Last week, our experts predicted FOUR (40%) results correctly with ONE perfect score.
Remember this place, Eduardo? No team has beaten Birmingham at St. Andrews since September and the home side will be eager to defend that record against a weary Arsenal.
Carsley and O’Connor are still long term absentees, while Murphy continues to recover from a hamstring injury.
Arsenal are on a roll, but survived a West Ham scare last week. However, they did lose Vermaelen to a red card for this match, which could prove costly.
Nicklas Bendtner is fifty-fifty for this game and Gallas is out with a calf injury. There are still no recoveries made by Van Persie, Djorou, Gibbs and Ramsey.
Mcleish’s side will roughen up Arsenal again and the home side will pick up a point, if not all three.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Birmingham 1-1 Arsenal
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: James McFadden (Birmingham)
CHELSEA v ASTON VILLA (Saturday – 8:30 pm IST – LIVE! on ESPN)
Don’t forget it was only Pompey, Carlo! To confirm the ‘back on track’ claims, Chelsea must follow up with a win at home.
The Blues were dealt a major blow when Carvalho was ruled out due to an ankle injury, same as Ashley Cole. Essien, Bosingwa and Ivanovic are all unavailable because of knee injuries. Ballack returns for this match.
Aston Villa have had two disappointing draws at home against sides they may have been expected to win. Is O’Neill’s fourth place hopes fading away again?
Agbonlahor’s toe injury means he is set to miss out again. Dunne, Milner and Heskey are key absentees due to achilles problems.
Villa’s defensive game will ensure this one will be a close game, but a narrow win for Chelsea is what we think will be the result.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
BOLTON v MAN UTD (Saturday – 10:55 pm IST – LIVE! on ESPN)
Coyle v Ferguson – Round two! The current Bolton manager is already one-up on Fergie when he masterminded the Clarets’ win over the champions at Turf Moor. However, Coyle’s Bolton are far from Coyle’s Burnley and they are bound to struggle.
Basham, Davies and Holden are still unavailable for the Wanderers. Gary Cahill is a key player who could finally return in this game.
United are fresh from their win against bitter rivals Liverpool and seem unstoppable at the moment. Rumours about Rooney’s injury have been rubbished by Sir Alex.
Hargreaves is still lacking match fitness. Wes Brown and Anderson are both out due to a metatarsal and knee injury, while Michael Owen will miss the rest of the season.
Bolton will show early signs of life but will lack the quality to convert chances, handing Utd another win.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Bolton 0-2 United
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Darren Fletcher (Man Utd)
HULL CITY v FULHAM (Saturday – 8:30 pm IST)
Dowie’s horror start at Pompey was not encouraging and injuries to key players would not have helped him rally his troops well.
Hull are still without Garcia and Ashbee but Bullard is likely to be involved against his former club. Hunt is racing against time to recover from a foot injury and Zayette is doubtful for the game. Jozy Altidore is a key return to the team but Zaki, Ashbee and captain Gardner are still out.
Fulham will eventually have to focus all their energy on the Europa League. It’s only a question of time as to when? One thought it was last week against City when they didn’t show up in the first half, but they did well in the second period. It could be this week, though.
Bobby Zamora is likely to miss out on this game due to a stomach problem. John Pantsil and Andrew Johnson are still unavailable due to knee injuries. Simon Davies will undergoes a late fitness test.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Hull City 2-1 Fulham
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Jimmy Bullard (Hull)
TOTTENHAM v PORTSMOUTH (Saturday – 8:30 pm IST)
They can virtually smell those European nights at White Hart Lane now, but everyone is weary of their famous slip-ups. Three wins in a row in the league have meant Spurs are undoubtedly the favourites for fourth spot now.
On the injury front, no changes in the absence of Lennon, King, Defoe and Jenas. Corluka has been further added to that list. Late fitness tests for Bassong, Pavlyuchenko and Palacios will determine their availability for the game.
Somehow, Portsmouth are keeping their spirits high. It’s a joy to watch them fight in such trying circumstances and credit to the south-coast club.
Rocha and Smith are the latest to suffer an injury. They join Yebda, Boateng, Utaka and Borre on the medical table. Pompey’s player of the season, on-loan Jamie O’Hara, is ineligible to play against his parent club.
Harry’s boys to thump Pompey in an open game at WHL.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Tottenham 5-2 Portsmouth
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Eidur Gudjohnsen (Tottenham)
WEST HAM v STOKE CITY (Saturday – 8:30 pm IST)
Do or Die? Even though Zola has been given a verbal backing, one fears for his job if the Hammers suffer a sixth defeat in a row. It will take a lot for them to recover from the mid-week thrashing by Wolves.
Tomkins will undergo a late fitness test, while Da Costa is available after suspension. Franco, Collison, Ilunga, Hines and Boa Morte make up the injury list. Danny Gabbidon is a doubt for this game.
Stoke are without a win in four league games but the mental strength and physicality sees them through tough games. Dean Whitehead is serving a suspension while James Beattie is out. Salif Diao is likely to return but Shawcross is fifty-fifty for the game.
West Ham to get a well fought-out and vital win for Gianfranco Zola!
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Stoke City
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Scott Parker (WHU)
On the back of a wonderful four points out of two away games, Wolves are now odds on to stay up. Wolves, however, are as good at home as away. Wolves have no new injury news – Kightley being the only long term absentee due to an ankle injury.
David Moyes’ side have only two wins from their last ten away days in the league. The blues are on a high after beating Manchester City at the City Of Manchester Stadium, not to mention the bonus of witnessing their manager battle it out on the sidelines!
Cahill, Rodwell, Howard and Senderos are all doubtful but the first three are likely to play at Molineux this weekend. Fellaini is out for the season.
Wolves might sneak a point out of this one, but Everton are favourites.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Wolves 2-2 Everton
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Tim Cahill (Everton)
Expect a high-charged East Lancashire derby at Turf Moor for bragging rights. There is a lot of hate between the supporters of these two clubs and the timing of the match should tell you everything about the concerns of the Lancashire police.
There are no new injury concerns for Brian Laws and defenders Carlisle and Fox are available again.
Blackburn’s confidence is growing as they aim to enter the top half of the table, as opposed to a Burnley side that is winless in seven! However, this is one of those ‘throw out the form book’ games.
David Dunn could be a key absentee for Blackburn, but Nelsen and Givet are available again.
A couple of red cards in a score draw is what we predict – watch out for this game!
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Burnley 2-2 Blackburn
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: David Nugent (Burnley)
The battle of the disappointing clubs? Rafa Benitez’s miseries were compounded with the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford. Albert Riera is being shown the door at the club at a time when his services might have been vital to the club’s ‘must win’ campaign for the rest of the season.
Liverpool are still without Martin Skrtel and Fabio Aurelio, who are expected to return only in April. Aquilani is fully fit – something which needs to be mentioned as it’s a rarity.
Sunderland have had a poor season and in their current recovery period, one can hardly predict what to expect. But Steve Bruce’s side have been blessed with Darren Bent’s form and the two strikers – Torres and Bent – are a must to watch out for.
Mensah and Jones are doubts for the game, while Andy Reid is still injured.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
MANCHESTER CITY v WIGAN (Tuesday 12:30 am IST – LIVE! on ESPN)
Manchester City have blown hot and cold this season, which was the source of Mancini’s touchline frustrations against Everton mid-week. The question doing the rounds in Manchester – is Mancini an improvement on Hughes?
Bridge is out for a month, while Lescott is scheduled to return in May and M.Johnson is out for the season. Ireland and Petrov are also doubtful for the game. Adebayor returns after a three-game ban.
We correctly predicted Wigan to not show up at Bolton two weeks ago, and the same will happen this Monday night. With their star player Charles N’Zogbia out along with Boyce, Martinez’s side will come away with nothing from Manchester.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Man City 3-0 Wigan
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Emmanuel Adebayor (Man City)
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