Thursday, August 23, 2007

Premiership Predictions--Weekend, Round 4

1. Sunderland vs. Liverpool (Saturday, 7:45 AM, Setanta): Neither of these teams were happy with the result they got last weekend but the difference between the two is that Liverpool actually played well. It was a poor refereeing decision that cost the Reds all 3 points against Chelsea but Sunderland came out totally flat and uninspired in their 3-0 loss to Wigan. Black Cats manager Roy Keane won't stand for another performance like that in this game but his squad is simply overmatched. Liverpool had their share of problems on the road last season but I just can't see them dropping points in this game. Liverpool-2, Sunderland-0

2. Aston Villa vs. Fulham (Saturday, 10:00 AM, Setanta Xtra): I guess you either have to be American or hail from Northern Ireland to play for Fulham these days. Kasey Keller was brought in this week by the Cottagers as a stopgap solution to their goalkeeping woes but he'll face a proficient Aston Villa striking corps of some combination of John Carew, Marlon Harewood, and Gabriel Agbonlahor in this game. Those guys haven't really gotten it going yet this season but the Fulham defense is the perfect solution to their problems. The fans at Villa Park are desperate for a win after two disappointing performances from their club to start the year. They'll get one here. Aston Villa-2, Fulham-0

3. Bolton vs. Reading (Saturday, 10:00 AM): If this game was being played in my front yard, I'd sneak out the back window to avoid it. Luckily neither FSC nor Setanta will be televising this fixture because it has ugly and boring written all over it. Bolton are without a point in 3 games and Reading sit in 10th place with 4 points. The Royals certainly aren't doing it in style but they're getting the job done and that's all that manager Steve Coppell is responsible for. Chalk up a victory for the away team in this one. Is it over yet?? Reading-1, Bolton-0

4. West Ham vs. Wigan Athletic (Saturday, 10:00 AM): Another game I can't say I'd watch even it was on TV. Wigan have gotten out to a surprising start with 2 wins in 3 games while West Ham can thank a Colin Doyle goalkeeping blunder for their only 3 points of the season. It's good to see Jonathan Spector getting a game for the Hammers in their back line, which will do its best to contain a red-hot Antoine Sibierski. Sibierski is gunning for his fourth goal in as many games. Sign him up for your fantasy team! West Ham-1, Wigan-1

5. Derby County vs. Birmingham City (Saturday, 10:00 AM--2:30 AM replay on Sunday; FSC): This is already Birmingham's second game against fellow newly-promoted teams this season, meaning after this match things get considerably more difficult for the Blues in the first half of the year. Both teams are struggling to find consistency at the moment. Which Derby team will show up in this game, the one that got a tie against Portsmouth and played Manchester City close or the one that got blown out by Tottenham? Will we see the Birmingham side that scored twice at Stamford Bridge or the one that gave up 2 goals at home to Sunderland? Whichever team finds the form they had opening day and shows it in this game will win. Problem is, I don't think either of them will. Derby County-1, Birmingham City-1

6. Arsenal vs. Manchester City (Saturday, 10:00 AM, FSC): If anyone out there put money on Manchester City to lead the Premiership after 3 games, they'd be rich. Their foreign signings are, to this point, defying the prototypical logic that says it takes a while for new players to jell together and get used to the faster style of play found in the Premier League. Speaking of foreigners, Arsenal are made up almost completely of non-English players. The fact that Gunners goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is out for two weeks with a knee injury is a blessing in disguise for Arsenal fans as it's been one howler after another for the German this season. Sven's perfect record at City ends here. A thought just occurred to me when I looked at these two teams: No wonder it's not called the ENGLISH Premier League anymore. Arsenal-2, Manchester City-1

7. Chelsea vs. Portsmouth (Saturday, 10:00 AM, Setanta): This is the Saturday morning game I'll be watching live. Chelsea's right back problem was solved today with the addition of Barcelona's Juliano Belletti, although he was not their preferred signing (fellow Brazilian defender Daniel Alves). Ironically, Portsmouth's right back last season, Glen Johnson, who was on loan from Chelsea, is the player who was given an opportunity to win that starting spot with Chelsea this year and just didn't play well enough to do so. Johnson will watch his former teammates from the bench in this game. Chelsea will keep their Premier League record home unbeaten streak going, but they'll have to settle for a point. Chelsea-1, Portsmouth-1

8. Everton vs. Blackburn (Saturday, 12:15 PM, FSC): This game pits teams that will battle it out for two of the three available UEFA Cup spots this season. Everton's two-match winning streak was grinded to a halt at Reading last weekend and Blackburn capitalized on an aforementioned Jens Lehmann howler to snatch a draw with Arsenal. Leighton Baines is set for his Toffees debut as he'll return from injury in front of the new home fans. I'm still not completely sold on Blackburn but an away win here would be a great result for them. With Tim Howard in goal, I find that unlikely. Everton-1, Blackburn-0

9. Middlesbrough vs. Newcastle (Sunday, 8:30 AM, Setanta): It's the first of two Tyne-Tees Derbies this season between the Boro and the Magpies as the Riverside will play host to the late-summer edition. One point separates these two teams in the standings, although Newcastle has a game in hand. Both sides have toiled in mediocrity over the past few seasons and there's no signs of that changing this year. Middlesbrough's problem lies in the fact that their youth academy is so good that the players who come out of it want to go to a big club and Middlesbrough can't afford to pay them. They're a victim of their own success, but success is something Newcastle would love to have in any form. This game screams "draw". Middlesbrough-0, Newcastle-0

10. Manchester United vs. Tottenham (Sunday, 11:00 AM, FSC): When you talk about a failure to live up to expectations in the early part of the season, you're referring to these two teams. The defending champions are winless in 3 games and Tottenham, who many people (including myself) had pegged to finish in the top 4 this season, have only 3 points. It's too early in the year to call this game a must-win for either team but it's about as close as you can get to being one. Usually when both teams need a victory, neither of them get one. I'm still going to give the benefit of the doubt to last year's champions. Manchester United-2, Tottenham-1

1 comment:

The Brick said...

I doubt Man U can score two goals with Rooney and Ronaldo. If Tottenham scores first, they could pack it in and make this one ugly.