string of excellent saves last week to preserve the draw towards the end - but if Reading's defence doesn't tighten up, he might not be able to do so for much longer. I'm going to go for a sneaky 2-0 away win, with Norwich scoring a couple of goals on the counter-attack.

Del says: 1-1

Southampton vs. Swansea

This is the cut-off game for Southampton. Lose it, and I'm struggling to see a way back for them to stay in the Premier League, win it, and they'll just be 2pts off safety and the course of their season could look completely different. It's a lot less of a significant match for Swansea, who sit some 7pts away from trouble. Interestingly, these are the top two highest scoring teams in the bottom half of the table, and have scored almost as many goals as Arsenal. That's what makes me think the Saints can still make a fist of this, but they urgently need a win, which I think they'll get in dramatic fashion. 3-2.

Del says: 0-1

Stoke vs. QPR

The fast-paced, attacking last 20 minutes of the Reading game, and Fernandes's refreshing patience with Hughes gives me an inkling that QPR can absolutely turn this around- I certainly can't see them being cemented to the bottom for the rest of the season the way they've been playing lately.  Stoke do need to watch themselves because, like Sunderland, they seem unable to score goals which will frustrate the fans at times, I'm gonna go with my gut and say 1-0 QPR. They've perhaps given a little more than they've got at times in the past few weeks and I think this might be the time they turn it around with a first victory of the season. I'm starting to sound like a QPR fan...

Del says: 2-0

Wigan vs. West Brom

Wigan seem to be playing with a lot of confidence at the moment, considering they only normally get going around March time- they must have had their Easter break early! Martinez is somewhere within the top 5 managers in the country in my opinion, purely because of the way he motivates his teams and gets them playing great football. I get the impression he's a nice, honest guy as well. It's a similar story for West Brom, Steve Clarke's new side look a real happy ship at the moment and fairly strong defensively too, Olsson and McAuley look a decent centre-back pairing and they've got two or three strikers who look capable of scoring at least 10 goals a season, but I'd probably fancy Martinez's men for this. 2-1.

Del says: 1-2

Aston Villa vs. Man United

Villa did quite well to nick a win at Sunderland last week and that will distance them from the relegation battle for the time being, before this the first of three very hard matches for them, and I don't think their inexperience can handle that of the Red Devils. I would expect United to have their goal by half-time, it won't be a complete walkover, but they should finish this game off with minimal drama given the attacking quality Ferguson's side have on offer, I can see them winning this by a couple of goals. 0-2.

Del says: 1-3

Man City vs. Tottenham

I have to say... I'm not sure about the credentials of either manager here. It was a poor defensive display from the Citizens against Ajax on Tuesday,  and I am of the opinion Man City can't win the Champions League until Mancini goes- his tactical nous just isn't up to scratch and their summer signings have clearly taken the  quality of the squad a step backwards when Chelsea and United have made big strides. I'm also not sure about AVB at Spurs, taking off Defoe whilst 1-0 down at home to Wigan, with 20 mins to go was a laughable decision. I wouldn't particularly fancy either side for this match, so I'll half-heartedly go with a 1-1 draw.

Del says: 2-1

Newcastle vs. West Ham

This game sees Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce face their former clubs, and with the potentially important factor of the game being playing at an ever-vociferous St James's Park, I'd be confident Newcastle can record a win. West Ham's successes thus far have mainly been based on their home form, which will certainly be enough to keep them in the division, but going to Newcastle will be a whole different ball game for them, especially with Demba Ba amongst the league's top scorers. 2-0 toon.

Del says: 2-0
Chelsea vs. Liverpool

I personally think if Liverpool fans and owners are prepared to give Brendan Rodgers a lot of time, he can be a success at Anfield but patience will be of fundamental importance in making it work. I reckon Chelsea will have too much for this in-transition Liverpool team though, they need a win to stay within a game of Manchester United, but also Suarez is the only world-class attacking player the Reds have at the moment, and Chelsea have three or four. 3-1.

Del says: 1-1

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