Arsenal v Tottenham
The future looks bright based on some of the Carling Cup displays against Liverpool, letâ€™s just hope young Eastmond turns in to the midfield enforcer Arsenal so desperately need. No bite in midfield and no protection for the back four are the reasons why the Gunners can struggle to close down games and hold on to leads when theyâ€™re not totally dominating. Spurs have been similarly erratic in their performances and this has goals written all over it. Another 4-4 draw anyone? Not for me, Iâ€™m thinking 4-2 Arsenal for some reason with Arshavin featuring predominantly on the scoresheet.
Paddy Power: Tottenham to come from behind and win 17/1
Bolton v Chelsea
Wanderers have had more success playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in recent years, so maybe their 4-0 spanking there in the Carling Cup heralds a reversals of fortunes. Itâ€™s unlikely though. The Blues are in free-scoring form and once they overcome Boltonâ€™s stubborn resistance this could turn into another goal-fest. Chelsea -2 goals at 3/1 anyone? Joe Cole has impressed since his return and itâ€™s only a matter of time before he hits the back of the net.
Paddy Power: Chelsea to win 3-1 – 8/1
Burnley v Hull
Two games to save his job? Before the season started if Phil Brown was told heâ€™d be in this position, he wouldnâ€™t have been too upset at having Burnley away at such a crucial time. Of course Owen Coyleâ€™s side have been something of a revelation, especially at home and even the big sides wonâ€™t relish the prospect of going to Turf Moor this season. Brown needs to recapture the team-spirit from the first half of last term, without it he might not even get that second game.
Paddy Power: Burnley to come from behind and win 9/1
Everton v Aston Villa
It seems as though David Moyes is forever complaining about missing important players through injury. Thatâ€™s because he is. In turn thatâ€™s because he seems to have the most injury prone squads in the league, especially without Newcastle to compete with. Their current poor run is about more than missing players and Moyes needs a confidence boosting result, no matter how it comes. If he can draw Aston Villa in to a scrap and the crowd get behind the team then thereâ€™s some joy to be had in this game. A win would be nice but a draw will do after 3 losses in a row.
Paddy Power: Tim Cahill to score and Everton to win the match 9/2
Fulham v Liverpool
A tough game for a Liverpool side which has now lost 5 from their last 6 in all competitions. Ironically though there was a lot to be hopeful about from their Carling Cup loss to Arsenal, particularly a first sighting of the Italian Albert Aquilani, who showed enough to suggest he wonâ€™t take long adjusting. Which is handy because heâ€™s the kind of player the Reds desperately need. Fulham will offer stiff resistance and with no Gerrard and Aquilani most likely to be on the bench, then only Benayoun offers that creative touch in midfield. The home side will be a threat from set pieces, something the visitors have yet to get a grip on this season. A tough one to call but Rafa is still in something of a corner and if history teaches us nothing else, itâ€™s that Benitezâ€™ teams play best when the pressureâ€™s on.
Paddy Power: Fernando Torres to score two or more goals 9/2
Man Utd v Blackburn
Is Rio Ferdinand finished? Always over-hyped anyway but if heâ€™s losing his pace then he loses the ability to atone for poor positioning and decision making. Whether itâ€™s Rioâ€™s poor form or having Ben Foster between the sticks for so long, the United defence is still unsettled and with Vidic missing thereâ€™s an opportunity for Blackburn if they have a real go. Rumours that Sam Allardyce sleeps with a signed picture of Sir Alex by his bed may or may not be true but his sides have rarely troubled United. A large part of that is down to the gulf in quality but who doesnâ€™t love a good conspiracy theory? The champions have been winning without playing well all season and itâ€™ll catch up with them eventually. Will Blackburn be the team to do it? Probably not but at 16/1 itâ€™s certainly tempting to believe an upset is on the cards.
Paddy Power: Rio Ferdinand to score an own goal 66/1
Portsmouth v Wigan
Itâ€™s been a mixed bag for Robert Martinez but overall Wigan fans will be pleased with the teamâ€™s progress and relegation isnâ€™t something theyâ€™ll be worrying about at this time. For Portsmouth fans it must be difficult to think of anything else. Pompey are in real danger and though theyâ€™ve been competitive in most of their games this season they lack creativity and a cutting edge up front. Theyâ€™re sure to pick up a home point eventually, arenâ€™t they? Wigan have beaten Chelsea and Villa away from home so Fratton Park will hold no great fears for them. Paul Hart desperately needs his players to show they have the quality to save Portsmouth from the drop, a very real danger just ten games in. Another tough one to call but the form of Wiganâ€™s Rodallega could prove the difference and hammer another nail in the coffin of Paul Hartâ€™s position at Portsmouth.
Paddy Power: Wigan Athletic to win 2-1:Â 9/1
Stoke v Wolverhampton
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United account for Stokeâ€™s three league losses and Chelsea needed injury time to do it. Unspectacular but very solid and looking likely to finish comfortably clear of relegation, Tony Pulis will be pleased up to this point. Wolves have flattered to deceive a little at times but they have at least arrested their losing streak with a couple of battling draws. It doesnâ€™t promise to be a feast of quality football and of the match prices, the draw at 23/10 is the most enticing.
Sunderland v West Ham
Itâ€™s hard to believe that West Ham will be in the bottom three come the end of the season. Zola has them playing good passing and moving football and they have the quality to be sitting comfortably in mid-table. Their fight back against Arsenal could be the boost the players need to start turning good performances in to points. Sunderland have been very strong at home and with Bent and Jones up front, they should have the firepower to edge a game with plenty of goals.
Paddy Power: Sunderland to come from behind and win 9/1
Birmingham v Man City
Much like Real Madrid, Man Cityâ€™s gamut of star players have yet to gel into a coherent, definitive team with a lot of fine tuning still needed from Mark Hughes. City have drawn their last three in the league and St Andrews offers another potentially tight and tricky game. For the home side, Christian Benitez is playing well and is due a goal and could be worth a sneaky bet to get on the score sheet. City have the quality to sweep past Birmingham but while the pieces are there, the jigsaw has yet to be put together properly and a frustrating afternoon is on the cards.
Paddy Power: Birmingham to win 1-0: 10/1
By Rob Dore
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