Premier League Preview (Feb 22nd and 23rd)

Published: Feb 21, 2014 13:51pm EST
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Feb 21, 2014 @ 01:51pm EST

 

The Premiership returns this weekend after two weeks away thanks to the FA Cup. Everything is still all to play for as we head into the last games of February with the title still in play for a number of teams and survival not a certainty for many more. As I say every week, there are big games still to come and this weekend is no exception.

 

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

 

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

Chelsea kick off the early game on Saturday when they host Roberto Martinez's Everton side. The visitors are still without star striker Romelu Lukaku, although even if fit, he would be ineligible to lineup against his parent club.

In the reverse fixture Everton stunned Chelsea, winning 2-0 but Everton have been on a slight decline since that game while Jose Mourinho has seen his side get better. Certainly a draw in this game would be a great result for the visitors but most people would agree that Chelsea are favorites to get the three points and, if albeit temporarily, increase their lead at the top of the Premier League.

Prediction: 2-1.

 

Arsenal v Sunderland:

I am not sure how much the midweek game, with ten men for a lot of the game, will affect the players taking on Sunderland. I certainly think that being at home, Arsenal should have the beating of their opponents but you never know.

Sunderland boss, Gus Poyet, will be trying to keep his players minds focused on the game in hand at the Emirates as they continue trying to pull themselves away from the relegation three. With the game against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup Final in just over a weeks time will minds start to wander?

I actually think that Sunderland will be able to do enough to avoid relegation this season, but will it start in London against Arsenal? I am not as convinced.

Prediction: 3-0.

 

Cardiff v Hull:

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan fired boss Malky Mackay and installed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because the former signed a bunch of players in the summer and wanted 'one or two more' in January. OGS came in, signed one or two more than the 'one or two', and now find themselves in the bottom three of the Premier League.

A win against Hull could see the Welsh side make a leap out of the bottom three but evidence has not shown that is something they have the potential to do.

Hull City started off really well at the beginning of the season before their recent slip in form, and League position. Their position is one that still allows for either a successful season, or a not so successful one with three points between them and the bottom three but also are a point away from the top half of the table. Can Steve Bruce get his Tigers to roar against the Bluebirds? With Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long back up front for Hull (after being cup tied last week) I think it will certainly be tough.

Prediction: 1-1.

 

Man City v Stoke:

The return of Mark Hughes and Stephen Ireland to the club they once were employed by could be extra incentive for the two Potters men. Facing a Manchester City side, on the back of the Champions League defeat, it may not be that easy for Hughes.

For Manchester City a win today will be the perfect tonic after the defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday. To be fair I didn't think City were bad against Barca with potential foul and offside all right before the foul outside the area from Martin Demichelis. The second goal added at the end of the game was certainly icing on the cake for Barcelona but certainly not the embarrassment inflicted as Bayern Munich had earlier on in the Group stage.

Will Pellegrini stick with Demichelis for Saturdays visit of Stoke? I personally would like to have seen Joleon Lescott return to partner Vincent Kompany, just as they did in the title winning season.

Prediction: 2-0.

 

West Brom v Fulham:

This is an ideal game in which West Brom boss Pepe Mel can secure his first win. Fulham are making Cardiff City look like a well oiled machine. Personally I didn't agree with the sacking of Martin Jol back in November but that's what happened and Rene Meulensteen was installed as manager. Things did not improve but the new man was backed, and backed very well, in the transfer market. Now he finds himself out of a job and with twelve games left the new man, Felix Magath comes in.

It comes to no surprise that the two clubs who have had unrest from the backroom find themselves in the bottom two positions of the Premier League. A win for Fulham will not get them out of the relegation zone this weekend and so, no matter the result, will start March in the bottom three.

Things are brighter at the Hawthorns and, although they are currently only goal difference above the relegation zone, a win could potentially see them jump up to thirteenth.

Prediction: 3-0.

 

West Ham v Southampton:

Fulham and Cardiff could certainly take a look at West Ham to see what happens when a board backs their manager. In December calls from fans were that their Manager, Sam Allardyce, be replaced as the club were struggling to get results and languishing in the bottom three of the table.

Don't get me wrong, they are still a long way from being safe, but the direction is positive. Now they are only three places below the visitors who are in eighth position and that certainly wouldn't have been expected in December.

Southampton slipped a little from their impressive start and some backroom unrest was quickly resolved for the better of the team. The Saints are close to Manchester United but 11 points away from both the fifth position and being out of the top half of the table. With that in mind it was strange to see a weakened side in the FA Cup last weekend. Surely with the League position as it is a cup run would keep the fans excited and possibly even a day out at Wembley (even the Semi Finals are now played there) would be a good end to the season.

Prediction: 0-0.

 

Crystal Palace v Man Utd (5:30pm GMT/ 12:30 ET):

They have a Champions League game this week and so Manchester United may have one eye on that tie as their only chance to give the fans something for this season. Eleven points away from a Champions League playoff place and fifteen away from the title (maybe 18pts at kick off) with only twelve games left means the title is more than likely out of their reach this season.

Crystal Palace, under Tony Pulis, have done very well to pull themselves out of the relegation zone. Still a bad run away from being right back in the mix means that any points picked up in the Saturday late game will be a bonus. The atmosphere in the ground will be fantastic, as always, and it will be a case as how quickly Manchester United start. An early goal for United will settle nerves and quiet the crowd a little, but the longer it goes on the stronger Palace will become.

Prediction: 1-2.

 

SUNDAY (All kick off times 1:30pm GMT/ 8:30 ET unless stated):

 

Liverpool v Swansea:

The dark horses for the title are galloping up on the outside for the Premier League title. No European distraction nor FA Cup participation means Brendon Rodgers side could sneak up on the top three while their backs are turned.

With Suarez, Sterling and co doing the job upfront it is just a case of keeping it tight at the back. Kolo Toure has recently been guilty of a couple of costly errors but with Swansea taking part in the Europa League on Thursday this is a great chance for the Merseyside club to move closer to that title. With all the other top clubs playing the previous day they will certainly know what they have to do as the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster draws closer.

Swansea fired their manager, Michael Laudrup, a few weeks back and the new guy has been doing okay. Gary Monk has done well so far but failed on Merseyside last weekend against Everton in the FA Cup and I think they will fail again here.

Prediction: 4-0.

 

Newcastle v Aston Villa:

If you want to see a game of nervousness and riddled with errors I suggest this game might be your best bet for this weekend. I feel sorry for the Newcastle manager who had done very well to get his side into contention for European competition next season only for their best player to be sold at the last moment with no replacement lined up. Joe Kinnear was the man responsible for the signings made by the club and now he has resigned leaving Pardew to make the best of a bad deal.

Aston Villa should have built on last season but really have struggled quite a bit more than they would have expected. The side are not safe from relegation as yet but I do not think Paul Lambert need worry too much about that prospect, especially with Fulham and Cardiff continuing to shoot themselves in the foot at every opportunity.

Prediction: 0-0.

 

Norwich v Spurs (4pm GMT/ 11am ET):

Could Norwich City be the most disappointing side this season? Last season Chris Hughton had the side playing very well and avoid relegation by a good margin in the end. Then business concluded early with the recruiting of attacking quality and I thought it wouldn't be a bad bet to see the Canaries push into the top half of the League. As it is they are a point above the relegation zone with the third worst goal difference in the League.

The Spurs boss, Tim Sherwood, returns to Norwich City after a disappointing Europa League trip to the Ukraine. Sherwood was a Canary from 1989 through to 1992 and his first season at Norwich was Norwich Manager Chris Hughton's last season at Spurs!

Hughton was the Spurs Assistant Manager until 2008 which, funny enough, was when Tim joined Harry Redknapp as a coach. I think the visiting Manager will be the happiest come full time and more willing to talk about past times.

Prediction: 0-2.


 

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Jason Bardwell
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