Premier League bite-size
You’ve heard the experts now listen to the journalists. Our team of writers have packaged every one of the weekend’s games into three bite-sized paragraphs – and thrown in their own correct score predictions for good measure…
Arsenal v Everton
Arsenal romped to their biggest win of the season last weekend after putting four goals past rock-bottom Wigan. Victory stretched the Gunners’ unbeaten run to seven games, winning six, while they haven’t lost at home since August. Mikel Arteta netted his second of the season at the DW Stadium and will face his former club for the first time since leaving Goodison Park.
Everton’s mini-resurgence came to a halt courtesy of a 1-0 home defeat to Stoke after back-to-back victories had lifted the Toffees into the top half. Defeat was their sixth in nine games and also the fourth time David Moyes’ men had failed to find the back of the net at home, though they've won two of their last three on the road.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last eight meetings with Everton, winning six, while the Toffees haven’t won away at the Gunners for over 15 years. The Merseysiders are proving hard to predict this season but with the Londoners muscling their way back into contention for a top four finish, Arsenal should maintain the pressure on their rivals by racking up three more points here.
Verdict: Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Bolton v Aston Villa
Bolton’s miserable start to the season shows little sign of improving after three successive defeats leave them two points adrift of safety. Their latest, a 3-0 reverse at free-scoring Tottenham, was compounded by Gary Cahill’s early dismissal. The defender has since seen his red card rescinded but the Trotters remain without fellow centre-half David Wheater who serves the second of a four-match ban as Owen Coyle’s men seek just their second home win of the season.
Aston Villa failed to find the net for a third successive game after their latest defeat. Alex McLeish’s side have won just once in their last seven matches and will be without Shay Given for the next month after the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper tore his left hamstring during their 1-0 reverse to Manchester United. Villa are still looking for their first victory on the road this season and have scored just six goals on from their seven away outings.
Bolton have already beaten Villa this season in the Carling Cup and have lost just once in their last six meetings at the Reebok Stadium. They have struggled for form on home soil so far, however, while their visitors haven’t fared much better on their travels. Both are desperate to arrest their poor form but Villa could play with pressure off on the road and edge this one.
Verdict: Bolton 1-2 Aston Villa
Liverpool v QPR
Liverpool’s recent unbeaten run came to an end on Monday night as Fulham inflicted a first defeat in nine matches on the Reds. Kenny Dalglish’s side are yet to taste defeat at home this season but their previous three victories have all come on the road, drawing their last four at Anfield, while Jay Spearing misses out after seeing red at Craven Cottage. They have scored just seven goals in as many games while leading scorer Luis Suarez has failed to net in his last five.
QPR remain just outside the top half after being denied a second win in three games by West Brom’s late equaliser at Loftus Road on Saturday. The R’s have won just once in their last five outings but have excelled in their meetings so far with the Premier League’s elite – Neil Warnock’s men have lost just two of their seven matches against top half opposition and have already prevailed once on Merseyside this season, winning 1-0 at Everton.
Liverpool’s main problem this season has been their home form where they have struggled to kill off teams and have already dropped points against other promoted sides Norwich and Swansea. After away successes at places like Goodison Park and the Britannia Stadium, a trip to Anfield won’t scare their visitors and QPR should be good value for another scalp of sorts here.
Verdict: Liverpool 1-1 QPR
Man Utd v Wolves
Manchester United will look to put their Champions League exit behind them by extending their five-game unbeaten run in the league. Saturday’s victory at Aston Villa was United’s fourth 1-0 win in their last five games and the eighth time in their previous nine in which they have scored exactly one goal. Javier Hernandez has scored four of their last six goals but misses out with an ankle injury while Nemanja Vidic will miss the rest of the season after rupturing knee ligaments during Wednesday’s defeat in Basel.
Wolves came from behind to avenge successive defeats and secure a morale-boosting win over fellow strugglers Sunderland on Sunday. Victory was their second in a row at home but it’s on their travels where Mick McCarthy’s men continue to falter, losing the last five. Their four wins this season have all come against teams in the bottom half while they have failed to pick up even a point from any of their six meetings with sides in the top eight.
Injuries are threatening to blight United’s title challenge but remain in Manchester City’s shadow by continuing to grind out results. Wolves have come away empty handed from all three of their trips to Old Trafford in the Premier League and, given their failures on the road so far this term, are likely to be on the receiving end again.
Verdict: Man Utd 1-0 Wolves
Norwich v Newcastle
Norwich return to action after suffering a 5-1 hammering at Manchester City, their third defeat in four games and biggest of the season. The Canaries have won just once in their last six outings but have lost only once in their last five at home. Steve Morison continues to lead the line for City, with four goals in his last five games, while John Ruddy will hope its 15th time lucky as Norwich still seek their first clean sheet of the campaign.
Newcastle saw their unbeaten home start evaporate last weekend as Chelsea came away 3-0 winners to inflict a second defeat in three games on the Magpies, who failed to score for the first time in 10 games. The result meant Newcastle dropped out of the top four for the first time since September while Alan Pardew’s misery was compounded by injuries to Fabricio Coloccini and central defensive partner Steven Taylor, who suffered a season-ending ruptured achilles.
Newcastle look to have finally come unstuck after their surprise start and will not be relishing the trip to Norfolk. Norwich ran out 2-1 winners the last time these two met at Carrow Road and, with the visitors’ sudden exposure at the back, a repeat result could be on the horizon.
Verdict: Norwich 2-1 Newcastle
Swansea v Fulham
Swansea are slowly sliding towards the drop zone following Saturday’s defeat at lowly Blackburn as they leaked four goals in a game for the third time this season. They are without a win in four matches and have failed to find the net in their last two at the Liberty Stadium. Top scorer Danny Graham should return from injury to boost the Swans’ shot-shy attack but will be without Joe Allen after the midfielder’s dismissal at Ewood Park.
Fulham continued their mini-revival with victory over Liverpool on Monday night courtesy of Clint Dempsey’s late winner. It might have been their first win in four games and only second on home soil this season, but the Cottagers have lost just once in their last five. Martin Jol’s side are are unbeaten in their last three on the road, conceding just once in the process.
Swansea’s lack of goals will worry Brendan Rodgers and they could struggle to register again against a resilient Fulham side. The Londoners have drawn their last two away from Craven Cottage and should continue to climb away from the wrong end of the table with another point here.
Verdict: Swansea 0-0 Fulham
West Brom v Wigan
West Brom avoided a fourth defeat in five games courtesy of Shane Long’s 81st-minute equaliser at QPR last time out which keeps them five points above safety. The Baggies have lost two of their last three at the Hawthorns while no side in the league has scored fewer at home than the six goals West Brom have managed from their seven fixtures.
Wigan find themselves propping up the table again following their biggest defeat of the season at the hands of Arsenal. Roberto Martinez’s side have now conceded 11 goals in their last four outings ahead of the trip to the Midlands but have the chance to record back-to-back away wins following victory at Sunderland a fortnight ago. No side has scored fewer goals than the Latics, though, who have drawn blanks in four of their seven away matches.
Wigan have lost just once in their last four meetings with West Brom but confidence will be dented after Saturday’s humiliation. The Baggies are in dire need themselves of a morale-boosting win to kick-start their season and a visit from the Premier League basement boys should provide the perfect opportunity to put things right.
Verdict: West Brom 2-1 Wigan
Sunderland v Blackburn (Sunday – 13:30)
New Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill watched from the stands as his new side squandered the lead at Wolves en route to suffering a third defeat in four games. The Black Cats are now just one place and a point above the drop zone and are without a win in five games. They have not tasted victory at the Stadium of Light since mid-September while defeat on Saturday will see them drop into the bottom three.
Blackburn eased the pressure on beleaguered boss Steve Kean by notching just their second win of the campaign against Swansea. Yakubu’s four-goal haul took his tally to nine in the league, including seven in his last five outings. Rovers remain winless on the road, though, and have conceded three goals in each of their last three away from Ewood Park.
Sunderland are unbeaten in their last six meetings with Blackburn but none will have been much more important than this one. O’Neill’s return to football is expected to lift the doom and gloom around Wearside and, given Rovers’ hapless form on the road, his tenure should at least get off to a winning start on Sunday.
Verdict: Sunderland 3-2 Blackburn
Stoke v Tottenham (Sunday – 16:00)
Stoke rose four places into eighth last weekend as they finally ended their hoodoo of losing in every game following Europa League commitments. Victory at Everton secured back-to-back wins for the second time this season as Robert Huth netted only their ninth goal on the road this campaign. They have been leaking goals at home, though, including seven in their last three matches.
Tottenham reaffirmed their claim as serious title contenders by racking up their sixth win in succession with victory over struggling Bolton. Spurs netted three goals in a game for the fourth time in five outings, including one for Jermain Defoe who got his name on the scoresheet for the second week running. Harry Redknapp’s side have kept just one clean sheet away so far this season but haven’t lost on the road since the opening day.
Sunday’s trip promises to be a stern test of Tottenham’s credentials against a Stoke side showing signs of rediscovering their form. Spurs have won on their last two trips in the league to the Britannia Stadium, though, and their momentum should just about give them the edge here.
Verdict: Stoke 0-1 Tottenham
Chelsea v Man City (Monday - 20:00)
Chelsea remain in the hunt for the title after becoming the first team to bag an away win at Newcastle this season. Their midweek 3-0 triumph over Valencia was their third in a row in all competitions, coming off the back of successive clean sheets in the league for the first time this season. David Luiz is suspended after accumulating five yellow cards while Blues leading marksman Daniel Sturridge faces his former club aiming to net for the fourth weekend in a row.
Manchester City continue to lead the way after Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing of Norwich maintained their five-point cushion at the top of the table. Victory stretched City’s 100 per cent home record despite conceding for the seventh game in succession. Roberto Mancini’s side remain unbeaten this season but dropped points on their last away outing to draw at Liverpool.
Chelsea have a formidable record against City and have lost only once in their last 13 meetings at Stamford Bridge. The Premier League leaders could only manage a point on their last trip to West London at Fulham and, up against a resurgent Chelsea side, City should settle for a share of the spoils again on this occasion.
Verdict: Chelsea 1-1 Man City
Visit our At A Glance section for more background on the weekend matches. You can find full match previews for all these games under the relevant club menu.
For Premier League betting analysis based on match odds, check out Mike Holden’s preview of the action.
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