Man United 3 Aston Villa 1
Paul Lambert’s Villains have been a different proposition to the side that conceded eight at Stamford Bridge last year. However, his young side can’t expect any points as Sir Alex Ferguson’s winning juggernaut press for a Premier League record points haul. Robin van Persie will try to claim the Golden Boot.
Fulham 2 Arsenal 2 `
The Cottagers love to rattle Arsenal. Martin Jol’s side is playing well enough defensively to take something from this home tie. Dimitar Berbatov continues to show his class. Matter of fact, pound for pound, only Swansea’s Michu has delivered better value on his transfer fee.
Spurs 1 Man City 1
Outgoing Premiership champions City have found form just in time to win the FA Cup! The onus is on Spurs to make things happen at the Lane, and that depends on whether talisman Gareth Bale can shake off his injury. Other things remaining constant, I can’t see the two sides separated.
Liverpool 0 Chelsea 0
I expect a low-scoring game despite Chelsea’s propensity to conceding goals. Liverpool can’t buy a goal. The Kop couldn’t break down West Ham or Reading, so it will be even more difficult against a side chasing Champions League football. Rafa Benitez will want to put Brendan Rodgers in his ‘place’ on his homecoming.
West Ham 2 Wigan 2
Sam Allardyce’s Hammers are quietly effective without being exuberant. FA Cup finalists Wigan are specialists at the survival game and this dictates that they have to get something from Upton Park. This should be an open game with Andy Carroll’s directness paying as good dividends as Shaun Maloney’s dexterity.
Norwich 1 Reading 0
Nigel Adkins’ Reading were lucky to win their first point in seven outing against Liverpool. In Norwich, they come up against a team still licking their wounds following the sorry manner of their defeat to Arsenal. The Canaries do not score many goals but they should nick this one.
QPR 0 Stoke 0
Tony Pulis’s Stoke have been plummeting ever so closer to the relegation zone because scoring is an anathema to them. This time though, they should put up a battling display and put paid to Rangers’ position as a Premier League outfit. Adel Taraabt and Loic Remy don’t deserve relegation.
Sunderland 2 Everton 1
Sunderland have been bristling with renewed energy since Paolo di Canio’s arrival as manager. The Black Cats’ 3-0 whitewash of Newcastle had all the right ingredients – passion, commitment, dogged determination and correct self application. The same traits should take care of a dangerous Everton side with an eye on Europe.
Swansea 2 Southampton1
The English Premiership’s team of the season welcome Mauricio Pochettino’s most improved team in the second half of the season. Swansea appear uninterested since winning the Carling Cup, but Michael Laudrup will be keen to put one over Pochettino. This match has the ingredients of a match of the weekend.
West Brom 1 Newcastle 0
Steven Clarke’s Brummies have taken their eye off the ball in recent weeks courtesy of their guaranteed place in the Premier League next season. However, they still possess a formidable home record which guarantees the visiting Magpies a torrid afternoon. Romelo Lukaku will be keen to get back onto the scoring sheet.