Last weekend’s inaugural edition of Premier League Predictions saw Dom Kureen test his psychic powers against former England beach soccer international DJ Rees. It was the sand lurking sharp shooter who prospered, crushing the host’s modest five points with an outstanding three exact results and two other correct outcomes for 11 points of his own.
This time it’s the turn of a man some say owns the main cottage for cottage cheese distribution, others say he has a tongue made of wax and oat flapjacks – to those who are closest to him he’s ‘Just Mike’.
*All matches: kick off Tuesday, 19.45 unless stated.
Burnley vs Newcastle United
Two sides whose recent winning runs came to an end last weekend. The Toon’s 1-0 reverse at Upton Park was compounded by a slew of suspensions and injuries – their depleted troops might just have enough to repel Danny Ings and co.
With both teams prone to bouts of substandard defending it should be an open game at Turf Moor. Newcastle in particular have a lot of defenders missing, hopefully forcing them onto the front foot to compensate, although in Danny Ings the Clarets have one of the league’s in-form marksmen.
Leicester City vs Liverpool
Glen Johnson’s last gasp winner against Stoke on Saturday dissipated some of the gloom surrounding the Kop. Leicester’s thrilling defeat in a five goal thriller at QPR was the latest in a string of setbacks, with the Foxes in free-fall. Liverpool to click, Leicester to feel sick.
Liverpool’s late winner at the weekend failed to mask the lack of innovative quality currently afflicting the side. The same shortcomings will be highlighted at The King Power Stadium, with Leicester over compensating for the weekend’s goal fest by ‘parking the bus’.
Manchester United vs Stoke City
United are belatedly showing signs of a pulse, with their much maligned back line and the previously out of form Robin Van Persie impressing during a 4-0 blitz against Hull City at the weekend. Stoke are solid and with Bojan beginning to adapt – the Potters seem set for their standard mid-table finish despite defeat here.
It’s probably too late for Manchester United to mount a serious tilt at the Premier League title, but with their collective fire power Old Trafford should welcome back Champions League action next season. Their resurgent form should be enough to see off stubborn Stoke.
Swansea vs Queens Park Rangers
The Swans have been frustrating in recent weeks, their aesthetically gratifying build up play too often lacking a clinical touch in the final third. The Hoops are in a rich vein of form and with Charlie Austin on fire they’ll run their hosts close.
Swansea’s Liberty Stadium points haul is the main reason why they currently sit pretty in the table. A disappointing 1-1 draw at home against Crystal Palace should be remedied by a comfortable victory against Harry Redknapp’s relegation battlers, although Bobby Zamora and Charlie Austin could prove to be a handful.
Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa
Two teams struggling to rise above the league’s nadir, Palace do at least attempt to do more than simply stifle their opponents (Villa’s trademark under Paul Lambert). Expect this to be last on Wednesday’s Match of The Day running order.
This has lack of quality written all over it, although the return of Christian Benteke will afford Aston Villa supporters some cheer during the festive season. Under Neil Warnock Palace have turned Selhurst Park into a difficult arena for visiting teams, that coupled with Villa’s lack of imagination should ensure that the Eagles take the spoils.
West Bromwich Albion vs West Ham United
West Brom’s promising start is in danger of going to waste if their current poor run continues. With Saido Berahino in razor sharp form and Andy Carroll yet to open his seasonal account, the Baggies might just squeak by here.
West Ham have reinvented themselves this season, with an eye-catching counter-attacking style to their play. Since the return of Andy Carroll from injury they’ve admittedly resorted to a more direct approach, but with West Brom unable to muster shots on goal at the moment it’s hard to see them avoiding defeat in front of their patient fans.
Arsenal vs Southampton
The Gunners have one of the softest centres among Europe’s elite clubs, lacking leadership and a robust element to their spine. A 3-0 thumping at the hands of Manchester City brought high-flying Saints down to earth at the weekend, expect more of the same at the Emirates.
Two teams slowly finding their place in the league come head to head in North London, with Southampton keen to prove they’ve got the staying power to mount a Champions League charge. Expect goals, cards and controversy during a highly charged contest.
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
A pair of clubs with different lofty aspirations; Chelsea will view anything less than the 2014-15 Premier League crown as anticlimactic, while Spurs know that a top four finish is well within their grasp in this most unpredictable of seasons. The latter’s fragile defence is likely to be exposed at Stamford Bridge, although it will be far from one way traffic.
Jose Mourinho has built a squad with the quality and depth to challenge on all fronts. Tottenham did well to snatch a couple of 2-1 wins against the run of play last month, but will struggle in south London, with Chelsea running out comfortable winners on the night.
Everton vs Hull City
Everton gave a decent account of themselves during their 2-1 loss at White Hart Lane on Sunday, and although some of their big hitters are yet to come to the party they should win with something to spare against a Tigers side of diminishing potency and increasing predictability.
Hull started the season with vigour and belief, something that has since been quashed by a combination of half-hearted forward players and unfortunate decisions. Everton remain unconvincing, struggling to juggle Europa League and domestic football, for that reason I’m backing Steve Bruce to return to the Yorkshire with three much needed points.
Sunderland vs Manchester City
The Mackems are a strange bunch, reserving their better performances for elite opposition; evident as they clung on for a goalless draw against Chelsea in their previous match. Man City’s man of the moment, Sergio Aguero, followed his Champions League hat-trick against Bayern with a trio of assists at Southampton, and although he’ll probably net again it will only be enough for a point.
Sunderland will fancy their chances against a City side whose first choice central defensive pair, Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala, are absent, possibly forcing full-back Bacary Sagna to shift into the middle. A 2-2 draw in this fixture was the catalyst for the Black Cats’ great escape last spring, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a repeat of that scoreline here.
So, do you think we nailed it this time? Can anyone overhaul DJ Rees’ 11 point haul? Let us know your thoughts.