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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 20 December, 2014

Who will win this week’s Premier League games and why*

*We’re not not actually psychic and may indeed be wrong.

All games kick off 3pm Saturday unless stated otherwise.

Fulham v Stoke City, Saturday 12.45pm

(Dimitar Berbatov has scored eight goals in 21 appearances for Fulham – Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport)

TV: Sky Sports 2

Betting: 6/5 (home), 11/5 (draw), 5/2 (away).

Injured: Fulham – Kieran Richardson.

Doubtful: Stoke – Michael Owen.

It’s a shame that today’s televised game is perhaps the most meaningless Premier League match of the season so far.

Stoke and Fulham are currently sitting comfortably in mid table, and thus, both are unlikely to either be threatened with relegation or challenge for a European spot.

However, don’t expect apathy as a result, with Tony Pulis’ men, in particular, having garnered a reputation for showing passion and an admirable work ethic in recent times.

However, Fulham, playing at home, should be good enough to combat their threat and secure a draw at least.

Verdict: Draw

Arsenal v Aston Villa

(Arsenal will be hoping to recover from their midweek disappointment – Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport)

Betting: 4/11 (home), 4/1 (draw), 15/2 (away).

Injured: Arsenal – Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs.

Arsenal will hardly be overly confident for this fixture, in light of their disappointing midweek display against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Nevertheless, they should at least be buoyed by the fact that they have only lost twice in 28 league matches against the Villains.

Consequently, despite Villa ending their record of eight games without a win against West Ham recently, they are likely to travel to the Emirates in hope more than expectation that they’ll achieve a positive result.

They must also contend with the factor that Arsenal players will be desperate to prove themselves against ostensibly inferior opposition, after their humiliating FA Cup loss to Blackburn.

Verdict: Arsenal

Norwich v Everton

(Wes Hoolahan has been in good form for club and country recently – Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport)

Betting: 5/2 (home), 23/10 (draw), 23/20 (away).

Injured: Norwich – John Ruddy. Everton – Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert.

Doubtful: Norwich – Alexander Tettey and Andrew Surman. Everton – Victor Anichebe.

This is the type of game Everton need to win if they are to keep their feint hopes of Champions League football alive.

They face a Norwich side who can be formidable on their day at Carrow Road.

Yet they are perhaps the Premier League’s most inconsistent side, having beaten teams of the calibre of Manchester United, but also failing to overcome QPR recently, having earned an impressive draw with Tottenham days previously.

Similarly, a point against the Toffees seems the likely outcome.

David Moyes’ men have drawn seven of 14 games against teams in the bottom half this season, while a number of Norwich’s recent matches have also ended in a stalemate.

Verdict: Draw

QPR v Manchester United

(Harry Redknapp has set a target of 20 points for his side between now and the end of the season – Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: 11/2 (home), 3/1 (draw), 8/15 (away).

Injured: Man United – Phil Jones and Paul Scholes.

Doubtful: QPR – Loic Remy and Bobby Zamora. Man United – Wayne Rooney.

This should, barring a big upset, be a straightforward win for the league leaders.

QPR have never beaten United in the Premier League, and have only avoided defeat against them twice.

That factor, coupled with the fact that Alex Ferguson’s men are a full 48 points ahead of the London club in the league table indicates there is only one realistic outcome.

But it would be unwise to consider this game a foregone conclusion – teams as strong as Man City, Tottenham and Chelsea have already slipped up against Harry Redknapp’s side in recent months.

Verdict: Manchester United

Reading v Wigan

(Reading lost, despite putting in a valiant performance against Man United in the FA Cup recently – Clint Hughes/AP/Press Association Images)

Betting: 6/4 (home), 23/10 (draw), 15/8 (away).

Injured: Reading – Jason Roberts and Alex McCarthy.

Doubtful: Reading – Mikele Leigertwood. Wigan – Antolin Alcaraz, Ryo Miyaichi and Emmerson Boyce

This game represents a good old-fashioned relegation six-pointer.

Both sides are currently in the relegation zone, and have consistently been among the favourites to go down this season.

The Royals have the far better recent form in this fixture, with Wigan failing to gain victory in their last six matches at the Madejski Stadium.

Therefore, a draw is surely the best Roberto Martinez and co can hope for.

Verdict: Draw

West Brom v Sunderland

(Shane Long has been linked with a move to Lazio in recent days – Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: 11/10 (home), 23/10 (draw), 13/5 (away).

Suspended: West Brom – Goran Popov.

Doubtful: Sunderland – Danny Rose and Lee Cattermole.

This encounter is a telling reminder of the disappointing way in which West Brom have faded over the course of the season.

Back in November, their 4-2 win over Sunderland saw them go as high as third in the league.

Yet since then, their performance levels have dipped drastically, and they now sit in ninth place.

However, they seemed to rediscover some form with a 2-0 win over Liverpool recently, and are consequently favourites in this encounter.

Verdict: West Brom

Man City v Chelsea, Sunday 1.30pm

(Roberto Mancini’s future has been the subject of much speculation of late – Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: Evens (home), 5/2 (draw), 11/4 (away).

TV: Sky Sports 1

Doubtful: Man City – Vincent Kompany and Gareth Barry.

Roberto Mancini effectively conceded that the title race was all but over at a press conference during the week.

And City have looked like a team with nothing to play for in recent matches, failing to win their last three league fixtures.

Nonetheless, they appear to enjoy playing Chelsea, having defeated them in their previous three home league games.

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez’s men weren’t exactly convincing against Sparta Prague in the Europa League in midweek, and they can expect an even tougher time on Sunday.

Verdict: Man City

Newcastle v Southampton, Sunday 1.30pm

(Shola Ameobi was on target during Newcastle’s midweek Europa League game – Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images)

Betting: 11/10 (home), 12/5 (draw), 5/2 (away).

Doubtful: Newcastle – Tim Krul, Cheick Tiote and Davide Santon. Southampton – Guly do Prado.

Injured: Southampton – Jose Fonte.

One of the more intriguing games of the weekend features two sides who are level on points with one another in the table.

The Saints comfortably prevailed in the reverse fixture this season, but Newcastle have become a better team since then.

The Magpies have been boosted by some astute January signings, and secured wins against Chelsea and Aston Villa of late.

So with the crowd behind them, expect Alan Pardew’s men to continue to show evidence of their improvement.

Verdict: Newcastle

West Ham v Tottenham, Monday 8pm

(Gareth Bale has been Tottenham’s standout player this season – Sang Tan/AP/Press Association Images)

TV: Sky Sports 1

Betting: 12/5 (home), 23/10 (draw), 6/5 (away).

A Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham have looked very impressive in recent matches, but face a tricky trip to Upton Park on Monday night.

The White Hart Lane outfit will inevitably be fatigued by their Europa League exploits, particularly as Andre Villas-Boas opted to pick a strong side against Lyon.

Spurs will derive motivation though, as barring an unlikely Chelsea victory at Man City, they will have the opportunity to leapfrog their fellow Londoners into third in the table.

They will also take heart from the fact that their opponents, West Ham, have lost three of their last four league matches, and have only won one in six.

Verdict: Tottenham

Fantasyland: Chelsea v Man City and much, much more>

Power rankings: Irish sports grounds>

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