Preview of EPL GW16, more importantly a game week after the unforgettable El Clasico
Anyone who witnessed the carnage at the Nou Camp is bound to feel at extremes this weekend. Fans who enjoyed an exhibition of dream football, will be upset at seeing football drop back to its mere mortal level – add to that the winter snow making the surfaces slippery / heavy and a struggling Chelsea. For ones, who came to see, arguably, the biggest game in football and didn’t admire a one sided El-Clasico contest, a tough, gritty, exciting and don’t-give-an inch weekend awaits them.
Two points separate the top three teams and a mere five points separate 7th to 17th place. To illustrate further, WBA jumped from 16th to 12th last week and can even hop upto 8th this week! So here’s a peek at the key games.
Arsenal vs Fulham: Wenger’s ‘bhoys’ would love to take advantage of being first up and keep the pressure on the contenders. The Frenchman is desperate to prove that his backline purchases were worth the salt; expect a clean sheet against Mark Hughes’ draw specialists. 2-0
Birmingham vs Tottenham: Spurs have no clean sheet since the opening day, and yet have done enough to keep winning games, just when many expected them to slip – VDV was an essential component of that phase and he is injured. Mcleish’s men will need to do what they do best – park the bus; the game will have a frustrating one way traffic. One a piece likely. 1-1.
Blackburn vs Wolves: New Indian chicken owners, a romp home victory and then themselves chickening out at OT – Sam’s side have seen the world in ten days. Expect a backlash and an assurance to home supporters. 2-1
Chelsea vs Everton: Minus the suspended Arteta, the toffees’ creativity gets further reduced. Expecting another upset at the bridge can be ruled out, given its rich recent history. Despite Cahill’s heroics, Everton are just 2 points above relegation zone. Chelsea is due for a win, simply by law of averages. Lampard or not part, a victory is in store. 1-0
Man City vs Bolton: Owen Coyle’s team slumped to an unexpected defeat last weekend but they have an unusual trend – just one clean sheet and yet have failed to score just twice so far – which means goals are in store. Mancini has reacted only when his prime objective (of finishing in top 4) has got threatened. 2-1
Wigan vs Stoke City: am going with my first away win of the week. Stoke have scored just one goal lesser than Mancini’s expensive lineup and Wigan at 11 goals have scored the least in the season so far. 0-2
Blackpool vs Berbatov United: The Bulgarian is finally delivering the promise and is the man of the last week – top goal scorer with eleven! Blackpool are due a loss, United had a wake up call midweek (rude one); time for a backlash. (btw keep predicting SAF’s starting XI)1-3
WBA vs Newcastle: Newcastle haven’t won since Kevin Nolan was injured; at the same time their results against the Chelsea and Arsenal cannot be taken for granted. Like Man City, they are a team which tends to play better against bigger teams. WBA lost midweek to Ipswich and are due a reversal, tough to call – suggest you put your insurance. 2-1
Sunderland vs West Ham: Poor Avram Grant, he was inches away from giving Roman Abramovich which Mourinho, Ranieri, Hiddink and Ancellotti (last year) failed – a champion’s league crown. He still could be having dreams of why Terry slept (!), sorry, slipped at Moscow. Grant got some revenge when he beat, sorry, thrashed a second string United side. Bruce’s men are on a ‘Bruce Lee’ run of form, and with Bent back, expect a straight result and suggest banking your bonus. 3-2
Liverpool vs Aston Villa: Hodgson vs Houlier battle will be battle of midfield at Anfield – a ground which will witness more home games this month. Good time for Hodgson to lay bare his tactics (read: clean sheet).Villa have been poor away from home, although they started brightly vs Birmingham midweek (Larsson’s penalty was very much against the flow). 1-0
Tell us your IKTS scores!
Haradona’s Tip: The thumb rule (which works mostly) is that every GW, away teams win 30% of the games. So, incase by Saturday night, we have three games with away wins, do tamper your IKTS scores for the rest of the games!