THE PREDICTOR: Moaning Mourinho faces dead week

The Hammers have been impressive. Very impressive actually, in their last two games. They were unlucky not to leave with all the six points in games against Manchester United at home and Tottenham Hotspur away.

Saturday

West Ham    3-0     Palace           2.45pm

The Hammers have been impressive. Very impressive actually, in their last two games. They were unlucky not to leave with all the six points in games against Manchester United at home and Tottenham Hotspur away.

 On the evidence of such results, they will be a force for Crystal Palace to reckon with when the two sides meet at Boleyn Grounds. New signing Nene should be ready for his debut after failing to feature at Spurs last weekend due to permit issues.

Alan Pardew’s Palace will welcome back Arsenal on-loan striker Yaya Sanogo, who had to sit out the game against his former club because of a clause on his loan deal.

The hosts, though, will remain without big striker Andy Carroll for the rest of the season but with the likes of Sakho in shape, they should not find it too difficult putting Pardew to the sword.

West Brom 0-2 Southampton  5pm  

Kevin Friend is suspended so Ronald Koeman and his Saints side will be happy that the man in black who denied them three clear penalties in the 2-0 loss to Liverpool on Sunday will be out of the picture.

Southampton have dropped out of the Champions League place and will try to put up another fight to return to the top four again.

Tony Pulis has not had the sort of impact we all expected of him at The Howthorns, but he is not struggling either. The Brommies are not in an danger so playing their usual tempo will favour the visitors. I am for a Saints win.

 Man United  3-1     Sunderland   5pm  

I have a gut feeling Sunderland could pull out a shock win at Old Trafford. Just a hunch, but then such feelings usually do not factor in when Ander Herrera is playing at his best.

Manchester United have failed to find a tactic for their games and Louis van Gaal admitted as much. Last week, seeing gangly midfielder Fellaini playing as a striker with balls lumped forward to his huge chest was a comical one. To sum it up, they went down 2-1 to Swansea.

Van Gaal had tried to revert Wayne Rooney back into attacking, but it backfired. Nothing seems to be working and if Gus Poyet is astute enough, he should have spotted one too many scalp in United set up to capitalise on.

Angel Di Maria is out of form and Robin van Persie only scores when in his mood. However, the team should be able to win this game.

 Burnley        2-1     Swansea       5pm 

Swansea’s win over Manchester United last week could be a big boost but Burnley are playing for their lives now.

They took their game to Chelsea and with some decisions going their way, almost returned with all three points. They sure have already done their maths that shows they will have all the three points at home.

 Stoke            4-1     Hull City      5pm 

Hull City are over reliant on Nikica Jelavic and that is bad for a small side. Mark Hughes has weathered all sorts of pressure but it will be interesting to see how he responds after a heavy defeat.

Sunday

Liverpool      2-3     Man City      2pm

Liverpool lost their first game in all competitions for the first time since the dawn of 2015 in Istanbul. And they lost it two-prong: after full time and in post-match shootouts. Can they bounce back?

That would be a question easy to answer when returning against some minnows, not Manchester City. The champions scored five goals for the first time this season in last week’s 5-0 win over a hapless Newcastle United.

 They seem to have got back on the groove and that should be bad news for Brendan Rodgers and his boys. Usually, Liverpool and Manchester City fixtures are predictable, with The Kop dominating possession and everything else but failing to win and settling for a draw or losing.

And this could just be one of those days, except that the return of Yaya Toure and the resurgent form of David Silva have boosted City. However, Manuel Pellegrini’s side are not without their own problems.

They were taken to school at own home ground by Barcelona in midweek and suffered the humiliation of former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez scoring twice against them.

Will they seek revenge on Liverpool or will Suarez’s magic inspire Liverpool? I see City winning 3-2 but only if their skipper Vincent Kompany turns up for the game. The Belgian is City’s weakest link.

 Arsenal         3-0     Everton         4pm

Everton have scored goals and more goals in recent fixtures but they should not take that idea to The Emirates, where a wounded Arsenal are waiting to bounce back.

Wenger will not afford any other result other than a convincing win after the disappointing Champions League outing that saw struggling Ligue One side AS Monaco run away 3-1 winners.

Alexis Sanchez is yet to get back to his best since the injury three weeks ago, and until he does, Arsenal will continue to struggle.

Most importantly, Wenger must admit a Welbeck-Giroud partnership does not work. He has tried it several times and each time it fails to yield. He can only use one striker or lose to Everton.

LEAGUE CUP FINAL

Chelsea        1-2     Spurs            5pm

Jose Mourinho has spent the whole week bemoaning a “campaign against Chelsea.” He does not mind the fact that when Ramires nearly sent Mikel Arteta to the undertaker and got away with it, it was not as bad as Barnes hitting Matic.

Trouble is that Nemanja Matic is banned for the game. Yet it is this combative Serbian spoiler who gives Chelsea the balance in midfield. Matic’s work rate is only comparable to Barcelona’s Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquet.

The absence of Matic will leave Mourinho with some selection headache considering that he needs someone more daring and with the mettle to run Harry Kane rugged.

The English striker was the man of the moment when the two sides last met, ripping the Blues apart. He will be the man to watch in this fixture and he will help Spurs win.

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