English Premier League predictions (March 3-4)

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Liverpool v Arsenal: Arsenal come into this match having followed a series of bad losses with a proper thrashing over Spurs this past weekend. A home win at the Emirates was desperately needed to right the ship that seemed to be in shambles and after falling down 2-0 it seemed their season might be lost. Superb play from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott saved all three points and put them back in to fourth on the table and in contention for Champions League qualification. Liverpool meanwhile have been absent from Premier League competition since February 11th playing against lower-tier sides Brighton in the FA Cup, and Cardiff City in their Carling Cup final victory. They now sit 7 points out of fourth place and will be desperate for a Champions League return. Liverpool will be without Daniel Agger and likely Steven Gerrard who was forced off with a hamstring injury in England’s loss against The Netherlands on Wednesday. Still, I back them to take care of business on Saturday and take all three points against Arsenal in a close match.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal

Blackburn v Aston Villa: Villa have had a poor run of form as of late and losing Darren Bent to a likely season-long ankle injury, as well as Robbie Keane returning to the US from loan, surely won’t help. The two teams combined for a measly 5 points in the month of February from 8 matches. Blackburn sit 18th in the table and need any remaining points to stave off relegation. Not helping matters was the sale of Chris Samba to Anzhi Makhachkala who surely could have helped them in their effort to stay up. The Blackburn fans are planning their biggest protest yet against the Venky’s ownership group and boss Steve Kean.

Prediction: Blackburn 1-0 Aston Villa

Manchester City v Bolton: Let’s be honest with this one, Bolton stand no chance at City of Manchester stadium on Saturday. City look to be on cruise control for their first ever Premier League title with their only competition being cross-town rivals Manchester United. Bolton have five games in a row against lower half competition that they will need to pick up points in if they are to avoid relegation. Carlos Tevez has returned to Man City, but it remains to be seen if Roberto Mancini will allow a return to first team action. As big a head case as he is, he is a great attacking talent and would certainly bolster City’s title hopes.

Prediction: Man City 3-0 Bolton

Queens Park Rangers v Everton: Maybe sacking Neil Warnock wasn’t the right decision as Mark Hughes has not improved his side’s position in the table since taking over as manager at QPR. QPR have now had 5 players sent off at home after Samba Diakite was dismissed in his debut last week against Fulham. Rangers sit one spot above the relegation zone, but only on goal differential. Everton have been on a great run, winning four of their past five matches. They will be missing Landon Donovan who returned to LA Galaxy after a two month loan stint. Donovan played fantastic for Toffees during his stay and I’d like to see a permanent move in the future. Everton haven’t won away from home since January 1st, but I back them to continue their hot streak and get the victory on Saturday.

Prediction: QPR 0-1 Everton

Stoke v Norwich: After four straight EPL losses and crashing out of the Europa League to Valencia, Stoke finally got back on track last weekend with a win over Swansea. Both sides sit mid-table, and both will be happy to finish there. It’s hard to pick a winner here as both sides are pretty equal, and Norwich are good on the road. It should be an entertaining game, but a draw is the most likely result.
Prediction: Stoke 2-2 Norwich

West Bromwich v Chelsea: Things are not looking good for Andre Villas-Boas at the moment. Chelsea remain in the Champions League for this year by a thread after a 3-1 defeat to Napoli two weeks ago. They will need to secure every point they can get if they are to qualify for next year’s campaign. West Brom are scoring goals with aplomb at the moment, netting 9 in their last two matches. I back them to take the upset at home come Saturday.

Prediction: West Brom 2-1 Chelsea

Wigan v Swansea: If Wigan are to yet again escape the drop this is the sort of match they will need to win. Roberto Martinez’s side sit dead last in the table with a paltry 20 points. Still, they remain only a point below the drop-zone, so there is hope. Swansea head in to this match having suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season. Their place inaugural season in the Premier League looks safe to avoid relegation and this match is much more important to Wigan. Important or not, Wigan have only won once at home this season and I don’t see them getting their second here.

Prediction: Wigan 0-2 Swansea

Newcastle v Sunderland: Sunday will be Martin O’Neill’s first taste of the Tyne v Wear derby. Sunderland have been very competitive since O’Neill took over. They will be hoping that last week’s heavy 4-0 defeat to West Brom was an aberration. Newcastle will be hoping to maintain their run for possible Champions League qualification, sitting 3 points out of fourth place. They will be looking to rebound after letting a 2 goal margin slip to a draw against Wolves last weekend. Newcastle won the first derby at Stadium of Light, and I think Newcastle take their home advantage and win this match in a tight game.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Sunderland

Fulham v Wolves: After sacking Mick McCarthy in mid-February Wolves manager hunt became a bit of a farce, ultimatelty ending in assistant Terry Connor being promoted to the role. Wolves currently sit 2 points above the drop-zone, leading the 5 team relegation battle. They have managed only 2 points since the beginning of 2012, but managed to save a point in a 2 goal comeback against Newcastle last weekend. Fulham on the other hand are safe at mid-table and have a red hot Clint Dempsey who became the first American to score against Italy from the run-of-play at midweek. Fulham are chasing a third consecutive league win and I back them to get all three points Sunday.

Prediction: Fulham 2-0 Wolves

Tottenham v Manchester United: It has to be asked at this point if the Harry Redknapp for England speculation is hurting Spurs. Once a possible title contender Spurs will be desperate to cling on to third. Spurs will enter this match without Scott Parker due to suspension, and possibly Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart due to injury. This match will be a test of character for Spurs who will look to bounce back from a bad loss at Arsenal this past Sunday. United sit 2 points below first place and will be looking to match City’s pace. Paul Scholes came out and stated that United may need to win every remaining match to beat City to the title. This should be a closer match for Spurs than last week with a draw the most likely result in my mind.

Prediction: Tottenham 2-2 Man Utd

If Harry is off to England, who is next for Spurs… possibly Jose Mourinho?

RIP Gary Speed [via Who Ate All The Pies]
If only Lionel Messi could dispatch Sepp Blatter [via Dirty Tackle]
The best kit you will ever see [via The Beautiful Gear]

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