Sunday March 14th 2010
Birmingham v Everton
Alex McLeish’s side have had a fantastic season, defying pre-season predictions of a relegation battle and instead breaking into the top ten. Everton had a poor start to the campaign but, with key players like Jagielka and Arteta back, the side are now a force to be reckoned with once more. Both teams are close to each other in the table and I think that will show in the game. 2-2.
Bolton v Wigan
The fact Bolton managed wins against Wolves and West Ham means there midweek thrashing by Sunderland will not be as dispiriting as it could have been. Wigan will also be on a high after an impressive win over Liverpool on Monday night. Both managers like to play football so this should be a game easy on the eye. I expect both sides to grab a goal – and a point – each. 1-1.
Burnley v Wolverhampton
If you looked up relegation six-pointer in the dictionary this would be found under it. Wolves are 17th on 24 points, only ahead of 18th placed Burnley on goal difference. Mick McCarthy’s side won the reverse fixture in December just days after controversially resting a number of first teamers for their clash at Old Trafford. However, Burnley are a different proposition at home and the fear of losing will mean both sides should settle for a point. 1-1.
Chelsea v West Ham
Chelsea were knocked off top spot by Man United last week while on FA Cup duty but they know a win will send them back to the summit – for 24 hours at least. West Ham will be looking for a boost after last week’s desperate home defeat to Bolton. Unfortunately I can’t see them getting anything here and with their FA Cup odds looking so favourable I wouldn’t bet against Chelsea doing the double. 2-0.
Hull v Arsenal
The momentum is well and truly with Arsenal at the moment after their battling win over Burnley last Saturday and their thrashing of Porto in midweek – they have the Premier League title in their sights. Meanwhile, Hull are battling to stay in the division and know they will have to improve their defending after last Sunday’s trouncing by Everton. Phil Brown’s men should be overpowered by Arsenal here though. 0-3.
Stoke v Aston Villa
Carling Cup finalists and FA Cup semi-finalists Aston Villa return to league action and hope to continue their bid to snatch fourth place with a win at the Britannia. For their part, Stoke probably need just one more win to guarantee a third successive season in the top flight. They are tough to beat at home but Villa are high on confidence at the moment and I fancy them to get the win. 1-2.
Tottenham v Blackburn
Spurs could join Villa in the FA Cup semi-finals if they beat Fulham in a replay and the side are also in the hunt for that final Champions League spot. Harry Redknapp’s men grabbed a vital win over Everton last time out and face a Rovers side who have won just once away from home all season. For that reason I tip the Londoners to win. 2-0.
Sunday March 14th 2010
Man Utd v Fulham
Can anyone stop Wayne Rooney at the moment? The England striker grabbed another two goals to help United on their way to a convincing 4-0 second leg win over AC Milan in midweek. England will be hoping the striker can carry that sort of form into the 2010 Football World Cup. For their part, Fulham are much improved under Roy Hodgson and are firmly in the hunt for a Europa League place. They are still fighting for glory in Europe this season and they are also in with a chance of a trip to Wembley in the FA Cup. However, with Rooney is such good form I can’t see the Cottagers getting anything here. 2-0.
Sunderland v Man City
The relief was tangible on Wearside on Tuesday when Sunderland beat Bolton 4-0 to record their first win in 15 games. It still doesn’t mask the disappointment at the Stadium of Light where the fans have seen a promising start to the season collapse over the winter. Meanwhile, Man City are on a roll after their 4-2 win over Chelsea and will see this game as the perfect opportunity to grab three more points in their quest to snatch fourth. 1-2.
Liverpool v Portsmouth
Liverpool’s season sank to a new low at the DW Stadium on Monday, raising the pressure still further on boss Rafa Benitez. Pompey have had their fair share of problems this season, both on and off the pitch. The glimmer of light is the FA Cup semi-final next month but that can’t hide a desperate league campaign which will certainly end in relegation. I think the embattled reds will get a welcome win here. 2-0.