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London calling for festive clash


Fulham v West Ham United
Sunday December 26 – 7pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Clint Dempsey & Robert Green

Struggling West Ham travel to Fulham to kick off a jam packed Christmas period.
Hammers boss Avram Grant is certainly on the brink of getting sacked and there is no sign of his team turning the corner. They lack creativity and look extremely fragile at the back. If they are to nick a crucial point, then Robert Green will have to turn in another man of the match performance.
Fulham seem to be hoarding draws this season, but a home fixture against the league’s bottom side should mean all three points. They are lacking goals, so the Cottagers need their top scorer Clint Dempsey to find the back of the net.

Blackburn Rovers v Stoke City
Sunday December 26 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players:  Mame Diouf & Matthew Etherington

Blackburn, under promoted coach Steve Kean, entertain Stoke City looking to get their season back on track.
Although Rovers are not currently in relegation trouble, they won’t want their off the field troubles to drag them down. Mame Diouf is currently Blackburn’s brightest spark, and the Senegalese striker could make the difference.
Stoke are always a tough nut to crack and they’ll fancy their chances against a Rovers team short on confidence. Stoke will play with two out-and-out wingers in Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant, and they’ll hope they can expose Blackburn’s sluggish fall backs in a game too close to call.

Blackpool v Liverpool
Sunday December 26 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-2
Key players:  Ian Evatt &
Raul Meireles

Everyone’s favourite underdogs Blackpool welcome Liverpool to Bloomfield Road.
Blackpool’s season so far has been nothing short of sensational. However, I think this could be the game when Liverpool take their revenge and the Tangerines campaign starts to wobble. If Blackpool are to take something from this match then centre-half Ian Evatt will have to keep Fernando Torres firmly under wraps.
With Steven Gerrard potentially returning from injury to help his side set the record straight, the Reds should be too sharp for Blackpool. I expect combative midfielder Raul Meireles to lead the Liverpool charge for a much needed win on the road.

Bolton Wanderers v West Brom
Sunday December 26 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Kevin Davies & Chris Brunt

West Brom visit Bolton Wanderers eager to continue their mini revival.
The Baggies look like they’ll avoid the drop and are playing some decent football. They’ll be up against a decent Wanderers side, so star player Chris Brunt will be crucial on the break.
Bolton suffered a minor blip last week at Sunderland but they’re likely to get back on track at home this weekend. Kevin Davis and Johan Elmander should have too much brute force for the Baggies to contend with, and Bolton are clear favourites to maintain their European challenge.

Everton v Birmingham City
Sunday December 26 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-0
Key players:  Tim Cahill & Sebastian Larsson

Goal shy Birmingham City head to Goodison Park to take on a rejuvenated Everton.
Alex McLeish’s Birmingham are only two points off the drop zone and their inadequacies in the final third are starting to become a serious problem. If City are to upset the apple cart then Sebastian Larsson’s delivery from set plays is going to be vital.
Everton fans received an early Christmas present on Monday night as they won away at Manchester City, and if they can put in another battling performance this Sunday then they should come out on top. As usual Tim Cahill will be their man to watch.

Man United v Sunderland
Sunday December 26 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 3-1
Key players:  Wayne Rooney & Craig Gordon

Euro hopefuls Sunderland visit Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.
Sunderland have been churning out good results lately, but a trip to unbeaten United is perhaps one step too far. The task is made even more difficult as Danny Welbeck and Lee Catermole are unavailable. Steve Bruce will need keeper Craig Gordon to pull off further saves of the decade and hope luck is on their side.
Sir Alex Ferguson knows his team have underperformed this season, but he also knows the second half of the season is when they normally slip through the gears. Wayne Rooney desperately needs a goal to mark his return to the team, and this Sunday looks like a fair bet with the Red Devils being clear favourites.

Newcastle United v Man City
Sunday December 26 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players:  Andy Carroll & Carlos Tevez

Newcastle United host a Manchester City side looking to bounce back after a shock defeat.
City missed out on a chance to go top by losing at home to Everton on Monday, and Mancini knows if he wants to stay in the title hunt his team cannot afford any more slip ups. With Carlos Tevez withdrawing his transfer request, the Argentinean striker should boost City’s chances on the pitch.
Alan Pardew has had a dream start to the poisoned chalice that is Newcastle United, and a victory over big spending City would go a long way to winning over the fans. City are the better side, but with home advantage and an in form Andy Carroll tipping the balance, a draw looks the best bet.

Wolves v Wigan Athletic
Sunday December 26 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Kevin Doyle & Charles N’Zogbia

Wolves play Wigan in this weekend’s big relegation six-pointer.
The Latics having been struggling to find the back of the net on the road. They’ll know they have a big chance this Sunday against Wolves’ leaky defence, especially with the lightening quick Charles N’Zogbia on the counter attack.
Wolves have started picking up points at home and a victory could take them out of the bottom three for the first time since September. I expect Mick McCarthy’s side to go all out attack and nick a tight game, with Kevin Doyle making the difference.

Aston Villa v Tottenham
Monday December 27 - 12:30am
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players:  Stewart Downing & Jermain Defoe

A stuttering Aston Villa take on Tottenham in Sunday night’s late game.
Gerrard Houllier is a man under pressure and his Villa side need to pull themselves away from the relegation places. With star player Ashley Young sidelined, more pressure will be placed upon wingers Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton.
Spurs have a dismal record at Villa Park and they’ll need to step up their game if they want to keep pace with the top four. With Rafael Van Der Vaart still doubtful, Jermain Defoe will lead the attack and try to make the difference in a game that could go either way.

Arsenal v Chelsea
Tuesday December 28 – 3am
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players:  Cesc Fabregas & Frank Lampard

Chelsea make the short trip across London for a mammoth derby clash against Arsenal.
Chelsea can’t afford to lose this match and it’s crucial they rediscover the form that kept them on top of the table before their recent slump. Ancelotti must be delighted he can call upon the services of Frank Lampard again as he offers the team goals from midfield.
Arsenal need to prove they can win against their title rivals as there appears to be a lack of belief at the football club. Captain marvellous Cesc Fabregas will need to galvanize his troops and hope his side’s superior technical ability will shine over Chelsea’s power game.



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