Last week, our experts predicted EIGHT (80%) results correctly with TWO perfect scores.
Over the years, this has been the kind of match in which Sir Alex has specialised in lifting his team for the occasion. However, the news coming out of the United camp hasn’t really been positive this week.
Injury to ‘Boy Wayne’ is the talk of the town. A fifteen-second video of him on crutches has been viewed more times than Fuller’s amazing goal last weekend. Hargreaves is still lacking match fitness but could make the bench. Wes Brown and Anderson are both out due to a metatarsal and knee injury, while Michael Owen will miss the rest of the season.
Chelsea have been on song lately, notching up five at Portsmouth and seven against Villa. After the UCL exit, there focus has shifted to the premier league.
Chelsea’s visit to Old Trafford will see the return of ‘The Drog’, after he recovered from his knock. Ashley Cole is still out due to a calf injury, whereas Bosingwa and Essien are still absent due to knee injuries. Carvalho is set to miss the rest of the season.
Chelsea have won their last five ‘big four’ ties and THT predicts a major swing in the title race come Saturday.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Man Utd 1-2 Chelsea
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
ARSENAL v WOLVES (Saturday 1925 IST – LIVE! on ESPN)
The poor man’s Barcelona, justified in mid-week, knows every game is a must win for them after they had their trademark ‘same-old lacking character’ moment last weekend at St. Andrews – correctly predicted by us.
Arsenal will have to do without Fabregas for the rest of the season, while Arshavin and Gallas are out due to injuries picked up in mid-week. There are still no recoveries made by Van Persie, Djorou, Gibbs and Ramsey.
Wolves are undefeated in four and have developed a liking towards the trips to London – beating Spurs and thrashing the Hammers. But Arsenal are a whole different prospect to those two.
Wolves are still missing Kightley – the only long term absentee due to an ankle injury. Ebanks-Blake is doubtful for the game.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Wolves
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Samir Nasri (Arsenal)
BOLTON v ASTON VILLA (Saturday 1925 IST)
Both teams were thrashed last weekend – Bolton at home to the champions, Villa away at The Bridge. Both camps will be expecting a response. Bolton are five points above the relegation zone while Villa have slipped out of fourth place contention thanks to a poor run of results.
Agbonlahor could return from his toe injury. Dunne, Milner and Heskey are doubtful due to achilles problems. Harewood and Reo-Coker are out for this game.
Basham, Davies and Holden are still unavailable for the Wanderers. McCann & Davis are the latest to join them on the crowded medical table.
Milner’s return could be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of this game.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Bolton 2-1 Aston Villa
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Kevin Davies (Bolton)
PORTSMOUTH v BLACKBURN (Saturday 1925 IST )
Going down, down, down! But with heads held high. Portsmouth’s offence is a joy to watch at times, but the defence is just dreadful. Expect unheard-of names to be playing for the home team this weekend, due to their FA cup commitments next week.
O’Hara returns to the starting line-up after being ineligible to play against his parent club. Rocha and Smith are fifty-fifty to return after missing out last weekend.
The Injury woes keep piling on for Pompey. Yebda, Boateng, Utaka and Borre are now joined by Hreidarsson and Webber on the medical table.
Blackburn are now a top-half team! Their injury worries are exactly opposite to their hosts’. Andrews is the only doubt, while goalkeeper Robinson is set to return after a calf injury.
We predict Allardyce’s men to party at Fratton Park.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Pompey 0-3 Blackburn
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: David Dunn (Blackburn)
STOKE CITY v HULL CITY (Saturday 1925 IST )
They do play with their feet. Any doubts after Upton Park? Following a winless run of four league games, Stoke pulled off a wonderful result at Upton Park. Their mental strength and physicality usually sees them through tough games.
Dean Whitehead returns from suspension while James Beattie and Salif Diao are out due to injuries. Shawcross, Kitson and Faye are all fifty-fifty for this game.
Dowie’s first win as Hull City’s manager came as a relief to those associated with the club. However, the jury will remain out on him till he has guaranteed safety for the Tigers.
Hunt is racing against time to recover from a foot injury and Zayette is doubtful for the game. Zaki, Zayette, Ashbee and captain Gardner are still out.
Hull have won one in thirty away matches, and Britannia Stadium isn’t quite the place to change your records. THT predict a home win for the Potters.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Hull
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Ricardo Fuller (Stoke City)
SUNDERLAND v TOTTENHAM (Saturday 1925 IST – LIVE! on ESPN)
One thought Sunderland had recovered from their poor season. That thought changed after Steve Bruce was seen sitting helplessly as his side was ripped to shreds by a rampant Liverpool.
Mensah and Jones are doubts for the game, while Andy Reid and McCartney are injured. Alan Hutton is ineligible to play against his parent club.
On a five game winning streak, it looks like Tottenham’s season to finally get a champions league spot. But Harry’s men cannot afford to let up with City breathing down their neck.
Defoe will return to the line-up after recovering from a hamstring injury. On the injury front, no changes in the absence of Lennon, King, Defoe, Jenas and Corluka. Dawson and Huddlestone have also been ruled out. Palacios is a doubt for the game.
THT predicts Harry’s boys to make the fourth-place fight even more interesting.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Tottenham
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Darren Bent (Sunderland)
BURNLEY v MAN CITY (Saturday 2155 IST – LIVE! on ESPN)
The ugly truth! After a wonderful start to the season, Burnley have won only once in twenty-one attempts – a pretty shocking statistic, not for people associated with Hull City though.
McCann and Eckersley are out for this game, while ex-City player Stephen Jordan is likely to be fit for this game. The Clarets have received a major boost with the return of captain Stephen Caldwell after a four-month lay off.
Man City still don’t look like a cohesive unit. Tevez has bailed them out on too many occasions, including last Monday night against Wigan. However, this one should be an easy away win for the richest club in the world.
Bridge is out for three weeks, 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. Zabaleta starts his two-match suspension.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Man City
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Carlos Tevez (Man City)
BIRMINGHAM v LIVERPOOL (Sunday 1925 IST – LIVE! on ESPN)
Last week, Mcleish’s side proved that they possess the mental toughness to grind out results, even against the top teams. They have been unbeaten in their last twelve games at home.
No fresh injuries for the home side. Carsley and O’Connor are still long term absentees, while Murphy continues to recover from a hamstring injury.
Last weekend, Rafa Benitez tricked us into believing that was the real Liverpool, or did he? We’ll soon find out as there is hardly a better place to visit to prove your credentials this season. Liverpool are without a win in six away games.
Alberto Aquilani and young right-back Martin Kelly are the latest to be injured. Aurelio and Skrtel are still absent for the merseyside club.
When on even terms, Liverpool looked good for a win against Benfica. And we predict this match to defy all the current form statistics. Rafa will do what Arsene couldn’t last week.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Birmingham 1-2 Liverpool
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
FULHAM v WIGAN (Sunday 1925 IST)
It’s safe to say Roy Hodgson will have more than just an eye on the Europa league visit to Germany. He won’t be risking his main players, and neither will the players be risking themselves.
John Pantsil and Andrew Johnson are still unavailable due to knee injuries. Stephen Kelly could return from injury.
Sometimes, all you need to do against Wigan is show up. It’s because they often don’t. Roberto Martinez’s side can go from beating Liverpool to getting thrashed at Bolton in a week. Unpredictability is an inherited property of the club, it seems.
Kirkland will return in goal for the Latics, while Caldwell starts his three-match suspension. Thomas and Boyce are both major doubts for the game.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Fulham 0-0 Wigan
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Chris Kirkland (Wigan)
EVERTON v WEST HAM (Sunday 2025 IST – LIVE! on STAR SPORTS)
Nothing good will come out of ‘Good’ison park for the under pressure Gianfranco Zola. Could this be his final appearance? David Moyes may sympathise with the Hammers’ manager, but the Everton players are unlikely to do the same.
Everton were handed a major blow when Gosling was ruled out for nine months. Fellaini is also out for the season. Arteta is unlikely to return from injury, while Anichebe is doubtful for the game.
West Ham are praying for Tomkins and Collins’ fitness, but Dyer will miss the game. Franco, Hines and Boa Morte are definitely out. Illunga could return from a lengthy lay-off.
TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Everton 3-1 West Ham
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Steven Pienaar (Everton)