September 28, 2012
After a week filled with some surprising domestic cup results, most notably Manchester City losing at home to Aston Villa and Everton losing to Championship side Leeds, the English soccer spotlight turns back to League action. The season is only five weeks old and already the league table is taking shape with most of the teams heading towards their usual place in the division.
Arsenal v Chelsea
The early game on Saturday is arguably one of the biggest fixtures, and London derbies, of the season. Both teams have enjoyed great success over the last few years and will be eager to score an early victory over their rivals from across the capital city. The presence of Chelsea captain, John Terry, will give the side a boost although he still faces a four match ban for racial abuse. Arsenal captain, Thomas Vermaelen will also make a return to action after illness.
Chelsea are the league leaders and have not lost a game yet, but could struggle at the Emirates Stadium where Arsenal are very strong. This game could end in a comfortable home victory for manager Arsene Wenger to celebrate 16 years in charge of the club.
Last Season: Arsenal 0 – 0 Chelsea
Prediction: Arsenal 2 – 0 Chelsea
Everton v Southampton
Southampton took their first points of the campaign last weekend with an impressive 4-1 victory over Aston Villa and followed it up with a cup victory against lower league opposition in midweek. Neither of these games is as hard as a trip to Everton, who are currently sat in third place in the table and playing well in the league. Southampton will also miss midfielder Jack Cork, who is facing six weeks out with a knee injury. Everton have only lost once in the last 15 games and will want to continue their great form.
Historically, Southampton have a poor record at Goodison Park and will be lucky to get anything out of this tricky fixture. This will most likely be a home victory.
Last Season: Did not play
Prediction: Everton 3 – 1 Southampton
Fulham v Manchester City
Fulham are another side that have got their season off to a great start and currently lie in sixth place in the Premier League, just one place above Manchester City on goal difference. Fulham go into this game on the back on two straight victories in the Premier League, but Manchester City are much stronger than Wigan and West Brom and go into the game on the back of a home draw with Arsenal last weekend.
Over the last few seasons, this has been a good ground for Manchester City who are unbeaten at Fulham since 2005. City are the stronger team and should take all three points back to Manchester with them.
Last Season: Fulham 2 – 2 Manchester City
Prediction: Fulham 1 – 3 Manchester City
Norwich v Liverpool
This bottom of the table clash sees two sides who are struggling for points in the Premier League go head-to-head at Carrow Road. Norwich are currently one point and one place above the visitors and both teams are struggling under new managers. Liverpool will hope to reproduce their domestic and European cup form in the league before the season becomes a battle to avoid the specter of relegation.
Liverpool have taken all the points in the last three games at Norwich and are unbeaten on this ground since 1993. With their current form they will struggle to take all three points, so a draw is the most likely outcome.
Last Season: Norwich 0 – 3 Liverpool
Prediction: Norwich 1 – 1 Liverpool
Reading v Newcastle
This is one of the rarest games in the Premier League, with the two teams only ever having been in the same division for a total of four seasons. Reading have got off to a bad start this season, and are currently lying at the bottom of the league table and facing relegation in their first season back in the division. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew will want to use the game to celebrate signing a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2020.
Reading are struggling this season, and Newcastle should have enough strength to take a comfortable away victory and pile more pressure on Reading.
Last Season: Did not play
Prediction: Reading 0 – 2 Newcastle
Stoke v Swansea
Stoke were unlucky to lose their unbeaten record last week at Chelsea, but are still looking to record their first victory of the campaign. Swansea are playing well under new manager Michael Laudrup, and will gain confidence from their late comeback in the midweek cup game against Crawley Town.
This is a great opportunity for Stoke to record their first victory, and they should be strong enough to take all three points from this game.
Last Season: Stoke City 2 – 0 Swansea
Prediction: Stoke City 1 – 0 Swansea
Sunderland v Wigan
Already this season Wigan appear to be heading for their traditional struggle against relegation, while Sunderland might be difficult to beat under Martin O’Neill but are also struggling to win and have drawn nine of the last twelve Premier League games. Sunderland will miss Lee Cattermole, who starts a three-game ban, and Adam Johnson is struggling to recover from a thigh injury.
Last season Wigan took the points from the corresponding fixture and Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was sacked in the aftermath. This time both teams are desperate for points, but Sunderland are likely to become only the second team ever to record five successive draws at the start of the season.
Last Season: Sunderland 1 – 2 Wigan
Prediction: Sunderland 1 – 1 Wigan
Manchester United v Tottenham
This game might see the return of Wayne Rooney for Manchester United after his most recent injury, but they do not appear to be missing his goals at the moment. Tottenham will bring back a number of players that rested in midweek, including Brad Freidel, Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe.
With four straight victories in the league, Manchester United will start as strong favorites at home to record another win – which will be the tenth successive triumph in these league games.
Last Season: Manchester United 3 – 0 Tottenham
Prediction: Manchester United 2 – 0 Tottenham
Aston Villa v West Brom
This game is the nearest to a local derby for England’s second city this season, and both teams will want to take the points and bragging rights over their rivals in the Sunday game. West Brom have got off to a fantastic start to the season and currently lie in fourth place and Villa will be buoyant after a midweek cup victory at Manchester City.
Both teams will cancel each other out in a tight game that is likely to end in a draw.
Last Season: Aston Villa 1 – 2 West Brom
Prediction: Aston Villa 1 – 1 West Brom
QPR v West Ham
The Monday night game is the second London derby of the weekend and will see both teams trying to get the points to consolidate their place in the division. QPR are desperate to record their first victory of the league campaign and West Ham have only managed a draw in their last two games.
QPR have had a poor start to the season and look to continue that bad run in this game where West Ham could sneak the win.
Last Season: Did not play
Prediction: QPR 1 – 2 West Ham