MR PREDICTOR: Swans won’t respect United but Chelsea to cruise home

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1424463273Jacobs-Seaman
Jacobs O. Seaman

Saturday

Swansea       1-0     Man United  5pm

Gary Monk was the man on the opening day of the English Premier League in August, when Gilfie Sigurdson’s goal played the big difference between his Swans side and the star-studded hosts, Manchester United at Old Trafford. Today, United visit the Liberty Stadium looking to revenge that defeat. To do that, Louis van Gaal has recalled Robin van Persie to the squad as he aims to extend United’s unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions. The Netherlands striker missed United's 3-1 FA Cup fifth round victory over Preston North End for unknown reasons though the team said he was injured. Most likely, Van Gaal was hiding the striker from the limelight after he escaped without even a caution for a nasty elbow on West Ham United’s James Tomkins two weeks ago. Van Persie’s return could see Colombian flop Radamel Falcao, who has struggled to find consistent form since moving to Old Trafford on a season-long loan from Monaco in September, make way. But to avoid losing their second match in 20 games in all competitions, United will have to watch over how Wayne Rooney reacts following heavy criticism of his dive at the Deepdale when he won a dubious penalty and converted it. The pressure is on United to win this game, but the Swans have nothing to lose.

Palace `         1-1     Arsenal         5pm

Alan Pardew knows how to fashion draws against Arsene Wenger when the latter is on the road. Like this fixture at Selhurst Park. Palace have won five of their last eight games since Pardew took charge and today, Wenger will be hoping to try and turn the intense atmosphere at Selhurst Park in his favour in order to leapfrog Southampton Saints into fourth place. Arsenal, who have 45 points from 25 matches and trail fourth-placed Southampton by a single point, travel to a rejuvenated Palace side who have won five of their last eight games since Alan Pardew took charge.

Former Gunners striker Marouane Chamakh is expected to line up for Palace and after struggling during his time at Arsenal. Yaya Sanogo is ineligible to play as he is on loan from Arsenal. For the Gunners, midfielder Santi Cazorla has been in sparkling form for Arsenal since being deployed in a more central role. But the Spaniard knows the return of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez means his place in the starting lineup is not entirely guaranteed. Ozil has been the assist maestro he is, and Sanchez is the man Arsenal counts on for goals more than they do their strikers. Aaron Ramsey is out but this will not be a cause for worry since Jack Wilshere is back and Theo Walcott is getting his mojo on track. Still, this fixture should serve the adrenaline that it is and play out a stalemate.

Chelsea        3-0     Burnley        5pm   

Jose Mourinho is a very bitter man. And that is not good for Chelsea opponents visiting Stamford Bridge. The Chelsea manager has accused the Football Association of double standards having not taken action against Robin van Persie for an elbow on James Tomkins. The Blues boss remains without main striker Diego Costa for the final game of his three-match suspension against Everton on Wednesday. Costa was banned for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can and has questioned why other players do not get the same treatment as his talisman. Chelsea lie seven points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, with 14 matches to go. Burnley know they are going to give a fight like they do when they play big guns and that could be Mourinho’s only worry. However, with the fury of Mour, Burnley should expect heat.

Man City      4-1     Newcastle     7.30pm

Talks have started that Manuel Pellegrini could lose his job if City can get the collars of Diego Simeone and convince him to take over at The Etihad. City have struggled this season, and unlike last season where Liverpool was doomed to fall at the last hurdle, this season has a more experienced and formidable Chelsea and Jose Mourinho running the fire rings at the top of the table. Pellegrini knows what is at stake now and the return of Ivorian star men Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure is a boost he will grab with both hands. Wilfried Bony believes he can be Manchester City's secret weapon in the Premier League title race as he prepares to make his debut against Newcastle on Saturday.

Bony joined Manuel Pellegrini’s side from Swansea in a $43 million move during the January transfer window, but has yet to make his bow in a City shirt after spending the last few weeks helping Ivory Coast win the African Cup of Nations. The 26-year-old is in contention to finally give City fans a first glimpse of their new signing when Newcastle visit Eastlands in a fixture crucial to their hopes of retaining the English title. Second-placed City could be 10 points behind leaders Chelsea by the time they kick off at as Mourinho’s team will have finished their match against struggling Burnley earlier in the day. But Bony, who netted 34 times in 70 appearances for Swansea, is looking forward to opening his account with a goal, but in an era of Sergio Aguero, he will most likely start on the bench.       

Sunday

Spurs            2-0     West Ham    2pm   

Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to shake off their midweek disappointment in Europa when they were held 1-all by by visiting Fiorentina. And to get it right against West Ham, Spurs will hope prodigy Harry Kane will maintain his vein of form. Hammers manager Sam Allardyce believes the in-form striker is a more clinical finisher than England captain Wayne Rooney. Allardyce’s eighth-placed side visit White Hart Lane for the London derby with their hosts in fine form having won three of their last four league games to move three points adrift of the top four in sixth. At Tottenham’s excellent run has been the emergence of Englishman Kane, who has struck 23 goals in all competitions this season after breaking into the first team following four loan spells at lower league clubs. The West Ham boss said his team will pay special attention to Kane and is expecting the striker to be raring to go after starting on the bench for Tottenham’s 1-1 home draw with Fiorentina on Thursday. Allardyce expects to have central defenders Winston Reid and James Collins available again as both have recovered from hamstring injuries. Brazilian Nene, who signed on a free transfer on Wednesday as cover for injured striker Andy Carroll, will not be fit to make his debut. Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have failed to stop Kane, can Hammers do it?

Southampton 0-1    Liverpool      6.15pm

Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren left Southampton hoping for bigger things at Liverpool. Nothing. Instead, it is their former teammates with much to smile home about. Southampton are fourth in table, occupying the final Champions League qualification spot, while Liverpool have endured an indifferent season and lie seventh, four points adrift of Ronald Koeman’s side. After six months and 25 games, the weekend brings the reverse fixtures of the first matches of the campaign. Koeman lost his first competitive game in charge of Southampton 2-1 at Anfield. However, despite the south-coast club looking doomed after an exodus of leading players and the loss of manager Mauricio Pochettino, the Saints have coped admirably well with the loss of Lallana, Lambert and Lovren to Liverpool as well as Luke Shaw to Manchester United and Calum Chambers to Arsenal.

Serbia defender Lovren has not been missed as the Saints boast the tightest defence in the league, while Koeman’s attack has outscored Liverpool’s expensively-assembled forward line. Brendan Rodgers’ side have struggled to recapture their scintillating form of last season but have regained a bit of swagger recently, unbeaten in nine league games ahead of the trip to St Mary’s. What more, Mario Balotelli has scored two goals in the last two games and Daniel Sturridge’s threat is back.

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