Liverpool v Manchester United – 12.45
I’ve already covered this one in a seperate preview, I’m not going to go over it all again but a quick rundown would go like this:
Both teams will be up for this one, Liverpool fans will enjoy taunting Rooney if Sir Alex Ferguson decides to play him but at the end of the day, I think United will be too strong for Liverpool in this one, attacking down the flanks, United should have some joy, especially as Liverpool will either be playing a right back just back from injury or displaced from his normal position.
United to win, wouldn’t put it past Rooney to score if he gets on the pitch.
Manchester City v Aston Villa – 15.00
In terms of title challenges, this is easily the most important of all the three o’clock kick-offs.
Manchester City will be looking to continue their good run in the league, they are second only on goal difference and with a tight game expected earlier in the day at Anfield, City will be looking to capitalize here by picking up three points and getting the goals needed to put them at the top of the table.
They won’t have it all their own way though, Villa are now a tougher side to beat than they were last season, they don’t have a really deadly striker up front but darren bent does a good job and is one of the few England players to have come away from the international break with some credit.
This game could see City actually lack a striker up front, Aguero is almost certainly out, Balotelli picked upa back inury whilst away with Italy and Tevez (ignoring Mancinis comments) is unlikely to play having only just returned to training. We could end up seeing dzeko up front on his own with Silva flitting around behind him.
I think City will pick up a win here and I’d be tempted to look at the under 2.5 goals market as Villa will be trying to keep thinsg tight despite the probable absence of James Collins.
Norwich v Swansea – 15.00
This is where things get hard, in my mind this game coud go either way, both teams play good football and perhaps this is a game that is better off watching and enjoying for that reason alone.
Norwich have no new injury worries for this match and having surely stencilled this match in as a game they could win, I expect to see them break away from the 4-5-1 they’ve played the last 3 matches and go for it a bit more.
Swansea also have not picked up any new injury worries but they are still lacking numbers at the back and they could be exposed against the Norwich front line.
Having said all that, it may surprise you that I’m opting for a Swansea win in this one, they too will have seen this match as one to win and I think a little complacency could creep into Norwich’s game here.
Q.P.R. v Blackburn Rovers – 15.00
I think I’ve been fairly consistent in my view that Blackburn are a side destined for the drop this season, nothings changed since my last set of previews, in fact my opinion has been confirmed by the idiotic actions of the clubs owners, flying the entire side out to India to play in an exhibition match smacks of a lack of understanding of the situation they are in.
QPR still have a few injury problems, the constantly injured Kieran Dyer predictably being one of them but they should have enough about them to beat Blackburn here, of course Blackburn will be looking at this game as one they could realistically win but I don’t think they can pull it off and will be looking to bet against them.
Stoke v Fulham – 15.00
Stoke have won their last 2 matches in all competitions and will be looking to pick up more points here against a Fulham side fresh from a 6-0 win against QPR.
Stoke have a few injury doubts for this match with some influential players waiting to find out whether or not they will be allowed to play, the results of those tests could determine the result of this match as a fit Etherington or Pennant could enjoy themselves against Fulham and a fit Palacios could dominate midfield, a region that could very well decide the outcome of this match.
Zamora and Johnson combined well against QPR but the Stoke defence is a different beast, especially at home and I can’t see them having as much time and space as they got in their last league match.
I know it will be seen as sitting on the fence but I can see this one ending in a draw .
Wigan v Bolton – 15.00
A game between 2 sides that have really struggled at the start of the season, with supposedly weaker teams entering the league, you would have been hard pressed to find someone that would have been prepared to say that Bolton would be this far down the table at this point in the season, the loss of many of last seasons strikers and also two of their most influential players to injury has hit them hard and avoiding relegation now will be seen as a result.
It might have been easier to find someone predicting a season of struggle for Wigan, once again they sold the player most give credit for Wigans survival last season and so far, no saviour figure has stepped up to fill the void, I believe there are 3 worse teams in the league but Wigan will have to step up performances and start getting some points on the board or they will be cut adrift.
With both teams needing the points but being afraid of potentially getting caught, I can see the inevitable result being a draw.
Chelsea v Everton – 17.30
Chelsea are in danger of being left out when talk turns to title challenges, yet to really impress against any side, they certainly haven’t started anything like the fashion they did under Ancelotti last season, already the hierarchy at Chelsea have come out and given a vote of confidence of sorts, stating that Villas Boas will have “at least” 2 seasons in charge of the club, considering they paid a “transfer fee” that would cover most Premiership players, you would hope that they would give him more time than that and give him a chance to build something at Chelsea.
Everton have been left out when it comes to transfer dealings, their financial predicament has led them to rely on free transfers and loanees, once again though David Moyes has put together a side with real spirit that should be good enough to stay up, no-one is saying it’s going to be easy but already players like Barkley has shown that everton are still producing good young players and that Moyes’ eye for a player has not been dulled with astute moves for Vellios and Drenthe, one youngster looking to make his way and one player with a point to prove after a couple of years in the wilderness.
This game won’t be a classic, Chelsea have the better players but Everton have more grit and determination, there is a chance Chelsea could drop points here but I think they will scrape a win, probably 1-0.
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