Friday March 21 2014

Wenger facing uphill task

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (left) and his

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (left) and his Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho have never been on terms. PHOTO BY AFP 

By Allan ssekamatte

Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1
Arsene Wenger is yet to beat Jose Mourinho in a straight football confrontation. Are Arsenal are strong enough to end the Portuguese coach’s impregnable record at Stamford Bridge? Not this time. The absence, through suspension, of Brazilian pair Willian and Ramires means Chelsea cannot fully exploit Arsenal’s depleted ranks missing Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.

West Ham 1 Man Utd 2 `
Man United’s 3-0 pummeling at the hands of old rivals Liverpool was embarrassing to pundits who had expected the Red Devils to put up a fight. Even though West Ham have gone off the boil after bettering all comers in February, they will be well motivated as they seek to put a halt to a two-game losing streak.

Cardiff 1 Liverpool 3
Liverpool are the most in-form team in with eight victories out of their last ten matches. It is therefore hardly surprising that Brendan Rodgers is now among the most coveted managers in world football. Liverpool’s transformation into the hardest running, hardest pressing, fittest, free-scoring outfit in the division is the stuff of dreams.

Norwich 1 Sunderland 1
Extended cup runs have a bad effect on Premiership strugglers. Birmingham were relegated in their league cup winning season while Boro faced the axe in a season in which they lost two cup finals. This reality will not be lost on manager Gus Poyet whose side have made huge strides but are still mired in the bottom three.

Everton 2 Swansea 1
Roberto Martinez welcomes the side where he made his managerial reputation keen to better a patched form run that has seen Everton win just three out of their last seven matches in all competitions. The Toffees have at least three players who are among the best in their positions. Full backs Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines give the Toffees an excellent attacking dimension, while the form of Kevin Mirallas will cause Swansea headache.
Hull 1 West Brom 1
Pepe Mel was ninety minutes away from facing the axe when, out of the blue, his side won at Swansea. This should give the Brummies plenty of positive energy as they aim to pull away from the bottom three. Hull City were uncharacteristically insipid in falling 0-2 to a Manchester City side that played for eighty minutes in ten men.

Man City 3 Fulham 1
Manuel Pellegrini’s Royal Blues showed the character of champions in disposing of Hull City despite losing talismanic skipper Vicent Kompany to an tenth minute sending off. Felix Magath’s Fulham will be buoyed by their 1-0 win over Newcastle United last time out, but they don’t have the quality to trouble City at the Ettihad Stadium. Three points should go into the bag as City have more demanding trips.

Aston Villa 1 Stoke City 1
In beating Chelsea 1-0, Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa won two games in a row at Villa Park for the first time in two years. That is good form to take into their hope encounter with Stoke City who are themselves enjoying a mini-revival under Mark Hughes. Christian Benteke’s return to form is a major boost for Villa .