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BPL PREVIEW: United, Liverpool meet in the 191st clash of England’s biggest rivalry

BPL PREVIEW: United, Liverpool meet in the 191st clash of England’s biggest rivalry
December 13
10:49 2014
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There are a few fixtures in the Barclays Premier League (BPL) that can claim to be the country’s biggest.

Manchester United v Manchester City, Liverpool v Everton and Arsenal v Tottenham immediately come to mind.

But Sunday’s game at Old Trafford stands out.

Manchester United host Liverpool in a match that draws parallels with Spain’s El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Our soccer analysts are back to give their experts views and predictions of this game and the other nine fixtures.

Welcome to BPL Preview.

BURNLEY V SOUTHAMPTON 

Burnley have never won a Barclays Premier League match in December (D4 L4) while Southampton are unbeaten in their last four games against Burnley in all competitions (W2 D2). Aisha, a win for the Saints then?

Aisha: The Saints have lost three matches back to back after a brilliant start to the season. However, those losses have come against the big names in the league. When they take on Burnley, I expect Southampton to return to winning ways. Yes, a win for the Saints! 1-2

Sunday: I pitied Southampton in their three big games just gone. They deserved at least a point each against the Manchester clubs but ended with none. However, something that remained constant in those games was that they never lost their attacking zeal, ‎therefore a return to status quo against lesser opposition is expected and Burnley would be the perfect opponent at this point. Off the bottom of the table but still deep in relegation waters, Sean Dyche’s men could be the victim of circumstance in this fixture. I expect them to bow to the Saints’ will. Pellé to score. 0-2

Kayode: It seems Southampton’s bubble may have burst – three successive defeats to teams who are aiming at the Champions League spot. But playing Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in swift succession was a tough run and coincided with an unlucky accumulation of midfield injuries. Saturday, however, offers a promising opportunity to get things back on track at second-from-bottom Burnley and surely, Burnley will be crushed in their backyard. 0-3

CHELSEA V HULL CITY

Aisha, on paper your team has an easy game on their hands. Even the records back this claim because the Tigers have never won away at Chelsea in any competition (L15 D5 W0). And the Blues are unbeaten in their last 10 games against Hull City in all competitions (W8 D2), including all six in the BPL (W4 D2 L0).

Aisha: The only unbeaten record in the league fell last weekend with Chelsea’s loss to Newcastle. Nemanja Matic was sorely missed in that encounter but he returns for the Blues in this game. And you are right; it’s quite an easy draw. Chelsea to win this 3-0

Sunday: If there’s anything Jose Mourinho and Chelsea are experts at, it’s their ability to come back straight after a defeat. A professional display is expected from the Blues and Hull are perfect victims. Not on form and trying to halt their winless run, the toothless Tigers would be tamed by Hazard, Fabregas and co. 3-0

Kayode: Goalkeeper Petr Cech will make his first league start of the season after Thibaut Courtois suffered a minor injury in training. I’m a fan of Cech, though, not of Chelsea and I see him coming out unscathed in this game. Sunday, Fabregas will serve a one-match suspension so he will miss this game. An easy win for the Blues and I go for a 3-0 win as well.

CRYSTAL PALACE V STOKE CITY

Crystal Palace have won just one of their last nine BPL matches (W1 D3 L5). Sunday, do you see them surviving the onslaught from Stoke despite playing at home?

Sunday: This fixture has entertainment written all over it. Bolasie and Puncheon for Palace, Bojan and Walters for Stoke. An open game is expected, with Stoke’s free-flowing passing game expected and Warnock’s men would want to mix grit with panache. Let the goals reign with no victor, no vanquished! 2-2

Aisha: Stoke were brilliant in beating Arsenal 3-2 last weekend and could have had a bigger score line. Crystal Palace are struggling in the league but should put up a stiff resistance in this game. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw

Kayode: Stoke are battling with injuries at the moment. They are likely to be without defender Marc Muniesa for this game after the Spaniard tweaked his hamstring during last weekend’s victory over Arsenal and is set to be replaced by either Marc Wilson or Robert Huth, both of whom are fit after injury. Striker Jonathan Walters has an ongoing problem with his knee but is expected to feature while Steve Sidwell, Osaze Odemwingie (both knee), Victor Moses (thigh) and Dionatan Teixeira (broken foot) are all sidelined. Despite this setback, I fancy them to beat Palace. 1-2

LEICESTER CITY V MANCHESTER CITY

Kayode, one can see only one winner in this game as record and form favour City who have lost none of their last eight visits to Leicester City in all competitions (W4 D4). And Leicester have now taken only two points from the last 30 available in the BPL (D2 L8).

Kayode: You can only really see one winner in this one.  Saturday should see another three points at bottom club Leicester City. While no match with relegation strugglers is straightforward, the form guide only points to one outcome. 1-3

Sunday: Someone should lend a helping hand to Leicester City please. Winless in 11 games with disgruntled fans aplenty in the King Powers’ stadium, Nigel Pearson could use some help as his side keeps having the characteristics of a Championship side: grits and determination lacking in class and end product. They come up against the champions who are inspired by their Champions League qualification and return of David Silva from injury and Samir Nasri on form. The Championship champions will be taken to the cleaners by the Premiership champions. 0-3

Aisha: Manchester City are now within just three points of leaders Chelsea and the champions can’t afford any slip ups particularly with Sergio Aguero injured. Leicester will try hard but Man City should win this 1-3

SUNDERLAND V WEST HAM UNITED

The Hammers have failed to score in four of their last six league games against Sunderland. Sunday, a boring Saturday draw?

Sunday: Gus Poyet has steadied the Sunderland team in recent weeks and against teams expected to finish in mid-table, they give it a go. However, West Ham are flying and find themselves in the top five, playing unbridled attacking football and Carroll is back among the scorers. Sunderland would look to frustrate the Hammers and snatch a draw. 1-1

Kayode:  Sunderland should be wary of a resurgent Andy Carroll when the Black Cats take on high-flying West Ham United at the Stadium of Light. The former Newcastle United star grabbed two goals as the Hammers soared to their current fourth place in the league table with a 3-1 win over Swansea on Sunday. He will score on Saturday but the match will end in a draw. 2-2

Aisha: West Ham have been impressive this season while Sunderland have been inconsistent. Gus Poyet and Sam Allardyce are two managers who know how to avoid defeats so I will settle for a 1-1 draw

WEST BROM V ASTON VILLA

Aisha, four of the last five league games between Villa and the Baggies have ended as draws with the other match being a Villa victory (4-3). And in 16 league meetings with their local rivals, Aston Villa have won six and lost just two times. A victory for Paul Lambert and his boys?

Aisha: Aston Villa’s come-from-behind victory over Leicester City will sure give them confidence playing West Brom. But they are a very difficult side to play at home. I think this will end in a 2-2 draw

Sunday: Its news, Aston Villa are back… but it’s only a couple of draws and a win! And in other news, West Brom are in danger of sliding down further if they do not halt their winless run. Alan Irvine is under serious pressure and he is not being helped by the fact that main man Saido Berahino is off-form and looks like a jaded man in recent games. Christian Benteke will however give Villa hope of snatching a win at the Hawthorns but both sides should settle for a draw. 1-1

Kayode:  Aston Villa should avoid conceding too many corners and free kicks close to their 18-yard box because West Brom’s defender, Joleon Lescott has scored five Barclays Premier League goals against Villa, making them by far his most favoured opponent in the top flight. It’s a goal, what a beautiful header from Lescott! (Everyone one laughs) 1-2

ARSENAL V NEWCASTLE UNITED

Sunday, your Newcastle United have won just one of the last 14 BPL matches against Arsenal (W1 D5 L8) including losing the last five on the bounce. The Gunners to nick this?

Sunday: Anytime I see this fixture, the 4-4 classic plays in my mind non-stop. Would we ever be treated to such again? Well, not so soon. Arsenal have been abject in the BPL this season and Stoke duly gave a true picture of the Gunners’ season by condemning them to a thoroughly deserved 3-2 defeat. Wenger and his boys however come into the game on the back of spanking Galatasaray in midweek and Ramsey’s wonder goal should lift the team further. Newcastle on their part are proving a handful in recent months and a win against Chelsea has buoyed the team. However, Arsenal’s attacking style will hurt them more than Chelsea’s did, due to the range of passing and creativity the Gunners possess. 2-1

Aisha: Newcastle claimed a major scalp by inflicting the first defeat of the season on Jose Mourinho’s side. Arsenal on the other hand, were abysmal in the first half of their 3-2 loss to Stoke City which earned Wenger abuse from fans of the Gunners. I expect a backlash from Arsenal. 2-1

MANCHESTER UNITED V LIVERPOOL

Kayode, your Manchester United host Liverpool in the star match of the week on Sunday. This game will be the 191st time the two arch-rivals have met since April 1894. United have won their last five league games and sit third in the table. Liverpool are ninth on 21 points – their lowest total after 15 games since 1992. Surely, the Red Devils should beat the Reds, no?

Kayode: How times have changed because it is rare to see a Manchester United v Liverpool fixture – arguably the most famous contest in English football – without one of them topping the table. Sunday’s meeting at Old Trafford – the 191st of a match first contested in April 1894 like you said – takes on a very unusual air. Rarely is this one a meeting of third v ninth (sobs)… 3-1

Sunday: (pulls out a handkerchief, hands it to Kay) who is going to get Liverpool’s goal? A Steve Gerrard who can’t perform in two consecutive games? A one-dimensional Rickie Lambert? Adam Lallana? Or an out-of-sort Raheem Sterling? Liverpool have nose-dived this season and the slide continues after the exit from Champions League in midweek where they laboured against Swiss outfit, Basel. A fixture against their eternal rivals comes too soon with Rooney and the boys on a good run currently. Five straight wins and third place, Louis van Gaal can call on a team of stars upfront while David de Gea keeps proving his class every week. A straightforward win for Van Gaalacticos which could spell the end for Brendan Rodgers. 3-0

Aisha: Manchester United are the form team of the moment in the league having won five consecutive matches. Liverpool are something of the opposite with consistently poor results. I can’t see beyond a United win at Old Trafford. 3-1

SWANSEA CITY V TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Sunday, Spurs have lost none of the six Barclays Premier League games against Swansea and have won the last five in a row. Do you see them maintaining their fine form against the host?

Sunday: Tottenham are having an epileptic season and I have been unimpressed by Pochettino’s methods. The squad however lacks real quality but he is not playing to their strength. He should take a cue from Swansea who have an established style, are not afraid of the big boys and give it a go against other teams whether home or away. And in Wilfried Bony, they have a rough diamond waiting to be cleaned up by a top team. The Ivorian should lead the Swans over the Spurs. 2-1

Kayode: Emmanuel Adebayor has scored four goals in five BPL games against Swansea and Spurs will miss him. The Togo striker returned to Africa before Thursday’s Europa League match against Besiktas due to personal reasons. Fellow African, Wilfried Bony has 19 goals in the league in 2014, more than any other player. The Ivorian striker has netted seven times in his last nine league appearances. He will make it eight in ten! 1-0

Aisha: Both sides seem to be brilliant and poor in equal measure this season. It’s a close one to call so I predict a draw. 1-1

EVERTON V QUEENS PARK

QPR have lost all seven league away games this season, scoring just two goals but Everton have won just six points from their last six league matches (W1 D3 L2).Aisha, who wins the Battle of the Strugglers?

Aisha: I don’t agree that Everton are strugglers because they were just unlucky to lose to Manchester City last weekend so the Toffees should be confident going into this game. No disrespect to QPR but Everton should win this comfortably. 2-0

Sunday: QPR are the worst travelers in the BPL a‎nd they come up against a formidable Everton that loves to play at Goodison. Harry Redknapp will be without top scorer Charlie Austin due to suspension and it is hard to see where the goals will come from. On the other hand, Everton have Lukaku, Miralles, Osman. Barkley and, if need be, Samuel Eto’o to condemn Rangers to another away defeat. 3-1

Kayode: Everton have only won two of their last eight league games at Goodison Park and it’s so unlike them. They will win this, though. 2-0

WEEK 15 PREDICTIONS 

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

PUNDITS LEAGUE TABLE

PUNDIT WK 15 CORRECT RESULT (1PT) WK 15 SCORE (2PTS) WK 15 TOTAL POINTS CUMULATIVE POINTS
Sunday 5 4 9 89
Aisha 4 2 6 80
Kayode 5 2 7 67

 

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