Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Steven Beacom's Premier League predictions

After an eventful round of midweek matches in the Premier League, some of the big boys get the weekend off for the FA fifth round. Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all been knocked out giving the competition an unusual look about it with 16 teams left.

Sports Editor Steven Beacom gives his verdict on the eight ties and Paddy Power provides the odds.

All games kick-off at 3pm on Saturday unless stated.



CHELSEA v CARDIFF |(Saturday 12 noon)

Back in the 70s a match like this would have been a great excuse for a real tear up around the streets of Stamford Bridge. Thankfully it is a lot different these days, though there is still an old style feel to this cup tie. Cardiff are in severe financial trouble, so a big game at Chelsea will do them the world of good on that score. And you can bet your life that the visiting supporters will roar their team on. I’m not sure it will do them much good in terms of the result because after the defeat to Everton on Wednesday, I would imagine Chelsea will be desperate to bounce back with a win. On the loss at Goodison Park, what a crushing blow that was in the title race. With Chelsea constantly slipping up away from home and the whole John Terry situation, are you starting to get the feeling that Manchester United are going to end up winning the thing again?

Beacom Prediction: 3-1.

PADDY POWER ODDS: Chelsea 1/6 Draw 11/2 Cardiff 16/1.



DERBY v BIRMINGHAM

Robbie Savage is the new darling of the BBC. Have to admit he’s not a bad summariser on Radio Five Live, though he’s no Alan Green on 606 — the phone-in show for fans. He stills plays a bit of football for Derby by the way and you know he’ll be a central figure here against one of his old sides.

Beacom Prediction: 1-1.

PADDY POWER ODDS: Derby 11/5 Draw 23/10 Birmingham 6/5.

MAN CITY v STOKE |(Saturday 5.15pm)

If this ends in a draw, these two are going to be sick of the sight of each other in a fortnight. Before a replay they would play each other in the league at the Britannia Stadium. Playing Stoke three times in a couple of weeks? Doesn’t bear thinking about. That’s not a criticism, more praise actually because it indicates just how difficult it is to play them. I’m happy to admit it, I really am growing very fond of Tony Pulis and his side. They are a throwback. No airs or graces, just a bunch of hard-working lads giving it everything. Away from home though they do tend to struggle. If they could take City back to the Britannia I’d fancy them to beat Roberto Mancini’s side, but I reckon the Manchester Blues will win at the first attempt.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1.

PADDY POWER ODDS: Man City 1/2 Draw 29/10 Stoke 6/1.

READING v WEST BROM

West Brom at Wembley. It has a certain ring to it. And with the luck of the draw, don’t be at all surprised to see it happen. Yes, Reading have eliminated a couple of Premier League sides, including Liverpool at Anfield, but against Championship teams they have struggled this season. It’ll be tight, but look out for the Baggies to come through and maintain the dream of their manager Roberto Di Matteo returning to the most famous football stadium in the world. In the first FA Cup final that I covered for this newspaper, Di Matteo scored before a minute had elapsed. More importantly he was a thoroughly decent chap in a post-match interview I conducted with him.

Beacom Prediction: 1-2.

PADDY POWER ODDS: Reading 7/4 Draw 12/5 WBA 7/5.

SOUTHAMPTON v PORTSMOUTH (Saturday 12.30pm)

The tie of the round. Alright, it’s not Liverpool v Manchester United, but it’s tasty and no mistake. I know Pompey’s money woes have been well documented but the Saints aren’t exactly rolling in it either. It all adds to the fascinating nature of this derby. The atmosphere will be electric. And while the football may not be of the highest quality, I’d be stunned if it wasn’t dramatic. Portsmouth’s season has just been one long nightmare on and off the pitch. If their supporters thought it couldn’t get any worse, a defeat to their nearest and not so dearest rivals would put the tin hat on it. I don’t think it will come to that. Pompey to come out on top.

Beacom Prediction: 1-2.

PADDY POWER ODDS: Southampton 19/10 Draw 23/10 Pompey 11/8.

BOLTON v SPURS |(Sunday 1.30pm)

I did say a few weeks back that Spurs would make a mess of finishing in the top four. It’s only the failings of the contenders that have kept them in it. Any team who loses twice to Wolves in a season does not deserve Champions League football. Mind you, they could could go on and win the FA Cup.

Beacom Prediction: |1-3.

PADDY POWER ODDS: Bolton 13/5 Draw 12/5 Spurs evens.



CRYSTAL PALACE v ASTON VILLA (Sunday 3.45pm)

Palace boss Neil Warnock will love this. Never a shrinking violet, he’ll relish being back in the big time but it will be short-lived. Villa to win, with a bit to spare.

Beacom Prediction: 1-3.

PADDY POWER ODDS: Palace 15/4 Draw 5/2 Villa 3/4.

FULHAM v NOTTS COUNTY |(Sunday 3pm)

Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird up against the Magpies. Our boys should triumph.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1.

PADDY POWER ODDS: Fulham 4/9 Draw 16/5 Notts County 6/1.

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