Prediction Panel 2007/8; Premier League 23 Feb 2008 - previews and predictions

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Antony Melvin


Antony Melvin is the squarefootball.net editor and spends his spare time sifting through needlessly abusive emails....
[full biography]
22/02/2008 15:00:00.
read: 1077 times.

League leaders Arsenal will hope to bag a goal or two at St. Andrews, in the early kick-off, after a frustrating week of losing at Old Trafford and drawing 0-0 with Milan at the Emirates; Birmingham will be hoping to catch the Gunners cold. In the later kick-off Manchester United travel to Newcastle hoping to deepen the gloom at St. James'. With Chelsea and Everton not playing today, Liverpool will be hoping to move into fourth by beating Middlesbrough at home. Portsmouth host Sunderland and are able to move into sixth with a big win; West Ham travel to Fulham hoping to deepen their London rivals relegation fears and Wigan host Derby in a relegation six-pointer.

Saturday, 23 February 2008; Barclays Premier League

Birmingham City (17) vs Arsenal (1), 12:45


Birmingham get the best possible time to meet Arsenal, the early kick-off on Saturday at the end of a week that has also seen Arsenal play Manchester United and Milan. As Arsenal didn't score in either of those games the expectation would be that they are due a goal or two - but Alex McLeish enjoyed some success as Scotland manager eking out narrow wins, against the odds, against French opposition. This is the best set of circumstances to find Arsenal - whether Birmingham can avoid defeat is another matter.

Predictions
Paul Grech: Away
Colin Illingworh: Away
Hugh Larkin;Away Banker
Antony Melvin: Draw

Fulham (19) vs West Ham United (10), KO 15:00


Fulham's recent upturn in form hasn't quite seen them out of the relegation zone but it will be enough to worry a West Ham side that looked strong enough to catch the top six, only for a couple of poor results to leave them again in mid-table. Fulham are now just three points from safety and the energy of Bullard and the morale of the new signings could just spring them clear.

Predictions
Paul Grech: Home
Colin Illingworth; Away
Hugh Larkin; Draw
Antony Melvin: Home

Liverpool (5) vs Middlesbrough (12), KO 15:00


To say that Liverpool are inconsistent is the understatement of understatement. To be able to lose to a poor Championship side at the weekend and then outclass the runaway Serie A leaders in victory by Tuesday says everything about Liverpool. On their day they can beat anyone, but there are too many off-days for a title challenge. Middlesbrough has cruised up the table in recent weeks and have now passed a stationary Newcastle team, seemingly stalled at the side of the road. Middlesbrough will play a bright, entertaining passing game that Liverpool fans would recognise as being Roy Evans trademark and Liverpool will ... who knows?

Predictions
Paul Grech: Draw
Colin Illingworth; Home
Hugh Larkin; Home
Antony Melvin: Home

Newcastle United (13) vs Manchester United (2), KO 17:15


The talk of Newcastle being in the relegation scrap is just that, talk. The simple facts are that three more wins will see Kevin Keegan's team safe - even if one of them isn't today. Manchester United are in seemingly patchy form with one win in four, but seven goals were scored against Spurs, Manchester City, Arsenal and Lyon - all difficult fixtures and the away team will expect more tonight. A draw will be a great result for Newcastle.

Predictions
Paul Grech: Away
Colin Illingworth;Home
Hugh Larkin; Away
Antony Melvin: Away

Portsmouth (8) vs Sunderland (14), KO 15:00


Twelve games left and Portsmouth are so close to a top six finish that to fall short again this season will be painful. Aston Villa are just three points clear of Pompey and not playing until Sunday so a big home win will see Harry Redknapp's team in the top six as the run-in starts. For Sunderland the stakes are at least as high, but recent wins have eased their relegation fears significantly; and another win may move them above Newcastle - a side that is surely not going to go down. Neither Portsmouth's home form or Sunderland's away is great - but perhaps Pompey will open up at home and try to score some goals, because without wins they will climb no higher than eighth. Should be a good game of football.

Predictions
Paul Grech: Home
Colin Illingworth;Home
Hugh Larkin; Home
Antony Melvin: Home

Wigan Athletic (16) vs Derby County (20), KO 15:00


This could be the defining game in Wigan's season. The team has moved out of the relegation zone under Steve Bruce but lie only a point clear of the drop zone after some tricky fixtures; and here is the fixture that every side is circling in red - a home game against doomed Derby. Paul Jewell's men have shown signs of life in recent weeks - but obviously too little too late. Doubtless Derby will pick up a couple of wins in the run-in; but if this is one of them the impact on Wigan's nerves could be catastrophic. With the relegation mark likely to be 35 points this season no-one in the bottom half is safe; this game should decide how close Wigan can get to that mark.

Predictions
Paul Grech: Home
Colin Illngworth; Home
Hugh Larkin; Draw
Antony Melvin: Home


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