Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Ba.
Foster; Reid, Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Fortune, Morrison, Brunt; Long.
Chelsea have Azpilicueta and Cahill available after missing the midweek FA Cup tie vs Middlesborough. Luiz, Lampard, Ramires and Mikel will all be vying for the CM role, while Moses and Oscar will battle it out for the RW spot. Ba should start as Torres started last time out.
No new injury concerns for West Brom- but Lukaku is unavailable to face his parent club. Fortune and Dorrans will slog it out for a spot on the flank.
Chelsea have been the epitome of inconsistency this year. They have won just 1 of their last 4, against the struggling Latics, and have struggled to string together any results in any competitions. I’ve found that analysing statistics with Chelsea is useless- you don’t know what they’re going to do and they lull you into a false sense of security (or false leg of your accumulator).
West Brom have been pretty ordinary to be fair, but have managed to pick up 6 points from their last two games after snapping a 6 game winless streak, where they lost 5 fixtures. They have also only won 2 away games all season.
Looking at a scoreline is also tricky here, because West Brom normally either win or lose, having only drawn 4 times this year. Chelsea on the other hand have drawn 7 times, which is quite high for a team aiming for a 2nd place finish.
I think Chelsea have too much strength up front, given that Ba should start- as West Brom will really miss Lukaku leading their line.
An outside bet for Chelsea to win to nil might not be a bad choice!
Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Gibson, Osman; Mirallas, Fellaini, Pienaar; Jelavic.
Federici; Kelly, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte; Kebe, Karacan, Leigertwood, McCleary; McAnuff; Le Fondre
Fellaini is touch and go for saturday- his failure to appear will probably Neville come in to restructure the team- with Mirallas shifting left, Osman to the right and Pienaar in the hole. Alternatively Naismith could come into contention.
For Reading, Pogrebnyak serves his first match of his 3 game ban. This will see super-sub Le Fondre afforded a role up front, while Noel Hunt is another viable option. Akpan started “in the hole” last week, but Reading were absolutely putrid so I expect McCleary to take the role, with Guthrie another contender.
Everton have lost their last two and are in danger of losing their third successive match for the first time since 2011! That said, they have only lost 1 of their past 17 matches at Goodison Park, so their home form is very strong.
Reading have seemingly stalled after going on a healthy run in the new year- last week against Wigan was some of the worst defending I’ve seen from a PL side.
When you look at the core facts though- this match should only end one way. Although Reading beat Everton 2-1 at home in the reverse fixture, Everton have only lost 1 home game all season. Reading have only won 1 away game.
Pen down an Everton win for your accumulator / multibet!
De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Giggs, Nani; Hernandez, Welbeck.
Bunn; Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Howson, Johnson , Snodgrass, Hoolahan; Becchio, Holt.
Who knows what Ferguson will do- resting Rooney is an option, while RVP is “available”. I wouldn’t expect him to start though. Rotation is likely to hit hard, brace yourselves!
Hughton adopted a 4-4-2 last outing, with Becchio included at the expense of Pilkington. Tettey has been ruled out, meaning Howson is afforded another appearance at CM.
United haven’t lost a game since the 17th of November last year- and funnily enough it was against Norwich at Carrow Road. Since then though, they are undefeated, and with or without Rooney or RVP they cannot be anything other than sure things.
Norwich’s win last week against Everton snapped their 9 game losing streak, but they have still got one of the worst away goal scoring records in the Premier League- only having 11 to their name all season.
I’d be putting money on United to win this fairly comfortably, with Norwich struggling to get on the scoresheet.
Boruc; Clyne, Hooiveld, Yoshida, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Cork; Puncheon, Ramirez, Lallana; Lambert.
Cesar; Onuoha, Samba, Hill, Fabio; Wright-Phillips, Derry, Mbia, Townsend; Taarabt; Remy.
Only battleground is the spot between Puncheon and Rodriguez- hopefully for beleaguered FPL managers Puncheon gets the nod. Shaw will be battling to recover from a knock, Fox will be on standby.
QPR … well… nobody should have any QPR players. Remy is expected to recover from a knock and should feature, while Zamora might start should Redknapp change to a 4-4-2.
Ah, the proverbial “6 pointer”. Although for QPR, this is surely the last roll of the dice. Southampton is as scattergun as they come at home- winning 4, drawing 5 and losing 4 games this season. From that we can’t really back them with any confidence, but when we look at QPR’s away statistics we can see why they will struggle at St Mary’s.
The Rangers last played Southampton in November, where they lost 3-1 in what ended up being Hughes’ final hurrah as manager. Since then, they have picked up a mere 13 points from 14 games, so I don’t know what all these Redknapp brown nosers are going on about. They won’t escape relegation, have won only 1 game away from home all year, and only scored 11 away goals in that time.
It’ll be tough for Southampton to stuff this up, but stranger things have happened.
Begovic; Wilkinson, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson; Adam, Whelan, N’Zonzi, Etherington; Walters; Crouch.
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, O’Brien; Noble, Collison, Diame; Cole, Carroll, Jarvis.
Stoke are without Huth who is serving his 3 match ban, meaning Cameron should feature at CB and allow Wilkinson to feature in his preferred RB.
Demel will be hoping to start after recovering from a knock, and as his owner I hope he does too. Pogatetz could start at LB and O’Brien at RB should he fail to be ready. Nolan has a broken toe so Collison looks the most like for like replacement- O’Neill or Taylor could alternatively start.
Stoke have lost just the one game at the Brittania this season, but their form against West Ham is hardly inspiring- managing just 7 points from their 11 meetings in the PL.
West Ham’s away form though, is diabolical. They have drawn 1 and lost 7 of their last 8 away PL games, and boast a worse away goalscoring record than QPR and Reading (8 away goals this year).
If ever there was an advertisement for English football- let’s hope to god they don’t use any footage from this game. Both play physical, bang-it-long types of football which is almost painful to watch (Sorry Stoodesy it’s true). A draw here seems to be the most likely option, and a low scoring one at that.
Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Rose; Larsson, Vaughan, N’Diaye, Johnson; Sessegnon, Fletcher.
Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise; Dejagah, Sidwell, Karagounis, Duff; Ruiz; Berbatov.
No new injury problems for either team here- with the only battleground being a formation change to Sunderland- a move to a 4-4-2 has seen Graham feature up front.
I’m struggling to predict this one. Sunderland have lost 3 games in a row (a first under MON), but have also kept the third most clean sheets in the league. Their home form has been erratic however, losing 5 of the 13 games they’ve played, whilst drawing and winning 4 a piece.
Fulham’s away form is nothing short of abysmal- that’s a fact- winning just 2 of the 13 games they’ve played on the road. Their goal scoring record away from home isn’t too bad though, meaning that a BTTS bet might not be a bad way to go.
I’m leaning towards a Sunderland/Draw for this one, I reckon it could be a close affair.
Vorm; Angel Rangel, Bartley, Williams, Davies; Ki, Britton, De Guzman; Routledge, Michu, Hernandez.
Elliot; Debuchy, Coloccini, S Taylor, Santon; Cabaye, Tiote; Gouffran, Sissoko, Gutierrez; Cisse.
Chico is still out so Ki might have to jump back into central defence- but Bartley seems like the most logical fit. Monk may also feature.
Newcastle will be without Krul for 5 weeks so Elliot gets his chance between the sticks.
Swansea have lost just 2 home games this year, but have drawn a relatively large 6 games at the Liberty Stadium. Their home goalscoring record is good, but they also can be leaky. They have gone through a bit of a dry PL spell in recent times though, winning just 3 of their last 12.
Newcastle’s form hasn’t been great on the road, having picked up a solitary win in away fixtures all year (against the shambolic Aston Villa). Their goalscoring prowess is not to be underestimated though, with Gouffran, Sissoko and Cabaye all running in the same midfield, and with a goalscoring record which is 2nd best of the bottom 10 teams, goals should be rolling in during this game.
Swansea are without Chico, which leaves them with a bigger problem than most think- so I like a high scoring affair here. A BTTS bet tickles my fancy, but Newcastle’s away record rules them out of any backing with confidence.
Al Habsi; Scharner, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour; Di Santo, Maloney; Kone.
Reina; Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Coutinho; Downing, Suarez, Sturridge.
Much of the same from Wigan, whose only doubt is Figueroa down back- his failure to be deemed fit will see Alcaraz make his long awaited return from injury.
Sturridge is a slight doubt for Liverpool- but I think he should start in a game Liverpool will be expecting to win. Sterling will be waiting in the wings should the England international fail a fitness test.
Fact, Wigan are undefeated at home in their last 4 matches v Liverpool. Weird, I know, but Wigan have only managed 2 draws and 4 losses in their last 6 home ties. We all know how unpredictable they can be though…
2 fun facts about Liverpool I read on twitter today. Firstly, they have managed the second most points against the bottom 10 placed sides in the PL (behind United.) Secondly, they have only won 2 of their last 6 league matches, but both were by a 5-0 scoreline!
This game is poised to go either way- Liverpool should do enough to win, but both teams are alike in a sense that they either are completely switched on or completely terrible. Willing to gamble who turns up on the day? I’m not.
I do think goals will fly in though, LFC have managed to concede the second most away goals out of any top 10 side (West Brom has conceded one more), but have also scored the most away goals of any side not in the Top 4. BTTS? Wouldn’t rule it out.
Lloris; Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Dembele, Parker; Lennon, Holtby, Bale; Adebayor.
Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal; Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla; Walcott, Giroud, Podolski.
Vertonghen started at LB last match, but against Arsenal who chuck Walcott down the right you’d expect them to go with the pacier Assou-Ekotto, meaning Gallas misses out.
Arsenal will be debating whether to start Giroud or not- with Walcott the likely replacement at striker and Oxlade-Chamberlain featuring on a wing. Podolski will also surely be in contention for a start after being left out in recent weeks.
There is always goals in these games, and the 5-2 win to Arsenal in the reverse fixture was a testament to that. Tottenham though have since hit a rich vein of form, managing to jump to third and win 6 of their last 9 games (they’re undefeated in 12 games).
Arsenal, well, are much like Chelsea. Sometimes they’re slick, but most of the time they disappoint. That said, they have only lost 2 of their past 10 games and have only failed to take points on the road on 3 occasions this year.
As previously mentioned, I’m tipping goals galore. One resounding fact makes me want to back Tottenham though- Arsenal can’t defend and Tottenham have Bale. I’m convinced.
Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Baker; Weimann, Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor; N’Zogbia; Benteke.
Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Garcia, Barry; Milner, Toure, Silva; Aguero.
Much of the same from Villa , who only have doubts over Bent. Pffft, like he would start anyway.
Mancini must decide whether to stick with the 4-5-1 that was so effective v Chelsea, or play a 4-4-2 featuring Tevez. What he’ll do is anybody’s guess. Barry is a doubt, as is Kompany who now has a problem in his OTHER leg. What a pussy.
Aston Villa are nutters. I have no idea what is going on in the midlands. Their form is erratic, but strangely enough their last home loss was on Boxing day… not bad for a club in a relegation scrap.
Man City though will have far too much firepower. They have only conceded 24 goals in the PL this year, making them the best defensive outfit- with only 13 of those coming on the road.
I didn’t have to look into too much detail with this game- you’d be mad to say it’d be anything other than a City win. Aston Villa have shocked Liverpool already this season though- can they cause an upset here?
Seags Matt Andy
Chelsea v West Brom 2-0 3-1 2-1
Everton v Reading 2-1 2-1 3-1
Man United v Norwich 2-0 2-0 2-0
Southampton v QPR 2-0 3-1 2-0
Stoke v West Ham 0-0 1-0 1-1
Sunderland v Fulham 2-1 1-0 2-0
Swansea v Newcastle 2-2 2-2 2-2
Wigan v Liverpool 0-3 1-3 1-1
Tottenham v Arsenal 3-1 3-1 2-2
Aston Villa v Man City 0-2 1-2 0-2
That’s it for me this week, good luck to all.