Arsenal vs Birmingham
Arsenal simply have to win this one, having lost their previous two encounters against Chelsea, predictably, and West Brom, embarrassingly. Cesc Fabregas looks unlikely to make it back for the game, but Arsenal will be boosted by the return of Theo Walcott. Birmingham lost their first home game in the last 18 at St Andrews against
Everton last time out, and should struggle at the Emirates – especially if Cameron Jerome fails to overcome an ankle injury.
Bolton vs Stoke
Owen Coyle will be looking to add to his side’s solitary win so far against in-form Stoke, who’ve dropped just two points in their last four games. Coyle may be without Kevin Davies, who picked up an ankle injury on his England debut on Tuesday, but otherwise could name the same team that played West Brom two weeks ago. Stoke tend to struggle against Bolton, winning just one of their last eight league games in the tie: so I’m going for a low-scoring draw.
Fulham vs Spurs
Spurs face a tough test at Craven Cottage, up against one of two remaining unbeaten sides in the league: a slightly misleading fact, as Fulham have drawn six of their opening seven Premiership games. Tottenham will head to the San Siro in the week, and so you’d think they’d prioritise that game over this. That, coupled with their defensive worries (Spurs are without up to six first team defenders), would suggest that Fulham might nick a second win of the season here.
Fulham to win 3-2
Man Utd vs West Brom
Newly-promoted West Brom sit just two points behind United ahead of this weekend’s trip to Old Trafford, where they haven’t won since 1978. Despite their recent heroics at the Emirates, I can’t see West Brom, who could be missing top scorer Peter Odemwingie, taking anything away from Manchester. Whilst United’s away form has been questionable, they’ve been generally comfortable at home.
Newcastle vs Wigan
Newscastle have been unlucky with a couple of tight losses recently: it took a James Perch own goal to hand Stoke a win at St. James’, and the introduction of Adam Johnson changed the game two weeks ago at the City of Manchester Stadium. Wigan are yet to concede on the road this season (though they’ve only played twice away from home), but Newcastle should break that record against an occasionally shambolic defence.
Newcastle to win 2-1
Wolves vs West Ham
Wolves will be without captain Karl Henry, who begins a three-match ban for his awful challenge on Jordi Gomez two weeks ago, for this bottom of the table clash against West Ham. Both sides would’ve hoped for a better start to this campaign: Wolves have spent a fair bit over the summer, whilst West Ham were optimistic following the appointment of Avram Grant. Wolves have United, City, Arsenal and Chelsea up next in the league, which might just provide the incentive to go for the win here: there’s a high chance they’ll be bottom in five games time, regardless.
2-0 to Wolves
Villa vs Chelsea
Villa have won one and lost one under new manager Gerard Houllier, and face a tough challenge against the champions. John Terry returns after a convenient injury kept him out of international action in midweek, but Chelsea will be missing Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. At the same time, Villa are without Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Emile Heskey faces a fitness test after picking up an injury against Spurs a couple of weeks back. Chelsea face a bit of a trek to Moscow in the week, and so with half an eye on that, I reckon they might slip up here.
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