Last week was the most the most exciting weekend of Premier League action in history. It was the first time since the league’s inception in 1992-93 that every single team scored a goal in the one weekend. Chelsea again dropped points, and relinquished top spot for the first time all season. Manchester United now lead by 2 points from both Chelsea and Arsenal. Manchester City and Tottenham lead the chasing pack. At the foot of the ladder, West Ham and Wolverhampton both won, making for a very congested table.
Here are the previews for each game this weekend.
Arsenal v Fulham (0200 AEDT)
Arsenal’s win over Aston Villa was the most impressive of last weekend. They return to Emirates Stadium on a high after also qualifying for the Carling Cup semi finals. Cesc Fabregas is still out, with the man himself refusing to put a date on a return. During the midweek Carling Cup match, Robin Van Persie made his first start since injuring an ankle in August. His return will be a huge boost just in time for the jam-packed Christmas and New Year fixtures. Fulham are just one place above the relegation trap door. They were second best to Birmingham last week, with a second half Clint Dempsey goal earning a fortunate draw. Fulham’s Australian ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer will need to be at his best, but even that may not be enough. These are often the fixtures that Arsenal slacken off for, but if they’re serious about the title, the gunners should win comfortably.
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to win by 2 or more goals @ 1.80 (Sportsbet)
Birmingham v Tottenham (0200 AEDT)
Two in form teams. Birmingham qualified for the Carling Cup semi finals during the week by beating bitter rivals Aston Villa. Before that they drew at Fulham and beat Chelsea at St Andrews. I like Birmingham a lot and can see them working their way up the table. They will have their work cut out for them against a Spurs side in outstanding form. Rafael Van der Vaart and Younes Kaboul will be missing for Tottenham. Van der Vaart in particular will be a big loss. You know that Tottenham will still come out attacking, so I expect plenty of goals.
Andy’s Bet: Over 3.5 goals @ 3.75 (Betfair)
Blackburn v Wolverhampton (0200 AEDT)
Blackburn copped a 7-1 hammering against Man Utd last week. Hopefully manager Sam Allardyce has wiped that from the mind. A home game against lowly Wolves comes at a good time for Rovers. Wolves snatched all 3 points late on against Sunderland in their last outing, so confidence will be high. But the orange shirted bunch have lost 6 of their 7 road trips, drawing the other. That stat is enough for me to be plonking my cash on Blackburn
Blackburn to win to nil @ 3.00 (Sportsbet)
Chelsea v Everton (0200 AEDT)
Who’s going to cop the backlash? Chelsea have picked up 1 point from the last 9 available. The lads from Stamford Bridge are going to dish out the pain to someone. Soon. I don’t think it will be Everton though. David Moyes’ side uncharacteristically find themselves languishing in 16th place on the table. They were beaten 4-1 at home by West Brom last week. That scoreline was a little harsh as Mikel Arteta was sent off early in the second half. The Spaniard will now miss the next 3 matches. Everton will be lost without his creativity. Poor old Timmy Cahill will be relying on the barest of scraps. He is the Toffees only hope of a goal and the possible return of Chelsea defender John Terry will just make life tougher. Everton will be playing for a 0-0 draw, so I don’t expect Chelsea to go goal crazy, but I do expect them to win. Didier Drogba is due for a goal.
Andy’s bet: Chelsea to win to nil @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s bet: Chelsea to be leading 2-0 at half time @ 6.50 (Sportsbet)
Man City v Bolton (0200 AEDT)
City were unlucky not to beat Stoke last weekend. They return to the City of Manchester Stadium to play a Bolton side who are a surprising rival for the Champions League places. Bolton survived a huge scare from Blackpool last week. Coming from 2 goals down to grab a vital point. If the sky blues take this one lightly they will struggle. Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander both carry a real goal threat. But so does Carlos Tevez. The diminutive Argentinian was rested from a midweek Europa League fixture. He will be released into the goalscoring wild on Saturday night.
Man City to win @ 1.59 (Betfair)
Carlos Tevez to score first @ 4.00 (Sportsbet)
Wigan v Stoke (0200 AEDT)
Wigan are struggling. They have won only 1 of their last 8 league matches and find themselves in the bottom 3. Young striker Victor Moses is out injured and joins fellow striker Hugo Rodallega on the sidelines. It is hard to see where Wigan’s goal threat will come from. Charles N’Zogbia has been playing well, but he is a midfielder and can’t be relied upon to score week in, week out. Stoke have quietly risen to eigth in the table. I am a big fan of manager Tony Pulis and I can see them remaining in the top half of the table come the end of May. Stoke winger Jermaine Pennant may miss with slight hamstring strain, but I still expect the Potters to take the points
Andy’s Bet: Stoke to win @ 2.75 (Sportsbet)
Blackpool v Manchester United (0430 AEDT)
Wow! There is no other way to describe Man Utd’s performance last weekend against Blackburn. A 7-1 thrashing, including 5 goals from Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov. All of a sudden they are top of the table and have a frightening goal scoring threat. Javier Hernandez and the fit again Wayne Rooney join Berbatov to create a potent strike force. They can’t all fit in the one team, so the competition for places should improve performances. It was no coincidence that Berbatov’s return to form coincided with Rooney’s return from injury. If you have read this column before, you will know I am waiting for the Blackpool bubble to burst. The seasiders continued to punch above their weight in a 2-2 draw with Bolton last weekend. Both of their goals came from corners and that is something United will have to watch.
Andy’s Bet: Manchester United to win by 2 or more goals @ 1.90 (Luxbet)
Andy’s Bet: Manchester United to win 3-1 @ 12.00 (Betfair)
West Bromwich v Newcastle (0030 AEDT)
What is going on? A woefully out of form West Brom manages a 4-1 win away at Everton, while Newcastle, fresh from a 5-1 defeat by Bolton, holds the then league leaders Chelsea to a 1-1 draw. Betting on these two sides is fraught with danger, so we’ll have to step through it carefully. The baggies rested 9 first team regulars for a midweek Carling Cup fixture, so they have the magpies firmly in their sites. Newcastle are still without suspended centre backs Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson. Steven Taylor performed well in that position last Sunday, while Sol Campbell was poor and at fault for Chelsea’s equaliser. Hopefully he is better for the run, because West Brom will look to test him with their pacy front line. Joey Barton will return to Newcastle’s midfield and this game could hinge on who provides the better quality set pieces. Barton or West Brom’s left foot wizard Chris Brunt. I am expecting a high scoring draw
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.45 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Over 3.5 goals @ 3.20 (Betfair)
Sunderland v West Ham
Sunderland were looking good for a 2-1 win last week until Wolves struck twice late on. The Black Cats are always good for goals, so I think West Ham will have to score 2 or 3 to win. They did that at home against Wigan, but I can’t see them doing it in the north east. Darrent Bent was back on the scoresheet last weekend and I think he is about to go on a nice goalscoring run.
Andy’s Bet: Sunderland to win @ 1.87 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: Darren Bent to score anytime @ 2.10 (Sportsbet)
Tuesday Morning (0700 AEDT)
Liverpool v Aston Villa
These two under-performing sides will conclude the weekend action. Liverpool have won 3 on the trot at Anfield, so I fancy them to continue that form here. Former Reds boss Gerard Houllier should receive a warm welcome in his first return to Anfield as an opposition manager. The Villa boss will look to improve an alarming trend that has seen them lose 5 times out of 7 on their travels. I can see Liverpool scratching out another win here, so that is where I suggest you put your coins.
Andy’s Bet: Liverpool to win @ 1.62 (Sportsbet)
Sneaky European Multi
This week we aim to pick a winner from England, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Scotland is out because their pitches are all frozen!
Andy’s Bet: Sunderland, Lyon, AC Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Espanyol all to win @ 12.35 (Sportsbet)