Matt Bugler was almost caught very red-faced a couple of weeks ago, scraping a 7-7 draw with football novice Olivia Luder. He looks to seek a win against football purist and Screen Editor Rob Harris this week in your favourite football predictions thingy on the internet:
After a humbling defeat to Man City in the FA cup and a stalemate away to the Baggies, the league leaders will certainly be looking to bounce back from a string of unsatisfying results. Whilst Everton did manage to impress against a shockingly insipid Swansea, this trip to Stanford Bridge will certainly prove too much. Expect Hazard to continue his stunning form, and probably some sort of bundled goal from the lumbering, 6 ft 8 in tall Lacina Traoré.
Everton are quite good, but not that good really. Their revolutionary game plan of passing the ball about nicely in defence and midfield until it reaches the battering ram striker Lukaku/ Traore was bound to be curtailed eventually, while Chelsea are gathering momentum in perfect inverse correlation to my dissertation.
Despite being outclassed by Bayern Munich for the majority of the Champions League first leg earlier on in the week, their efforts before Szczeny’s dismissal in the first half were admirable. Ozil’s wretched form as of late may mean he is relegated to the bench for the tie, but a midfield including the likes of Carzola, Rosický and Oxlade-Chamberlain will still be able to dominate a Sunderland side whose main goal scorers, Johnson and Borini, have perhaps already seen their seasons peak.
Everything is Ozil’s fault. Arsenal’s dwindling form, the extreme weather, my slip from the top of the Exeposé fantasy league. After approaching his penalty on Wednesday with the confidence and self-assurance of a 6 year old about to tell his parents he ate the chocolate cake, he and the rest of Arsenal will be equally scared of the Big Black Cats of Sunderland.
In what’s likely to be a slow and scrappy game, Cardiff will surely stay firmly rooted in the relegation zone. The home advantage may give Solskjær’s Bluebirds a fighting chance, but, even taking into account Hull’s shaky league form, with signings such as Nikica Jelavić still yet to truly prove themselves this may be the match where they can finally give them a defining edge.
Cardiff’s strategy of attempting to stay up with no strikers always looked dubious, and they’re finding goals harder to come by than a computer in the library at the moment. Hull’s much-mocked big spending on Jelavic and Long seems to be paying off, and they should push Vincent Tan closer to selling up and investing in curling instead.
Man City- Stoke
Like Arsenal, Man City will be desperate to put their Champions league nightmare behind them with a controlled and professional performance. Aguero will once again be missed, but Stevan Jovetić’s and Samir Nasri’s return to full fitness alongside the established goal scoring records of Džeko and Negredo will make this a textbook win at the Etihad. However, despite their 1-0 defeat to Sunderland, their win against Man Utd and draws with Southampton and Swansea show that Stoke are more than capable of throwing a spanner in the works (if only briefly).
City only have themselves to blame for the Barcelona defeat really; starting Andy Carroll in central defence could only end badly. Luckily they’ve got a chance to get back to winning ways against a Stoke side that don’t know who they are. They’re no longer the ‘Stoke on a wet Tuesday night’ Stoke, but they’re nowhere near ‘play good football now’ Stoke. What is Stoke?
West Brom- Fulham
Sitting just above the relegation zone and at rock bottom respectively, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if both teams found themselves playing Championship football next season. With neither side earning a victory in the league since 1st January, one can imagine that most of the action will take place off the pitch as embittered fans smash their heads against the stadium walls to try and feel something other than a nagging sense of mediocrity.
According to Felix Magarth, this West Brom match is “probably the most important game in the club’s history”. Because it gets no bigger than a mid-February trip to the Midlands. Steve Sidwell played like a man possessed against United a couple of weeks ago, and his sheer ginger determination will be enough to secure all six points. Yes, six.
West Ham- Southampton
Not too long ago, one would naturally assume that Southampton would be the clear favourites in a tie such as this. That said, with West Ham now seemingly over a shockingly turbulent run of form, they will be looking to build upon three consecutive victories to cement their place outside of the relegation zone. Nonetheless, even though Southampton’s performances have taken a pretty hefty hit in the past few weeks, the Hammers’ somewhat fluky last gasp win against Norwich in their last game may signal that this will be the time for Southampton to bounce back.
West Ham love a good clean sheet, and having accumulated the most in the top flight this term, are implementing extensive plans for next season already, where they will attempt to stay up with 38 0-0 draws. Jussi Jaaskelainen did naughty things at St Mary’s in the reverse fixture, but Adrian looks equally adept to shut out England’s attack.
Crystal Palace- Man United
Man Utd are definitely not in the best of places as of late, but a fixture of this nature is ripe for the taking. Utd will likely go into the tie lifted by the news of Wayne Rooney’s new contract, and alongside world-class players such as van Persie and Mata this could easily be the game where their fortunes change for the better. If the above players are successful in buoying some of their more questionable team mates (I’m looking at you, Smalling) and take advantage of Palace’s usual incompetence in front goal, Moyes may be able to avoid a red face for at least another week.
Moyes. The more you say it, the funnier it gets. Moooyyyyyesss. United’s demise has been the best thing to happen to football in recent years, but PulisBall™ is amongst the worst. Ol’ Baseball Cap is being talked about as Manager of the Season, which says wonders about the English game as the European juggernauts came into town midweek.
They may have fallen to Arsenal in the FA cup, but Liverpool are still running at full power with eyes set firmly on Champions league football. Even with Luis Suarez not quite reaching the dizzying heights he achieved earlier in the season, Brendan Roger’s boys are still bursting with talent. Raheem Sterling has impressed to the point of potentially fighting his way back into the England squad and Gerrard remains one of English football’s true talismans. Playing at home to a weak Swansea side definitely means nothing else but a commanding victory.
Liverpool when arrogant are the worst side to be arrogant. They strut onto the pitch with delusions of grandeur, failing to see the obvious that a title-winning side is not one with Aly Cissokho playing. Gary Monk is like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with his golden ticket to Naples, and will hope to continue playing European football whilst Liverpool watch the telly on Thursday nights.
Newcastle- Aston Villa
Whilst Newcastle have shown flashes of the side that managed to take them all the way to fifth back in the 2011/12 season, recent form suggests something closer to last year’s train wreck. However, Aston Villa is a very different beasts compared to the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea. Unless Villa’s main man Benteke can repeat his heroics from the start of the season, Newcastle will come out on top.
The diminishing strength of the Premier League is epitomised by these two teams. Newcastle are top half on the basis of one now-absent Frenchman, leaving the rest of the squad as lost as the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. Villa are a nothing team, and will probably stay up on the basis that there are other teams even worse.
Adebayor is a strange man. Barely even in the frame for Villas-Boas, the divisive striker seems to have received a new lease of life under Tim Sherwood. Now valued as their principal striker, even to the point of being rested for their Europa league game, Tottenham will likely be utilising his revived capabilities to comfortably dispatch a Norwich side that have been hampered by a severe goal drought for several weeks.
Tim Sherwood loves a routine win against lower-half opposition, and this win will confirm Spurs’ place as better than most teams but not quite daring to upset the big dogs yet. You have to earn the right to have a competitive match with Man City, Tim.bookmark me