What we learned on Boxing Day!

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5 Things we learned from the English Premier League, boxing day actions.

Credit: Temitope Adepoju ( @Biggiewallace )

#1.  Manchester United Need to Pay Wayne Rooney Whatever He Wants

There is no doubting the current value of Wayne Rooney to Manchester United. Rooney was involved in all of United’s attacking play on Thursday, dictating from the midfield role that Sir Alex Ferguson used him in last season. The difference between this year and last is that Rooney is once again the star of the team, and he revels in this elevated role. His goal was sensational, a volley taken with consummate ease. His link-up play with Danny Welbeck was excellent, and his work-rate was phenomenal. United need to secure Rooney for the long term as soon as possible. Any replacement would surely cost more than the wage demands that the Liverpudlian would require.  Like him or not, as things stand, Man Utd cannot do without Wayne Rooney, and as Liverpool have done with Luis Suarez, the club need to secure him before other suitors pounce.

#2. Arsenal Urgently Needs A Striker

This is the second time in two months I have said this; am not trying to be too emphatic but the striking role in Arsenal seems to get frustratingly wasteful and too average and that is putting it mildly. A mediocre performance from Olivier Giroud shows that he is still lacking confidence to shine in big games. French striker missed couple of easy chances today and his goal drought extends to seven games. To be honest, he is no way the striker should a title contending team like Arsenal should have. Although the Gunners showed their resilient side in the last 20 minutes, it will not be enough when the return games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool roll around. They need a better striker like Benzema, Diego Costa or Chicharito to compete in big games. However, I think Giroud has an outstanding positional play,he sure knows how to make those off-the-ball runs but he lacks what potent strikers have and that’s putting the ball in the net when it matters.

#3. Samuel Eto’o: Chelsea’s Giroud

Chelsea were on the attack from the outset creating numerous chances most notably the one right after the start of the 2nd half, within 15 seconds it should have been game, set and match, if only Eto’o had his scoring boots on. 19 shots on goal, 7 on target and just one goal points to one thing only, The Blues didn’t test the keeper enough and when they did the finishing was quite tame. This has been the story of Chelsea’s season thus far and really doesn’t look like improving until a striker is signed. It’s worrying and funny at the same time that the amount of chances Chelsea create and so little are converted. Jose though thinks otherwise and gives credit to the Swansea goalkeeper for making the fantastic saves today. “Today I can say the biggest responsibility for the lack of goals was the Swansea goalkeeper because he made three or four big saves,” said Mourinho. – Well am sure those statements were for the camera – deep within he would think of how he can get his squad blasting in those goal

#4. City, handily placed

Having survived the toughest examination of their home form and weakened one of their apparent title rivals in the process, Manchester City look to be in a terrific position heading into the New Year. They may even approach 2014 on top of the table given that they face a home game with Crystal Palace next whilst current No. 1 Arsenal go to an in-form Newcastle, and Pellegrini could certainly be forgiven for the wry grin that he wore at full-time. The away form might still be a concern to many, but City are seemingly safe in the knowledge that whoever comes to the Etihad Stadium will be leaving with little more than a cup of tea, and that is a tremendous position of strength to build upon. Arsenal, Chelsea and even Manchester United might have won on Boxing Day, but City are the team with the power to knock them, Liverpool and the rest out over 38 rounds.

#5. Palace, Fulham and Sunderland are Resurrecting

Ian Holloway,Martin Jol and Paolo Di Canio were managers of Crystal Palace,Fulham and Sunderland respectively at the start of the season in August but are no more in their managerial post before Christmas – obviously owing to bad results. Tony Pulis took up affairs at Selhurst Park and has been doing tremendously well – Palace are out of the drop zone for the first time this season. Gustavo ‘Gus’ Poyet has done well for himself at Sunderland too,knocking Chelsea out of the League Cup and against all odds beating 10-man Everton at Goodison Park. (But I Still Think They Will Be Relegated Come May). Fulham also got a result at Norwich. West Ham, now 17th and Aston Villa needs to be wary now.

In Strict Sense, am not a fan of Managerial Change but Crystal Palace especially is trying to prove me wrong.

TEAMS P W D L GD PTS
Arsenal 18 12 3 3 18 39
Man City 18 12 2 4 32 38
Chelsea 18 11 4 3 15 37
Liverpool 18 11 3 4 22 36
Everton 18 9 7 2 12 34
Newcastle 18 10 3 5 6 33
Man Utd 18 9 4 5 9 31
Tottenham 18 9 4 5 -5 31
Southampton 18 7 6 5 7 27
Stoke 18 5 6 7 -8 21
Swansea 18 5 5 8 -1 20
Hull 18 5 5 8 -7 20
Aston Villa 18 5 4 9 -7 19
Norwich 18 5 4 9 -15 19
West Brom 18 3 8 7 -5 17
Cardiff 18 4 5 9 -15 17
C Palace 18 5 1 12 -15 16
Fulham 18 5 1 12 -16 16
West Ham 18 3 5 10 -10 14
Sunderland 18 3 4 11 -17 13

5 Things we Learned from the EPL at the Weekend

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#1. Liverpool Can Cope Without Gerrard and Sturridge

Without Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool haven’t stopped scoring—14 goals in their last three games. The extra space and freedom for Suarez has been something the Uruguayan has relished. He’s found himself in the form of his life. Life without Steven Gerrard, albeit temporarily, began against Tottenham, and Lucas Leiva came back into the side to produce a solid performance. Lucas knows this run of games without Gerrard is possibly his last chance to prove to Rodgers that he is worthy of a future at Liverpool. Against Tottenham, he worked well with Joe Allen in central midfield. With no captain or vice captain in the starting 11, several players stepped up to provide leadership expertise. Henderson, in particular, looked in control of the game and his teammates around him; though, Suarez took the captain’s armband.

#2. After Another Nervy Performance, When Are We Going to See the ‘Real’ Chelsea?

Those who expect Chelsea to overwhelm Crystal Palace would be have been surprised with the Blues lack of killer instinct in the final third. Having dominated proceedings throughout with 70 per cent possession, the Blues mustered only six more shots than their opponents in the entire game. Their wastefulness in front of goal almost cost them two points, with Ramires and Andre Schurrle missing great chances to put the game beyond doubt. The need for more chances in front of goal isn’t a concern, with Chelsea constantly creating opportunities in front of goal, and neither is scoring, with 32 goals in their 16 games. But Mourinho wants more, and so do the fans. This isn’t the side that anyone thought they would see. The lack of intimidation is a surprise, and teams come to Stamford Bridge thinking they can win.

That is despite none managing to do so. Either way, they need to start hitting top form soon or pay the price later in the season. They are now only two points off Arsenal at the top, so there is no better time to do so.

#3. City Keep Beating Their Title Rivals at Home

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City have beaten Manchester United (4-1), Tottenham (6-0) and now Arsenal (6-3) at the Etihad this season, and it’s going to take a brilliant performance from a title rival to end that run.

Psychologically it’s a run of results which damages their opponents, many of whom must now fear playing City at home, and also breeds belief amongst their own players. Chelsea are the only side expected to challenge for the league who have beaten City so far in the game at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, and even in that match it was City who dominated the play. Only a catastrophic error from Hart, the final straw for Pellegrini who dropped him for the next match, saw City lose but I still think they are lacking on the road.

#4. Villa have only benefited from Young’s departure

Ashley Young spent four years with Villa, in which he became one of their best players, before earning a big money move to United in 2011. The England winger has since come under a lot of criticism—usually regarding his tendency to “dive”— and has struggled to win a regular starting berth in the United team. Young has failed to prove his Premier League credentials to current manager Moyes and is often the subject of crowd unrest at Old Trafford.

In midweek, the 28-year-old was given an ironic cheer when substituted for Robin van Persie in the Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Young was given just 20 minutes against his former employers and was anonymous during his brief time on the pitch, which will have left the Villa fans feeling a sense of content at his departure.

#5.  Everton are Champions League contenders

After he became the latest Fulham manager to lose at Goodison –a sequence that stretches back to 1959; Rene Meulensteen said he thought Everton were clear contenders for the Champions League. “They have bought completely into the style of football Roberto Martinez wants to play,” he said. It is also a year since Everton last lost at Goodison and, until they face Arsenal in April, they will encounter the following teams at home in brackets is the year their opponents last won at Goodison: Sunderland (1996),Southampton (1997), Norwich (1993), Aston Villa (2008), Crystal Palace (1997), West Ham (2005), Cardiff (1926) and Swansea (never). Therefore it is looking like Everton might push the likes of Man Utd, Spurs and Liverpool to find a spot in the top 4 and who says they can’t get a spot in Europe.

Credit: Temitope Adepoju

Follow on twitter: @biggiewallace

 

5 things we learnt from Matchday 6 in the UCL

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5 things we learnt in UCL Matchday 6

The group stage in this year’s UEFA Champions League is one of the most gripping and ‘weird’ situations had in a long time. Where teams with 6 points qualify and the ones with 12 do not. Well, these are my five talking points of the event that unfolded in biggest club competition in the world.

 

#1.    Eagles, Not Super in Europe

Like they say,Charity begins at home and I had a torrid time looking at the performances of the Nigerian players in the Champions League this season and Matchday 6 is one that would not be remembered for obvious reason. Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moskow) ,Mikel Obi (Chelsea) and Efe Ambrose (Celtic) were terrible on the night for their respective clubs. Musa might have scored CSKA’s goal in their 2 – 1 loss to Viktoria Plzen in Czech Republic but was wasteful for most part of the game, should have gotten at least a hat – trick on the night.

Mikel Obi at the bridge was surprisingly quiet, looked out of depth and lost in the midfield, never covered the defence well – misplaced passes a lot of time – A rusty gate turned better that him. The worst of the bunch for me was Efe Ambrose. Yes,it might be argued that Celtic was fantastically appalling to watch collectively but Ambrose will take the blame for 3 of the 6 goals they conceded. Neymar went inside and out of him as if he never existed, he nutmegged, cut and sliced into him so many times and far too easily – very worrying. It is worthy to know that he also struggled immensely to defend against Balotelli when Ac Milan visited Celtic Park on Matchday 5.

I am not trying to ridicule or paint the Nigerian players in an abysmal fashion but they need to up the ante as Only the best can do well at the World Cup and they need to show their mettle Now.

 

#2. Group F, the Most Dramatic Of All

This group which had Arsenal, Dortmund, Napoli and Marseille was billed the Group of death, when the First Round draws were held and it didn’t disappoint to say the least….the first 3 aforementioned clubs had 12 points while Marseille couldn’t even churn out a point. Napoli though were dumped out needing just a goal to see them through. However they can only have themselves to blame for their poor away form and conceding too many goals on the road. Dortmund stressed to qualify though after they had a shaky group stage battle. Injuries have been the plight of last season’s runner up but they pulled through. Arsenal disappointingly finished second and might regret that because they would have to slug it out with Europe’s elites in the Round of 16 such as Real Madrid, PSG, and Barcelona.

#3.  Man United Still Poor but Win Needed

A lot has been said in the past 8 days after Man United lost two games on a bounce at home in Old trafford. Many have called for Moyes’ head. I do not think people are angry because of their results really but for the fact that the Red Devils are playing in an extremely poor manner and it continued on Tuesday. Ferdinand is 35 and error prone, Giggs is 40 and tired, Young is well, still young but is terrible to watch. Manchester United midfield is desperately in need of creativity (everyone knows that) and urgency too – this side has lost its intensity and will to increase the tempo on the pitch when needed. After 61mins, they got the breakthrough via Jones’ fine strike and sealed their position; finishing top in Group A. The win will give them some confidence and hopefully, they carry that win into their Premier League games.

#4. James Milner Proves Pellegrini Wrong

Manchester City’s XI against Bayern Munich contained numerous players who want more playing time. Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards have repeatedly complained about lack of opportunity at City. That former City boss Roberto Mancini and current City gaffer Manuel Pellegrini successively buried them on the bench seems to be lost on them both.

Richards did not exactly seize his chance against Bayern. Pellegrini could not have been pleased with needing to replace an injured Richards with Pablo Zabaleta in the 16th minute when City were already down 2-0. For that matter, Lescott had not exactly covered himself in glory to that point, either. Ultimately, it was another forgotten man who yanked City’s fat out of the conflagration. James Milner has seen City spend absurd sums on Javi Garcia, Samir Nasri, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas in the past few years. Yaya Toure received a huge contract extension in that same time. Milner has suffered for City’s profligate midfield spending by spending a lot of time on the bench. Against Bayern, though, Milner drew the penalty from Dante that created Aleksandar Kolarov’s equalizer from the penalty spot. Then Milner scored the match winner in the 63rd minute. Lescott, Richards and other deposed starters like Joe Hart and Edin Dzeko could learn a lot from Milner’s example.

#5.  Chelsea Urgently Need A Goal Poacher

Of course, Chelsea dominated proceedings with 69 per cent possession and generally looked comfortable on the ball. Willian and Eden Hazard showed some nice touches, while Frank Lampard pulled the strings in the midfield. But again, there was that certain lack of quality on show, that one moment that could have put the game beyond doubt.

Considering the goal came from a set piece, Chelsea’s five shots on target from 18 in total highlighted their profligacy in front of goal. Demba Ba might have claimed the first goal, but his miss from six yards could have been costly for the Blues, with Schalke winning 2-0 against Basel .However, Jose will be more concerned in the EPL where ‘loanee’ Romelu Lukaku has lashed home 8 goals this season whereas Ba,Torres and Eto’o can only manage 4. A clean sheet is of course a bonus, and with just three goals conceded in the six group games, Chelsea have the best defence in the competition alongside Manchester United. Nevertheless, having criticised his team’s lack of killer instinct previously, the evidence suggests that Mourinho has every right to be unhappy with the attackers in the squad at present. He Needs A POACHER URGENTLY!!!!

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So, feel free to drop your comments on this and also your expectations of the Last 16 draws due to come up on Monday, 16th of December.

Credit: Tope Adepoju

Follow on twitter @biggiewallace

English Premier League Week 13 Preview, Verdicts and Predictions.

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Last week, Tottenham Hotspur was schooled by Man city in a hard way after handing the Londoners an emphatic drubbing, hitting them with 6 unreplied goals. Only few, would have envisaged that a Tottenham side that spent over a hundred million pounds in the summer would receive such. Spurs have scored just 9 goals and four have been from the spot, conceding 12. Definitely that is not acceptable from a club that spent so much just about 3 months ago.

For Manchester United, they looked to have returned to form after that victory against table toppers Arsenal but they were brought back to reality by a side from Wales (Cardiff) in a 2-2 draw, a match which Wayne Rooney should have been sent off for kicking his opponent.

Elsewhere Arsenal remains on top and now four points clear of closest challenger Liverpool who drew 3-3 with Everton in the Merseyside derby and Chelsea also did the business against London rivals West Ham United, winning 3-0.

Unfortunately last week was just one of those days that you have a bad day in the office, I could only managed to predict one game correctly out of six. That was poor; I know but let’s see what week 13 matches bring to the table.

Week 13 have gotten some high profile matches with Tottenham squaring up against Manchester United the highlight of the week. Liverpool will travel to Hull, Aston Villa faces Sunderland at the Villa Park, Cardiff city play host to league leaders Arsenal, Stoke city will embark on a difficult trip to Goodison Park to face Everton, Norwich City will be at home to take on Crystal Palace, West Ham United tackles Fulham in a battle of the Londoners and the last game of the day will see Newcastle United at the St James’ Park takes on Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich Albion.

On Sunday

The biggest game of the weekend comes to the table from tea-time kick off as Tottenham Hotspurs who will be determined to put their last week misery behind them takes on a Manchester United side who are eager to get back on track.

In Other games: Chelsea face Southampton at the Bridge while Manchester City remains at the Etihad to take on Swansea city.

                                                                     Cardiff City          v       Arsenal

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The Home Team

Cardiff city are 15th on the log with 13 points and have just 1 win in their last 6 games. The Welsh side head into this game with full confidence coming on the back of a 2-2 draw at this same venue to Manchester United, they looked condemn to loss that encounter but a last gasp goal from Kim Bo-Kyung after ex united player Frazier Campbell has earlier drew his club level.

Cardiff has done well against the Manchester clubs meaning they have collected four points from a possible after defeating City earlier in the season.

Arsenal

The Gunners are really showing champions stuff and are now looking like the Manchester United side under Sir Alex which despite playing badly, all three points must be secured. This was the case last weekend where Arsenal had to rely on a school boy error from Southampton goal keeper (Boruc) for the first goal and a needless penalty for Olivier Giroud to make it two and secure maximum points.

Arsene Wenger’s men remain top of the standings with 28 points, 4 clear of 2nd placed Liverpool and Chelsea who occupies 3rd spot.

VERDICT

Arsenal smarting on every bit of confidence, fresh from a victory against Marsielle in the UEFA Champions league and they doesn’t look like that team ready to relinquish any form of point.

The Gunners should do well to win this game despite Cardiff’s won at home. Might be a bit difficult but Arsenal will get the job done.

PREDICTION: Arsenal WIN

                                                                Everton       v       Stoke City

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Its 7th up against 14th and that clearly shows who the better team is going into this encounter but you might say Stoke won their last game 2-0 against Sunderland while Everton had to dig deep to secure a 3-3 draw against Liverpool but considering the quality of the oppositions you will say Everton is better and collectively the Toffees also have been the better team.

Everton are unbeaten in their last five games in which they have faced strong oppositions that include Tottenham and lately Liverpool. Strong point for them is they are not conceding goals aplenty and also have been able to score goals (17) although have managed just 5 in their last 5 but Roberto Martinez will be contented with the performance of his side so far in the league, just seven points behind table toppers Arsenal.

Stoke City

Stoke City will count themselves so lucky to have benefitted from an Error from referee Kelvin Friend who wrongly dismissed Wes Brown last weekend in their game and as a result of this Sunderland suffered and loss the game 2-0 to Stoke.

The side from the Britannia Stadium is unbeaten in their last four games although two of those games have ended in a draw.

VERDICT

Everton will be without influential defender Leighton Baines after club manager Roberto Martinez indicated that the England left-back could be out for anything between 10 days and six weeks after suffering the injury. Baines was caught by Jordan Henderson during the first half of Saturday’s 3-3 Premier League draw against Liverpool at Goodison Park.

Whether 10 days or six weeks, Baines will be sorely missed in the team, his contribution has always has been immense for Everton and apart from Belgium’s duo of Kelvin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku, no other person comes close to equaling his contribution to the team.

Everton are quite impressive so far, suffered the least (1) defeat in the league, won 5 and draw 6 to claim 21 points.

For Stoke, their season has been a topsy-turvy affair, they have won just 3 games, drew 4 and loss 5 leaving them to 14th position on the log with 13 points.

This tie will be a keenly contested affair and don’t expect lots of goals in it, Everton are keeping it tight at the back while Stoke are difficult to break down, so this will boil down to the side who will take its chances in front of goals and Everton surely will fancy their chances especially playing at home, a ground there are undefeated so far. I see Everton winning this.

PREDICTION:Everton WIN

                                                                                 Tottenham v Man Utd              

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Tottenham

It would have been easy to accept a tennis scoreline of 6-0 than believing a side that spent over 100m pounds just some few months ago has just been drubbed and annihilated.

Spurs weren’t just outplayed and outfought. That would have been depressing but in some ways OK. What made the game against Manchester City unacceptable was that so many players just gave up. They had no desire. No pride. They sneaked off the pitch like naughty schoolboys.

With that said, the time is now for Spurs to pick themselves up and get back on track, title? No! Just the top four race actually. But whether that will start from this weekend remains to be seen as they have gotten a wounded Man United to contend with. It must be said that Tottenham have just been disappointing so far, they have managed to score just nine goals so far with four coming from Spot kick and have conceded 12 although prior to the game against City, they have gotten one of the best defensive record in the league but that was battered in that encounter.

Man United

David Moyes still has a whole lot to do to convince the fans that he is the right man of the job, many of the united supporters still doubt his ability and results so far haven’t prove otherwise but after the 5-0 demolition of Bayern Leverkusen at the BayArena, which accounts to United’s biggest away win in the UCL since over 40 years ago, a feat which the great Sir Alex was unable to match, the fans now have every right to make a u-turn and rally round their chosen Manager.

Man United once again this season surrendered 2 points at the death of victory, something that won’t happen under Sir Alex. Cardiff city were the recipient this time around forcing the reigning champions to a deserved 2-2 draw in a game Wayne Rooney was absolutely lucky to still remain on the pitch after just 10mins.

VERDICT

You have to wonder at AVB’s team choices. Andros Townsend has been annoying to watch at times and his fondness for the cut-in and long-range shot are just too predictable, but he has been the one forward to consistently worry defenses all season. To neither start with him nor use him as a substitute seemed just perverse. Not least because Lamela could have tucked inside to the No. 10 role and not on the flank. Likewise, to use Emmanuel Adebayor ahead of Jermain Defoe made no sense. He must get things right if the woes are to be halted.

For Man United, a win in this game will further boost their title aspirations and the duo of Robin Van Persie and club captain Nemanja Vidic should be back in the lineup for David Moyes after missing the game against Cardiff and the champions league tie against Leverkusen due to injury.

If United can get these two players back plus the consistency of Wayne Rooney so far, they are in for a good chance of sniffing a point out of this tie or even a win.

PREDICTION: Draw

                                                                 Hull City     v       Liverpool

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The Hull city tigers, one of the 3 promoted teams to the topflight this season and really they have given fair account of themselves, with four wins, 2 draws and 6 losses in their opening 12 games and currently lies in 13th position on the league table scoring just nine goals and conceding 15 which leaves account to a -6 goals difference.

Hull loss their last game at home against Crystal Palace and the fact is they have managed to win 3 in 6 games in the same venue so far this term. The problem with Hull remains inability of the strikers to bang in the goals.

Liverpool

The Reds are doing more than enough to keep in touch with the summit of the league and last week was another underlining factor that the Brendan Rodgers led side are serious title contenders and are ready to better their best finish in the last 10 years when they came second to Man United in 2009 season by winning the League itself and that will amount to the first ever Barclays Premier League medal.

Liverpool has won one, draw one and loss one in their last 3 games, that means they have gathered four points from a possible nine but the good thing is that they are just four points behind leaders Arsenal and are level on point with 3rd place Chelsea.

Liverpool has gotten a rich scoring ratio, joint second highest scoring side alongside Arsenal in the league only bettered by the mesmerizing Manchester City goal prowess that has scored a whooping 34 goals.

VERDICT

Liverpool are in quite a good form right now scored 11 goals in their last 4 games conceding six meanwhile Hull City have scored just twice in their last four conceding six. This shows that the home team is not finding it easy with scoring goals and is also porous at the back.

For My money, Liverpool are destined to win this and am expecting Suarez to score a couple of goals in this one and the fit-again Sturridge also to score, both have scored 18 goals, 9 apiece.

PREDICTION: Liverpool WIN

                                                              Chelsea       v       Southampton    

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Everybody, everybody, the goal is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous,’ said Mourinho. ‘They were sleeping. If they weren’t sleeping, how could that goal go in?

‘When you are tired, you sleep. When you are tired, you think slowly. It’s true. When you are tired you react late. We had situations to score but had bad control, no sharpness.

Well, that was the reaction of Chelsea Gaffer to the late goal scored by Basel in their champions league 1-0 defeat in mid week. If there is any time for the boys to wake up, it has to be now, and you don’t even like to fall asleep in the Epl else you find yourself in a position you don’t want to be.

Chelsea host in-form Southampton at the Bridge having won just once in their last three outings in the premier league and that victory came in their last game against London Rivals West Ham at the Boleyn ground where they won 0-3.

Southampton

If any team deserves credit for their performance so far this term, it has gotten to be Southampton. Barring last weekend defeat to Arsenal, the saints are unbeaten since they loss 1-0 to Norwich city on August 31st and have just loss twice so far this season, winning six and drew four, in the process they have scored 15 goals and conceded just seven to boast of the meanest defense in the EPL.

Rickie Lambert (4 goals), (Adam Lallana 3goals) and Jay Rodriguez (3goals) are the life wire of the team and their performance plus the ones of the defenders have been the engine behind this terrific start of life to the season.

VERDICT

Chelsea have it all to do this time around, this opposition will be far from easy and with their unconvincing form so far, am afraid if their A-game is not brought to the table, they might be in for a shocker right here.

Southampton have gotten the best defense in the EPL and are also capable of causing headache going forward. So the sleeping players of Jose must wake up right about now if they are to avoid back to back defeats in all competitions.

Key thing to note here is that, Southampton are good when playing away from home, they have defeated Liverpool at Anfield, drew with Man United and also earned a point at the Britannia stadium against a difficult Stoke side.

PREDICTION: Draw

                                                                 Man City     v       Swansea City

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Man City

Imperious, is the right word to describe Manchester City home form so far, the citizen looked invincible while playing at the Etihad Stadium, scoring a whooping 26 goals in just 6 games conceding just twice.

The big question remains who can stop Man city at the Etihad? Will it be Swansea? I don’t think so!

Man City are 4th on the log with 22 points and without doubt, they boast of the best offensive duties in the league scoring a staggering 34 goals and conceding 12 times.

Last weekend, it was the turn of Tottenham to feel the wrath of the citizen and it was a total massacre, winning 6-0.

Swansea

Swansea has won just once in their last four games and in the process scored 5 goals and concede same number, leaving them in the middle (10th) of the league table. Michael Laudrup’s biggest worries has to be his sides’ inability to win games you would have expected them to and last weekend it took a Jonjo Shelvey to come off the bench and fire the team to their first win in over a month against a Fulham side who have suffered defeat in their last four games in all competitions.

VERDICT

It will be hard to put your money against Man City when squaring up against any team at the Etihad stadium. They have been mesmerizing and absolutely devastating in that ground and that just make it a slaughter ground for any opposition.

The Citizens are on form and I feel Swansea will find them too hot to handle.

PREDICTION: Man City WIN

 

Full Fixtures

Saturday, November 30, 2013

15:00 GMT          Aston Villa  v       Sunderland (Villa Park )

15:00 GMT          Cardiff City           v       Arsenal (Cardiff City Stadium)

15:00 GMT          Everton       v       Stoke City   (Goodison Park)

15:00 GMT          Norwich City        v       Crystal Palace (Carrow Road)

15:00 GMT          West Ham United v       Fulham       (Boleyn Ground)

17:30 GMT          Newcastle United v West Brom       (St James’ Park)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

12:00 GMT          Tottenham v        Man Utd     (White Hart Lane)

14:05 GMT          Hull City      v       Liverpool    (The KC Stadium)

16:10 GMT          Chelsea        v       Southampton        (Stamford Bridge)

16:10 GMT          Man City     v       Swansea City        (Etihad Stadium)

 

Alright folks, that’s it from this week. Did you see any upset happenings at any centre? Will the big boys dominate? Can Spurs get back to real business against Man United?

Share your thoughts on this weekend’s EPL games in the comment box.

Twitter: @Iam_AEO

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English Premier League Week 12 Preview, Verdicts and Predictions.

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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

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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.

VERDICT

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.

PREDICTION: Draw

 

                                       West Brom vs Aston Villa

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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.

VERDICT

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  

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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.

Everton

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.

Liverpool

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.

VERDICT

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

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Arsenal

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).

Southampton

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.

VERDICT

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.

PREDICTION: Draw

 

                               West Ham United        v        Chelsea

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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.

West Ham

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.

Chelsea

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.

VERDICT

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.

PREDICTION: Draw

 

                                     Manchester City v        Tottenham

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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.

MATCH FACTS

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%).

VERDICT

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

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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.

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English Premier League Week 10 Previews, Verdicts and Predictions.

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Yet another weekend of Exciting football actions on the card from the English Premier League, you call it the most competitive league in the world with the exemption of the Nigeria Professional Football League where even 50points can’t guarantee your stay in topflight actions.

It promises to be a Great weekend and the biggest game of this week has to be the Rampaging and almost Immaculate Arsenal (past 8 games) takes on a SAS inspired Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. Will it be the day Arsenal loss another game after their opening day defeats to Aston Villa.

Manchester United who gave us a glimpse of the United we know under Sir Alex last weekend will travel to the Craven Cottage to take on Fulham, Chelsea after that last minute win over Man city will travel to St James’ park to face Newcastle in the first kick off of the week.

Hull city stays at home to welcome Sunderland, West Brom will be at the Hawthorns to play newly promoted Crystal Palace, Stoke City vs Southampton, West Ham trades tackles with Aston Villa and the best is save for the last as Arsenal welcomes Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool.

On Sunday, there will be another big game and the venue has to be at the Goodison Park where Everton will lock horns with Tottenham Hotspurs and the final game of the Match week 10 will be played at the Cardiff City Stadium where Cardiff play host to fellow Wales based side in Swansea City.

Week 10 Fixtures
Saturday, November 2nd, 2013
12:45 GMT     Newcastle United      v      Chelsea (St James’ Park)
15:00 GMT     Fulham      v      Man United (Craven Cottage)
15:00 GMT     Hull City      v      Sunderland      (KC Stadium )
15:00 GMT     Man City      v      Norwich City (Etihad Stadium)
15:00 GMT     Stoke City      v      Southampton (Britannia Stadium)
15:00 GMT     West Brom     v      Crystal Palace (The Hawthorns)
15:00 GMT     West Ham   v      Aston Villa     (Upton Park)
17:30 GMT     Arsenal      v      Liverpool  (Emirates Stadium)

Sunday, November 3, 2013
13:30 GMT     Everton      v      Tottenham (Goodison Park)
16:00 GMT     Cardiff      v      Swansea City (Cardiff City Stadium)

                                   Newcastle United      v      Chelsea

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Last week, Fabio Borini wrote himself into Wearside folklore as he came off the bench to fire Sunderland to a 2-1 derby victory over Newcastle and lift them from the foot of the Premier League table. It will interest you to know that was Sunderland first victory in the Premier League this term and you will say the decision to appoint Gus Poyet is paying off although still quite early to jump into conclusion. Alan Pardew (Newcastle Gaffer) will still be wondering how his team has managed to score just 12 goals in 9 games and have conceded 16 in return to leave them 11th on the log although they are on par with 9th place Swansea.
Newcastle has failed to concede just twice this season and are without a win in their past two encounter in the League.

For Chelsea, who are in the form of their life and underlined their intention to win laurels this season with a convincing 2-0 victory over high-flying Arsenal (In England) at the Emirates Stadium with almost a second string 11 just after defeating Manchester City at the Bridge two days before that game, thanks to a platter of gold gift from Joe Hart who conspired (you never can tell) with his defender (Nastatic)to give Torres the winning goal in a game of two half for the Spanish striker.

The Blues are unbeaten in their last five games in the EPL and have won four of those games with their only blip coming at White Hart Lane in the game against Spurs where they draw 1-1, this form lifts Chelsea to 2nd place on the log with same points (20) with 3rd place Liverpool but have superior goal difference.

VERDICT
Fernando Torres just seemed to have regained his old self under Manager Jose Mourinho and his display last week shows how strong his ability is, he had a first half to forget after missing two clear cut chances but came back stronger in the 2nd 45 with a goal and provided one for Andre Shurlle to put Chelsea ahead in the opening stages of the game.

Chelsea are on a fine form right now, scoring goals aplenty and conceding just few which should be where Newcastle will struggle because they have been unable to keep it tight at the back, conceding cheap goals and still never looked like a Newcastle side we saw who were almost sure of a champions league spot couple of seasons ago and many will still wonder why things turn sour just after Pardew was rewarded with a 7 year contract. Too relaxed? Well, that’s left for you to answer.

PREDICTION: Chelsea WIN

                                                                      Fulham      v      Man United
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Fulham were dealt a big blow in the Capital one cup by a less fancied Leicester City and bowed out of the competition in a 7 goal thriller away from home which ended 4-3 to give more headache for manager Martin Jol which side has loss 5 matches, drew 1 and won 3 games in their first 9 games of the season and that fair run of results leaves them with 10 points and 14th on the log.
It must be said that of late, Fulham has won 2 games in their last 3 games in the League and this include an away victory over Crystal Palace which end in an emphatic 1-4 victory.
Martin Jol’s side loss their last game away from home to surprise surprise (yea, I have to call that twice) Southampton who have just been Excellent this season occupying the 5th spot on the log with 18 points, just 4 points behind table toppers Arsenal.

Manchester United showed “Sir Alex Ferguson” character last week with their comeback victory over a stubborn Stoke City side. United are famously known under Sir Alex to rise when all chips are down but this of late has been lacking under new gaffer David Moyes, but last weekend it was just like that same old united as they came back not once but twice against Stoke City to win a pulsating encounter 3-2 with goals from the club’s stikers in Van Persie, Rooney and the ever present Chicharito.
This result was followed up by a master class performance in the capital one cup against Norwich city which ended 4-0 to send the Red Devils into the Quarter final stages of the competition.  

The Red Devils are now unbeaten in all competition since their loss at home against West Brom in the league and this run seems to underline suggestions that Manchester United might have just bounce back from their early season stuttering which many will say, it is common at Old Trafford.

VERDICT
Manchester United might have just hit that time they have to get their season back on track with recent results stating not otherwise. Wayne Rooney remains the club biggest and most potent side and have scored 4 goals in the EPL but apart from the goals, his contribution in all ramification is immense and that just leaves you to wonder where will Manchester United have been had it been he was allowed to leave in the summer?
Fulham has always will prove difficult when playing at home but they have lost their twice this season already and United surely will be looking to add this game to their rising.
With United’s current form, I feel they’ve gotten enough zeal and character to see them through this came in victorious fashion.

PREDICTION: Manchester United WIN  

                                                Man City      v      Norwich City
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The Citizens come into this tie on the back of a defeat to Chelsea last weekend, but the money bags got their heart together against Newcastle at James’s park in the capital one cup winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko.
Man City has loss two and won 2of their last 4 games in the EPL and the Manuel Pellegrini tutored side boast of the best goal scoring ratio although they sit in 7th place with 16points, they have scored 21 goals.

For Norwich, their season has hit the rock so far, they lie in 18th position with just 8 points and their season was made further miserable by Man United by dumping them out of the Capital one cup in a 4-0 thrashing.
Norwich last victory in the league was on Sept 29th where they secured a 0-1 away victory against stoke city at the Britania stadium but ever since then, it has been from one disappointment to the other but they can take encouragement from their last outing last weekend, where they manage a goalless draw at home to newly promoted Cardiff City.

VERDICT
At the Etihad, Man city can only think of one thing against Norwich and that is outright victory irrespective of the margin. City is ready to put last week disappointing loss to Chelsea behind them and with Sergio Aguero in fine form, helping his side with 7 goals there can only be one winner in this encounter.
PREDICTION: Manchester City WIN

                                                       Everton      v      Tottenham

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Here is one of the games to watch out for every season even though none is a top-four team but this clash always showcase fantastic display of football met with tactical brilliance from managers and most importantly goals.
Everton
The Toffees sit in sixth place with 5 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat which is quite respectable, especially considering some of their results. At the same time, there is some room for improvement considering that they have allowed 10 goals against them, many of which coming from teams they should have defeated if they want to prove themselves as a top five or six place team. Everton will make this a very tough game especially since they have won nine of their last ten home matches.
Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs starts this game in fourth place and with an impressive 6wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats recorded to give them 19 points. In this time they have allowed a third best five goals while scoring nine and keeping six clean sheets. Only twice this season have they scored more than two goals with the first against Norwich City and the second against Aston Villa. They have only allowed more than one goal in one game, the 3-0 loss to West Ham United.
The key worry for Spurs is their inability to score goals in open play, create lots of chances but their conversation ratio is just too poor. Last week, they had to rely once again on the expertise of club record signing Roberto Soldado from the spot to give them a late 1-0 victory over Hull city same side they defeated in mid week 8-7 on penalties in the capital one cup.

VERDICT
Another stiff test of top-four credentials. Everton are the better side going into this encounter, they enjoyed an away victory last week 2-0 against Aston Villa and it must be said that Roberto Martinez has done well even with less attention.
Everton has gotten an edge as the home team, but really either team could turn this into a win. Over their last six meetings Everton does hold the advantage with three wins, one draw and one Tottenham win but Spurs with their ups and down are capable of turning things around.
PREDICTION: Draw

                                                   Arsenal      v      Liverpool  

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Saving the best for the last! Arsenal, a side that has failed to lose a game since that defeat against Aston Villa at the Emirates stadium and up against Liverpool who has done themselves a lot of good and also on a very good form if not excellent especially with the return of Suarez who has formed a formidable partnership with Daniel Sturridge and you can regard them has the best strike duo currently in the English Premier League.

Arsenal
Home form has been a big worry for the Gunners and it must be noted that all 3 games Arsenal has loss this season has been at the Emirates Stadium, against Villa (Epl), Borussia Dortmund (ucl) and Chelsea in the Capital one club lately.
The Gunners come into this encounter low on confidence and they have won just one game and loss two in their last 3 games in all competitions but their form in the league has just been fantastic, winning a whooping 7 games out of 9 and scoring goals also, they have put in 20 and allowed 9 to boast of the best goal difference in the league.

But with that defeat to Chelsea and just a win in 3 games, it remains to be seen how Arsenal will respond to this considering they face Dormund in the UCL next followed by Man United and a couple of other difficult games ahead.
Their title credentials will surely be put to test with these games and you might say they are already faltering because the Capital one cup is out of the way already leaving them to 3 titles (Epl, Fa Cup, Ucl) to contend for.
Liverpool
The Reds are third on the standings although with same point alongside 2nd placed Chelsea and are currently enjoying one of their best start to life in a league season.

Liverpool, surely is the in-form team coming into this game after comfortably dismantling West Bromich Albion last week at Anfield with some eye catching goals from Luis Suarez and a goal of the season contender from Daniel Sturridge.
Brendan Rogers’ side has won 6 matches draw 2 and loss just 1 in 9 games so far and have scored 17 goals where 14 of those has come from the boot of just two players (Daniel Strurridge 8 and Suarez 6) and have conceded 8 goals.

TEAM NEWS

Arsenal

Arsene Wenger is missing two of his most experienced performers in the middle of the park. Mathieu Flamini is out with a groin injury sustained in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Crystal Palace while Mikel Arteta in suspended following a red card in the same fixture.
Their absence could result in starts for both Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky, alongside the impressive Aaron Ramsey.
Attacking duo Theo Walcott (abdominal) and Lukas Podolski (hamstring) are still missing so Santi Cazorla and new signing Mezut Ozil will continue to provide lone frontman Olivier Giroud with his main support.

Possible line-up
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud

Liverpool
Liverpool welcome Philippe Coutinho back to action this weekend after six weeks out with a shoulder injury, although the creative midfielder may have to be content with a place amongst the substitutes for now.
 Spanish defender Jose Enrique is continuing to have an ongoing knee issue assessed on a game-by-game basis but could conceivably return to vie for the left wing-back slot with Aly Cissokho after sitting out the previous two games.
With Jordan Henderson continuing to impress, as part of a more robust-looking midfield alongside Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard, Rodgers is widely expected to name the same side that dismantled West Brom.

Possible line-up
Mignolet, Toure, Skrtel, Sakho, Johnson, Cissokho, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Suarez, Sturridge

Facts and figures
Arsenal have lost just one of their last 12 clashes with Liverpool, winning four and drawing seven.

Luis Suarez has six goals and one assist in four Premier League games since returning from suspension.

Arsenal won each of their last three league games at Highbury against Liverpool but have won only two of seven since they moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.

Aaron Ramsey has five goals and three assists in his last six Premier League appearances.

Daniel Sturridge has scored a single goal in eight of his (and Liverpool’s) nine league fixtures this season, with Southampton the only team to shut him out.

November is Arsenal’s least productive month in Premier League history with the Gunners gaining only 1.55 points per game. October is their second most productive month (behind March).

Mesut Ozil has gone four Premier League appearances without an assist.
                                                    VERDICT

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Irrespective of the form, Arsenal seems to have gotten the password to unlock Liverpool and the Gunners are unbeaten in their last 3 meetings in the league, winning 2 of those games and draw 1. Apart from the 0-2 victory that Liverpool enjoyed over arsenal in the 2011-2012 premier league season at the Emirates, Liverpool has failed to defeat Arsenal since 2009: there are have been 10 meetings between the two sides, 5 has ended with a draw and Arsenal won 5.
So, here is it, the stats and record favors Arsenal as they have enjoyed massive success over their opponents but you just have to be concerned with the form of the duo of Suarez and Sturridge who combined has scored 14 goals and you will agree that they are capable of creating havoc for any side they come against.
I feel this will end in a stalemate, Arsenal will score same as Liverpool and it will now boil down to the team that needs it the most which Arsenal might edge due to their past antecedents against Liverpool but we just have to factor in this: All 3 of Arsenal losses this season in all competitions has occurred at the Emirates stadium, so that makes it balance.
PREDICTION: Draw

 

Alright folks, there you have it. Time to have your say! What are your expectations, predictions as regard these matches going down?
Can Manchester United keep up the pace? Who will stop Jose Mourinho and his blue soldiers? And the biggest game of the weekend (Arsenal vs Liverpool), will it be another match Arsenal will lose at home or will the jury be enough for Arsenal to secure victory?

Feel free to drop your comments, suggestions and constructive criticism in the comment box as we take an analytical view of these interesting games.

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English Premier League Week 9 Previews, Verdicts and Predictions

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There were no big surprises in the English Premier League Week 8 games. Just as I predicted, Liverpool could only settle for a share of the spoils at the St James’ Park, Arsenal and Chelsea cruised while Manchester City had to grind it out against West Ham at the Boleyn Ground. For Manchester United, the struggle continues even at Old trafford as they were pegged in the last minutes of that game against surprise package Southampton.

So, its straight to action as we enter Matchweek 9 of the English Premier League, powering strong as ever and yet uncertainty over the clear pictures of who will be crowned champions at the end of the season.

Week 9 matches have installed some great games to watch out for and the biggest of them all has to be at the Stamford Bridge where Chelsea will welcome last season’s runner up Manchester City. Manuel Pellegrini up against the “Happy One”. Who will take this one? Well, we wait to find out on Sunday.

Crystal Palace will be at the Selhurst park to welcome red-hot Arsenal, Aston Villa also will be at the Villa Park against Roberto Martinez’ Everton, Liverpool versus West Brom: that’s another game to watch out for. Struggling Defending Champions, Manchester United remains at Old Trafford to welcome a stubborn Stoke City side, Norwich will do battle against Cardiff at Carrow Road and finally on Saturday, Southampton welcome Fulham to the St. Mary’s Stadium.

On Sunday, Sunderland will be at the stadium of light to take on Newcastle United in tea-time kick off and the biggest game of the weekend will follow next where the stamford bridge will come alive as Chelsea play host to Manchester City. Swansea City also will square up against West Ham United and finally Tottenham Hotspur will lock horns with new comers Hull City.

FULL FIXTURES

Saturday, October 26, 2013

11:45 GMT          Crystal Palace       v       Arsenal  (Selhurst Park)

14:00 GMT          Aston Villa  v       Everton      (Villa Park)

14:00 GMT          Liverpool     v       West Brom (Anfield )

14:00 GMT          Man United           v       Stoke City    (Old Trafford)

14:00 GMT          Norwich City        v       Cardiff City (Carrow Road)

16:30 GMT          Southampton         v       Fulham (St. Mary’s Stadium)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

13:30 GMT          Sunderland  v       Newcastle   (Stadium of Light)

16:00 GMT          Chelsea        v       Manchester City (Stamford Bridge)

16:00 GMT          Swansea City         v       West Ham (Liberty Stadium)

16:00 GMT          Tottenham  v       Hull City  (White Hart Lane)

                                       Crystal Palace      v       Arsenal 

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Crystal palace was humbled at home on Monday when they hosted Fulham losing 4-1 despite after going ahead first. Palace is really struggling and wouldn’t have expected their start to life in the EPL worse than this. The Selhurst park side has managed just 1 win in 8 games and loss the remaining 7 which is quite woeful, leaving them just 2nd to the last on the standing.

Palace only victory came a long way ago in the third week of the season against Sunderland which they won 3-1 but since then is been from one defeat to the other.

Arsenal on their part suffered their first defeat in 13 games on Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions league when they hosted Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium, losing 2-1 and that defeat is Arsenal second in all competitions this season after their 1st day loss to Villa in the opening day of the English Premier League.

But the Gunners are still flying high in their domestic chores winning 4-1 against Norwich City at the Emirates and currently sit on top of the log with 19 points, 2 points clear of closest challenger in Chelsea and Liverpoool.

VERDICT

Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from their Mid-week slip up and there is no better opponent to do it against than Palace at the moment. Mesut Ozil seems to bring something special ever since he joined Arsenal although those magic evaporated against Dortmund, however you will consider Palace a weaker opponent compared to the side from Germany.

Key thing for Arsenal is that Santiago Carzola is back into the squad which leaves Wenger with lots of options in the middle of the pack and his return should release Ozil off some workloads.

Crystal Palace biggest weakness is their inability to keep it tight at the back, conceding 17 goals and managed to score just 6 leaving them with a goal difference of -11.

Arsenal should do enough to win this game, they are playing at the Emirates and Crystal Palace has struggled all season.

PREDICTION: Arsenal Win

                                                       Aston Villa           v       Everton

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Aston Villa enter week nine having lost games against Tottenham Hotpur which puts them in 13th place in the league on ten points and they have been inconsistent in terms of rolling out the result. They sometimes look like not that team that defeated Arsenal in the season opener at the Emirates Stadium and also got a hard fought 3-2 win over Manchester City, but when you consider losing away to Newcastle and drawing at home to Hull City, you will say the results are just fair enough. Key worry for Villa is that they have failed to score in their past two games although they scored 3 against city before then.

Everton on their part, interestingly have loss just one game all season and that came in the hands of Manchester City. Overall they have won 4 drew 3 and loss just 1 of their last 8 games but the worry for Everton will be their inability to thrive away from home. Their last away win came in the week four of the EPL defeating West Ham 3-2 and that’s their only success in their last 12 away matches.

Everton also have failed to keep a clean sheet since their week three 1-0 home win over Chelsea.

VERDICT

It will be a tight contest between the two and I feel this might end in a stalemate with Everton vulnerable at the back and Villa’s inability to bury their chances. They’ve managed to score just 5 goals in their last 5 games, so that is not a form you take to play a side like Everton but they should be good enough to earn a draw.

PREDICTION: Draw

                                              Liverpool    v       West Brom 

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The Anfield stadium comes alive once again this weekend as Liverpool welcomes West Brom.

Last week, the Reds could only manage a 2-2 draw against the magpies (Newcastle) despite playing over 45 minutes with a man advantage. Its always not going to be easy for Liverpool against Newcastle especially when playing at the St. James’ park but they will look to themselves and say “we got a decent result” and next stop is a West Brom side who are doing not badly and the highlight of their campaign has to be that win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Liverpool, occupied the 3rd position on the log with 17 points same as 2nd placed side Chelsea but the blues edge them with a better goal difference. The Reds gradually are surrendering their early season swagger which saw them dominate the league standing earlier in the season.

West brom secured an impressive away draw at the Britannia stadium against Stoke city, one of the most difficult venue to get a result and key thing to note here is that the Baggies are unbeaten in their last 5 games in the EPL (Draw 3 win 2).

VERDICT

Liverpool are willing to get their season back on a fine track but I think this game is coming too soon for that objective. West brom are a pretty decent side who has not tasted in their last 5 outings and we’ll surely fancy their chances against their host.

Daniel Sturridge still remains the marksman for the Reds helping his side with 7 goals so far this season and the most important thing is that, he has been consistent with it. The return of Suarez has also added bite to the attack but Liverpool sometimes looks vulnerable at the back and that is where they have to watch it.

West Brom is capable of causing an upset and getting a result out of this tie and I will be backing them to come away from anfield with a point.

PREDICTION: Draw

                                                                Man United          v       Stoke City

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Manchester United fans are increasingly running out of patience with David Moyes, questioning his managerial ability and tactical prowess but the Scottish also have not covered himself in glory making tactical blunders most especially when it comes to substitution. Ryan Giggs seemed to be running out of ideas and lacking the energy to continue with the pace of the Epl and yet he still gets to play ahead of the likes of Kagawa and fresh-blood Zaha who Fergie worked his socks off to lure to Old Trafford. Against Southampton last week, it was the same story although you might want to cut him some slack and give credits to Southampton who has been near excellent so far this season.

Now, the onus as ever is on David Moyes to woo the fans to him and the only way to achieve that is to WIN GAMES irrespective of the manner the win comes. Manchester United have an uphill task against a stoke city side who always proved difficult to break down and have also gotten one of the best hands in the land in Asmir Begovic.

Stoke City have conceded just 7 goals all season while United has conceded more (10).

VERDICT

Manchester United once again are playing at home this week but they no longer seem to have the cutting edge at Old Trafford that they enjoyed under Sir Alex Ferguson. Teams no longer go to Old Trafford fearing a rout in fact many have gone there and gotten points this season.

Stoke city also have been a poor side so far, the Potters are without a win in their last 5 games, overall they have won just 2 games, draw 2 and loss 4 so far in their campaign this season.

The Red Devils will be hoping to have Robin Van Persie fit enough after sitting out their 1-0 win over Real Socieded in the Ucl, but if not still available, Chicharito who mostly hasn’t failed to deliver when called up for action should be ready to lead the line once again.

A difficult game it will be for both sides, Man United far from convincing. Stoke City are lackluster but you will feel if form comes to play, United should just do enough to get maximum points after what they display in the UCL.

PREDICTION: Manchester United WIN

                                                                       Chelsea       v       Manchester City                               

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Here comes the biggest game of match week 9 as Chelsea welcomes Manchester City to the Stamford Bridge. The Blues seemed to have wake up from their slumber and have been on a winning streak in the EPL since that defeat to Everton with the only blip along the line at White Hart Lane where they settled for a 1-1 draw.

Chelsea has won 6 games, draw 1 and loss 1 in their last 8 matches and will be riding on maximum confidence after going all the way to the Veltins Arena in Germany to secure a 3-0 win against Shalke 04 in the UEFA Champions League and interestingly Fernando Torres was picked ahead of Samuel Eto who scored over the weekend but the 50m pounds man repay the faith Jose showed in him by scoring twice for the Blue side.

Manchester City is the highest scoring side in the League, averaging 2 goals per game so far, in total they have scored a whooping 20 goals in just 8 games and they have scored 11 in their last 4 games conceding just 5 times in those games.

VERDICT

Its defense against Attack. Chelsea boast of the joint-second best defensive record in the league alongside Tottenham conceding just 5 goals in 8 games while City on their part has the best attacking ability with 20 goals to their credit.

If Chelsea are to get anything from this game, they have to make sure they shut down Manchester City’s strikers who have been prolific, especially Sergio Aguero who has scored six goals this term and also they must make sure they win the midfield battle against Yaya Toure and Fernadinho who are power-playing midfielders not forgetting the sleeky David Silva.

Ramires must bring his A-Game to the table, Andre Schurlle’s performance also will be key to how this game pan out and hopefully Torres can continue from where he stopped in the UCL for us to have an entertaining game.

There will be goals in this affair maybe not plenty of them but I feel the two sides will concede and it will boil down to who can outscore the other which I think Man City are in a better position to do that but with Chelsea’s home record under Jose Mourinho, they should take something out of this tie.

Am tempted to tow the side of Manchester City in this game but something just tell me, Chelsea might not just be ready to loss another game at home in as many games under Mourinho in all competition this season and that will leave us to a share of the spoils.

PREDICTION: Draw

For Me, is got to be one of those weekend we will witness draws rather than outright victories and defeats, teams should be able to stand up to each other, cancel themselves out and stand for their teams.

Chelsea up against Everton remains the top pick of the game and am seeing no winner in that game.

So, there you have it folks, what do you make of these matches, will chelsea prove a point against City or will it be the Manuel Pellegrini’s side that will cause headache at the Bridge? Will united struggle continue?

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