The Premier League Returns and it’s a Battle of the Blues

The standout fixture in the Premier League weekend is no doubt taking centre stage at Stamford Bridge this weekend as first place Chelsea take on second place Manchester City. After such a shocking FA Cup result for both these two heavyweights, both managers have a chance to put that result out of their system.

Chelsea vs. Man City

Chelsea v Manchester City: Losing at home to Bradford and Middlesbrough wasn’t on either side’s agenda last weekend but that’s exactly what happened in the 4th round of the FA Cup. Unlike Chelsea, Manchester City didn’t have the bonus of making amends midweek. Chelsea managed to progress into the final of the Capital One Cup with an extra time victory over Liverpool. That will restore some of the pride and confidence of the players that would’ve taken a massive blow with the 4-2 defeat to Bradford despite being 2-0 up.

Manuel Pellegrini would’ve also had a firm eye on the African Cup of Nations on Wednesday night as Ivory Coast faced a decider against Cameroon. A defeat would’ve knocked them out of the competition and influential midfielder, Yaya Toure would’ve been on the first plane back to the Etihad Stadium. New signing Wilfried Bony will also be on Pellegrini’s priorities list but unfortunately for the Chilean, Ivory Coast scraped a narrow 1-0 victory and are therefore into the knockout stages of the ACON. [Read more…]

Clash of the Chileans!

The big heavyweight clash takes place at the Etihad Stadium this weekend as Manchester City welcome Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. Manuel Pellegrini will be looking to stop his countryman, Alexi s Sanchez who has been sensational this season. City will be hoping to maintain the pace with Chelsea who went 2 points clear at the top last weekend. Positions for the final two spaces in the Champions League is also warming up whilst the battle at the bottom always proves to be a fascinating one.

QPR vs. Man United

QPR v Manchester United: Harry Redknapp has the unwanted record of losing every single away game this season in the Premier League and will be severely reliant upon QPR’s home form to keep them away from safety. At the moment, they’re in 19th position and a trip from Louis Van Gaal’s United will test their home resilience to the maximum.

When the other Manchester club came to town, QPR pulled off a surprise 2-2 draw and were very unfortunate just to draw. They’ll need to replicate that performance against a United side that have slipped in the past month or so. United’s unbeaten run came to an abrupt end against Southampton at Old Trafford which put a serious dent in any realistic title chances they retained. A place in the top 4 now looks their best shot at improving on last year’s dismal campaign.

You’d be surprised if Louis Van Gaal had the courage to leave Radamel Falcao out from the entire squad again as he did against Southampton after they failed to record a single shot on target. Robin Van Persie also picked up an ankle injury against Southampton so a recall for Falcao seems imminent. [Read more…]

Toon Army Seeking for More Blue Blood!

Newcastle United will be looking to hand out another defeat to Chelsea after they served Jose Mourinho’s side their first defeat of the season at St.James Park in December. Liverpool will also relive painful memories as they travel North-East to Sunderland where no one will ever forget the Darren Bent ‘Balloon goal’. There are also some tasty looking clashes at the bottom of the table where clubs will be looking to use the New Year as a way of pushing themselves away from the dreaded drop zone.

Chelsea vs. Newcastle

Chelsea v Newcastle United: Two Papiss Cisse goals were enough to see off Chelsea at St.James Park in December but circumstances have changed at Newcastle. Alan Pardew has left to take over his beloved Crystal Palace and Newcastle have struggled since his departure. A 3-3 draw to Burnley at home followed by an FA Cup defeat to Leicester has made life tough for John Carver in his caretaker position.

Chelsea meanwhile have seen the gap they built over the opening months closed as they’re now just alphabetically ahead of Manchester City in the league. A draw to Southampton followed up by a shock 5-3 loss at White Hart Lane may give Mourinho a little cause for concern. Shipping 5 goals for the first time in his Chelsea career and Jose hasn’t conceded 5 in a match since his Madrid side lost to Barcelona 5-1 in 2010. [Read more…]

It’s a New Year! But who will start it happiest?

The traditional New Year’s Day fixtures take place on Thursday with all 20 Premier League clubs in action. After going all the way through till Christmas without a manager suffering the dreaded axe, two Premier League chairmen have decided enough is enough as both Crystal Palace and West Brom have shown their managers the door.

Stoke City vs. Man United

Stoke City v Manchester United: United’s 6 game winning run was halted and two draws have followed on their travels and they face a third trip away from home. The Brittania Stadium isn’t a pleasant visit by any means but pacesetters Chelsea showed fellow title challengers just how it’s done with a comfortable 2-0 victory a week ago.

Angel di Maria’s return has been delayed further and Louis Val Gaal could elect to name the same side for three games running. It was the first time in two years that United had named the same side against Tottenham and they were unfortunate not to come away from White Hart Lane with 3 points after a fantastic first half where they couldn’t find a way past Hugo Lloris. [Read more…]

Festive Fun Continues in London

Two London derbies take centre stage on Boxing Day and how fitting that the Premier League set of fixtures start and finish with one. In the early kick off on Boxing Day, Chelsea take on West Ham at Stamford Bridge and in the evening, QPR make the short trip to Arsenal to end their dreadful away form.

Chelsea vs. West Ham

Chelsea v West Ham: Chelsea are 3 points clear at the top of the league and Jose Mourinho usually see’s his side triumph towards the title when a side he manages is top by Christmas. Having only dropped 9 points all season, Chelsea have been formidable so far and will look to continue that against West Ham who’ve also enjoyed a very good season up until Christmas.

A Monday night trip to the Brittania Stadium couldn’t even prevent a Chelsea team from cruising to the 3 points and they’ll be full of confidence hoping to end 2014 with a victory. Eden Hazard picked up a knock on his heel in the dying minutes of the game and depending on the severity of the injury, Jose won’t be keen to risk his star player with so many games coming up in such a short space of time. Andre Schurrle could be drafted in to replace the Belgian. [Read more…]