Man City poised to inflict ‘mandatory defeat’ on Arsenal

Chelse edged two points clear of champions Manchester City last week and will be licking their lips at the thought of adding more pressure on their challengers in the now two-horse race by beating Swansea City away.

1421436938Jacobs-Seaman
Jacobs O. Seaman

Saturday

Swansea          1-2       Chelsea           5pm

Chelse edged two points clear of champions Manchester City last week and will be licking their lips at the thought of adding more pressure on their challengers in the now two-horse race by beating Swansea City away.

But that will not come easy. Gary Monk’s side are known to absorb a lot of heat fanned on them. But to do that today, French striker Bafitimbi Gomis will have to continue showing that he is the right man to replace Wilfried Bony, who was sold to Manchester City.

Chelsea played a terrible first half against Newcastle last week and Mour will want to build on how the team responded to end the game with a clean sheet.

This game is the start of a busy week that will see Chelsea play Liverpool in the first let of Capital One Cup in midweek before meeting rivals City in the league next weekend.

Swansea could take some points off Chelsea if they play the usual absorbing game and rely on counter attacks but it will be a hard call. I give Chelsea 2-1

QPR    2-2       Man United     5pm              

Harry Rednapp has laughed off rumours that he could be sacked. He is the only manager in the top flight whose side has lost all ten away games this season.

Defeat to fellow relegation strugglers Burnley last week was too much to take in, meaning QPR will have to show they can still survive by picking a point off United at home today.

United have full squad with only Ashley Young missing. Manager Louis van Gaal says Radamel Falcao will have to prove himself after the striker was omitted from the side that was badly exposed by a well-organised Southampton side.

 Problem for van Gaal is that United were sketching wins when six players were out injured, now they are all back and the side faces ridicule.

This Loftus road fixture has a lot of element of a draw in it. I go with that as I expect Charlie Austin to continue the fine form that won him the award for best of December.

Burnley        2-1   Crystal Palace 5pm

Sean Dyche’s Burnley have hit form at an opportune time, drawing with Manchester City and Newcastle United and beating Queens Park Rangers in their last three league games. Palace came from behind to beat Tottenham Hotspur last week in Alan Pardew’s first game in charge.

With Pardew taking the reins at his old club Crystal Palace in the wake of Neil Warnock’s sacking, Palace are hoping for a change in fortune and have already secured the services of Arsenal misfit Yaya Sanogo to bolster their attacking options.

 But it is one thing to have a good side another to face a side brimming with confidence. That side is Burnley. They will put up a fight and can even win.

Stone Villa    0-2       Liverpool        5pm   

Aston Villa’s Paul Lambert will be looking over his shoulder as Liverpool visits Villa Park today. Lambert’s side are 13th, have managed only 11 goals all season, none in the last four and are three points above the drop zone.

After a 1-0 loss at Leicester last week Villa fans set up an online petition to have Lambert sacked and more woe at home to Liverpool on Saturday would add a few more names.

It gets even worse when you factor in Steven Gerrard. The Kop skipper enjoys scoring against Villa and will be relishing just another such moment to celebrate his Liverpool career that ends in the summer. 

Spurs         3-1     Sunderland   5pm       

What happened to Spurs? They are such a sea-saw club that after one win, the next is likely to be a loss. After humbling Chelsea, Mauricio Pochettino took his side to Palace and returned without a point.

The only good thing is the striker Harry Kane cannot stop scoring and will be a threat to a Sunderland side that will likely field former Spurs striker Jermain Defoe, who has returned from MLS side.

Newcastle   2-3   Saints    7.30pm

Newcastle United welcome the Saints to St James Park hoping to put up yet another good fight like they did against Chelsea. However, without Papiss Cisse, the Magpies face an uphill task in this game.

Southampton lost both midfield dynamos in Victor Wanyama, the spoiler, and Morgan Schneiderlin, the playmaker, to injury.

Even then, the Saints were good in the FA Cup replay against Ipswich Town and Ronald Koeman will have to do without his inspirational midfielder. The Saints have showed all season that they can be a force to be reckoned with as they dream of a top four finish having leap-frogged United to third place.

This match should see goals flooding the nets but Southampton are the most likely to edge Newcastle, whose inconsistence in games is just another pain.

Sunday

West Ham       3-0       Hull     3.30pm

Big Sam has gone four games without a league win and have seen his side steadily drop down the log from third place. Another loss will further sink them down from their current seventh place.

The Tigers have lost Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez to injury and are now shot of strikers. Hull could just hit a wall at Boleyn Road when the Hammers lay assault on them tomorrow.

Man City         2-0       Arsenal           6pm

This is the big one. Mesut Ozil is back from injury and believes Arsenal are still in the title race despite the massive 13-point gap that separate his side and leaders Chelsea, let alone the consistence of the Blues compared to the Gunners unpredictability.

City have not lost in the league since they were beaten 2-1 by West Ham in October, and their last result that could possibly be construed as a negative one was when they were held 2-2 by Burnley in December after leading 2-0.

The last time these two sides met at The Etihad, we were treated to a goal feast in a 5-3 loss for Arsenal. However, the Gunners have a black side to their game:

They have not beaten any of the big sides in the league since last season. It almost mandatory for Chelsea, City and United to pick points from Arsenal.

Lately, even Liverpool have been rubbing it in Wenger’s wounds. With Sergio Aguero back from injury, City will likely be good enough to stifle the challenge posed by Alexis Sanchez and exploit Arsenal’s defensive woes to the maximum even without Yaya Toure in their side.

Africa Cup of Nations

Saturday

Group A

Equatorial Guinea 1-2 Congo 6pm

Equatorial Guinea and Congo will kickstart the hastily arranged Africa Cup that the former opted to host at the eleventh hour after Ebola fears by previous hosts Morocco.

 But they come against the most experienced tactician in Frenchman Claude Le Roy, who is in his eighth Nations Cup tournament having previously managed six other teams, and won once with Cameroon in 1988.

But he returns with a side that has not featured in the tourney since 2000 when they made a group stage exit in Nigeria with one point.

Argentine Esteban Becker was appointed two weeks before the tournament following the dismissal of Spaniard Andoni Goikoetxea and will take charge of the hosts, who have never beaten Congo Brazaville after three defeats.

 Burkina Faso  4-1 Gabon 9pm

 Gabon coach Jorge Costa said earlier this week that their target is to kick start the event in Equatorial Guinea on a winning note.

During the 2012 Afcon event Gabon, who reached the quarterfinals, won all their group games beating Morocco, Tunisia and Niger.

Star player and forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who features for Germany Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, is expected to lead the Gabon side together with Cardiff City player Bruno Ecuele Manga.

But Paul Put’s Burkina Faso team, that has qualified for the last three Africa Nations Cup finals, are no easy task as they have been building on since 2013 when they made the finals.

The team has been stable and consistent. Jonathan Pitroipa, the revelation of 2013, is the side’s star man to be supported by gangly and smiling forward Aristide Bance, and the classy Alain Traore.

Besides the three attacking stars, Burkina Faso will also look to the strength and consistency of players such as Charles Kabore and Bakary Kone. This is Burkinabe’s game to lose.

Sunday

Group B

Zambia           1-1                DR Congo DR    6pm

Tunisia          2-2                 Cape Verde         9pm

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