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Stoke quaking at Chelsea roadtrip

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy will hope his strike partnership of Doyle and Jarvis will prove decisive against Newcastle. AFP

Everton’s Mikel Arteta will link up with teammates Pienaar and Cahill to try to dominate the midfield against Aston Villa. AFP

Blackburn v Arsenal
Saturday August 28 – 6:45pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-2
Key players: Nikola Kalinic &
Cesc Fabregas

Arsenal head to Blackburn in the early kickoff on Saturday. The Gunners must be exuding confidence after they terrorised Blackpool last week.
Fabregas is the heart and soul of Wenger’s midfield, and the diminutive playmaker will surely be risked as this is the type of match Arsenal must win if they want to end their title drought. Blackburn will defend deep to try to prevent Wallcott and Arshavin exposing their lack of pace.
With David Dunn out, Blackburn’s best chance of scoring will be from set plays. Kalinic’s threat should be neutralised as Arsenal dominate possession and grind out another three points.

Chelsea v Stoke City
Saturday August 28 – 9pm
Dring’s prediction: 3-0
Key players: Didier Drogba &
Rory Delap

The media has simply run out of superlatives to describe Chelsea’s start to the new campaign. Stoke must be quaking in their boots as they have a daunting task at Stamford Bridge. Drogba, Anelka, Lampard and Malouda might all be over thirty but they’re playing with the energy and exuberance becoming of youth.
Stoke have nothing in their locker that should upset the odds. Kenwyne Jones is a major doubt for the Potters and despite their aerial threat through Delap, Chelsea should bulldoze them into submission. Ancelotti’s Blues should inflict Tony Pulis’ third straight league defeat with room to spare.

Manchester United v West Ham
Saturday August 28 – 11:30pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-0
Key players: Paul Scholes &
Mark Noble

Manchester United threw away two points at Fulham last Sunday and Sir Alex will expect improvement from his vastly experienced squad. They host West Ham, who are having a nightmare start to the season.
The Hammers aren’t the sort of side that can come and play for a draw, and one feels this fixture could be lop-sided. Paul Scholes continues to roll back the years and he should orchestrate all of United’s attacks. Rooney’s season hasn’t started yet and Ferguson knows a few goals against a shaky West Ham could just be the tonic he needs.
Noble has been one of the few bright sparks for Avram Grant this season, but all eleven Hammers are going to need to stand tall, as they are in real danger of another hiding.

Tottenham v Wigan Athletic
Saturday August 28 – 9pm
Dring’s prediction: 3-0
Key players: Gareth Bale &
Charles N’Zogbia

Wigan travel to Tottenham full of anxiety. It’s almost preposterous to imagine them picking up a point. Roberto Martinez is going to have to deliver a war cry just to make the game competitive.
Tottenham proved last week at Stoke that they have the stomach to scrap and fight alongside their customary attacking flair. Bale and Lennon will bomb down the flanks and with Tommy Huddlestone controlling the game from the middle of the park, there should be a bounty of chances for Redknapp’s strikers.
Wigan’s best chance is through N’Zogbia on the break, but they should still suffer another heavy thumping.

Wolves v Newcastle United
Saturday August 28 – 9pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players: Kevin Doyle &
Kevin Nolan

Newcastle’s six goal massacre of Aston Villa was completely unpredicted, and the Toon faithful should realise their visit to Wolverhampton won’t be so easy.
Newcastle will struggle to maintain such tempo and fervour away from home. Andy Carroll and Nolan scored five goals between them last week, but their Argentinean defensive rock Coloccini, could prove to be key as they need to shut up shop.
Fletcher and Hunt are doubtful due to injury so once again Doyle and Jarvis will be Mick McCarthy’s danger men. Wolves generally go unnoticed, but gradually they’re building up momentum and with a pulsating Molineux crowd behind them, it just might tip the tie in their favour.

Blackpool v Fulham
Saturday August 28 – 9pm
Dring’s prediction: 0-1
Key players: Marlon Harewood &
Clint Dempsey

Blackpool have felt the best and the worst of what the Premiership has to offer so far. Their home match against Fulham could be a decent indicator of whether they have the potential to survive. They need to rekindle their opening day passion against a dogged Fulham, with Harewood and Charlie Adam needing to produce the goods from the start.
Mark Hughes’ side might not have a win under their belt yet but they comfortably have the capacity to frustrate Blackpool. Duff, Dempsey and Zamora should peel the Tangerines all over the park and show the gulf in class between the two teams.

Bolton Wanders v Birmingham
Sunday August 29 – 7:30pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players: Kevin Davies &
Cameron Jerome

Bolton v Birmingham gets us underway on Sunday. Both sides will be buoyed after decent victories.
Elmander cost Bolton a small fortune, and the Swedish international is perhaps ready to finally start paying the fans back with some goals. Along with his strike partner, Kevin Davies, they offer huge targets for the like of the menacing Petrov to supply.
Birmingham will launch balls into the box and try to overrun Bolton with high pressured football. Ferguson and Larson must keep the ball long enough to maximize the ever willing Cameron Jerome up top. Bolton will be more attractive, but Birmingham’s commitment should be sufficient to give them a point.

Liverpool v West Brom
Sunday August 29 – 9pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-0
Key players: Fernando Torres &
Chris Brunt

Liverpool were dismal against Man City on Monday night. Roy Hodgson would have had strong words with his players.
A home tie against West Brom is what the doctor ordered to send the Anfield faithful home happy. Joe Cole is still suspended, so as normal the combination of Gerrard and Torres will be key for the Reds. Both haven’t produced the goods yet this season and Sunday would be perfect timing.
Chris Brunt was outstanding last week, and his deadly left foot from midfield is Roberto di Matteo’s team’s most likely source for creating something. As long as the home crowd remains patient, this should be Roy Hodgson’s first win of the season.

Sunderland v Manchester City
Sunday August 29 – 9pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players: Carlos Tevez &
Darren Bent

Manchester City fans might start thinking their team are the real deal after Monday night’s performance. Mancini’s five man midfield has not been penetrated this campaign and an away trip at Sunderland will be a stern test.
Milner and Adam Johnson out wide should torment a wobbly Black Cats defence, along with the free scoring Tevez. Steve Bruce’s side will have to by-pass Mancini’s three ball winners in the middle of the park if he wants to get something from this game.
Malbranque will need to put a shift in, but as normal Sunderland’s fate will rest on whether or not Darren Bent has his shooting boots on.

Aston Villa v Everton
Sunday August 29 – 10pm
Dring prediction: 1-1
Key players: John Carew &
Mikel Arteta

Aston Villa’s inquisition must have lasted days after they were thrashed 6-0 at Newcastle. The Villains must forget about it as they have a real tousle on their hands with hosting Everton.
Big John Carew will be desperate to make amends after his penalty miss, and he’ll hope Downing and Ashley Young can provide him with sufficient help from out wide.
Everton dropped two points at home to Wolves after dominating the first half and will be committed to gaining their first win of the season. David Moyes needs to find a prolific striker and in the meanwhile, he’ll rely on Arteta, Pienaar and Cahill from midfield. This one should be played at a hundred miles an hour and despite all the quality on view, the game could be a tight draw.



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