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Derbys galore in Premier League

chris_dring

Chelsea v Blackburn
Saturday January 15 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-0
Key players:  Frank Lampard & Morten Gamst Pedersen

Blackburn travel to the beleaguered champions hoping to pile more misery on under-fire Carlo Ancelotti.
Rovers’ new boss Steve Kean has had a decent start, and his side should play with the greater freedom as they have nothing to lose from this match. Blackburn’s best chance of nicking a goal will come from dead ball specialist Morten Gamst Pedersen.
Chelsea must forget the title race and focus on getting back into the Champions League places. Too many of the Blues’ superstars have gone off the boil of late and if they are to pull off a performance to match their superior quality, they’ll need Frank Lampard to replace goal shy Didier Drogba as their match winner.

Manchester City v Wolves
Saturday January 15 -10pm
Dring’s prediction: 3-1
Key players:  Carlos Tevez & Wayne Hennessey

Title-chasing Manchester City entertain relegation candidates Wolves at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Wolves have finally clawed their way out of the relegation zone to give their fans hope they can beat the drop. If they are to pull off the shock of the weekend, they’ll need to play like they did at Anfield and hope their keeper Wayne Hennessey has a blinder between the sticks.
City should have too much class for a battling Wolves side and, as long as their fans remain patient, they should win this game comfortably. As ever, Carlos Tevez will be Roberto Mancini’s lethal weapon.

Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers
Saturday January 15 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Kenwyne Jones & Matthew Taylor

Bolton head to Stoke for this weekend’s most evenly matched encounter.
Wanderers still have lofty ambitions for European football next season and Owen Coyle knows this is the kind of fixture they’ll need to pick up a good result from. With Lee and Holdon absent from their midfield, extra pressure will be placed on the exquisite left foot of Matthew Taylor.
Stoke never change their style of play and Tony Pulis will charge up his troops and pile endless pressure on a Bolton side who are starting to struggle on the road. Kenwyne Jones’ form has picked up and I expect him to make the difference in a close match at the Britannia Stadium.

Wigan Athletic v Fulham
Saturday January 15 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-2
Key players:  Charles N’Zogbia & Clint Dempsey

Wigan host a resurgent Fulham side who look like they’ve turned the corner.
Wigan were truly awful in their last home match against Newcastle and if they are to avoid the dreaded drop, they’ll need to find a cutting edge to their toothless performances. They’ll be boosted by the return of star player Charles N’Zogbia after his three-game suspension.
Fulham’s form is defiantly on the up, but Mark Hughes knows they’re still far from safe and another away defeat must be avoided. The Cottagers have scored nine goals in their last two matches and with Clint Dempsey bang in form, they will be favourites in this relegation six pointer.

West Brom v Blackpool
Saturday January 15 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Peter Odemwingie & Charlie Adam

West Brom take on Blackpool eager to avoid their sixth straight league defeat.
The Baggies are a plummeting fast and they’ll know a home tie against a cavalier Blackpool could be just what they need to bounce back. With a host of defenders in the treatment room, Roberto Di Matteo will send his team out to attack with all guns blazing and hope Peter Odemwingie can rediscover his early season form in front of goal.
Blackpool are truly unpredictable and despite their underdog status, they will fancy their chances against a struggling West Brom. If the Tangerines are to pull off another shock, then captain and playmaker Charlie Adam will have to have another stormer.

West Ham United v Arsenal
Sunday January 16 - 12:30am
Dring’s prediction: 0-2

Key players:  Scott Parker & Cesc Fabregas
West Ham host Arsenal in tomorrow night’s late kick off, which offers up a cracking London derby.
West Ham sit rock bottom of the Premier League, but they know a victory over their rivals would do wonders for their battle for survival. If Avram Grant decides to play 4-4-2 against Arsenal’s central midfielders, Scott Parker and Mark Noble will have to run their socks off.
The Gunners mid park is arguably the best in the Premiership, and it’s difficult to see how the Hammers will be able to match them. The brilliant Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri should lead Arsenal to another vital three points in their pursuit of catching Manchester United.

Birmingham City v Aston Villa
Sunday January 16 – 7pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players:  Alexander Hleb & Gabriel Agbonlahor

Aston Villa make the short trip across Birmingham for a mammoth Brummy derby.
Villa boss Gerard Houllier has had the dreaded vote of confidence and with his side sitting in the relegation zone, he cannot afford to lose this game. With Heskey and Young absent, local boy Gabriel Agbonlahor will aim to enhance his hero status by continuing his fine scoring record against Birmingham.
Birmingham’s industry is commendable, but they are badly lacking any guile and class in the final third. Alexander Hleb is far and away their most gifted player and even if the Belarusian talisman can give the Blues a spark, they’ll still have to settle for another hard-earned point.

Sunderland v Newcastle
Sunday January 16 – 7pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Darren Bent & Kevin Nolan

Sunderland will want revenge as they play bitter regional rivals Newcastle at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland fans won’t have forgotten the 5-1 drubbing the Toon Army gave them earlier in the season and as long as Steve Bruce’s side can match Newcastle endeavour, his side’s superior quality should shine through. Darren Bent as ever will be the Black Cats’ match winner.
With Andy Carroll unlikely to return from injury and with Newcastle still rocking after their FA Cup humiliation, Alan Pardew will be happy with a point from this match. Kevin Nolan will be Newcastle’s main threat with his late runs into the box.

Liverpool v Everton
Sunday January 16 - 9:05pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players:  Fernando Torres & Louis Saha

This Sunday’s Merseyside derby sees both sides desperate for bragging rights and Premiership security.
David Moyes’ team have had a poor season, but their recent win over Spurs should prove the catalyst that propels them up the table. With Tim Cahill away at the Asian Cup in Doha, Everton fans will look to Louis Saha to carry an attack desperately short of firepower.
Liverpool, under the stewardship of the legendary Kenny Dalglish, must take all three points to appease their beleaguered supporters. With Gerrard suspended, Fernando Torres must deliver the goods in a game too close to call.

Tottenham v Man United
Sunday January 16 - 11:10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-2
Key players:  Luka Modric & Dimitar Berbatov

High flying Manchester United visit Tottenham looking to add more pressure onto the chasing pack.
Spurs on their day can beat anyone, and they know United haven’t been at their best this season. If the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Van der Vaart can click, the title race could be turned up another notch.

Sir Alex should welcome back Wayne Rooney from injury to partner Dimitar Berbatov, who plays against his former club. United’s defence has been the key to their success this campaign and with Ferdinand and Vidic organizing the back four, United should have enough to pick up at least a point.

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