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Weekend closes with blockbuster

chris_dring

Bolton v Tottenham
Saturday November 6 - 7:45pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-2
Key players: Kevin Davies & Luka Modric

Bolton play Tottenham is this weekend’s early kick-off at the Reebok Stadium.

Spurs are the better team, but they’re struggling for consistency. Luka Modric’s form has been picking up, and the pocket-sized playmaker will look to orchestrate a Tottenham win and get them back into fourth spot.

Bolton have an impressive home record against Spurs and they’ll look to expose Tottenham’s defensive frailties. Kevin Davies is always a handful and his aerial supremacy should give Bolton a point.

Blackburn Rovers v Wigan
Saturday November 6 – 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players: Mame Diouf & Charles N’Zogbia

Wigan make the short trip across Lancashire to play Blackburn.

Wigan are a bookies nightmare as they blow hot and cold. They’ll look to curb Blackburn’s more robust approach by dominating possession. Charles N’Zogbia is the Latics’ live wire and if the French man is in the mood, he could terrorise defenders.

Blackburn played well against Chelsea last week and they should have beaten the champions. If they can repeat the performance, they should run out comfortable winners. Mame Diouf has been the pick of the bunch for them and he should galvanise the Rovers to a much-needed win.

Sunderland v Stoke City
Saturday November 6 - 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-1
Key players: Darren Bent & Ryan Shawcross

Sunderland entertain Stoke City, desperate to banish the memories of their derby embarrassment.

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has come out and apologised to the fans after the defeat to Newcastle, and I expect the players to redeem themselves with a victory. Darren Bent as normal will be their man to watch.

Stoke were unlucky against Everton and paid the penalty for being lacklustre in front of goal. Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross will have the task of marshalling Darren Bent, and if he can keep the Black Cats striker quiet, Stoke could sneak a point.

Fulham v Aston Villa
Saturday November 6 - 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players: Clint Dempsey & John Carew

Aston Villa head to Fulham keen to get their season back on track.

After a promising start to Gerard Houiller’s reign, Aston Villa are going through a sticky patch. They’re missing a predator in the box, and it will be interesting to see if John Carew is recalled as he is a better finisher than Emile Heskey.

Mark Hughes was ecstatic after Fulham brushed Wigan aside and he’ll demand more of the same. There is no need to rush Andy Johnson back into the squad as American Clint Dempsey has been regularly finding the back of the net. Fulham might just be favourites, but Villa should dig deep and take home a point.

Birmingham v West Ham
Saturday November 6 - 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-0
Key players: Sebastian Larsson & Robert Green

Birmingham welcome bottom of the table West Ham to St Andrews.

West Ham keeper Robert Green is showing the form that made him England’s No1, and he’ll need another man of the match performance if the Hammers don’t want to leave empty handed.

Birmingham are unlikely to make this tie easy on the eye, but they should grind out three points. They’re more organised at the back, and they have decent delivery in set plays from Sebastian Larsson which should make the difference.

Blackpool v Everton
Saturday November 6 - 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-2
Key players: Charlie Adam & Ayegbeni Yakubu

High flying Blackpool look to take another big name scalp as Everton visit Bloomfield Road.

It’s hard to judge Blackpool’s performance on Monday night against a nine-man West Brom side, but we can count on them to be positive from start to finish against Everton. Charlie Adam is going to have to continue his goal scoring run as it is unlikely the Tangerines will be able to keep a clean sheet.

Everton are climbing up the table in their pursuit of European football. Nigerian striker Ayegbeni Yakubu finally bagged his first goal of the season for the Toffees against Stoke last time out, and with a more experienced team behind him he should end up on the winning side yet again.

Manchester United v Wolves
Saturday November 6 - 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 3-1
Key players: Dimitar Berbatov & Matthew Jarvis

Wolves face the daunting task of visiting Old Trafford to play Man United.

Wolves grabbed a surprise win last time out, but they’re unlikely to repeat the feat. Matthew Jarvis was the man of the match against Man City and the young England hopeful will need to produce another star turn.

United’s confidence has returned and they’re firm favourites to steam roll over Wolves. Nani’s absence will be a big loss, but it gives the opportunity for the likes of Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov to steal centre stage. Their movement should pull the Wolves defence all over the park and leave plenty of space for the Red Devils to record another victory.

Arsenal v Newcastle United
Sunday November 7 – 8:30pm
Dring’s prediction: 2-0
Key players: Jack Wilshere & Cheik Tiote

Newcastle, buoyed by their mauling over Sunderland, head south to play Arsenal.

The Toon Army will still be in party mood, but they must come back down to earth quickly as they face a mammoth task. Cheik Tiote has the unenviable task of tracking Arsenal’s runners and he’ll be Newcastle’s key man.

Arsenal will as ever dominate possession and run Newcastle into the ground. With Fabregas a doubt, Jack Wilshere, returning from suspension, should boss the midfield. The Gunners might have to be patient, but they have too much class to fail to break down the Magpies.

West Brom v Manchester City
Sunday November 7 - 10pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players: James Morrison & Yaya Toure

West Brom aim to shoot down another contender as Man City travel to the Hawthorns.

The Baggies played well with nine men against Blackpool, and Roberto Di Matteo knows his side must be disciplined. They have a formidable home record and they’ll look to exploit City’s narrow midfield. James Morrison is having an excellent return to the Premiership and, along with Chris Brunt, he’ll create West Brom’s chances.

Mancini will demand a reaction from his players after last Saturday’s poor showing. Carlos Tevez is still injured, so extra responsibility will lie on City’s experienced players. Yaya Toure is the engine of their midfield, and as long as he can break up West Brom’s passing game, Man City should pick up a draw.

Liverpool v Chelsea
Sunday November 7 – 11pm
Dring’s prediction: 1-1
Key players: Steven Gerrard & Didier Drogba

The stand out fixture of the weekend is saved until last and sees Liverpool host the champions.

Liverpool have starting picking up results and a match against Chelsea should be a decent marker to see how much they’ve improved. Joe Cole is absent through injury, so all of Liverpool’s creativity will have to come from Steven Gerrard. His relationship with Fernando Torres will be crucial in this tight game.

Chelsea keep on winning despite indifferent performances, and they’ll have to raise their level at a deafening Anfield. The game will be played at a frantic pace and chances could be minimal. It’s hard to see either Drogba or Anelka not scoring, so despite home advantage to Liverpool, this game could end in a stalemate.

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