It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. I've long since given up on winning my predictions league, and the 10 points I made up on the leader were of virtually no use to me in the grand scheme of things. I managed to get one perfect score, three correct results and six wrong results last week, which was about average for me. Here's a look at how the league stands with 12 rounds of games to go.
What will be the outcome of the Manchester derby?
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 12th
Man Utd v Man City
"Manure" lost their unbeaten start to the season last week, when they lost 2-1 away to Wolves, after taking an early lead. They have the best home record in the Premier League, and it's that home record that's keeping them on top of the table. All records are made to be broken, but they will hope that their home record lasts a lot longer.
Man City have a pretty good away record, and I would imagine that they will approach this game in the same way that they approached their trip to Arsenal last month. That would mean they will park the proverbial bus in front of their goal, and hope to sneak a 1-0 win. They will be satisfied with a draw however, as a defeat would leave them completely out of the running in my opinion.
I don't think this will be a classic game, but it will probably be a very tense affair that ends in a draw.
Arsenal v Wolves
Arsenal fell to pieces in the last 25 minutes away to Newcastle last week. In so doing they conceded four goals, and ended up drawing 4-4. Their early season home form was poor, but they have taken 16 points in their last six home games. They should have most of their first team available for this game, and if Johan Djourou has recovered from the knock he took at Newcastle it should greatly help their defence.
Wolves did fantastically well to end "Manure's" unbeaten record last week, but they still have a dreadful away record. They have lost 10 of their 12 away games so far, and their win at Anfield has been their only victory on the road so far. They are still in the relegation zone but they have beaten all of the top four teams so far, with the exception of Arsenal. They will be hoping to add Arsenal to that list, and Newcastle apparently showed them the way to do it last week, if the so-called experts are to be believed.
I think Arsenal will bounce right back, and keep the pressure on the league leaders with a good win.
Birmingham v Stoke
Birmingham managed a great win away to West Ham last week to take them out of the relegation zone. With a Carling Cup final to come in two weeks they will be hoping for a win in this game to give themselves some breathing space.
Stoke RFC managed a very late win at home to Sunderland last week with the help of some poor refereeing decisions. Their goals all came from set pieces, and they will be going the same way in this game, as they don't really know any other way to play. They may be ninth in the table, but they are still only seven points above the drop zone, and they will want a few more win before they feel safe.
The fans will have very sore necks after this game, as they will spend most of it looking at balls high in the sky. I think that it will end in a score draw which both teams would probably settle for.
Blackburn v Newcastle
Blackburn are in a mid table position, and they could find themselves moving in either direction. Their home form is still good though, and they will be hoping to make it even better.
Newcastle fought back magnificently against Arsenal last week to gain a point, and they will look to build on that in this game. Their away form has been reasonable, and they are only ahead of Blackburn on goal difference. The departure of Andy Carroll has left a gap in their attack which has hardly been filled by the arrival of Shefki Kuqi this week.
I have a feeling that this game will end in a score draw also.
Blackpool v Aston Villa
Blackpool have been great to watch so far this season, as high scoring games are nearly always guaranteed. There have been 87 goals in their 25 games so far, and I'm sure there will be plenty more in this game. At the moment they are in free fall, and if they don't stop it very soon they will be relegated straight back to the Championship.
Aston Villa have halted their slide recently, but there are still not far above the relegation zone. They have conceded more goals away from home than any other team in the league, and I would be surprised if they kept a clean sheet in this game. They have a few players that Blackpool will find it hard to cope with, and I'm sure they will get a few goals too.
I think Aston Villa will just about edge a game with plenty of goals.
Liverpool v Wigan
Liverpool won their fourth Premier League game in a row last week, and it was away to Chelsea. With all the commotion surrounding Fernando Torres playing against the team that had just sold him it was a great performance and result. Suddenly they are six points off a Champions League place, and another couple of wins in a row will have the teams above them worried.
Wigan eventually managed to get a win under their belts last week, but only just. They are still in the relegation zone, but they are only behind West Brom on goal difference, and I still think that they will avoid relegation this season. This won't be an easy game for them though, as only Wolves have less points away from home this season. Then again Wolves did manage a win at Anfield earlier in the season.
I can't see anything other than a win for Newcastle, as the look to keep up the pressure on The Spuds and Chelsea.
West Brom v West Ham
West Brom sacked their manager this week, and like Blackpool they are in free fall at the moment. They are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference, and this is a real relegation "six-pointer" for them. Only Blackpool have conceded more goals than them this season, and if they can't stop those goals then relegation looks like a very real possibility.
West Ham had the chance to move out of the relegation zone last week with a home game against Birmingham, but they lost that relegation "six-pointer". This is another relegation "six-pointer", and they simply cannot afford to lose this game as well. Like West Brom their defence is pretty poor, and I think that they will be fighting relegation right up until the last game of the season.
I think that West Brom will just about manage to scrape a win, and ease their worries for another few weeks at least.
Sunderland v Tottenham
Sunderland played some good football away to Stoke RFC last week, but they got nothing for it thanks to some poor refereeing. They are still in a strong seventh position in the league, and their home form is very good too.
The Spuds got a late winner last week to keep up the pressure on Chelsea, but their away form is not great, and they will find this game a hard struggle. They have a few injury problems at the moment too, and they will have to dig deep to come away with anything from this game. With a midweek trip to play AC Milan coming up their players' minds could well be elsewhere, and if they are it could be fatal for them.
I think Sunderland will manage to get a win, and close the gap on The Spuds to just four points.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 13th
Bolton v Everton
Bolton lost to a last minute goal at The Spuds last week, and after a good start to the season they have now slipped to eighth in the table. Their goals seem to have dried up recently, but their home form is still fairly good.
Everton put five goals past Blackpool last week, with Louis Saha getting four of them, but they also conceded three. At least they got back to winning ways, and they need a few more wins to get to a place in the table which reflects the players they have. The return of Tim Cahill from international duty should be a boost for them, but 12 draws in 25 games is the main reason they are in the bottom half of the table.
I think that there will be a few goals in this game, but it will end up all square.
MONDAY FEBRUARY 14th
Fulham v Chelsea
Fulham have improved over the last few weeks, as they have turned a few of their draws into wins. It gives them some breathing space, as they are now in a mid-table position, and they have Bobby Zamora due back from injury very soon. This will be a big test of how good they are, and they will be looking to put one over on their west London rivals.
Chelsea were very poor in their home defeat to Liverpool last week, and their three-pronged attack just didn't work. they need to find the correct formation to suit the players they have, or dare to leave either Fernando Torres or Didier Drogba on the bench. If they don't win this game they will find themselves in real danger of slipping out of the top four.
I think that Fulham have a real chance of getting something out of this game, and they will probably manage a draw.
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 15th
Birmingham v Newcastle
Birmingham have another home game during the week, and it's another chance for them to pull away from the relegation zone. If they can turn some of their home draws into wins they could well be out of trouble after this game.
Newcastle get to play their game in hand away to Birmingham, and they will see it as a good chance to add a few more points to their tally. They don't score too many goals away from home, but then again Birmingham don't score too many at home either.
I think this game will end in a draw which both teams will be happy enough with.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 20th
West Brom v Wolves
West Brom have their second relegation "six-pointer" in a row at home, and it's an ideal opportunity for them to rescue a season that is failing fast. Their home record is better than most of the other teams at the wrong end of the table, and they will hope to capitalise on that in this game.
Wolves need to start getting some points away from home, and a West Brom team that are only slightly above them in the table are a good chance of doing just that. They have played very well so far this season, and they need to turn those performances into results.
I think this game will finish in a score draw.
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 22nd
BLACKPOOL v TOTTENHAM
Blackpool get to play yet another game at home, as they make up for all the away games they had earlier in the season. Unfortunately all of these home games have coincided with their inability to win any games, and their slide down the table. I'm sure they will play their usual game and attack The Spuds for the duration of the game, but they will leave them vulnerable at the back as always.
The Spuds will see this as an ideal opportunity to get an away win, and add a few goals to the goals scored column. With their Champions League campaign going so well this season, they will be anxious to finish in the top four and qualify yet again, and the three points in this game could keep them on track.
I think The Spuds will edge a hard fought match, and pile the pressure on Blackpool.
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 23rd
ARSENAL v STOKE
Arsenal get a chance to close in on "Manure" at the top of the table with another home game. This time it's against Stoke RFC, and it's a game they just have to win. With a FA Cup game three days beforehand, and a Carling Cup final four days afterwards, this game has been squeezed into one of the few gaps available in their season, as they are still challenging in four competitions.
Soke RFC have never really put up a good performance away to Arsenal since their promotion to the Premier League, but they will hope to change that in this game. They are bound to try to put aerial pressure on Arsenal, as they do to every team, and their chances will depend on the success of those tactics. There's some bad blood between these teams, and if Ryan Shawcross plays it will be interesting to see how the Arsenal fans react.
I think Arsenal will get the win they need to keep the pressure on at the top of the table before their Carling Cup final.
As usual feel free to tell me where I have gone wrong or right as the case may be. Also don't forget when you're making changes to your fantasy teams that there are eight teams with extra games this week.
That's it for today
See You Tomorrow.