Saturday, March 27th 2010
Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1
Birmingham’s impressive season has shown signs of stalling recently with defeats to Blackburn and Sunderland. However they are still a tough proposition on their own turf. Arsenal have the bit between their teeth and appear determined to push United and Chelsea all the way in the title race. For that reason I think they will nick the win.
Bolton 0 Man Utd 2
Another North-west derby for United following their spirited 1-0 win over Liverpool last weekend. Wayne Rooney’s knee is their chief concern and his absence would be a big boost for hosts Bolton, who won 4-0 against Wigan last time out at the Reebok. That won’t happen again though and with or without Rooney I fancy United to get the points. England fans should be more worried about Rooney’s fitness as he will be vital if the side are to justify their World Cup 2010 odds.
Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 1
After a tough few weeks Carlo Ancelotti’s men got back on track with a thumping 5-0 win over doomed Pompey in midweek. Villa’s long season could be starting to catch up with them as they laboured to two homes draw against Wolves and Sunderland. The two sides face each other in an FA Cup semi-final next week. The FA Cup betting makes Chelsea favourites to win the tournament and I fancy them to edge both that game and this league encounter.
Hull 2 Fulham 2
It was heartbreak for Hull and new boss Iain Dowie last weekend when Pompey scored two late goals to rob them of victory. Three points is essential against Fulham this Saturday if they are to stay in touch of safety. Fulham crashed out of the FA Cup in midweek but still have a Europa League quarter-final with Wolfsburg to look forward too. I think they are good enough for a point in this one.
Tottenham 3 Portsmouth 1
In a dress rehearsal for the other FA cup semi-final Harry Redknapp’s Spurs host his former club Pompey. The south coast club inched closer to mathematical relegation after a 5-0 battering by Chelsea on Wednesday, while Spurs were sealing the place at Wembley with a win over Fulham. The Londoners will also have been boosted by results elsewhere that kept them in pole position in the hunt for fourth place. I think they will be too good for Pompey at White Hart Lane.
West Ham 2 Stoke 1
West Ham were booed off the pitch on Monday after their disastrous 3-1 defeat to relegation rivals Wolves, a result that leaves them just three points above the drop zone. Boss Gianfranco Zola knows his side needs to improve and quickly if they are to stay up. There are no such problems for Tony Pulis, whose Stoke side it comfortably in mid-table. This is a must win for West Ham though and I think they will get it, just.
Wolverhampton 1 Everton 2
What a week it has been for both these sides. Wolves picked up four valuable points in matches with Villa and West Ham to edge them closer to safety, while the Toffees beat Bolton and Man City to give their European hopes a real boost. Mick McCarthy will know his side need at least one more win before they can be sure of survival but I don’t think he will get it here against one of the league’s form teams.
Sunday, March 28th 2010
Burnley 2 Blackburn 2
Expect this sleepy part of Lancashire to come alive with raw passion as these two local rivals square off once more. Burnley are in a right mess and with just one win in 11 under Brian Laws, they are staring relegation in the face. Rovers are safety tucked away in mid-table but would love nothing more than to put one over the near neighbours. Expect plenty of tackles, commitment, cards and, hopefully, goals. Both sides should share the points come the final whistle.
Liverpool 1 Sunderland 0
Liverpool received a boost in midweek without even playing as Man City and Villa slipped up. However, following last week’s defeat at bitter rivals Man United the Reds remain four points off fourth place and cannot afford any more slip ups. Sunderland finally look like returning to their early season form which saw them beat Liverpool and Arsenal, only to tumble down the league over winter. Sunderland infamously needed a red beach ball to beat the Merseysiders in the reverse fixture, but they will get no such luck his time.
Man City 2 Wigan 0
Home is where the heart is for City with five of their remaining eight games at the City of Manchester Stadium. After Wednesday’s limp performance against Everton Roberto Mancini will be expecting a response from his expensively assembled squad. Wigan’s last gasp win over Burnley opened up a seven point gap between them and the relegation zone, but boss Roberto Martinez will want a few more points to ensure safety. However with just one defeat at home all season, expect the Citizens to claim victory.