Predictions: Spurs Frustrated By Everton, Manchester City Go Top, Manchester United Upset By Portsmouth and much more

74051614.jpgSportingo’s Mark Apostolou risks life and limb and delivers his predictions before every round of Premier League action:

Spurs v Everton (Tues, kick-off 20.00 BST):

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After the horrendous performance and torrid finale at the Stadium of Light, Martin Jol and Tottenham’s followers will be hoping the side can pull their fingers out and perform as they did for the majority of the last campaign. Many have questioned not only the lack of drive in the side on Saturday but also the lack of heart shown by some players. Jol looks likely to switch it around up front, which I guess is the point of having four top-quality strikers in the first place. Everton’s win against Wigan was marginally more comfortable than the 2-1 scoreline suggests. David Moyes is still without Leighton Baines while two other new signings, Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar, will probably be on the bench again. With England places up for grabs, Darren Bent will be keen to impress if he gets the nod to start, but I can see Everton winning the key midfield battle. Prediction: 1-1

Birmingham v Sunderland (Wed, 19.45): Steve Bruce must have left Stamford Bridge with one nagging question: “Was the reason we attacked so well and could have scored more than the two we managed down to our great forward play or to Chelsea’s inept defending without John Terry?” Well, Steve, I think it was a bit of both, but nonetheless Birmingham fans will have been proud of the way their newly-promoted side performed. Their defensive frailties were evident, but then Chelsea were at times awesome going forward and City fielded a back line that had never played a competitive match together. Roy Keane’s Sunderland battled well against Spurs but they were hardly setting the Stadium of Light, er, alight. They deserved to win, but there is still room for improvement. Another tight game, this one. Prediction: 1-1

Fulham v Bolton (Wed, 19.45): Those who doubted Sammy Lee’s Bolton would struggle this term would have had to re-evaluate 30 minutes into their home match against Big Sam-powered Newcastle United. I’m afraid that it’s going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better for a Wanderers side who have great heart but are extremely low on quality. Losing Kevin Davies to injury won’t help matters for a side, Nicolas Anelka apart, who are low on goal-scoring options. They have brought in Andy O’Brien from Portsmouth to help shore up the defence. Fulham are also expected to struggle this season, but they surprised many with their battling display at the Emirates. Lawrie Sanchez has bought well in the summer and I expect them to ease to victory. Prediction: 2-0 to Fulham

Man City v Derby (Wed, 19.45): Sven’s first proper game as manager of a Premier League club could not have gone more according to script than City’s 2-0 win over the Hammers. Fielding a side that included five debutants and adopting a mentality that was the polar opposite of the Stuart Pearce reign, the Eastlands outfit were fantastic. Martin Petrov, Rolando Bianchi and Elano were the heroes for a young side that fielded only one player over the age of 30. The future appears bright and although Derby fought well for a draw at home to Portsmouth, I expect the City revival to continue. Prediction: 3-0 to City

Portsmouth v Man United (Wed, 19.45 ): OK, answer me one thing – why did Sir Alex offload Alan Smith and Giuseppe Rossi, and then end up having to field John O’Shea as makeshift striker against Reading on Sunday? It’s a riddle many United fans have asked me to comment on. I really don’t understand why Fergie never gave Rossi a decent shot at first-team football at Old Trafford. He is left with Rooney, who’s out for two months, two notoriously injury-prone replacements in Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer and Louis ‘balsawood’ Saha, and Carlos Tevez who, according to the boss, is not 100 per cent match-fit. United could be in for a rude awakening at Fratton Park, where Pompey have been something of a bogey team for the Mancs. Fergie’s men have lost on three of their last four visits to the South Coast and I reckon they will go down again. Prediction: 1-0 to Pompey

Reading v Chelsea (Wed, 20.00): Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea have become masters of the art of going to tricky away matches and coming away with the points and I think they will do so once again at the Madejski. Many were wondering where the goals would come from for a side missing key strikers, yet they still managed to sneak three past Birmingham’s Colin Doyle, and could have scored double that. They have a squad that can score goals from elsewhere on the park and new signings Florent Malouda and Claudio Pizzaro impressed. Reading worked wonders at Old Trafford, setting their stall out to defend, especially once Dave Kitson got himself sent off for a challenge that was at best ill-advised and at worst ABH. My heart can see Reading battling to another useful point but my head says otherwise. Prediction: 1-0 to Chelsea

Wigan v Middlesbrough (Wed, 20.00): Chris Hutchings and Gareth Southgate both have huge jobs to do this season to avoid being involved in the relegation mire and neither side will want to come out of this match-up with just a draw, but I’m afraid that is exactly what will happen. Sure to be a blood-and-thunder affair with spirit and gusto – oddly enough, a match I’d much rather view than some of these namby-pamby top-four affairs. Expect Heskey, Yakubu, Downing and Koumas to try desperately to get one past excellent custodians Chris Kirkland and Mark Schwarzer, but in vain. Prediction: 0-0