So my return last Saturday was pretty good, 4 out of 7 right, Sunday wasn’t so good though with both my predictiions wrong, picking out the draw on Monday was a feather in my cap though.
I obviously underestimated Stokes strength at home and also Evertons resolve, full credit to them picking up a point with no strikers and up against an improving Aston Villa.
Rose tinted spectacles
Tottenham picked up their first win (and points) of the season and I had them down for another loss, where Tottenham are concerned, my vision is clouded so it’s never wise to rely on my predictions for them!
Certain teams are looking as though they have a season of struggle ahead, Q.P.R. now looks the best equipped of all the promoted sides to to survive now, of the three managers promoted with their clubs, he’s the only one who has been here before and he has a squad of good players who have enough Premiership experience to give them a fighting chance. Norwich and Swansea look like they could really struggle, Swansea are yet to score a goal in this division and although they are pretty on the eye, that’s not enough to keep you in the top flight. Norwich have scored but haven’t picked up any more points than Swansea and with a group of players inexperienced at this level, they too could find it tough to survive.
Fulham and Blackburn are two of the sides currently occupying spaces in the bottom 3 and whilst it’s too early to talk with any certainty about sides going down, Blackburn look doomed, an inexperienced manager, combined with inexperienced owners and unhappy supporters all combine to indicate a team on it’s way down, expect Steve Kean to be the first Premiership manager shown the door this season, don’t bother betting though, the odds are terrible!
Fulham look better equipped to stay up, Martin Jol may not have excelled in Holland but did very well in Germany and has a history of building sides on a budget, with good players left over from the Hodgson and Hughes era’s, I believe they will be fine.
Anyway, enough of that, here are my previews for Saturdays games:
Blackburn v Arsenal – Saturday 12.45
Arsenal struggled to a win against Swansea last week but that is a side still fresh on the euphoria of promotion and hope, Blackburn don’t have that, although they improved in their last game, it wasn’t enough to pick them up a win, what looked like a horrific injury to Junior Hoilett ended up being not as bad as first feared, Ribeiro looked a good player and I’m sure he will cause some teams trouble this season but it probably won’t be Arsenal.
Normally home backing is viewed as positive but the noises from the terraces are not exactly positive right now and whilst some members of the media have criticized the open letter that was sent to Steve Kean, it’s clear that a certain section of their support (and it’s not as small as portrayed) are very unhappy. However professional a side may be, that kind of unhappiness filters through and does have an effect.
Arsenal may be happy to be playing away from home, there is less expectation to take teams apart when playing away and the reduced expectations might just help them to play better football, Arshavins lucky goal against Swansea got them the points but apart from that, they didn’t look convincing. With the return of a few players from suspension, Arsenal will look stronger this weekend, their injury list won’t help though with several key players out injured.
Aston Villa v Newcastle – Saturday 15.00
I keep tipping Villa for a win, they let me down last weekend but I still say my reasoning was sound, it’s for much the same reasons that I think Aston Villa will win this weekend, that and their oppositions failings!
Villa look stronger in certain areas after the transfer window but they are definitely shorter on creativity than they were last season, I won’t go on about the players that have left as that record has been spun several times and it’s time to move on. Their defence and central midfield looks stronger this season though and it’s no wonder as Alex McLeish like to build a side around a solid core.
Newcastle on the other hand have weakened their core (in my opinion) by allowing Joey Barton to leave on a free transfer, whilst they have brought in quality players, it is going to take some of them time to fully adapt to the pace of the game in the Premiership and without Barton holding them together, I don’t see them winning this one.
Bolton v Norwich – Saturday 15.00
Last weeks result hurt Bolton and they will be looking to bounce back straight away with a home win, Norwich should prove much easier adversaries than Manchester United and I expect Bolton to take some of the hurt they suffered out on them.
Norwich are still looking for their first 3 points of the season and it’s games like this that will determine whether or not they stay up this season, unfortunately for them, this is a stronger division than last season and the teams coming up are going to find the transition harder this time around.
Bolton still have a long injury list but Norwich are also missing a few players, James Vaughn should be able to return to action after his clash with Gabriel Tamas in the last match and if he can return to his early Everton form, Norwich will have a useful player on their hands, I don’t think Norwich have got enough about them to seriously trouble Bolton in this match.
Everton v Wigan – Saturday 15.00
Everton have a stiker problem, they have the young man from Greece and the Argentinean striker Strasqualursi and even Louis Saha but none of them have yet been shown real trust from their manager, indeed at times he has played without a striker at all! David Moyes has to be hoping that one of these three will have an excellent run of form and show him they can’t be left out, until then he’ll have to struggle along until january when he will probably try again to bring in a striker on loan or on a cheap deal.
Wigan, on the other hand seem to have found a striker, they’ve had Franco Di Santo for a while now but only recently has he started to show the kind of form that befits a regular starting player, with him and Rodallega up front, Wigan have a chance of staying away from the bottom pack and if they do, it will be a testament to their manager who has not sacrificed his ideals in getting Wigan into this position, of course they won’t have it all their own way (very few do) and this game might just be one of those where they will have to be happy with a solitary point.
Swansea v West Bromwich Albion – Saturday 15.00
West Brom are showing all the traits of a good Roy hodgson side, solid in defence and midfield with talent on the wings and up front, that formula got mislaid on the way to Anfield but seems to have been found again since he took over at the West Midlands club.
Swansea are showing all the traits of a side newly promoted with ideals of how to play the game, some of their interplay is great but they lack a cutting edge, none of their strikers are yet to score a goal and though they won’t admit to being worried about that, it must be a concern four games into the season. The loss of on-loan defender Steven Caulker won’t be any help to them either, especially as this is a side already missing Alan Tate. Midfielder Kemy Agustien will also be out for a few weeks and his presence in front of the back four will be missed.
Although I’m sure Swansea want to get a win under their belt, I don’t see this being one they’ll win.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Queens Park Rangers – Saturday 15.00
Wolves look a well put together side this season and a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham last week looked undeserved as they matched the north london club for most of the match. Steven Fletcher will be a big miss for Wolves in this game as his direct running hurts the opposition and with Kevin Foley also looking like he could miss this match, Wolves could be a little toothless up front for this match.
Q.P.R. are another team with a long injury list but the new additions to their side looked to have added real quality against Newcastle on Monday night, Shaun Wright-Phillips in particular looks to have been rejuvenated by his move from Manchester City, he was found in dangerous areas of the pitch several times by Adel Taarabt and fashioned a couple of chances that really should have been put away.
Playing at Wolves is no easy task though and I think Q.P.R. will find it tough here, I’ve gone for a home win but to be honest, a draw wouldn’t be a surprise and neither would an away win, I’m steering clear of this one when it comes to placing my bets.
More previews for the Sunday games will be released tomorrow.