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Before each set of Premier League fixtures, I have a look at ‘BBC football expert’, Mark Lawrenson’s predictions. Every week I have the same reaction. I reckon I could do better. Season after season I complain about his ‘woeful’ tipping. Now it’s time to put my proverbial money where my mouth is and try to ‘beat Lawro’.

The points: 1 point for a correct result and 3 points for a correct score.

LAST WEEK

Very good week’s tipping last week. I managed to correctly predict Everton’s 3-1 victory over Southampton, Stoke’s 2-0 win over Swansea and Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw with West Brom.  Check out last weeks tips to see how we both did.

Lawro got four results right, including one perfect score with a score of 4.

I managed six results right, including three perfect scores with a score of 12.

After three weeks of tipping the scores currently stand at:

Liquid Football 32-21 Lawro

Don’t forget the BETTING TIPS at the bottom of the page, we are £130 UP after 2 weeks.

SATURDAY

Man City v Sunderland

I said it last week and I’ll say it again. Manchester City have yet to really hit their stride. I thought they would do that last week against Fulham, but they scraped a 2-1 win with a late Edin Dzeko goal. They were even more unconvincing, only just managing to nick a last minute equaliser at home to Borrussia Dortmund midweek. It says something about their performance, that Joe Hart was man of the match pulling of a number of outstanding saves to keep them in the game.

Sunderland will not be easy opponents, still unbeaten this season, although unconvincing last week in a 1-0 win over Wigan. Sunderland were the only side last season that City couldn’t beat in the league. They drew 3-3 at The Etihad and lost 1-0 at The Stadium of Light. I still see Man City shading this one, but it could be a tight game. Adam Johnson will feel he has something to prove, so expect a big performance from him.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Chelsea v Norwich

This has been a very good week for Chelsea. The win against Arsenal may not have been the cleanest of performances, but it was a fantastic result. The greatest sides find a way to win when they are not playing that well and Chelsea did exactly that. I am not suggesting they are a great side yet, but they have definitely added an attacking flare to the team in the summer. They followed the win over Arsenal with a 4-0 thumping of FC Nordsjælland in the Champions League too.

I fear for Norwich in this one, they have conceded at least 3 goals in their past 4 matches at Stamford Bridge. They were very poor in their 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool and I don’t see them picking up anything from this one either. I can’t see anything that suggests that Norwich will stay up this season. Grant Holt has again been complaining about not being picked for England, but he should really concentrate on producing for Norwich because his goals kept them up last year and he hasn’t looked anywhere near his best.

My prediction: 3-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Swansea v Reading

Swansea were a revelation at the start of the season, but they are in a bit of a rut now. They have failed to score in their last 3 Premier League games. This will be a huge game for Michael Laudrup’s Swansea to show that they weren’t just on a hot streak. Reading are the weakest of the promoted sides by the looks of it. They gave a spirited performance against Newcastle last week in drawing 2-2 with Newcastle, and if it wasn’t for the brilliance of Demba Ba they would have taken all 3 points.

In many ways this is a must win for both sides, but I see Reading taking a point which will be a better result for them than Swansea who will be expecting to win the game.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

West Brom v QPR

West Brom are the unsung heroes of the season so far. Not much has been said about them, but Steve Clarke’s side have made a great start. They have only lost once, and are sitting comfortably in 6th place. QPR on the other hand, are really struggling. Mark Hughes has had plenty of financial backing, and they should be picking up more points with the players they have. It won’t be long before he starts really feeling the pressure. West Brom have won all 3 of their home matches this season, and QPR have lost 9 of the last 10 away from home. This has home win written all over it.

My prediction: 2-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Wigan v Everton

What a start to the season for Everton. 2nd in the league behind Chelsea, they are playing very good football, and bar the loss of the monumental loss of Fellaini, finally look to have some real depth to their squad. I have been very impressed by the new signing Kevin Mirallas, very quick, can play on the wing or up front, he works hard and looks like he scores a few goals too. He is a very good foil for the brilliant Nikica Jelavic, who is a brilliant finisher.

Wigan are in 16th place, and I suspect that if they finish the league season there they will be happy. This season like every other is about staying up. Even though Wigan put in a good performance away to Sunderland, I still think Everton will be too strong. It will be pretty tight.

My prediction: 1-2

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

West Ham v Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has had many opponents during his time at Arsenal, but ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce may just be one of the toughest. His record in home matches against Arsenal is 5-3-4, which is unlikely to have been bettered by many. It is as much the style of football that his teams play, as opposed to tactical nous. Arsenal used to dread trips to The Reebok Stadium to meet ‘Big Sam’s’ Bolton and he has created a similar side at Upton Park. Marshalled by the  consistently dangerous Kevin Nolan, West Ham provide threats in every supposed area of Arsenal weakness. The return of Andy Carroll will also worry Arsenal, he has caused them many problems in the past.

Arsenal have not had a good week. They were poor against Chelsea last weekend. In a game that they would have gone into feeling very confident, they looked lackluster and they gifted Chelsea two goals. They were second rate against Olympiakos too, despite coming out 3-1 winers. They have started to look shaky at the back and their weakness in defending set pieces and corners will be a real concern against West Ham. Steve Bould will have worked hard during the week getting the defence up to scratch, but they conceded another header against Olympiako and that will be a worry. Per Mertesacker should be reintroduced in place of Koscielny and they will need his experience and organisation as well as his height at the back. Giroud could well be key on the weekend, both up front and at the back defending set plays. Expect him to start.

This is a very tough game to pick as Arsenal have the quality to produce enough chances to beat West Ham regardless of defensive frailties. I can see it going either way, but I am going to go for an upset. Nolan will relish the opportunity and I think he and Carroll will lead West Ham to an unlikely victory.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

SUNDAY

Southampton v Fulham

I was really pleased for Southampton when they got their first win of the season against Aston Villa a couple of weeks ago, but it was back down to earth with a bump last week as Everton beat them 3-1 pretty comfortably. Gaston Ramirez scored first but it was all Everton for the rest of the game and they really could have scored more than 3 in the end. One thing that Southampton offer is goals, whether for against, I think this could be a high scoring game. Fulham have been a touch inconsistent, but they were unlucky not to get a point against Man City last weekend and Mladen Petric and Bryan Ruiz look to be forming a good partnership. Southampton will be hoping to get all 3 points at home especially as Fulham are still missing Dimitar Berbatov and I can see them doing that.

My prediction: 3-2

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Liverpool v Stoke

Liverpool seem to be taking one step forward then two steps back. As much as Brendan Rodgers will be disappointed with the loss against Udinese, his main focus will be on the league and that was evident as Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard were on the bench for the Europa League tie. I may sound like a broken record, but Liverpool are going nowhere until they can find a consistent goalscorer. Suarez scored a brilliant hat-trick against Norwich last week, but he is infuriatingly inconsistent in front of goal. This will be a tricky game as Stoke will look to frustrate Liverpool and they will need to be at their best in front of goal to break down Tony Pulis’ side. I can see Liverpool winning, but I think it may be a nervy one.

My prediction: 1-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Tottenham v Aston Villa

Spurs recorded their first win in 23 years at Old Trafford last week. Remarkably they only had 26% possession yet still came away with the points. They look very dangerous on the break, and they attack with a lot of pace. Aston Villa will be looking to not give Spurs as much space to play in, they will be sitting deeper and they may well find it harder to break a team down at White Hart Lane, as they have showed so far with disappointing draws at home to QPR and Norwich. I still think Tottenham will be too strong for Villa though and I think if they can break the deadlock early then they could run out comfortable winners.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Newcastle v Man Utd

This is going to be a cracking game. Man Utd have a glittering attack with Wayne Rooney back, joining Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, but their defence looks very brittle. Nemanja Vidic is a huge loss and Rio Ferdinand looks to be on his last legs. He was very vulnerable when left defending against the pace of Gareth Bale, and Newcastle will be hoping that Hatem Ben Arfa will get a chance to run at him too. Demba Ba looks to be in brilliant form once again, and I think Newcastle will cause Man U a lot of problems.

Although United lost last weekend against Spurs, they did manage to control 74% of the possession, and if van Persie had had his shooting boots on they could have come out on top. He missed a number of glorious chances to at least get Man U level. I am going for another upset in this one though, Newcastle got a very imressive 3-0 victory over Bordeaux on Thursday night and with Demba Ba firing they could nick a victory. However, they will have to keep RvP quiet, as anything can happen when he is on the pitch.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

BETTING TIPS:

We suggest putting £10 on each choice at betfair. Our First goalscorer bet on Steven Fletcher won last week at 4/1, leaving us £40 up for the week and £130 up overall.

First Goalscorer: Demba Ba – Newcastle v Man U at 7/1 on betfair.

Accumulator: Southampton, West Brom, Tottenham and Liverpool at 9/1 on betfair.

Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

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Before each set of Premier League fixtures, I have a look at ‘BBC football expert’, Mark Lawrenson’s predictions. Every week I have the same reaction. I reckon I could do better. Season after season I complain about his ‘woeful’ tipping. Now it’s time to put my proverbial money where my mouth is and try to beat Lawro.

The points: 1 point for a correct result and 3 points for a correct score.

LAST WEEK

After struggling the first week, I had a good one last time out. Managed to correctly predict the 2-1 victory for Manchester United and the 1-1 draw between West Ham and Sunderland. Check out last weeks tips to see how we both did.

Lawro got five results right, with one perfect score.

I managed seven results right with two perfect scores.

After two weeks of tipping the scores currently stand at:

Liquid Football 20-17 Lawro

Don’t forget the BETTING TIPS at the bottom of the page, we are £90 UP.

SATURDAY

Arsenal v Chelsea

What a game to start off the weekend. In previous years this has been a battle of styles; the direct, powerful game of Chelsea up against the more technical, passing game of Arsenal but since their last meeting, Chelsea, with the likes of Hazard and Oscar have gone through a transformation under Roberto Di Matteo. Arsene Wenger has already mentioned this week that although Chelsea may miss Didier Drogba, Arsenal certainly won’t. This will hopefully be a more open, entertaining game than in the past.

Both teams have started the season well. Arsenal have gone to Liverpool, Man City and Stoke yet still remain unbeaten. Chelsea too have not lost a game, so it is the battle of the undefeated. Chelsea’s new open attacking style could suit Arsenal this weekend though. In the past Arsenal have found Chelsea a difficult nut to crack,  but this is a new side. Chelsea are top of the League but there have been signs that they have not completed their transition yet. They were beaten 4-1 by Athletico Madrid in the Super Cup and came close to dropping points against Stoke and Reading recently.  All the talk during the week has been about John Terry’s trial, but both teams scored 6 midweek in the Capital One Cup so it should be a very good game. Arsenal were unlucky not to take all the points against City and I think they will be too good for Chelsea this weekend.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Everton v Southampton

I wrote a piece earlier in the week about David Moyes and what a fantastic job he has done. Everton have been the surprise package so far this season, currently sitting in 3rd place. Last week they were brilliant in dismantling Swansea 3-0. Southampton had a poor start with some very tricky fixtures, but they showed their true potential with a brilliant 4-1 win over Aston Villa last time out. Many pundits suggest that the key ingredient in survival for the promoted sides is having a goalscorer and Ricky Lambert looks like he is exactly that. They also have some very exciting players, and play attractive attacking football. They will trouble many sides this season and I believe they will stay up, but Everton will be too strong for them on Saturday. Everton are on a fantastic run, and I don’t expect that to let up at Goodison.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Fulham v Man City

Martin Jol has done a great job at Fulham. They have lost two of their top performers in Dembele and Dempsey, but have arguably made one of the signings of the season by nabbing former Premier League top goalscorer Dimitar Berbatov. Fulham are a very difficult proposition at Craven Cottage and they have a good record there against the bigger sides. They have only lost 5 of the last 30 at home, but when they have lost it has been by a few goals. Manchester City have stuttered so far this season without reaching top form. I feel they are due a big win and with Dimitar Berbatov out for the next two weeks I think this could be a bit of a one sided encounter.

My prediction: 1-4

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Norwich v Liverpool

If the table is to be believed then this one could be classed as a relegaton 6 pointer. Neither side has registered a victory yet in the League, but Liverpool have already had to play both Manchester clubs and Arsenal as well as two tough away trips to Sunderland and West Brom. Since Norwich lost 5-0 away to Fulham on the opening day, they have made themselves difficult to beat without offering too much going forward. Snodgrass has been a real bright spark for them, but with Grant Holt misfiring they are really struggling. Liverpool have been very unlucky so far this season, but the signs from the League Cup win over West Brom midweek suggest they are going in the right direction. With memories of last years magnificent hat-trick still fresh in his mind, I am backing a Luis Suarez inspired change of luck for Liverpool. Just.

My prediction: 1-2

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Reading v Newcastle

I said last week that Reading look like the weakest of the promoted sides, and they have done nothing to change my mind. Reading have managed one solitary point at home to Stoke, a game which in all fairness they should have won. Newcastle have been short of the form they displayed last season but they have still been picking up results. Last time out at Reading, they were soundly beaten by Spurs. You don’t want to give the two Newcastle forwards, Ba and Cisse too many chances, and I think they will be the difference between the sides. I can see Newcastle scoring a few goals.

My prediction: 1-3

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

Stoke v Swansea

Swansea started the season brilliantly, but they have lost their last two without scoring a goal. I feel that Laudrup made a mistake leaving out Leon Britton last week, he is an underrated player. His ability to sit behind the Swans midfield and dictate the tempo of the game was sorely missed as Everton dominated. Even if Leon Britton is included I still think Stoke will be too good. It is hard to go to the Britannia and play good football as Stoke try to suffocate their opponents. Stoke will be too physical for Swansea and I expect them to win comfortably.

My prediction: 2-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Sunderland v Wigan

Sunderland have drawn their first four games of the season, but when you take into consideration trips to Arsenal, West Ham and Swansea I expect Martin O’Neil will be pretty pleased with how his side is shaping up. Steven Fletcher is in fantastic form. In only his second game at the Stadium of Light, he will want to impress again and he could cause havoc against Wigan’s leaky defence. Only two sides in the league have a worse defensive record and I think Sunderland will take advantage of this and score a few goals in a comfortable win.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Man United v Tottenham

Last time Spurs beat United in the league was in 2001 and Spurs havn’t even managed a point at Old Trafford since 2005. That will give you some idea of what a tall order this is for AVB. Having said that, they have now recorded two wins on the bounce as well as an encouraging 3-0 win midweek in the Capital One Cup. So they will go into the game with increasing confidence.

The loss of Nemanja Vidic is a big one for United, but with Rooney returning and van Persie as lethal as ever I think they will be too strong for Spurs. Spurs are adjusting to life under AVB and they are improving steadily, but Old Trafford may be a step too far for them. Should be a very entertaining game, keep an on Moussa Dembele he was the best player on the pitch when visiting Old Trafford earlier in the season with Fulham.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

SUNDAY

Aston Villa v West Brom

Most derby games are tense scrappy affairs and I expect that this game will be very tight. West Brom have had a very good start with 3 wins and a draw in their first 5 games. Aston Villa looked to be progressing well under Paul Lambert with a win over Swansea, but last weeks 4-1 loss to Southampton will have been very disappointing. The one positive will have been Darren Bent finding the back of the net. They will also have had a huge boost from beating Man City in the Capital One Cup midweek. There is never more than a goal between these two sides and I fancy it to be a draw.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

MONDAY

QPR v West Ham

Monday night football is back with a London derby. Both managers have a tendency to set their sides up as hard to beat and go from there, so I don’t expect it to be an open game. QPR need a win, as they are sitting second bottom with only 2 draws so far, West Ham on the other hand have started the season very positively. If you were to follow form, then West Ham would be favourites, but QPR are looking better each week. Esteban Granero is slowly acclimatising to the Premier League and his influence on the side will grow as he is a quality player. It will be a nervy game at Loftus Road, but I think QPR have the quality to nick their first win of the season.

My prediction: 1-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

BETTING TIPS:

We suggest putting £10 on each choice at betfair. Our Accumulator won last week at 10/1, leaving us £90 up.

First Goalscorer: Steven Fletcher – Sunderland v Wigan at 5/1 on betfair.

Accumulator: Arsenal, Everton, Stoke, Sunderland and Manchester United at 18/1.

Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

Read Full Post »

Before each set of Premier League fixtures, I have a look at ‘BBC football expert’, Mark Lawrenson’s predictions. Every week I have the same reaction. I reckon I could do better. Season after season I complain about his ‘woeful’ tipping. Now it’s time to put my proverbial money where my mouth is and try to beat Lawro.

The points: 1 point for a correct result and 3 points for a correct score.

LAST WEEK

After my bold claims it was tougher than I expected, Lawro went ahead and recorded his best score of the season so far. He got seven results right, with one perfect score.

I managed five results right with two perfect scores. 

Leaving us both tied with nine points each.

 

SATURDAY

Swansea v Everton

Both sides have had similar starts to the season. Very impressive in the first two rounds, but have since slipped slightly. Swansea suffered their first loss away to Aston Villa last week and Everton were unlucky to draw 2-2 at home to Newcastle (let’s not mention goal-line technology again). Swansea have a number of injuries defensively: Ashley Williams could be out, Kyle Bartley is still missing and they are still adjusting to losing Neil Taylor for the season. Everton should have won last weekend, but in the second half their defence looked shaky against Newcastle. Everton are rightly favourites for this one with Swansea’s increasing injury list, but Everton’s poor performance away to West Brom makes me think Swansea will at least get a point. There may well be some goals in the contest too, should be entertaining.

My prediction: 2-2

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

 

Chelsea v Stoke

Chelsea have not won a game since their 4-2 win over Reading almost a month ago. They have lost 4-1 to Athletico Madrid in the Super Cup and drawn with QPR and Juventus. The Champion’s League draw against Juve would have been very disappointing after starting so brightly with two wonderful goals from Oscar. He looks to be an incredible talent, the second of goals is an early contender for UCL goal of the season. I have talked a lot about Stoke’s run of draws, 8 in a row now this season, but if Chelsea play anywhere near their best then Hazard and Mata will cause them too many problems. Stoke will try to sit deep and frustrate Chelsea, but if they concede an early goal then I can see Chelsea scoring a few here.

My prediction: 3-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

 

Southampton v Aston Villa

I wrote a piece earlier this week saying that Southampton were better than they looked, but after four games and no points they will be feeling the pressure. Nigel Adkins will see this as the perfect opportunity to open their account in the Premier League, but Villa got a good point away to Newcastle a couple of weeks ago and followed it up with a win against Swansea. I see Southampton nicking this one, but it will be very tight.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

 

West Brom v Reading

In my opinion, Reading look the weakest of the promoted sides. They were poor against Tottenham last weekend and were beaten comfortably. Reading impressed in their first away game of the season at Chelsea and were unlucky not to at least get a point. West Brom have been very good at home though, beating Liverpool 3-0 and Everton 2-0. I fancy Reading to put up a fight, but I can’t see anything other than a home win.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

 

West Ham v Sunderland

To stay in the league you have to make yourselves hard to beat at home, West Ham have had two games and two wins so far at Upton Park. Sam Allardyce couldn’t have asked for a better start. Carlton Cole is a doubt and with Andy Carroll already out, that could be a huge blow for the Hammers. Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland side are unbeaten so far with three draws out of three. They were impressive on the break against  Swansea and if Adam Johnson is passed fit, then he and Sessegnon could once again cause havoc. Unfortunately for them, West Ham don’t give opposition teams much space to play in and they will try to sit deep and avoid letting Sunderland get the ball in to the increasingly impressive Steven Fletcher. This could be a very tight game and I think both side would be happy with a draw.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-2

 

Wigan v Fulham

Wigan were beaten convincingly by Manchester United last weekend, they kept them at bay for the first half but capitulated in the second. Fulham have suffered with the loss of their two main players, Dembele and Dempsey, but Berbatov has added a real spark and looks like he could be a fantastic signing for Martin Jol. Wigan have not beaten Fulham since 2005 and five of the last six at The DW stadium have finished in a draw and I expect that to be the case on Saturday too.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

 

SUNDAY

Liverpool v Man Utd

This is a huge game for Liverpool. It’s the first at Anfield since the new Hillsborough verdict and they have only managed to pick up two points so far this season. Liverpool have a very good record against Manchester United at Anfield and Brendan Rodgers desperately needs a win, but I can’t see it coming this weekend. I don’t know whether the occasion will have a positive or negative affect on the Liverpool players, but either way I think Man Utd will be too good.

My prediction: 1-2

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

 

Newcastle v Norwich

Newcastle were lucky to get a point against Everton last weekend and like their opponents they havn’t really got going yet this season. Norwich have started to look more solid. Since their 5-0 humbling on the opening day, they have picked up three draws on the run. Even so, they could really struggle this season. Newcastle were brilliant last season finishing just outside the Champion’ League places. It will be tough for them to replicate that, but I expect them to beat Norwich comfortably at St James’ Park.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

 

Man City v Arsenal

This could well be the game of the round, both teams have some very exciting players and like to play free-flowing football. A lot has been made of Arsenal’s new-found defensive stability with Steve Bould garnering much of the credit, but they have not properly been tested yet. They certainly look stronger but Tevez and Aguero, if fit, will provide a clearer idea of where they are at. They way Arsenal are set up now, should make them a very dangerous proposition away from home. They are sitting deeper in defence and Podolski and Cazorla look very dangerous on the break. I think they could come away with a win at the Etihad. It is a bold call, but Man City havn’t quite clicked yet. Southampton ran them close and their trip to the Bernabeu will have taken a lot out of them.

My prediction: 1-2

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

 

Tottenham v QPR

Spurs got a very good win against Reading last week, and they are looking better with each game, I still don’t believe that they are as good as last season though. They have drawn their last two games at home conceding late goals to West Brom and Norwich but I think they will have too much for QPR. Jermain Defoe is in brilliant form and I fancy him to score another couple on Sunday. QPR got a good point against Chelsea last weekend and the more Granero gets to play the better they will get, but I feel this game will be a bit too early in their season for them to have an impact.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

 

BETTING TIPS:

First Goalscorer: Jermain Defoe v QPR

Accumulator: West Brom, Southampton, Newcastle and Tottenham.

 

Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!

Read Full Post »

Before each set of Premier League fixtures, I have a look at ‘BBC football expert’, Mark Lawrenson’s predictions. Every week I have the same reaction. I reckon I could do better. Season after season I complain about his ‘woeful’ tipping. Now it’s time to put my proverbial money where my mouth is and try to beat Lawro.

Each week I will give a small preview to the game explaining my choice and follow it with mine and Lawro’s predictions.

The points: 1 point for a correct result and 3 points for a correct score.

 

SATURDAY

Norwich v West Ham

I fancy Norwich to get their first win of the season in this one, but it will be tight. Sam Allardyce’s team will play their own scintillating brand of long ball football, but without Andy Carroll and away from home it may not be quite so effective. I was very impressed with Norwich at Spurs a couple of weeks ago, especially Robert Snodgrass who has been brilliant. They are beginning to gel under Chris Hughton, and I think they may just knick this one.

My prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

 

Arsenal v Southampton

Arsenal will be heavy favourites after their good win at Anfield and I expect them to back that up with their first home win of the season. It won’t be as easy as many expect though. Sothampton were 5 minutes away from an upset win over Manchester United last round, and were leading 2-1 at Manchester City with not too long to go either. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Giroud open his account for the gunners and Southampton score a goal to end Arsenal’s run of 3 games without conceding.

My prediction: 3-1

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

 

Aston Villa v Swansea

Villa need a win, and they need some goals. Swansea have lost Chico to suspension plus Neil Taylor and new recruit Kyle Bartley to injury, so there is no better time to do it than against an ailing defence. Swansea have undoubtedly been the surprise of the season so far. Many, including myself, expected them to struggle with the loss of Brendan Rodgers, but Michael Laudrup has brought in some fantastic players and they have really kicked on. There is a long way to go, but they are a very exciting team. I think this one could end in a draw.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

 

Fulham v West Brom

There hasn’t been an away win in fixtures between these two sides for over 10 years. Fulham started the season with a bang, but have since faltered. The loss of Moussa Dembele is huge. Dimitar Berbatov will be a boost, but the energy and quality that Dembele brought to the midfield cannot be replaced. He was the best player on the pitch when they went to Old Trafford. West Brom have started very brightly under Steve Clarke with wins over the two Mersyside clubs at home and a very good point away to Spurs. I think their success may continue in London, but it will only be a point.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediciton: 2-1

 

Manchester United v Wigan

I think Wigan could get a bit of a pasting here. United are due a big win. There were concerns over the fitness of Robin van Persie and Kagawa midweek, but they are both fit. I thought they were excellent at home to Fulham a few weeks ago, and could have scored many more than 3 in the first half. The inclusion of Darren Fletcher in the squad will be a massive boost to them too. Wigan have conceded 24 goals in their last 7 games at Old Trafford and I don’t expect that stat to get much better.

My prediction: 4-1

Lawro’s prediction: 3-0

 

QPR v Chelsea

Leading up to this game their has been more talk about the handhsake than the contest. I predict their to be handshake, or a snub of a handshake or whatever. Who actually cares whether they shake hands. The FA should just scrap them altogether as they have cause more problems than they are worth. Evra v Suarez, John Terry v everyone enough’s enough. Get rid of them. In terms of the game, I think it could be very tight. Chelsea are top of the league, and QPR are second bottom, but I think QPR will get better as the season progresses. Granero is a magnificent signing from Real Madrid and I think they could just grab a cheeky point at Loftus Road.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

 

Stoke v Manchester City

Stoke fans will be excited about the signing f Michael Owen, but this game could come a bit early for him. Stoke set themselves up to be very hard to beat and then go from there. The news that Sergio Aguero is close to a return is a big boost for City, other than Carlos Tevez who has been outstanding, they havn’t been all too convincing at the start of this season. Stoke have drawn their last 8 games in all competitions. They have also drawn their last 3 at home to Man City. No surprises that I think this one is going to be a draw too.

My prediction: 1-1

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

 

Sunderland v Liverpool

This is not an easy trip for Liverpool, and it gets worse next week with Manchester United travelling to Anfield. Sunderland are improving under Martin O’Neill. They got a good point away to Arsenal and were close to beating Swansea at Liberty Stadium. Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson, have looked very sharp and this is Sunderland’s first home game of the season so they will be looking to impress their new fans. Liverpool were brilliant against Manchester City, but gifted a sloppy equaliser to Tevez late on. They were very good in the first half against Arsenal too, but had no cutting edge in attack. They need to find goals very soon, as their only goals have come from set plays so far this season. I think Sunderland are starting to look like a very good side and I expect them to take all the points.

My prediciton: 2-1

Lawro’s prediciton: 2-1

 

SUNDAY

Reading v Tottenham

Reading were unlucky not to at least get a point away from home to Chelsea, and they would have won at home to Stoke if it wasn’t for a goalkeeping howler. Tottenham are still looking for their first win under AVB. They are struggling to cope with the loss of Modric and Van der Vaart, but with Moussa Dembele, Adebayor and Clint Dempsey all fit and able to start I think they will be too strong for Reading.

My prediciton: 1-3

Lawro’s predicition: 1-2

 

MONDAY

Everton v Newcastle

Newcastle started off brightly with a win against Spurs, but were pretty ordinary against Chelsea and Villa. They will need to improve significantly to get anything at Goodison. Everton are another team that were very impressive early on, with wins against Man U and Villa. Fellaini’s comments about this season being his last at Goodison during the week will have been a shock though, he has been outstanding. It will be interesting to see if that will have any effect on the dressing room. He has been somewhat of a talisman for them.  His performance against Man U was probably the best we’ve seen so far this season. With Krul, Tiote and Colocinni out for Newcastle, I think Everton will be comfortable winners.

My prediction: 2-0

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

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This is not a list of the 5 worst players in the Premier League. Each player’s position on the list is based on their talent in relation to how highly rated they are by the media and fans. So don’t expect to see names like Marouane Chamakh or Emile Heskey. I know they are not very good, but they aren’t rated very highly either. Here is my top 5, let me know what yours is too?

5. Ashley Young

Ashley Young has been a huge disappointment. When he signed for Manchester United in a high profile £16 million move from Aston Villa, so much was expected of him. Unfortunately he had a largely underwhelming first season at Old Trafford. He started brilliantly with a couple of assists in his League debut against West Brom and two goals and three assists in the Red Devils’ famous 8-2 win over Arsenal. Since then, though, Young has tallied just one goal and one assist for United. He is very talented, but infuriatingly inconsistent. At the end of last season, he went through a rather deplorable phase of regularly hitting the turf as though he’d suffered a one inch punch from Bruce Lee, which would be all well and good, if he could only stick one in the back of the net.

Ashley Young misses his penalty in the Euro 2012 quarter final shootout against Italy

4. David De Gea

Manchester United paid £17 million for 20 year old David De Gea last summer. Finally, Manchester United had signed a replacement for the legendary Peter Schmeical. Attempts to replace him with the likes of Fabien Barthez and Raimond van der Gouw failed spectacularly. Ok. fine. Edwin van der Sar was a fantastic player for  Man U for 6 seasons, but every Manchester United goalkeeper that plays at Old Trafford will eventually be compared to The Great Dane. David De Gea has time on his hands, but he hasn’t come close to either van der Sar or Schmeical. He is a wonderful shot stopper, but he is nervy when dealing with crosses prefers an extravagant punch to an easy catch which puts his team under unnecessary pressure. He has a lot to prove, especially with the £17 million price tag to live up to.

3. Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott has been overrated since Sven-Goran Eriksson unfortunately thrust him into the limelight by selecting him as a 17-year-old for England’s 2006 World Cup squad. In hindsight it was completely ridiculous. He hadn’t even played in the Premier League. He really struggled to cope with the attention that was thrust on him. Not too easy when you are dubbed the English Thierry Henry. The hat-trick in Croatia propelled Walcott to new levels of adulation, but he’s struggled with consistency ever since then. His most irritating trait is to run the ball out of play without any pressure from the opposition, and his crossing at times is very poor. Walcott with his pace, can be sensational but the good performances are too rare for him to match some of the hype that surrounds him.

2. Gareth Barry

I am not completely sure how Gareth Barry became an England regular. He went through a purple patch that lasted about 4 games under Fabio Capello where people thought he was the English answer to Xavi. Barry was a relatively big fish in a small pond at Aston Villa but at City he is a tiny fish in the biggest of Oceans. I don’t know how well that analogy works, but I am sure you understand what I mean. He is not as good as many make him out to be. Liverpool even tried to ship Xabi Alonso off to Arsenal to accommodate him at one point. Unbelievable. He is a good passer of the ball, but much of it is lateral and makes little impact. He has no distinguishable attribute that separates himself from most other Premier League midfielders, and is now just an older, less talented Jack Wilshere.

1. Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale scores a hat-trick against Inter Milan mugging off Maicon in the process

A hat-trick at the San Siro 2 years ago had people comparing Gareth Bale to Lionel Messi. Let’s just put that into context: Messi scored 50 League goals last season and got 27 assists. Gareth scored 9 with 10 assists. Now I am not seriously suggesting that Gareth Bale or anyone for that matter should be compared with Lionel Messi, bar Cristiano Ronaldo who brings that on himself, but many people in the last couple of seasons have done so. He is still a very good player, but he is nowhere near as good as most make him out to be. Bale took the Premier League and Champions League by storm in 2010-11 season but now the opposition has caught up and Bale has regressed. He has pace, size and all the athleticism you could ask for in a winger but lacks the intricate technical skill required to be elite. His preferred move is to kick the ball 10 yards in front of his opposition number and then to beat them to it. The more experienced and intelligent Premier League defenders have got wise to this keeping him quiet in the big games. It’s a shame that the ageing Maicon didn’t have this inside info otherwise Gareth Bale may not have been top of this list.

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Tottenham lacking in creativity

Tottenham struggled to create chances against Norwich on the weekend. The Norwich midfield was more than a match for Spurs and they deserved their 1-1 draw. Dembele made a difference when he came on, but it was clear to see that Tottenham were missing Rafael Van Der Vaart and especially, Luka Modric. Gylfi Sigurdsson, does create chances and he looks to be a top prospect. He had a great start to his Premier League career with Swansea, but he is still very inexperienced. He now has to deal with the pressure of filling Van der Vaart’s shoes and at Spurs the expectation levels are that much higher. Although he looked good in pre-season he has struggled to have the same impact in the first few League games. This will come as the season progresses and he fits in to his new surroundings.

The real loss for Spurs will be in the centre of the park though. Modric completed over 2200 passes last season, averaging 70 passes a game. None of the new recruitments get close to this sort of turnover. Every Tottenham move went through him, ESPN FC describes him as “skilful, creative, classy, a playmaker with immense vision.” It’s the playmaker in him that has not been replaced. Dempsey and Dembele are more direct players, and it make take a slight change in style for Tottenham to adapt to their strengths. They still have quality throughout their squad and Spur’s first team still looks very strong, but it may take a few more games for them to adapt to life without Modric. We saw at the beginning of last season, when he was heavily linked with Chelsea that they really struggle without him. A slightly more direct approach will suit Dempsey and Dembele better.

Same old problems for Liverpool

Only Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham had more shots per game last season than Liverpool but they still only managed to score 47 League goals. More worryingly, only 5 teams scored less goals at home last season and only 4 won fewer games at home than Liverpool. This is largely down to their profligacy in front of goal. Suarez is a brilliant player, and on his day can produce moments of absolute genius. The hat-trick away to Norwich last season, where he scored a spectacular 40 yard lob, immediately springs to mind. He is not a finisher though. He can be very wasteful in front of goal.

Yesterday, against Arsenal, they once again lacked that cutting edge. They were on top for most of the first half but just couldn’t find the back of the net. They also seemed to be very short of options off the bench. Stewart Downing was the only attacking change that Rodgers was able to make yesterday. He admitted after the game that it was a mistake to let Andy Carroll go and that he was very confident in signing a replacement before deadline day ended. To make matters worse, Carroll had a very good debut for West Ham and showed exactly how useful he could have been to Brendan Rodgers who was obviously under the impression that he was going to sign Clint Dempsey. What is clear is that: if Liverpool do find a goalscorer, whether it’s Owen who Rodgers refused to rule out, or Suarez discovering some shooting boots, they create enough chances to be a force this season. If they don’t, they will be battling for a Europa League spot once again.

Are Manchester United a one man team?

The most common insult thrown Arsenal’s way last season was that they were a one man team. I am not actually suggesting that Arsenal were or Manchester United are, but this season United fans may well come to understand how Arsenal fans felt. Yesterday, Robin van Persie scored a sublime hat-trick to defeat Southampton 3-2. Other than missing a penalty he was at his brilliant best: The first was a classy finish, the second was a real poachers goal and the third a sublime near post header to wrap up the game and his hat-trick.

Van Persie doesn’t have the best fitness record. Last season was his first injury free season in his 7 years in Highbury. Arsenal fans were hoping that the ‘Wenger curse’, that affected Hleb, Flamini and plenty of others who have left would strike Van Persie and that his fitness would maybe be in question after a long season followed by the Euros. If anything he looks fitter than ever. He looks very sharp and every time he got the ball yesterday he looked like scoring. This could well be a long season watching Van Persie for the Arsenal faithful, whereas Man United fans could come to revel in the tag of being a ‘one man team’. Who could blame them, when the one man is that good though.

Just one final thought…

Stoke love a draw don’t they. Since they won their first pre-season game 1-0, they have drawn the next 8 most recently against Wigan on Saturday. They have in fact drawn 14 of their last 19 games. May be worth a punt…

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5. Pablo Hernandez

Valencia to Swansea for £5.55m

Hernandez is another very astute signing made by Michael Laudrup. Like all Spaniards, his technique is brilliant, very much in the same vain as Michu. He may not have the same impact, but for £5.55m he is another bargain. He has spent the last two seasons vying for his place on the right wing at Valencia. Firstly, he was stuck behind Joaquin, but last year he made more of an impact starting 30 games. He bagged 5 goals and 5 assists which is a healthy return for a right winger.

He will fit right in at Swansea as Michael Laudrup has signed a number of talented Spaniards. He hopefully won’t take too long to settle into his stride. His ability to pick out an angled through ball cutting in from the wing will delight a player like Michu who will run onto those all day. He will blend seamlessly into Swansea’s version of tiki-taka. Swansea sold Scott Sinclair to Manchester City for £8m and have picked up a very able replacement for only £5.55m.

4. Charlie Adam

Liverpool to Stoke for £5m

Many may see this as a controversial choice for my top 5, but I think Charlie Adam could do brilliantly at Stoke. He joined Liverpool after a fantastic first season in the Premier League with Blackpool the year before but like a couple of others in this list, last season was one to forget.

At Blackpool, Charlie Adam was the fulcrum of their midfield. Everything went through him. Last season he had more of an all round role to play. He played second fiddle to Gerrard, which is something he is not used to and couldn’t really adapt to. At Stoke he will be the playmaker again as they do not have too much creativity in their midfield. He will be able to get on the ball as much as possible and dictate play. His ability to play balls through to their wingers will be key. Stoke are very dangerous on the flanks as they have Pennant, Etherington and now Michael Kightly who are great crossers of the ball.

Stoke’s strength is quite obviously in their physical presence. They are brilliant in the air and always a real danger from set pieces. Adam is a master of the dead ball. 10 out of 14 of his assists at Blackpool came from set plays. Stoke will thrive on this slightly different presence in their midfield, and especially on the quality of his set piece delivery.

3. Clint Dempsey

Fulham to Tottenham for £6m

At 29 years old, this represents Dempsey’s last chance for a big move. He took his time in the hope that he would secure Champion’s League football eventually compromising with Tottenham in the Europa League. At £6m he is an absolute snip for Spurs.

After his brilliant performances last season, Dempsey has been understandably linked to a number of clubs over the summer. He scored 17 Premier League goals for Fulham, which is an incredible achievement for a player thought of as an attacking midfielder. The truth is that he spent a lot of time up front last season, but its his ability to time his run into the box that has made him so lethal. In the Premiership, Frank Lampard has been noted as one of the most prolific attacking midfielders but he never managed 17 goals in a season.

His versatility will be a huge asset to Tottenham, he can play up front on his own and can chip in with goals from all across the midfield. He is very composed on the ball, a great dribbler, and he has excellent vision providing many chances for teammates in the final third.

2. Dimitar Berbatov

Manchester United to Fulham for £4m

Berbatov hardly figured for Manchester United last season with the emergence of Javier Hernandez and Danny Wellbeck and with Robin Van Persie arriving he was surplus to requirements this year. Fulham have lost their two best players in Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey. However, in Dimitar Berbatov they have made a fantastic addition. He won’t need time to settle in in London and Martin Jol has already coached him at Spurs and will know how to get the best out of him. In 2010-2011 he was the Premier League’s joint top scorer with 20 goals. He has the ability to completely destroy teams, most notably with a memorable hat-trick against Liverpool and a five goal haul against Blackburn.

Berbatov has been accused of being lazy in the past and drifting in and out of games, but he likes to be centre of attention and at Man U he was always second choice behind Rooney and Ronaldo. He has a silky touch and is brilliant at floating in between midfield and attack. He was never given the licence to roam at Man U and if given a free role at Fulham he could be very effective.

1. Gaston Ramirez

Bologna to Southampton for £12m

Gaston Ramirez has been highly rated ever since he signed for Bologna in 2010. Over the summer he has been heavily linked with both Tottenham and Liverpool, so it was strange to see him end up at Southampton.

Southampton have strengthened well over the summer, Nathaniel Clyne and Steven Davis the most notable conclusions. The left footed Uruguayan is their marquee addition though, the icing on the cake as it were. As an attacking midfielder he can play on either wing and through the middle. Ramirez is blessed with great dribbling ability, technique, decision-making and a playmakers vision. He has a decent turn of pace and has a strong left foot that allows him to operate very effectively on the left wing. He likes to drift in from the flanks as a playmaker and its perhaps his vision which has seen him tipped to become a top player. He made over 50 chances for Bologna last season and that is the sort of creativity that will help Southampton avoid the drop.

There is an element of inconsistency in his game as he is relatively raw, at 21 years old. His form will only increase with maturity though and he will be a very exciting player to watch at Southampton. Bags of skills and tricks, it may be like having a mini Zola at St Mary’s. This signing is so far out of left field that it just has to be my number one on deadline day.

 

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