Sportingo’s Mark Apostolou has predicted the season’s results with disturbing success so far, here’s his latest offering.
Bolton v Everton: (Kick-off 3pm, Saturday)
Fresh for a great win at home to Reading and safe in the knowledge that star striker Nicolas Anelka has committed himself to the club, Sammy Lee can rest a little easier at the Reebok. David Moyes has been busy in recent days getting new players in, with Yakubu on board and possibly Stephen Appiah and even Juan Riquelme to arrive before the transfer window snaps shut at midnight. A tight call but Wanderers to triumph by the odd goal. Prediction: 2-1 to Bolton.
Fulham v Tottenham: (Kickoff 3pm, Saturday)
Lawrie Sanchez has reason to believe that the league table is lying. His side’s positioning near the foot of the table is a little unfair when you consider that they were leading in the three defeats they have suffered against Arsenal, Boro and Aston Villa and lost only in the dying minutes. They will provide a stern test for Spurs. This game is predicted to be a must win for Martin Jol, who could face the sack should he not secure three points. Spurs were unlucky to lose at Old Trafford but the short trip to West London will not prove so problematic.
Prediction: 2-0 to Spurs.
Liverpool v Derby: (Kick-off 3pm, Saturday)
But for the unfairly awarded penalty against Chelsea, Rafa’s men would have a 100% record across all competitions by now. They swept past Roy Keane’s Sunderland with ease and despite problems keeping everyone in their squad happy with first team football, there seems little to suggest that Benitez cannot, in fact, challenge for all major honours this season. Derby have been desperately searching for a striker this past week with both Darius Vassell and David Nugent linked with a move to Pride Park. I expect things will get better for Billy Davies’s side but not at Anfield. Prediction: 4-0 to Liverpool.
Middlesbrough v Birmingham City: (Kick-off 3pm, Saturday)
Two sides expected to be near the drop-zone seem comfortable at present. Gareth Southgate’s decision to bring in Mido seems to have paid dividends and he looks pretty sharp at present. Birmingham got their first win of the season at Derby and looked fairly strong going forward. Steve Bruce will hope that his defence continues to get used to each other and make them more solid. Neither side has a clean sheet to brag about in the Premier League, I reckon this is going to be very tight but I fancy Boro to sneak it. Prediction: 2-1 to Boro.
Newcastle v Wigan: (Kick-off 3pm, Saturday)
Unbeaten Newcastle were glad to see Michael Owen end his long wait for a Toon goal when he netted in the Carling cup midweek. It’s been a long ordeal for the England man who has not scored in the Premier League since before Christmas, 2005. Sam Allardyce is likely to make some late purchases to bolster his squad before midnight tonight, and therefore further improve his sides chances of progress. Chris Hutchings’ Wigan side have surprised many in recent weeks and they were unlucky not to come away with another victory at Upton Park last weekend. They sit in the top four currently but I’m sure that even the most imaginative Latics fan isn’t getting too carried away. They may have enough in their locker to avoid the drop and maybe even into mid-table. This too will be close, but Owen and Sibierski look good for goals. Prediction: 2-1 to United.
Reading v West Ham: (Kick-off 3pm, Saturday)
West Ham have never beaten the Royals on home soil. In fact I’m sure every Hammer remembers with dread their 6-0 drubbing in January. Alan Curbishley may or may not have secured the signing of Nicky Shorey by the time this one kicks-off. One bid has already been turned down. Steve Coppell’s side were brushed aside all too easily by Bolton last weekend and the performance in that game was such a marked drop from their fighting spirit shown in their openers against Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton, that it’s got to have left the boss scratching his head. He will be looking for answers but I fancy the Hammers, with or without Adriano or Shorey, to come away with a historical win to help their fans banish the demon of New Year’s Day. Prediction: 2-1 to West Ham
Man United v Sunderland: (Kick-off 5.15, Saturday)
Roy Keane returns to his old stamping (no Haaland reference intended) ground with a wealth of new players at his disposal after a late transfer spree designed to give his Black Cats some strength in depth. Sir Alex has seemingly decided against panic buying in order to fill his gaping hole up front, and it will be interesting to see how his former goal machines, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, perform on their return to Old Trafford. Seen by many as potential successor to Ferguson at the helm of United, Keane will be happy to come away from the game with a point and a standing ovation, but I’m afraid the Irishman will have to settle for the adulation alone. Prediction: 2-0 to United.
Arsenal v Portsmouth: (Kick-off 1.30, Sunday)
Having successfully eased into the Champions League proper and given his squad players a nice boost in the process, things seem to continue to look pretty steady at the Emirates post-Henry. They fought past ManchesterÂ City, and particularly their keeper, last weekend. I don’t expect that the arrival of Pompey will be as tough, but Arsene Wenger has more than enough to deal with Harry Redknapp’s side, who experienced their first defeat of the season at Stamford Bridge. David Nugent got off the mark midweek against Leeds in the Carling Cup, but it seems likely that he will be elsewhere by the time this game gets underway. Prediction: 3-0 to Arsenal.
Aston Villa v Chelsea: (Kick-off 4pm, Sunday)
Villa Park is something of a bogy ground for Jose and Chelsea. Their last league win there came under Gianluca Vialli, and I fancy this game to produce the shock of the weekend. Martin O’Neill is continuing his revolution, albeit at a fairly sedate pace. They sneaked a win over Fulham last weekend and Villa are rapidly turning into one of those sides that are very hard to beat. O’Neill will hope to have secured the signing of Curtis Davies to go with new arrival Zat Knight. Mourinho is apparently keen on making one or two last minute purchases and even though his side sits on top of the league I don’t think any Blues fan can claim that they areÂ firing on all cylinders just yet. Prediction: 1-0 to Villa.
Blackburn v Man City: (Kick-off 3pm, Sunday)
Two sets of fans that must be pretty jubilant right now. Two teams that have started the season so very well. A total of 17 bookings and a red card came in the three games that Blackburn and Man City played last season and I predict a similarly high card count this time. Mark Hughes’s side have the upper hand in these local meetings, having won the last four, but I have this one down as a score draw with much card action to boot. Prediction: 1-1 draw.
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