It’s EPL time once again guys and gals, and week 9 promises to be just as intriguing as the last. Man City and Liverpool will be hoping to bounce back after disappointing midweek performances in the Champions League, while Arsenal and Tottenham will hope to translate their good midweek results in Europe over into the EPL. Elsewhere there is the little matter of Manchester United versus Chelsea on Sunday.
So sit back and relax as we at GotSoccer take you through some of the news, predictions and previews of Week 9.
Valdes to train with Man Utd
Former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes is set to train with Manchester United as part of his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.
The 32-year-old tore his ACL whilst playing for Barcelona in March causing him to miss the World Cup in Brazil.
Manchester United confirmed Valdes would work with their medical staff as part of his rehabilitation on their website.
Valdes is a free agent after turning down an offer to extend his contract with the Catalan club last season. He was rumored to be on his way to Monaco, Liverpool and Arsenal but injured his knee before any move could materialize.
Valdes worked with Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal when the Dutchman managed Barcelona in 2002-2003, though he did not become Barcelona’s number one until the arrival of van Gaal’s successor Radomir Antic’s.
Brendan Roger warns Balotelli
Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers has reminded Mario Balotelli of “the culture in English football, and in particular, Liverpool” after the striker swapped shirts with Real Madrid’s Pepe at half-time.
The Italian international swapped shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe as the teams left the field at half time. Liverpool were losing 3-0 at the time and Balotelli was soon watching from the bench with Adam Lallana taking his place for the second half.
Ballotelli’s actions angered many Liverpool fans as he once again put in a disappointing performance. Former Liverpool player Graeme Souness was so enraged by Balotelli’s act that he could not bring himself to speak about it as a Sky Sports pundit on the night
Liverpool manager Rodgers said: “As long as he’s doing his best that’s all I can ask for. Whether his best will be good enough, remains to be seen.”
“But that’s the same for every player – not just for Mario.”
“Any action with Balotelli over the shirt swap will of course be kept within ourselves.
“We had a conversation on the culture in this country and, in particular, Liverpool – and that was it – matter closed.”
Balotelli has only scored once in eight games for Liverpool since joining from AC Milan at the end of August for $25.6m. However, it is his lackluster performances that have most disappointed the Liverpool faithful and questions are already being asked of his long-term future.
“He is working hard to try to fit into the team ethos here but only time will tell. We will see come January what the team needs.” Added Rogers.
|Man City v Tottenham||4-1||3-0||2-2||3-1||3-1|
|Arsenal v Hull||2-2||2-0||3-0||2-1||2-1|
|Burnley v West Ham||1-3||2-2||1-1||0-2||2-1|
|Crystal Palace v Chelsea||1-2||0-2||0-3||1-5||1-3|
|Everton v Aston Villa||3-0||2-1||3-1||3-2||3-0|
|Newcastle v Leicester||1-0||2-1||1-0||1-1||1-2|
|Southampton v Sunderland||8-0||2-0||2-1||2-1||1-0|
|QPR v Liverpool||2-3||0-1||0-2||0-3||0-1|
|Stoke v Swansea||2-1||1-1||1-2||0-1||1-2|
|West Brom v Man Utd||2-2||1-2||0-3||2-3||1-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.
Last week I got SIX correct results, including ZERO perfect scores to give me a humble total of SIX-points. Challengers Neil and Samuel both got FIVE correct scores, including ONE perfect score to give them a total of SEVEN-points, meaning I have been beaten for the first time this season.
But that is why we enjoy this predictions game, because the best and most knowledgeable do not always win. Can they repeat the feat and beat me? Or perhaps a new challenger will take the crown this week. If you want to join in the fun please leave your predictions at the bottom of the page. GOOD LUCK!
|West Ham v Man City||1-3|
|Liverpool v Hull||2-1|
|Southampton v Stoke||2-0|
|Sunderland v Arsenal||1-2|
|West Brom v Crystal Palace||2-1|
|Swansea v Leicester||2-1|
|Burnley v Everton||0-1|
|Tottenham v Newcastle||2-0|
|Man Utd v Chelsea||2-2|
|QPR v Aston Villa||1-2|
West Ham v Man City
West Ham won 3-1 away at Burnley last week to continue their impressive start to the season. Last season West Ham fans were calling for manager Sam Allardyce to be sacked because of his negative tactics, but he has changed the Hammers’ style of play this campaign and it seems to have worked wonders with West Ham winning four of their opening eight games so far this season.
However, they face arguably their toughest test yet this season in the form of the champions Manchester City. The Sky Blues thumped Tottenham Hotspurs 4-1 last week with striker Sergio Aguero netting all four of his side’s goals. However, midweek they were disappointing allowing CSKA Moscow to draw level after leading 2-0 at half time.
West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and defender James Tomkins are available for selection after overcoming groin and thigh injuries respectively.
Manchester City midfielder Frank Lampard misses out on the chance to face the club where he started his career after injuring his thigh against Tottenham last weekend. Samir Nasri is also out for City following a groin operation.
City are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with West Ham in all competitions (W8, D2). Indeed, City have scored 14 goals and conceded just one in their last four games against the Hammers, so will be confident of winning this game.
However, the Hammers are a much-improved side this season and have won over their fans with their adventurous style of play. City have yet to hit form and are still conceding sloppy goals at the back. I think West Ham will have attack City and will probably score, but the Champions have so many quality attacking players that they will outscore them.
Liverpool v Hull
Liverpool won a pulsating game at QPR last weekend beating the Hoops 3-2 thanks to a stoppage time own goal. The Reds were fortunate not to lose the game never mind win it, after QPR squirmed a series of guilt edge chances in the first half. However, they managed to take the lead and then recapture it twice with two goals in stoppage time. In fact, four of the game’s five goals came after the 87th minute.
However, the Reds were humbled midweek as Real Madrid put them to the sword with a 3-0 win at Anfield. Liverpool looked poor with Mario Balotelli especially disappointing.
Hull drew 2-2 away to Arsenal last week and will feel they should have left with all three-points after Danny Welbeck equalized for the Gunners in stoppage time. The Tigers made some good signings during the summer with Mohamed Diame the pick of the bunch. The Senegal captain was once again at the heart of all Hull’s good play and scored their opener, taking his tally for Hull to four goals in five games.
Liverpool look set to start striker Rickie Lambert after Mario Balotelli once again disappointed and caused controversy in the game against Real Madrid.
Hull’s injury trouble have been worsened by the absence of Michael Dawson and Nikica Jelavic who both could be out for up to six weeks because of injuries suffered at Arsenal. Goalkeepers Allan McGregor and Steve Harper both injured, meaning third choice Eldin Jakupovic is set to play.
Hull have only beaten Liverpool once in 18 meetings in all competitions (W1, D4, L13). However, that one win came in last season’s home game against the Reds. Liverpool are really struggling to match the form they showed last season and are really missing the presence of Daniel Sturridge up top.
Hull are a good side and will cause Liverpool trouble, but I think injuries to defender Michael Dawson and goalkeeper Allan McGregor are major blows and they will surely miss the sturdiness they provide on Saturday.
Sunderland v Arsenal
Sunderland equaled their record defeat in all competitions last week losing 8-0 away to Southampton. The loss was their heaviest in 32-years and caused the club’s players to offer to compensate all of the 2,600 Sunderland fans that traveled to watch the humiliating defeat.
The Black Cats were up against a good Southampton team, but many of the goals they conceded were poor and would not even be acceptable in the school playground.
Arsenal drew last week at home to Hull thanks to a stoppage time equalizer by Danny Welbeck. The Gunner’s actually took the lead in the game and looked set for a comfortable afternoon, but once they conceded they looked nervy and in the end were lucky not to lose the game, though they did have a chance at the death to win it. They also managed another great escape midweek in the Champions League scoring two goals in the last few minutes to beat Anderlecht.
Sunderland are without Sebastian Coates, Billy Jones, Emanuele Giaccherini and Ricky Alvarez who are all injured. New signing Anthony Reveillere who joined as a free-agent could start at full-back if he gets international clearance.
Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere after the midfielder picked up his fifth booking of the season, meaning captain Mikel Arteta could return to the first team.
Sunderland desperately need a response after last weeks dismal performance, but they face a tough test against Arsenal who are on a nine-match unbeaten run against the Black Cats in the Premier League and are vying to win at the Stadium of Light for the fourth season in a row.
I expect the Black Cats will try and get in Arsenal’s faces and unsettle them, but I don’t think they have enough quality to hurt the Gunners and that’s why I’ll go for Arsenal to win this one.
Manchester United v Chelsea
This game is undoubtedly the pick of Week 9’s game as Manchester United host EPL leader Chelsea.
The game is just as exciting because it pits two of the biggest and most intriguing coaches and egos against one another. The two coaches actually used to work together at Barcelona, where Mourinho acted as van Gaal’s number two for three-seasons.
Sunday’s game is Manchester United biggest test so far this season and will let them know how far they have come or still have to go until they can compete for the top trophies. United drew 2-2 away to West Brom last week, coming from behind twice. The Red Devils had a lot of the ball, but school boy defending at the back once again cost them and they will have to be a lot better if they are to have any chance against Chelsea.
Chelsea maintained their fine start to the season with a comfortable 2-1 win away to Crystal Palace. The Blues looked in control from the first kick and their disappointment will be the red card received by Cesar Azpilicueta.
Manchester United midfielder Angel Di Maria is expected to overcome a thigh injury in time to face Chelsea, while Michael Carrick could make his first appearance of the season. However, Wayne Rooney once again misses out as he completes his last game of a three match suspension.
Chelsea look set to start Didier Drogba up front with Mourinho saying Diego Costa has “little chance” of playing and LoicRemy out injured.
Cesar Azpilicueta is suspended for the Blues, but Ramires could return from injury.
Chelsea have a terrific record against Manchester United in the EPL and are the only side to have beaten United more often in the EPL(15) than they have lost (13). Indeed, the Blues are unbeaten in their their last three league matches against Manchester United, conceding just one goal.
Manchester United seem to be improving and look especially impressive in the final third, however, their defending still leaves a lot to be desired and they always look likely to concede a goal a two.
I expect Chelsea to approach this game as they did against Man City by keeping things tight in defense and trying to hit on the counter. The absence of Diego Costa will be a big loss, but the Blues have plenty of other players capable of scoring a goal.
United have to take the game to Chelsea and I expect them to do so, however, that means they will leave gaps at the back for Chelsea to exploit.