Brazil 2014 World cup qualification is settled. Teams have successfully negotiated their way into the mundial and the highlight just have to be Cristiano Ronaldo putting up another scintillating performance in his country’s encounter against Sweden, his hartrick was more than enough to take the Seleccao to Brazil for the fourth successive year while France also write history as the first team in Europe to overturn a 2-0 deficit in world cup play offs. The Les Blues won the second leg 3-0 to make it through on a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.
In Africa, Ghana and Algeria completed the five man list to represent the continent in Brazil with Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon already booked their place earlier.
So, the world cup spots are all settled and we will now have to wait for the group stages draws and the event itself proper but before all that actions resume in Europes topflight league!
It’s now time for us to rekindle the club rivalry, throw up all the jibes, folks to become foes and those United for their country to turn into enemies representing clubside footy.
So sorry, I wasn’t able to bring you up to speed with Week 11 preview but am back in full flow for all the actions this week.
In week 11, we saw a clash of the titans at Old Trafford where Manchester United defeated Arsenal 1-0 and yet it was that man again that all Arsenal fan will love to hate, he goes by the name Robin Van Persie who scored his 3rd goal against his former employers.
Many bookmakers’ predictions were taken to the cleaners, the big boys’ faultered alot. It took Chelsea a last minute and controversial penalty from Eden Hazard to clinch a draw against West Brom at the Bridge. Sunderland pulled the result of the weekend by defeating money bags Manchester City 1-0 and also Newcastle United were able to get thesame scoreline against Spurs at White Hart Lane courtesy of a stupendous performance from the toons spearheaded by Summer signing Loic Remy who got the goal on the night to wrap up a breath-taking weekend of football and one of the most surprised-filled-weekend of actions.
So action continues and hostilities resume in various centres as we enter the 12th week of the 2013/2014 season and we;ve gotten lots of mouth watering fixtures on our hand.
The big 2 has to be the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool at the Goodison Park and Tottenham hotspur will travel to the Etihad stadium to take on Manchester City. In other Games, league leaders Arsenal welcome surprise package Southampton, West Ham will be at home to take on Chelsea, Cardiff city play host to defending champions Manchester United, Fulham takes on Swansea, Stoke City will do battle against Sunderland and the action will be concluded on Monday Night Football at the Hawthorns where West Brom takes on Aston Villa.
Week 12 Fixtures
Saturday 23 November 2013
Everton v Liverpool (Goodison Park 14:45 )
Arsenal v Southampton (Emirates Stadium 17:00 )
Fulham v Swansea City (Craven Cottage 17:00 )
Hull City v Crystal Palace (The KC Stadium 17:00 )
Newcastle United v Norwich City (St. James’ Park 17:00 )
Stoke City v Sunderland (Britannia Stadium 17:00 )
West Ham United v Chelsea (Boleyn Ground 19:30 )
Sunday 24 November 2013
Manchester City v Tottenham (Etihad Stadium 15:30 )
Cardiff City v Man United (Cardiff City Stadium 18:00 )
Monday 25 November 2013
West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa (The Hawthorns 22:00 )
Fulham vs Swansea
The londoners host Swansea City at Craven Cottage on Saturday looking to bring their run of four successive defeats to an end.
The Cottagers appeared to have got their campaign back on track in the opening two games of October, but four losses in a row has heaped the pressure on manager Martin Jol.
Swansea themselves haven’t enjoyed the most profitable of spells themselves, with just one win coming in their last six matches.
A couple of draws in the league have kept them above the bottom three, but a defeat to Fulham would see the London outfit overtake them in the Premier League table.
Striker Michu remains absent for the Swans, but they are able to call upon goalkeeper Michel Vorm, who returns after suspension.
Both sides have been struggling lately with wins difficult to come by. Swansea will look to get something from this game and Fulham also playing at home would fancy their chances.
I see this ending in a score draw.
West Brom vs Aston Villa
West Brom have looked good over the past few weeks, with, perhaps, the exception of their 4-1 away loss to Liverpool. In their last six matches they have beaten Manchester United and drawn with Arsenal and Chelsea. Against Chelsea they looked like the better team for most of the match and should have won if it weren’t for poor defending on the first goal and terrible refereeing for the second.
Aston Villa has had some ups and downs this season after starting out with a big win over Arsenal. They have also managed to beat Manchester City, but then have played to 0-0 draws against Hull City and West Ham United.
Going into this encounter, West Brom clearly are the better side and while playing at home they should get maximum points against Villa.
PREDICTION: West Brom WIN
Everton v Liverpool
Here is the most fierce, brutal and keenly contested Derby in the history of the English Premier League. There have been 220 meetings between the two and Liverpool has won 88, Everton won 66 and there have been a total of 66 draws also.
The Toffees are 6th on the log although just 3 points adrift of Liverpool who stays in 2nd position. Everton are unbeaten in their last 4 matches in the league and have tasted defeat just once so far which came in the hands of Man city at the Etihad in match week 7.
There’s a new boss in town at Goodison Park meaning that this season’s Merseyside derbies will be the first without David Moyes patrolling the Everton touchline since 2002.
Roberto Martinez has taken charge of the Toffees and if he’s to mastermind Everton’s first Merseyside derby win in the Premier League since October 2010 he’ll be in the fan’s good books.
The Reds have the 3rd highest goals in the league (21) thanks to the efficiency of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge who have contributed 16 combine.
Liverpool has lost twice this year but have won 7 and draw 2 in their first 11 games of the season to leave them 2nd on the log with 23 points.
The Brendan Rodgers side won their last game emphatically, smashing fulham 4-0 at anfield with star striker Luis Suarez producing another brilliant performance and he was unlucky to have recorder back to back hartrick at home.
Liverpool is the more inform side going into this tie although you will say form count for little or nothing in derby games but statistics also shows that the reds are unbeaten against Everton since 2010.
The key problem for Everton is that they are really lacking in front of goals, they have managed to score just 5 times in their last 5 league games and on the opponent side, Liverpool has amassed 13 goals in their last 5 games and that is a huge difference of 8 while both teams have conceded 6 goals apiece in their last 5 matches.
On all front, it seems Liverpool are ahead of their neighbors and you should be looking towards a Liverpool win here or another draw on the card just like what we have last season that both legs of this match finished in a draw (0-0 at Anfield, 2-2 at Goodison park).
There should be a couple of goals in this one, Liverpool looking more likely to outscore but Everton can rely on their defending stat and hope to keep SAS (Suarez and Sturridge) at bay but I think Liverpool will do just enough to win this game.
PREDICTION: Liverpool Win
Arsenal v Southampton
Manchester United inflicted were the destroyer this time as The Gunners suffered their second defeat of the season since the opening day 1-3 loss to Villa at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners before then have been thriving away from home, a run that saw them defeated Fernabache, Dortmund at the signal iduna park, Marseille and a host of others but that was cut short when old boy Robin Van Persie pulled the trigger once again to put his former manager to the sword for the third time since calling it quits from the Emirates fold.
Nevertheless Arsenal remains top of the log with 25points from a possible 33 and are only second to Man city (28) when it comes to goal scoring (22).
You can call them the Surprise team of the season at least for now, you will always be right. Sitting in an unfamiliar 3rd position is just a testament to the fact that Mauricio Pochettino is doing a great job with the saints and little wonder he became the first Argentine coach to receive the Coach of the month award after guiding his team to wins over Swansea and Fulham last month, in addition to a respectable 1-1 draw away to Manchester United.
Guess what? Southampton have gotten the best defense in the EPL so far, conceding just 5 goals, that’s absolutely fantastic for a team who isn’t regarded as a top-4 team.
It will interest you to know that Southampton have lost just one game so far and that came on Aug 31st when they were beaten by Norwich City 1-0 at Carrow road and the saints remain unbeaten in their last 8 games in the EPL. The only stain on their season so far is their capital one cup loss to Sunderland in the fourth round.
This is a potential banana peel for Arsenal and the gunners have got to be very careful in this encounter considering the fact that they have already lost thrice at the Emirates stadium this season and barring the loss to United, their only loss in the EPL has also been at home.
Arsenal must bring their A game to the table, keep it tight at the back and Oliver Giroud has got to put on that form that saw him score 5 goals in the most early part of the season. Mesut Ozil of late seems to be running out of steam while Aaron Ramsey seems to have gone off colors lately.
For Southampton, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert were all called up to the latest England squad due to good start in the league, the trio have scored 10 goals this season which means they are capable of making it count when given the chance.
I really do see Southampton taking something out of this tie, maybe a point and that is if Arsenal are not jaded from their loss to United.
West Ham United v Chelsea
West ham United squares up against Chelsea at the Boleyn Ground in a London Derby and it’s a battle of 4th (Chelsea) against 16th placed Chelsea and that clearly should set the tone for where and how this game might pan out but this been a derby game leaves it open to anyone better on the match day to walk away with match points.
The Hammers loss their last game against Norwich 3-1 away from home and they are without a win in their last four games. Their last win came surprising against Tottenham at White Hart lane where they hammered Andre Villas Boas’ side 0-3 in a brilliant display but since then it has been from one calamity to the other for the big Sam tutored side.
West Ham have managed to score just 2 goals in their last four games and have scored just nine all season conceding eleven to leave them to a (-2) goal difference.
The Blues were almost shocked at home by West Brom in their last match but a last gasp penalty from Eden Hazard ensured Chelsea left the Bridge with a point. Jose Mourinho side has just one point from the possible six in their last two games in the league.
The last time these two teams locked horns here was on Dec. 1st—the Hammers rallied for a 3-1 upset over the Blues as Carlton Cole provided the equalizer and Mohamed Diamé the game-winner at the 86-minute mark after Juan Mata gave Chelsea a 1-0 halftime lead. So you can definitely expect a little revenge festering in the minds of the visitors.
Chelsea should be up and ready for this one as they look certain to get their title chase back on track but this will be a difficult contest for them as West Ham are capable of causing another upset especially when playing at home. Ravel Morrison is doing pretty well and Ricardo Vaz Te also is full of running and should give the blues defense head ache but I think Chelsea willl do just enough to get a result from this game.
Manchester City v Tottenham
The interesting thing is that both teams come into this tie on the back of a defeat. Man city loss 1-0 to Sunderland at the stadium of light while Spurs on their part surprisingly loss at the white Hart lane against Newcastle by the same goal margin.
No Barclays Premier League ground has seen more goals scored this season so far than the Etihad Stadium (22).
The last time that Tottenham failed to score in three successive Barclays Premier League matches was back in January 2009.
Of the 114 different players to have scored at least 40 Premier League goals, only Thierry Henry (122) has a better minutes per goal average than Sergio Aguero (123) in the competition.
Man City have lost seven of the 26 Premier League games that Vincent Kompany hasn’t started since the start of 2011-12 (27%), compared to just 13% (8 of 61) when he’s started.
No side has seen fewer players score a Premier League goal this season than Tottenham (4).
Eden Dzeko has scored more goals against Tottenham Hotspur than any other side in the Premier League (5). Four of these came in a single game; Manchester City’s 5-1 defeat of Spurs at White Hart Lane in August 2011.
14 of the 18 goals scored in the last four Premier League meetings between these two sides have been netted in the second half.
Tottenham have won the same number of points away from home this season as they have at White Hart Lane (10), this despite playing one game less away.
Spurs have attempted the most shots a goal this season (157 – excluding blocked), but have the worst shot conversion rate (5.7%).
There are always goals in this one and both teams are capable of doing the damage but the onus will be on Man city to win this encounter to put them back in a considerable position in the log and sadly for Tottenhma they will be without summer signing Cristian Erikssen who suffered an injury while on international duty.
PREDICTION: Manchester City WIN
Cardiff City v Man United
A trip to Wales to face Cardiff is not the easiest post-international tie for Manchester United.
Cardiff has beaten both Manchester City and Swansea at home this season, and Malky Mackay’s side will be confident of doing the same to United when the Red Devils visit town.
Mackay has set his side out in a way that makes them difficult to break down. With Steven Caulker marshalling the back four, Cardiff looks an organised unit.
The problem for the Welsh team, like many other sides in the Premier League this season, is scoring goals. They have managed just three in their last five, failing to score against Aston Villa and Norwich.
Although the United defence has looked ropey at times this season, they should not face much pressure from Cardiff in the attacking third.
David Moyes’ side will, however, need to be wary of Cardiff’s threat from set pieces.
There will be much focus on the Scot’s team selection come Sunday. With Michael Carrick ruled out until the end of the year and Phil Jones also ruled out for 10 days, the champions will need to rejig things at midfield and defense in the absence of the duo.
But in Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, United have two players who are playing at the peak of their powers. They have disguised other frailties in the starting XI in recent weeks.
The pair have scored six and assisted six goals in the last four matches, and more of the same can be expected this weekend.
PREDICTION: Manchester United WIN
Alright folks, there you have it. Time to have your say! What are your expectations, predictions as regard these matches going down?
Feel free to drop your comments, suggestions and constructive criticism in the comment box as we take an analytical view of these interesting games.
Be a part of the action on twitter: @Iam_AEO
Like our facebook page www.facebook.com/gamefuty