Only the 9 games this weekend, as Chelsea and Southampton draw a blank due to Chelsea’s Japanese commitments. Let’s get stuck in.
Newcastle v Man City
Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Guitierrez, Anita, Tiote, Ben Arfa; Cisse, Ba.
Ben Arfa is a big down for the Toon, who will hope to pick up at least a point against the defending champions. If Ben Arfa doesn’t come up, either Perch or Marveaux may be deployed instead.
Hart; Zabaleta, K. Toure, Nastasic, Clichy; Y Toure, Garcia; Silva, Aguero, Nasri; Tevez.
Kompany is still a big doubt for City, and given their reluctance to play Lescott this season I’d tip Toure to pair up with Nastasic. Barry is suspended for the one match, so Garcia is given another opportunity to impress alongside Yaya. Tevez should definitely start after sparking the Champs into life last weekend as a sub.
Man City should have too much firepower for the struggling Newcastle outfit. The toon have been leaky at the back and lacked firepower up front, and aside from a Ba masterclass I can’t see them troubling the City defence- even without Kompany. Up front, City’s firepower will be too much, even away from home. City 2-0.
City (WIN) – $1.67
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Allen; Sterling, Suarez, Shelvey.
Suarez returns and should slot in to the lineup, with Downing making way. Elsewhere, nothing much changes as Liverpool continue their surge towards the top four.
Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Baker, Lichaj, Herd; Westwood, Bannan, Holman; Agbonlahor, Benteke.
Bent is out for at least two weeks with a hamstring injury sustained midweek against Norwich, and Vlaar has similarly been ruled out- handing Baker another chance to impress at CB. Lambert has persisted with a 3-4-1-2 formation which looks like continuing.
At Anfield, Liverpool on paper should have too much for Villa to deal with. The addition of Suarez into a forward line that scored 3 goals last week SHOULD see ample goals scored…but take a look at who they’re playing. Aston Villa, although they have lacked attacking thrust this year, have kept 3 clean sheets from their last 4 games. Liverpool have only hit over 3 goals when Suarez plays twice this year, against Wigan and Norwich… so a low scoring game should be in order. I’ll go Liverpool 1-0.
Under 3.5 goals – $1.40
Man United v Sunderland
De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley; Valencia, Rooney, Young; Van Persie.
Vidic is apparently fit, so he will replace the injured Evans. Vidic may not play though, as he is apparently fit but his return date is doubtful- meaning Smalling or Jones will deputise if he doesn’t pull up. Elsewhere no new injuries mean it should be the same side that clinched the derby last weekend.
Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Rose; McClean, Larsson, Colback, Johnson; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Bardsley is injured, meaning the team gets a major reshuffle. Gardner filled in at RB at the start of the year, so I expect him to jump back into the back four. This leave a hole at CM, and given Cattermole is still injured, Colback is in prime contention to come back into the side. Fletcher looks to have shaken an ankle injury. Johnson is also a slight doubt, so monitor him carefully.
A home clash for Man United should spell the end of Sunderland’s quest up the table. Although United have made conceding first at home a habit this year, Sunderland’s firepower is nothing compared to a revamped back four that MUN possess. I’m tipping an easy Man United win, with Rooney continuing his blistering form and netting a brace. Man United 3-0.
Man United to win to Nil- $1.99
Norwich v Wigan
Bunn; Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Tettey, Johnson; Snodgrass, Hoolahan, Pilkington; Holt.
Same old same old for Norwich.
Al Habsi; Stam, Piscu, Figueroa; Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour; Gomez, Di Santo, Kone.
Alcaraz, Ramis and Caldwell remain out, so their makeshift backline continues. The McTwins should pair up in the centre of midfield again though. Gomez could miss for Maloney if Martinez prefers the more defensive Scot away from home.
Well, Norwich have been in outstanding defensive form recently, especially at home- who’d have thought it four weeks into the season!? Wigan’s form has been on the slide pretty much all month, and they are edging further and further to relegation. Wigan’s problem is not scoring goals, it has always been stopping the haemorrhaging at the back. Norwich’s clean sheet doesn’t look at certain as it once was, as Wigan make a habit of scoring annoying away goals, but Norwich should be too strong and account for them 2-1. Snodgrass is one to watch, his set pieces have been insane, and Hoolahan is one I really like and is very slippery to defend.
Norwich – Draw NO BET- $1.53
QPR v Fulham
Green; Bosingwa, Nelsen, Hill, Traore; Diakite, Mbia; Wright Phillips, Granero, Taarabt; Mackie.
Cesar is still 50-50 heading into this game, so Green should retain the spot between the posts. Elsewhere it looks to be much of the same of the QPR we’ve come to expect under old ‘Arry.
Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Duff, Baird, Sidwell, Kacaniklic; Rodallega, Berbatov.
Diarra is still rated a major doubt, so Baird will come in to the centre of the park. Elsewhere, Berba will continue to be partnered with Rodallega as Ruiz is out until the New Year.
Ahhh QPR. When oh when will you break your duck. If Harry can’t get you a win, nobody can. Fulham are no easy beats, but their away form leaves a lot to be desired. Can this be the week QPR do it? For me… no. Fulham will probably nab a goal or two…. but a draw is not off the cards. QPR have made a habit of drawing this year, having drawn their last three games. My tip is 1-1.
Fulham or Draw – $1.53
Stoke City v Everton
Begovic; Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson; Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington; Adam; Crouch.
Shotton is suspended, which luckily coincides with Wilkinson‘s return. Unless Kightly finally gets a game over Etherington, it’s much of the same for Stoke City this week.
Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Naismith, Osman, Gibson, Pienaar; Fellaini; Jelavic.
Hibbert seems to be second choice RB now, as Coleman has cemented his spot. Mirallas is still out which means Naismith will continue down the left. Don’t be surprised to see Heitinga included in the midfield to sure up the defence at the expense of Gibson.
Stoke have conceded just two goals in their home ties this year. Two. That is a ridiculous record in anybodies book. Everton have only been held to a clean sheet away just once this year, and even with Stoke’s record, I reckon they can sneak a goal through the aerial prowess of Fellaini. For Stoke, I can’t see them breaching Everton’s defence. Jagielka and Distin are two criminally underrated CB’s, and can easily deal with the likes of Crouch at set pieces. 1-0 to Everton.
Under 2.5 Goals – $1.62
Tottenham v Swansea
Lloris; Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro, Dembele; Lennon, Dempsey; Defoe, Adebayor.
Nothing should change as Bale is still rated a massive doubt by AVB, meaning Defoe and Adebayor can play together up front again.
Tremmel; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Ki, De Guzman, Michu; Routledge, Dyer, Graham.
Britton‘s foot complaint means that Michu will likely move back into the midfield, with Graham or Shechter replacing him in the CF role.
Tottenham have only lost one game with Dembele in their midfield in the last two months, albeit unluckily. Swansea will also be slightly fatigued from their midweek tie with the ‘Boro, so all signs point towards a Tottenham win. Even without Bale, I can see Lennon getting free down the right away from Davies, who isn’t that quick. I’m tipping a Tottenham 3-1 with a Defoe brace.
Tottenham (WIN) – $1.61.
West Brom v West Ham
Myhill; Reid, Olsson, McAuley, Popov; Odemwingie, Yacob, Mulumbu, Brunt; Morrison; Long.
Reid has been picked over Jones of late, and Ridgewell is injured, so expect Popov to replace him on the left. Elsewhere, Morrison COULD drop back to a CDM slot, and see Gera come into the hole- however I think Mulumbu and Yacob look the likely CM pairing.
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien; Tomkins, Noble, Nolan; Taylor, Cole, Jarvis.
Diame is out injured for a fair chunk of time, so Tomkins will play OOP in the midfield. McCartney has also sustained an injury today, so O’Brien will swap sides and play on the left, leaving Demel on the right.
This is a tough one to pick. West Brom haven’t replicated their inspired early season form lately, while West Ham have been tight one week, then loose the next. The Hawthorns are one of the toughest places to travel in the BPL, which gives West Brom the upper hand immediately. The loss of Diame in the midfield for West Ham will be massive, and I’m tipping this factor alone to be the difference between the two sides. I reckon Long will finally get back on the scoresheet, and West Brom will win 2-0.
West Brom (WIN) – $2.00
Reading v Arsenal
Federici; Cummings, Mariappa, Gorkss, Shorey; Robson-Kanu, Tabb, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Le Fondre, Roberts.
Mariappa and Gorkss seem to be the new CB pairing of the month for McDermott’s side. Kebe is still injured, as is Karacan, meaning Robson-Kanu and Tabb get the starts they wanted.
Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud, Podolski.
After what you can only describe as a debacle against Bradford, Wenger will have to reshuffle his lineup due to the injuries sustained in the Leage Cup loss. Walcott did his classic “pick up a niggle” gag that I’m getting really sick of, which means Ox is favourite to start down the right wing. Podolski should start down the left, given Gervinho‘s absolute howler midweek. If you haven’t seen it watch it- probably the miss of 2012.
Arsenal have to come out firing here. If Wenger wants a job come Monday, he is going to have to smash Reading. An interesting thing to remember about Reading…people have been quick to discount their ability to put goals on the board but take a little closer. 5 Goals v Arsenal in the league cup, 3 goals v Man United two weeks back, and 2 goals v Chelsea at the start of the season. Those who completely write them off are brave! Arsenal have too much firepower, and without Gervinho wasting their chances, they should net 2 or 3 comfortably. Arsenal 4-1. Tipping a big one here!
Both teams to score? YES – $1.70
So there we have it, another week previewed. Remember Chelsea and Southampton both have a blank and do not play! Don’t go expecting Mata, Torres, Cole, Cech or Puncheon to play! Hope you all have a good weekend, here’s to a few goals flying in!