Posted: December 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Chelsea v Fulham

Chelsea play host to a Fulham side that was thoroughly humiliated by Manchester United in their previous game. Having played impressively against Tottenham, Chelsea will go into this duel with a lot of confidence and anything other than three points won’t be tolerated. Fulham on the other hand are out of pace and having been out witted by the defending champions, would not have wished to face another top flight team, especially Chelsea. Martin Jol’s spat with Zamora is not helping matters either and unless he sorts out this spat, they will be in for another rude shocker. A festive threesome of points is top of the wish list today for Chelsea if they want to play catch up with the Manchesters. Key battles:

John Arne Riise v Danny Sturridge

Juan Mata v Chris Baird

Bobby Zamora v John Terry

Clint Dempsey v Oriol Romeu

Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Fulham

 Bolton v Newcastle

Bolton will be hoping to build on their impressive performance against Blackburn last week that saw them get all the three points to lift them off the bottom of the table. They will host a Newcastle team that has failed to win in their last six games after a high flying start of the season. Bolton will benefit a lot from the concentration of Gary Cahill in the midst of all the claims that he will actually be leaving in the January transfer window to Chelsea. As for Newcastle, its defence will do well if it stops conceding sloppy goals. Demba Ba goal scoring exploits will be much needed in this encounter if they plan on winning. Key battles:

Chris Eagles v James Perch

Ivan Klasnic v Mike Williamson

Demba Ba v Gary Cahill

Cheick Tiote v Fabrice Muamba

Prediction: Bolton 1:1 Newcastle

Liverpool v Blackburn

Though Liverpool have been anything but inconsistent, they face a side that is even worse, a side that plunges in deep crisis, Blackburn. Many people are thinking that maybe this is the year for Blackburn to face the drop. It will be a difficult call for Blackburn players to get anything from Anfield but they just have to put up their best game of the season to even get away with a point. Liverpool could see a return of their midfield maestro, Gerrard, but their most pressing concern is the Suarez saga that rumbles on and threatens to ruin their season. Well, until when they decide to appeal for his eight match ban, he remains eligible to play. Key battles:

David Hoilett v Glen Johnson

Yakubu v Daniel Agger

Charlie Adam v Steven N’Zonzi

Dirk Kuyt v Morten Gamst Pederson

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Blackburn

Manchester United v Wigan

Manchester United plays at home in a fixture that is as appetizing as, well, something appetizing at Christmas. They entertain Wigan, a side that has failed to get the better of them in all their encounters. At Craven Cottage, United ran riot on Fulham netting 5 goals without a reply. It was during that game that Ashley Young and Phil Jones picked injuries and even though the former will be out for weeks, chances for the latter to feature in today’s fixture is 75 per cent. Wigan have seen a change in fortune by gaining two crucial points in their last game against Chelsea and Liverpool. Seems their new strategy of packing the bus is working pretty well, but it is yet to face the stern test of a United side that is not shy of scoring goals, will they manage to hold the defending Champions? I guess we will have to wait and see. Key battle:

Wayne Rooney v Gary Caldwell

Nani v Steven Gohouri

Victor Moses v Rafael Da Silva

Connor Sammon v Jonny Evans

Prediction: Manchester United 0:0 Wigan

Sunderland v Everton

Sunderland seems to have gotten their groove back and they are a much better team with Martin O’Neill in charge. With the impressive form of Richardson and Sessegnon, they will be looking to edge this game. Everton on the other hand seem to be creating a lot of chances but lack the finishing worthy of goals. They however managed to get a crucial win over Swansea and will be hoping to continue on that note. Key battles:

Seb Larsson v Leighton Baines

Stephane Sessegnon v John Heitinga

Royston Drenthe v John O’Shea

Leon Osman v Titus Bramble

Prediction: Sunderland 1:1 Everton

West Brom v Manchester City

West Brom have managed to win their last two games with impressive attacking displays from Peter Odemwingie who has rediscovered his form. Roy Hodgson has managed to get the best out of this team but that won’t be enough when they face a Man city side that just won’t relinquish the top spot for their neighbours United at whatever cost. Manchester City are the favourites to win this game but with the freedom in which West Brom is playing, anything can happen. Key battles:

Shane Long v Vincent Kompany

Peter Odemwingie v Lescott

Sergio Aguero v Jonas Olsson

Chris Brunt v Gael Clichy

Yaya Toure v Yusuf Mulumbu

Prediction: West Brom 1-2 Manchester City

Stoke City v Aston Villa

Stoke have had an impressive run of games apart from the Manchester City one. They have managed four wins in their last five games; add to that their progress to the next round of the Europa league, and you have a team that is not short of confidence. Aston Villa were unlucky after playing beautiful game against Arsenal and hopefully they will give a good go in this one. Key battles:

Marc Albrighton v Robert Huth

Gabby Agbonlahor v Ryan Shawcross

Matthew Etherington v Carlos Cuellar

Peter Crouch v Richard Dunne

Predictions: Stoke City 2:1 Aston Villa

Arsenal v Wolves

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie is only two goals short of Alan Shearer’s record of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar year, and he has got two games left to break it: this one and the Gunners’ home game against QPR on New Year’s Eve. This fact will be motivation enough for RVP to get fired especially to a Wolves side that has struggled on their visits to the top teams. Arsenal have been playing well in the last couple of months and they are favourites to get the three points in this game. I bet that will be the best Christmas present to all their fans. Key battles:

Robin Van Persie v Roger Johnson

Mikel Arteta v Karl Henry

Matt Jarvis v Francis Coquelin

Stephen Hunt v Thomas Vermaelen

Prediction: Arsenal 2:0 Wolves

Swansea v QPR

QPR are currently on the downhill, falling like a stone and if they don’t get back to winning ways sooner rather than later, they will drop to the relegation zone. Swansea have been strong on their home turf and only few teams have managed to unlock their resistance. Their style of play since promotion has blended in well with the premier league. They play good attacking football and have one of the in-form goalkeepers at the moment in the premier league in Vorm. QPR will need something special to win this one. Key battles:

Scott Sinclair v Luke Young

Heidar Helguson v Ashley Williams

Shaun Wright Phillips v Gary Monk

Danny Graham v Danny Gabbidon

Prediction: Swansea 2:0 QPR

Norwich v Tottenham

Norwich have managed to get some points on the road in their last two games against Wolves and Everton and this has managed to give them some confidence going into this game and considering they are at home. The Canaries will exercise caution and will not plan on resting on their laurels. They will be careful and will draw lessons from Blackpool who were in a good position at the table on Christmas last season only to be relegated at the end of the season. Tottenham threat will come from the pace of Lennon and Bale, especially the latter who almost caused havoc for Chelsea in their last game. Tottenham players that are a doubt for this game include King, Kaboul and Defoe though they have been lifted with the news that Van Der Vaat can be able to play after sustaining a hamstring during the Chelsea game Key battles:

Grant Holt v William Gallas

Andrew Crofts v Kyle Walker

Gareth Bale v Russell Martin

Emmanuel Adebayor v Leon Barnett

Predictions: Norwich 1:2 Tottenham

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