27 September 2007

Predictions 9/29 - 10/1

Manchester City v Newcastle, 7:45am, Setanta: Newcastle looked a lot better against West Ham on Sunday than they did against Derby the previous week, and the win saw them move up to 5th with 11 points. But the arrival of Allardyce hasn't ended one of Newcastle's long-lingering problems: they have tons of trouble away from St. James' Park. It won't help that Owen's suffered another injury, and looks likely to miss a good deal of time. Meanwhile, City's still surprisingly playing well, and Sven's done such a good job that even Georgios Samaras got on the scoresheet in his first appearance this season (albeit against Norwich in the league cup). City 2-1
Chelsea v Fulham, 10am, FSC: Avram Grant's likely to pick up his first league win here. I truly hope he doesn't, with my soft spot for Fulham and utter disdain for everything Chelsea, but Fulham's had little luck so far this season, and Lawrie Sanchez is already complaining about (rightfully so, however) disallowed goals and referee performances. Chelsea smashed Hull yesterday, and while that doesn't really give any clues about how they'll perform on Saturday, I imagine the players are going to band together with all the media pressure surrounding the club. If nothing else, Mourinho imbued a sense of "us against the world" in the squad, and that will probably come out given the circumstances. Chelsea 2-0
West Ham v Arsenal, 10am, Setanta: West Ham did the double over Arsenal last year in two closely-contested matches, and is undefeated against their North London rivals since the 02/03 relegation season. While it's a stretch to think they could take three points off the Arse the way Wenger has his team playing, I still think (hope) that the Hammers could take advantage of their home form and at least earn a draw. Freddie Ljungberg, who's finally returning to fitness, will have additional incentive, going up against his former team for the first time. 2-2
Derby v Bolton, 10am: The bottom two teams in the league, and the maxim’s always been ‘you have to beat the teams around you.’ Were Bolton to lose, you could start writing this season’s epitaph, or at least Sammy Lee’s. After winning against Newcastle, Derby was thrashed by Arsenal in a similar performance as in their game against Liverpool. Anelka really should be able to take advantage of the Rams' backline. Bolton 2-1
Portsmouth v Reading, 10am: Reading's second string looked better on Tuesday than the first team has in the last few games, and I doubt that they'll continue to struggle as they have. But Portsmouth have been very good at Fratton Park, where they are undefeated this season and the defense has only let in 2 goals in 4 games. David Nugent notched again in the Carling Cup on Wednesday, and I think he's going to start to play a bigger role in Pompey's campaign. Portsmouth 1-0
Sunderland v Blackburn, 10am: Sunderland's been far better at home so far this season, getting both of their wins at the Stadium of Light, but Blackburn's going into this game full of motivation. Rovers struggled against both Larissa (in the UEFA Cup) and against Portsmouth last Saturday before finally getting back into the groove against Birmingham on Wednesday, with first-teamers Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Bentley, Dunn and Derbyshire all starting. They'll see this game as an opportunity to get to back to winning ways in the league, and I'll be very surprised if they don't take advantage. Blackburn 2-0
Birmingham v Manchester Utd, 12:15pm, FSC: Oh, the schadenfreude of seeing United go out in the 3rd round of the Carling Cup, at home, and a day after Liverpool was criticized for winning against Reading with a stronger line-up than expected which featured Torres. That said, Ferguson will assure that similar doesn't happen Saturday, and Birmingham's probably going to end up a sacrificial lamb. I sincerely hope the Brummies can replicate the solid defensive showing they put in last week (sigh), but Tevez and Rooney are two strikers that can deal with physicality and like to operate 'between the lines' (double sigh). United 1-0
Everton v Middlesbrough, 11am Sunday, FSC: Yikes, Boro on the road, where their only win came against Fulham and was due to one of those disallowed goals mentioned above. I've obviously got no love lost for Everton, and have enjoyed their tumble from 2nd to 9th in the table over the past couple of weeks, as they've lost in their last two in the league. But with Yakubu settling quickly and with a point to prove against his old team, while McFadden's continued to impress me, Everton should be able to breach Boro's defense at least once. Everton 2-0
Tottenham v Aston Villa, 3pm Monday, Setanta: While I do feel bad for Martin Jol because of the undue pressure put on him by Spurs' board, his hilarious comments today (BBC's headline is "Sacking me would harm Spurs") go a long way towards throwing away any good will. Tottenham sits in 18th, in the relegation zone, and it's almost October. Outside of actually being relegated, Spurs can't be harmed much more. Villa hasn't yet won away in the league, but I think it'll happen Monday, and we'll see just how much more pressure can be put on Jol's shoulders. Villa 3-2

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