BPL: Week Nine Preview and Predictions
Two giants of English football clash on Sunday, as Chelsea welcomes Manchester City to Stamford Bridge. Before the season kicked off, these two sides were largely regarded as the most likely to challenge for the title come May.
Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini both know that victory in this match will lay down a marker to their title rivals and put pressure on league leaders Arsenal. City look exceptionally dangerous going forward, Sergio Aguero has been in sparkling form recently, finding the net four times in his last three games. The returing David Silva is also a huge boost for Pellegrini, the Spaniard has the vision to unlock the tightest of defenses. However, last seasons runners up will have to make due without their influential captain Vincent Kompany, the defender has failed to recover from a thigh injury. Mourinho will have to decide if he keeps faith with Fernando Torres, the frustratingly inconsistent striker impressed against Schalke 04 in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, scoring twice.Chelseas defense has been exceptional so far this campaign, the Blues have not conceded more than one goal in a Premier League match this season. Also, Mourinho boasts the unbelievable record of having never lost a BPL match at Stamford Bridge as Chelseas manager. I expect that amazing home record, combined with the absence of Vincent Kompany will be the difference in this match, and Im going for a home victory for Chelsea.
Prediction: 2-1 Chelsea
On Saturday, league leaders Arsenal travel across London to face manager-less Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The Eagles have yet to appoint a manager following the departure of Ian Holloway, and his former assistant Keith Millen will lead the team for the time being. The Gunners have been scintillating this season, but were beaten 2-1 by German giants Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. Despite that, I cant see anything but an easy win for Arsene Wengers team in this one.
Prediction: 0-3 Arsenal
Manchester United and David Moyes are in desperate need of three points as they host Stoke City at Old Trafford. United dropped more points last weekend when they were held to a 1-1 draw against Southampton. The Potters could be the perfect opponents for the Reds, Stoke are winless in their last five BPL matches, and have only scored once during that time. Robin Van Persie should be fit and available, the Dutch forward missed Uniteds 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday because of groin and toe injuries. Despite Manchester Uniteds stuttering start to the season, the players realize it is time to stand up and be counted and I expect a response from the reigning champions at Old Trafford.
Prediction: 2-0 Man United
Liverpool will be hoping to return to winning ways as they welcome Steve Clarke and West Bromich to Anfield. The Reds were held to a 2-2 draw against Newcastle United last weekend, despite having an extra man for much of the game. Clarke, who was an assistant manager at Anfield during Kenny Dalglishs second stint in charge, will have fond memories coming into this one. The Baggies did the double over Liverpool last season, beating the Reds 3-0 at home and 2-0 at Anfield. Liverpools defense has looked fragile as of late, they have failed to record a clean sheet in their last five league games so I expect goals in this match. However, the strike partnership between Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez continues to look more and more deadly each week and I believe that will be the difference between the sides.
Prediction: 3-1 Liverpool
Aston Villa will be hoping powerhouse striker Christian Benteke is fit enough to start as they welcome Everton to Villa Park. Despite already beating Arsenal and Manchester City this season, Villas young squad have struggled to find consistency. Everton have thrived under Roberto Martinez and returned to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Hull City last time out. Elsewhere on Saturday, Southampton will look to continue their excellent start to the season as they entertain Fulham at St. Marys. Fulham, however, will provide a stern test. Despite a poor start the Cottagers have won two in a row, including a 4-1 over Crystal Palace last weekend. Finally, Norwich will be hoping to climb out of the relegation zone with a victory over fellow strugglers Cardiff City. The pressure is beginning to build on Canaries manager Chris Hughton, who spent big money during the summer. New signings Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper have only supplied one goal between them so far.
1-1Southampton v Fulham
New Manager Gus Poyet will get his first taste of the explosive Wear-Tyne derby when Sunderland host bitter rivals Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light on Sunday. Poyets tenure in charge of the Black Cats could not have gotten off to worse start, as he saw his side dismantled 4-0 by Swansea last weekend. Sunderland, who has yet to win this season, will be hoping to rely on the volatile atmosphere around the stadium to cause a big shock against their most hated rivals. However, I dont see it.
Prediction: 0-2 Newcastle
In Sundays other matches, Tottenham goes in search of three points against a solid Hull City at White Hart Lane. The Tigers have made an impressive return to the top flight under Steve Bruce and will look to trouble a Spurs team who are on a short turn around after Thursdays Europa League action. Finally, Swansea City will be looking to keep the momentum going as they entertain West Ham United at the Liberty Stadium.
Source: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.uk