Premier League Preview

A preview and score prediction of the weekend’s Premier League matches.

Chelsea v. Bolton

With Chelsea five games without a win the pressure is on Andre Villas-Boas, and despite Roman Abramovich’s seeming faith in the Portuguese, the pressure on the Blues manager seems to be rising to an uncontrollable level. 

Defeat in Napoli in mid-week further highlighted flaws in their tactics, with both David Luiz and Jose Bosingwa looking inept at that level. Luiz is a talented footballer, but a centre back he is not, and playing him against such an attacking threat in Napoli was a grave error. 

The lack of midfield cover would be a concern to any Chelsea supporter, with Malouda, Meireles and Ramires failing to provide any protection to the back four when they needed it most. 

Bolton are poor in the league at the moment despite finding some reprieve in the FA Cup, but seem unable to claw themselves out of the relegation zone, and despite Chelsea’s floundering season, it should be happy days at Stamford Bridge.

Prediction: 2-0 


Newcastle United v. Wolves

New Wolves manager Terry Connor is in for a tough test at St James’ Park (Sports Direct Arena), with the Toon Army flying high in sixth place, just one point off of fourth and a lucrative Champions League spot. 

Connor was fourth choice Wolves manager with Alan Curbishley, Walter Smith and Brian McDermott all turning down the position at Molineux, and with just 14 games left to keep Wolves up, the chances are stacked against the former assistant manager. 

Mick McCarthy’s sacking was harsh, especially with no definite replacement lined up, and you could argue that they are in a worse position now than they were under McCarthy. 

The strike partnership of Demba Pa and Papisse Cisse will surely prove too much for Wolves, and I wouldn’t look past a home win.

Prediction: 2-0


QPR v. Fulham

Although it is an away game for Fulham, fans and players alike only have to travel 5 miles up the road, so surroundings won’t be too odd.

Mark Hughes is sure to come in for some stick from the Fulham fans after the manner in which he left the club in the summer, but they may well have the last laugh with QPR looking like they may be relegated from the Premier League – despite the millions they have spent on players.

Since taking charge Hughes has only won one of his five matches, and with his new signings needing time to gel (time which they don’t have), things aren’t looking good for the Welshman. 

If the players do manage to gel, then they should manage to avoid the drop, but tomorrow’s game is a ‘must win’ for Hughes and Rangers if they are to settle some of the nerves around the club.

Fulham players who played under Hughes will be fired up, and that will only be aided by the fact that it’s a derby, but I think Fulham will just have the edge over QPR.

Prediction: 1-2


West Brom v. Sunderland

Sunderland will be coming into the match with high confidence having knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup in more than convincing terms, and with Martin O’Neill working miracles at the Stadium of Light it would be harsh to bet against them in any fixture. 

West Brom won’t be too scared of their opposition though, having beaten Wolves 5-1 in their last fixture, a win which sees them go 8 points above the bottom three, something which should ensure their safety for another season. 

Wins at home have been hard to come by however for Roy Hodgson and it won’t be easy against a Sunderland side brimming with confidence. 

West Brom are still looking for a few more wins to guarantee safety, whilst Sunderland are simply seeing how high up the table they can get. Both sides are fairly evenly matched, so going for a draw.

Prediction: 1-1


Wigan v. Aston Villa

Villa have taken just one point from their last three games, and that is the reason they are in danger of being dragged into the relegation dog fight. 

McLeish has been deploying some rather defensive tactics, something which seems bizarre seeing as their greatest assets are in attack, boasting the likes of Darren Bent and Gabby Agbonlahor. 

Robbie Keane will partake in his last game before returning to LA Galaxy, and he will be sorely missed after his departure, and his contributions may be crucial if Villa are to walk away with all three points from the DW.

It’s getting desperate for Roberto Martinez and Wigan who need to couple playing well and picking up points, and their dealing with the Villa front line will be pivotal.

If McLeish starts with some more expressive tactics they should have enough to beat Wigan, but if he sticks with the rigid, defensive tactics, it may be even-stevens. 

Prediction: 1-2


Man City v. Blackburn 

After a few blips since Christmas Manchester City seem to be back on track and heading for the title after winning four out of four in February thus far.

The demolition of Porto at the Etihad highlighted how the reintroduction of Yaya Toure from the African Cup of Nations is going to help City no end, and facing strugglers Blackburn is just the fixture they want after a busy time in Europe.

The Carlos Tevez saga could also be coming to and end with both club and player seemingly kissing and making up, and his reintroduction into the side would be as good as a new signing. 

Despite all the criticism that Steve Kean comes in for Rovers are the most competitive of the sides involved in the relegation battle, and are more than capable of scoring goals.

In Yakubu they have one of the most prolific strikers in the league, and that will be vital in their bid to climb away from the bottom three and avoid the drop. 

However, they will be up against it at the Etihad and with City looking to extend their lead at the top before United play on Sunday, I can’t see anything but a win for Roberto Mancini’s side.

Prediction: 3-1

 Alex O’Loughlin   @AlexOLoughlin18