Comfortable day for Chelsea & Manchester United as West Ham stop the rut

Football FanCast columnist Mark Bryans looks
ahead to the afternoon's Premier League fixtures and wonders which supporters
will have the bragging rights come this evening.

Man
Utd

v
Stoke – 15:00

The
Champions will be looking to get back to winning ways and Stoke will be hoping
to strike fear into another world-class defence with Rory Delap's projectile
throw-ins.

Sir Alex
Ferguson will have been happy with most aspects of his team's performance at
the Emirates but knows that a result would have been more pleasing. After some
shaky defending in recent weeks Ferguson will also know that he needs to make
sure the likes of Ferdinand and Vidic are alive to the danger of the deadly
Delap throw.

Stoke City
are unbeaten in November and fear Tony Pulis' side fear no-one. Pulis is also
happy with Sir Alex's comments defending Stoke's physical aspect of the game.
Stoke are doing well in their attempt to avoid a swift return to the
Championship, but Pulis will know there is still a long way to go if they are
to survive.

Wayne
Rooney may miss out for Man United as he is suffering from a chest infection,
whilst Owen Hargreaves will not feature again this season. Stoke's only fresh
injury concern surrounds Mamady Sidibe, but he may feature.

MY
PREDICTION: Man Utd 3 – 1 Stoke

Newcastle v Wigan – 15:00

Joe
Kinnear is still hopeful of being given the Newcastle manager's job
permanently, whilst Steve Bruce wants to hold onto his position by picking up
some much needed points.

Despite
some improvements in both form and results since Kinnear's arrival, Newcastle
still find themselves in the relegation zone – maybe the only slight tinge of
silver lining comes in being above rivals Sunderland. A victory over Wigan will
give the Magpies three successive home wins and could see them hurtle up the
table towards 10th spot.

The form
of on-loan Egyptian striker Amr Zaki has almost overshadowed Wigan Athletic's
run of poor form and Steve Bruce will be starting to sweat. Bruce would not
like a repeat of last season and with the quality he has added to the squad at
the JJB he should rightly expect better.

Newcastle
will still be without Steven Taylor and Mark Viduka, whilst Michael Owen is
still likely to be sitting on the bench. Chris Kirkland and Mario Melchiot
should shake off injuries to play for Wigan whilst Emile Heskey is rated only
50/50.

MY
PREDICTION: Newcastle 2 – 1 Wigan

West
Ham

v
Portsmouth – 15:00

Gianfranco
Zola is still looking to achieve the mixture of attractive football and
consistency whilst Tony Adams will be hoping for more success following his
first victory as Pompey boss last weekend.

West Ham
looked to have started to click last weekend, but capitulated in the last ten
minutes against Everton. The Hammers seem defensively weak since Zola's arrival
and that problem will need to be eradicated sooner rather than later, otherwise
West Ham could be left languishing around the bottom half of the table.

Portsmouth
boss Tony Adams is starting to assemble his own backroom staff at Fratton Park
and will be hoping to stamp his own mark on his side as soon as possible. Form
on the road has been an issue for Pompey so far this season and they have only
scored in one of their last five away fixtures, Adams will want to rectify
that.

Diego
Tristan misses out again for West Ham, who have Valon Behrami, James Tomkins
and Carlton Cole available for selection. John Utaka and skipper Sol Campbell
are doubts for Portsmouth, but Glen Little returns to the squad.

MY
PREDICTION: West Ham 1 – 1 Portsmouth

West
Brom

v
Chelsea – 17:30

After
facing Liverpool at Anfield last weekend West Brom face another tough test as
they entertain table-topping Chelsea. The Blues' go into the game on the back
of a shock Carling Cup exit to Burnley, and a dark cloud over striker Didier
Drogba.

In the
tabloid press is to be believed Tony Mowbray wants to overhaul a large section
of his squad in January, if so it will be interesting to see if he sticks his
attractive football ethos. The doubters have been speculating all season that
this form of play is nice on the eye, but the league table is not.

Luis
Felipe Scolari will be expecting a strong performance after defeat in midweek and
a victory would keep Chelsea's 100% away record intact. Captain John Terry will
make his 250th Premier League appearance for the Blues if selected
and it is just reward for the loyalty and commitment of one of the World's
greatest defender.

Neil Clement
remains on the sidelines through injury for West Brom, Abdoulaye Meite and
James Morrison should return however. Chelsea are without Joe Cole, Michael
Essien, Alex, Ricardo Carvalho, Franco Di Santo and Belletti. Ashley Cole and
Michael Ballack are not completely fit, but will travel.

MY
PREDICTION: WBA 0 – 4 Chelsea


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