Premier League Predictions 4 February 2012

Seven matches take place on Saturday 4 February with teams boosted by their deadline day arrivals. Arsenal and Manchester City will be keen to get back to winning ways with home fixtures against Blackburn Rovers and Fulham, while there is a relegation six pointer happening at Loftus Road when Queens Park Rangers take on Wolves.

Arsenal vs Blackburn Rovers

This could be a potential banana skin for Arsenal who are yet to win in 2012. However, a goalless draw at Bolton midweek stopped the rot to some degree and at the very least, prevented their first four-match losing streak under Arsene Wenger.

Even though Blackburn are a tough side to beat on their travels – they have only lost five of their last 15 on the road – Wenger will no doubt see this fixture as a means to get back to winning ways.

The Gunners have an excellent record against Rovers – prior to last season’s goalless draw, they had won seven successive home league matches.

Robin Van Persie has scored 10 goals in 12 matches against Blackburn and with Chris Samba not playing, Rovers defence is not as strong as it could be.

Verdict: Arsenal @ 1.3 (Betfred)

Norwich City vs Bolton Wanderers

The statistics suggest this will be a goalfest due to the dire defensive records of both teams. Norwich have kept one clean sheet this season while Bolton have managed just one match in their last 37 on the road where they haven’t conceded a goal.

The Canaries have struggled in front of goal in recent matches. While Chelsea and Spurs can be forgiven, Paul Lambert’s side could only muster a last minute goal against poor travellers Fulham.

Bolton have boosted their attacking options with Watford striker Marvin Sordell and managed to keep hold of Kevin Davies but I think the home side will edge this one.

Verdict: Norwich City @ 2.1 (Betfred)

Queens Park Rangers vs Wolves

There will be huge expectation on QPR to win this match despite struggling at the wrong end of the table themselves. Mark Hughes will be optimistic in that his side lead at Aston Villa 2-0 before drawing the game 2-2, but a leaky defence is a major cause for concern.

Even with the arrivals of Taye Taiwo and Nedum Onuoha, Rangers’ back line still looked shaky and Wolves will feel they can get something from this game. Steven Fletcher is in form and has scored in each of his last four on the road while the arrival of Sebastien Bassong from Spurs will bolster their defence.

But, let’s not pretend Wolves are something special. They are second from bottom for a reason and have won just once away from home. With new signing Djibril Cisse up front, Rangers for once look like they have a dangerous striker on their books.

Verdict: Queens Park Rangers @ 1.62 (Ladbrokes)

Stoke City vs Sunderland

In recent seasons this fixture would have been marked down as a home win but things are a little more complicated this term. Stoke have been relatively poor at the Britannia Stadium this season, winning just four of their 11 home matches.

Four draws and three defeats suggest they are tough to beat which is why I am not going to rave about Sunderland’s chances here, despite their remarkable turnaround in form since Martin O’Neill took over.

In 11 matches since O’Neill took over, the Black Cats have won seven, drawn two and lost two, but they could get a reality check against a physical Tony Pulis side.

Verdict: Draw @ 3.4 (Sky Bet)

West Bromwich Albion vs Swansea City

West Brom have tumbled down the table and Norwich City were correctly predicted to beat them at the Hawthorns last weekend. Just two home victories in 11, scoring eight goals in the process is the form of a team battling against the drop.

Much has been said about Swansea’s passing game and quite frankly, the comparisons with Barcelona are ridiculous. For a start, Barcelona win away from home, something that the Swans struggle to do.

One victory, three draws and seven defeats on the road is the reason Swansea are still not out of relegation danger but taking into consideration West Brom’s wretched home form, they cannot be backed with any confidence either. Bore draw, anyone?

Verdict: Draw @ 3.4 (Bet Victor)

Wigan Athletic vs Everton

I have tried to view Wigan positively in the last few weeks, giving credibility to their fighting spirit but the fact is, for all their bluster, they are a poor side.

Roberto Martinez’s side have been beaten six times at home already this season and face an Everton side full of confidence. The Toffees beat high-flying Manchester City midweek and have a good away record against the Premier League’s strugglers this season – beating West Brom, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers.

Manager David Moyes also has some depth in the squad following the arrivals of Steven Pienaar, Nikica Jelavic and Darron Gibson – scorer of the winning goal against Manchester City.

Verdict: Everton @ 2.2 (Boylesports)

Manchester City vs Fulham

January has been a poor month by City’s standards. Even though they won three of their five Premier League fixtures, two defeats at Sunderland and Everton mean their lead at the top of the table has been reduced to goal difference.

However, City are perfect at the Etihad – winning 11 out of 11, scoring 34 goals and conceding just six in the process. They will be expected to continue this sequence against Fulham, who are notoriously poor on the road. Just one win in 11 and scoring seven goals in the process does not bode well against a side abundant in attacking options.

City are boosted by the return of Vincent Kompany in defence and they have added to their midfield options with the loan arrival of David Pizarro. Fulham sold Bobby Zamora to QPR on deadline day but brought in striker Pavel Pogrebnyak from Stuttgart.

Verdict: Manchester City @ 1.3 (Paddy Power)

Premier League Predictions 21 January 2012

Eight matches take place in the Premier League on Saturday 21 January, including a huge relegation six-pointer at Loftus Road where QPR host rock-bottom Wigan Athletic. Wolves face their second Midlands derby in a matter of days when they tackle Aston Villa while both Chelsea and Liverpool will be expected to record away victories at Norwich and Bolton respectively.

Norwich City vs Chelsea

After a difficult December, Chelsea look to be getting back on track and could take all three points at Carrow Road. January has seen the Blues win both Premier League matches against Wolves and Sunderland, while Portsmouth were spanked 4-0 in the FA Cup.

Norwich have also won all three fixtures in January, winning at both QPR and West Brom in the league and recording a 4-1 victory against Burnley in the FA Cup. Very similar results to Chelsea in fact.

The Canaries weakness is their defence and Paul Lambert’s side have not kept a clean sheet all season. Chelsea have also looked shaky at the back but that will be remedied by the £7 million arrival of defender Gary Cahill, who could make his debut on Saturday. Norwich will be up for this but Chelsea will edge it.

Verdict: Chelsea @ 1.62 (Paddy Power)

Everton vs Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn Rovers have hauled themselves out of the relegation zone after some decent form in recent weeks. Back-t0-back defeats against Newcastle and Stoke were sandwiched between a draw at Liverpool and victories against Manchester United and Fulham.

Steve Kean’s side were magnificent in their victory against Fulham last weekend. Wantaway defender Chris Samba didn’t play while top goalscorer Yakubu was sent off. Yet, Rovers still managed to fire in three goals and keep poor travellers Fulham to just one.

Everton are a team in mixed form. An unbeaten four-match run which produced two wins and two draws at the back end of December leading into the New Year was followed up by a dismal home defeat against rock-bottom Bolton. Blackburn are tough to beat on the road and a dour draw looks the call here.

Verdict: Draw @ 4.0 (Bet Victor)

Fulham vs Newcastle United

With Demba Ba, Cheick Tiote and now new signing Papiss Cisse all away on Africa Cup of Nations duty, Newcastle United are not such an exciting betting proposition. They laboured their way to a 1-0 home victory against struggling QPR last weekend and may find a trip to Craven Cottage a lot more difficult.

Fulham followed up a memorable home victory against Arsenal with a humiliating 3-1 defeat at Blackburn last week and Martin Jol’s team are difficult to predict. They are still six points from the relegation zone but a couple of bad results could see them slip closer to danger.

Fulham’s home record is the same as Newcastle’s away: four wins, three draws and three defeats. Neither sequence inspires confidence here with all three results just as likely. A draw may be the sensible option.

Verdict: Draw @ 3.5 (Betfred)

Queens Park Rangers vs Wigan Athletic

A real relegation six pointer and one I fancy Wigan will be up for more than their hosts. QPR were not convincing in their midweek FA Cup victory against League One side MK Dons and on another day could have lost. They also offered little in a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle last weekend.

Mark Hughes has his work cut out against rock-bottom Wigan who put up a fighting display against Manchester City on Monday night and were unlucky not to get anything out of the match. Roberto Martinez’s strugglers have won at West Brom and Sunderland this season and also held the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal to a draw.

It would be easy to pick a draw in this match but Wigan showed enough on Monday they will up for the fight on Saturday. QPR may turn their season around thanks to a glut of new signings but those reinforcements won’t arrive until after this weekend.

Verdict: Wigan @ 4.0 (Ladbrokes)

Stoke City vs West Bromwich Albion

West Brom are being dragged into the dogfight at the bottom of the table and their status as relegation candidates was compounded by a home defeat by Norwich last weekend. Roy Hodgson’s side are still five points clear of the bottom three but they need more to give themselves some breathing space.

With Stoke sitting in eighth position you may think this should be a routine home win. However, the Baggies may be dire at home, but away from the Hawthorns they are a much different proposition with four wins and two draws out of 10 matches.

West Brom have won two of their last three fixtures on the road, beating both Blackburn and Newcastle. While Stoke have a solid home record with four wins, four draws and just two defeats, consecutive stalemates against Aston Villa and Wigan suggest they could be in for a shock on Saturday.

Verdict: West Brom @ 4.33 (Paddy Power)

Sunderland vs Swansea City

After Swansea played Arsenal off the park for much of their 3-2 victory last Sunday, Sunderland should not pose too much of a problem. But, much of Swansea’s success this season is down to their inspired home form – five wins, five draws and just one defeat at the Liberty Stadium compared to just one win, three draws and six defeats away.

Sunderland are similar. Decent enough at home but prone to defeat on the road. Since Martin O’Neill took charge, the Black Cats have lost just twice in eight Premier League matches and were good value in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Chelsea by all accounts.

This will be a close match but given home advantage and Swansea’s poor away record, Sunderland will just edge this one.

Verdict: Sunderland @ 1.91 (bet365)

Wolves vs Aston Villa

This will be Wolves’ second Midlands derby in the space of a few days and another they may finish as the losing side. Mick McCarthy’s side were dumped out of the FA Cup after a home defeat by Championship side Birmingham City and face a difficult travelling outfit in Villa.

Alex McLeish’s side are heading into lower mid-table territory but have lost just two in 10 on the road this season. Admittedly, six have ended as draws with just two victories but it shows the battling spirit required for a local derby such as this.

Wolves rested Steve Fletcher midweek and the nine-goal striker will be raring to go. If Villa can keep him quiet then Wolves will struggle to score and may be able to nick a victory for themselves.

Verdict: Aston Villa @ 2.9 (Sky Bet)

Bolton Wanderers vs Liverpool

Liverpool have an excellent record against Bolton, winning the last 10 meetings home and away.  Bolton last tasted victory against the Reds in September 2006, when the late Gary Speed and Ivan Campo scored the goals in a 2-0 win.

Liverpool clearly like playing Bolton and it is difficult to oppose them on Saturday. Kenny Dalglish’s side may have dropped points at home to Stoke last weekend, but with league and Cup games coming thick and fast, you cannot be expected to win every match.

It’s not a great price for an away win given Liverpool’s hit-and-miss form on the road (five wins, one draw and four defeats) and while Bolton are in mixed form, they have lost eight out of 10 at home this season and could be beaten again on Saturday evening.

Verdict: Liverpool @ 1.67 (Coral)

Wigan Athletic vs Manchester City Betting

Top visits bottom on Monday night when Manchester City travel to Wigan Athletic. But, the result may not be as straightforward as you think.

First of all, let’s get all the negative stuff about rock-bottom Wigan out of the way:

  • They have not won in five matches and have a poor home record with just one win in 10 – on a par with fellow relegation candidates Bolton Wanderers and QPR.
  • They are the most shot-shy side in the league – scoring just 18 goals in 20 matches this season.
  • They are prone to conceding late goals – 11 in the last 15 minutes during their league matches this campaign is more than any other team.

But, for all their weaknesses they have a tendency to grind out results against some of the better teams in the division. In December, they earned successive home draws against both Liverpool and Chelsea and earlier this season they pulled off unexpected away victories at West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland.

Not many will give the Latics much hope against a City team that has beaten them in their last four league matches without conceding a goal, but Roberto Mancini’s side are not in great form away from home. They have not won on the road in their last four league attempts and have not scored a goal in their last two.

It is also worth pointing out that until last season, Wigan had an excellent home record in the Premier League against City with three wins and two draws. A 2-0 defeat at the JJB Stadium in September 2010 brought that excellent run to an end.

City are likely to be boosted by the return of David Silva but striker Mario Balotelli, who limped off the field during the Carling Cup defeat by Liverpool is doubtful. They will of course be without the suspended Vincent Kompany and the Toure brothers, Kolo and Yaya.

Like the Toure’s, Wigan midfielder Mohamed Diame is on Africa Cup of Nations duty but winger Albert Crusat has recovered from a back injury.

Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi has arguably been Roberto Martinez’s best player this season and he will need to be in inspired form if the relegation strugglers are to frustrate their big-spending rivals.

Verdict: Draw @ 4.6 (Bet Victor)

Other Results:

  • Wigan Athletic @ 9.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Manchester City @ 1.44 (bet365)

First Goalscorer

If he starts, Sergio Aguero @ 4.75 (bet365), is the favourite to score the first goal and the bookmakers are taking no chances with the odds on him doing so. Aguero has found the net 14 times in 19 Premier League appearances this season.

More First Goalscorers:

  • Mario Balotelli @ 5.0 (Betfred)
  • Edin Dzeko @ 5.5 (Coral)
  • David Silva @ 7.5 (Paddy Power)
  • Samir Nasri @ 8.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Adam Johnson @ 9.0 (Coral)
  • Hugo Rodallega @ 11.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Connor Sammon @ 13.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Franco Di Santo @ 13.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Callum McManaman @ 15.0 (bet365)
  • Denis Suarez @ 15.0 (Sky Bet)
  • James Milner @ 15.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Victor Moses @ 17.0 (Paddy Power)
  • No Goalscorer@ 17.0 (Ladbrokes)

Anytime Goalscorer

An interesting prospect to find the net at any time during the match is Ben Watson @ 8.5 (Paddy Power). The Wigan midfielder has scored three times in the league this season, two of which came from the penalty spot. Incidentally, Wigan have been awarded six penalties this season, more than any other top flight team.

More Anytime Goalscorers:

  • Sergio Aguero @ 2.0 (Betfred)
  • Mario Balotelli @ 2.1 (Betfred)
  • Edin Dzeko @ 2.1 (Betfred)
  • David Silva @ 2.88 (Paddy Power)
  • Samir Nasri @ 3.4 (Sky Bet)
  • Adam Johnson @ 3.4 (Paddy Power)
  • Hugo Rodallega @ 4.5 (Sky Bet)
  • Connor Sammon @ 5.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Franco Di Santo @ 5.0 (Paddy Power)
  • James Milner @ 5.5 (Sky Bet)
  • Aleksandar Kolarov @ 6.5 (Sky Bet)
  • Jordi Gomez @ 7.0 (Paddy Power)

Correct Score

With City out of form away from home and Wigan’s propensity to get results against perceived “bigger” teams, I am predicting a 1-1 @ 9.5 (Sportingbet) scoreline.

More Correct Scores:

  • Wigan Athletic 1-0 @ 23.0 (Coral)
  • Wigan Athletic 2-0 @ 51.0 (Betfred)
  • Wigan Athletic 2-1 @ 23.o (Bet Victor)
  • Wigan Athletic 3-0 @ 176.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Wigan Athletic 3-1 @ 81.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Draw 0-0 @ 17.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Draw 2-2 @ 23.0 (Betfred)
  • Manchester City 1-0 @ 9.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Manchester City 2-0 @ 8.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Manchester City 2-1 @ 9.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Manchester City 3-0 @ 11.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Manchester City 3-1 @ 11.0 (bet365)
  • Manchester City 4-0 @ 19.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Manchester City 5-0 @ 41.0 (Boylesports)
  • Manchester City 6-0 @ 101.0 (Boylesports)