What you need to know:
The best Hammers side in years is strong at home, has good balance between the physical and technical, and was unlucky to lose at Old Trafford earlier.
Aston Villa vs Chelsea
As far as bogey sides go, Villa are the ultimate proverbial thorn in Chelsea’s flesh. Expect them to be totally different from the side that shipped five at Arsenal last weekend, and having loanee Scott Sinclair start should contribute to that miraculous transformation the Villans always undergo when Chelsea come to town. I however fancy the league leaders to break the jinx this once. Away win
Man City vs Hull
The champions were a touch unlucky not to get more than just the draw from Stamford Bridge last weekend after being allowed to be the aggressors for the most part. Beleaguered Hull are likely to assume that same defensive stance Chelsea had, but they don’t have a Thibaut Courtois or Kurt Zouma or the squad strength and pedigree. And they are at the Eithad. Home win & Over.
West Ham vs Man United
It is not that they are not good or strong enough, it is just that this is a game I don’t see United winning. The best Hammers side in years is strong at home, has good balance between the physical and technical, and was unlucky to lose at Old Trafford earlier.
United have the firepower, but their style of patient build-up might not suit the narrow confines of the Boleyn Ground where they could be surprised by how quickly the ball gets to their goal. The best I see them doing is Draw.
Tottenham vs Arsenal
Christian Erisken and Harry Kane are bang on form, the supporting cast of Townsend and Chadli too. But Spurs are not strong enough in the full back areas and central midfield where they are certain to be overpowered by an Arsenal side in fine fettle right now.
Should visiting Arsenal deploy the tactical discipline they used at Man City, then their superior quality will tell. Away win
Stuttgart vs Bayern
The champions haven’t won a game since returning from the winter break, but here is a good chance to change that. The games are coming thick and fast in the Bundesliga, and so squad depth should make a difference this weekend. Away win
Freiburg vs Dortmund
I am optimistic for better luck with Dortmund predictions now than I was before Christmas. I got the draw against Leverkusen right last weekend (but thankfully I wasn’t called upon to predict the midweek loss to Augsburg which saw the team hit rock bottom in every sense). Look away now if you must however, because despite their morale being at an all time low, I adamantly call for the Away win.
Wolfsburg vs Hoffenheim
Schalke vs Monchengladbach
Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid
European champions Real Madrid have managed to hang onto their slim La Liga lead through some tough fixtures in the absence of goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo, and so the irony is that it is upon his return that I reckon they will not win. The derby has the makings of a Draw.
Bilbao vs Barcelona
This would have been an extremely tough one for Barca to negotiate last season but not this. Messi, Neymar and Suarez will not be denied. Away win
Juventus vs AC Milan
They don’t have the financial clout of yester year, but Milan did a great job in the January window by landing striker Destro and defender Palleta. As a team they will stir themselves up for old time’s sake and give this game a good go, but if Juventus are up for it too then it can only go one way. Home win
Cagliari vs Roma: Away win
Inter vs Parlemo: Home win
Rennes vs Marseille: Away win
Lyon vs PSG: Draw
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