Swansea vs Chelsea
It took Wilfried Bony several months to become a reliable leader of the line following in the footsteps of the prolific Michu. It will take time for Bafetimbi Gomis to do likewise. Against the big sides like Chelsea, Swansea’s mini transition in attack will show.
What will go for them is that they always approach games against the big sides without fear and with little respect, but what will go against them is that Chelsea will like that approach and can exploit the freedom that their attacking talent will be accorded, and yet they can hit on the counter-attack too, or at set pieces. Away Win
Arsenal vs Man City
Alexis Sanchez has added a whole new dimension to Arsenal’s flowery attack, a work-till-you-drop attitude and ethic that is catching on all around.
It has reinvigorated Carzola and Oxlade-Chamberlain, and is bound to have challenged and inspired Ozil and Walcott who have been watching it all from the sidelines.
In fact, had Man City not been lucky enough to welcome back captain Vincent Kompany, I would fancy Arsenal’s attack to rip them apart. City will dearly miss Yaya Toure’s drive and big-game scoring pedigree, but their little men love taking on Arsenal, and so Silva, Nasri, Navas and the returning Aguero will look to work rings around the Gunners with their sleek short-passing game.
What Fernandinho and Fernando do or don’t do will be decisive however, and Man City’s full backs could give them an edge too. Away win
QPR vs Man Utd
Robin Van Persie will be sorely missed, but Man United can make up for that by returning Falcao to the starting lineup and sending Rooney up from midfield to pair up with him, allowing either Herrera or Fellaini (preferably the former) to join Carrick in central midfield.
If Van Gaal can then find places for Di Maria and Mata on the same team, then United will have a menacing attack. On the narrow Loftus Road pitch where the ball gets from end to end a lot quicker, they must however generate enough goalmouth action, which has been a big weakness of the Van Gaal era so far. Away win
Aston Villa vs Liverpool
Finally, belatedly, Brendan Rogers seems to have properly addressed the issue of balance in midfield and the team’s mobility and agility going forward, the main weapon in their assault last season which they had lost for the first half of this.
Against Aston Villa Liverpool should be on a revenge mission too, and the hosts are not being helped by the absences of Ron Vlaar and Phillip Senderos at the back. Away win
SPANISH LA LIGA
Getafe vs Real Madrid
Extremely tough fixture for Real Madrid which they will have to negotiate by using their superior firepower. As a side plot, the fight for the next Ballon D’Or starts now … Away win
Deportivo vs Barcelona
Barcelona’s best possible starting eleven produced arguably the team’s best game of the season against champions Atletico Madrid and should continue here. And the fight for the Ballon D’Or …
Atletico Madrid vs Granada
Still smarting from a good old spanking at the Camp Nou, the champions will be angry and baying for some blood. A first goal for prodigal son Fernando Torres maybe?
Sevilla vs Malaga
Valencia vs Almeria
Juventus vs Hellas Verona
They like to rattle the big boys do Hellas Verona, but as has been the case with most of the rest, Juventus will have too much for them too. Home win
Palermo vs Roma
Gervinho and Seydou Keita have left some gaping gaps, but Roma still have enough strength in depth to do some damage against a side that scores many but lets in many too. Away win
Lazio vs Napoli
AC Milan vs Atalanta
Empoli vs Inter Milan
Lens vs Lyon
Monaco vs Nantes
Home win & Over
Marseille vs Guigamp
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