Premier League weekend preview and predictions

Theo Walcott

Could Theo Walcott be the key for Arsenal this season?

Wigan v Arsenal

Week 18 of the Premier League kicks off at the DW Stadium when Wigan host Arsenal.  This will be a tricky task for the London side as they have been far from convincing this season.  Despite this a win would move them into third, albeit temporarily.  Arsenal put 5 past Reading on their travels on Monday and will be looking to do the same against another side in the relegation zone.  That away win followed a run of 4 away games where only 2 points were collected, an illustration of the Gunners season thus far.  Wigan have lost 3 of their last 4 games in the league and Roberto Marinez will be looking for a positive result going into the Christmas period.

Prediction: Draw

Manchester City v Reading

Reading are struggling with life in the Premier League and life will not get any easier here.  Manchester City have struggles of their own as they are now 6 points behind rivals Manchester United and out of the Champions League.  This fixture is a nice present for Christmas and they should not fall any further behind this week.

Prediction: Home win

Newcastle v QPR

Harry Redknapp took on a huge task in trying to save QPR but the Redknapp reign has started well with 3 draws and a win in their last outing against Fulham.  Newcastle are struggling to live up to the highs of last year as well as balance a domestic and European campaign.   With one win and 5 losses in their last 6 games Newcastle will be hoping to put some good results together and move up the league now that they have no European distractions until February.  This has the makings of a tight game on Tyneside.

Prediction: Draw

Southampton v Sunderland

This is a huge game in the relegation battle.  Sunderland have been poor this season after doing so well in the second half of last season more was expected of the Black Cats.  Southampton struggled on their return to the Premier League but have adapted quite well moving out of the relegation zone.  The Saints have taken 11 points from their last 6 games and are 5th in the form guide of the last 6 games.  Sunderland in contrast have only taken 4 from 18 and have lost 5 of their last 6 on tehe road.

Prediction: Home win

Tottenham v Stoke

Gareth Bale

Spurs may need to finish in the top 4 to keep Gareth Bale

This tie see two of the leagues form team take on each other at White Hart Lane.  Stoke are unbeaten in their last 6 games with 3 wins and 3 draws, Spurs have 12 points from their last 6 with 4 wins and 2 losses.  Spurs harbour genuine hopes of finishing in a Champions League position and may be looking to pip Chelsea for 3rd.  This game is a test of those credentials and is one they have to pass to prove to critics and themselves that they are a team to be taken seriously.  Beating Stoke at home does not prove you deserve to be in the Champions League, but not beating them asks questions.  Spurs have dropped a lot of points they shouldn’t have at home in recent seasons but have to stop this habit in order to be considered a top Premier League team.  Stoke are a hard team to break down, they have the best defence in the league conceding only 13 goals, but they have only scored 15.  There won’t be many goals but 1 could be enough for Spurs.

Prediction: Home win

West Brom v Norwich

Norwich have turned their season around in remarkable fashion.  They have gone from being in the relegation zone to 4 points off the Champions League positions.  They are second in the form table taking 14 points from 18 beating Manchester United in the process.  West Brom had a superb start to the season, sitting as high as 4th at one stage, but have stuttered in recent weeks losing 3 of their last 4 games.  This has the making of being a good game with both teams liking to pass the ball.

Prediction: Away win

West Ham v Everton

Everton are another team hoping to claim that elusive top 4 finish.  They have the ability to do so but need to turn some of those draws into wins.  Everton along with Stoke are tied for the most draws this season with 9.  Only Manchester City have lost less games demonstrating how difficult the Toffees are to beat.  West Ham have had a very solid return to top flight action under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.  This will be a tight affair and will likely see the ball in the air a lot.

Prediction: Draw

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez is crucial to Liverpool’s season.

Liverpool v Fulham

Just when Liverpool looked like they were getting things together they lose at home to Aston Villa 3-1 where they did not play well.  In Luis Suarez they have one of the best strikers in the league but he has been cold of late.  Liverpool have come to rely Uruguayan for goals and he will need to be at his best for his team to have their best chance of 3 points.  Fulham have had some good performances this season, notably at the Emirates, but have lost 4 of their last 6 games.  They are difficult to beat on the road taking 4 draws in their last 6 games away from home.  They will need to keep Suarez quiet to get anything from this game.

Prediction: Home win

Swansea v Manchester United

Sunday’s first games sees the most successful side in Premier League history visit the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea.  United have taken 5 wins from their last 6 games and sit atop the form table.  United were the first team to beat Swansea at home last season and will be hoping to take maximum points again heading into the Christmas period.  United have a habit this season of falling behind by conceding the first goal, Michu is the obvious danger man to do this.  Alex Ferguson will be hoping to tighten up defensively if they are to win the title back and also to be solid for taking on Ronaldo and Real Madrid in February.  Swansea have continued where they left off last season and are playing with a nice brand of passing football.  They will be hoping to keep the ball away from United in order to give the Red Devils less chances to cause damage.  Wayne Rooney has started to come into form, getting in on the goals in recent weeks.  This could be ominous for not just the Swansea defence but defences everywhere as United aim to claim back the league crown.

Prediction: Away win

Chelsea v Aston Villa

Stamford Bridge will be the venue for the weekend’s last game.  Villa will be full confidence after their stunning win at Anfield.  After a poor start Villa have started to find their feet this season going unbeaten in their last 5 games.  They have found a star in Christian Benteke and will be hoping to keep him from the big clubs in the January transfer window.  Chelsea’s title chase has unraveled and there is a lot of uncertainty around the Bridge at the moment.  The Blues have only one win in their last six games and need to start winning if they are to capitalise on any mistake from any of the Manchester clubs but also to try and pull away from teams trying to catch them for Champions League sports.  Rafa Benitez will be hoping that Fernando Torres finds the form he had when they were both at Liverpool.  There have been signs of Torres returning to form at times this season but there has also been the other side where he has seemed lost.  If Torres starts to find the net then the frosty view the fans have of Benitez may thaw.

Prediction: Home win

Luis Suarez

Fernando Torres has had his head in his hands too many times at Chelsea.

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