A week to forget for the Premier League you would have to say. The gulf between the best in Europe and the Premiership is there for all to see.
Not even the best I hear you say with both Liverpool and Spurs dumped out of the Europa League by teams who are hardly up there with the great and the good. Add in the fact that Arsenal were humiliated at home by Monaco and City were out played by Barcelona and are blessed just to be 2-1 down going into the second leg and you have it all.
Gary Neville said this week that the England game and the English clubs had gone backward. You would have to agree. The Premiership is compelling to watch but it’s yet more evidence that it is a league which is well short of being even the best in Europe in terms of quality. When all is said and done only Everton remain in the Europa League and the chances are Chelsea could be the only English side left in the Champions League. Interesting times. So it’s against that back drop that we predict the games for this weekend.
West Ham v Crystal Palace
Alan Pardew goes back to his former club again. He was here earlier in the season with Newcastle. His Palace side were unlucky to lose to Arsenal last week whilst the Hammers ended up with a 2-2 draw with Spurs. In their last fifteen visits to Upton Park Palace have only recorded 2 wins.
West Ham have had only one league win in their nine games but they are hard to beat at home. Only one home defeat in their last eleven fixtures. Palace have been superb under Pardew. No away defeats in their last six in league and cup action they are sure to battle all the way. West Ham have been struggling with injuries of late but they showed great spirit last week against Spurs and they might just have enough to nick this London derby.
Man United v Sunderland
Luis Van Gaal was greeted as the messiah when he was landed by the bosses at Old Trafford and yet he has failed to capture the imagination of the footballing world if you ask me. Only two defeats in the last 20 shows a great record and yet he still has failed to convince. United were torn apart by Swansea last week. I had tipped them for victory in that one but they were awful. Now is a chance to redeem themselves.
Sunderland won this fixture 1-0 last season but it’s hard to make a case for them this time out. Robin Van Persie is out through injury so it will be interesting to see if he goes with Falcao and Rooney. Rooney has failed to find the net in his last eight games. He has never gone nine games. Could this be the time to put a bet on him scoring? United have won ten out of their last 12 games at home and I fancy them to add another three points to their total after this.
United to win.
Newcastle v Aston Villa
Not a game I would pay money to see. Sorry about that. Villa lost late on at home to Stoke last week and worse still only had two shots on target. Since Alan Pardew left and John Carver has taken over Newcastle have had only one win and six points. Not great I hear you say.
Villa are still in deep trouble. No wins in their last 11 games they need to start picking up points. Newcastle look to be safe and a win here would probably confirm that idea. Newcastle are unbeaten in their last eight at home against Villa and I can’t see them losing this one either. Eleven games without a win for Villa and only three goals. The goals are the real problem.
Newcastle to win but it won’t be pretty.
West Brom v Southampton
Southampton against all the odds are still fifth and fighting for Europe. They have gone off the boil in recent weeks. Only one win in their last five league and cup tells us all we need to know. The goals have dried up and that is the real issue.
West Brom will be full of confidence. Before Tony Pulis arrived they had one win in ten games and now it’s just one defeat in their last nine. Magic to say the least.
Southampton tend not to lose at West Brom. One defeat in their last five visits shows they enjoy the trip to the Midlands. Southampton may be the tip in this one but under Pulis West Brom will battle for everything.
A draw for me.
Burnley v Swansea
Both sides come into this game after great results last week. Swansea were too good for United whilst Burnley went to Chelsea and got a draw. After that came all the fall out over the Ashley Barnes tackle. Away from that it was some effort to go to league leaders and pick up a point and for that Burnley deserve huge praise. Mourinho didn’t see it that way but then again he wouldn’t. He would have expected Burnley to turn up and roll over. They didn’t do that and they won’t do that in this fixture either.
In 22 visits to Turf Moor Swansea have only recorded two wins in league and cup action. Against that Burnley have failed to score in three of their last four games against Swansea. Burnley will battle to the very end. It’s that sort of effort that gives them a chance of survival. Three points here would be a great help. They might just get them.
Stoke v Hull
Stoke are going to be safe again this season and that is a credit to Mark Hughes. They are not the most fashionable but they can compete alongside the very best year in year out.
Hull have turned things round in recent weeks. Wins over Villa and QPR has eased the pressure but after this game they are facing into a serious list of fixtures against the top sides in the Premiership. Not good if you ask me.
Stoke have only experienced one defeat in their last eleven against Hull and its nine years since Hull last won at the Britannia. I think the home side will do them over again.
Arsenal v Everton
Two teams in action in Europe mid week but both with different outcomes. Arsenal humiliated at home by Monaco losing 3-1 with Everton into the last sixteen of the Europa League where they will face a trip to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kiev. Everton have been lucky enough with the draw missing out on several of the big names still left in the competition. But that’s for another day here they will be looking for league points but I don’t think they will get any.
Arsene Wenger says he is still disappointed after their collapse to Monaco and he has every right to be. What a terrible effort. I think Arsenal will respond all the same. They cannot be as bad again. Can they?
No… home win.
Liverpool v Manchester City
Both sides lost out in Europe mid week but this is a vital game in the Premiership. Liverpool lost out on penalties to Besiktas while City were given a lesson by Barcelona. They only lost 2-1 but it could and should have been more. City have hit five goals in their last two league games and the Chelsea draw with Burnley will have given them new hope. It just remains to be seen what the fall out will be from their mid week efforts.
Liverpool will be disappointed to have been put out of the Europa League but City will be feeling more pain. They believe they are good enough to dine at the top table and yet they were taken apart by Barcelona. They might score in Spain but so too will Barcelona so I feel they are gone.
This is a really hard game to call. Liverpool are that good I feel and in Aguero City do have the best striker on the park. Most pundits are going for a Liverpool win or a draw. I tipped City to retain their title. Three points here would add pressure to leaders Chelsea. The world loves a trier.