Posted: December 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Following Friday’s draw at Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, the five remaining Premier League clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Stoke) face a potentially uphill task in the form of AC Milan, Napoli, Ajax, FC Porto and Valencia respectively. Perhaps Stoke faces the most daunting task among the English sides, i mean don’t get me wrong but one of the toughest grounds to go to in the Premier League is the Britannia Stadium but Mestalla is just something else. Eventually it will all boil down to the team with the mental strength and resilience to win.

And then they Were Beaten

Onto EPL matters, It had been coming for a while now, it was just a matter of when and by whom. Yeah, am talking about Manchester City, their unbeaten run just came to a sudden halt on a Monday night in the hands of Chelsea. Chelsea who seemingly went into the game as the underdogs pulled back a Barcelona stunt #el classico. They came from behind after going a goal down inside two minutes when Balotelli rounded Cech to score a superb goal. infact people were predicting a total rout after Chelsea were a goal down but it never were. Anyway as it stands, there is only one team that has managed to pull the invincible feat, and i need not mention it. Onto Game week 16, Manchester City will be looking to get over their disappointment but it won’t be that easy since they have to do that at the expense of an in-form team in the name of Arsenal. Manchester City though will be looking to welcome back Micah Richards from inury but will also miss the services of Clichy who was shown a red in their previous game against Chelsea, but i believe Zabaleta will slot in well in that position since Kolarov is out injured. As for Arsenal, Kieran Gibbs might make an appearance from injury but expect Vermaelen to be the solid rock at the back. Key Battle in that game includes:

Balotelli v Mertesacker

Song v Silva

Robin Van Persie v Kompany

Walcott v Zabaleta

Prediction is Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal

Who’s Hot

Chelsea are currently flying high, beating teams right, left and centre regardless of their reputation. Chelsea will be in a confident mood having been the first team to beat Manchester City this season, and with three wins in a row, they will want to extent their run into four games. Statistics also show they have been having a good time at the DW stadium. As for the Blues, David Luiz will be back from suspension and will be up for selection,so far no new injury worries for AVB apart from Essien. As for Wigan,their defender Antolin Alcaraz will be a doubt, this is after the Paraguay international suffered a rib injury in last week’s game against Westbrom. Key battles:

Juan Mata v Diame

Sturridge v Figueroa

Moses v Ashley Cole

Sammon v Luiz

Prediction – Wigan 1-5 Chelsea

Stoke is another team that is hot at the moment having won their last three games, their latest casualty being Tottenham. They mean business and will be looking to inflict more misery to Wolves, a team that suffered defeat in the hands of Manchester United last week. Injury concerns for Wolves boss Mick McCarthy include Matt Jarvis, the winger and Dave Edwards the midfielder. Tony Pulis will be prepared to field the same side that defeated Tottenham last week having rested all the eleven players of them during their mid week Europa league trip to Istanbul. their only injury concern is full-back Andy Wilkinson. Key battles:

Crouch v Roger Johnson

Etherington v Zubar

Steven Fletcher v Shawcross

O’Hara v Whitehead

Prediction – Wolves 1-2 Stoke City

Who’s Not

Bolton having lost their last four premier league games and sitting pretty at the bottom of the table travel to Craven Cottage where they will be seeking the three invaluable points. They will however face a torrid time from a Fulham side that also suffered defeat last week and also failed to progress in the Europa League. It will all go down to the team with the most lethal strike force as well as the most disciplined defence to win the game. The likes of Dempsey, Zamora and  Murphy as well as Klasnic, Davies and Eagles will prove to be the difference as well as match changers. Key battles:

Hangeland v Kevin Davies

Bobby Zamora v Gary Cahill

Eagle’s v Riise

Ruiz v Robinson

Prediction – Fulham 2-1 Bolton

Blackburn had it all going their way until Martin O’Neill’s side spoiled their party. After an impressive first goal, they became unlucky since Sunderland came from behind to clinch the win. This Game week provides them an opportunity to play host to West Brom, and they will need to play an impressive game if they plan  to exploit the home advantage aspect to their benefit. Steve Kean will have a tough time deciding who to replace the three first team defenders with, after they suffered injuries during last week’s game. its a major blow to him considering they are just one point adrift the bottom team. West Brom will also be looking for any points having lost in their last game. So expect a hard battle from both teams. Key battles:

Yakubu v Jonas Olsson

Formica v Mulumbu

Long v Samba

Brunt v Henley

Prediction – Blackburn 1-2 West Brom

After their unbeaten run came to an end, Newcastle has never been the same again, injuries have also played a major role in their current form. Infact, in their last three games, they have only managed to collect one point from a possible nine. Their backline lacks the co-ordination it had before injuries crept in. Injuries concern include Skipper Fabricio Coloccini, fellow defender Mike Williamson, Ryan Tylor and Cheick Tiote, the midfielder. They Magpies would need more magic from their Forward marksman Demba Ba who has been able to net eleven goals in his last ten league starts in order to beat their visitor’s Keeper Vorm of Swansea who is in great form. Swansea will bear in mind that a visit to the St James Park is no visit to the ‘Park’ and will have to sweat their socks off if they are to come out with any results. Key battles:

failed to win any of their last 3 games. Key Battles:

Michel Vorm v Tim Krul

Demba Ba v Monk

Danny Graham v James Perch

Cabaye v Allen

Prediction – Newcastle 2-2 Swans

Everton were stubborn last week and would have managed to get away with a draw had it not been for a moment of brilliance from a Van Persie’s magnificent Volley. Everton have lost their last two games and failed to score in any of them. It remains without a doubt that they are in dire need of a striker to fire some goals for them. That is why they have decided to seek once again the services of Landon Donovan on a short loan until February. Add to that loan deal the New long term contract that has been penned down by Ross Barkley and you have a manager who has been lifted and ready to face the opponent team. Otherwise, they will play host to a Norwich side that is full of confidence from their last week win against Newcastle. A moment of magic is all that is needed for David Moyes’ side to emerge winners in this encounter. Key battles:

Wigan. Both teams need 3 points in the start of the festive period as West Brom have now

Coleman v Tierney

Vellios v Martin

Morison v Jagielka

Bradley Johnson v Rodwell

Prediction – Everton 2-1 Norwich

With the win against Wolves last week, Manchester United looked the part of Champions, i mean the United of old. Injuries though continue to haunt them with the latest casualties being Fletcher and Gibson. They are however slowly gaining momentum and i just can’t see them losing the next three games. They will have to travel to Loftus Road to play against QPR for a chance to move up at the top of the table, that is until Manchester City play Arsenal later on Sunday. QPR’s Injuries concern include defender Ferdinand but more players are expected back from injury including one DJ Campbell, a striker. Expect fireworks from Luis Nani and Rooney.  Key battles:

Rooney v Gabbidon

Jones v Faurlin

Wright Phillips v Evra

Helguson v Ferdinand

Prediction – QPR 1-2 Manchester United

Aston Villa will have to face Liverpool without the pace of Agbonlahor who is suspended. The game is expected to be an entertaining one with both teams expected to get the better of the other in order to get into the festive season with some points. I expect individual players to dictate the rhythm of the game with their brilliant play though Liverpool will have to play without Lucas and Gerrard in midfield, any makeshift will still do the job. Key battles:

Bent v Agger

Albrighton v Enrique

Suarez v Dunne

Bellamy v Hutton

Prediction – Aston Villa 1-1 Liverpool

Martin O’Neill seems to be getting the grips of the Black Cats. After suffering defeat in his first game in charge of Sunderland, he came back for the second game on top, i mean victorious with a late winner from Larson to condemn Blackburn into more misery. This week the Black Cats face a different kind of opponent, a wounded opponent, first they lost to Stoke under controversial circumstances, then during the mid-week they were eliminated from the Europa League. I am talking about Tottenham, they will put one hell of a fight and O’Neill’s side will have to be on top of their game to avoid the wrath of Tottenham. Key battles:

Adebayor v Brown

Bale v O’Shea

Wickham v Gallas

Larsson v Assou Ekotto

Prediction – Tottenham 3-1 Sunderland

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