September 21, 2012
At this stage of the season the action comes thick and fast. Already some teams are looking forward to a season challenging for honors, but others are struggling and it cannot be long before the first manager gets the dreaded vote of confidence from the chairman – followed closely by the sack!
With many of the top teams in European action in mid-week, the managers will take the opportunity to rest players where possible. With a squad full of big name players, most of the teams can afford to rest tired players to keep them fresh for the long season ahead.
Swansea v Everton
Both teams have had a great start to the new season with 7 points from the first four games, however both have also struggled a little in the last two games. Swansea now need to consolidate their good start to ensure they reach safety from relegation while Everton need the points to continue their challenge for a place in Europe.
Swansea have good form at home, but might struggle to break down a resolute Everton side who will miss star striker Nikica Jelavic who is injured. With the home side never managing to beat Everton in a game, a draw is the most likely outcome from this game.
Last Season: Swansea 0 – 2 Everton
Prediction: Swansea 1 – 1 Everton
Chelsea v Stoke City
Both teams are unbeaten in the league so far this season, but Stoke are still searching for their first victory of the new campaign. Chelsea played well in mid-week against Juventus and were unlucky not to win the game, but the players will be less rested than the Stoke players. Luckily for Chelsea, the Stoke team is not as strong as the Italians and this should be a straightforward victory for the home team.
In the four seasons since Stoke won promotion to the Premier League, they have only managed to score one goal at Chelsea and lost all four matches.
Last Season: Chelsea 1 – 0 Stoke City
Prediction: Chelsea 3 – 0 Stoke City
Southampton v Aston Villa
Southampton have had a disastrous start and have yet to pick up a point, but have played three of the teams that will probably finish in the top four at the end of the season. Aston Villa have also struggled, and only secured their first win at home to Swansea last weekend. Even though it is early in the season, both managers are under pressure and will want to pick up points as soon as possible.
Historically, Southampton have had the better of the matches at home but the two teams have not played since Southampton were relegated from the Premier League in 2005. With both teams struggling, a draw would be a good outcome for both teams but a defeat could be another nail in the relegation coffin.
Last Season: Did not play
Prediction: Southampton 1 – 1 Aston Villa
West Brom v Reading
Reading are another of the newly promoted teams that are struggling this season. With only one draw so far, they are anchored in the relegation spots but have played one game less than most of their rivals. West Brom meanwhile had a great start to the season spoilt only by a bad defeat last weekend at Fulham.
Over the years, Reading have struggled to get anything from games at West Brom and will struggle again this year. A home victory is the likely result.
Last Season: Did not play
Prediction: West Brom 2 – 1 Reading
West Ham v Sunderland
Of all the newly promoted teams, West Ham have had the best start to the season and now sit comfortably in the top half of the table. Sunderland are unbeaten, but like Stoke have drawn every game so far. West Ham will want to carry on their 100% home record, but will struggle to break down a strong Sunderland defense.
West Ham have won four of the last five games between the two teams in London, but might not be strong enough to take the points against the well-organized visitors. This game could well end in a draw.
Last Season: Did not play
Prediction: West Ham 1 – 1 Sunderland
Wigan v Fulham
Both teams have been very inconsistent this season, seemingly alternating great performances and results with poor displays and bad losses. Wigan have traditionally struggled at the start of the season, but Fulham are poor away from home.
It is several years since Wigan have managed to beat Fulham at home, but this season could be the time that changes. Wigan could take all three points for the first time since 2005.
Last Season: Wigan 0 – 2 Fulham
Prediction: Wigan 2 – 0 Fulham
Liverpool v Manchester United
One of the big games of the season, these two clubs have long been rivals for the title of best ever English team of all time. However, this season sees them both in an unfamiliar position as the second team in their city having finished last season behind Everton and Manchester City respectively. Both teams will be desperate to get the points from this encounter, especially Liverpool who are only just above the relegation spots and still searching for their first league win of the season. A good performance in Europe this week will have raised confidence and the partisan home support will urge their heroes on, but Manchester United also recorded a good victory in Europe and have had an extra days rest.
It is now five years since Manchester United recorded a victory at Liverpool, but this season could change. Neither team has been playing at their best, but Manchester United are in good form and are the stronger team. An away victory is highly likely.
Last Season: Liverpool 1 – 1 Manchester United
Prediction: Liverpool 1 – 3 Manchester United
Newcastle v Norwich
Neither team has hit the heights of their form from last season, but both are difficult to beat with one loss each from the first four games. Newcastle were lucky to take a point in a draw at Everton last weekend, but will play better in front of the passionate home support.
Newcastle are strong at home, and should comfortably take all three points from this game. It is now nearly 25 years since Norwich won at Newcastle, with the last victory in 1988.
Last Season: Newcastle 1 – 0 Norwich
Prediction: Newcastle 2 – 0 Norwich
Manchester City v Arsenal
The other big game of the weekend is between two teams that have had great starts to the season. Arsenal are very tough defensively and have only conceded 1 goal so far this season, while City have scored one goal more. Both teams had tough games in Europe in mid-week, but City will be disappointed to lose in the last minute at Real Madrid while Arsenal took all the points in a great performance at Montpellier.
This is a game that City have to win if they want to defend their Premier League title, but a solid Arsenal unit could take a share of the points in a draw.
Last Season: Manchester City 1 – 0 Arsenal
Prediction: Manchester City 1 – 1 Arsenal
Tottenham v QPR
The last game of the weekend is this London derby between two teams that have not had a great start to the season. Tottenham struggled under new manager Andre Villas-Boas, but took a vital victory over Reading last weekend to build confidence. They should carry this on into the home game against QPR who are already in the relegation places.
Tottenham should continue their recovery under the new manager with a comfortable home victory.
Last Season: Tottenham 3 -1 QPR
Prediction: Tottenham 2 -0 QPR