The Barclay’s Premier League returns from the international break with an array of mouth-watering fixtures, including the Merseyside Derby where Everton entertain Liverpool on Saturday. The battle between the blue and red sides of Liverpool has added spice this season, Liverpool are looking to confirm their ambitions as genuine tittle contenders. Brenden Rodgers has guided the Reds to second in league, and they head in the match on the back of a 4-0 thumping of Fulham before the break. Roberto Martinez’s seventh placed Everton have struggled to find the back of the net recently. The Toffees have failed to score in their last two games. The Merseyside derby is one of the most anticipated fixtures of the season, and I believe Everton will have to keep the combination of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge quiet if they are going to get a positive result . However, Goodison Park will be rocking, and I can see Liverpool dropping points in this one.
High flying, Southampton, travel to the Emirates to face league leaders Arsenal in another thrilling match up. The third placed, Saints, extended their 8-match unbeaten run with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Hull City before the international break and could potentially go top of the table with a win over the Gunners. Arsenal will be hoping to respond from their 1-0 loss to Manchester United two weeks ago, their first taste of defeat since opening day. Theo Walcott is expected to return to the squad, the pacy winger has recovered from an abdominal injury which has kept him out for a month. Both sides like to play an entertaining passing style, so i expect an enthralling encounter on Saturday.
Prediction: 1-0 Arsenal
Chelsea will be looking to return to winning ways when they make the trip across London to face West Ham. Jose Mourinho’s Blues have struggled recently, picking up only 1 point in their previous two matches. The Portuguese manager will be desperate to build some momentum heading into the punishing holiday months. West Ham could provide the perfect antidote to their woes, the Hammers have not won since the 6th of October and have dropped to 16th in the table. Chelsea will have a point to prove, and I expect them to pick up all three points here.
Prediction: 1-2 Chelsea
Newcastle United go in search of their third victory in a row when Norwich City visit St. James’ Park. Before the break, the Magpies recorded two impressive wins over Chelsea and Tottenham. Norwich picked up their first win in five attempts when they beat West Ham last time out, but I believe this confident Newcastle side will be too much for the Canaries, especially at home.
Prediction: 2-0 Newcastle
Struggling Fulham host Swansea at Craven Cottage as they look to end their three game losing streak. The Cottagers sit in the relegation zone and a loss would increase the pressure on manager Martin Jol. Owner Shahid Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, has appointed the highly rated Rene Meulensteen to work alongside Jol. The Dutchman worked under Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson for 12 years, and is regarded as one of the best coaches in the world.
Prediction: 1-0 Fulham
Hull City will be looking to continue their impressive home form when Crystal Palace vistit the KC Stadium. The Tigers are unbeaten at home so far this campaign. Crystal Palace, however, are rooted to the bottom of the table with just four points, but did end their run of seven consecutive defeats with a goalless draw against Everton two weeks ago.
Sunderland will hope to continue their revival when they travel to Stoke City. Under new manager Gus Poyet the Black Cats have won two of their last three BPL matches, including a shock 1-0 victory over Manchester City before the international break.
Prediction: 1-2 Sunderland
Sunday’s action kicks off with another intriguing match up as Manchester City host Tottenham at the the Etihad Stadium. Eighth placed, City, are in desperate need of a victory to get their title challenge back on track. The Blues have already suffered defeat on four occasions this season, including a shock 1-0 upset to lowly Sunderland before the international break. Manuel Pellegrini will also be without Captain Vincent Kompany and David Silva, who are both absent through injury. Tottenham, however, have also endured their own struggles recently. Spurs’ confidence has taken a hit after failing to record a win in their last two outings, The North London outfit have found goals hard to come by. They have only found the net on nine occasions this season, the least of any team in the top half of the table. Manchester City do boast a perfect home record, and I believe they will be out to prove a point against one of the league’s big boys.
Prediction: 2-0 Manchester City
Also on Sunday, Manchester United travel to Wales to face off against Cardiff City. The two sides have not played each other in the top flight of British football for over 50 years. United manager David Moyes will know this could be a potential banana skin for his team, Cardiff have already recorded impressive home wins over Manchester City and Welsh rivals Swansea City. However, the reigning champions will enter the match with a high level of confidence, the Reds have won three on the bounce in BPL and are unbeaten in nnie matches in all competitions. I expect Manchester United to continue their fine form with a victory but Cardiff won’t make life easy for Moyes and his men.
Prediction: 1-3 Manchester United
Monday’s Midlands’ Derby between West Brom and Aston Villa rounds up this weekend’s action. The Birmingham based encounter always offers a lively atmosphere and I expect an entertaining game. Both sides have been solid so far this season and I could see them splitting the points on this one.