DISCLAIMER: I take no blame if following my predictions leads to a failed accumulator…and all the credit if they turn out to be correct.
MAN UTD v NEWCASTLE UNITED
So many classic games between these two down the years. Who can forget Philip Albert (proud owner of one of football’s greatest ever moustaches) deftly lobbing a forlorn Peter Schmiechal at St James’ as the Toon Army ran out 5-0 winners in ‘96, or a pubescent Wayne Rooney casually cutting short a rant at the referee to smash home a volley from 30 yards back in 2005. And this could be another cracker. United are in a post-Fergie downward spiral of despair/ haven’t won in 3, while Newcastle are the proud holders of both the Manager of the Month and Player of the Month Awards – even after a humbling 3-0 defeat to Swansea.
CRYSTAL PALACE v CARDIFF
Tony Pulis gained his first victory as manager of Palace last weekend against West Ham and will be hoping home form will be the key to saving the London side from what has so far looked like an almost certain relegation. Coming up against a Cardiff side, who despite claiming notable results against Man Utd and Man City this season, find themselves on a run of one win in eight, Palace will be confident they can snatch a second consecutive three points. Palace have had three clean sheets in the past four games, and with this game pitting the two lowest scorers in the division against each other, goals could be at a premium. But then again when Marouane Chamakh is around…oh nevermind.
LIVERPOOL v WEST HAM
With the news England will face Uruguay in next summer’s world cup announced today we could all be forgiven for hoping Luis Suarez gets back to biting people rather than scoring ridiculous goals. Three of his four against Norwich were worthy of goal of the month and Sam Allardyce will be going ultra defensive in this one in an attempt to stifle the Uruguayans threat. Although with the Hammers having played several games this season without a recognised striker, I’m not sure how much more defensive they can get. West Ham have conceded 10 goals since they last scored and with Liverpool having won six from seven at Anfield it looks like a home banker.
SOUTHAMPTON v MAN CITY
A difficult one to call. Southampton have been impressive so far this season, with the likes of Lallana and Lambert playing ahead of an imperious defence (imperious until they conceded three to Villa mid week). Even though Saints midfielder Steven Davis completed more passes (109) than the entire Villa side combined (96) on Wednesday night, the 3-2 defeat means three losses in a row. Man City on the other hand finally got a victory on the road against West Brom last time out. City are scoring goals for fun but if Southampton can regain their defensive stability it could be close.
STOKE v CHELSEA
Stoke do not win against Chelsea. They have never beaten them in the Premier League era and have only scored three goals in ten meetings in that time. And with Mark Hughes’ side stuttering along so far this season you would be hard pushed to find people backing the home side in this one. Having said that Chelsea did concede three on route to victory against bottom of the table Sunderland mid-week and haven’t looked like a classic Mourinho side so far this season. Edin Hazard was unplayable at the Stadium of Light and if he is on form again it could be a long afternoon for Stoke.
WEST BROM v NORWICH CITY
Both teams are firmly established in the “too good to go down but not good enough to challenge for Europe” camp. Although Norwich need to start putting the ball in the back of the net, and stop having to pick it out of their own soon if they are to avoid being dragged into a prolonged relegation battle. West Brom haven’t won in over a month but have been unlucky in draws against Chelsea and Aston Villa in that time.
SUNDERLAND v SPURS
Gus Poyet has at least got Sunderland putting up some sort of fight in recent games and pushing Chelsea all the way in their last outing at least suggests some of the signings Di Canio made can have a positive impact. But close defeats do not save you from relegation and the Black Cats really need to start picking up points soon. Spurs, and Villas Boas in particular, are also desperate for points at the minute as they seek to kick start their season. The smooth talking Portuguese boss has watched his side struggle to score in the post-Bale era, and with Sunderland having already shocked Man City at home this season, will be fearful defeat here will see him collecting his P45.
Hmm, quite a lot of goals it seems tomorrow. Will make for an interesting MOTD if it pans out anyway.