Premier League Preview (Feb 8th and 9th)

Published: Feb 07, 2014 10:29am EST
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Feb 07, 2014 @ 11:27am EST

 

At this point in seasons previous there would be a significant gap in the various sections of the league which would allow us to start looking at where their goals for the transfer window, January and for the rest of the season could be clearly defined. The transfer window has now slammed shut and the teams will have to stand or die with the squads they have. While eight points separate the top four teams the same amount of points split the whole bottom half of the league, 11 teams. That means that every week now and in the immediate future we will be seeing some key games on a weekly basis.

So here we go with game day 25 of the Premier League with everything still to play for. Here is my look and predictions at the weekend games. 

 

SATURDAY (All Times 3pm GMT/10am ET unless stated):

 

Liverpool v Arsenal (Kick Off 12:45 GMT/7:45 ET):

Before the Christmas period these two teams were looking at a potential Premier League title run. A bad Christmas period though has now seen Liverpool drop somewhat off the pace with a fourth place their realistic target. Since Christmas though they have gone on a five game unbeaten run including a 4-0 hammering of local rivals, Everton. 


That said Brendan Rodgers will have to have his Liverpool side on top form if they are to get anything from Arsene Wengers Arsenal on Saturday. Not since March 2007 have the home side secured a win at home to the Gunners. 


It was a Kolo Toure mistake which prevented Liverpool getting the full three points away to West Brom last time out and the ex Gunner will be looking to make amends against his old club. He will need to be too with defenders Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson and Mamadou Sakho all out injured.    


Arsenal will have an early chance to increase the lead at the top of the Premier League to five points before Manchester City and Chelsea kick off their respective games. They, too, have their injury problems, mostly affecting the midfield. The key to the game will how well Per Mertesacker and company can contain Luis Suarez. 

Prediction: 3-1.

 

Aston Villa V West Ham:

Just looking at the table before the game kicks off you might be fooled into thinking that Aston Villa are somewhat safe from the relegation zone. However, with the bottom of the table so constricted, a win for the away team in this game would see the team in the relegation zone prior to kick off finish only two points behind their hosts at the games end. 


West Ham will be without Andy Carroll for the game and despite the home sides poor home form I can see no way this will be anything other than a home win. 


Christian Benteke is starting to get among the goals again, which is bad news for Big Sam. That seems to be just at the right time for Paul Lambert as Villa try to kick away from the bottom three clubs. I think that West Ham will survive in the Premier League and a draw here would be a fantastic result I think. 

Prediction: 2-0.

 

Chelsea v Newcastle:

A great result on Monday night needs to be followed up by another on Saturday. After they beat Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in October last year they followed it up with a defeat away to Newcastle. Another defeat Saturday will take all the gloss off the previous Mondays win for sure. 
It will not be as easy as it seems either with Newcastle winning three of the last four games between the two. 


Again Fernando Torres will be missing for the Blues but even when he plays some would argue he has been missing so it will fall to either Samuel Eto’o or Demba Ba to lead the line. 
Newcastle have not had a good week and a bit with no signings coming in during the winter transfer window, the loss of a key player Yohan Cabaye and resignation of the Director of Football Joe Kinnear. 


Unfortunately striker Loic Remy will miss the trip south and late tests on Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse will have Alan Pardew biting his nails.  That said, Newcastle have a good recent run against Chelsea, and sometimes just this kind of game can bring your team together. 

Prediction: 1-1.

 

Crystal Palace v West Brom:

Both teams have different managers from the ones which started the campaign and both teams are just above the relegation zone and both on 23 points. When the two sides met earlier in the season neither had installed their new Manager, although Ian Holloway had stepped down at Palace. 


Since Tony Pulis has taken charge there has been a significant improvement and instantly the side were not leaking goals. January came and signings were made, although they were too late to be registered for last weekends game. 


This game is a typical six pointer and certainly the pressure is more on Palace, being the home side, to get the win. For Albion it is simply a must not lose. A draw is good and a win would be fantastic for the Midland side. 


The quality of players Palace now have, and with them being undefeated in the last three home games mean that you have to favor a home win here.

Prediction: 2-0.

 

Norwich v Manchester City:

Since Norwich came back to the Premier League in 2011 Manchester City have scored twenty five goals in the five meetings between the two, conceding seven in the process. An average 5-1 victory and certainly Manchester City fans would take that right now after Mondays result. 
For the visitors though the injury list is growing and with the Barcelona Champions League game and Chelsea FA Cup game just ahead I doubt any would be rushed back for this no matter how close they were. 


For the hosts their season has not progressed as I had thought considering the signings made during the summer. For all the attacking players purchased by the Canaries their actual goals for in the League is six less than this time last season. 


In all honesty though, it should be considered bonus points picked up again Manchester City with a real big game only three days later when they travel to London to take on West Ham. 

Prediction: 1-3.

 

Southampton v Stoke:

Southampton, like Norwich, invested heavily in players during the summer and initially it paid off. After the injury to goalkeeper Artur Boruc the Saints went on a free fall and now find themselves in 9th position and are actually closer to the bottom three than the top four, although relegation would only result in a total collapse of the squad. 


If Stoke win this game it will be only the second time they have recorded back to back wins in the League this season and their first win on the south coast since 1980. 


Their win against Manchester United last Sunday should give them the confidence to go on and get the result against Southampton but I still think they will struggle against Ricky Lambert and Adam Lallana and in the end I think a draw would be good for both. 

Prediction: 2-2.

 

Sunderland v Hull:

Sunderland, like Crystal Palace, have benefited by installing a new manager. Bottom of the League at Christmas, historically an instant relegation statistic, they now find themselves 14th and in the Final of the League Cup. 


Back to back wins against Stoke and then away to rivals Newcastle means their last defeat was at home on New Years day against Aston Villa. A continuation of their current form will see them put serious distance between them and the bottom three, and maybe actually enjoy their Wembley visit a month from now and the rest of the season in relative comfort. 


Hull, on the other hand, are still looking for their first win on this year. Defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea may have been expected, but not against Norwich or Palace, and it is important the Tigers build on their draw last time out at home to Spurs with another result here. 

Prediction: 2-0
    


Swansea v Cardiff (Kick Off 5:30 GMT/12:30 ET):

What on earth is in the Welsh water this season? Both sides were doing relatively well this season before their Managers were sacked. We all know about Vincent Tan and his self destruct button which saw him fail to back former Manager Malky Mackay before firing him. The new Manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been a revelation since he took charge.


Defeats all across the board with the exception of an FA Cup win and two quick goals which turned a 1-0 deficit against Norwich into a 2-1 victory. A ton of new players have arrived and the general thought is that any significant amount of influx of playing staff will need time to settle. Cardiff do not have that time though and a defeat in the late game Saturday will keep them in that relegation zone. 


Swansea also fired their Manager this week and that had to be more of a surprise. Sure Swansea were struggling in the League, but most teams have struggled when they are also in the Europa League. Obviously I do not know what is going on behind the scenes but looking at it the next European fixture will most likely be their last and they can concentrate on the League form, which I am sure would improve. February was always going to be a tough month with the Napoli games and FA Cup progression but after that, there are numerous winnable games, against relegation rivals, at home. 

Prediction: 1-1

 

SUNDAY:

 

Tottenham v Everton (Kick Off 1:30 GMT/8:30 ET):

Both teams are right in the mix for fourth position at the moment and this game could see who, if either, are serious contenders. Both sides lost by four goals ten or so days ago but both came back in the next game with points. Everton beat Villa at home while Spurs got a decent draw away against Hull City.


Romelu Lukaku will be a big miss for Everton but I think Roberto Martinez can certainly still put out a great attacking and dangerous team. Tottenham also rely on their striker, Emmanuel Adebayor but he is getting to that time in his career with a new Manager when historically he starts to act out. Having played only 34 games for Manchester City he was loaned out to Real Madrid and the Tottenham on loan before the London side signed him. Under AVB he played a handful of games after signing before his toys were no longer in his pram and we are only a few games away from that for Tim Sherwood. It all starts with a sending off and I think it will happen this Sunday.

Prediction: 2-2.

 

Manchester United v Fulham (Kick Off 4:00 GMT/ 11am ET):

Win one, lose one seems to be the form of Manchester United at the moment. The last time they lost at home in the League though was against Tottenham on New Years Day. David Moyes will certainly not have been impressed with the result and performance against Stoke City last weekend and the news this week that Nemanja Vidic will leave at the end of the season I think is great news for Moyes. At 32 years old, and having been at United since January 2006 I think it is time for the core of Ferguson’s aging squad be gutted and new blood to come in. 


Their opponents on Sunday I do not think will provide any real test for United. Their midweek FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United was not only humiliating but the side showed no desire or fight. That would be okay if it was just the FA Cup game, as you could argue they could concentrate on the League, but their League performance hasn’t been great either. Four league defeats on the bounce, including a devastating 4-1 home defeat to relegation rivals Sunderland. 

 

Martin Jol was fired on December 1st with ten points in thirteen games. Eleven games later and they have only added six points after significant additions to the squad. I said it at the time and I will say it again now, Martin Jol would have turned this ship around had he been given the chance as he did last season. December 1st last season Fulham were only seven points better off than they were this December. This time last season, they were nine points better off and would get a further fifteen in the run in. Fifteen points now would see Fulham only end with 34 points which will probably not save them from relegation. Next up for Fulham is a visit by Liverpool and so it doesn’t get any easier. 

Prediction: 3-0. 


 

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