BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE GAMEDAY 31
The Premier League might not be the home of the world’s best players, it may not boast the technical proficiencies of their Spanish counterpart, but it has something no other league has-the endless and infinite thrills provided not only on the top of the table, but the other end of the spectrum too. The top 4 sides separated by only 6 points, with everyone bar Chelsea having games in hand promises to go right to the final day. If the Manchester duel of 2011-12 was exhilarating, this one promises to be a bigger humdinger. Last week we had twists and turns provided in the title race and desperate attempts to survive and it is set to continue.
Manchester United v Manchester City
The Theatre of Dreams has yet another surprise panned out this week as Manchester City and Manchester United lock horns in one of the most awaited games of the season. Though, unlike the last two seasons, this match will not be a title decider, I hardly believe that the intensity of the match will be any less. After having been drubbed 4-1 in the reverse fixture, Manchester United will be looking to ride on their newfound momentum to exact revenge on their neighbours. While city are no less either, having won 5-0 this weekend, I believe that Manchester will be red by the time the referee blows his whistle
Arsenal v Swansea
The chance to strike gold is on Swansea’s feet at the moment. After a run of mishaps, the chance for redemption could finally be at their feet when they take on Arsenal at the Emirates. The 6-0 dismantling of Arsenal by Chelsea will have penetrated deep into the hearts of the players and the hole would not mend so soon. The pain of such a big loss to a rival on the manager’s iconic 1000th game will strike hard on the player’s conscience. While the mental pressure will never soften, the quality of the players still remains intact and we would still expect to see a decent performance from Arsenal. Given Swansea’s poor performance this season, a draw would come in handy for them to escape relegation.
PREDICTION – 2-1
Newcastle v Everton
Both the teams have had good weekend fixtures narrowly winning over their oppositions. Their league positions are impressive and they are 6th and 8th on either side of Manchester United in the table. Everton’s 3-2 win over Swansea has taken them a step closer in their search for Europe and Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace means they are high on confidence. Roberto Martinez has been impressive this season and has thoroughly made his stay at Goodison Park worthwhile and has certainly been better than his predecessor at Everton. Alan Pardew is still serving the ban for his ridiculous actions which leaves Newcastle without a manager on the touchlines. Given on current form, I would tip the toffees to have their moment this time around.
PREDICTION – 1-2
West Ham United v Hull City
West Ham sometimes get a lot of bad press for the style they play under Sam Allardyce, but he deserves credit for making them into a difficult outfit to beat. While the defeat to Manchester United in the weekend was disheartening on their part, they can certainly pose a challenge a threat to Hull City. Under the management of Steve Bruce, Hull City have impressed the fans with their performances. Andy Carroll is the X-factor for West Ham and Hull will be looking up to Curtis Davies and James Chester to keep Carroll in their pockets.
Liverpool v Sunderland
Liverpool can reduce their gap at the top to merely a point if they win at Anfield in the mid-week fixture against Sunderland. Predicated on their current form, it is a no-brainer that Liverpool have a free run of things against the Black cats. Their 6-3 mauling of Cardiff showed the quality of their team except for a few suspect actions in defense. However, that should be of little concern when Brendan Rodgers goes head-to-head with Gus Poyet at the Anfield.
ITALIAN SERIE A
Milan vs Fiorentina
Milan have been anything but brilliant this season. And their recent endeavors in the Champions League certainly point towards a negative direction. It’s a shame Clarence Seedorf has to endure this to degrade his reputation. And Fiorentina have a bright chance of coming up good against Milan.
Juventus v Parma
The Bianconeri are a ruthless and efficient machine which keeps on winning. They might not play attractive football like Real Madrid or Barcelona or Bayern Munich, but they are like the Chelsea sides of mid 2000s. Another 3 points for the Turin Giants and they are romping towards the title.
Schalke 04 vs Borussia Dortmund
More than local pride will be on the line when Borussia Dortmund clash with rivals Schalke in the Bundesliga on Tuesday. The Revierderby is always significant to both clubs, regardless of their standing in German football. Standing atop the table with a mammoth 23 point lead atop the table, it is impossible for either team to catch up with Bayern Munich. However, the second place is up for grabs and Dortmund are ahead by a point. Dortmund were impressive in the weekend with a 3-0 win over Hannover and certainly seem like they can replicate the result in the derby.
PREDICTION : 1-2
Bayern Munich v Hertha BSC
Bayern have been the runaway leaders of the Bundesliga for quite some time and their title aspirations are secure with 23 point lead on the top. Having an array of players at his midst, Guardiola is enjoying every minute of his stay at Munich and this match should be no different. Although Hertha BSC have been raising heads with their performances this season, Bayern Munich seems a tad too far.
PREDICTION : 3-0