Prediction Panel 2007/8; Premier League 22 March - 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]
22/03/2008 11:30:00.
read: 744 times.

Before the onset of "The Second Massively Overhyped Always A Let Down Sunday" there is the little matter of the rest of the Premier League to consider. Everton can move up to Liverpool's 59 points with a win over West Ham; and the Champions' League fight would be renewed. Portsmouth travel to Spurs with one eye on the FA Cup and controversy over Defoe; Aston Villa will hope to reverse their slide at home to relegation threatened Sunderland. Manchester City will travel to relegation zone Bolton - in another intense derby match; as is Blackburn versus Wigan, who are separated by three league places and fully 15 league points. There are also three games between the relegation candidates; Middlesbrough will look to all but eliminate their worries at home to Derby, Newcastle have another tense day ahead against improving Fulham and Reading play Birmingam with both teams on the up.

Saturday's games
Sunday's games

Saturday, 22 March 2008; Barclays Premier League

Aston Villa (7) vs Sunderland (17), KO 15:00


Villa have hit a rocky patch with just two wins in the last eight games - not the form to be taking into the run-in. So Villa start the weekend seven points behind Everton in the final, guaranteed, UEFA Cup spot and really need to win if they want European football through the direct route. Sunderland are hovering uncertainly over the drop, somewhat reminiscent of a lady in a disreputable nightclub toilet. The toilet being disreputable rather than, necessarily, the nightclub. Sunderland haven't scored in four games, although the unfortunately ruled out one at Derby could prove very costly. Sunderland's away record is awful and Villa are a good team - but there is a suspicion that Sunderland may fight harder for a result.

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

Blackburn Rovers (9) vs Wigan Athletic (12), KO 15:00


Blackburn look set for another difficult chase for UEFA Cup football, which appears to be the minimum aim of the impressive Mark Hughes - who appears to be able to conjure up good league positions with a very small transfer fund, and a deeply unglamorous club. But their are levels of glamour and Wigan is keeping its head above water with even fewer resources, and less glamour. Steve Bruce's appointment has seen Wigan climb the table quite steadily and Wigan are now nearly safe; so both sides might be lacking a touch of motivation. In a hard fought local derby this could well end up level after 90 minutes.

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

Bolton Wanderers (18) vs Manchester City (8), KO 15:00


Bolton are now staring relegation full in the face; Fulham are improving strongly behind them and Birmingham and Reading keep picking up points in front of them. But a visit from a City side that has faded badly since the new year could be ideal. Everyone wants to play the mid-table sides with little to play for at this stage of the season and City may have half an eye on qualification for the UEFA Cup via the fair play criteria - which they are currently set to take. Bolton are regressing to a tough, uncompromising style - will City stand up to it?

Articles
None Yet

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

Everton (5) vs West Ham United (10), KO 17:15


Everton's understandable slip against Fulham followed a tough exit from Europe; and no doubt David Moyes will have reiterated to his team what they need to do if they want to taste European football again next season - and that is to finish fourth or fifth. With Liverpool facing a tough game at Old Trafford tomorrow Everton can move alongside them by beating a mid-table West Ham side that ended a run of 4-0 defeats with an edgy win last weekend. Alan Curbishley is under pressure - and Everton are unlikely to be generous.

Articles
Everton Can Close Gap

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

Middlesbrough (13) vs Derby County (20), KO 15:00


Middlesbrough are almost safe, as five points clear of them are Tottenham - and they aren't going anywhere. If Middlesbrough get the expected win over Derby then they could be nine points clear of danger tonight - which with seven games left would surely be enough to rubber-stamp Middlesbrough's escape. Derby do, occasionally, show glimpses of form - and did well against Manchester United. But the inevitable relegation will be confirmed in the next three games; the only question now is whether they can pull anyone under with them.

Articles
None Yet

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

Newcastle United (14) vs Fulham (19), KO 15:00


Newcastle's decent draw against Birmingham has seen many bookmakers acknowledge that they are likely to remain in the top flight, and this game could almost seal the deal. A Newcastle win could put them seven points clear of Bolton and end the brief Fulham revival. Fulham are a very poor away side, this is Newcastle's third manager since Fulham last managed an away league win, but they can't progress out of the drop zone even if they do win. Newcastle look ready to pull out of their nosedive and Fulham are the ideal opponents - it will be tough but if Newcastle can't win this one then spotting the winnable fixture will become very, very difficult. It's been a long wait but surely the time for the first Newcastle win has arrived!

Articles
Newcastle must surely win
A Win to Banish Relegation Nightmare

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

Reading (15) vs Birmingham City (16), KO 15:00


Big relegation clash here, with two teams that have picked up a bunch of points in recent weeks. Neither team scores many goals, but both seem to have improved their defensive record in recent weeks and that has been key to their rising up the table. I would not expect too many goals here - and there is a sneaky suspicion that a 0-0 would be a decent result for both teams considering the fixture list of Bolton and Fulham.

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

Tottenham Hotspur (11) vs Portsmouth (6), KO 12:45


Will there be a hangover from Tottenham's tour-de-force against Chelsea in mid-week? If so then a Pompey side with a great away record might be the team to exploit tired legs. Tottenham manager Juande Ramos will be identifying players that will be staying or going and with speculation linking Paul Robinson to Aston Villa he may be one under particular scrutiny today. It would be logical to suggest that at least 80% of the current first team squad will be replaced in the next three seasons - so there is some pressure on the Spurs team. Pompey are looking forward to a Cup semi-final and it would be only human if their minds drifted a bit. This one will depend on who has more determination to win.

Articles
None Yet

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



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