Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Steven Beacom's Premier League predictions

We are getting down to the wire now. The good news for the Premier League is that bar Portsmouth’s impending relegation everything else is open to debate, including the race to be crowned Premier League champions.

Sports Editor Steven Beacom gives his verdict on all the top flight games in what could be a crucial week with Paddy Power providing the odds.

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

ARSENAL v WEST HAM (Saturday 5.30pm)

Whenever this fixture comes up I always think about the 1980 FA Cup final between the teams. Those of you over the age of 35 will probably remember it. Trevor Brooking scored a header to win the game 1-0. It was the only time in his life that Brooking headed a ball and it won a Cup final. The bloke was blessed. Every game left this season is a Cup final for West Ham in their relegation battle, but it won’t be the same result tomorrow night as it was at Wembley three decades ago. Arsenal to win and keep up their title chase.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Arsenal 1/5 Draw 5/1 West Ham 14/1

ASTON VILLA v WOLVES (Saturday 12.45pm)

It wasn’t noticed too much because on the same night Jose Mourinho was knocking Chelsea out of the Champions League, but Aston Villa’s 2-1 victory at Wigan was massive. They may have a lot of games to play, but if Martin O’Neill can keep them going, they have a real chance of finishing fourth and earning the Champions League place. If Wolves stay up they will feel like European Cup winners, however, they won’t get any points here.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Villa 2/5 Draw 10/3 Wolves 15/2

EVERTON v BOLTON

Owen Coyle is doing a fine job at Bolton and looks likely to keep them in the Premier League. Everton, though, will prove too strong at Goodison as they fight to finish above Birmingham in the compelling battle for eighth place!

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Everton 8/15 Draw 14/5 Bolton 11/2

PORTSMOUTH v HULL

As much as I am pleased to see my old mate Iain Dowie back in the Premier League, I have to say I did feel that Phil Brown was a bit unlucky to lose his job as Hull boss. There is a cocky streak to Brown — he probably got that from working with Sam Allardyce at Bolton — but I have enjoyed his antics over the last couple of years, be it hammering his under performing players on the pitch at half-time or singing to all and sundry after his team survived relegation. You’ll be missed Phil, by me at any rate. As for big Iain, he’ll do a grand job at Hull and with his enthusiasm the Tigers might just stay up, though I reckon they will have to settle for a point at Pompey, who of course are all but down.

Beacom Prediction: 1-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Pompey 11/10 Draw 23/10 Hull 5/2

STOKE v TOTTENHAM

Stoke will be up for this, thinking that the fancy dans from London are there for the taking. Don’t see it that way myself. Hard-fought draw.

Beacom Prediction: 2-2

PADDY POWER ODDS: Stoke 5/2 Draw 23/10 Spurs 11/10

SUNDERLAND v BIRMINGHAM

Steve Bruce against his former club who have punched above their weight all season. Birmingham have impressed me this season, but Sunderland, at home, might just see them off, safeguarding their Premier League status in the process.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Sunderland 6/5 Draw 9/4 Birmingham 23/10

WIGAN v BURNLEY

A good old relegation six pointer. Both try and play decent football, but I’m pretty sure one of them is going down. Probably Burnley.

Beacom Prediction: 3-2

PADDY POWER ODDS: Wigan 4/5 Draw 12/5 Burnley 15/4

BLACKBURN v CHELSEA (Sunday 4pm)

This is a massive encounter for Chelsea. They were totally outplayed by Inter Milan in midweek. The Italian side, with no Italians, got under the skin of Chelsea’s players especially Didier Drogba, who got himself sent off. He’ll be a key figure for Carlo Ancelotti in another physical encounter at Ewood Park. Having seen Inter rough them up, Sam Allardyce will tell his side to do exactly the same on Sunday. I will be surprised if Chelsea don’t cope this time.

Beacom Prediction: 1-2

PADDY POWER ODDS: Blackburn 7/1 Draw 3/1 Chelsea 4/9

FULHAM v MAN CITY (Sunday 3pm)

You have to love Fulham, what a brilliant display against Juventus. However it might just catch up with them on Sunday against City.

Beacom Prediction: 1-3

PADDY POWER ODDS: Fulham 15/8 Draw 21/10 City 6/5

MAN UNITED v LIVERPOOL (Sunday 1.30pm)

Despite Liverpool’s failings this season, this fixture remains the biggest in England. Just ask Sir Alex Ferguson. There’s nothing quite like watching these two giants go head to head.

When Liverpool were winning everything in sight back in the 80s, United used to beat them. Now it is the other way round.

In fact Rafa Benitez’s side have won the last THREE fixtures between the teams. Aggregate score a whopping 8-2 to the Anfield outfit.

The last time Liverpool visited Old Trafford they won 4-1 in an astonishing display in which Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard ran riot. United worry about those two, especially the Spaniard who seems to frighten the life out of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, bizarrely sent off in the last three meetings.

I have a feeling though that come Sunday it will be the Liverpool defence under pressure. United will feel they owe their fans a victory over their bitter rivals and March 21, 2010 may finally be the day when Wayne Rooney delivers big time against Liverpool.

Forget the World Cup, ‘Once a Blue, always a Blue’ Rooney’s real dream is to score a hat-trick against the Reds. He’s in the form to do it — or at the very least to be the matchwinner.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: United 7/10 Draw 12/5 Liverpool 9/2

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