The Unlikely To Lose Limbs Premier League Predictions - Round 9

Huw Davies predicts what will, and will not, happen in the Premier League this weekend...

It appears to be a relatively quiet weekend in the English top-flight, with no major 'Big Four' clashes to speak of.

But with a fiery east Lancashire derby and a tough test for Chelsea, there’s plenty to fan the flames until Rafa goes nose-to-nose with Fergie in a week's time.

Aside from everything else, there will be at least one manager effing, blinding, kicking and screaming in the direction of a referee.

Who will it be? Wenger? Mark Hughes? Sir Alex? Try an outside punt on Tony Pulis. He’s hiding some rage under that baseball cap.

Saturday

Aston Villa vs Chelsea

This early kick-off has kicked-off even earlier with Heskey’s alleged overtures of ‘play me or sell me’.

Gabby Agbonlahor, meanwhile, has shown Gobby Heskey the way, scoring in five consecutive games prior to his last outing.

But the real attacking threat comes from Villa’s wingers, and they’ll have a tougher job getting past Messrs Cole and Bosingwa than a spotty teen past a nightclub bouncer.

And although Villa’s defence has been solid thus far, Dider Drogba’s been notching up goals aplenty.

Once upon a time Villa Park was something of an anti-Chelsea fortress – before last year the Blues hadn’t won there in eight matches – but not any more.

What won’t happen: Emile Heskey to replace John Carew at half-time and bang in a hat-trick. “It’s all thanks to Martin O’Neill,” he says in the post-match interview.

What will happen: Martin O’Neill to refuse Heskey a second start in eight Premier League matches, and Carew to make it 0 goals in 8 league games. Chelsea win.

Arsenal vs Birmingham

McLeish has been promised £40 million to spend in the January transfer window by new owner Carson Yeung, so he won’t be too perturbed by a heavy defeat to Arsenal.

Which is what is going to happen. Sorry, Brum.

What won’t happen: McLeish to bite the hand preparing to feed him with a scathing press conference in which he rages, “Who is this Yeung w*nker anyway?”

What will happen: A Gunners side brimming with confidence hit their scintillating best once again, firing in three or four.

Everton vs Wolves

The team that gave Portsmouth their first points and let five in against Sunderland (that’s Wolves, by the way) look unlikely to trouble an Everton team starting to find their feet again.

After a shocking start to the season, Moyes’ Toffees have begun to match Werther’s Originals for consistency and taste.

Expect a strong defensive display to keep the Wolves from the door and a Saha brace to blow the house down.

Or something.

What won’t happen: A more confusing metaphor this year.

What will happen: Mick McCarthy to feel the pressure, not relieved by fixtures against Villa, Stoke, Arsenal and Chelsea. Four games, one point if they’re lucky.

Manchester United vs Bolton

If Chelsea do struggle against Martin O’Neill’s men, Fergie’s lot can go top with a win.

Fortunately for them, anything but a home win would be a massive shock.

One thing that always helps an away side at Old Trafford is a 12th man in the stands, and a sceptical Wanderers’ fanbase hasn’t provided that all season.

What won’t happen: Bolton to score in the ninth minute of injury time and Fergie to say it’s a fair cop.

What will happen: United to prove too strong for a dispirited Bolton.

Portsmouth vs Tottenham

He’s ba-ack…Harry Redknapp braves the rotten tomatoes with a return visit to the sinking ship he deserted, now a much more relaxed man.
 
But despite claims they were happy with a point against Bolton two weeks ago, Spurs will have felt deflated with the draw after scoring 10 goals in the previous two games.

There’s every chance of some frustrated misfiring from the visitors, while Pompey, keen to prove (and score) a point, do everything right for once and David James plays out of his skin.

An unhappy draw for Spurs, a very happy one for Portsmouth.

What won’t happen: ‘Arry to change his mind again and move back to Pompey after the game, bringing Crouch, Defoe and Kranjcar with him.

What will happen: ‘Arry to ignore abusive chants and at least seven banners calling him a traitor.

Stoke vs West Ham

It’s saying something for a game when the Potters will do all the attacking.

But against a West Ham team whose confidence is at rock bottom and would be in the table were it not for Pompey, it looks the likely scenario.

Which is a bugger, because some people have Carlton Cole in their fantasy teams.

What won’t happen: Rory Delap’s arms to fall off.

What will happen: Bore draw.

Sunderland vs Liverpool

If you had to pick one manager who doesn’t like his players going on international duty, Rafa Benitez would be a sound choice.

And with his two leading men, Gezza and Tozza, out for the count, it’s unlikely the bearded Spaniard will be writing Christmas cards to international managers any time soon.

Sunderland, on the other hand, have their two main goalscorers fit and raring to go, providing Kenwyne Jones isn’t too jet-lagged from his midweek trip to Trinidad.

The Black Cats’ rollocking momentum may have been stalled slightly by the international break, but their confidence will be sky-high going into this game.

Even so, a Sunderland win would be a brave prediction. A late Liverpool winner might see their noses Bent out of shape.

What won’t happen: Sunderland 7-9 Liverpool

What will happen: The Reds to scrape home, or at least scrape a point. There’ll definitely be some scraping involved.

Sunday

Blackburn vs Burnley

It’s hotpots at dawn as the east Lancashire rivals go head-to-head in the top-flight for the first time in 43 years.

Rovers have easily been the more successful side since then, but it’s Burnley who find themselves in the top half of the table.

That would last with a confident away draw, but the fire and aggression Big Sam’s instilled in his Blackburn team won’t make it easy.

What won’t happen: Fewer than three bookings. You heard it here first. Ish.

What will happen: Burnley to be kicked off the pitch and limp home with a draw.

Wigan vs Manchester City

Hull took a huge dump on euphoric Wigan fans two weeks ago, and the Latics’ 3-1 win over Chelsea will become an even more distant memory after this match.

Mark Hughes’ men have traveled well this season, and this short trip won’t bother a side beginning to look more and more like title contenders.

What won’t happen: A repeat of that 3-1 Chelsea triumph for Wigan.

What will happen: A two-goal away win. Boring as it sounds, Manchester City won’t be dropping too many points against the likes of Wigan this season.

Monday

Fulham vs Hull

It happens to be your correspondent’s birthday on Monday 19, and what better Monday night football to park his drunk and steadily aging arse in front of than a Cottagers/Tigers battle?

The (arguably) good news is that Jimmy ‘Questionable Hair’ Bullard will return from injury to face his former club, and could inspire Hull to a second win on the trot.

But the Tigers’ defence looks unlikely to cope with Andy Johnson & co for 90 minutes, and Fulham should also grab their first clean sheet since the opening day of the season.

What won’t happen: Phil Brown to catch a glimpse of himself in a pitchside mirror and say, “Blimey, this headset looks ridiculous.”

What will happen: 1-0 home win – Brown’s woes to continue with a defeat to fellow strugglers (and he’ll still think the headset looks good).

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