By Mark Young.
It’s the return of league action after the international break as Liverpool travel to Arsenal, the Red Devils face Aston Villa and Everton take on Southampton, while there’s the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday and Man City go to Crystal Palace on Monday night.
Former Great Britain Olympic athlete and Arsenal fan Kelly Sotherton is the woman go up against Mark this week…
Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool
The clash of the weekend takes place at the Emirates, with both teams looking to edge closer to Champions League qualification. Liverpool are out to bounce back from defeat to Manchester United, while Arsenal want to remain in third place.
If Brendan Rodgers can rekindle the spirit in the camp that they had just two weeks ago, then they can hurt the Gunners. But they will have to do it without suspended duo Martin Skrtel and Steven Gerrard.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud netted as France beat Denmark during the international break and could be the star man here. But just like Reds star Raheem Sterling’s contract talks have reached stalemate, I predict the result here will be the same.
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
Giroud scores again. Shaky start for both teams and shaky end as always for the Gunners. Hopefully Arsenal manage Henderson as he will be key in Liverpool’s attack. I expect tight marking…
Everton 0-1 Southampton
Everton are nine points off the bottom three with eight games remaining and while they look just about safe, they will be envious of the sixth- place position that this weekend’s rivals Southampton occupy.
The Saints have the best defensive record in the Premier League this season and are the favourites for victory here, especially with Italian striker Graziano Pelle rediscovering his shooting boots against England in midweek.
That defensive record speaks for itself, with only 21 goals conceded in 30 games. Roberto Martinez’s men, on the other hand, have shipped double that. I reckon it’ll be a narrow victory for the visitors to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
Everton 1-0 Southampton
The loss of Fraser Forster will be Saints undoing, best defence in league but down to a great goalkeeper. Though could easily see a draw…
Manchester United 2-0 Aston Villa
Manchester United look to finally have taken on board Louis van Gaal’s philosophy after Juan Mata stole the show at Anfield in their 2-1 victory over Liverpool before the international break.
United can capitalise on their game being the later kick-off; giving them the chance to take advantage of any slip-ups their top-four rivals Arsenal or Liverpool make earlier in the day. With upcoming fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea, three points against Villa would give them breathing space.
Tim Sherwood’s men have picked up a couple of victories under him but they were beaten by Swansea in their last match. Another defeat here could leave the Villains looking over their shoulder yet again.
Manchester United 1-1 Aston Villa
Villa have renewed vigour, I fancy they’ll be difficult for United. The counter attack will be key if Agbonlahor is on point.
Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle
It always seems that Sunderland hire a new manager just in time for the derby. Dick Advocaat suffered a defeat to West Ham in his first game in charge, so victory is vital for his side, who sit just one point above Burnley in the drop zone.
Black Cats’ main issue is they have been struggling for goals. Jermain Defoe was supposed to be the man to change all of that, however, they are yet to see the best of the former Spurs striker.
But what better time to show what you’re made of than against your big rivals? Newcastle have faltered in the last few months since Alan Pardew left for Crystal Palace and I believe they will suffer another defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals.
Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle
Feel the Derby will inspire struggling Sunderland to a much needed win for their new manager.
Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester City
Monday night football comes from Selhurst Park this week as Manchester City take on Crystal Palace. Pardew’s men have won three of their last four games, including away victories at West Ham and Stoke.
The hosts can take goals from a fatigued City, whose players are back from long trips around the world for their national teams. Sergio Aguero was on target as Argentina finished their US tour with a victory over Ecuador, whilst Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure have been in action for the Ivory Coast.
Their rock at the back, Vincent Kompany, has been out of sorts recently and was sent off as Belgium beat Israel in their Euro 2016 qualifier. City’s defence face a tough task against an attack as quick as Palace’s, but I believe Manuel Pellegrini’s men should just edge this goal thriller.
Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester City
Palace will get going like a 100 tonne downhill train but City will fight back and nick the late goal.
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