FA Premier League Predictions – Week 36 and time ticks away

It’s back to a full week of Premier League fixtures this weekend and after last weeks poor show, I’m totally pleased. Week 35 brought a miserably 2 out of 6 correctly predicted. Only Arsenal and Man City gave me any joy as Liverpool were denied late on, Everton beat Newcastle and whilst Stoke and Watford games both finished as draws. This week can only be an improvement as the chase for Champions League football hots up and the battle for Premier League survival moves closer to being resolved.

This weekend sees Liverpool in another Saturday lunchtime kick against Premier League strugglers Stoke City. The Reds will look to avoid a repeat of last weekends dropped points as they also look towards Wednesday nights second leg in Rome. Having drawn the last two games, Stoke might think they have a chance. That maybe their only hope given that the Reds are now the only team left unbeaten at home in the Premier League.

  1.                           Burnley.  2-1.  Brighton            Clarets closer to Europa League
  2.                          C.Palace   1-1.   Leicester City   Eagles closer to security
  3.                 Huddersfield.  0-2.   Everton.            Terriers lingering closer to drop
  4.                       Liverpool.  2-0.   Stoke City.         Stoke heading for drop
  5.                         Man Utd.   1-2.  Arsenal.             Wengers final Old Trafford win
  6.              Newcastle. Utd.  2-0.  West Brom.        Toon send Baggies down
  7.                Southampton.   1-1.  Bournemouth   South Coast draw
  8.                        Swansea.   2-2. Chelsea.              4 goal thriller no good for either
  9.                    Tottenham.   1-1. Watford.             Dropped points for Spurs
  10.                    West Ham.    1-3. Man City.            City not easing off

 

Another week sees chances missed and costly points dropped for some sides. Palace look certain to be taking their fight for survival right to the end of the season after drawing 1-1 at home. Stoke City’s trip to Anfield might come inbetween a Champions League semi final, but that won’t be enough to get even a point thus pushing them closer to relegation. For Liverpool the win will strengthen their top four spot.

It doesn’t look promising for Southampton. They need to win and their league game against Chelsea saw them throw away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2. Holding on to that win might have given them hope of survival. The game against Bournemouth looks certain to give them nothing more than a point.

It’s Arsenal travelling to Man Utd on Sunday in what is Arsene Wenger’s last game at Arsenal against United. This fixture has seen a rivalry throughout the years and the Gunners will no doubt look to turn it on at Old Trafford for Wenger’s last trip to Manchester as Arsenal boss. Usually it would be more than likely a home win, I expect Arsenal to steal a 2-1.

Chelsea travel to Swansea knowing they need to ensure a win to keep Champions League qualification hopes up. They went 2-0 down against Southampton before stealing a win against Southampton. They host Swansea City who are looking to ensure Premier League status next season. The Swans wont be as easy to overcome and Chelsea are still prone to moments of unpredictability. Expect the visitors to get a point and deny Chelsea Champions League football.

 

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Arsène Wenger changed my life – Victoria Sharkey guest post

Follow Victoria’s football tweets here at Groundhopping Girl

I don’t remember the day that Arsène Wenger was appointed as Arsenal manager. I’d have been 19, still a season ticket holder, but still reeling from the bitter disappointment of Bruce Rioch. We had a few things going for us; a stalwart Captain in David Platt, safe-hands Seaman between the posts, the amazing but disgruntled Ian Wright, the new boy Vieira, and the talented, quiet, respected Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp, who looked slightly out of place in our team of bruisers and boozers. Ah, the boozers! What had been the best defence in the country had seemingly had one pint too many, had stopped being quite as reliable as they used to be, and were looking more than a little jaded.

Enter The Professor.

I can’t remember the first time that I realised the impact this elegant Frenchman was making on the side but I do remember the gradual realisation that we were getting…well…a bit more serious about things. Not just in his signings (though it was to be many years before I realised he was behind the Vieira signing even though he’d not yet been appointed!) but in the attitudes of the old guard. Players who had been solid under Graham suddenly became skillful too.  “He’s using ball control!!!” I exclaimed in shock about ‘Donkey’ Adams on more than one occasion. We’d never really seen that before! Players like Adams, Dixon, Winterburn became sleek and demonstrated more pace and intelligence than I’d ever seen before. Steve Bould and Ray Parlour got a new lease of life. Suddenly Dennis didn’t look so out of place.

And then we became ‘Le Arsenal’.  Where do I start? Vieira, Petit, Wiltord,  Anelka, Grimandi…eventually Pirès and Clichy…we had the stars of the World Cup, the European Championship winning side, players who would never have dreamt of coming to play for us under Graham or (haha!) Rioch.

And of course Freddie. We can’t forget Freddie! And the controversial signing of Sol Campbell from Spurs…what other manager could have pulled that off?

Something happened to Arsenal when Mr Wenger came along. It was more than just about winning trophies, we’d done that under George. It was a change of style. No, more than that, it was a change of ethos, and we could see it both on and off the pitch. No more tabloid shots of players leaving clubs at 3am. No more Tuesday Club, sorry boys. A change of diet, a change of lifestyle, a change of attitude, and with that he truly brought us the epitome of The Beautiful Game. As Ivan Gazidis said at his press conference today, he made “art out of football”.

And then was Thierry. Of course, Thierry.

I don’t need to reel off the trophies he won with Arsenal. I don’t need to talk about his winning the title in his first full season. I don’t even need to talk about the historic Invincibles. The impact that Mr Wenger has made on my life is more than even all that. I was always proud to be a Gooner, even through the Terry Neill and Don Howe years, but after Mr Wenger took over my head was held just a little higher. Being Arsenal meant more than mere silverware. It was about having the greatest team of players I had ever seen or even imagined. It was about playing week in, week out, the sort of football I had never dreamed would be seen at gritty down-at-heel Highbury. “It’s just like watching Brazil” was a regular song, but that wasn’t true. We were better than Brazil!!!

The move to the Emirates and the lack of league titles since then have of course been disappointing and I’m not naïve to think that our manager has nothing to do with that. But right now that doesn’t matter. What matters is how he changed my club for the better, how he changed football in England for the better, and how he changed my life.

He is Mr Arsenal.

Au revoir, Arsène, et merci.

FA Premier League Predictions – Week 35

It was rescheduled fixtures this week, so less fixtures although it seems that the BBC decided that the Burnley and Leicester midweek games would be week 35 and not 34, but hey ho. The four fixtures saw 1 correct result out of fout as Brighton and Spurs played out a 1-1 draw and not the 2-2 that I had predicted. United took all three points. Chelsea beat Burnley whilst Leicester and Southampton played out a draw. This week Im hoping normal service resumed.

  1.                   Arsenal 2-1 West Ham.         Arsenal closer to Europa League
  2.                   Everton 1-2 Newcastle Utd. Toon win eases pressurE
  3.                 Man City 3-0 Swansea City.    Man City post title win
  4.               Stoke City 1-2 Burnley.              Stoke City close to the drop
  5.                 Watford 2-0 Crystal Palace.    Palace lose, but should be safe
  6.            West Brom 1-3 Liverpool. Reds  Win ahead of Roma game

(Burnley and Leicester midweek fixtures were included in Week 34 but according to BBC Lawro predictions, were part of week 35)

Some key games taking place mostly affecting the teams at the bottom. Having beaten Man Utd at Old Trafford, West Brom host Liverpool, hoping that the Reds will be fully focused on the Champions League semi final at home to Roma. They will need another win to keep up the slim hope of survival. Unfortunately, the Reds will still be focused on the league and securing a win to ensure they stay in the top four. A temporary reprieve for the Baggies may in the fact that Swansea City travel to newly crowned champions Man City. The hosts should win this one and prolong West Brom’s woes even further.

Stoke City’s hope of survival look certain to take a hit as they will lose to Burnley who bounce back from defeat against Chelsea. Im not sure many Arsenal fans will be sad to see them go should they go down.

Palace travel to the unpredictable Watford and will find themselves up against it, but other results will mean that Palace should come the last game, be safe in the Premier League.

Enjoy the weekend and good luck to all

Is this really the best eleven – Dan Raywood guest blog

Today saw the announcement of the PFA team of the year.

 Unsurprisingly the team was dominated by players from Manchester City (5), Spurs (3) and Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool got one player in each.

 PFA team of the year:

GK | David De Gea
RB | Kyle Walker
CB | Jan Vertonghen
CB | Nicolás Otamendi
LB | Marcos Alonso 
MID | David Silva
MID | Kevin De Bruyne
MID | Christian Eriksen
FWD | Harry Kane
FWD | Mohamed Salah
FWD | Sergio Agüero

It is unsurprising that Manchester City dominated this team, as they have dominated the league. But in the case where U2 are the greatest band, does that mean that The Edge is the greatest guitarist? Of course not, there are some sublime guitar players in this world, and would The Edge be as revered if he were in a different band?

 To drop the analogy, my issue here is with the inclusion of Sergio Aguero. To be very cynical, has this really been an outstanding season for Aguero? Yes he’s third in the goal scoring charts, but no one really mentions him as being in the form of De Bruyne, Sane and Silva – a lot of players could count themselves as being very unlucky to not be selected.

Think the likes of the of Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane, Dele Alli, Glenn Murray and Ashley Barnes, they can count themselves unlucky to have not been included.

Is it the case that some players are in great teams, and therefore are better? Arguably yes, but I do wonder if the PFA are looking at an easy spine, and rest are filled in by looking at the form teams.

 As for the problem positions, well De Gea has been the outstanding goalkeeper this year when some others have faltered, and the overall poor form of Chelsea and Manchester United has left some players, who should have been outstanding (hello Pogba, Lukaku. Morata) very much in the B team.

Overall it is hard to pick fault as apart from De Bruyne and Salah, the rest of the top 11 have had consistent patches of form but I do wonder if a better representation of the league would have been better for all.

FA Premier League Predictions – Week 34

First of all, let me apologise for the incomplete post for week 33 Premier League predictions. I had written a complete list of predictions with some other paragraphs, I did, honest I swear on my pet fishes life. It turns out that competing on the BBC prediction game enabled me to see how well I did or didn’t do. It turned out that I predicted 1 exact score and 3 correct results. Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Anfield gave the sole correct result, whilst Palace, Burnley and a comeback from Chelsea gave me the correct results.

4This week is another short one as it’s rescheduled games due to Cup clashes. It appears to be a busy week for Premier League fixtures on the south coast as Brighton host Tottenham, whilst Man Utd travel to Bournemouth. Southampton though travel to Leicester whilst the other fixture sees Europa League chasing Burnley take on fellow Europa League bound Chelsea.

I would say it should be a formality in the score predictions this week, but given the last weekend that saw United beaten at home to their what now seems bogey club West Brom, who knows what will happen. Man Utd face Spurs in the Cup this weekend, so will be interesting to see how Spurs fair with their line up. Chelsea will hope to avoid a repeat of the poor start from Saturday with their trip to Burnley. Should it happen again, I very much doubt Burnley will let the game slip away. They may of course find it much harder especially without Alonso who could receive a ban. Leicester host  Southampton with the visitors needing a win and the hosts doing their utmost to try and get some European football for next season.

  1.                          Brighton    2-2   Tottenham.       Spurs held ahead of Cup tie
  2.                Bournemouth    1-1   Man Utd.            Man Utd without a win
  3.                           Burnley.    1-2.  Chelsea.            Chelsea secure vital win
  4.                    Leicester City. 2-0.   Southampton  Saints heading down

 

It will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next few days.

FA Premier League Predictions – Week 33

As the weeks pass and the games wither down, the the only thing that many of the fans have to look forward to is finishing as high as possible or avoiding the drop. The Premier League title race is all but over unless Man City do the best footballing equivalent of Devon Loch. For the non horse racing fans or any international readers, Devon Loch was horse that was destined to win the 1956 Grand National, but lost after he jumped for no apparent reason.

At course at the other end in the grand battle for survival. At the moment seven points separate Brighton in14th and Stoke in 19th but to be honest it would you would be very surprised to see the Seagulls caught up in the relegation battle. The battle for survival looks to be between Crystal Palace, Southampton, Huddersfield, West Ham and Swansea. I would expect the Swans to escape.

Anyway relegation talk can be saved for another post. Last weeks predictions came out reasonably well as I chalked up 6 correct results out of 10. No correct scores last round, but some close calls.  Hopefully this week will prove to be better. Im expecting victories for Liverpool and Man City despite their Champions League ding dong, wins for Tottenham,Arsenal and Bournemouth, which will have a knock on effect in the relegation battle.  A heavy defeat for Stoke and it’s virtually Premier League over for the Potteries club. A pasting for the Saints wont do them any good as their goal difference takes a pounding. Small hope can be seen as Huddersfield and West Ham both draw.

It looks to be an eventful weekend and who knows I might get a perfect ten…ten of what who knows but preferably not ten incorrect predictions.

  1.                                                       Arsenal 4-0  Southampton  Saints in trouble
  2.                                            Bournemouth 2-1  Crystal P          Eagles in South coast gloom
  3.                                                    Brighton  1-1 Huddersfield   Seagulls looking safe
  4.                                                      Chelsea  1-1 West Ham        Hammers take point
  5.                                                       Everton 0-1  Liverpool        Reds take Merseyside win
  6.                                           Leicester City  2-2 Newcastle Utd Honours even at City
  7.                                                    Man City  2-1 Man Utd            City win to take title
  8.                                                  Stoke City  0-5 Tottenham       Misery for Stoke
  9.                                                     Watford  2-2 Burnley            4 goal thriller at Watford
  10.                                                West Brom  0-2 Swansea City  Pardew gone but still lose