It’s time for another week of Barclays Premier League football. Chelsea has reestablished their two-point led atop the league table, and have once again become to the team to beat this season. The transfer window closed on Feb 1, with no real significant changes. My pick for match of the week has to be Manchester United at Arsenal. Here I take a look at a few this week’s top matches, giving you insight on making your EPL soccer wager a winner.
# 9 Everton are unbeaten in nine Barclays Premier League matches since a 0-2 home defeat by #5 Liverpool. The two will square off for the 213th Merseyside derby at Everton on Saturday. The Reds are on a run as of late, and are unbeaten in their last six league matches. They will look to repeat last year’s victory this weekend. Star striker Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are still out injured, but Liverpool defender Fabio Aurelio is set to return. Meanwhile, Everton have been in much better form overcoming early season shortcomings due in large part numerous injured starters. They are coming off a 1-0 win over Wigan last week. Tim Cahill has been hot claiming two goals in two matches. Landon Donovan, a loan signing, is a welcome addition and will look to contribute before returning to his parent club, the LA Galaxy. While the Toffees are underdogs, they will be out for revenge from the last meeting between these two. This is one of the most contested derbies in English football, and you can expect Anfield to be in full voice come Saturday afternoon. I look for a draw in this one with both sides coming away with a point.
#2 Manchester United will get a huge opportunity to pick up a much-needed three points as they host bottom table #20 Portsmouth. The Red Devil posted a huge win at Emirates last weekend beating Arsenal 3-1. They have five win and one draw in their last six league matches. The Devils’Nemanja Vidic is expected to return to action this weekend. Vidic has been out of contention since the end of December after suffering pain from a nerve in his leg. Rio Ferdinand will miss this weekends contest as he serves the second part of a four-match ban. Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant has not any success with getting his squad out of a relegation spot since his arrival at Fratton Park. It probably won’t get any better as Portsmouth will now have to face the most in-form team on the road this weekend. It’s hard to see them finding any way to defend against the likes of Wayne Rooney and Nani, but we should be quick to remember that the Devils were beaten by Burnley earlier in the season. Nigeria striker Nwankwo Kanu is expected to be back having returned from the African Nations Cup. This should be an easy win for United at Old Trafford.
#18 Hull City looked like they might manage their first win of the New Year but gave up a second equalizer to the Wolves in last weeks match that ended in a draw. The Tiger will host #6 Manchester City this weekend. The two teams played to a draw in the corresponding fixture earlier this season. Hull is yet to record a win since November and now have a good opportunity to grab three points at home. Hull forward Geovanni will be unavailable to face his former team after suffering a minor medial ligament problem, but Nigeria midfielder Seyi Olofinjana is available after returning from the African Nations Cup while Jimmy Bullard remains around three weeks away from action after a knee problem. In the meantime, Roberto Mancini has had a fairly consistent few weeks with City so far beating Everton 2-0 in their last away match. With the return of Emmanuel Adebayor, the forward ranks have been replenished, and they are strong favorites to take all three points at the KC Stadium.
The Blues are currently atop the league table and have the Premier League’s most impressive defensive record with 11 clean sheets in 24 outings. They will bid for a 12th this Sunday, as they host top scorers #3 Arsenal, who have netted 60 goals in the same number of games. The Gunners have slipped form as of late, having taken just a single point from their last two matches and dropped their first reverse to Manchester United 2-1 last weekend at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal has had some trouble finding the back of the net recently, and if not for defender Thomas Vermaelen, they could have been shut out by United. Brazilian striker Eduardo Da Silva is set to miss out once again after sitting out the defeat to Man U with the hamstring problem he picked up against Aston Villa. In the meantime, Chelsea have dropped just two points at home all season so a big win at Stamford Bridge seems in order. Defender Jose Bosingwa and Juliano Belletti are expected to miss the game as both players recover from knee injuries. John Terry will captain the side despite his very public personal issues that were brought to light over the past week. The Blues will tough to beat on their home pitch, but the Gunners will not be looking for two straight losses. This will definitely be a close game, as both clubs have plenty to prove. I expect this hard fought battle to end in a 2-2 draw.
My other picks for the week are Tottenham over Aston Villa, Birmingham City over Wolverhampton, Fulham over Bolton, Blackburn drawing with Stoke City, West Ham over Burnley, and Sunderland drawing with Wigan.