In the first round of Premier League predictions, Dom Kureen takes on Tottenham Hotspur fan and former beach soccer star DJ Rees – three points are awarded for an exact result and one point for predicting the correct outcome (all matches kick off Saturday at 3pm unless stated.)
West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal
Dom: 1 – 2
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has received a fan backlash since his troops lost 2-1 to a Manchester United side who only managed a single shot on target last weekend. The pressure will be temporarily alleviated with a narrow victory at the Hawthorns against a frustratingly inconsistent Baggies team.
Early season, early concern for Arsenal, who were unfortunate to suffer defeat against Manchester United last weekend. West Brom too often fail to capitalise on the opportunities they create, having netted just once in their previous three fixtures. Expect Arsenal fans to be kissing Wenger’s feet again by the start of 2015.
Burnley vs Aston Villa
Two wins on the spin have propelled Burnley from the foot of the table, with Danny Ings in particular catching the eye. Fellow basement dwellers Aston Villa have also improved recently, with two successive stalemates ending a six match losing streak, expect the Midland side’s upward surge to continue at Turf Moor.
Villa secured a hard fought point against Southampton on Monday night and I expect them to prosper at the expense of a Burnley team who have won their previous two matches despite spending the majority of those 180+ minutes on the back foot.
Liverpool vs Stoke City
The Reds are one of a clutch of ‘big’ teams to have made an underwhelming start to the campaign, but a decent result in Europe during mid-week should boost the confidence of fans and players, ensuring they hold on for a nervy three points after battling Stoke grab a 70th minute Victor Moses goal to keep Anfield on tenterhooks.
Liverpool continued their poor form post-Suarez last weekend with a miserable 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace. To make matters worse for Brendan Rodgers and co, Stoke City are a team who give no merit to reputation, having already taken three points at Man City and Spurs. I’ll take the struggling Scousers to gain temporary respite with a nervy 1-0 win.
Manchester United vs Hull City
Two unpredictable teams face off at Old Trafford, with Manchester United keen to build on last weekend’s Emirates Stadium success. An irresistible attack and world class goalkeeper are undermined by the Red Devils’ woeful back-line. Hatem Ben-Arfa should prosper against this rabble, but United will have too much for Hull in the offensive third.
United’s smash and grab victory last weekend papered over the cracks; exceptional offensive prowess is undermined by a patched up defensive line that regularly owe debts of gratitude to the outstanding David De Gea. Hull impressed in defeat against Spurs, but were undone by the daft dismissal of Gaston Ramirez – they’ll struggle to contain Rooney, Di Maria et al.
Queens Park Rangers vs Leicester City
A 6-pointer already? Early season optimism has evaporated at the (horribly named) King Power Stadium and big money signing Leonardo Ulloa is suffering a Sahara level goal drought. Conversely, fellow Premier League newbies QPR look increasingly at home among the elite – Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora will enjoy facing the Foxes’ sluggish defence.
Two newly promoted sides meet at Loftus Road, having enjoyed very different starts to the campaign. The Foxes got off to a flyer, but have lost their way and Rangers have almost done the opposite. They will probably cancel each other out on the day.
Swansea vs Crystal Palace
Both teams performed well last weekend, but it was Palace with the meatier scalp, having dispatched Liverpool 3-1 at Selhurst Park. The Swans glide through games at home and they shouldn’t have too much trouble continuing that trend on Saturday.
Swansea were labelled as one of the pre-season relegation favourites, only to approach the end of November within touching distance of the top four. Engineering the return of Gylfi Sigurdsson was a transfer master stroke. Palace are the definition of inconsistency, but rarely boring. On this occasion they’ll leave Wales empty handed.
West Ham United vs Newcastle United
Mid-table on paper, both clubs are punching above their weight thus far. Newcastle have won six in a row to ease the early season pressure on boss Alan Pardew. Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan will look forward to facing their former employers – I envision the giant Geordie denying his boyhood favourites the points with his first goals of the season.
Pardew was odds-on to win the sack race just over a month ago, with his side at the foot of the table – it seems infeasible that they now sit in fifth. Diafra Sakho has been a revelation for the Hammers. I can see a goal-fest with a contentious penalty decision supplying the main post-match talking point.
Sunderland vs Chelsea
The Mackems are difficult to figure out, with an uninspiring group punctuated by a couple of exciting performers such as Adam Johnson. They’ll dig in, ultimately coming unstuck against the champions elect, with Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and co having the ancient Wes Brown and John O’Shea on toast.
The last time these two sides met Sunderland ended Jose Mourinho’s 77-match unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge. This time the Black Cats have a chance to end Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season. That won’t happen, with Costa, Hazard and Cesc Fabregas dominating proceedings.
Southampton vs Manchester City
Second meets third in this top of the table clash, Saints having been a revelation so far this term. They’ll finally come unstuck against a City side basking in the glow of Tuesday night’s 3-2 Champions League victory over Bayern Munich, where the white hot Sergio Aguero netted a sublime hat-trick.
Players sold, manager replaced; who would have thought that Southampton would have started the season so well? With the best defensive record in the league who would bet against their run continuing?… Actually I would! City seem to have their mojo back and will win an entertaining encounter by the odd goal in five.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton
Both Spurs and Everton qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday, with plenty of squad players given the chance to shine. The Premier League has been a bit of a damp squib by comparison, with neither team able to sustain any reasonable form. The Toffees are usually chewed up by the 75th minute and that’s about when Spurs wake up. 1-1 with Erik Dier levelling late on.
Tottenham have only won one home game in the league all season (4-0 vs QPR) and often look nervous in front of their own supporters. Everton were the surprise package of 2013-14, but have been patchy so far this time round. Spurs will turn a corner here, with Lukaku grabbing a late consolation for the visitors.
What do you think of our predictions? Check in again after the matches to see if it’s Dom or DJ who wins this round.