There is a rare full slate of mid-week games in the Premier League this week. Here is a look at the match-ups.
West Brom v Arsenal
West Brom look destined for the drop. Their performance against Fulham last weekend was just terrible. Arsenal are not enjoying the best of times either, especially in front of goal, but they are unbeaten for a while and I’m going for them to win because of their counter-attacking ability.
Portsmouth v Chelsea
Paul Hart has done well since taking over Portsmouth, alongside Brian Kidd, and they are an experienced duo. The south coasters were never as bad as they looked and were always going to turn the corner. However, this is a really tough game because Chelsea under Guus Hiddink really look like they’ve got the bit between their teeth now. He’s even got Drogba running around which is something in itself. I just think Chelsea will have too much for the hosts, but it might be a tight one.
Liverpool v Sunderland
Liverpool had a strange week. First they beat Real Madrid away and then followed that up with a terrible lose away to Middlesbrough. Sunderland, on the other hand, have effectively had a winter break having just had the weekend off and they have looked a settled unit under Ricky Sbragia, who I think is doing well. Still I cannot see Sunderland going to Anfield and getting anything from this game.
Man City v Aston Villa
Manchester City are still a bit Jekyll and Hyde at home and away – great at Eastlands, but they just can’t get it right on their travels. Villa, meanwhile, are starting to hiccup a bit. To concede those two late goals against Stoke on Sunday and have started to look a little tired. This is a match between two classic counter-attacking teams, really, so it might just be a case of who blinks first.
Newcastle v Man Utd
That was a terrible result for Newcastle at Bolton on the weekend and they are really struggling to score goals. As for Manchester United, they are winning without playing well and they have the best squad of players in the league.
Stoke v Bolton
This will not be a footballing classic by any stretch of the imagination. Stoke have to win their home games to give themselves any chance of survival, but the trouble is that every team knows what they’re all about at the Britannia Stadium now. Bolton, though, are one team that can cope with their physical presence and I’m sure they’ll be up for the scrap.
Wigan v West Ham
Wigan have really struggled since losing Emile Heskey and Wilson Palacios in the transfer window, and have picked up only 4 points from their last six games. West Ham on the other hand are playing really good football at the moment. Wigan are much better at home than away and I expect them to get back on the winning track with a home victory here.
Blackburn v Everton
These are two teams that are difficult to play against as they are both hard working are very well organized. This game has a low scoring draw written all over it.
Fulham v Hull
Fulham are really strong at home and they were really unlucky not to get all three points against Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday. Hull, on the other hand, is a team that is really struggling and are getting drawn into the relegation fight.
Tottenham v Middlesbrough
The most important factor ahead of this game is just how much Sunday’s Carling Cup Final defeat to Manchester United has taken out of Spurs. Tottenham at home are a difficult proposition and if they can quieten Stewart Downing and Sanli Tuncay, they will win – especially with the players who weren’t available on Sunday, like Wilson Palacios and Robbie Keane, chomping at the bit. Middlesbrough come into the game on the back of a couple of wins, including Saturday’s terrific defeat of Liverpool, but I’m backing Tottenham to just fall over the line on this one.