Arsenal are counting the cost of their battling draw with Barcelona in midweek with Cesc Fabregas and William Gallas ruled out for the rest of the season. Andrey Arshavin also faces a spell on the sidelines as the Gunner’s squad is pushed to the limit. However, Theo Walcott looked in fine fettle when he came on midweek and he’ll be looking to impress here to press his case for a place in England’s 2010 Football World Cup squad. Wolves meanwhile have been in great form, drawing with Everton and Aston Villa and beating West Ham to lift themselves five points clear of the drop zone but they will face a tricky challenge at the Emirates and Arsenal will just have enough.
Bolton 2 Aston Villa 1
Both these sides are licking their wounds after heavy defeats to the Premier League’s top two last weekend. Owen Coyle’s Bolton know they probably need at least two more wins to secure safety, while Villa will be keen to reassert themselves after stuttering recent form. They have a trip to Wembley next week to play Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final and I think that will be playing on their minds, allowing Bolton to grab a vital win.
Burnley 0 Man City 2
Carlos Tevez helped to get City’s Champions League charge back on track on Monday with a marvellous hat-trick against Wigan. Burnley meanwhile missed the chance to go level with West Ham and Hull after crashing to defeat at home to bitter rivals Blackburn. Burnley boss Brian Laws has won just one win to his credit as Clarets boss and I can see it staying that way in Saturday.
Man Utd 1 Chelsea 1
The undisputed game of the day as the Premier League’s top two clash at Old Trafford. United will be without a certain England striker for this one (I’m sure you have heard) so much will depend on whether Dimitar Berbatov can fill his boots. For their part Chelsea have been in fine form since crashing out of the Champions League, hitting 12 goals in their past two games. There are too many games left for this to be considered a title decider but it is a game neither side will want to lose, for that reason I predict a draw.
Portsmouth 0 Blackburn 0
Pompey will be lucky to get 11 fit players out on the pitch at Fratton Park on Saturday with three more players going down injured this week. Owusu-Abeyie’s has departed and Aruna Dindane won’t play as the club would have to pay £4 million fee to his parent club. They travel to Wembley next week for their semi-final game so expect the players to protect themselves for that encounter, even if the FA Cup odds suggest they won’t progress to the final. Blackburn breached the 40 points mark with a narrow derby win over Burnley last weekend and have relatively little to play for themselves so for that reason I predict a dull draw.
Stoke 1 Hull 1
Stoke are all but assured of a third consecutive season in the Premier League after last week’s win over West Ham lifted them onto 39 points. Hull can see a chink of light in their battle for survival too when they went level on points with the Hammers with a vital win over Fulham. The Tigers have shown plenty of spirit in their two games under new boss Iain Dowie and they will have to be at their best to overcome the Potters who a very strong at home. I can see Hull snatching a vital point in this one.
Sunderland 1 Tottenham 2
Tottenham’s aspirations to finish in the top four face another tough examination against improving Sunderland. Despite the Black Cats’ mid-season slump they are a tough side to play at home and haven’t lost at The Stadium of Light since December. Spurs are in FA Cup next week but with the riches of the Champions League agonisingly close Harry Redknapp will ensure his players are ready for this one, I fancy them to nick the points.
Sunday April 4th 2010
Birmingham 2 Liverpool 2
Birmingham’s excellent season could still end with a European place after their last gasp equaliser against Arsenal kept them in touch with the top eight. The game against the Gunners showed how hard it will be for Liverpool, who need a win to keep in touch with Spurs in fourth. It has been a poor season for Liverpool though and I can see the Blues getting a point out of this one.
Everton 2 West Ham 0
West Ham are in crisis after suffering five consecutive defeats which sees them out of the relegation zone only on goal difference. Boss Gianfranco Zola considered his future after their defeat to Stoke last time out, but the little Italian had pledged to stick with the club until the end of the season at least. Everton’s revival in the second half of the season has seen them emerge as a contender for a European spot. They are very strong at home, winning their last six at Goodison, and I can see them continuing that good run against the Hammers.
Fulham 1 Wigan 1
Fulham will be on a high following their Europa League quarter final first leg win over Wolfsburg in midweek. It will be interesting to see what team Roy Hodgson decides to pick for this game against Wigan with the second leg coming up next week. Wigan are only four points outside the relegation zone and were well beaten by Man City last time out. However I can see them getting a point out of this one, despite Fulham’s strong home record.