There’s a top against bottom clash, several battles between sides who have enjoyed (or endured) very similar campaigns in the Premier League this weekend, featuring a West London derby, a manager taking on the club he supported as a boy and another boss going up against his former employers.
For starters, Premier League title contenders Chelsea travel the short distance up the road to the home of bottom club Fulham. New Cottagers boss Felix Magath is still a new face at Craven Cottage, and so despite his credentials it is not unreasonable to expect him to ask for a performance rather than a result in this one – plenty of time to take results in games against fellow strugglers. Chelsea are very likely to be staring at a potential three points in this one, and with Fernando Torres’ goal (Torres
Elsewhere in the league, Everton take on West Ham, with only two sides between these two going into kickoff. The 14 point difference reflects the division in the league this season, and Everton are firm favourites, make no mistake. West Ham’s home advantage certainly helps, but the quality of Roberto Martinez’s men has been superior to that of the Hammers – Everton should get the job done (Everton to win 1-0 is 7/1).
Hull take on Newcastle at the KC Stadium in a match that appears most likely to end in a draw. Hull boss Steve Bruce grew up a Newcastle fan during his childhood in the north east. Hull sit just below West Ham while Newcastle are just one place behind Everton, and so the parallels between the two fixtures will surely be drawn – but Hull are proven to be a side that can pluck a result when, on paper at least, they don’t seem to have a chance. Either side could nick it, but the draw (9/4) seems to be written over this one.
Stoke host Arsenal in what could well end in another away win this weekend – though the Potters have tightened up at the back recently. They have not lost by more than a single goal since the 5-3 loss against Liverpool, and their results since then include a win over champions Man United – a win over the champions should always count for something. Arsenal looked good in their banana skin fixture against Sunderland, and didn’t lose their confidence. Go for an Arsenal win (8/11), but Stoke are capable of putting up a good fight (14/5 for a draw).
Southampton welcome Liverpool in a tricky clash, with Southampton more than capable of producing a win at St. Mary’s, though Liverpool’s away form has been impressive. The club have avoided defeat in their last eight games, which have included big wins against Stoke and Arsenal. Liverpool should be able to take this one – potentially by a couple of goals (3-1 to Liverpool at 17/1).
From Sunday’s games, Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa take on Norwich at Villa Park with the Scotsman surely full of confidence of getting one up on his former employers, but a draw is certainly a plausible outcome. Swansea take on Palace in another game that could go either way, though Palace (4/1 for the win) could spring the more surprising of the outcomes by taking the win.
Finally, Cardiff manager Old Gunnar Solskjaer takes on old suitors Tottenham at White Hart Lane with any result other than a Spurs win surely likely to prove a surprise, despite their poor showing against Norwich last time round (Adebayor to score first, 10/3).
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Fulham v Chelsea