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BPL Panel: Arsenal to score 2 against Liverpool

BPL Panel: Arsenal to score 2 against Liverpool
December 20
10:42 2014
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Arsenal were blown away by Liverpool in this fixture back in February.

But ahead of Sunday’s return, so much has changed.

Luiz Suarez is long gone, Daniel Sturridge is absent and Raheem Sterling’s confidence has departed him.

This fixture has thrown up some excellent games over the years.

Who can forget Thierry Henry’s hat-trick inspiring a 4-2 Arsenal win in 2004, Andrei Arshavin getting four in a 4-4 thriller in 2009, or Peter Crouch leading a 4-1 Anfield rout in 2007?

And that annihilation last season!

It’s the last round of games before Christmas so, who tops the log – between Chelsea and Manchester City – before Santa Claus’ visit?

Welcome to BPL preview!

MANCHESTER CITY V CRYSTAL PALACE

Manchester City have won the last six games in all competitions against Crystal Palace and they have scored in 13 successive league matches; the longest run in the competition this season. Sunday, surely Palace can’t stop them.

Sunday: They can’t because City are building head steam at the right time. Winning throughout December is vital for Barclays Premier League title challenge and they will continue their string of wins against Palace. Not only are the usual suspects performing, the fringe players are also contributing. The Citizens will miss Aguero and Kompany but in the returning Silva, they have their midfield back. Palace won’t roll over however, trust Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha to pose serious threat but City to grab the win ultimately. 3-1

Aisha: Manchester City have finally hit a rich vein of form and have put together a string of successive wins. I can’t see beyond a home win here. 3-0

Kayode: Manchester City can go top of the table Saturday if they beat Palace by five clear goals, but that won’t be the desire. The three points to keep tabs on Chelsea and ensure the leaders don’t go clear will be the desire, as Chelsea once looked like they were capable of that. But then, City have their challenges too. Injuries have depleted the team and key players are missing – Kun Aguero most prominent and Edin Djeko joining the list though may make the game this weekend. But in spite of all they still managed the away win against Leicester last week with the inspirational Frank Lampard scoring. Crystal Palace  will put up a fight of course, knowing a loss will push them down the ladder into relegation problems but this is predictable,  they still don’t have enough to challenge City at home. Palace of course did well to draw their last game at home to a very strong Stoke City and that counts for much but City will surely be too much for them. 3-1

ASTON VILLA V MANCHESTER UNITED

Aston Villa have won just one of the last 37 BPL games against Man United (W1 D9 L27), including losing the last seven in a row. Kayode, what’s your take?

Kayode: After the storm comes sunshine for Manchester United. Louis van Gaal was wondering what hit him at a time United were really struggling but now there’s stability and even when serious injuries hit the squad, they still managed a sound 3-0 win against Liverpool last weekend in a game so publicised for its rivalry but there was no anticlimax as United did the needful and finished off Liverpool. Aston Villa at home is going to be a tough game naturally and they will be smarting from their loss to West Brom and will give United a tough fight but while it may be close, United have got back their confidence as a team. Even when they get vulnerable at the back, there’s David de Gea to thank for some absolutely amazing saves. He’s having the most amazing time of his career. United are bonding as a team and even when key players are missing they still produce the results and confidence is back. It will be tough but I see them winning on the road, they look like challenging for the league. At a time they look like they will not come near the top four but now it’s a no brainer that they will compete for the trophy. 1-3

Aisha: A couple of weeks ago, Manchester United fans were wondering if their team could get into Europe with the way they were playing. But now, they are back in the title race. However, I expect Aston Villa to give them a good fight. 1-1

Sunday: It feels good being a United supporter currently and unfortunately, I have a soft spot for them (shakes Kay’s hand). An unlikely title challenge is being mentioned in the corridors and it’s no coincidence why. A star-studded attack which keeps scoring, De Gea acting as an impenetrable wall and captain Rooney is on form. Slowly but steadily, the Red Devils are getting their mojo back. Villa will not come easy though, but losing the midlands derby to West Brom would’ve hurt their confidence. They also don’t score much and would rely on their defence to shut out United’s galacticos. Who would bet on that happening? 0-3

HULL CITY V SWANSEA CITY

Hull City are unbeaten in their last six league games against Swansea (W4 D2 L0) and the Swans have failed to score in their last three games at the KC Stadium. Aisha, a home win right?

Aisha: Hull City lost to Chelsea last time out but they gave a good account nonetheless. I expect an exciting game when they take on Swansea City but I’ll go for a 2-2 draw

Sunday: Honestly, I love to watch Swansea showboat with their scintillating passing game. However, no end result makes it less glamorous. For all of Wilfred Bony’s industry upfront, they always contrive to gift opposition goals out of nowhere. Hull City are back in relegation places but there’s no need to panic yet, Swansea are just the perfect opponent for Steve Bruce’s men to grind out a much-needed win. 2-1

Kayode: Tales of two clubs with different objectives. Swansea once looked like a top four contender and now in mid table they will still have the dream of joining the big boys. Home team Hull City will need to perform some magic if they don’t want to return to the Championship. Hull City lost to leaders Chelsea but will look back to some missed chances and they had a great fighting spirit that they will need in this game. If the dice rolls well for them, they can surprise anyone and Swansea showed how vulnerable they were losing at home to Tottenham so this game is for the most determined. Hull City however are unbeaten in their last six league games against Swansea City, like the moderator said, and that might be a factor. Both teams are on a run of poor forms and it’s a game between the team with the fewest home points and the team with the third fewest points away from home. Looks like a draw. 2-2

QUEENS PARK RANGERS V WEST BROM

West Brom have won eight points from seven games away from home this season, despite only scoring three goals in these games. Aisha, do you see the Hawthorns picking a point here?

Aisha: QPR are better at home and they will have to be at their best if they are to get anything from this game. But West Brom will be tough. I’ll settle for a 1-1 draw

Sunday: For all their troubles on the road, QPR win at home and I think it’s this fact that will see them survive relegation this season. Charlie Austin would be back upfront and he loves scoring in front of Rangers fans. West Brom are also in the relegation mix and got a confidence boost with the derby win last weekend. However, there’s still the problem of misfiring forwards. Berahino’s form is AWOL; Brown Ideye (up Nigeria!) is still adjusting to life there while Anichebe (up Nigeria?) only huffs and puffs. A fine win for Harry Redknapp’s boys. 2-0

Kayode: QPR are neck deep in relegation waters while West Brom are just in sight of the mid table. The 1-0 victory against Aston Villa at home was great but now West Brom are on the road to QPR and it will be a tough fight for two desperate teams chasing different goals – QPR desperate to avoid the relegation waters and West Brom needing to move up to a respectable position on the log. Bear in mind that QPR have also won just one of their last six home games against WBA and that might guide us to give this to WBA whether it’s home or away. 1-2

SOUTHAMPTON V EVERTON

If games ended at half-time this season, Everton would be third in the league table with 28 points. However, if only the second-half of matches counted, Everton would be 14th with 17 points. Kayode, what’s your prediction over 90 minutes?

Kayode: What a month it’s been for Southampton! They shocked everyone to become the surprise team, climbing to the top in a very unexpected manner while playing free flowing football with their players quickly adapting, scoring some amazing goals along the way. Then in the tricky games with the big boys things changed as they began to drop points. The last loss to Burnley must be the most painful as Southampton lost to a Ashley Barnes goal, but it was Burnley keeper Tom Heaton who denied Saints with his amazing saves. Now from second position Ronald Koeman finds his team in the fifth position, still of course in the running for the top four finish. Now they meet Everton, placed 13th and needing inspiration not to sink lower. Southampton won this duel last season with Everton scoring two own goals by Alcaraz and Coleman. Southampton are struggling after a great start and have just one draw in their last four games and the others ending in losses but then even Everton are not that convincing. 2-1

Aisha: The Saints have lost their early season sparkle and now find it difficult to get points. Everton are usually a strong side and Southampton will have their hands full. 1-2

Sunday: A good team can only held down for long… as long as they can find a solution to their problem. That is my ‎grievance with Southampton’s coach, Ronald Koeman. The Dutch tactician has lost five matches on the trot playing with the same style. Put it this way: he has been found out. Add to the fact that he uses the same set of players and December – an energy sapping period in BPL – has taken the steam off them. Most of the players are tired and only trying. Everton, however, should be seen as a big-name opponent and taken seriously. Although sleek looking with the Barkleys, Lukakus, Baines and Colemans, the Toffees sometimes manage to get it wrong and this fixture will be one of such. Respite for the Saints! 2-1

TOTTENHAM V BURNLEY

There have been 21 goals scored in the last four meetings in all competitions between Spurs and Burnley, with at least five in each game. Sunday, should we expect another huge score line?

Sunday: Yes, but how on earth are Tottenham winning these days? They’ve snatched wins from the jaws of defeat in recent weeks, an unusual character from their flamboyance of many years. However, they had a good rollicking of Newcastle (sobbing) in the League Cup in midweek and I think they’d find it easy against Sean Dyche’s boys. Harry Kane epitomises the team spirit and he should lead them to a comfortable day’s job against everyone’s favourite relegation candidate. 3-1

Aisha: Tottenham Hotspurs are having a mixed season but against Burnley, I fancy them to win. 2-0

Kayode: Can Tottenham Hotspur repeat their mid-week thumping of Newcastle against Burnley? They really should be able to. The firepower and desire in that game showed Spurs just need to fire on all cylinders and the potentials are there. Spurs are looking good and the last BPL game away to Swansea – a 2-1 win on the road and seventh position on the log – is not bad. But how ambitious are they remains the question going forward. Spurs of course won’t be unaware of the exemplary result Burnley got last week at home to Southampton –  a 1-0 win – a great results by all standards means they are not a team to be underrated in spite of being relegation strugglers. That famous win moved them away from the relegation zone but knowing a loss here will surely return them there, we can expect a good fight. Fans should be ready for a goal fest between these two rivals. And like the moderator said, they achieved 21 goals in their last four meetings in all competitions, that is five goals per game as the home team mostly wins which means we expect Spurs to win this one. 2-1

 

Arsenal-Liverpool

Skertel scoring an early goal against Arsenal in February

LIVERPOOL V ARSENAL

It was a demolition the last time both teams met at Anfield with Liverpool running away with a 5-1. Aisha, do you see another demolition in the weekend star match?

Aisha: The biggest match of the weekend no doubt. Liverpool annihilated Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield last February but things have changed so much since then. I think Arsenal will win this 1-2

Kayode: Top game this is but what will it be for Liverpool? From a near winner last season to strugglers this season. Last season Brendan Rogers took the Reds back to UEFA Champions League football after a five year absence and it looked like top four placing is now going to be a sure bet, but the reverse is the case with Liverpool really struggling. Now in week 17, with an unimpressive eighteen points behind leaders Chelsea that just sums up the situation. Daniel Sturridge is still missing and Balotelli’s gamble surely is a failure with fans remembering Suarez in their dreams and recalling his magic moments last season. For Arsenal, aside from the predictable bleeps, when they switched off and disappointed in some games they should have won, they are having a decent season. This is the Gunners 17th consecutive season in the English top tier and the beauty is the ever consistent top four finish and UEFA Champions League slots. But Brendan Rodgers insists his team will be up for this game in front of their home fans despite recent poor results. Arsenal are hitting form, Liverpool are struggling, it doesn’t matter that it’s at Anfield. 1-2

Sunday: Sterling v Sanchez – two players who have been carrying their teams all season. Rodgers v Wenger – two managers under pressure. Two teams with patchy defences clash in a fixture that would surely worth the entertainment‎. Let the goals flow! 2-2

WEST HAM V LEICESTER CITY

There have been five red cards in the last eight league meetings between West Ham and Leicester. Sunday, another foot brawl in the offing?

Sunday: I doubt it because we have been treated to magical stuff from Sam Allardyce’s West Ham! From grinding out draws last season to winning in style this season and the Hammers are in fourth position!!! And they also have Andy Carroll playing well again. All this is set to continue against an abject Leicester whom have lost their rudder and would need some miracle to find it. Not in this game, I think. Merry Christmas to the Hammers. 2-0

Aisha: The Hammers have continued to surprise analysts with their style of play this season and I see them getting another 3 points at the expense of Leicester. 2-1

Kayode: West Ham are in the top four, Leicester are bottom of the league, case closed. This can only go one way. West Ham were unlucky not to have beaten Sunderland last week and this is surely a must win game to cement their place at the top four. No much permutations in this, it’s about how many goals West Ham, the in form team, will score. Leicester of course lost at home to City last week by a score line of 1-0. Leicester will lose this for sure. West Ham will have in mind the interesting fact that Leicester are yet to win in their last eleven BPL games, losing nine and drawing just two. Leicester interestingly started off like a house on fire, shocking Manchester United but they have now visited reality.com. They have picked a point in their last six games losing five. 3-1

NEWCASTLE UNITED V SUNDERLAND

Sunday, your Newcastle are without a win in three against Sunderland at St James Park, losing the last two 3-0. But the Black Cats have never won four successive league derbies against Newcastle United.

Sunday: Some families are about to have a not-so-good Christmas. Will it be us, the proud Geordies, or our arch-nemesis, the Mackems? No matter the stadium, I’d go for a Newcastle win. We want nothing less than that and Pardew must deliver, else the placards would return to St. James’ Park! Looking deeper at the fixture, there’s no tactics to look forward to because both teams have not had it so good in recent times‎. Let the team with the larger heart win. And as a Geordie, a win plus a red card for Lee Cattermole is what I want for Christmas! 2-1

Aisha: Newcastle were humiliated by Arsenal last week after their heroics against Chelsea. The Magpies are generally decent at home so I tip them to win. 2-0

Kayode: The 153rd Tyne-Wear derby at St James’ Park presents the perfect opportunity for Newcastle United to right recent wrongs in the always-spicy fixture. Sunderland are unbeaten in the last five BPL meetings between these two old rivals and have won the last three, including two resounding 3-0 wins on Tyneside. But they will lose this one. 2-0

STOKE CITY V CHELSEA

Chelsea have won nine and lost just one of the 12 BPL meetings with Stoke City, but the defeat came last season in this fixture at the Britannia Stadium. Aisha, I am sure you fancy your team winning this game.

Aisha: Of course because we know that we barely have a margin for error with champions Manchester City breathing down our neck. It will be difficult against Stoke but I think Jose Mourinho’s side will nick this. 1-2

Kayode: Chelsea will surely be tested here. Its Stoke at home and they will bring the fighting spirit for sure. Stoke have beaten Arsenal and Manchester City this season and are no respecter of any team, but Chelsea know that Manchester City are really breathing down their neck, waiting for a slip they can capitalise on. Chelsea are in great form, winning in the Barclays Premier League, the UEFA Champions League as well as the League Cup in the last one week. So they will be in the mood for a good fight. Stoke desire a move up the table and will really have a go at this. Drawing away to Crystal Palace can’t be an advantage and they must surely lift their game here if they must avoid a home loss. Chelsea have won nine and lost only once of the twelve meetings against Stoke, the only defeat coming at the Britannia last season and it was the only loss before Newcastle shocked Mourinho and his boys. 1-2

Sunday: Who would love to go to Stoke on a wet night, let alone a winter night? Not even Messi fancies such! Chelsea are about to embark on a trip where I think they could drop more points. Not only are Stoke playing good football, they are winning against the big boys. Hazard will pose his usual threat and the Belgian is beginning to add goals to his game, but Chelsea would also need ‎Fabregas to be on his game and the defence to withstand Crouch’s languid style. If Bojan is stifled by Matic, then Chelsea could carry the day but for now, I see an even encounter. 1-1

WEEK 16 PREDICTIONS

MATCH KAYODE AISHA SUNDAY RESULT
Burnley v Southampton 0-3 1-2 0-2 1-0
Chelsea v Hull City 3-0 3-0 3-0 2-0
Crystal Palace v Stoke 1-2 1-1 2-2 1-1
Leicester City v Man City 1-3 1-3 0-3 0-1
Sunderland v West Ham 2-2 1-1 1-1 1-1
West Brom v Aston Villa 1-2 2-2 1-1 1-0
Arsenal v Newcastle 2-0 2-1 2-1 4-1
Man United v Liverpool 3-1 3-1 3-0 3-0
Swansea v Tottenham 1-0 1-1 2-1 1-2
Everton v QPR 2-0 2-0 3-1 3-1

PUNDITS LEAGUE TABLE

PUNDIT WK 16 CORRECT RESULT (1PT) WK 16 SCORE (2PT) WK 16 TOTAL POINTS CUMULATIVE POINTS
Sunday 7 6 13 102
Aisha 7 4 11 91
Kayode 6 0 6 73

 

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