Liverpool & Spurs resume normal service as Arsenal come unstuck

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.

 

Bolton v Liverpool – 12:45

Last
weekend Bolton took full advantage of the closeness of the Premier League to
storm into the top half, although they have since dropped to 11th. Liverpool
completed a routine victory over West Brom in their last league game, but will
be looking to overcome defeat at Tottenham in midweek.

Bolton
boss Gary Megson has tipped Liverpool for the title this season, but that
doesn't mean he will be happy to be turned over at the Reebok. His side are
starting to perform to the levels he expects and if they can maintain such form
they could easily be clear of the relegation zone come May.

Rafael
Benetiz will be hoping for a victory to take his side back to the top of the
league, at least for a few hours. Defeat on Wednesday night should not affect
performances as the team is likely to be altered significantly for the trip to
their North West rivals.

Kevin
Nolan will return for Bolton Wanderers and Megson has a full compliment of
players to pick from. Philip Degan suffered a knock in the Carling Cup and will
miss out, but Benetiz has no other injury concerns.

MY
PREDICTION: Bolton 1 – 3 Liverpool

 

Arsenal v Aston
Villa

– 15:00

Third take
on fifth at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal look to build on their victory over
Champions Manchester United last Saturday, whilst Aston Villa look to recover
after a home defeat to Middlesbrough.

It seems
strange to think that some people were calling for Arsene Wenger's head to roll
only 10 days ago. After beating fierce rivals United and the kids turning over
Wigan in midweek all things are good again at the Emirates. Arsenal have a
great record against Villa and a win will cement their place in the top 4.

Martin
O'Neill was very unhappy after his side slumped to defeat against Middlesbrough
in front of their own fans and will be demanding a better defensive performance
against Arsenal, who will punish any errors. Back to back league defeats are
threatening to derail Villa's fantastic start to the season and any sort of
positive result in North London will help boost confidence.

Robin van
Persie is still banned and Emmanuel Eboue is injured for the Gunners but Manuel
Almunia and Emmanuel Adebayor could return. Meanwhile Villa could welcome back
Stilliyan Petrov and Luke Young, but John Carew is a doubt.

MY
PREDICTION: Arsenal 2 – 2 Villa

 

Blackburn v Sunderland – 15:00

This clash
of old Manchester United midfield dynamos is a replay of the Carling Cup match
in midweek when Paul Ince and Blackburn Rovers were the victors. But this is
the Premier League, and both teams are desperate for the three points.

Ince has
had a mixed start to his Blackburn managerial career but his side has enough
quality to push for a top half finish and are also capable of stringing an
impressive run together if necessary.

Roy Keane
has admitted he is getting sick of post-match press conferences in which he
talks of his side's bad luck. After a poor run of form the Black Cats find
themselves in the relegation zone and Keane will be feeling the pressure after
splashing out so much cash in the summer. He definitely added quality, but
there seems a lack of cohesion.

Benni
McCarthy will not play for Blackburn as he has returned home due to a family
bereavement whilst Andre Ooijer and Keith Andrews are doubts with knee injuries
problems. Craig Gordon, Martin Waghorn and George McCartney are all likely to
miss out for Sunderland.

MY
PREDICTION: Blackburn 1 – 2 Sunderland

 

Fulham v Tottenham – 15:00

These two
London clubs go into this game high in confidence. Fulham have started to show
form and are now in the top ten and Spurs have been completely rejuvenated by
Harry Redknapp's arrival.

Roy Hodgson
will be happy that his squad are beginning to impress and strikers Andrew
Johnson and Bobby Zamora are starting to click as a partnership. A win over
Tottenham will give the Cottagers three successive home victories for the first
time in two years and should keep them in the top half.

The
Tottenham resurgence under Redknapp continues to amaze and a win against Fulham
could see Spurs enter the top ten for the first time this season. Four back to
back victories in all competitions has reinstalled confidence at White Hart
Lane and the Tottenham fans will be hoping this run doesn't end any time soon.

MY PREDICTION: Fulham 2 – 3 Spurs


CLICK HERE for PART TWO of PREVIEWS