After the non event of the FA Cup it’s a huge welcome back to the Premiership again this weekend with again every fixture of real significance.
It may not be the best league in the world but it’s one you just can’t keep your eyes off. As I said lots of top class games on offer and let’s hope we can get a good few predictions this time out. Eight mid week games from the Irish League to the Cup to the Spanish Cup and seven out of eight correct.
Sunderland v Liverpool
The early afternoon kick off and a game that will not be easy for either side. Sunderland have only one win at home all season in the Premiership and that was against Stoke at the start of October. They have only one win in their last ten and that was away to fierce rivals Newcastle.
They are up against a Liverpool side who have only lost once in their last eight and that was against Manchester United.. Liverpool are going well and yet they still fail to convince. Against Sunderland they are unbeaten in their last five games and that included the 0-0 draw at Anfield last month.
Sunderland are always hard to beat despite their lack of real form. They tend to draw matches especially at home. They have drawn six times at the Stadium of Light.
Jordan Henderson and keeper Mignolet return to their former clubs. Henderson has done well but Mignolet is a pale shadow of what he once was. Only four clean sheets in the last 32 games is proof of that. Not all his fault I had to add. The Liverpool defence is nothing to write home about..
Only Burnley and QPR have conceded more gaols away from home than Liverpool.
It will be tight all the way this one and I’m going for another draw between theses two.
Everton v Man City
City have 11 out of their last 12 league games and that’s been done without the likes of Aguero and Komapny who could be fit to play a part in this fixture. If that’s the case then they are just getting stronger at a vital time. After this City play Arsenal and Chelsea so like every game every week this is a must win affair.
Everton go into the game on the back of a very poor run. Only four pouts out of a possible 24 tells you all you need to know. They did draw mid week in the cup and that will have given them something of a boost but City are still a very good side and Everton will be hard pressed to get anything in this fixture.
Everton have failed to score in four of their last six games and they have gone ten games without a clean sheet.
That suggests there will be goals in this fixture and on that front City are just so much stronger. City have the best away record in the league and despite the best efforts of the home side I have to give the nod to City.
Chelsea v Newcastle
Last time out Chelsea lost to Spurs in the league. I expect normal service to be resumed in this one. John Carver will arrive in London as care taker manager of Newcastle and he says he wants to be considered for the job itself. If I was him I wouldn’t be putting this result on his CV.
Chelsea to win with a couple of goals to spare.
Burnley v QPR
An old six pointer this one as they would say. If fact it probably means even more than that. Two teams struggling close to the bottom and two teams that will probably still be in tat dog fight come the end of the season.
QPR haven’t won a league away from home all season. When you get facts like that you are always tempting fate when you say they won’t get their first here either. Burnley are very hard to beat at Turf Moor and the cup result against Spurs was yet another boost for a side who are beginning to find some form.
Charlie Austin is back at his old club and he can score goals. Burnley will keep a close eye on him.
I think this will be a real battle but I also have faith in this Burnley outfit at home.
Leicester v Aston Villa
Another one of those games which is very hard to call. Not a game for the fan of free flowing football I would suggest. Villa have gone five games without a win and now they are facing the side who are bottom of the Premiership. Aston Villa may be better off than but they are far from being a much better side.
Villa have only scored four goals away from home this season and getting goals is their number one problem.
Leicester all the same have only had three clean sheets all season. I am torn between a home win or a draw.
Villa are no great shakes but they must have enough in them to at least scrape a point in this one.
Swansea v West Ham
Wilfred Bony is at the Africa Cup of Nations and therefore the goal threat for Swansea is diminished greatly.
Swansea fans will have to get used to him not being there after the transfer window. It appears he is well on his way to becoming a player at Manchester City and that will only help their claims to retain the Premiership title.
Swansea will of course struggle on and they are becoming a more than decent Premiership team.
There are only three points between theses two sides and both will have great respect for each other. West Ham may have the greater goal threat but away in Swansea isn’t easy.
Another draw for me.
West Brom v Hull
What a game we have in prospect here. Yet another six pointer and the first home game in charge for new boss Tony Pulis. He is a well organised manager and I expect to see that reflected on the park with his new team.
He is the type of manager who will get a team out of trouble and I expect him to do just that. There will have been a buzz at West Brom amongst the players and the fans all week.
For me it’s the wrong week to be going to the Hawthorns and I do think that Hull will suffer as a result.
It’s fur games since West Brom had a win and five games since Hull had a draw.
All interesting facts but it will all come down to Tony Pulis I feel and that’s why I’m going for a positive result.
Crystal Palace v Spurs
Another new manager in place as Alan Pardew returns to his native London with the Palace. A real local derby this one and not a game for the faint hearted. Only two defeats away from home for Spurs all season. They were at City and Chelsea so it shows this is a team who are playing well and scoring goals.
The last time out in the league they did of course hammer Chelsea so the warning signs are all there.
It’s six games since Spurs tasted defeat and everything would need to go well for Palace to get all three points in this one.
It’s eight games since Palace have won a game and how they would love to get one in this fixture.
I’m not sure it will turn out that way.
Away win but with some reservations.
Arsenal v Stoke
A few weeks back Stoke beat Arsenal at the Britannia. Arsenal weren’t very happy about that. Neither was Arsene Wenger. Then again when is he ever happy. He just looks as if he’s swallowed a wasp every time you see him.
Stoke will come and defend but I feel that Arsenal will holds the ball and make them work very hard. With Sanchez on board as well Arsenal are always a goal threat. Stoke have only had four clean sheets all season and I fancy that to continue to be the case after this.
Arsenal to score and Arsenal to win.
Man Utd v Southampton
Without doubt the Match of the Day. Third against fourth in what will be a real block buster. Southampton went off the rails in recent weeks but they are now back and going well.
In their last ten games at home United have suffered just one defeat and one draw and won the other eight. I know you already worked that one out.
Anyway. It’s five wins in a row for United and they are beginning to find their feet again. With Di Maria they look even stronger and that will be a problem for the Saints.
It’s four games since they lost a game but I feel that Old Trafford will give a huge lift to United. They were lucky to win at Southampton last time out so if they can keep that luck then they should get all three points.
It will not be easy all the same. No shoe in this.