Premiership Forecast: Title Race Hots Up, Gunners Prepare For Adebayor

Prediction STATISTICS:
Last week, our experts predicted FIVE (50%) results correctly with NO perfect scores.

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MANCHESTER UNITED v TOTTENHAM ( Saturday – 5:15 pm IST LIVE! on ESPN )

Harry’s boys have already made a mockery of two out of the top three in the league – could this be the icing on a fancy European cake? Nobody at White Hart Lane could have imagined that Spurs will be looking for nine out of nine points from their run of matches against the top three. Nobody at Old Trafford would have imagined they would be one point behind Chelsea when fifteen seconds were left on the clock at The Eastlands.

Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown return to the squad after overcoming injury problems. Hargreaves is unlikely to return this season after he was sidelined due to a calf strain. Anderson and Owen won’t feature again this season.

For Tottenham, winger Aaron Lennon’s return could be a major boost. Wilson Palacios is back from suspension, while Jermaine Jenas and Ledley King could be available – both are touch and go for this game.

Tottenham were 2-0 up at half-time last season, only to be incredibly destroyed 5-2 in the end. Though they have beaten Arsenal and Chelsea in consecutive games, the fact is it’s been 66 league visits since they last won at a big four club.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Man Utd 2-1 Tottenham
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch:
Wayne Rooney (Man Utd)

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BOLTONPORTSMOUTH ( Saturday – 7:25 pm IST )

A win for Bolton will guarantee them another top flight season, which is incredible seeing how poor they have been of late. But Matt Taylor’s magical five-minute two-goal spell at Stoke has virtually secured their survival. His left foot is almost too good to be playing at the Reebok.

This match may see a return for O’Brien, Gardner and Basham for Bolton; but Davis, McCann and Holden are still injured.

Pompey can forget the league and who could blame them? With Wembley glory awaiting them in May and relegation already sealed, the league is just a formality for the south-coast club. However, they have been putting-in spirited performances in the league.

Portsmouth will once again be without influential on-loan midfielder Jamie O’Hara, who has a back injury. Belhadj, Ben Haim, Hreidarsson and Webber are all out with injuries, but Dindane is available again after dispute regarding his transfer fee was settled.

THT predicts ‘the traitor’ who left Burnley to secure Bolton’s survival.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Bolton 2-1 Portsmouth
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch:
Matthew Taylor (Portsmouth)

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HULL CITY v SUNDERLAND ( Saturday – 7:25 pm IST LIVE! on Star Sports )

Tick tock, tick tock, boom! Time could finally run out on Hull this weekend. A defeat to Sunderland and win for West Ham means they are going to a place where even Newcastle wins things – in short, a poor place.

Hull City have lost eight in ten league matches. They did put up a defiant show against Villa in mid-week but it wasn’t enough. Unfortunately for Iain Dowie, it seems like he’ll be applying his trade in the championship again.

Hull’s Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink is not available after suffering a head injury, but Gardner could play his first match in two months. Folan and Mendy are also available, but Zaki, Zayette, Ashbee and captain Gardner are still out. Stephen Hunt will miss the rest of the season.

Sunderland have won once in 27 away games in the league, so Hull may live to die another day! If they lose to Sunderland, they should sign-up for the championship on their own.

Sunderland captain Lorik Cana may return but Cattermole and Mensah are both doubtful for the game. McCartney and Reid are also unavailable.

THT predicts a home win – borne out of sheer desperation.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Hull 2-1 Sunderland
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Jimmy Bullard (Hull)

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WEST HAM v WIGAN ( Saturday – 7:25 pm IST LIVE! on ESPN )

If i were Zola, those ten minutes would have scared me too! In the history of the Premier League, there hasn’t been a more spectacular way of virtually guaranteeing your safety than Wigan’s three-goal ten-minute blitz against Arsenal at the JJB. It’s a good thing for Zola that this fixture is at Upton park, because the way West Ham didn’t bother to put up a fight at Anfield was pretty alarming.

West Ham are on a see-saw right now. After this weekend, there could be giant relief at the club or nervousness galore! West Ham have just one win in nine league games but their last home game was a victory against Sunderland.

Scott Parker’s return from suspension is a major boost for the London club, while Boa Morte is fifty-fifty to return. The injury list still include Dyer, Hines and Tomkins. Carlton Cole is expected to start.

Wigan have three wins in their last fifteen attempts in the league – a fact which makes their win against Arsenal even more incredible. Martinez’s side are looking at another season in the Premier League now.

Wigan’s Centre-back Gary Caldwell is back after serving a three-game ban, but Thomas is a major doubt for this game.

THT predicts Zola’s side to steal the points in a closely contested battle.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: West Ham 1-0 Wigan
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Carlton Cole (West Ham)

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WOLVERHAMPTON v BLACKBURN ( Saturday – 7:25 pm IST )

People should be warned not to take seats behind or around the goal at the Molineux because that’s certainly where the action isn’t going to place!

Manager Mic McCarthy is worried that Wolves haven’t scored in their last four league matches, but haven’t conceded in three of them either. They aren’t pretty to watch but are nearing safety and another season of goalless action for us to bear.

Matt Jarvis is doubtful for the game, while Henry sits out the final game of his ban and Kightly is still out due to a knee injury.

Blackburn Rovers are poor away from home and Sam’s summer project will be titled ‘The Cure to Away Sickness’. Coming from a morale-damaging defeat at home against Everton, Allardyce’s men will be looking to end the season on a strong note.

El Hadji Diouf will go through a late fitness test, but Olsson is a major doubt. Emerton and Samba will  not feature in this match due to injuries.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Wolves 0-0 Blackburn
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: David Dunn (Blackburn)

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ARSENAL v MANCHESTER CITY ( Saturday – 9:55 pm IST LIVE! on ESPN )

If there is one player who isn’t welcome at the Emirates, it’s Emmanuel Adebayor! After scoring for Man City in their 3-2 win at The Eastlands earlier this season, he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Arsenal supporters. You think they’ll remember that on Saturday? Arsene Wenger wants them not to.

Arsenal were stunned – and are probably still stunned – after the events of last week. It had Wenger, quite literally, tearing his hair apart. At the Emirates though, the Gunners are looking for their fifth straight win.

Arsenal have been hit with a lengthy injury list. Almunia’s wrist injury means ‘the future great’ Fabianski will still be in goal. Arshavin and Denilson will miss out on this game, along with Gallas, Denilson, Djorou and Gibbs. Fabregas and Ramsey won’t feature again this season.

Arsenal’s leach club – because four ex-gunners could start for them – has been unbeaten in their last five away games. Man City now find themselves two points away from the champions league spot and with all to do.

Micah Richards could make his return, while Sylvinho is a doubt. Michael Johnson, Petrov and Lescott are still out injured.

A team which hasn’t lost two games on the trot against a team which hasn’t lost three consecutive games in the league for over three years, a draw seems the most likely result. But THT predicts a home win owing to Van Persie’s expected return to the starting line-up.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Arsenal 3-2 Man City
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Robin Van Persie (Arsenal)

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ASTON VILLABIRMINGHAM CITY ( Sunday – 4:25 pm IST LIVE! on ESPN )

What does a noon kick-off on a Sunday tell you about this game? It tells you that the cops are worried. ‘The Second City Derby’ is a fierce rivalry and one of the oldest in British football.

Aston Villa are coming off two consecutive wins against Portsmouth and Hull City, while Birmingham are winless in seven after a drawing at home to Hull last weekend. O’Neill could name an unchanged Villa side from midweek, while Alex Mcleish can pick from a virtually full strength squad.

Dunne, Petrov and Warnock are hoping to overcome injuries to play in the derby. Harewood and Delph are still out injured.

For Birmingham, Ridgewell and Gardner will start against their former side, but Murphy and O’Connor are out injured. Ex-Villa man Kevin Phillips could also feature in a derby he is no stranger to.

Barring no Enckleman-esque mistakes, THT predicts a hard-fought draw.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Birmingham
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: John Carew (Villa)

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BURNLEYLIVERPOOL ( Sunday – 6:25 pm IST LIVE! on Star Sports )

Liverpool are a dreadful away side. But lucky for them, Burnley are plain dreadful. The contrast between the two is quite large – one club’s disappointment involves being relegated to the lower division, the other club’s horror is missing out on a place in the most elite European competition.

Burnley have gone from four straight home wins at the start of the season to only 2 in 13 home games since. They haven’t recovered from their break up with Owen Coyle – someone who is being blamed by the fans for their current situation.

David Nugent will return for the visit of Liverpool, but Carlisle and McCann will miss the game.

Defensive problems for Liverpool include injuries to left-backs Insua and Aurelio, right-back Martin Kelly and centre-back Martin Skrtel. Talisman Fernando Torres will only be seen in the World Cup.

THT predicts Liverpool to get a vital three points at the Turf Moor.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Liverpool
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Brian Jensen (Burnley)

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EVERTONFULHAM ( Sunday – 7:25 pm IST )

Everton dream to be where Fulham currently are – a European semi-final. But by the look of things, they’ll have to at least wait another season to take part in that competition.

David Moyes’s side has done well to recover from their mid-season slump and have made 8th position virtually their own now. Everton are unbeaten in eight premier league games and are coming off a deserved victory at Ewood Park.

Heitinga is unlikely to feature again this season. Fellani and Gosling are definitely not going to take any part this season. Gosling will miss the beginning of next season as well.

Fulham’s Europa adventures mean they are lost in the league, languishing in mid-table. The only way for the Cottagers to make it into Europe is to lift the Europa League in Hamburg. A shocking stat for you – Fulham have now drawn blanks in their last seven away league matches.

This stat is unlikely to change with top scorer Bobby Zamora missing out on this game. Andrew Johnson is not going to feature this season.

TheHardTackle says this is a home banker, if ever there was one.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Everton 3-0 Fulham
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Yakubu (Everton)

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CHELSEASTOKE CITY ( Sunday – 8:25 pm IST LIVE! on ESPN )

Chelsea supporters must have bumped into each other a lot this past week. It’s because when they look back they see that United are now right on their tail and ready to pounce. It’s time for the Blues to show some character and wrap this title up.

On the back of a frustrating defeating to Spurs last week, Carlo Ancelloti would want his side to hit back this week. The Blues haven’t lost back-to-back league games in four years and have scored in 34 of their 35 league matches.

John Terry is the key absentee for Chelsea after his sending off at White Hart Lane. Ashley Cole is fit to play again and Drogba is expected to play despite a groin strain. Mikel is added to the list of injuries already consisting Bosingwa, Essien and Carvalho.

Tony Pulis’ Stoke City could go tenth this weekend which is ‘dreamland’ for the club. They are a strong away team – winning two and drawing four of their last six away trips.

Stoke’s main problem is the lack of a target man with Fuller and Sidibe both doubtful along with midfielder Salif Diao. Etherington is expected to start after returning from injury last week.

THT predicts no let-ups from Chelsea this weekend.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Stoke City
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch: Florent Malouda (Chelsea)

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  • Gun’EmDown

    Can’t wait for Adebayor to be hit in the face by Sol!!!…hopefully your prediction becomes real.

    Some good matches this weekend. Relegation should be decided by Sunday…