Here we go again! I’m back to preview this weeks games after taking a brief hiatus on the sunny shores of Mallorca. Cheers to Stoodes (@grinpowderdiah) for stepping in last week!
Federici; Kelly, Mariappa, Pearce, Shorey; Robson-Kanu, Leigertwood, Karacan, McAnuff’; Guthrie; Pogrebnyak.
Boruc; Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw; Cork, Schneiderlin; Rodriguez, Ramirez, Lallana; Lambert.
Reading have 3 fit keepers to choose from now, and while Taylor hasn’t been terrible, the battle will probably be between Federici and McCarthy to take the spot between the sticks. Shorey played last week over Harte, while Pog has been deployed as the lone forward recently.
The Saints will most likely shift from the 4-3-3 that exposed Chelsea last weekend back to a 4-2-3-1, with Davis making way for Ramirez and Lallana a chance to return at Puncheon‘s expense.
The proverbial 6 pointer is the first cab off the ranks, and it looks like being a high scoring encounter. Reading have now lost their last 6 games on the bounce and have conceded a whopping 15 goals in that time. Leaky. Although they have previously been scoring goals in losses, they have only scored 4 goals in these last 6 losses.
Southampton however have been pulling out some whopping results. Their last two results have seen them smash five goals past Chelsea and Liverpool and notch wins in both games. Their away record however is nothing to be proud of, conceding a league high 34 goals in their travels this year whilst only winning 2.
It should be a Southampton win, but I wouldn’t expect Reading to let them keep a clean sheet. Southampton’s attacking four of Ramirez, Rodriguez, Lallana and Lambert will be too much for a shambolic Reading defence. 2-1 Southampton.
Bunn; Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Hoolahan; Kamara, Holt.
Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton, De Guzman, Hernandez; Routledge, Michu, Dyer.
Norwich will welcome back keeper Bunn from his suspension for his red card, while Tettey is “expected” to be okay. His failure to be fit will see Howson get a run in the central midfield position. I’m also tipping a switch to a 4-4-2 for this home clash against the stoic Swansea, which sees Kamara and Holt play together at the expense of Bennett and Pilkington.
Swansea are close to welcoming back Taylor to LB, so Davies owners should be wary. Elsewhere, Ki hasn’t been favoured for home games, with Hernandez and Routledge interchanging in the #10 role. Rangel is also deemed an almost certain starter.
Norwich have conceded a mere 3 goals in their last 7 games whilst only conceding 15 goals at home this year (the same as Man United). Their recent form has left a lot to be desired though, with 1 win in their last 11 games.
Swansea however are third bottom on the form table of the last 2 months, having lost 5 of their last 7 games. Their away scoring record is also quite miserly, having only scored 13 away goals all year- a feat with is only worsened by Norwich.
Everything in this game points towards a low scorer. Both teams have been seriously short of ideas going forward recently and I think a 0-0 bet will provide VERY fruitful. If not a <2.5 goals bet will suffice. 0-0 Draw for me.
Begovic; Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson; Walters, Whelan, N’Zonzi, Etherington; Jerome, Crouch.
Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett; Westwood, Bannan, Sylla; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Etherington‘s inclusion for the Potters is 50/50- his failure to be fit will see Shotton feature on the right of midfield, with Walters moving to the left. Should he be fit, the only battleground is between Cameron and Shotton for the right back position.
Clark is a doubt for the travelling team, which would see Baker slot in at CB with Bennett at LB. Sylla and Holman will also fight it out for another midfield slot- with the Australian offering a more attacking option should Lambert choose to go for the jugular early.
Stoke have been fairly unininspiring lately, managing 1 win from their last 12 matches. Their home record is better than their away though, having only conceded 15 goals this year (again, on par with Man United).
Villa have strangely started playing a good brand of football recently, notching 2 wins in the past 3 games (and unluckily not seizing a point against Liverpool last week). Their away goalscoring record is nothing to be proud of though, having only netted 17 times and conceding a whopping 34 all year.
Villa are poor defensively, but Stoke are poor offensively. This could go either way, and I’m finding it hard to pick a winner. I’ll go for an upset 2-1 Villa win, with absolutely no confidence at all.
Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgwell; Morrison, Yacob; Dorrans, Long, Brunt; Lukaku.
Fabianski; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Arteta, Rosicky; Gervinho, Giroud, Cazorla.
West Brom are without Mulumbu after he lashed out at O’Neill, meaning Morrison moves into the CM position. This leaves a hole on the flank for either Jerome Thomas or Shane Long, as Clarke will most likely prefer a 4-2-3-1 at home.
Arsenal will most likely start with Fabianksi, while Gibbs is also nearing fitness to provide competition for Monreal. Podolski seems to have fallen out of favour, with means Cazorla will likely start left, with either Gervinho or Oxlade starting right. Walcott and Wilshere still miss.
Hold the phone, West Brom have amassed NINE home wins this year! That’s as many as Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton, whilst being one more than Tottenham have managed! On the back of this you’d be a brave man to completely write the Baggies off, especially seeing as they haven’t lost at home since Tottenham beat them 7 fixtures ago!
Arsenal have been quietly putting together a string of results. Their away form has been also deceptively impressive, having only conceded 13 away goals all year. This makes them the best defensive side in the Premier League! They have won 5 of their last 6 and will look to carry that momentum into this weekend as they are real chances to finish 3rd.
It’s a tough one, but I’ll tip an Arsenal win. I think Lukaku will be too tough to handle up front, but Arsenal’s attack should provide too much whizzbang for a slow West Brom defence. 2-1 to Arsenal for me!
Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Lucas, Gerrard, Coutinho; Downing, Sturridge, Suarez.
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien; Diame, Nolan, O’Neill; Vaz Te, Chamakh, Jarvis.
Liverpool will only have one choice to make, with Rogers either starting Henderson or Sturridge. Should Sturridge be included, which I think he most likely will, it will damage Coutinho‘s stocks as he won’t play such an advanced role… be warned.
Carroll is the big omission for a West Ham side who are also without Noble and Cole. The forward is ineligible to face his parent club, meaning Chamakh or Cole will lead the line.
The last time Liverpool lost at home was on December 15 against Aston Villa. Since then, they have gone on a 6 game unbeaten home run. Considering they nudged West Ham 3-2 in the reverse fixture at Upton Park, you’d be foolish to bet against them.
If Liverpool’s home record is formidable, then West Ham’s is absolutely catastrophic. They have lost 5 of their last 8, and have the worst goalscoring away record in the PL, having only netted a measly 9 times all year.
Liverpool won’t lose this. If they do, they can kiss Europe goodbye. Considering West Ham are without Carroll, Cole and Noble, I’ll comfortably tip Liverpool for a 3-0 win.
Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Parker, Dembele; Sigurdsson, Holtby, Dempsey; Adebayor.
Howard; Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin; Coleman, Gibson, Mirallas, Osman, Baines; Jelavic, Anichebe.
Lloris is available after missing last week, while Dempsey is back to cover the injured Bale. Lennon is still two weeks away, while Defoe is also out, meaning Sigurdsson and Adebayor will secure starts.
Everton look likely to roll out the same 3-5-2 they did last week, with Fellaini and Pienaar both missing after serving suspensions. Mirallas is touch and go, with his exclusion likely to include Neville or Naismith into the fray.
Tottenham, after going on a 12 game unbeaten run, have fallen in 2 of their last 3 to Liverpool and Fulham. Their home record is sound, but nothing spectacular, especially considering Southampton, West Ham and even Reading have netted more times at home than Spurs.
Everton have been quietly getting results all year, winning their last 3 (including a 2-0 win against Man City), whilst only conceding 18 away goals all year. Their away record reads 4-6-4, with any discernible pattern in their away form hard to recognise.
I think Everton have a sneaky chance of grabbing a valuable win here. Tottenham are without 3 of their most potent attackers in Lennon, Defoe and Bale, meaning that Vertonghen is legitimately their best chance of scoring! Tottenham will dominate possession but provide very little spark I’m afraid, and as such I’m tipping a 1-0 Everton win against the run of play.
Cech; Azpilicueta, Terry, Luiz, Bertrand; Mikel, Lampard; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Ba.
Mignolet; Bardsley, O’Shea, Bramble, Rose; Larsson, N’Diaye, Gardner, Johnson; Sessegnon; Graham.
Chelsea look to rotate again, with Hazard and Oscar coming back after resting midweek. Ba will also slot in for Torres, with Lampard and Terry also fresh.
Di Canio’s first game in charge will see many changes I’m sure, but where nobody will know. Most importantly for FPL managers, Sessegnon will start, while Gardner the underrated smokie is also a definite.
Chelsea are deceptively effective at home. They have the second best defensive home record in the league, and given that their last three losses have all come away from Stamford Bridge, they have proved hard to topple. Their goals scored record at the Bridge reads as 33 for, 12 against, which will provide a struggling Sunderland with a near impossible task.
Sunderland’s last win came against Wigan in January. Since then they’ve lost 5 of their last 8 games, and ditched Martin O’Neill. What Di Canio serves up this week is anybody’s guess, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to topple the European Champions.
Chelsea should win this, and win it comfortably. Considering Fletcher is out for the year, they will be hard pressed to score. Considering Hazard and Oscar are fresh off a midweek break, I’m tipping a 2-0 Chelsea win.
Krul; Simpson, Yanga-Mbiwa, S Taylor, Santon; Gouffran, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Sissoko; Cissé.
Schwarzer; Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Baird, Karagounis, Ruiz; Rodallega, Berbatov.
Krul and Santon returned midweek, while Tiote is the only doubtful player in the midfield. His failure to play will see Anita deputise alongside Cabaye. Debuchy is still out so Simpson will play at RB.
The Cottagers are without Sidwell after his dismissal vs QPR, meaning either Baird or Frimpong will play alongside Karagounis in the midfield. Dejagah is also a risk, so Jol can either move Ruiz left and put Rodallega up front, or play Richardson down the left and leave Ruiz in the hole.
Newcastle have endured a tough run all year, and despite a slight surge after January, they have slipped back into mediocrity, having lost 3 of their last 4 games. They have also only drawn 1 game at home all year, meaning a result is imminent.
Fulham have been much maligned for their away form this year, but they actually haven’t been as bad as people have historically been led to believe. They managed to topple a full strength Tottenham at White Hart Lane, and have also not lost any of their last 5 games!
Newcastle should win here, but I don’t think Fulham will make it easy. The loss of Dejagah will also be a little more of a blow than most people think, and Fulham will find it difficult to maintain their width without him. I honestly don’t have much confidence in tipping this game, but I’ll tip a 2-0 Newcastle win purely because they need it more!
Cesar; Bosingwa, Samba, Hill, Traore; Townsend, Mbia, Jenas, Taarabt; Remy, Zamora.
Robles; Scharner, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, Gomez, Beausejour; McManaman, Kone, Maloney.
QPR don’t have any new injury doubts, with battlegrounds between Traore and Fabio at LB, and Park and Jenas in the centre of the midfield.
Wigan have rotated their squad the last few weeks, and seeing as they have been winning I can’t see any unforced changes being made by Martinez, meaning Di Santo and McCarthy will have to wait.
For QPR this is it. They’ve managed to lose most of their home games this year, without being blown out of the water. When it comes down to it I suppose, they have still only won 2 home games all year, and lost 4 of their last 6. This is their last roll of the dice though, and Redknapp should throw absolutely everything at Wigan if he wants to stay in the Premier League next season.
Wigan are the Houdini’s of the football world. Every year they’re chained to a relegation anchor, blindfolded and made to sniff chlorophyll. Yet come May, they always seem to manage to wake up and finish 17th. It seems to be happening this year again, as their 9 points from their last 4 games suggests.
We all know what Wigan are like. If they turn up, they are totally capable of beating anybody in the league. If they don’t, they struggle all game. Thankfully for them, the pressure to turn up is a lot less against QPR. The R’s will press, no doubt about it, and I actually think they can come away with a result. I’ll tip a 2-1 win for QPR, based entirely on a personal hunch.
De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa; Rooney, Van Persie.
Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Nasri, Y Toure, Barry, Silva; Tevez, Aguero.
United have a doubt over Rafael and Scholes, meaning Cleverley will start and Jones or Smalling will wait and see on the RB role. Rooney and RVP look to start together for the first time in weeks after Rooney has been passed fit.
City have Aguero fit, meaning he and Tevez look likely to start up front together. Nastasic is also fit and reading to go, which relegates Lescott on the bench.
Ahhh the Manchester Derby. United are phenomenal. They last time they lost was in September last year, and they just seem to keep winning despite being in 2nd gear. They have won 7 games on the trot, and given their 3-2 win in the last derby, they’ll want to give Man City absolutely nothing this year.
City on the other hand will be absolutely desperate to get something from this game. They have relinquished their league title to their neighbours, and this is their last chance at some, if only a tiny, amount of retribution. Their away form has been indifferent this year, and considering they lost 2 of their last 3 away games (to Everton and Southampton), I’d say they were underdogs in this game.
For me, what it comes down to is the fact that Man United have nothing else to play for. They are out of the CL and the FA Cup, with only the League to keep them warm at night. This game is their opportunity to assert their dominance over their noisy neighbours, and I think SAF will name a full strength side to ensure he maintains his unbeaten record. A 2-1 United win is my tip, but we all know how many goals fly in during these encounters.
Well that’s just about it for this week, I’ll rest my fingers for next week when I tackle the whopping 13 game GameWeek 33. I’m not looking forward to it! Good luck this week guys, any questions as always feel free to drop me a tweet.