I started off the new season last week by posting my predictions for all 10 Premier league games and on checking my predictions I saw that I got one correct scoreline, three correct outcomes and six incorrect outcomes. That's pretty poor considering "Manure" and Chelsea were dead certs at home to newly promoted teams. I'm going to try my best to do a little better this week. Feel free to tell me where I've gone wrong or right as the case may be but whatever you do don't put any money on my predictions.
Arsenal v Blackpool
Arsenal play their first home match of the season against newly promoted Blackpool and they are very clear favourites to win this one. With Cesc, Song, Denilson and Djourou available again and RVP possibly ready to start after his substitute appearance last week Arsenal look far too strong for Blackpool. They will be missing the injured Nasri and the suspended Koscielny but with Blackpool promising to play their own game it could be very open.
Blackpool had a fantastic 4-0 win at Wigan last week and in all honesty it could have been more. I wouldn't be surprised if Blackpool scored first or if Arsenal equalized. I expect Arsenal to wake up in the second half and take them down.
If Cesc and RVP start they are ideal candidates for fantasy teams this week but Blackpool have Adam and possibly Harewood too who look likely to get quite a few points over the season for a relatively small investment.
Birmingham v Blackburn
Birmingham managed a very good comeback away to Sunderland last week after their hosts had a man sent off and eventually managed a 2-2 draw. Both of their goals came from defenders and I regretted leaving Dann on my fantasy team's bench but they're the chances you take. They tend to be very strong on set pieces and if their defence can stay as tight as it was last season the likes of Dann, Ridgewell and Johnson are not bad fantasy options at a relatively good price.
Blackburn didn't have a great away record last season and they need Dunn to be at his best for them to have a chance. At the moment he's rated doubtful and I'll have to consider dropping him from my fantasy team if his injury problems persist. They had a very good 1-0 home win against Everton last week and they will be looking to build on that. I think it will be a close game with Birmingham edging it.
Everton v Wolves
A lot is expected from Everton this season after they finished last season so strongly but they failed to deliver on those expectations last Saturday when they lost 1-0 to Blackburn. To be fair Blackburn made Ewood Park a fortress last season and it looks like they will again this season. The worry for Everton was that they simply didn't play well and they need to change that against Wolves.
Wolves got off to a great start with a 2-1 win over Stoke and they will look to keep this game very tight and possibly steal something on the break. I think they will be very lucky to escape with a point but you never know what might happen. The home players to look out for are obviously Arteta, Cahill and Saha (as long as he stays fit) and Wolves defenders can add up a few points over the season as they look to defend in numbers.
Doyle will do well for them when he returns from injury as will Hunt but for the moment there aren't too many attacking players who will score a lot of fantasy points in the Wolves team. I can't see beyond an Everton victory in this game and if they don't win I'm sure their fans won't be too impressed.
Stoke v Tottenham
Stoke got off to a bad start last week when they lost 2-1 away to Wolves but they will be looking to continue their good home form of the last two seasons. With Delap in their team they will employ their usual long throw in tactics no doubt and in Jones, Etherington and Fuller they have players who can get plenty of fantasy points.
The Spuds looked very impressive at home to Man City last week and the only reason they failed to win was that Joe Hart was the man of the match. However their defensive performance away to Young Boys on Tuesday night was nothing short of abysmal and if they defend like that Stoke will have a field day.
With Defoe and Modric possibly out through injury the players who might score well are Bale and Keane in my opinion but then again Harry might not pick Keane. They're finding out very quickly what it's like playing midweek Champions league games and weekend Premier league games with Young Boys paying them a visit for the return leg in a few days. Failure to win today will put them under some pressure but I'm predicting a draw.
West Brom v Sunderland
West Brom had the unenviable task of opening their new campaign away to double champions Chelsea last week and they were soundly beaten 6-0. Things can only get better for them with the visit of Sunderland and they will be hoping to put their first points on the board. It looks like they're in for a season of struggles and their aim is to somehow stay in the league. I hope they do because they play a nice brand of football but it might not be enough for them.
Sunderland looked to be cruising at home to Birmingham when they were 2-0 up last week but after Cattermole was sent off Birmingham came back into the game and snatched a draw. Cattermole is the type of player who will get a few red cards and plenty of yellow cards every season and I was a little surprised that they sold Cana who seemed to have settled into their team very well. With Jones also sold the goalscoring duties are even more heavily on the shoulders of Bent but he got a goal last week and he's still a good fantasy buy. I think West Brom will struggle to score and so will Sunderland so I'm predicting a scoreless draw.
West Ham v Bolton
West Ham were very poor away to Villa last week and could have lost by even more than the 3-0 scoreline on the day. They will need to improve an awful lot if they're not to get dragged into the relegation fight yet again and this game is a chance for them to do that. Fantasy wise Carlton Cole is worth a shot but they don't have too many other players to inspire.
Bolton played out a 0-0 draw with Fulham last week and it wasn't exactly a classic. Their away form hasn't been great in recent seasons and they will be looking to change that at Upton Park. In Petrov they have a player who can make things happen and he is keeping another fantasy favourite, Taylor, out of the team. Despite the fact that Coyle wants them to play football old habits die hard to the likes of Davies and I don't expect to see a classic game. I think West Ham might just have enough in front of their fans but I have a sneaky feeling for Bolton too so I will call it a draw.
Wigan v Chelsea
Wigan were taken apart by newly promoted Blackpool at home last week and I'm sure they won't be relishing the prospect of Chelsea visiting them for the evening kick off. Their star player last season was N'Zogbia but they have had problems with him and it looks like he wants to leave the club. They were beaten 8-0 away to Chelsea in their final game of last season but they did manage a come from behind 3-1 victory over them at home earlier in the season. If Wigan are to avoid relegation they will have to tighten up at the back and that won't be easy in this game.
Chelsea on the other hand are on top of the league as they look to defend their title after their 6-0 drubbing of West Brom in last Saturday's evening kickoff. They had their problems on their travels last season and this was one ground where they came a cropper. I don't expect that to happen this time and if you have Drogba, Lampard or Malouda in your fantasy team look forward to a good day.
As long as Chelsea shows up and play their usual football things should go their way and surely there can be no other result but a Chelsea victory, no matter how much I want Wigan to get something from the game.
Newcastle v Aston Villa
The Sunday lunch time game sees newly promoted Newcastle at home to Aston Villa and it's a tough one for the home team. They were by far the best team in the championship last season but they have added virtually nobody to their squad. I can't see them scoring too many goals this season. I'm sure their fans will be right behind them and they will probably get enough points at home over the season to see them safe.
Villa sold Milner to Man City during the week but they got almost £20 million and Stephen Ireland in return and that was great business in my opinion. If they can get Ireland playing like he did the season before last it will improve their team and it could help them to improve on last season's sixth place. They won't make it easy for Newcastle and I think they might just edge proceedings.
Fulham v Manchester United
Fulham thrashed a "Manure" team with all of their defence missing last season and I'm sure that "Manure" would like to put that straight in the Sunday afternoon match. Fulham's home record is good and their defence is quite strong and I expect them to give "Manure" plenty of problems at times. Fantasy wise Dempsey, Duff and Zamora are all reasonably priced and will give a fairly good return over the season with Hangeland adding quite a few points too.
"Manure" won easily at home to Newcastle on Monday night and I don't think they will have it so easy in this game. The feeling that Giggs and Scholes could be the players to make the difference for them is a little misplaced in my opinion but their defence is very strong and O'Shea and Evans are good buys as well as Valencia in midfield. If Rooney can regain his form he is an excellent point scorer too but he hasn't scored in quite a while now. I can see Fulham holding on for a draw as they look to frustrate "Manure".
Manchester City v Liverpool
On Monday night Man City plays at home to Liverpool and it's another hard game for both teams. They both had midweek Europa league qualifiers and they play in midweek again next week. It's not easy to do that at this stage of the season but City surely have the squad to do it. Their manager needs to decide on a starting 11 and pick the right team to put Liverpool under a lot of pressure.
Liverpool have added quite a few players to their squad but in my opinion none of them will actually make their team any better in my opinion. They are very dependent on Gerrard and Torres and they will need both of them to be at their best to have a chance away to City.
With Cole suspended for three games Gerrard will probably push further forward than he did against Arsenal. I don't think they can afford to give teams as much possession as they gave Arsenal last week as you can't play the full 90 minutes without the ball. I think City can get the win that their fans, manager and owners crave and Liverpool could be in for another tough season.
When Roy Hodgson was in charge of Fulham, they were extremely hard to get the better of whenever they played away from home. I think Hodgson will continue that trend at Liverpool. This has got draw written all over it.
That's it for this weeks predictions and as I said hopefully it will be an improvement on last week's predictions.
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