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Saints meet Devil as United eye 5th straight win

Saints meet Devil as United eye 5th straight win
December 06
10:18 2014
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Manchester United travel to Southampton in Monday Night Football, with the Red Devils targeting a fifth straight Barclays Premier League (BPL) victory.

Back-to-back defeats against Man City and Arsenal have stalled the Saints’ bright start to the season under Ronald Koeman and the Dutchman will be desperate for his team to halt that losing run.

United, who can leapfrog them into third with victory at St Mary’s, have an excellent record against the south coast club, winning nine and losing just one of the last 12 league meetings.

So, what happens when the Saints battle with Red Devils?

Our soccer analysts comprising Sunday Omeike, Aisha Falode, and Kayode Tijani are back to give you their views and predictions on our star game of the week as well as the other nine fixtures.

Welcome to the BPL preview.

NEWCASTLE UNITED V CHELSEA

Sunday, your Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Chelsea at St James’ Park in November 2013 is Alan Pardew’s only Barclays Premier League victory over Jose Mourinho after five loses. But Mourinho’s Chelsea have never won at St James’ Park in four visits – two draws and two losses. Who win this?

Sunday: Chelsea have been on the charge in the BPL and their last game against To‎ttenham showed their ruthlessness. The attack is just so strong, regardless of who starts upfront, while the defence is just Chelsea-esque – they don’t enjoy conceding. Newcastle have seen their good form come to a halt and they blew hot and cold against Burnley in their last game. They’d need to be at their best to have a chance against Chelsea – something I don’t see happening due to their injury list. Sammy Ameobi and Pappis Cisse to disturb but Edin Hazard to lead the way for Chelsea. 1-3

Aisha: Chelsea slipped up against Sunderland last weekend but swiftly returned to winning ways against Spurs in midweek. Newcastle have turned the corner from their very bad start to the season and are now doing OK. But I think Chelsea have too much quality and will win this. 1-2

Kayode: Chelsea are on top right now, unbeaten and ruthless but still not getting complacent. An away trip to Newcastle is a banana peel they should be really careful of. Surely, they must lose at some point but can Newcastle be the team to shock them? Newcastle have been inconsistent to say the least but can beat any team on their day. They come into this game with the away draw at Burnley but must really play their best game this season to get any point in this match despite being the home team. Chelsea are being chased by the top four teams and will not want to drop any point even on the road.  The ruthless consistency of the Blues showed when they crushed Tottenham – pure class without emotions, all engines running. Will Newcastle’s captain Fabricio Coloccini return from his injury layoff and can they lift their game and achieve some better than the draw with Burnley? Well, it’s a Chelsea win again and like you guys have said, I see no upset. 1-3

HULL CITY V WEST BROM

Hull City have won two and lost none of the four league meetings with the Baggies. Aisha, what’s your take?

Aisha: Hull City got an impressive draw away to Everton in midweek while West Brom continued to struggle losing to West Ham. I’m calling this a draw. 1-1

Sunday: Hull City have been desperately unlucky not to have picked up wins in recent weeks.‎ They finally got a point on board with the draw at Everton, where they were very impressive. Sone Aluko seems to inject pace into their attack and pressing game, while there is Michael Dawson in defence to lead them. Like Hull, West Brom need to start looking up in the table, else they’d be dragged into relegation struggle. They’ve been on a poor form just like Hull, but jitters are being felt more at the Hawthorns. Alan Irvine desperately needs points but will get none at the Tigers’ backyard. 2-0

Kayode: Hull City got a very valuable away point against Everton and now will fancy their chances against West Brom at home to further raise their fans hopes of an escape from relegation zone. West Brom will attempt to get something from this after losing at home to West Ham and this again is a game of teams attempting to move gradually away from drop zone. Will Nigerian youngster, Sone Aluko play another inspirational part in this like he did coming from the bench and scoring that amazing goal away to Everton to get that valuable draw? The fact that WBA have lost their last four games in the BPL will not be lost on Hull City but rather than being a disadvantage Hull will be advised to prepare for a huge fight. Difficult to call but I risk a Hull City win. 2-1

LIVERPOOL V SUNDERLAND

Sunday, seven of the last 11 goals Liverpool have scored against the Black Cats were netted by Luis Suarez and two by Daniel Sturridge. Where will their goals come from considering Suarez has moved to pastures new and Sturridge is out injured?

Sunday: Liverpool are starting to pick up points in the league and this has coincided with two factors: Rickie Lambert starting upfront and Steven Gerrard being pushed up to no10 position instead of the quarterback no4 where he expends more energy (brings out a banner that reads ‘Give the man his contract, Brendan!’). Sunderland, on the other hand, held firm against Chelsea but were blown out of the water by Man City, therefore a return to defensive rigidity is expected from Gus Poyet’s men. Liverpool’s eye would be on their all-important mid-week Champions League game against Basel and this could affect their focus in this game but they should still grind out the win. 2-1

Kayode: Liverpool are at home to a beatable Sunderland after the huge boost of an away win after consistent bad results and struggles. The Reds showed signs of resurgence with a sweet 3-1 moral boosting away win against Leicester with captain fantastic Steven Gerrard among the goals. There’s still hope for the Reds if they can be consistent and this should be a possibility. They can’t afford to lose against a Sunderland team Man City whitewashed at home. A major bragging right for the Reds is that they have not lost to Sunderland in their 12 meetings in all competitions and will love that tradition to continue so that they can move up in the table. Is there a way Sunderland can capitalise on Liverpool’s weak back four? But then, the attack is looking sharper and the fans will be an added advantage. Liverpool to win 2-0

Aisha: Liverpool are enjoying some sort of a resurgence with back-to-back wins. Sunderland were impressive in holding Chelsea to a goalless draw but were woeful in the game with Manchester City. I don’t see them posing much of a threat at Anfield. Liverpool to win this 3-1

QUEENS PARK V BURNLEY

Four games without a defeat is Burnley’s longest ever unbeaten run in the BPL. The last time the Clarets went four unbeaten in the top-flight was October 1975, and Sunday, may I ask where you were then? (General laughter) Tell us who wins this.

Sunday: QPR against a relegation-threatened team at home would have been a straightforward win until they had to battle it out with Leicester for a 3-2 win. I think the status quo will return against a rejuvenated Burnley side that’ll still pose some threat with Danny Ings upfront, but Harry Redknapp’s men will keep all three points.‎ Charlie Austin to be among the scorers. 2-1  

Aisha: QPR seem to be sure candidates for relegation this season but Burnley are not doing much better themselves. 1-1

Kayode: Relegation candidates QPR and Burnley know a loss means sinking deeper into oblivion and will fight like their lives depends on victory. Drawing at home against Newcastle can’t be seen as a calamity for Burnley but they need this away win. But the home team, QPR also need this after the away loss to Swansea. Can this also end in a draw like QPR’s last three home games against Burnley? But then like most teams find out QPR always get fired up in front of their fans. Looks like a QPR win this time. 2-0

STOKE CITY V ARSENAL

Kayode, Stoke have lost their last three league games and with Alexis Sanchez in rich vein of goal scoring form, a win for the Gunners?

Kayode: Stoke City are so sure of troubling the Gunners after losing a close game away to Manchester United. They can’t afford a home loss or even a draw but the Gunners need this to inch nearer their traditional top-four position so this will be a fight till the last. Stoke will hope on Steven Nzonzi scoring again like he did at Old Trafford to ease the tension on manager Mark Hughes. And like you said, the Gunners will hope on the consistent and in form Sanchez whose late winner gave them full points against Southampton. Arsenal are ambitious and have no choice than to show intent away from home to a tough team in Stoke who have lost their last three BPL games. Ironically, Arsenal have yet to win in their trips away to Stoke at the Britannia in three games – two draws and two losses speak volumes. The referee for this game will have a tough job as both teams can’t seem to forgive each other for the unfortunate Ryan Shawcross and Aaron Ramsey incident the last time out. Will tempers continue to boil here? 1-2

Sunday: Stoke City have been impressive in the past month with their Barcelonaesque playing style. Who would’ve thought the Britannia would be home to a brand of free-flowing passing game few years ago? But credit to Mark Hughes, he has turned them around and Bojan is at the thick of it. However, results have not been forthcoming and they have a wretched home record. Arsenal have Sanchez, like you guys pointed out earlier, to thank for their current position in the league as they have not been convincing all season and I expect them to drop points against a Stoke side that will go toe-to-toe with them in the passing game. A draw on the cards! 1-1

Aisha: Arsenal have had to dig deep to grind out results in their last two games and they may have to do the same against Stoke. The Potters were unlucky to lose to Manchester United in midweek so I fancy them to get a point from this. 2-2

Let’s go on a commercial break.

Mata scores the qualiser in the 1-1 draw at last time out at St. Mary's

Mata scores United’s equaliser the last time out at St. Mary’s

We are back!

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR V CRYSTAL PALACE

Crystal Palace have not claimed a single point from any of their three London derbies so far this season and are level on zero with QPR. Aisha, another London blues against fellow London team?

Aisha: Yes. Though, Tottenham were poor against Chelsea but I believe they have a good chance against Crystal Palace. I tip the home side to win this 2-1

Kayode: Home team Spurs were brutally beaten by the rampaging Chelsea’s unbeaten machine and now face a Crystal Palace that disappointingly lost at home to Aston Villa in their last game. Spurs can’t afford to drop any point here but Palace, a great team on their day also need this so they don’t join the bottom strugglers. Maybe Harry Kane can find his scoring boot this time for Spurs and not miss sitters and maybe Aaron Lennon can come good and much will be expected of others like Ben Davis and Ryan Mason. Which Spurs will turn up? Is it the Spurs that defeated Everton and were so fluent in doing so last weekend or the shallow Spurs that capitulated against Chelsea midweek? I see them winning this, though. 2-1

Sunday: Tottenham huffed and puffed against Chelsea and were roundly beaten. However, the Spurs of old are beginning to come back to life. They showed pace, attacking intent with less defensive solidity and in Harry Kane, a raw but genuine‎ forward who always looks to go direct. Palace, are overly dependent on the form of their wingers and if attacked relentlessly as Tettenham would subject them to, they’d crumble. Spurs to claim the win. 3-1

MANCHESTER CITY V EVERTON

Roberto Martinez has faced Manchester City 10 times in the BPL as a manager, and never been on the winning side (D1 L9). Kayode, will the misery continue for the Spaniard?

Kayode: Everton struggled at home, drawing against Hull City via a superb goal from Nigerian star Sone Aluko who came from the bench. They were uninspiring but against a desperate defending champions City at the Emirates, this is a huge challenge and I don’t see them surviving. Sergio Aguero was as dangerous as ever with a brace as City annihilated Sunderland and this to me can only go one way. City struggled for some time but look like getting back to their best. The first priority is not to let Chelsea out of sight and the other priority is maintaining consistency in form? Aguero will be key in front while Yaya Toure can return to form. Everton are beatable at home. City are not lacking in confidence and the UEFA Champions League win against Bayern Munich is key plus an array of stars ready to challenge for the top of the table. 2-0

Aisha: Seven goals in two matches is a clear indication that the champions are back in form. Everton are a decent side but I don’t see them stopping City particularly with Sergio Aguero at the peak of his powers. 3-1

Sunday: Man City came into their stride against Sunderland with everything clicking for them – well, except for the early goal conceded. They also blew away an impressive Southampton away from home and they return to the Etihad stadium with 6 points from their two fixtures away. They will knock Everton to the ground here and Roberto Martinez’s boys will only be able to resist for so long. They can hurt the champions on their day but the team is looking jaded already amid too many games in a short period. This would cost them against City who have a bigger squad to compete. Aguero is also in the form of his life and with Yaya Toure is back on form and Samir Nasri slowly regaining some form also. Everton are a mile away from a chance. 2-0

WEST HAM UNITED V SWANSEA CITY

West Ham have won nine and lost none of their last 11 home games against Swansea in all competitions. Sunday, surely this is a straight forward win for the home side. No?

Sunday: Sam Allardyce’s attack-minded Hammers would be ready to knock the Swans out of the water in this entertaining encounter. There is finally belief at the London club and with many of their top performers back from injury; West Ham should outscore the Welsh side. Gary Monk’s team is technically sound on their day but away from home they do not seem to pose the same threat as when at home. Wilfred Bony will impress as always but I doubt if his form would be enough for a draw. 2-1

Aisha: West Ham have been very good this season and that’s why they are currently 5th on the table. Swansea are not far behind on 7th just two points adrift of Sam Allardyce’s men. This is a tough one to call but I feel West Ham will take it 2-1

Kayode: Meeting of two teams with top-four potentials. West Ham are coming into this from an inspiring away win against West Brom while Swansea also picked three points from a home win to Queens Park Rangers. So who blinks here first? West Ham always seem to win all their games against Swansea and this won’t be different,  winning nine while not losing any to their opponents in eleven meetings in all competitions like the moderator said is quite impressive. Swansea are however not to be underrated but West Ham will win this close game 2-1 like others have said.

ASTON VILLA V LEICESTER CITY

Christian Benteke is making his return from a three-match suspension and scored the only goal on Tuesday night against Crystal Palace. How important is his return to Villa and the quest to win this game, Sunday?

Sunday: The best news for the Villains is the return of Benteke, and his goals are with him. The big Belgian sealed a rare win for the Midland club after three consecutive draws, and he should lead them to another crucial win this weekend to move them up the table. Leicester, on the other hand, have reached rock-bottom and are last in the league. No win in 9 games for Nigel Pearson’s side which keeps having the look of a Championship team with every passing week. The goals have dried up and Villa don’t concede much against bottom sides either. Amid fans’ unrest and sack rumours slowly trickling in, Pearson needs to stop the rot but possibly not in this fixture. 2-1

Aisha: Leicester City are bottom on the log like Sunday rightly pointed out. I don’t see anything in their recent results to suggest that they will come away with any point against Aston Villa. 2-1

Kayode: Home team Villa can’t afford to lose at home as that will drive them lower and nearer the dreaded relegation waters. It’s easy to assume that it’s going to be easy playing the bottom team Leicester who have lost eight games and conceded 24 goals. But the BPL is full of surprises. Troubled Liverpool found succour in beating Leicester at home and it’s difficult to see Leicester winning on the road, maybe Leonardo Ulloa can repeat his goal magic .But then the statistics see things differently as the last three meetings between these two always ends with the away team winning. Can Leicester grab this? Instinct says no, they can’t. Beating Crystal Palace would have boosted their moral. It is Villa’s three points. 3-1

SOUTHAMPTON V MANCHESTER UNITED

Southampton swapped places with Manchester City after losing to the champions last week. Kayode, United could do same with them and move up to third if they win their fifth BPL game in a row at St Mary’s on Monday night. Can your team do it?

Kayode: Clash of potential titlists. Surprise team of the season, Southampton were brought back to reality, losing to City  and Arsenal and now will face Manchester United who are looking really good to go and it’s the moment of truth and test for the Ronald Koeman led team as they consistently face the big boys. Can they possibly lose at home to United? Not impossible but this will be a cracker. Both have tasted three defeats each. United are on a high, beating a difficult Stoke City 2-1 at Old Trafford. Marouane Fellaini is really on fire right now and he secured the Stoke win with Mata also scoring. Can Mata again conjure up the magical free kick we saw last week? David de Gea in goal is a huge asset. Southampton in spite of the consistent loses still maintain the third position and can redress things with a home win but will United be boosted by their rise in form? The crowd at Saint Mary’s do realise also that Manchester United hardly lose on this ground as they have lost just once in twelve games here, winning nine times at the home of the Saints. Are the encounters with the big boys catching up with the Saints smooth run? I see Manchester united winning a close game. 1-3

Aisha: Southampton set such high standards for themselves early in the season that it was something of a surprise to see them lose two consecutive matches albeit against Man City and Arsenal. They face another huge test against United who appear to have their groove back. I think Southampton will halt their slide but I don’t see them beating United. 1-1

Sunday: I think I’d go biased and give it as a Man United win. Southampton are beginning to be stretched with a growing injury list and have only threatened to deceive against the big boys. No win in three and just one goal scored. Pelle has been atrocious upfront while the midfield looks short of ideas even though they still pass the ball well. They also lack the squad depth to deal with these injuries and loss of form. United however are on a four-match winning streak and with Rooney and Falcao set to be back in the side, an improving defence and a monstrous David de Gea in goal, they look good value for a win which would cement their top-four credential. 1-2

WEEK 13 PREDICTIONS

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

PUNDITS LEAGUE TABLE

PUNDIT WK 13 CORRECT RESULT (1PT) WK 13 SCORE (2PTS) WK 13 TOTAL POINTS CUMULATIVE POINTS
Sunday Omeike 7 4 11 80
Aisha Falode 5 2 7 74
Kayode Tijani 6 2 8 60

 

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