The Pitch is Back Weekly Preview

It’s back…the Premier League returns and not a moment to soon for our bored football fans. There are some cracking games this week too. We are into gameweek 9 of the league and that’s almost a quarter of the way through. The lead up to christmas is always exciting for me, it’s when some of the best football is played. This weekend there is a London Derby, Tottenham take on Chelsea at White Hart Lane and a Northern derby between Sunderland and Newcastle. Both are set to be the games of the weekend. My predictions from 2 weeks ago were pretty good I got 7/10, hopefully I can predict better this weekend.

Tottenham v Chelsea

Andre Villa-Boas has the pleasure of his new team taking on his old team this weekend in a much talked about London Derby. AVB will be keen to get a win over Chelsea and Di Matteo will be wanting his team to stay unbeaten. Spurs haven’t won any of their last 5 games against Chelsea, and Chelsea are on a winning streak after winning their last 5.  Both are sitting comfortably at the top part of the league with Chelsea in 1st spot and Spurs in 3rd, so this game is a pretty hard one to call. It really could go either way, Spurs are at home but Chelsea are on form.

Injury News-

Tottenham- Scott Parker is out until Christmas now. Kyle Naughton and Jake Livermore return to the team.

Chelsea- John Terry Suspended, Ryan Bertrand (Virus), Frank Lampard (calf). Daniel Sturridge returns.

Players to Watch- Gareth Bale, Fernando Torres

Prediction- Draw

Fulham v Aston Villa

Fulham take on Villa at Craven Cottage on Saturday. The last 6 times these teams have met Fulham have failed to win any of the games. Aston Villa seem to be improving every week and despite having a bad away record I think they will come out and give Fulham a good game. Fulham will probably play a defensive game and I expect Lambert will go for an attacking strategy.

Injury News

Fulham-Brian Ruiz(thigh). Dmitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric are both back to full fitness.

Aston Villa-probable return of Steven Ireland

Players to Watch- Damian Duff, Christian Benteke

Prediction- Away Win

Liverpool v Reading

Liverpool are having a bit of a hard start to the season and have major injury concerns in the striker department.  I bet Brendan Rodgers is regretting sending Andy Carroll off to West Ham now. Reading have a full bill of health and will be looking to get their first win of the season from this game to move further up the table. Liverpool are yet to have a home win this season and despite their form they are the favourites.

Injury News

Liverpool- Fabio Borini (ankle), Pepe Reina is having a late fitness test after picking up a thigh injury. Jonjo Shelvey returns after suspension.

Reading- Noel Hunt is having late fitness test after a heel injury

Players to Watch-Raheem Sterling, Jobi McAnuff

Prediction- Home Win

Manchester United v Stoke City

Despite not quite having the form of last season Man U are still up there in 2nd place and they have good results behind them. Stoke haven’t got the best record against United only having a point from their last 12 meetings. Stoke are not an easy team for the bigger clubs to beat and they have played very well defensively. Man u have had some defensive issues this season and that might cause a problem. Man u are the obvious favourites to win this but I think Stoke will give them a good game.

Injury News

Manchester United-Ashley Young returns after 2 months out. Possibility of Rio starting on Saturday.

Stoke City-Michael Owen and Glen Whelan will have late fitness tests. Andy Wilkinson returns from suspension

Players to Watch- Robin Van Persie, Michael Kightly

Prediction-Draw

Swansea v Wigan

The last time Swansea visited the DW stadium there were Judas jibes directed at Martinez, who has played for and managed both clubs. I think the loss of Brendan Rodgers might have taken over that annoyance at him.  Both teams will be looking for their first win in 5 games and they will definitely come out with some gusto. There have also been red cards in 3 out 4 games that these two played. I enjoy watching this game, it’s always a pretty good one.

Injury News

Swansea-Kemy Augustien (calf) is back.

Wigan- Crusat (knee), Figueroa and Beausejour face late fitness test after Internationals

Players to Watch-Michu, Arouna Kone

Prediction- Home Win

West Brom v Manchester City

This will be one of the rare times that West Brom will actually go into this game with some confidence that they could possibly get a result from this game. Clarkey’s boys are having a fantastic start, they are only one point behind Man City and could go ahead of them if they win. You could say Man City are too due to their place in the league but they played better football last season I think. Man City would generally be the favourites of this game but I think West Brom could do it.

Injury News

West Brom-Mulumba (niggle), Reid and Brunt both Hamstring, Myhill (thumb) Jones (knee). Lukaku returns after after a knee injury.

Manchester City- David Silva (knee)

Players to Watch- Shane Long, Sergio Aguero

Prediction- risky choice but I think Home Win

West Ham v Southampton

The two newly promoted teams have had very different starts, West Ham have had the better one and are 8th in the league, they lost their last game against Arsenal but they played really well. Southampton have been slightly unlucky in terms of fixtures but their defence is the biggest issue. They have conceded 20 goals in 7 fixtures. Both teams will be missing their main strikers so scoring will be important for them.

Injury News

West Ham- Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder). Reid (back) and Demel (thigh) face late fitness tests.

Southampton- Gaston Ramirez (dead leg), Frazer Richardson(thigh). Nathaniel Clyne is set to return

Players to Watch- Kevin Nolan, Jay Rodriguez

Prediction-Home Win

Norwich v Arsenal

The Canaries are still yet to win a game this season, a bad run of results has left them sitting at the bottom of the league. It has been a hard start for them under new manager Chris Hughton and their biggest problem is their leaky defence. They will need to tighten this up for Saturday’s game. Arsenal are on great form at the moment, the players look strong and very much on form. They are scoring goals and despite the belief that they would be lost without Van Persie they actually seem better. I think this will be a hard game for Norwich with Arsenal on scoring form.

Injury News

Norwich- No new injury news

Arsenal- possible return of Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna. Theo Walcott is out with chest and lung injury, Koscielny (back), Gibbs (thigh)

Players to Watch- Santi Cazorla, Grant Holt

Prediction-Away win

Sunderland v Newcastle

This Northern Derby is set to be a cracker of a game. I am so looking forward to watching this game. Everytime the two sides meet there is always a game full of drama. Last year it was Pardew and O’Neill that had to be kept apart after they kept on trying to row with each other. Both teams are within a point of each other and neither will want the other team to be above them. With Newcastle having the better history in terms of results between these two, I think Sunderland will be looking to make this one go their way.

Injury News

Sunderland- McClean returns after groin injury, Titus Bramble will have a late fitness test after a hip flexor problem.

Newcastle- Lee Cattermole, Tim Krul and Steven Taylor all returned to training this week.

Players to Watch- Stephane Sessignon, Demba Ba.

Prediction- Home Win

Queens Park Rangers  v Everton

Qpr manager Hughes had a tidy amount of money to spend over the summer and despite making more signings than any other club Qpr are not winning any games. Despite reiterating this week that he has happy with Hughes, Fernandes must be getting slightly concerned with the results. Everton seem to be on a dream roll at the moment, what a fantastic team they have been to watch so far this season. This game seems to be the easiest but unfortunate one to predict this week.

Injury News

QPR-Fabio (hamstring), Johnson (knee)

Everton- Fellaini (knee), Gibson (thigh) and Hibbert (calf)

Players to Watch- Ji Sung Park, Nikica Jelavic.

Prediction- Away Win

So a great weekend of fixtures for us all to watch this weekend. Beats International games anyday. Hope you all enjoy 🙂

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