Newcastle v West Ham (10am, FSC): Forget Newcastle’s abysmal performance in the FA Cup midweek. Birmingham played some spectacular football, did whatever they wanted to do, and Newcastle was beyond atrocious. It shouldn’t happen again. Despite the fanfare surrounding Curbishley’s appointment and the first win against United, West Ham still hasn’t turned the corner. And sadly, probably won’t. Newcastle 2-0
Fulham v Tottenham (10am, Setanta): Well, now I'm afraid to ever bet against Vincenzo Montella. Granted, it was a 3rd round FA Cup replay, against Leicester, but he single-handedly won Fulham that game. His goals in the league, when they start coming (and they will come), will be vital to Fulham’s second half of the season. Tottenham’s been great at the Lane but iffy away from home, and given the added bonus of this being a London derby, it’s going to be closer than it looks on paper. 1-1
Aston Villa v Watford (10am, Setanta Xtra): Watford’s relegated, it’s a done deal, but excepting last week’s dire performance against Liverpool, they’ll battle the entire way and make you work for the win. Meanwhile, Villa’s had a torrid last couple of months, plummeting down the league table while struggling for goals due to their thin squad, Luke Moore’s injury, and Baros and Angel being Baros and Angel. Nevertheless, while Watford will make them work for it, Villa should still be able to see 3 points from this one. Villa 1-0
Middlesbrough v Bolton (10am): Bolton will not fail to break down Boro as they did City last weekend. It can’t happen. Doesn’t matter how much better Boro is home than away, or that they put 3 goals past a struggling Charlton side last weekend at the Valley. Bolton will simply out-ugly Boro even if they don’t put 2 or 3 past Mark Schwarzer, which the Wanderers are easily capable of doing. Bolton 2-0
Portsmouth v Charlton (10am): Chances are, if you’re reading this, you don’t need me to spell it out for you, but here goes anyway. Never bet on Charlton. Do not put any of your hard-earned money anywhere near this team. They are going down with Watford, but at least Watford will (usually) battle you the entire game. Alan Pardew will probably bring them right back up the next season, but this one looks a lost cause. Hopefully, the players haven’t realized that or we’re in for 4 months of ugly and cynical football, but it’s the truth. Portsmouth 2-0
Reading v Sheffield United (10am): Dave Kitson will soon return from injury, and Leroy Lita has looked better recently, but Reading will dearly miss Kevin Doyle. To make matters worse, Sheffield has become a very tough team to beat, which should be no surprise given Neil Warnock's the manager, and have strengthened over the transfer window, bringing in 5 new players so far. 1-1
Manchester City v Blackburn (12:15pm, FSC): Should look a fair amount like City’s last game against Bolton. I expect a firm defensive showing by both sides, with chances few and far between. There’s an excellent possibility someone like Benni McCarthy or Darius Vassell could pop up to nick an opportunity, but it seems much more likely that this one will end up scoreless. 0-0
Wigan v Everton (8:30am, Sunday, Setanta): It’s been over 2 months since Wigan earned all 3 points from a league match. That streak looks unlikely to end. Arteta will be back from suspension in addition to Cahill recently returning from injury, Victor Anichebe’s settling into the league, and Andy Johnson got back on the scoresheet last weekend. Everton 2-0
Arsenal v Manchester United (11am. Sunday, FSC): Along with Liverpool v Chelsea, this is the game of the week, and one which will go a long way towards figuring out how the final table will shake out. Both teams are on hot form, United having been on all season, and Arsenal looking impressive in every game since the New Year. Arsenal’s win over United at Old Trafford back in September, when the Gunners were very successful in keeping the ball from United and refused to let Manchester play the game the way they wanted, is also worth a mention.
It’d be easy to predict these two teams playing a cagey game and canceling each other out. However, despite United’s form and the fact they seem to be close to running away with the league, I’m going to go for an Arsenal win here. Both teams have been able to put them in the back of the net of late, but with Arsenal having home advantage and the team stepping up their level of play over the past month, Arsenal could and should sneak one. Arsenal 2-1
Liverpool v Chelsea (7:45am, Setanta) up sometime tomorrow.