Manchester United, Southampton to share points as Chelsea, Arsenal win

Friday January 9 2015

 Diego Costa has been in superb form, scoring 14 goals since signing from

Diego Costa has been in superb form, scoring 14 goals since signing from Athletic Madrid in the summer. League-leaders Chelsea will look to rebound from their New Year’s Day loss against Tottenham Hotspur when they host Newcastle tomorrow. AFP PHOTO  

By Mark Ssali

PREMIERSHIP

Chelsea vs Newcastle
In the bigger scheme of things revenge might come across as trivial, but in Chelsea’s case I strongly believe it will be on the menu. Especially since victory over Newcastle, the team that ended the unbeaten run Chelsea had been looking to stretch to the end of the season, would ensure the Blues stay joint top at the very least.

The Magpies could barely keep Chelsea’s attack at bay at St James Park, it will be mission impossible at the Bridge. Home win

Everton vs Man City
That late, late Lukaku goal got Everton out of jail against West Ham in the FA Cup in midweek, and could be the one that sparks the turnaround in Everton’s fortunes.

And so they fight defiantly. On paper this should be skewed in favour of the team that has Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Jovetic and the two big Brazilians in central midfield, but by going wide and swinging the ball into the box Everton will cause problems, especially if Vincent Kompany is still not fit enough to participate. Draw

Arsenal vs Stoke
If Chelsea are eyeing up revenge, so are Arsenal. Stoke beat up on the Gunners at the Brittania earlier this season, and for the most part it was embarrassingly easy.

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Usually when Stoke upend Arsenal it comes by the way of applying their physicality and bullying Arsene Wenger’s men in the air, but this last time the architect of the Gunners’ downfall was the tricky little Barcelona-bred Bojan Krkic.

He has been out of action with a damaged hamstring lately but could return for this, yet even if he does, Arsenal’s own tricky and pacy little men Sanchez, Carzola, Walcott, Ox and Ramsey will be uncompromising. Home win

Man United vs Southampton
Before both managers took the reins in England, Louis Van Gaal confessed that he had picked Ronald Koeman’s brains on how to deploy three at the back at the World Cup with Holland.

When the two long-feuding Dutchmen locked horns in the Premiership, it was clear that Koeman knew the exact weaknesses of that formation as Southampton tore through United at will.

They were undeserving losers that day at St Mary’s, and even if United will have the advantage of fielding more proven goal scorers at one go (Van Persie, Falcao, Rooney and Mata), lightening might not strike twice against a Southampton team that will have more balance. Draw

SERIE A

Napoli vs Juventus
Here is one of less than a handful of teams that topple Juventus over 90 minutes in the Serie A. As they showed in a truly thrilling Italian Super Cup not so long ago, Napoli have the quality of individuals and the group tactics to put Juve under pressure, and like it was that night, I fancy the two will cancel each other out again. Draw

Roma vs Lazio
Lazio are a pretty decent outfit that plays good football, and as is usually the case all across Italy they will be fired up for the derby.

Indeed they have scored more Seri A goals than Roma so far this season. But Roma are the more balanced team and also have more big game players in their ranks than their cross town rivals, and this will ultimately tell. Home win

Torino vs AC Milan
Torino are very plucky opponents that are hard to beat especially at home, but AC Milan have scored more goals and lost fewer games on the road this season than at the San Siro. When they clique together, the quality of an attack which has Jeremy Menez, Keisuke Honda, El Shaarawy, Pazzini supported by Boneventura and Montolivo shines through. Away win

Inter vs Genoa
Home win

Fiorentina vs Parlemo
Home win

LA LIGA

Real Madrid vs Espanyol
Here is a good opportunity to put an end to their recent slide for the previously streaking Real Madrid.

They have lost two on the bounce to Valencia and Atletico Madrid, but at the Santiago Bernabeu their attack should fire again, Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, Rodriguez et al. Home win & Over

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
Barcelona themselves have a chance to pour water on all the talk of unrest that has surrounded the club in the past week, or it will be Luis Enrique’s last game in charge.

Atletico will be tenacious in the tackle and tough to breakdown, and will pose a threat on the counter attack, at set pieces and all else, but imagine their irony that Leo Messi saves Enrique’s job, with a helping hand from Neymar, Suarez, Iniesta and Xavi or Rakitic. Home win

Bilbao vs Elche
Home win

Cleta Vigo vs Valencia
Draw

LIGUE ONE

Montpellier vs Marseille
Draw

Bastia vs PSG
Away win

Lille VS Caen
Home win

Lyon vs Toulouse
Home win

Monaco vs Bordeuax
Home win

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