Premier League weekend preview

Sunderland v Newcastle (12.00 Saturday) The first derby of the season and this one is a tough call, Newcastle got a well deserved point last weekend against Arsenal, restricting them to just a few chances and between them providing the big talking point of the weekend.  With Joey Barton not showing any signs of calming down despite Newcastle making him available on a free, this game could be fiery.  Sunderland managed a creditable point against Liverpool but I expect them to find it tougher this time out. Newcastle to win but not by much. Arsenal v Liverpool (12.45 Saturday) Arsenal found it tough going against Newcastle last weekend and just ended up with a single point and a whole heap of controversy on their plate, the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and the expected transfer of their other shining light last season, Samir Nasri, doesn’t make things any easier for them leading up to this game.  Gervinhos suspension doesn’t exactly make this game easier to predict as Arsenal are starting to look a bit lightweight up front now. Liverpool have yet to gel as a team in my opinion but Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez could provide the Arsenal backline with tougher opposition than they have faced so far. Still, I’m going to go with my gut on this one and plump for an Arsenal win,  I think the midweek win against Udinese will have boosted their confidence and shown them they can live without Fabregas and Nasri. Aston Villa v Blackburn (15.00 Saturday) This one could be decided by key injuries, Aston Villa have none and Blackburn are expected to be missing their 2 regular central defenders Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen. Whilst Aston Villa are not exactly blessed with attacking talent, Heskey might still have enough in the tank to bully Blackburns deputy centre backs on this occasion. Home win. Everton v Q. P.R. (15.00 Saturday) I had this one down as a home win and then I heard that Tony Fernandes has completed his takeover and that Neil Warnock will be given more money to spend in this transfer window, with reports that players like Scott Parker are being targeted, if those transfers happened and this game was being played a month later, I might rethink my original choice but not right now. Home win. Swansea v Wigan ( 15.00 Saturday) Swansea gave Monday nights game against Manchester City a real go and with more quality up front, they may have troubled them a little more but in the end, class came through and the game ended up being a bit of a battering for the leagues new boys, the extra demands on the players fitness was obviously a shock to some of the players. Wigan looked capable of killing off Norwich last week but after a glaring chance was missed at the end of the match, a draw was all they finished the game with.  With both of these sides looking to play attractive football, this game could be one for the purists and is one I’m going to try to see myself. I expect Wigan to pick up their first win of the season. Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion ( 17.30 Saturday) Stoke managed to frustrate Chelsea and their new boss last week, it’s clear that Andre Villas Boas doesn’t come up against that style of football very often and I’m sure he’ll be grateful that they are facing West Brom this time around. West Brom are no push overs as last weeks match against Manchester United showed but I don’t think they are strong enough to cope with Chelsea with a seemingly revitalised Fernando Torres. Home win. Norwich v Stoke (13.30 Sunday) I’m sure Paul Lambert is thinking he didn’t get Norwich up into the Premiership so that he could play games like this, unfortunately for him, tough games against physical opposition come with the territory and they don’t come any tougher or more physical than Stoke. Stoke have an almost clean bill of health whilst Norwich are still missing Elliot Ward and James Vaughn. Whilst I think grant Holt will score goals in this division, I don’t think it will be in this match and I can’t see Norwich coping with Stokes style of play. Away win. Wolverhampton Wanderers v Fulham FC (14.00 Sunday) Fulham were denied last weekend by Shay Givens heroics in the Aston Villa goal, they will not find it any easier this week either, especially after playing a Europa League match Thursday night. Fulham will be missing Simon Davies and possibly Bjorn Helge Riise but Zamora should play as long as he suffered no injury problems Thursday night.  Wolves on the other hand aren’t missing any important players and should be fresh for this one and up for continuing their winning start to the season. Home win. Bolton v Manchester City (Sunday 16.00) Man City looked superb against Swansea after Sergio Aguero came on for his debut, the interplay between him and Silva was excellent and perhaps a sign of things to come, Edin Dzeko also played well and signs of a natural partnership were there with him alongside Manchester Citys new Argentinean star. Having said all of that, I don’t think City will have it all their own way in this game, Bolton demolished Q.P.R. in the second half of their match and showed that they are coping with the injuries in their squad. It may go against all the statistics (Bolton haven’t beaten Man City since November ’08) but I’m putting my neck on the line and saying this will be a home win. Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur (Monday 20.00) Both of these sides are in the grip of an injury crisis, Manchester United could have most of their regular back line missing and Tottenham are missing a fair number of their central midfielders.  Guessing who will be starting for both sides could be a little like playing the lottery and seeing as both teams are missing players in their opponents weakest areas (Tottenham need at least one striker whilst United could do with a commanding midfielder), this game could end up as a bit of a stalemate. I’m hoping for a good game but expecting an attritional draw.   Have I got it all horribly wrong?  Let me know in the comments box below.]]>