16 August 2007

Predictions 8/18-8/19

It seems like every other post is either predictions or a Liverpool preview or review. My apologies, but the games are coming fast and thick. I know I need to diversify, but yeah, preview of Sunday’s game against Chelsea up tomorrow.

Portsmouth v Bolton, 7:45am, Setanta: It was a superb Benjani header and point won against United, Fratton Park is always a tough place to play, and it seems like I’ve bashed Bolton at every opportunity (who haven’t looked good), but I’m going against the grain (and probably my better judgment) in thinking that this game’s going to be one of those low-key cagey early morning 0-0 draws. Neither team has been shut out or kept a clean sheet in their two games, but I haven’t been all that impressed with Portsmouth’s new attacking signings (although Benjani somehow turned prolific) and despite losing Allardyce, Bolton’s has to still have some tough, ugly football in them somewhere (and has to show it soon). 0-0
Reading v Everton, 10am, FSC: Game of the day. Everton, of all teams, tops the table (although after two games that means very little), while Reading’s done well against United and Chelsea, even though they’ve only picked up a point. The absence of Kitson and Cisse due to successive red cards won’t help, but Reading is strong enough in defense to shut down Everton’s scarily (and surprisingly) prolific attack at the Majeski. Arteta will have to be marked tightly though. This one really could go either way, and when I’m this uncertain, I’m going to take the easy way out. 1-1
Tottenham v Derby, 10am, Setanta: No offense meant to Derby (okay, not much meant), but if Tottenham doesn’t pick up their first win of the season here, something’s really wrong. Problems have been compounded by injuries to Berbatov and Kaboul, in addition to the defenders already missing (Dawson, King). However, the absence of Berbatov may actually solve some of the problems caused by having three strikers that need to be on the field, although I don’t know how good a Bent/Keane pairing is going to be. Still, Tottenham has to be favored to win here. If they don’t, we’re going to start hearing some “Jol out” talk, even though it’s far too early for that step. Tottenham 2-0
Birmingham v West Ham, 10am, Setanta Xtra: I don’t fancy West Ham to do much at all this season. They were completely at sea against City a week ago, and I doubt the new players have settled much more since. Birmingham’s scored two goals in their past two games, but their defense hasn’t been anything to write home about. The safe pick’s probably a 1-1 draw, and Ashton’s return to fitness should certainly help West Ham, but I like Birmingham to continue the Hammers’ troubles. Brum 1-0
Fulham v Middlesbrough, 10am: Yikes, Boro on the road. Fulham was 10 minutes away from beating Arsenal at the Emirates and did well to score 2 goals in awful conditions against Bolton. Also, David Healy, who Laurie Sanchez is well familiar with, has scored in both. Boro already misses Mark Viduka’s goals, and I don’t know if new signing Mido is going remedy that. Fulham 1-0
Wigan v Sunderland, 10am: Wigan may have scrapped a home win against Boro on Wednesday, but the way Sunderland’s playing, Wigan will have to be better to at least earn a draw at the JJB. And I don’t know if they’ll be able to break down Roy Keane’s resilient side the way they’ve played. Although I will say that Jason Koumas looked good in Wigan’s midfield on Saturday. Also, so far, I look very foolish for doubting Michael Chopra, who’s got two in two games. Sunderland 2-1
Newcastle v Aston Villa, 12:15pm, FSC: This should be a better demonstration of Newcastle’s progression than their first game against Bolton, as Villa will be tougher opposition. This game will be won in midfield, specifically in whether or not Newcastle will be strong enough to take the game to Villa’s 3-man midfield, as they did against Bolton. Also, Owen may be slowly returning to fitness, but Obafemi Martins is going to be exceptionally important for Newcastle, and I like him to continue scoring. Newcastle 2-1

Manchester City v Manchester United, 8:30am, Setanta: City’s going to be a hot pick with their two wins to start the season coupled with United’s two draws and being without Rooney and Ronaldo. I still can’t see it; it’s City versus United. Both teams will be well up for it, but even with City’s new boys and newfound ability to score goals at home, I still fancy United to take all the points. Dunne is a fantastic defender, Kasper Schmeichel’s been doing his best impression of his father, and Tevez is United’s lone fit striker, but you can’t discount the attacking ability still in United’s team. Tevez, Scholes, Giggs, Nani, and Carrick all have goals in them, and for the second straight week, Ferguson’s probably done nothing but scream at them. Someone’s going to have to keep an eye on Elano, though. United 2-1
Blackburn v Arsenal, 10am: I fancy Blackburn to compete for a European place this season, and so far Roque Santa Cruz has looked excellent, but despite putting one over on them in the FA Cup last season, Blackburn hasn’t faired well against Arsenal in recent league outings (they were outscored 8-2 last season). Arsenal also looked good steadily growing into a tough game at Sparta Prague on Wednesday. If Toure and Gallas can keep Santa Cruz and Derbyshire under wraps, Arsenal should win here, even away from home. Arsenal 2-0

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