It's that time of the week again where I attempt to make my predictions for the upcoming Premier League games. Regular readers will know I haven't been doing too well with my predictions in this league, but so many games have been hard to predict this season. I managed to get 120 points last week, but unfortunately everybody else did very well too. I'll need another few weeks of scores like that if I'm even going to challenge for second place in my league. From the table below you can see I'm currently in fifth place:
Wolves v. Liverpool
Wolves put up a great performance in losing 4-3 away to Man City last week, and they will be hoping for a familiar performance this week (with a better outcome of course). Kevin Doyle's return from injury seems to have helped the Wanderers find their goal scoring form (no pun intended), and it might be enough to keep them in the Premier League again.
Liverpool has been very poor away from home this season, and they have won only one of their 11 away league games so far. They will be looking to extract some revenge in this game, after losing at home to Wolverhampton a few weeks ago. Since Kenny Dalglish returned to manage them, it seems as though nothing has changed, and they need some new players to revive their season before they are dragged into the relegation fight.
If Wolves wins this game they will move out of the bottom three and will be only two points behind Liverpool, which is a frightening thought for Liverpool fans. I think Liverpool will manage a draw, but it won't be easy without the suspended Steven Gerrard.
Arsenal v. Wigan
Arsenal may have had a few minor hiccups in cup games the last couple of weeks, but they appear to be back on track now. Their best team is capable of beating any team, and I expect Arsene Wenger to play his best team in this game to try to keep pace with the two Manchester teams ahead of them. With Robin Van Persie looking like he is back to his best, the goals could start to flow from here on in for Arsenal.
Wigan has been a very difficult team to predict this season since their form has been so erratic, but they are not an easy team to beat. They try their best to play good football, and I'm sure they will approach this game in that manner as well. They need a result to get out of the bottom three, but it won't be easy playing against the leading scorers in the Premier League.
I think Wigan will give this game all they have, but the class of Arsenal will shine through in the end.
Blackpool v. Sunderland
Blackpool continues to defy the odds week after week, as they punch above their weight on a very limited budget. Their home form could prove to be crucial for them, as they have so many home games left, and they need to make sure Charlie Adam doesn't leave during the transfer window too. They will attack Sunderland from the first minute, as they always do, and it usually pays off for them.
Darren Bent's departure to Aston Villa might not be the end of the world for Sunderland because Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan have looked like better players the last couple of months. Bent's exit also opens the door for Gyan to play more often than he has being doing so far. I think he is a better player than Bent, and with the right partner, it could be a very good piece of business for Sunderland. They won't find it easy in this game, as they have only won two out of 11 away games, despite being sixth in the league.
I think we will see a few goals as usual when Blackpool plays, but it will end in a draw.
Everton v. West Ham
Everton seems to be doing better since Tim Cahill went to play in the Asia Cup with Australia. They have had good results against the better sides in the Premier League, but they have dropped far too many against the so-called "weaker" teams. A home game against the bottom club is a great way for them to add to their points tally.
West Ham is in a bit of a mess, and they showed very little in their home defeat to Arsenal last week. They missed Scott Parker in that game and will need him back if they are to stand a chance in this game. The shambles over the proposed sacking of Avram Grant cannot be good for morale, and it will be interesting to see the players' reactions to him retaining his job.
Everton has to start beating the poorer teams in the Premier League, and I think they will win this game comfortably.
Fulham v. Stoke
Fulham looks like they are too good to be sitting just above the relegation zone, but the fact that they have drawn half of their games doesn't help their cause. They have only lost one more game than Chelsea, but they are 15th in the table. Their home form is pretty good though, and they will see this as a chance to improve it.
Stoke RFC has lost 10 games in the league, but their nine wins are keeping them in a very healthy eighth spot. Their away form has been a little better this season with three wins already, but they have lost six away games too.
I think Stoke RFC is due a draw, and with Fulham being the draw specialists, this game will probably end up with the honors shared.
Man Utd v. Birmingham
"Manure" has the best home record in the Premier League, with 10 wins and a draw, and they have scored more home goals than any other team too. They will be looking to maintain their lead at the top of the table by winning this game and winning it well.
Birmingham is only just outside the relegation zone, but like Fulham, that is mainly down to the fact that they are draw specialists. They will have to do a lot of defending in this game, and I will be very surprised if they manage to get any sort of result.
I can't see anything other than a victory for "Manure", but I hope I'm wrong, and Birmingham somehow manages to get a result.
Newcastle v. Tottenham
Newcastle's season has been very up and down, but they have scored 25 goals in 11 home league matches. The continued absence of Andy Carroll doesn't seem to have affected their results in the league, but they won't find it easy against The Spuds.
The Spuds slipped out of the top four last week when they could only manage a 0-0 draw at home to "Manure". Their away form has been decent, but they need to improve on it if they are to regain that top four spot and qualify for the Champions League for the second season in a row. Rafael Van Der Vaart is a player capable of winning any game on his own, and his contribution could be crucial for them.
I think Newcastle will give The Spuds a very good game and emerge with a point to dent their top four aspirations.
Aston Villa v. Man City
Aston Villa has signed Darren Bent from Sunderland, but their real problems are in their defense. They are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference, and they have conceded 39 goals in 22 games so far. Most of those goals have been conceded away from home, and they will be hoping to get at least a draw from this game.
Man City is very good away from home, and they will see a game against a struggling Villa team as a real opportunity to continue that form. Only Arsenal has scored more goals away from home than City, as the shackles seem to come off them a bit on the road. The addition of Eden Dzeko can only make them stronger, and Villa will have a long, hard day.
I think City will pile the pressure on Villa, winning by a single goal.
Blackburn v. West Brom
Blackburn has a pretty good home record, and they have managed quite well recently with a very long injury list. Temporary manager Steve Kean has been given the job on a full-time basis until 2013, and it will be interesting to see the players' reaction to that.
West Brom halted a very bad run of results last week by winning at home to Blackpool, but they are leaking far too many goals for their own good. With two wins in 11 away league games and 24 goals conceded, they need to try to tighten up at the back, but I don't think they can. They play an attractive brand of football, but until last week it was costing them, and I think it will again in the future.
I think Blackburn will have too much for a shaky West Brom defense. Blackburn wins by a couple of goals.
Bolton v. Chelsea
Bolton's home form has been very good this season with only one defeat in 11 games. They are currently on a poor run, as they have played most of their recent games on the road, so they will be glad to get back home again. If they can overcome their injury problems, I think they have a real chance of getting a result in this game.
Chelsea managed to climb back into the top four with a hard-fought home win over Blackburn last week, but they are really struggling away from home this season. They lost five of their 11 away league games (winning only three to boot), and if they don't change that record very soon, it could destroy their season. Despite their very bad run of results, they are still only seven points off the top of the league, and they will feel that a good run of results will put them right back in the mix.
I think Bolton will make life very tough for Chelsea, but the game will end in a draw.
Blackpool v. Man Utd
Blackpool has a few games in hand, and they get to play one of them at home with league leaders "Manure" on Tuesday night. It's games like this that they fought so hard to win promotion for, and I think they will give the game all they have.
"Manure" has only won two out of 10 away games in the league so far this season, but they will see a Blackpool side that comes at them as an ideal opportunity to win their third one. They will also see this as an ideal opportunity to put some daylight between them and the chasing pack in the Premier League. With "Manure" having two league games in one fantasy football week, choosing Nani as a fantasy captain this week could be a very wise move.
I expect another good performance from Blackpool, but I think "Manure" will pick them off on the break and get a win.
Wigan v. Aston Villa
After a tough trip to Arsenal on Saturday, Wigan will be glad to have a home game against a team on a bad run, not to mention very poor away from home. Depending on the weekend results, this game could give Wigan the chance to move above Villa in the table.
Villa has only one win in 11 away games, and if that form continues, they could find themselves in even more trouble than they are already. The 26 goals they conceded in those 11 games are a real worry for them as well, and they need to strengthen their defense immediately.
I think Wigan might have enough to beat Villa, and move above them in the table.
Liverpool v. Fulham
Liverpool's season needs something to turn it around very quickly. They are heading toward the lower reaches of the Premier League and out of both domestic cup competitions. Luckily for them, Fulham does not travel well, and they have only two away victories the last two seasons in the Premier League. Liverpool's home form is still pretty good with six wins in 11 games, and they will be expected to make it seven in this game.
Fulham just does not travel well in the Premier League, and one away win a season is simply not good enough. They have managed six away draws this season though, and they would be happy to get another one in this game. With only nine away goals so far, they are really struggling to score and will need to change that to get a result in this game.
I think Liverpool will get back on track, but only just.
That's it for this week's predictions, but as usual, feel free to tell me whether you think I have gone right or wrong in my predictions. Don't forget six teams have two games each in this fantasy football game week, and that's always worth considering when transfers are being made. The next round of Premier League games will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday following next weekend's FA Cup action, and I'll look at them on the Monday of that week.
See You Tomorrow.