Premier League Preview – Saturday Redemption?

Manchester City v Everton – 12.45 Saturday Manchester City failed to keep pace with their Mancunian neighbours last weekend, throwing away a 2 goal lead and ending up with just a single point against Fulham?  Mancinis claim that his side lack midfielders was surely just an attempt to deflect blame from a side that had just thrown away two points by thinking the game was won.  The 2-0 win against Birmingham in midweek should have got that loss out of their system and I’m sure they will be well prepared for the match against Everton this Saturday.  With Aguero likely to take a starring role once again, the Everton backline will be sorely tested but Everton have good players back there and Aguero will do well to continue his goalscoring form in this match. Everton picked up their second win of the season last weekend with new boys Vellios and Drenthe getting their first goals for the club, the loss of former star player Mikel Arteta to Arsenal seems to have not affected them at all with Rodwell and Osman shoring up midfield quite effectively.  With young Barker likely to come back in and add more creativity in this game, I can see Osman being the one who’s likely to miss out. It’s difficult to bet against Manchester City at home right now and having dropped behind Manchester United in the league last week, I expect them to be pushing hard for the win in this one. Home win. Arsenal v Bolton – 15.00 Saturday Arsenal have been my bête noire recently, everything I’ve tipped in their favour has gone badly wrong so I’m sure Arsenal fans will be delighted to hear I’m backing their opponents this week. Arsenal are not just in horrible form, they have a horrendous injury list as well, there is a chance that three players (Diaby,sagna and Rosicky) might be back in time for this one but with Vermaelen on the long term injury list (expected back some time in October) and Squillaci also out for a while with a calf injury, a defence relying on Koscielny and Mertesacker may not be equipped to deal with Kevin Davies who is still a key man for the Trotters. Bolton don’t have a short injury list either and some of the shine seems to have come off boss Owen Coyle, his side has been hit by departures, suspensions and injuries, what’s left of their squad doesn’t look capable of mounting an attack on the upper reaches of the table and last weeks loss to Norwich must have been setting off alarm bells. Maybe another week and a scrappy win against Shrewsbury will have been enough to get last weeks calamitous result against Blackburn out of their system but I doubt it.  Results like that can leave long lingering memories and any sign of weakness will be jumped on by Bolton and exploited. Away win. Chelsea v Swansea – 15.00 Saturday Chelseas week hasn’t exactly been stellar, talk of “that miss” is everywhere but the reality is, Chelsea had enough chances to win the game against Manchester United and once Lampard was taken off, the team dynamic seemed better.  A win on penalties against Fulham after extra time won’t have helped the players prepare for this match but they will be happy they are playing at home and not have to travel to Wales for this one. Swansea are still struggling with injuries but Danny Graham, Neil Taylor and Ferry Bode might be back in time for this match, their goalkeeper Vorm will be expecting a busy match but he has already shown that he is a more than capable ‘keeper and although I don’t expect him to keep a clean sheet in this one, I do think he’ll help keep the scoreline respectable. Swansea are in for a long day here with Chelsea looking to pick up the full three points and wanting to get back a bit of lost respect. Home win. Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers – 15.00 Saturday Liverpool got badly hit last weekend at Tottenham, their worst loss for 8 years, one sending off looked likely from early on in the game but two was a surprise, in reality, Liverpool could have had it worse, Tottenham took their foot off the gas and played keep ball with parts of the game looking more like a training match than a competitive Premier League fixture. Wolves would not have enjoyed their last Premier League match and it looks like they carried that frustration into their next match, taking it out on Millwall and scoring 5 against them. Wolves carry three player doubts into this match with only Sylvain Ebanks-Blake the only player on the sidelines definitely ruled out.  If Roger Johnson and Steven Fletcher can make it back in time, Wolves have a good chance of getting something out of this game, no-one likes missing matches against Liverpool so I fully expect both players to be lining up at Anfield. Draw. Newcastle v Blackburn – 15.00 Saturday Newcastle got a credible draw against an improving Villa side last weekend and with a midweek cup-win under their belt, confidence should be high going into their next match.  Nine changes were made for the Carling Cup match against Nottingham Forest and most of those who made way will likely be coming back to face Blackburn. Blackburn got back some respect last week in a very enjoyable match for neutrals, even though they won, there was still a lot of scope for improvement and I don’t think they’ve got things right yet.  I heard several pundits strongly tipping Blackburn for survival this season but I have to disagree,  their manager isn’t good enough and even though 4 goals were scored in their favour last week, two of those goals were scored by their oppenents. Blackburn may have got a win last week but my views on them haven’t changed, relegation beckons for them and a win from the home side will only make me more confident in that prediction. Home win. West Bromwich Albion v Fulham – Saturday 15.00 It’s been a bad week for West Brom, spanked by new boys Swansea last week, they got their noses in front against Everton Wednesday night only to lose to an extra time goal and go out of the cup.  Roy Hodgson will not want to lose a third match in a row here as a small blip can easily turn into a real crisis of confidence. With only Gabriel Tamas,(still suspended from his clash with James Vaughn) missing, the Baggies manager has almost a full squad to choose from. Fulham will take heart from good performances against two of the top sides in the Premier League over the last weekend, their marathon match against Chelsea may have taken it’s toll on their legs though so I don’t expect them to be pushing full throttle for the win in this one. With both sides probably happy with a draw, I predict that will be the end result. Wigan v Tottenham – Saturday 15.00 Wigan had a bad time of it against Everton last weekend, not only did they lose 3-1 but they also saw Hugo Rodallega pick up a knee injury that could keep him out for some time, Rodallega has been very important to the way that Wigan play, he may not have got among the goals much this season but his overall contribution has been positive.  More weight will now be heaped upon the shoulders of young Victor Moses to provide width and pace out wide. Spurs have had back to back wins in the league and rested several key players for the midweek game against Stoke which ended in penalties after extra time.  This game will show whether the new additions to the side will mean a change in attitude, too long have Tottenham lost games they were expected to win but now they look to have the kind of midfield that can take control of games and a player up front that can take the chances provided. Away win. Stoke v Manchester United – Saturday 17.30 Stoke made hard work of beating Tottenham in midweek, the long match which went all the way to penalties will not have helped preparations for the match against Man Utd, nobody wants to be facing a United side that moves the ball around so quickly having only just played a few nights before.  The backing from the home crowd will help matters and Stoke are formidable at the Brittania Stadium, if they could match their away form to their home form (or even anything close), Stoke would be pushing for a European place through the league, as it is, points on their travels have been few and far between recently. Manchester United may still be missing Nemanja Vidic and Rio ferdinand for this one but their stand-ins have proved very capable so far, Phil Jones in particular has been very impressive and Ferdinand may find it hard to get back in the side when fit.  United have been particularly open this season though, conceding more shots on their goal than any other side this season, even those down at the wrong end of the table, this could be down to the fact that their new keeper De Gea is viewed as being weak at shots from distance, a view that has not been borne out by the stats so far this season, indeed it seems to be that De Gea struggles with crosses more and this will surely give Stoke some hope going into this game. Away win.]]>