23 February 2007

Prem (and League Cup) Predictions 2/24-2/25

Fulham v Manchester United (7:45am, Setanta): As much as it pains me to say, Fulham were utterly dire defensively in their last game. Knowing Chris Coleman as a former defender and as a motivator, I’d hope that wouldn’t be the case here, but more likely it’s a trend for the rest of the season. They should have enough points to escape a relegation battle, however. Not to mention that United have been in fine form, and even when they’re not, they’ve the ability to create a goal out of nothing, as they did against Lille. And sorry, but that was a legal free kick by Giggs, as stupid as the 'wait for the whistle or don't' rule is. United 2-0
Charlton v West Ham (10:00, FSC): There’s a ton of storylines in this one. Alan Pardew used to manage West Ham, Curbishley was at Charlton for ages. Both are in the relegation places and they’re tied on 20 points, with West Ham in 18th on goal difference. With the talent they have and the money spent during the transfer window, West Ham shouldn’t even be in this position, but nothing seems to be able to keep them up. Charlton’s gotten the better results recently, and being at home seals it. Plus I'd love it if Pardew could stick it to Curbs, Magnusson, and West Ham. Charlton 1-0
Middlesbrough v Reading (10:00, Setanta Xtra): Based on the last six games, Reading’s been the best team in the league, and despite Boro being marginally better at the Riverside, the Royals really should take this one. Unfortunately for Reading and the Americans following them, Bobby Convey’s going to be out for the rest of the season, while both teams will also have an eye on FA Cup replays next Tuesday. If Reading do win, they’ll only be one point behind Bolton in 5th. Reading 2-1
Watford v Everton (12:15, FSC):: Loathe as I am to predict a Toffees win, especially away from home, one seems likely here. Aidy Boothroyd’s done an excellent job with the morale of his squad so far this season, but it’ll be tough to keep their heads up after failing to capitalize against ten-man Wigan mid-week. In addition, recent England international keeper Ben Foster will be out for Watford. A loss here would probably seal relegation. Everton 2-1

Wigan v Newcastle (8:00am, Setanta Xtra): Despite Newcastle’s fine form, a slow return to fitness, and a big win in Europe mid-week, I still think Wigan will be able to build on their 10-man draw from Wednesday. If, that is, more referring decisions don’t cost Paul Jewell’s team; I firmly believe Styles sent off Fitz Hall mainly because of Jewell’s complaints about Phil Dowd. Which is a hell of an accusation to level, but one I certainly wouldn’t put past Rob Styles. In any event, Alan Wiley’s referring this game, and he is one of the best. Wigan 1-0
Tottenham v Bolton (10:00am, delayed at 11am on FSC): Are we going to get the Tottenham that lost 4-0 at home to United or the one that strolled 4-0 at Fulham in the FA Cup? Bolton’s had the better season, and honestly, is probably a better unit thanks to Sam Allardyce, but Tottenham should be higher than 10th place, and coupled with their play in two good wins the last two times out, I think they’ll move up the table here. Tottenham 2-1
Blackburn v Portsmouth (10:00am delayed at 1pm on FSC): Pompey’s been sliding back down the table, and we’re getting to the point where the table doesn’t lie anymore. Blackburn, on the other hand, have still underachieved in the league, and will also be looking to put the UEFA Cup behind them, going out after a 0-0 draw to Bayer Leverkusen yesterday. This one has draw written all over it. 1-1

Chelsea v Arsenal (9:30am, Setanta): Extra League Cup Final fun. I was wavering over this game until John Terry was ruled out with ankle ligament damage. As you’ve undoubtedly already heard, Chelsea only have one recognized center back, Carvalho, and will probably be forced to drop Essien into defense. Arsenal have had some of the frequent troubles putting the ball in the back of the net recently, most notably against Blackburn, and while the kids will probably continue to play in the Carling Cup, I think the Gunners take it here. Besides, who wants to see Mourinho win another Carling Cup? Arsenal 3-2

Will be done with the Liverpool v Sheffield (10am Saturday, Setanta) shortly.

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