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.
WBA v Hull City – 15:00
Two of the promoted teams clash in the only Saturday 3 o'clock kick off this
weekend. West Brom, winners of the Championship, have found early life in the
highest tier a little more difficult than their playoff-promoted
But signs of late show that the Baggies are starting to get to grips with
life in the Premier League and some positive results have been achieved. For 45
minutes last weekend they were on parity with Manchester United, before being
blown away. These are the games that Tony Mowbray knows his team need to win if
they want to survive this season, and he will be drilling that message into his
players before kick-off.
Phil Brown must still feel in dreamland. He says that he is just moving onto
thinking about the next game after each of his side's momentous victories, but
he will now be allowing himself a little more time to savour Hull City's
position in the table. The Tigers can go level on points with Chelsea and
Liverpool today, surely that is worth Brown contemplating for a while!
West Brom's Abdoulaye Meite is still missing and long-term injury absentee
Filipe Teixeira also misses out after tweaking a hamstring in training. Nick
Barmby and Stelios are still striving for match fitness and will miss out, but
defender Anthony Gardner returns.
MY PREDICTION: WBA 2 – 2 Hull
Blackburn Rovers v Middlesbrough – 17:30
Blackburn will be hoping to record their second home league victory of the
season whilst Gareth Southgate will be trying to replicate his team's
performance at Wigan, their first league win since August.
Paul Ince has certainly started well at Blackburn, adapting to life in the
highest league quicker than most would have imagined. It is now time, however,
for him to start stamping his authority on his team and on the league, much in
the way he did as a player.
Gareth Southgate will be aware that his Middlesbrough team have played well
in most of their fixtures this season, but he will know as well as anyone that
it is a results business and his side haven't had enough positive ones. A point
at Ewood Park tonight would certainly be welcomed, but a victory seems unlikely
and if achieved would be a great outcome for the Boro.
Roque Santa Cruz is unlikely to feature again for the home side, but Benni
McCarthy may be fit enough to replace him. Middlesbrough have no new injury
worries and may welcome back Tuncay, Alves and Digard.
MY PREDICTION: Blackburn 2 – 1 Boro