BPL: Week Five Preview and Predictions
The Manchester Derby, arguably the biggest game in English football, takes place on Sunday. The battle between the blue and red sides of Manchester will take place without former United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, for the first time since 1986. Both clubs have new managers at the helm, and David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini will realize that defeat could potentially have major ramifications in the title race.
In the corresponding fixture last season, the Reds came out on top 3-2, thanks to a late Robin Van Persie freekick. City captain, Vincent Kompany, looks set to return to Premier League action after recovering from injury. Unfortunately the Blues could be without David Silva, the Spanish playmaker has been struggling with a thigh injury. David Moyes hailed the form of United forward Wayne Rooney this week; the England man has now scored or assisted 40 goals in his last 44 BPL games. The Etihad Stadium will be rocking for this one and Manchester City is always a formidable opponent on their own turf.
Prediction: 1-1 Man City v Man Utd
Top of the table, Liverpool, hope to maintain their unbeaten start to the season as they entertain Southampton at Anfield on Saturday. Brenden Rodgers will again call on his in-form striker, Daniel Sturridge, to lead the line against the Saints. The England man has scored in all four of Liverpools games this season. The Reds were dealt a major blow this week though, following the news that Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho will be out until the end of October after picking up a shoulder injury. Mauricio Pochettinos Southampton have made a solid start to the season and could move into the top ten with an away victory in the North-West. I anticipate Liverpool continuing their superb start to the campaign, and expect them to dictate the game with their passing style.
Prediction: 2-0 Liverpool
Jose Mourinho and Chelsea will be looking to put a dreadful week behind them, as they host fellow London side, Fulham. The Blues followed up a disappointing lose to Everton with a 2-1 defeat to FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. Despite that, they face a Fulham side who has not won in their last three BPL matches, and Chelsea will be determined to right the ship.
Prediction: 1-0 Chelsea
Norwich City and Aston Villa will be hoping to pull away from the relegation zone, as they square off at Carrow Road on Saturday. Both teams lost last time out and will see this as a real opportunity to pick up all three points. Joint top-scorer, Christian Benteke, will be hoping to add to the four goals he has already scored this season and the powerhouse forward could be the difference in this match. Elsewhere on Saturday, West Ham welcomes an unbeaten Everton side to Upton Park. The Merseyside outfit is coming off a morale lifting victory over Chelsea, and could be further boosted by the debut of on-loan signing Romelu Lukaku. Newcastle United will go in search of their third win in a row as Hull City makes the trip to St. James Park. Alan Pardew will rely on the creativity of Hatem Ben Arfa to provide the spark for the Magpies. West Brom host Sunderland as both teams look to record their first win of the season. The Baggies and the Black Cats are currently occupying the bottom two positions in the BPL table, and are in desperate need of a victory to kick start their seasons.
Prediction: 2-1 Aston Villa
Prediction: 0-1 Everton
Prediction: 2-0 Newcastle United
Prediction: 1-1 West Brom v Sunderland
Arsenal and Stoke City will be looking to continue their fine starts to the season as they square off at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Despite a summer of discontent and an opening day loss to Aston Villa, the Gunners are hopeful of mounting a serious challenge for the title this season.They are currently riding a wave of confidence and in this league, confidence breeds positive results. However, they face a tough task against a resolute Stoke City side that held Manchester City to a 0-0 stalemate last weekend.
Prediction: 2-0 Arsenal
Arsenals North-London Rivals, Tottenham, travel to Wales for a tricky encounter with Cardiff City in the hostile atmosphere of the Cardiff City Stadium. The Bluebirds have already upset Manchester City at home this season, and will rely heavily on their home form if they are to survive relegation. In spite of that, Spurs made big changes this summer and look an improved side compared to last season, and I expect their quality and strength to give them the edge in this one. Also on Sunday, Crystal Palace welcomes Swansea City to Selhurst Park. The London side will look to take advantage of Swanseas fatigue after they played Valenica in Europa League action on Thursday.
Prediction: 2-0 Tottenham
Prediction: 1-0 Crystal Palace v Swansea
Sources: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.uk