Premier League And FA Cup Preview.

Published: Mar 07, 2014 14:24pm EST
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 07, 2014 @ 02:24pm EST

 

The midweek International games were a distraction and I don’t think really told us a whole great deal about the sides heading to Brazil in a few months time. Jack Wilshire injured himself while wearing England colors and will be out for six weeks. As a result he will miss vital games for the Gunners. Clint Dempsey didn’t have his best performance for the USA but he hadn’t really played for Fulham either.

This weekend in England we have games in the Premier League and also FA Cup Quarter Final action. All of the Premier League games take place on Saturday and that is where I will start.

 

Premier League:

 

Saturday (All Kick Offs 3pm GMT/ 10am ET unless stated):

 

West Brom v Manchester United (Kick Off 12:45 GMT/7:45 ET):

West Brom have the chance to pull further away from the bottom three in the early game at home to Manchester United. The West Brom manager, Pepe Mel, will have to do it without the suspended Nicolas Anelka though.

Although Manchester United are also struggling I think they will still be too much for West Brom today. United seem to struggle more at Old Trafford while they seem a little more relaxed away from Manchester. I am sure come the end of the match David Moyes’ new side will be above his old in 6th place and Pepe Mel looking at a very tough proposition.

Prediction: 0-3.

 

Cardiff v Fulham:

This is the battle of the basement, the match of madness. Call it what you will these clubs off field antics have lead to both sides now occupying the bottom two positions. Cardiff City, we all know about. The Vincent Tan factor is never far from the back pages of the daily media and with his illegal ‘cash bonus’ to players last weekend, he was there again.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a good player for Manchester United and a good manager for Molde, but is struggling in the Premiership right now.

Over at Fulham they are now on their third manager of the campaign and still rooted to the bottom. Whichever side wins this game on Saturday they will not climb out of the bottom three but it will be a start.

Sunderland rounds off the bottom three and although Cardiff will leapfrog them with a win on Saturday, the fact is they will also be three games ahead of Sunderland after Saturday. Unfortunately for both sides I can see this one ending in a draw and helping neither out that much.

Prediction: 2-2.

 

 

Crystal Palace v Southampton:

Now the previous two sides need to take note of what went on at Crystal Palace this season and, although no where near safe, I feel more confident of their survival than either Fulham or Cardiff. When Ian Holloway stepped down early in the season, and with Palace in a perilous situation the Chairman looked at his side, leaking goals, and went with a manager who 1) kept his teams tight at the back, 2) had his previous sides punching above their weight and 3) could scrap it out at the bottom. Tony Pulis was hired and have been pulling slowly, but surely, away from the bottom.

Three points from relegation currently you would not bet against them getting more Saturday and if Cardiff and Fulham tie then in the mind of Tony Pulis that’s one more game down. .

Southampton were unplayable earlier on in the season but now everything seems to be in somewhat of a free fall. Still, they are eight points from being out of the top ten and that has to be pleasing for the fans, even if the early running promised much more.

Prediction: 2-0.

 

 

Norwich v Stoke:

There are only two points between these two sides going into the game on Saturday and the last game Norwich played at home resulted in a Norwich win against Tottenham. I said in my preview last week that they needed to follow that up with a win against Aston Villa and, although they initially took the lead, once Villa scored they collapsed like a house of cards in a strong wind. Losing 4-1 to fellow strugglers raised more questions for me and I fear they could be sucked into relegation.

I am not as fearful for Stoke City and think Mark Hughes has once again proved that he is a mid table manager despite coming off a win to Arsenal last weekend. Hopefully for Norwich their win against a North London club will follow a heavy defeat just as Norwich’s win against a North London club did last week, I doubt it, but any win will do.

Prediction: 1-0.

 

 

Chelsea v Tottenham (Kick Off 5:30 GMT/12:30 ET):

Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City in particular will be hoping for a Tottenham win in the late game on Saturday. Although, over the last two games, Tottenham have not looked like a side who are challenging for the top four positions. They lost to a struggling Norwich and were less than convincing in their win over Cardiff, but maybe they need a big game to refocus their attention.

For Chelsea a win will see them open up a seven point lead over Arsenal and Liverpool and nine points over Manchester City, none of which have League games this weekend. Manchester City will still have three games more than Chelsea after Saturday (which if they win will see them level on points) but I think managers prefer to have points in the bag.

I think Tottenham will step up their play in this game and it will be tough for Chelsea and although I do not see a Spurs win a tied game would be good for the chasing pack.

Prediction: 1-1.

 

Now we switch focus to the FA Cup and just the one game on Saturday with the other three taking center stage on Sunday. Two games stand between these last eight teams and a Cup Final.

 

Saturday:

 

Arsenal v Everton (12:45 GMT/ 7:45 ET):

Would an Everton win be considered an upset? Under Roberto Martinez Everton have been playing some really good football. Currently in 6th position in the Premier League they are too far away from top four but could certainly challenge Tottenham to 5th and Europa League. The other way open to Everton and European football is through the FA Cup. With Martinez as manager they already have the FA Cup winning manager from last year and with Jack Wilshire missing for Arsenal, who would bet against him being there this time around too.

For Arsene Wenger there are important games coming up thick and fast. Chelsea may be putting more distance between the two clubs in the League later in the day and the Champions League looks lost with a 2-0 deficit needing to be overturned in Germany on Tuesday. So if you are Arsene Wenger, with a top four finish likely and no trophy for almost a decade, is this the year you repay the fans with a trophy?

Prediction: 2-1.

 

Sunday: (USA clocks forward 1 hour, UK not until 30th).

 

Sheffield United v Charlton (Kick Off 12:45 GMT/8:45 ET):

The lowest positioned side still in the tournament face Championship side, Charlton. The hosts have beaten Aston Villa and Fulham from the Premier League on their way to this quarter Final and with Charlton in the relegation zone of their league who would bet against them adding another scalp?

Their Manager, Nigel Clough, is son of the great Brian Clough who dominated Europe and England for a time in the late 1970's Guiding Nottingham Forest to the League title, League Cup (twice), Charity Shield, European Cup and European Super Cup in three years from 1977-1980, after joining them in the second tier two ears earlier, aged 40. Now aged 47 son Nigel will probably never achieve all that success, few would, but he could do something his Father never did, lift the FA Cup as a manager.

Either way, a non Premier League side will be in the FA Cup Semi Final this season and that has to be a good thing.

Prediction: 2-0.

 

Hull v Sunderland (Kick Off 2pm GMT/10am ET):

Sunderland in more trouble than their hosts. That said, after this game they will have two or three games in hand over the teams around them. As far as relegation goes having that in your back pocket means you still have control over your future somewhat.

That said, the longer Sunderland go on in the cup competitions and rack up games in hand the more congested that end of season becomes. They have already been to a final when they were eventually defeated by Manchester City and I think they may have the taste for another trip.

Hull City will be without their two strikers, Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long as they are cup tied. For that reason I think the hosts may struggle but what both teams will want for sure is for there to be a winner today, no replays please.

Prediction: 2-1.

 

Manchester City v Wigan (4:05pm GMT/ 12:05 ET):

Where to start with this one? Of course the first thing to point out is that this is the rematch of the Final from last year. Had it been two weeks ago then maybe you could see a City slip up but, with those Wembley demons exorcized with the Capital One Cup win last Sunday, City are a different proposition.

Despite the loss at Wembley last May I expect there to be a warm reception for the opposition manager as he takes his seat at the Etihad on Sunday. Uwe Rosler was a City hero before the millions and billions were invested and was entertaining the Maine Road crowds, and scoring for fun.

However once the players cross that white line I expect them to put his side to the sword and run out winners at the place that many have come to, and failed at, over the past few seasons. Manchester City will be in the hat for the Semi Final draw but expect the chants for the opposition manager not to subside for the whole game.

Prediction: 3-0.


 

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Jason Bardwell
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