Friday, September 26, 2014

EPL 2014/15 - Week 6

Arsenal v/s Tottenham. Both teams having been gathering see-saw results lately and are definitely not in the best of forms going into this match. But usually for this kind of derby, all form is thrown out of the window and the more enterprising team usually comes up on top. Arsenal also have the benefit of home advantage here and should use it to full effect to edge this match. Home win.

Liverpool v/s Everton. What I wrote above could pretty much be applied to this Merseyside derby. Both teams are certainly not in full flow at the moment and the only 2 bright lights have come from Sterling from the Kops and Lukaku for the Toffees. With the Kops' poor form, this looks like Everton's best chance to get a win at Anfield for years; they will feel that they can win this. This fixture rarely ends in a draw but I think this could very well be the case this year. Draw.

Chelsea v/s Aston Villa. I expect Chelsea to keep their comfortable march at the head of the pack and see off visitors Villa. With Mourinho, they are practically impossible to beat at home and although the Villains went to win at Anfield on their last road trip, I can't see them repeating the same success in London. Costa, Hazard and Fabregas are on a tear and should again create opportunities by the buck-load. Home win.

Crystal Palace v/s Leicester. I don't think Leicester will be up to the heroics as to their last game against Man Utd. They have great fighting spirit but Crystal Palace will not be as leaky as the Man Utd defence and more importantly,  they most probably won't benefit again from the kind of generosity referee Clattenburg allowed them. Neil Warnock is having the Eagles playing with purpose and they look good for the 3 points. Home win.

Hull v/s Man City. I have a feeling that the Citizens will start embarking on a winning run in the coming games. Aguero and Silva should be back from injury to give significant impetus to their attack. I thought Hull made an interesting coup in getting Ben Arfa from Newcastle at the transfer deadline and if given the proper chance, the Frenchman can add firepower to their rather average offence. The gulf in class should tell here and I see City coming out with the win. Away win.

Man Utd v/s West Ham. I will repeat it again; I thought Mark Clattenburg gave the victory to Leicester last week-end with his blown calls on the first 2 Leicester goals. An incompetent referee can decide games unfortunately. However, this is not an excuse for the poor Man Utd defence; possibly one of the most feeble in the league at this point. They should get better in that department as the season progresses but probably not for the West Ham match as the bulk of the defence will be out injured or suspended. Still, the Red Devils were sensational on their attacks and they are a good proposition to outscore the Hammers to come away with a vital win. West Ham will possibly score but so will the hosts. Home win.

Southampton v/s QPR. Ronald Koeman is simply doing miracles for the Saints. QPR are a listless team on the road and will be without some creative players in Barton, Mutch and Taraabt among others. The most Rangers can aspire to is a draw but I still think that the Saints will edge this. Home win.

Sunderland v/s Swansea. The hosts are becoming specialists of the draw and Swansea are on a losing run after having won their 3 opening matches. The visitors will have striker Bony back. Probably another draw in the offing for Sunderland but this match could really swing either way. Draw.

West Brom v/s Burnley. The visitors have been amazingly involved in draw-less outcomes in their last 3 matches. WBA went to grab a shocking 3 points at White Hart Lane last week-end. This looks to be a tight defensive match and I can't separate the teams. Draw.

Stoke v/s Newcastle. The result will depend on which type of Stoke and Newcastle teams show up. Stoke have poor form at home and the Magpies haven't been able to win a match so far, besides in the Carling Cup. There is no confidence in backing either team and Stoke probably hold the aces with home advantage. Home win.

Friday, September 19, 2014

EPL 2014/15 - Week 5 Predictions

QPR v/s Stoke. Stoke are the most un-reliable team to follow at the moment. They got beat at home by Leicester last week-end after having won against all odds at Man City. Their best form seems to be on the road where they managed a win and a draw in 2 matches. Rangers got thrashed, as expected, at Old Trafford last Sunday and it was disappointing to see that they did not offer more opposition to the Mancunians. It's as if they went into the match already beaten. Even with Redknapp and Hoddle at the helm, from what they are showing so far, they look set to play a major part in fighting relegation. This could end in a dour nil-nil, and a draw is probably the most probable outcome. Draw.

Aston Villa v/s Arsenal. The Villains are the surprise package so far this season and their last win at Anfield tell a tale that they should not be taken lightly. It seems that new assistant manager Roy Keane is having some kind of influence on the squad. Arsenal were greatly disappointing in their mid-week UCL loss at Dortmund. Rarely have I seen an Arsenal side so poor in a European game. Newcomer Wellbeck is creating chances but cannot score a goal but he should be on the scoreboard shortly. The Gunners really need to kick-start their season if they are to contend and I see them edging this contest by just. Away win.

Burnley v/s Sunderland. Burnley have racked up 2 consecutive scoreless draws but should be confident to at least score one against the Black Cats' leaky defence. Sunderland were arguably lucky to snatch a draw against Tottenham last Saturday but will look to this match to finally garner a win. I think there's value going with the away side here. Away win.

Newcastle v/s Hull. Newcastle's Pardew is the man in the hot seat at the moment and the coming of Hull might give him and his side some reprieve. It is however, hard to have any sort of confidence on the Magpies side that got thrashed at Southampton in their last match. Hull will be true to their colours and play tight at the back and rely on counter-counting forays. A draw looks probable. Draw.

Swansea v/s Southampton. Swansea gave Chelsea a fright last Saturday and will welcome back striker Bony. I have to say that Chris Monk is doing a fine job managing the side and they look like a top 10 team. Southampton too have done a pleasing start under new coach Koeman and are not feeling the ill effects of major key player departures. Another draw on the cards, in my opinion. Draw.

West Ham v/s Liverpool. Although they flopped at home to Villa and were lucky to win their UCL match in mid-week, it's hard to see Liverpool get overturned in this one, particularly with West Ham being hard-done by a string of injuries. The difference in class should tell and the Kops should get the 3 points. Away win.

Leicester v/s Man Utd. It is a measure of the way things have gone bad at Old Trafford since the glory days when a thrashing of lowly QPR heralded that the Red Devils were back. Back in the good days, it would have been business as usual, not a title-grabbing headline. If they hope for the fervour to continue, then Van Gaal's men need to dispatch Leicester in a convincing fashion, which is far from a done deal. The Foxes gallantly matched Arsenal at home before scoring an important away win at Stoke last Saturday. LVG has a fantastic strike force to choose from and it remains to be seen who of Falcao or RVP will partner Rooney. I think there's lots of goals in the offing here and most possibly might end up in the Red Devils outscoring the home team. Away win.

Tottenham v/s WBA. This should be a Spurs win even though they might feel the effects of their Europa league game. WBA have no major injuries but they've just been playing badly as a team for the past weeks. They will need major improvement in them to avoid the drop but it won't come overnight. Definitely not in this game. Home win.

Everton v/s Crystal Palace. Everton are gaining stride at the moment and have won in mid-week in the Europa League. They must however phase out horrendous defending like they did against Chelsea a couple of weeks back. They should have too much for this Palace side and home advantage should prevail here. Home win.

Man City v/s Chelsea. Man City cannot afford to lose this match and set Chelsea free sailing at the top. The Citizens lost a heart-breaking match at Bayern in the UCL losing Dzeko to injury in the process. Still they have a formidable squad and I cannot see them losing this 6-pointer match. Chelsea are relying much on the goal-scoring exploits of Diego Costa and will be encouraged by the fact that they won this fixture last year. A draw will be good enough for Mourinho whose team had an excellent record when playing the top sides last year. This could swing either way but I have a feeling that the urgency coming from the hosts will see them win this. Home win.

Friday, September 12, 2014

EPL 2014/15 - Week 4 Predictions

Arsenal v/s Man City. I thought Arsenal snatching Danny Wellbeck from Man Utd was one of the best transfers before deadline closing day. His pace should fit naturally in the Gunners system and if he stays fit, there's every chance that he is going to get over 10 goals for this season. Arsenal have lost Giroud for the season and while the French striker might be a better finisher than Wellbeck, the latter's mobility give them more interesting options up front. Definitely a great buy at 16 million pounds. Man City suffered a shock defeat at home to Stoke in their last game and they haven't been very active in the transfer market mainly due to the Fair Play restrictions. Mind you, they still boast the most complete squad in the league. The manner of their home defeat looked to suggest that they might lack cutting edge up front when Aguero and Dzeko are not firing on all cylinders. This is a big 6 pointer match for 2 leading teams this early in the season and the winner will be the one taking the most of the chances at hand. A draw might be the likelier outcome and that is the selection. Draw.

Chelsea v/s Swansea. After taking the scalp of Man Utd on opening day, Swansea will aim at doing the same to the Blues. Thing is, Chelsea are formidable at home under Mourinho and are so far perfect this season. I just cannot see them losing this match and Swansea's good run should come to a halt at the Bridge. Home Win.

Crystal Palace v/s Burnley. There's no doubt that the departure of Pulis just before the start of the season have wrecked plans not just at Crystal Palace but also in the betting markets. A team that I thought was destined for a top 10 finish will now possibly be fighting for relegation survival. That said, the Eagles have shown good resilience even in their 2 defeats in 3 matches, and the coming of fellow strugglers Burnley will be an opportunity-not-to-be-missed to get 3 important points. Home Win.

Southampton v/s Newcastle. The Saints seem to be on a mission to contradict the naysayers as they continue their good run despite having lost their manager and best players over the summer. Their new boss Ronald Koeman is a good coach with whom they can manage a middle of table finish. Newcastle have yet to win and manager Pardew is already on the hot seat particularly after the fan outrage of losing talented player Ben Arfa during the transfer window. This will be a tight match but I like the chances of Southampton posting another win. Home Win.

Stoke City v/s Leicester. Stoke stole 3 invaluable points at Man City last week-end, something that not many teams will probably do. They should be their stingy self at home again this year and I don't anticipate many goals in this match. It's hard to see Leicester win this and the most they can aspire to is a draw. Chances are that it will end up with the home side bagging up all 3 points. Home Win.

Sunderland v/s Tottenham. The actual strength of Tottenham was fully exposed in their defeat at the expense of Liverpool in their last match. Spurs were lucky to snatch a last-gap victory at West Ham on opening day and I think there is still much room for improvement regarding team chemistry under new coach Pochettino. This match seems to be the right opportunity for the hosts to finally bag their first win after 2 draws and a defeat in the first 3 matches. The Black Cats usually keep matches tight with their stingy defence and have enough the firepower to cause trouble at the other end of the field. A home win for Sunderland is the value punt of the week-end. Home Win.

WBA v/s Everton. Two win-less teams so far and visitors Everton will be gunning for the full points here against a team that many are expecting to be relegated. The Toffees should have too much firepower for the Baggies to handle and if there is to be an away win on Saturday, it should be in this one. Away Win.

Liverpool v/s Aston Villa. Liverpool were dealt a blow in mid-week with the loss of striker Sturridge for a few weeks. It will be up to new recruit Balotelli to lead the charge although the eccentric player is not fully fit. Still, Liverpool seem to be getting to last year's form and they are always a formidable foe at Anfield. Villa have started the season brightly and the managerial combination of Lambert and Keane seems to be bringing dividends to the club. Villa won't be easy to overcome but I reckon the Kops will get the important win in the end. Home Win.

Man Utd v/s QPR. Talk at Old Trafford is now about the Gaal-acticos after the arrivals of Di Maria and Falcao, these 2 players being arguably the best in the world at their positions. It won't escape regulars of this blog that I rate Falcao very very highly; in fact, I think he's the best striker in the world. Not only he scores boatloads of goals, he scores them in the most important matches as well. If he stays fit, he's going to be a massive signing and addition to the club. Di Maria is a fantastic buy as well, a real danger to any team and a game-changer as well. When Van Gaal gets this team to fully gel, which I reckon will take a couple of months, they will be scoring loads of goals left and right.
The fact that Rio Ferdinand is still central to QPR's plans tells you about their health (or lack of) in defence. Rangers can certainly score against the volatile Man Utd rearguard but they will almost inevitably concede as well. This match will probably not be a thrashing that many people are expecting but in the end, the Red Devils should be celebrating their first win of the season. Home Win.