Kop crew primed for Emirates
Posted Saturday, November 2 2013 at 02:00
Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2
Chelsea are finally playing in the image of their plucky manager. Their victories are more premised on obdurate determination than outrageous aplomb. Alan Pardew’s Magpies have troubled Chelsea in recent years, notably bettering Rafa Benitez’s side 3-2 in the corresponding fixture last season. However, the Europa League winners are the most in-form team in the country. Fernando Torres is finally finding his feet.
West Brom 2 Palace 0
No matter who comes in to replace Ian Holloway, visitors Crystal Palace are certainties for relegation. The London side are so short of quality in their squad, it is hard to see how Tony Pulis, or any of the other names being bandied around, is going to pull the rabbit out of the hat. Steve Clarke’s West Brom come into this game hungry to atone for the 1-4 pummeling they received at Liverpool’s hands last time out.
Fulham 0 Man Utd 2
Confidence is high for Man United who have won six consecutive matches against Fulham. Martin Jol’s ageing Cottagers always run United close but stop short of getting results. After frequent chopping and changing, David Moyes is finally close to getting the right combination of players. Wayne Rooney’s exemplary form continues to be a source of hope and delight.
Hull 1 Sunderland 0
Steve Bruce is on cloud nine. His Tigers have confounded pre-season doomsday predictions that tipped them for a straight return to ignominy. Hull City’s ability to compete favourably in the top flight shows there isn’t a chasm in class between Premiership also-rans and Championship heavyweights. In Gustavo Poyet’s Sunderland, they face an opponent buoyed by the derby victory over Newcastle.
Man City 3 Norwich 0
Manuel Pellegrini is a decent man. It therefore came as a surprise when he declined Jose Mourinho’s handshake in the wake of the Royal Blues’ last minute capitulation to Chelsea. Sunday was the third time his expensively assembled side have lost games they didn’t deserve to, courtesy of poor defending. Chris Hughton’s Canaries will be on the receiving end.
Stoke 0 S’thampton 0
Mark Hughes’ battered managerial reputation is in danger of further damage unless he can address a downward spiral that has seen his side pick up just two out of the last eighteen available points. Unfortunately for him, Stoke come up against a Southampton side that are playing their best football in thirty years. Mauricio Pochettino’s full pitch pressing game is next to only Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid. I am therefore calling a stalemate.
West Ham 2 Villa 1
West Ham’s lack of a goal threat should worry manager Sam Allardyce. The Hammers have improved at the back but have struggled for goals in the continued absence through injury of Andy Carroll. We could therefore see a repeat of the ingenious 4-6-0 system which Big Sam deployed to devastating effect in the 3-0 rout of Spurs.
Arsenal 2 Liverpool 2
Home advantage no longer counts as much as it did when Rafa Benitez was Arsene Wenger’s adversary. Arsenal’s last two victories against Liverpool have, in fact, come at Anfield. How will Arsenal cope with the absence of their two defensive midfielders, Arteta and Flamini? It depends on how Liverpool line up. Phillip Coutinho could wreak havoc unless monitored, whereas there isn’t a better striking partnership than the 14-goal two-man destruction crew that is Sturridge and Suarez.