Friday, 26 April 2013

Gabriel's Grand Weekend Preview: for 27/28 April


Man City vs. West Ham
Both these team's seasons are decided now. City have officially lost the title, West Ham are already in the enviable position of 10th with 42 points, thanks to a fine run of form. Although they're not so good away from home, I don't think the Hammers will roll over here, because they are a solid team, as recent games have proven. Man City to scrape the win. 1-0.

Everton vs. Fulham
In terms of what there is to play for, this fixture hasn't got a dissimilar setup. Everton, like Man City, have missed out on a prize at the top, in their case that final Champions League spot. And Fulham, like West Ham, are definitely safe, although they've only taken a point from 4 games. It's Fulham's poor run of results that makes me think this'll be a more comfortable win for Everton than the West Ham game will be for Man City. 2-0.

Southampton vs. West Brom
Based on form and home advantage, I've got to go for a Southampton win. They've picked up 11 points from 5 games which is fantastic, and they probably deserved to win at Swansea last week. 2 points from 4 games, West Brom look to be finishing this season on the beach a little bit, and I reckon Southampton have it well within them to secure victory. 2-0.

Stoke vs. Norwich
Stoke got a crucial win at QPR last week, and it's slightly strange to think that if they win this they could go level on points with Fulham. They looked in some serious trouble when they lost at home to Aston Villa, but they seem to have given themselves to breathing space. That's what I love about following relegation battles towards the end of the season - back-to-back wins change everything. Norwich got their crucial win against Reading, which I think will see them safe now, but they've got a very poor away record, so I'll go with Stoke. 1-0.

Wigan vs. Tottenham
The obvious prediction is to go with Tottenham after beating Man City, but it would be such classic Wigan to win this. Away performances from them, against City and West Ham recently, have been good, yet they lost both games. Does that indicate the belief within the squad is still there, or that they lack a winning mentality to pinch results? I have got a strong feeling the Latics will get a result from this game, but it'd be too much to say they'll get a win, so I'll go with a draw. 2-2.

Newcastle vs. Liverpool
I'm not going to have as much a go at Suarez as some will for his bite on Ivanovic, because it came across to me as more idiotic than vicious. I simply don't understand what he was thinking, or what he was planning to achieve by biting another players' arm?! Makes no sense. I reckon this will affect Liverpool, not just from a goalscoring point of view but mentally, so I think Newcastle will win to put an end to their relegation fears. 1-0.

Reading vs. QPR
With both teams essentially relegated, rarely can a game be approached with such apathy. I can see a very flat Madjeski stadium, and I just can't see there being any goals. I don't know why this'll be on TV because even thinking about the prospect of the game is a little bit depressing, I'd feel for the fans who have to witness it, so I'll move on. 0-0.

Chelsea vs. Swansea
With just 2 points from 5 games, and one win since their Carling Cup victory, Swansea's season is fading slightly, perhaps understandably so. Remarkably, this will be Chelsea's 9th fixture in April, yet despite the FA Cup and Europa League distractions, they've still picked up 7pts from 3 games in the Premiership, and some credit needs to go to Benitez for that. Despite the heavy fixture list, I'll back Chelsea to continue to build momentum by winning this game. 2-0.

Arsenal vs. Man Utd
Wenger was right to get his players to form a guard of honour, and I reckon that might give Arsenal the kick up the backside they need to put in a strong performance. Man Utd have already won the title, but I'd fancy them in this game a lot more if they hadn't, because I'm not sure whether the motivation will be there in the United camp. I reckon Arsenal will come out fighting in this one, and I'll say they'll nick it 1-0.

Aston Villa vs. Sunderland
In a similar way to Stoke, Sunderland were in massive trouble when Di Canio took over, but back-to-back wins and the picture has changed completely! Villa are more in the thick of the relegation battle than Sunderland, if Wigan did win a game in hand, Villa would go into the drop zone on goal difference. I think it'll be a tight game, with a draw being the most likely outcome. 1-1.


Leicester vs. Watford
Watford need to win this to have a shot at automatic promotion, but with Bolton travelling to champions Cardiff tommorrow, Leicester have a big opportunity to increase their play-off claims this weekend. A draw won't be good enough for either side, so I can see an entertaining match here, that could go either way. 2-3.

Barnsley vs. Hull
You could say this will depend on what happens on Friday night with Watford, but the objective for Hull shouldn't change. They need a win to go up, and I don't think it'll do them any favours to be dwelling on the Watford game too much the night before. I know that if Watford draw, Hull will only need a draw but the trouble with that is that if Watford win, that could creep into their minds a bit. It's better to concentrate on your own game. Barnsley are right in the mix at the bottom, and could be effectively relegated on Saturday night with a much worse goal difference than Peterborough and Wolves. I think they might need to hope for favours from elsewhere to keep themselves in with a shout of staying up. 0-2.

Blackburn vs. Crystal Palace
3 wins from 4 games should keep Blackburn up now, and they play a Palace side who are severley lacking the momentum normally needed to go into a play-off contest, as they're without a win in 7. Despite the sizeable distance between them in the table, Blackburn's home record is actually a lot better than Palace's away record, so I'd back the Rovers for this. 2-1.

Blackpool vs. Derby
Blackpool have the opportunity to put the humiliation from fellow-seasiders Brighton last weekend, by making sure of survival this. I think they'll do that, because only 2 teams have won less away games than Derby, and the Rams have little to play for. I'll say Ince's side will sneak the win, because up until that thrashing they were in fact looking quite solid defensively. 1-0.

Bristol City vs. Huddersfield
The Robins are relegated now but credit to them for showing some mental strength to get a point at Hull last Friday, so they're not going down quietly. With Wolves and Peterborough having winnable home games, Huddersfield can't afford to lose this and get dragged into the relegation battle. Bristol City will want to put in a spirited performance for their last home game of the season, so I think it'll be a draw. 2-2.

Cardiff vs. Bolton
It's very common for a team, once crowned champions, to take their foot off the gas a little bit and I wonder if that might happen with Cardiff. Bolton will be fighting hard for the win in their battle for a play-off spot, so I think they might turn Cardiff over. 1-2.

Ipswich vs. Birmingham
We're both safe, so I think the game will have a relaxed, serene feel to it. Both teams will be able to experiment and play without the pressure of a desperate need for points. We're both in decent form, I think a draw is probably about right. 1-1.

Leeds vs. Brighton
Brighton are limbering up very nicely for their play-off tie - which they can secure with a win against Leeds - by thrashing Blackpool. That result will have been a big confidence booster for them, and although Leeds have got a pretty good home form, they've also got nothing to play for so I can see a comfortable Brighton win. 0-2.

Middlesbrough vs. Charlton
Charlton are now several places above Middlesbrough, which you'd have never believed at the end of December, when the Addicks were 18th in the table and Borough were 3rd! It's been a fantastic second half for Charlton, but equally a dreadful capitulation from Middlesbrough. I think the morale will be a lot higher in the Charlton camp, and statistics show that they do better away from home, so I reckon they'll win this. 0-2.

Millwall vs. Nottm Forest
All that talk about the difference Billy Davies has made to Forest, when they won 6 games on the trot, has evaporated as they've now gone 6 games without a win. That said, they're only 2 points away from the play-offs, so victory at Millwall would be important for them. The Lions are only 4pts away from the drop, they can't feel comfortable yet, so I'm thinking a draw. 1-1.

Wolves vs. Burnley
Burnley, like Millwall, are just 4pts away from the relegation zone, but have a considerably better goal difference which will help. It's do or die for Wolves, and with them in the relegation zone going into the match, it'll be a very nervy game for them. Wolves simply have to win, but I wonder if the pressure will be too much for them. I fancy Burnley to get a point. 1-1.

Peterborough vs. Sheff Wed
Peterborough are locked on points with Wolves, and have to win this. It'll be a big pressure game, and not dissimilar to with the promotion race, it might not help Peterborough having Wolves playing whilst the Posh are warming up! I very much want them to stay up, partly because I'm an admirer of their transfer policy (that and I hate Wolves!), but whether their very young team can deal with the pressure, I would doubt. 1-1.

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