Weekend Preview – Arsenal and Chelsea get the tough games

All eyes are peeled for the Champions League draw (done at 1100 GMT today), but with the second-round matches still 2 months away, the four Premiership sides will be more focused on negotiating a relatively tough weekend.

Arsenal and Chelsea played midweek, and they draw the toughest of fixtures of the four, with Arsenal hosting high-flying Portsmouth and Chelsea away to Everton.

Manchester United travel to West Ham who have a new manager in Alan Curbishley, while Liverpool, not so good on their travels (despite a run of good form recently) are away to Charlton. Ok, so maybe Liverpool and United have easy games…

Predictions, thoughts, all below. And if you want to add your own predictions, I’ve shown an easy way to do so at the end of this article.

Saturday, December 16

Charlton Athletic vs Liverpool

A mismatch. Charlton do not have the players or the morale to fight back, although with Liverpool struggling away this season they could put up more of a fight than expected. Liverpool’s recent form would worry Les Reed though, and you get the feeling that Charlton are done for this season.

Prediction: Liverpool to win, 1-2

Arsenal vs Portsmouth

Highlight of the weekend and better fare than what Everton and Chelsea can put up. Arsenal weren’t too good against Wigan on Wednesday, but this game is a battle for 3rd spot and a chance for Arsenal to beat one of their direct rivals. I’d expect Arsenal to be fully pumped-up for this one but the hectic schedule they’ve faced will undoubtedly take it’s toll (Arsenal face Liverpool on the 19th for the Carling Cup quarterfinal, before a weekend game and the holiday season matches).

Portsmouth would be happy to get out of the Emirates with a draw, and I don’t expect them to get anything better.

Prediction: Arsenal wins, 2-0.

Newcastle United vs Watford

Newcastle United are on a roll, and they’re strong run has taken them out of the relegation zone and close to the top 10. With Watford relegation favourites alongside Charlton, the injury-ravaged Geordies shouldn’t have too much trouble beating them.

Prediction: Newcastle win, 1-0.

Reading vs Blackburn Rovers

Should be a cracker of a game. Reading will enjoy this chance to build on their 7th place and with one of Arsenal and Portsmouth guaranteed to drop points, it’s their chance to shoot back up the table. Blackburn have tanked this season, and I doubt they’ll do much here.

Prediction: Reading win.

Wigan Athletic vs Sheffield United

Wigan and Sheffiled United are separated by 5 points only, so this is a lot closer than you’d expect, despite Wigan’s home advantage. Wigan haven’t done much to impress this season and while Sheff Utd have been worse, you feel that this is one of those games where anything could happen.

Prediction: Draw. 1-1.

Aston Villa vs Bolton Wanderers

#8 vs #6. If Villa can hold their shape and don’t go into a shell, Bolton will have little chance but to grind out a bore draw. Neither side play ‘flowing’ football so the game could well be decided on one lapse of concentration or an extreme moment of stupidity.

Prediction: Aston Villa wins.

Sunday, December 17

Everton vs Chelsea

This game depends completely on which Everton shows up. If they stand up, fight and take the game to Chelsea, there’s no reason why they can’t nick a point.

On the other hand, if Chelsea’s ‘untouchables’ actually fire (everyone apart from Droggie, that is), the opposition might not matter.

Prediction: Chelsea win.

Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Should be a tight game, although City’s problem has been scoring rather than conceding too many. One thing that would work in City’s favor is that Tottenham played on Thursday in the UEFA Cup. The glut of fixtures will be a bitch, and it just might be enough for City to beat the Spurs.

Prediction: Draw 1-1.

West Ham United vs Manchester United

Simple game, simple win. I’ve been waiting for this game since the season started, but only because I want to see Tevez play against United. A win is a must, considering that Chelsea have the ‘tougher’ tie and are expected to win. West Ham’s goal-scoring troubles combined with Manchester United’s water-tight defence means that United will not have too much to worry about.

Prediction: Manchester United win, 0-3.

Monday, December 18

Fulham vs Middlesbrough

#13 vs #15, boring boring, and a bit more boring. Luckily I’ll be on vacation on Monday, so it doesn’t really matter what the team news or predictions are.

Prediction: Fulham win.

Your Predictions

Just copy-paste the match list below and add your own predictions, and post them as comments to this article.

Charlton Athletic vs Liverpool:
Arsenal vs Portsmouth:
Newcastle United vs Watford:
Reading vs Blackburn Rovers:
Wigan Athletic vs Sheffield United:
Aston Villa vs Bolton Wanderers:
Everton vs Chelsea:
Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur:
West Ham United vs Manchester United:
Fulham vs Middlesbrough:

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