As a continuation of the previous edition of my Premier League predictions, this blog post contains the predictions for week 5 of the Premier League. However before we get to that, here are last weeks predictions:
Week 4: September 14th - 16th
*Key - Real scores in (brackets)
Aston Villa 2-1 Newcastle (Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle)
Everton 0-0 Chelsea (Everton 1-0 Chelsea)
Fulham 1-0 West Brom (Fulhum 1-1 West Brom)
Hull 1-1 Cardiff (Hull 1-1 Cardiff)
Man Utd 2-0 Crystal Palace (Man Utd 2-0 Crystal Palace)
Southampton 1-0 West Ham (Southampton 0-0 West Ham)
Stoke 0-1 Man City (Stoke 0-0 Man City)
Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal (Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal)
Swansea 1-1 Liverpool (Swansea 2-2 Liverpool)
Tottenham 2-0 Norwich (Tottenham 2-0 Norwich)
So without further ado here are my predictions for the up and coming week 5 fixtures:
Chelsea - None
Fulham - Bryan Ruiz, Aaron Hughes, Matthew Briggs & Maarten Stekelenburg out. Dimitar Berbatov a doubt.
Chelsea - None
Fulham - None
Chelsea - WWDL
Fulham - WLLD
Having lost their last three matches, Chelsea fans will be wondering whether the adage: "never go back to an old love" is true. Aside from the Bayern and Hull matches, every Chelsea game so far has exhibited toothless striking from the strikers and a blunt edge to the normally creative Chelsea midfield. Returning manager Jose Mourinho has to take full blame for this. He has unnecessarily tampered with the chemistry of the team and would not be surprised if already there are sections of the squad who are disgruntled and alienated.
Nonetheless, a fourth defeat is as likely as Vladimar Putin and Barack Obama being bosom buddies. Although Fulham boast a good record against local rivals Chelsea, Chelsea should have no worries against a squad that struggles to tick when when their star striker (Berbatov) is not playing well. Considering Berbatov (if he starts) is nursing an injury, I fully expect him to be marked out by the Chelsea backline, leaving the attack free to decimate Fulham. This is exactly the sort of match a manager would like after a difficult week.
Chelsea 3-0 Fulham
Liverpool: Coutinho & Johnson - Out with long term injuries
Southampton: Danny Fox and Tadanari Lee - Both a doubt
Liverpool: Luis Suarez
I will be the first to admit that I have been completely wrong about Liverpool so far this season. They have shown a resolve last seen in the Benitez years. Without completely dominating any of the matches they have played, they have taken 10 points out 12 and all of this without their best player Luis Suarez.
There is cause for concern though. With Coutinho injured, Liverpool have lost their most creative player, the link between midfield and attack. Against Swansea it was evident what he brought to the team when he was forced off with injury. Immediately he came off, Swansea began an onslaught on the Liverpool goal and in the end Liverpool were delighted to away with a draw.
With tough tackling Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin patrolling the Southampton midfield, Liverpool will miss the guile Coutinho brings. With Aspas currently flattering to deceive with nice touches that lead up to nothing, all eyes will be on Moses and Sturridge to conjure up something. With Moses, Liverpool are now a threat on the counter, something very evident on Monday night when they played Swansea. It may be a tactic Liverpool will need to deploy despite being at home. Southampton are good on the ball and with Liverpool missing their main creative outlet, it might be wise for them to sit back and soak up pressure.
A counter to that is Southampton have a sturdy defence having only conceded 2 goals, and with them struggling to score themselves (only 2 in 4 games), they may opt to sit back especially as a draw would represent a good days work.
Liverpool 0-0 Southampton
Norwich: Elliott Bennett & Ryan Bennett - Both out with knee injuries; Gary Hooper has recovered from a shin problem and is a possibility to start today.
Aston Villa: Jores Okere - Out with a cruciate ligament injury
Norwich - None
Aston Villa - None
Aston Villa: WLLL
Both teams come into this match following disappointing defeats and are currently enduring a patchy run of form. This makes victory today all the more important considering their following fixtures:
Stoke vs Norwich - 29th September Aston Villa vs Man City - 28th September
Norwich vs Chelsea - 6th October Aston Villa vs Tottenham - 20th October
Arsenal vs Norwich - 19th October
If care is not taken either side could find themselves cut adrift from at the bottom and this could set the tone for the rest of the season. Taking into the nature of Aston Villa's signings and the miraculous form needed to save them from relegation last season, perhaps this is expected from them. However, this is quite the contrary for Norwich. Chris Houghton brought seasoned professionals and all for top dollar. Yet for all their signings they have been laborious; they were lucky against Everton, poor against Hull and absolutely decimated by Tottenham.
Unfortunately for Houghton's men, the omen is against them today. In their last two trips to Carrow Road, Aston Villa have beaten Norwich. Furthermore, Villa are a better team away from home, whether Norwich's back four can deal with the pace of Villa's attack holds the key to today's result. More importantly, Aston Villa and in particular Benteke have been playing well this year. They have a right to feel cheated against Chelsea after a foul by Ivanovic went unheeded; against Liverpool it took a sublime goal for Daniel Sturridge to seal their defeat.
However, Norwich can take heart from the fact Aston Villa define the phrase "one-man team". Additionally, they are terrible in defence. They conceded a club record 69 goals last year, and despite the signings of Luna and Okere (who is now out for the season), they have yet to keep a clean sheet this season (a run extending for the past 26 matches). Last but not least, they are infuriatingly inconsistent.
Norwich 1-2 Aston Villa
Newcastle: Steven Taylor, Shola Ameobi, Jonas Gutierrez - Out
Hull: Koren, Figueroa & Mcshane - Out
Newcastle have picked up after their poor start and should be favourites for the victory today. Newcastle's management were heavily criticised for failing to make any purchases (only Remy on loan). However, many of the critics forget they imported many talented players from France in the January transfer window. My take on last seasons form can be squarely blamed on the mass influx of players they bought. Now that they are beginning to settle, it should see some return to the form that saw them finish 5th in the 2011/12 edition of the Premier League.
Hull will prove tough to beat, but the I suspect they lack the attacking prowess to trouble Newcastle.
Newcastle 2-0 Hull
West Brom: None
Sunderland: Wes Brown - Out
West Brom: None
West Brom: LDLD
Last season Mark Hughes and Alan Pardew made the mistake having a huge upheaval in player personnel. Hughes paid for it with his job, essentially relegating QPR by November, whilst Pardew narrowly escaped relegation. So what does Paolo Di Canio do? He buys 14 players and dispels of 13, the result: they are rock bottom. One gets the feeling the Sunderland chairman is a closet Newcastle fan and is secretly plotting the downfall of the club. Why on earth would you employ a man who has achieved next to nothing in football management? Why on earth would you employ someone as volatile and eccentric as Di Canio? Nay sayers may point to Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp, but at least there is a method to their madness which is represented by the numerous trophies they have won.
Since Di Canio has taken charge Sunderland have only won 2 out of 11 and I do not see that changing today. West Brom themselves have been poor, but today they can consider themselves lucky to have come up against a manager who is so out of his depth, to dedicate any more words (and believe me I could go on for eons) would be tantamount to bullying.
West Brom 2-0 Sunderland
West Ham: Andy Carroll, Joe Cole, Stewart Downing, Alou Diarra, George McCartney & Mladen Petric - All out.
Everton: Steven Pienaar - A doubt.
West Ham: None
West Ham: WDLD
Considering the injuries West Ham have, you would assume Everton would have the advantage, nonetheless I believe this gives West Ham the upper hand. It will force them to lump it into the air which will cause discomfort to a Everton-less Fellaini. And although Everton are usually adept in the air (with or without Fellaini), the way Martinez is likely to set out his team means it is unlikely Everton will have enough men back to double up against whichever target man West Ham deploy up front. Furthermore, despite the added emphasis on keeping the ball on the deck, Everton are not Barcelona and I do expect them to easily outplay West Ham on their own ground, particularly as results suggest they are still to fully adapt to the new tactics.
West Ham 1-0 Everton