There are a lot of books on football, but Arsene Wenger is yet to come across one that will teach him how to end a bad run against an adversary.
In 12 meetings with Jose Mourinho, the Frenchman has not won a game.
Our soccer analysts are not convinced he’s about to break the jinx when Arsenal and Chelsea meet at the Emirates on Sunday in the Barclays Premier League (BPL).
Find out their views and predictions on this week’s star match and the other nine fixtures.
Welcome to BPL Preview!
SOUTHAMPTON V TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Both teams have an identical record over the last six matches: won three, drawn one, lost two. The sequence will surely change now but who wins it, Sunday?
Sunday: The Saints are currently in seventh place, eight points behind fourth-placed Manchester City. Realistically, a place in the Europa League is their only bet. Spurs are one point, and one place ahead of Southampton in sixth place, level with Liverpool – who have a game in hand – in fifth. Both sides could do with the three points at stake, but I can only see a draw here. 1-1
Aisha: Both sides will still have their eyes on fourth place – which is mathematically possible – even if Europa League qualification seems much more feasible. I’m expecting an open and interesting game which could go either way. But like Sunday, I’ll settle for a draw. 2-2
Kayode: It will be a cracking game! And I see a winner emerging as both sides have lots of attacking talent. The hosts are more astute in defence and this could make the difference. 2-1
BURNLEY V LEICESTER CITY
Burnley are without a win in eight league meetings with Leicester City, drawing three and losing five. Aisha, an easy win for the hosts?
Aisha: This is a game between two sides fighting to avoid the drop. But sadly, it seems they are fighting a losing battle. They sit in the bottom three, so this relegation six-pointer could go a long way in helping one of them avoid the drop at the end of the season. I fancy Burnley winning this tie. 1-0
Kayode: Burnley are bottom on the log and with only five games left after this tie they need to win it at all costs. On current form, they are poor winning just one game in their last ten matches. But surprise, surprise that win was against champions Man City. Can they repeat that heroic again this time against fellow strugglers? Hmmmmm…0-0
Sunday: Leicester are on mini revival at the moment and have risen from the dead after being all but written off a few weeks ago. They have won their last three games and I don’t see Burnley halting that momentum as the season come to a close. 1-2
CRYSTAL PALACE V HULL CITY
Crystal Palace are undefeated in their last seven home matches against Hull in all competitions. Kayode, can they extend it to number eight?
Kayode: It looks highly likely because Hull travel to Selhurt Park on the back of a wretched run of form which has seen them flirt with the relegation zone. They are level on points with Leicester City whose recent good form has given them a realistic hope of surviving. The major worry for Hull is not this game but the upcoming matches against Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United. They are thus condemned to beat Crystal Palace which will be a daunting task. 2-2
Aisha: Four wins in their last five games have all but secured another season of top flight football for Crystal Palace. Before the arrival of Alan Pardew, a relegation battle was their lot but now they are in the comforts of mid-table. Hull need this game more and could nick it…just! 0-1
Sunday: Palace will be looking to bounce back to winning ways after losing to West Brom at the weekend. But facing a Hull side who are under a serious threat of playing in the Championship next season and looking at the fixture list Kayode just read out, there is little they can do to save their season now. The hosts to compound their woes. 3-1
NEWCASTLE UNITED V SWANSEA CITY
Newcastle have lost their last six matches which is their joint second worst run in the BPL. A loss on Saturday would mark it their worst run of results in the Premier League era. Aisha, can they bag this ignoble award?
Aisha: If one goes by the stats, then they will! Swansea have not lost at St James’ Park since returning to the top flight, making it one of the happier hunting grounds for the Swans. Like you said, Newcastle have lost six matches on the bounce and their manager John Carver will be keen to get back to winning ways as he tries to show he is capable of getting the job on a permanent basis. He even hinted that he may change the side’s style of play to be more direct, which could be effective against Swansea who like to dominate the ball. I can’t wait to see how quickly his players will adapt to this method. I cant wait to predict that they will lose this game. 1-2
Sunday: Carver is under pressure as a poll on the Evening Chronicle’s website showed that 97% of Newcastle fans – me included – don’t want him in the post next season. It’s clear that the club needs a shake-up both on the pitch and off it, and a new manager will be central to that, but to start with, Newcastle must consolidate their league position with some wins before the end of the campaign starting with this game. I think Newcastle United are going to avoid setting a new record for successive defeats in the Premier League. 2-1
Kayode: Although Newcastle are in free fall, it would take an extraordinary sequence of events for them to be dragged into the bottom three. Swansea have had a good season and are on course for their best finish in the Premier League since their promotion in 2011. But they haven’t won either of their last two matches. However, they will see Saturday’s match as an opportunity to return to winning ways given their impressive record on Tyneside. I see a draw, though. 1-1
QUEENS PARK RANGERS V WEST HAM UNITED
The last time QPR managed a victory over West Ham in the Premier League was back in April 1996. Sunday, that was 19 years ago when you were in JSS 1! (General laughter) Do you see them winning this time around?
Sunday: If QPR have any ambitions of remaining in the top flight, this will be a game that must not slip away. West Ham are not in good form at the moment so I expect the hosts to pounce and get the precious points that could ease their relegation worries. 1-0
Kayode: With five games remaining, West Ham have nothing to play for. No relegation worries; no European football chase for next season. Their season is over and their performance against Man City last week is indicative of that. This second-rate London derby would end in victory for the home side. QPR over run the Hammers. 2-0
Aisha: Here is a game involving teams with unequal desire. The outcome has little effect on the Hammers’ standing on the log but it’s a different story all together for QPR. Two London clubs; two different tales. Unlike Charles Dickens’ A Tale of two Cities this is more like A City of two Tales! QPR will show more hunger and desire so might just win it. 2-1
STOKE CITY V SUNDERLAND
At home Stoke have won 33 of their 66 ties against the Black Cats. Kayode, can they make it 34 out of 67?
Kayode: It is not that straight forward because they are meeting a side flirting with the not so beautiful relegation! They are on 16th position before the match day and just a point ahead of the 18th place Leicester and that should bother all their fans. Not that Stoke are particularly in great form either. They have only garnered seven points out of possible 18 in the last six games. A game involving two shambolic teams one might say. But Sunderland need to win it. They won’t. 1-1
Sunday: Our own Osaze Odemwingie has returned to training but should remain out for the game against the Black Cats. His compatriot Victor Moses remains out for the season with injury but Mark Hughes’ side should pip the hapless Sunderland. 1-0
Aisha: I expect Stoke to beat Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium. The Black Cats and their fans of all shapes and colour had expected the tide to have turned for their team especially after the victory over rivals Newcastle. But that has not happened and with five games to go it looks unlikely to happen. 2-0
Let us go on a short break.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION V LIVERPOOL
Tony Pulis has never lost a BPL home game against Liverpool (W3, D3). Aisha, can he maintain the record?
Aisha: It looks likely because Liverpool are in dire straight at the moment. Out of the FA Cup and struggling in the league. West Brom have climbed up to 13th place after initial wobbling under new manager Tony Pulis. Currently, they are eight points clear of the bottom three with safety almost guaranteed. A win is not guaranteed in this match but yes, Pulis unbeaten home run against the Reds will continue. 1-1
Sunday: Liverpool have dropped out of the race for the top four with back-to-back defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal and anything less than a win would be calamitous for the Champions League ambition. I go for a draw as well. 1-1
Kayode: Sunday let’s face it, the Champions League ambition of Liverpool is dead and buried. Even if they win all remaining six matches which will fetch them 75 points. And you think their rivals would fold their hands and watch Liverpool snatch fourth position? It won’t happen. 2-1
MANCHESTER CITY V ASTON VILLA
City have won their last five games against Villa at the Etihad. Kayode, surely the champions should beat Villa?
Kayode: City are no longer in the race for the title. They should now worry more on the likes of Liverpool and Southampton hoping to snatch fourth place from them. They were poor against West Ham despite the 2-0 win. Villa have just qualified for the FA Cup final after several years and are surely on a high heading into this game. I won’t be surprised if they pull a draw. 0-0
Sunday: Aston Villa have been in good form under Tim Sherwood and have only lost twice in their last six league matches. Remember they beat Liverpool 2-1 in last week’s FA Cup semi-final. They are in high spirit and Manuel Pellegrini’s team will have to be wary of this when they meet. 2-2
Aisha: City will be looking to maintain their position in the top four with maximum points against a resurgent Aston Villa. It will be tough for them but they will triumph eventually. 3-0
EVERTON V MANCHESTER UNITED
The Red Devils have won just three of their last nine away league games (D4 L2). Sunday, can the Toffees add to their woes on the road?
Sunday: The record book says no because Everton have lost 31 Premier League games against Manchester United; four more than against any other opponent. And the only team to lose to an opponent in the league on more occasions than Everton v Man United (31) is Aston Villa v Man United (32). The game could end in a draw. 1-1
Kayode: Sunday, two can play the game! According to the same record book, Manchester United have suffered a defeat in each of their last two BPL trips to Goodison Park (1-0 in August 2012 and 2-0 in April 2014). But gladly, my United have not lost three successive away games in the league against Everton since September 1987. An away win for the Red Devils? Yes, definitely! 1-3
Aisha: It will be an interesting match with Fellaini the centre of attraction. How he handles his nerves against his former club and their hostile fans could shape the outcome of this match. 1-1
ARSENAL V CHELSEA
Arsene Wenger has lost just five competitive home games by a three-plus goal margin during his tenure as Arsenal manager; three of which have come against Chelsea. Aisha, a high scoring win for the Blues?
Aisha: Arsenal have won just two of their last 12 league clashes with Chelsea (D2 L8). And Chelsea have kept four clean sheets in their last six clashes with Arsenal, conceding just two goals in total. In the reverse fixture against the Blues back in October, Arsenal failed to have a shot on target for the first time in a Premier League match since September 2003 against Manchester United at Old Trafford. I expect a very tight game which will end in a draw. 1-1
Kayode: That Jose Mourinho has never lost as an opposition coach against Arsene Wenger in any competition (W7 D5 L0) will be mentioned next season when they meet again in the BPL. The best result Arsenal can get here is a draw. And they will get it. 1-1
Sunday: Arsenal are the best BPL side in 2015 as they have won more points in than any other side (33). They need this point more than ever as they hope to mount a faint title fight. But then Chelsea have Didier Drogba who has scored eight times in 11 league appearances against Arsenal in his career. Against no team has he scored more in the division (also scored eight v WBA). He will score a dramatic winner. 1-2
WEEK 32 PREDICTIONS
|Crystal Palace v West Brom||2-0||3-1||2-1||0-2|
|Everton v Burnley||2-0||2-1||3-0||1-0|
|Leicester v Swansea||1-0||1-1||2-2||2-0|
|Stoke v Southampton||1-1||2-2||1-1||2-1|
|Chelsea v Man United||1-3||1-1||1-2||1-0|
|Man City v West Ham||2-0||3-1||2-0||2-0|
|Newcastle v Tottenham||2-2||1-2||1-1||1-3|
PUNDITS LEAGUE TABLE
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