It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcome of this week's Premier League fixtures. It hasn't gone too well for me this season, but I have at least moved back up to fourth place in my predictions league, and there's a possibility I might finish as high as second. If I do manage to finish second I'll be pretty happy, as my Fantasy Premier League team has picked up a lot of ground in recent weeks and I'm finally in the top 50 in the league I'm running in conjunction with 11Gunners. With prizes for the first three teams there's still plenty to play for although those prizes are beyond me this season. However, my son's team sits proudly in third place, and he has every chance of winning a prize and possibly the league too.
Here's a look at how my predictions league table stands.
Tottenham v West Ham
Tottenham have had another very good season so far, and the fact they went out of the domestic cups so early has helped them concentrate on what's really important. They will be delighted to have gone further than Arsenal in the Champions League, but Real Madrid will be a very tough opponent for them in the quarter finals. They have 10 league games left, and if they are to qualify for next season's competition they will have to win most of them. I can't see them doing that, and I think this season will have been a one off for them in Europe's top competition. However, they will still be big favourites to win at home to West Ham who have only managed two victories on the road this season.
West Ham have put some pretty good results together recently, but most of them have come at home. Their form on the road is still that of a team threatened with relegation, and there are so many other teams in that boat with them. Any team which wins two or three games in a row will give themselves a real lifeline, but I don't expect West Ham to manage it in this game.
The Spuds may have some injury problems, but I still expect their home form to carry them through and keep up the pressure on the teams above them.
Aston Villa v Wolves
Aston Villa may have turned thing around recently, but they are still only two points above the relegation zone. It looks like it will take more than 40 points to stay in the Premier League this season, as things are far more open than they have been in a long time. Villa have had a few in house problems recently, and they need to put them behind them and take all three points in this game, or there could be a real crisis for them.
Wolves have had some great results at times this season, and they are capable of beating any team in the Premier League at home. Their away form is awful though, as they have lost 11 of their 14 away games and won only one. The fact this is a local derby might make things a little easier for them to get a result, as their desire and commitment are beyond doubt. If they could just manage a few clean sheets to go with their good performances they might just manage to stay up.
I think Villa have enough good attacking players to just about edge a very tight relegation battle.
Blackburn v Blackpool
Blackburn have slipped down the table recently, and they are only one point above the drop zone. Despite that their home form is pretty good, and they are very sound defensively at home too. If they are relegated the decision by the new owners to sack Big Fat Sam will prove to have been very expensive, and I would say they are regretting it already. I thought they should have waited until the end of the season, and then went about it in a proper fashion with a new manager having time to do things as he wanted.
Blackpool will welcome Charlie Adams back from suspension, but it looks like their slide towards relegation is gaining too much momentum for them to stop. They are behind Blackburn on goal difference only, but they are conceding an awful lot of goals and that's not a good sign. There away form was very good early in the season, but teams have figured them out, and if they can't shore things up at the back I think they will be relegated.
I think Blackburn's good home form will see them get all three points in this game, and ease their relegation worries for another week or two at least.
Man Utd v Bolton
"Manure" are looking to emulate the famous treble winning team of 1999, but in my opinion their current team isn't good enough to do that. They have drawn Man City in the FA Cup semi final, and Chelsea in the Champions League quarter finals and they have a few tough league games left as well. They will see a home game against Bolton as an ideal chance to keep the pressure on the teams below them in the league before the two week international break. Their injuries are building up at the moment, and if they get a few more their whole season could be in jeopardy.
Bolton are seventh in the league, and through to a FA Cup semi final against Stoke RFC. They have already over achieved this season, but they still have sixth place in their sights. To do so they will need to improve their away form in the last few games of the season, but doing so at Old Trafford will be very difficult for them. They might see "Manure's" injury problems as an opportunity, and the five game touchline ban for their manager might help them too.
Despite missing a few players I still think "Manure" will have far too much for Bolton, and they will win this game without having to do too much.
Stoke v Newcastle
Stoke RFC will be delighted at winning their way through to the last four of the FA Cup, and they will now want to ensure their Premier League survival for another season. They are only three points above the relegation zone, but a win in this game would give them some real breathing space. Their home form has been pretty good, and they will look to play their usual style of high pressure, long ball anti-football which has been so effective for them.
Newcastle have done quite well on their travels with five wins, and they are looking just about safe from any chance of relegation at this point. A loss in this game would see them worry just a little, but I think they have enough to stay up. They are just as fond as Stoke RFC of getting stuck in, and there could be a few meaty challenges in this game. It certainly won't be a game for the purists.
I think it will be a very close game, and both sides will probably end up even.
West Brom v Arsenal
West Brom are fighting very hard to avoid relegation, and they are now a point above the bottom three. Their home form has been good recently, but they score and conceded a lot of goals, and they will have to play with their backs to the wall if they are to get anything from this game.
Arsenal have gone out of three competitions in two weeks, and the football world is waiting for them to fall apart in the Premier League too. This is an absolute must win game for them, but it won't be easy with all the injuries to key players they have at the moment. They had to sign Jens Lehmann until the end of the season, as their goalkeepers are falling like flies, and their best two central defenders look likely to miss the rest of the season too. Add both Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song to that injury list and things look bad for them. However, they still have enough class in their team to beat West Brom, and they should have both Cesc and Song available for their next game.
I think Arsenal will manage to beat West Brom, but it won't be easy. The key players for them are Robin Van Persie and Samir Nasri, and those two players need to show what Arsenal means to them in this game.
Wigan v Birmingham
Wigan might play nice football, but they don't score enough goals and it looks likely to cost them their Premier League status. They are four points away from safety with nine games left, and this is an absolute must win game for them. Birmingham are the team they have to catch if they have any chance of staying up, and they won't get a better chance than a home game against them.
Birmingham need to come back down to earth after their Carling Cup victory, or they could be playing European football from the Championship next season. Like Wigan they have a lack of firepower and two wins in 13 away games is relegation form. If they do go down I certainly won't be sad to see the back of them, but I think they will manage to stay up.
I wouldn't be surprised if this game ended scoreless, but I think it will be a draw anyway.
Everton v Fulham
Everton can't seem to get a good run of form going and it means they are stuck in mid table with a team which could potentially have challenged for Europe. They have drawn far too many games, and now that they have a few injuries they will be looking to get the two wins needed to ensure Premier League survival for another season.
Fulham have drawn far too many games as well as Everton, but they are a tough side to beat. They don't win on their travels very often, but they are finally getting all their players back from injury, and they have the capability to get a result in this game.
I can't predict anything other than a draw between these two draw specialists.
Sunderland v Liverpool
Sunderland will see this as an ideal opportunity to beat Liverpool, and open up the race for sixth place in the league. Their home form is still pretty good, and their opponents suffered a European disappointment on Thursday night.
Liverpool have only got the league left to concentrate on, and the best they can realistically do is finish sixth. That might just about ensure European qualification, but it's a long shot at this stage. Their goals have dried up recently, and they have lost nine games away from home already this season. Only three other teams have done worse than that on their travels, and it's a statistic they simply have to change.
I think Sunderland will win this game without the aid of a beachball this year.
Chelsea v Man City
Chelsea still have an outside chance of retaining their league title and the Champions League is within their reach too. They need both Arsenal and "Manure" to slip if they are to win the league, but that is quite possible. They were well beaten at home by City last season, but I expect City to be very negative in this game, and play for a draw.
City went out of Europe on Thursday night and a lot of the criticism rightly went to Mario Balotelli after the game. He stupidly got himself sent off and the task was just too much for ten men no matter how hard they tried. They now need to get enough points in the Premier League to ensure Champions League qualification for next season or their season will end in disaster.
I think Chelsea will manage a win, but I still don't think they are playing well enough to win a trophy this season.
As always feel free to tell me where I have gone right or wrong as the case might be.
That's it for today.
See You Tomorrow.
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