Unbeaten Everton, travel to the Etihad Stadium to face off against Manchester City in the marquee match up of the weekend. Manuel Pellegrini’s City will be desperate for a response from his side, following their shocking 3-2 loss to Aston Villa last weekend. The Blues were also outclassed by Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champion’s League on Wednesday, losing 3-1. Roberto Martinez’s Toffees are playing brilliant football recently, and have quality in every department. Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley will hope to continue their potent partnership up front. The English youngster Barkley was rewarded for his fine performances this season with an England call up yesterday. Despite their great form, Everton are facing their toughest test of the season, and will have to play well if they want to leave the Etihad with their unbeaten record still intact.
Prediction: 1-1 Man City v Everton
Manchester United is looking to get back to winning ways as they play bottom of the table Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. This is a must win for the Red Devils, a defeat for the defending champions would condemn them to their third league loss in a row, something that has not happened for 12 years. Wayne Rooney is expected to start for United, after missing out against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday due to a shin injury. Interim manager, Kevin Ball, will again take charge of the Black Cats following the departure of Paolo Di Canio. Manchester United has a team full of experience and class, so I don’t expect any slip ups in this match.
Prediction: 0-2 Man United
Second in the table, Liverpool, will go in search of three points as they host second from bottom Crystal Palace at Anfield. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge provide a fearsome strike partnership for the Reds. The Uruguayan has scored 18 in his last 21 appearances, while the Englishmen has 18 in 24 games for Liverpool. To me, Crystal Palace looks like the least competent of the newly promoted sides. The Eagles don’t carry a goal-threat, and have not scored in their last three games. I’m going for a comfortable win for Brenden Rodgers and Liverpool.
Prediction: 3-0 Liverpool
Aston Villa travel to the KC Stadium to battle it out against Hull City. Paul Lambert’s Villa are coming off the back of a shock 3-2 victory over Manchester City last weekend, and are also the only team to beat Arsenal this season. They will still have to cope without start striker Christian Benteke, who is recovering from a hip injury. Steve Bruce’s Tigers have made the best start out of the newly promoted sides, but will be without top scorer Robbie Brady. With both teams missing key players, I could see this one ending in a draw. Elsewhere on Saturday, Newcastle travel to Wales to play Cardiff. The Magpies have been inconsistent this season while Cardiff look solid under Malky Mackay. Fulham are in need a win when they host Stoke City this weekend. Martin Jol’s side sits in the relegation zone and he could become the next manager to face the axe if results don’t improve soon.
Predictions: 1-1 Hull City v Aston Villa
On Sunday, top of the table Arsenal looks to continue their excellent start to the season as they travel to West Brom. The Gunners have produced attractive free flowing football since their opening day defeat, and the team oozes confidence right now. Arsene Wenger will be wary of a West Brom side that will be on a high after defeating Manchester United last weekend. Arsenal should come out on top however, and I expect Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey to pull the strings for the Gunners.
Prediction: 1-3 Arsenal
The second coming of Chelsea’s messiah, Jose Mourinho, has not quite gone the way most supporters expected. The Blues will hope to rectify that as they travel to Carrow Road to play Norwich City. Chelsea’s strikers have yet to hit top form, and the idea to loan Romelu Lukaku to Everton has not gone down well with the fans. I think Mourinho’s side will still challenge for the title come May, and three points will be on the cards this weekend.
Prediction: 0-2 Chelsea
In Sunday’s other matches, Tottenham welcomes fellow London side West Ham to White Hart Lane. The Hammers are poor away from home, and I can’t see where the goals are going to come from without Andy Carroll. Spurs, on the other hand, are cruising under Andre Villas Boas and should win comfortably. Southampton entertains Swansea at St. Mary’s on Sunday. Both are great examples of teams who came up through the divisions and quickly established themselves as top-flight sides. I would not be surprised if they cancelled themselves out in this one.
Prediction: 1-0 Tottenham
1-1 Southampton v Swansea
Source: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.uk