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Titanic clash of the table toppers

chris_dring

West Ham v Manchester City
Saturday December 11 - 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-2
Key players:  Carlton Cole & David Silva

Bottom of the table West Ham host Champions League hopefuls Manchester City.
City were outstanding last week against Bolton and if they can match that performance against the Hammers, they should pick up all three points. David Silva looks to have finally found his feet in English football and his trickery on the break could be key.
West Ham are in real danger and could badly do with a home win. If they are to upset the form book and pull off a surprise, then their goal-shy striker Carlton Cole needs to rediscover last season’s form.

Aston Villa v West Brom
Saturday December 11 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 3-2
Key players:  Stewart Downing & Peter Odemwingie

West Brom travel to local rivals Aston Villa keen to pile more misery on Gerard Houllier.
West Brom’s form is on the up and last Sunday against Newcastle they were outstanding. Peter Odemwingie is a real handful and the Nigerian hit man will be looking to cement his hero status at the club.
Aston Villa are floating just above the drop zone and they are besieged by injuries. With a ferocious home following behind them and local pride at stake, I think they will overcome their troubles and give their fans an early Christmas present. Stewart Downing will be their man as he is their only fit first choice midfielder.

Everton v Wigan Athletic
Saturday December 11 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-0
Key players:  Steven Pienaar & Ali Al Habsi

Everton entertain a Wigan side seeking to climb out of the bottom three.
Wigan need a win desperately to reignite their campaign. They’ve started looking extremely fragile at the back and they’ll need Ali Al Habsi to have a blinder between the sticks if they want to pick up a point.
Everton showed their fighting spirit last week at Chelsea and as long as the crowd can stay patient, they should have too much for a poor Wigan side. With Mikel Arteta suspended, all creative duties will be places on the talented Steven Pienaar who should to lead them to a much needed victory.

Fulham v Sunderland
Saturday December 11 - 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players:  Danny Murphy & Darren Bent

Fulham welcome Steve Bruce’s Sunderland to Craven Cottage.
Fulham boss Mark Hughes is starting to feel the heat and his draw specialists must throw caution to the wind and go on the offensive. Danny Murphy is their captain and playmaker, and the veteran midfielder must lead by example.
Sunderland are looking like a good prospect for European football and as long as they can cope with their defensive injuries, they should have enough quality to pick up a point. Danger man Darren Bent as always will be the Black Cat’s man to watch.

Stoke City v Blackpool
Saturday December 11 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Kenwyne Jones & Charlie Adam

A refreshed Blackpool head to the Britannia Stadium to take on an inform Stoke.
With Blackpool’s game being called off last week, Ian Holloway’s team should have bags of energy and be ready to cope with a robust Stoke side. If they are to pull off another surprise, they’ll need their playmaker supreme Charlie Adam to dictate the game.
Stoke are on the up and they will be fully expecting to brush the Tangerines aside. Matthew Etherington is possibly in the form of his life and, along with Kenwyne Jones, they should have too much brute force for Blackpool.

Newcastle United v Liverpool
Sunday December 11 - 12:30am
Dring’s prediction: 1-2
Key players:  Andy Carroll & Fernando Torres

Newcastle play Liverpool at a St James Park still in shock after the sacking of Chris Hughton.
Newcastle are sitting comfortably in mid-table and the players will be determined to prove Chris Hughton’s departure will not send them spiralling down the table. Local lad Andy Carroll will offer the Toon Army’s main threat going forwards in the clubs search for a morale-boosting win.
Liverpool have turned their season around and they’re starting to look like a decent side again. If Fernando Torres can regain his sharpness and find the back of the net, Liverpool could finally end their poor away record.

Bolton v Blackburn Rovers
Sunday December 12 - 8:30pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Lee Chung-Yong & Morten Gamst Pedersen

Blackburn make the short trip to Bolton eager to build on their mid-table position.
Apart from their 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester United, Blackburn’s recent form has been impressive. They’ll look to hit Bolton on the counter attack and hope Morten Gamst Pedersen can deliver one of his specials from his wand-like left boot.
Bolton were battered at Manchester City last week, but as long as they can put that tie behind them, they should be favourites in this Lancashire derby. Wanderers are the better footballing side, and with players like Lee Chung-Yong in the side they should have enough class to pick up all the points.

Wolves v Birmingham City
Sunday December 12 - 8:30pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-2
Key players:  Kevin Doyle & Nikola Zigic

Birmingham City head to play Wolverhampton keen to keep their local rivals deep in relegation trouble.
Birmingham are similar to Fulham in that they need to turn draws into three points. Nikola Zigic made the difference coming off the bench last week, and the giant Serb should trouble Wolves’ ropy defence.
Wolves have a terrible record at the back and they’ll need to go all out attack against a Blues side that is a tough nut to crack. This game is hard to predict and if Wolves are to steal a vital victory, Kevin Doyle will have to finally produce the goods in front of goal.

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Sunday December 12 – 11pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players:  Gareth Bale & Didier Drogba

A stuttering Chelsea team face Tottenham in a highly anticipated London derby.
Chelsea are on a dismal run, but with so much quality in their ranks it shouldn’t be too long before they turn their season around. Tottenham are fragile at the back and the likes of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka should get plenty of chances to regain their confidence.
Tottenham know only one way to play and the game should be wide open as Spurs push forward. Chelsea’s right back position is a concern for Ancelotti and marauding left winger Gareth Bale will be Harry Redknapp’s trump card in a fixture that could go either way.

Manchester United v Arsenal
Tuesday December 13 – 3am
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players:  Wayne Rooney & Samir Nasri

Arsenal visit Manchester United in Monday night’s late game determined not to relinquish their top spot.
Arsenal shift from the sublime to the ridiculous and Arsene Wenger knows this is his side’s biggest test of the season so far. Samir Nasri is arguably the best player in the Premiership right now and if the Gunners are to stay on top of the pile, then the mercurial Frenchman must deliver once more.
United are still unbeaten and Sir Alex will want to send out a message to the rest of the league by delivering a resounding victory. Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney should wreak havoc against Arsenal’s dodgy defence. There is not much in it between the two teams, but home advantage could just be the telling factor.

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