Friday, October 15, 2004

English Premier League October 16 - 18 Weekend Predictions

As we approach round nine of the English Premier League season, the table continues to take shape in what will be an interesting next few weeks. Arsenal and Chelsea remain undefeated on 22 and 20 points respectively. Manchester United is seven points away from second spot on 13 points. Meanwhile, Southampton and English Premiership newcomers Crystal Palace and Norwich City are in the relegation zone on five points each.

Here are my predictions for this October 16 - 18 weekend.

Birmingham 1 - 2 Manchester United at St Andrew’s Ground

Manchester United is back in form with the return of England international defender Rio Ferdinand in the line-up after an eight-month absence due to a failure to appear at a drugs test. With new signing and wonderkid Wayne Rooney now back from injury (who has already scored three goals in one European game), Birmingham should struggle against the team backed by the G14 organisation -- even at home.

Arsenal 3 - 1 Aston Villa at Highbury

Arsenal is approaching 50 unbeaten league games and it looks like they should not be stopped just yet. They have too much attacking prowess, especially with the likes of Frenchmen Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, and are just too classy. However, Aston Villa does contain the potential to scrape a goal against a superior London side, especially with Juan Pablo Angel in the line-up.

Blackburn 1 - 1 Middlesbrough at Ewood Park

This will be a close game. Blackburn Rovers are undefeated so far at home this season, despite only having six points from eight games. The Lancashire club does not look like dropping another game just at this moment as they continue to show improvement and intensity under Mark Hughes, who just this week resigned from his job as Wales national coach. Brett Emerton is particularly in form at the moment. He has scored three goals from three games for both Blackburn and Australia. On the other hand, new striking pair Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka are partnering well in the Middlesbrough colours. However, Viduka looks to be out of the side due to injury. Nevertheless, Hasselbaink should trouble the Rovers defence.

Bolton 3 - 1 Crystal Palace at Reebok Stadium

Premiership newcomers Crystal Palace look unlikely to upset Bolton. The Lancashire club will be boosted by the likely return to fitness by Nigeria international and Wanderers captain Jay-Jay Okocha, who aggravated a groin injury a fortnight ago. Bolton, also being a side that is seemingly unconcerned with defence, looks likely to go on a scoring spree.

Everton 1 - 0 Southampton at Goodison Park

Everton are one of the in-form teams in the Premier League, collecting 16 points from eight league games. They currently sit third, and will surely be full of confidence due to the news that manager David Moyes is about to sign a new contract. Meanwhile, managerless Southampton, who has only won one match for the season, should struggle away from home.

Fulham 1 - 1 Liverpool at Craven Cottage

Liverpool has been struggling for a team of their calibre. They have only collected ten points from seven games, and look unlikely to pick up a win against a reasonable Fulham at the Cottage. Playmaker Harry Kewell has been in average form all season, and in fact, in his whole year and a half at Liverpool. New striker Djibril Cisse is having a poor run of form himself.

West Bromwich Albion 2 - 1 Norwich City at The Hawthorns

This should be a very interesting match between the two Premiership newcomers, as they will both be able to play flowing football against easier opposition. However, Albion looks to be the better side, and they are playing at home after all, so they should win.

Manchester City 1 - 1 Chelsea at City of Manchester Stadium

Chelsea is playing defensive football at the moment, having only conceded one goal from eight league games. However, Manchester City is an attacking side and if anyone can score against a star-studded defensive side, they can. Ex-Arsenal and ex-Liverpool striker Nicolas Anelka will relish the challenge against one of Europe's very best. Chelsea should dominate the game, although I expect that many of their chances will not be genuine ones, as has been the case in previous games.

Charlton 1 - 2 Newcastle United at The Valley

Newcastle United remains undefeated in the five games new manager Graeme Souness has led them. They have 12 points in eight games, compared to Charlton Athletic's eleven points. The Addicks will certainly push United, but Newcastle is in good form at the moment and look like retaining that unbeaten run. Veteran striker Alan Shearer is playing reasonably well at the moment.

Portsmouth 0 - 1 Tottenham at Fratton Park

There is a new discipline that Jacques Santini has brought in that has made Tottenham a formidable team to beat. They now play a solid defensive game, while they have a strong front two containing Irish international Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe. Hotspur currently have thirteen points, while Portsmouth is struggling on eight points.

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