Saturday November 24 2012

Rafa faces baptism of fire

By Allan ssekamatte

Match Forecast

Man Utd 2 QPR 0
Want a quick buck? Wager that Mark Hughes will be pounding pavement within the next 48 hours. You simply do not fail to win any games in eleven after such a huge cash outlay. It is even worse when you fail to prevail over direct relegation rivals Reading and Southampton. Cheerio Hughes.

Everton 2 Norwich 0
High fliers Everton fell into an ambush at Reading. They will thus want a rapid return to winning ways to wipe that setback out of the system. Teenage prodigy Ross Barkley has been recalled from a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday to add fire to the attack.
Sunderland 1 West Brom 1
Martin O’Neill has been waxing lyrical about his team’s prospects following their surprise 3-1 win over Fulham. The Black Cats come up against the surprise team of the season so far in West Brom. Steve Clarke clearly learnt aplenty as Jose Mourinho’s assistant as the Brummies are well organized.

Stoke City 2 Fulham 1
Stoke earned a creditable 1-1 draw at Upton Park. Except, they are not racking up the points at the Brittania as they used to. Time is ripe for them to return to winning ways against a Fulham side that is always shy on the road and is without Brade Hangeland.

Chelsea 2 Man City 2
New manager Rafa Benitez faces a baptism of fire when he takes charge of his first game as Chelsea manager. The Chelsea camp has been disjointed for the last couple of days, and the visit of Premiership leaders and champions Man City will be the ultimate test. City will be more than ready to punish any further defensive frailties.

Wigan 3 Reading 2
Roberto Martinez’s side may be several points better off than they were at a similar stage last season, but they retain a Jekyll and Hide element about them. Consistency should be the name of the game. Thankfully, newly capped Argentina international Franco di Santo and Arouna Kone are punishing teams like Reading.

Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2
Arsenal were magnificent against ten-man Spurs, though it is hard to read too much into that. Aston Villa competed well against both Manchester clubs before succumbing to second half barrages. They retain a vulnerability that Santi Carzola and especially Olivier Giroud will be ready to punish.

Swansea 1 Liverpool 1
The last time these two sides met, Michael Laudrup’s passing masters played Liverpool off the park 3-1 in a Capital One encounter. Brendan Rodgers’ side have since put together a seven-match unbeaten run. This time round, they should be good for a point.

S’thampton 1 Newcastle 1
Newcastle are in a free fall. Demba Ba’s prolific goal scoring form is just about all that is good about Alan Pardew’s side. On the other hand, Southampton are buzzing following their 3-1 away victory over relegation rivals QPR. Pardew will have instructed his charges to pick up a share of the spoils.

Spurs 2 West Ham 1
These sides should cancel each other out in a good old fashioned English aerial slugfest. This is a clash between the two biggest sides in the division. It is also a collision of similar styles. Sub-plots like Andy Carroll versus Robert Huth, Carlton Cole versus Ryan Shawcross make it a must watch.

assekamatte@gmail.com