Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Steven Beacom's Premier League predictions

Now that the friendly internationals are out of the way, it’s club football from here to May when the trophies will be handed out. This weekend the focus will be on the Premier League and FA Cup.

Sports Editor Steven Beacom gives his verdict on the top flight league games and the four Cup quarter-finals.

As always Paddy Power provides the odds.

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

ARSENAL v BURNLEY

Firstly, I have to point out that I have every sympathy with young Aaron Ramsey. Once upon a time I was the victim of a shocking ill-timed tackle in a game of football that meant I couldn’t play again for eight months. Ramsey faces a long road ahead but with the help of everyone at Arsenal, I’m sure he will get there. Secondly I feel for Ryan Shawcross because he seems to have been genuinely upset by his challenge that put the talented Welsh midfielder in hospital during Arsenal’s win at Stoke.

Arsene Wenger and Cesc Fabregas virtually suggested there is a vicious campaign against Arsenal after the match at the Britannia. I doubt that but it is true that in recent years the Gunners have been seen as a soft touch, so the opposition will obviously try and take advantage of that. What Arsenal must do is take advantage of their feelings of injustice and use them to go on and win the title. They have a decent chance now, you know, because Chelsea and Manchester United have tougher fixtures to play in the run-in. And they should start that run in by comfortably by beating Burnley.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Arsenal 1/7 Draw 6/1 Burnley 20/1

WEST HAM v BOLTON

The Hammers should be happy after this one. Home win.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: West Ham 4/5 Draw 12/5 Bolton 15/4

WOLVES v MAN UNITED (Saturday 5.30pm)

Don’t expect Mick McCarthy to play his reserve team this time, as he shamefully did at Old Trafford earlier in the season. It won’t matter. If they had Steve Bull in his pomp, Wolves would still be in for a beating tomorrow night. You have heard of Fergie time. Well, we are now entering United time, that period of the season when they really crank it up. They have the Carling Cup in the bank but Sir Alex won’t be happy unless the Premier League title or Champions League crown is claimed this season.

Beacom Prediction: 1-3

PADDY POWER ODDS: Wolves 9/1Draw 4/1 United 3/10

EVERTON v HULL (Sunday 4pm)

Any lingering hopes Everton had of making a late bid for a top four place ended last week at White Hart Lane. Still, finishing eighth isn’t too bad for the Toffees who can content themselves with another decent season.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Everton 2/5 Draw 16/5 Hull 8/1

WIGAN v LIVERPOOL (Monday 8pm)

Remember that old Boomtown Rats number “I Don’t Like Mondays”? It was clearly written for Liverpool fans, who should know all too well that Monday night football is rarely good for them. That must change this time though because Liverpool have to keep winning to have any chance of qualifying for the Champions League. With the other top four contenders not playing in the league this weekend, Rafa Benitez’s side really should be going for the Wigan jugular from the start. Oh, and one other thing of note, Benitez will actually get on well with his opposite number this time as he and Roberto Martinez are pals. Makes a change from all those arguments with Sam Allardyce.

Beacom Prediction: 1-2

PADDY POWER ODDS: Wigan 5/1 Draw 13/5 Liverpool 8/13

PORTSMOUTH v BIRMINGHAM (FA Cup, Saturday 12.30pm)

You know what is going to happen with Pompey, don’t you? They are going to reach the FA Cup final and a day before the Wembley decider they will fold. It’s been that sort of season. The head says Birmingham will win this one, but my football intuition tells me Portsmouth might just pull it off.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Pompey 6/4 Draw 23/10 Birmingham 7/4

FULHAM v SPURS (FA Cup, Saturday 5.20pm)

Tough one to call. For the good of my old friends Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird, I’d like to see Fulham make it to the semi-finals, but I’m not convinced Roy Hodgson’s men will overcome Tottenham. I reckon it may take a replay to decide what promises to be a compelling clash.

Beacom Prediction: 2-2

PADDY POWER ODDS: Fulham 19/10 Draw 23/10 Spurs 7/5

READING v ASTON VILLA (FA Cup, Sunday 1.45pm)

This has been a magnificent Cup run for Reading, but sadly it will end here. Villa are still hurting from last weekend’s Carling Cup final loss against Manchester United and with that in mind, they will be desperate to return to Wembley as quickly as possible. Martin O’Neill should be smiling on Sunday night.

Beacom Prediction: 1-3

PADDY POWER ODDS: Reading 10/3 Draw 5/2 Villa 5/6

CHELSEA v STOKE (FA Cup, Sunday 4pm)

Just about the tie of the round for me. Stoke have already beaten Arsenal and Manchester City in the Cup and will hold little fears going to Stamford Bridge, especially after Chelsea’s last game in which City ripped them apart. John Terry (left) was dreadful that day. Yes, I know the Wayne Bridge factor was staring him in the face, if not shaking his hand, so he may have been distracted, but he’s been poor for weeks now at club level. He improved a bit for England in midweek but Stoke, with their long throws, will fancy putting the former England captain under even more pressure. This will be a hard fought affair and ultimately it may just come down to Chelsea having that extra bit of quality.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Chelsea 2/7 Draw 4/1 Stoke 10/1

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