Reigning champions Manchester United will look to keep up the chase for yet another title by taking all three points in their match against historic rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford Sunday
THIS season finally seems destined to be one of climax and drama. From the top to the bottom of the league, everything is still to play for, and we know we are guaranteed a few shocks coming our way.
The champions host Liverpool Sunday in arguably the most fearsome clash in English football. Sir Alex won’t have forgotten the humiliation that he felt last season when Liverpool came and conquered convincingly at the Theatre of Dreams, winning 4-1.
The seemingly unstoppable Wayne Rooney can provide the touch of class that Manchester United need to dispose of Liverpool Sunday. AFP
Fernando Torres will be pushed up front on his own for Liverpool to try to unsettle the Manchester United defence and grab a winner Sunday. AFP
United are picking up momentum, and Wayne Rooney is at present one of the most lethal weapons in world football, along with Messi. The Red Devils have upped the tempo of their game and are starting to steam roll their opponents.
Liverpool will come and defend and only play Torres up top alone. I can’t see a repeat of last season happening. Man United can sense Chelsea are wobbling, and this is three points they will be desperate to take. Park and Fletcher will bring the energy, and Rooney will simply add the class. Torres and Gerrard are capable of something special, but I think Benitez’s fears of missing out on the Champions League should be even more apparent after the final whistle.
Zola’s West Ham travel to the Emirates for the late game Saturday looking to prevent Wenger’s assault for the title. The Gunners have been going along steadily and are certainly looking like a safe bet for the Premiership. West Ham are unlikely to park the bus, and this should give Arsenal the space and time they need to play their precise brand of football that is so pleasing on the eye.
Bendtner has gone from zero to hero in the past few weeks. Arshavin, Nasri and possibly Fabregas – if he can return from injury – will add the glamour and glitz. West Ham should stay up, but this is a game in which they’ll find themselves way out of their comfort zone.
Blackburn are dismal on the road but resolute at home, and will be no pushovers for Chelsea. The disappointment of failure in Europe could either have a positive or negative effect on their season. I fancy them to come back with a bang as Ancelotti seeks to make sure his first season is a success.
Hull City’s jimmy Bullard is no Kaka, but could provide enough to beat Portsmouth Saturday. AFP
Drogba, Anelka, Terry and company should prove they still have some fighting spirit at Ewood Park, but Blackburn under Allardyce will play direct and attempt to bully their visitors. Chelsea might not have the grace of Arsenal, but they should have the muscle that will brush past a staunch Blackburn.
Tottenham and Man City both have tricky fixtures on the road this weekend.
Spurs are desperately short of midfield players, and their fluent football could easily be torn apart by Stoke’s direct but effective tactics. Redknapp will have to tinker with his side if they are to survive 90 minutes.
Crouch will be key in both boxes, and he will certainly be back in the Tottenham side to make use of his height.
Delap’s deliveries for Stoke is no surprise, but no team have yet to learn how to deal with it. Spurs have more to play for, and their extra class should get them a point but they’ll have to score as I can’t see Gomez keeping a clean sheet.
Fulham have a fantastic record at Craven Cottage. Their European and FA Cup adventures must be taking their toll on Hodgson’s small squad, and they could become a victim of their own success.
Mancini, even at the start of his reign, knows he’s under serious pressure. Zamora for the Cottagers and Tevez for the Sky Blues are both in decent form, but the game will be won by the team that provides the best service. I would normally back Fulham at home, but I just think their recent hectic schedule will allow City at least a point.
Hull are staring relegation right in the face and travel to Portsmouth who have already been condemned to playing in the second tier next year. It’s hard to see where the Tigers will find the inspiration; perhaps from Jimmy Bullard, but he’s no Kaka. The pressure is off Pompey now, and pride should be enough to get themselves a rare victory.
Wigan v Burnley is a serious six pointer. Wigan are very hit-or-miss, which makes it is almost impossible to predict how they will play. The only thing that is for certain is that Burnley look like they’re heading straight back down to the Championship. They have the worst away record in the league, and if they can’t win at an unintimidating DW Stadium then they might as well bring out the white flag.
I’m siding with Wigan to take all three points, but only because Burnley are such a soft touch on their travels.
Aston Villa and Everton host Wolves and Bolton respectively. Looking at the league table and form guide, both matches appear to be home bankers. Wolves and Bolton aren’t safe yet and will put up a fight, but superior class should be the deciding factor. Milner for Villa and Arteta for the Toffees should pull the strings as the teams continue to move up the table.
Sunderland against Birmingham isn’t perhaps the most glamorous of ties. Sunderland still needs a few more points to make sure of safety, and they will look for Bent to find the back of the net as usual. Birmingham will be full of endeavour, but their season is almost over as they have little to play for but pride.
Cattermole’s return from injury has been a welcome boost for the Stadium of Light, and his work rate sums up the likely battle on the pitch. Steve Bruce’s side might just be able to sneak the three points because of home advantage.