Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Stuart McKinley's Premier League Predictions

Yet another big weekend looms, not only in the battle for the Premier League title, but also the top four.

Games kick-off at 3pm on Saturday unless stated.

ARSENAL v MANCHESTER CITY

(Saturday 5.30pm)

This game is now much bigger for City than it is for Arsenal. Both shot themselves in the foot last weekend and I can’t believe Arsene Wenger’s side blew a 2-0 lead, although I’ve said before that they lack a goalkeeper of a similar class as other teams across Europe who are at the same level. Had City beaten United they could have been in with a shout of overtaking the Gunners for third place. Right now Roberto Mancini would settle for fourth. He’s promised fans City will finish there, but look what happened to the last team whose manager made that promise. City’s record in north-London isn’t great, but they would need to take something at the Emirates if Mancini is to deliver Champions League football next season. The Europa League would be a poor consolation really given that City have spent over £100million in the last year. Emmanuel Adebayor (pictured) is sure to get another warm welcome from Arsenal fans (or should that be a hot reception?).

McKinley Prediction: 2-0

PADDY POWER ODDS: Arsenal 10/11 Draw 5/2 Manchester City 3/1

ASTON VILLA v BIRMINGHAM

(Sunday 12 noon)

As derbies go this one is right up there as far as rivalries go. It’s pretty bitter and it’s not the type of place where members of the same family support different teams. Unlike most derby games though this one has usually gone with form, but City will fancy themselves to put it up to their neighbours and rightly so as they’ve had a great season after coming up from the Championship. And they’d love to kill off any hopes Villa have of getting into fourth.

McKinley Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Aston Villa 8/13 Draw 11/4 Sunderland 9/2

BOLTON v PORTSMOUTH

Bolton are safe, Portsmouth are down and with Avram Grant having to re-jig his side he can’t even prepare properly for the FA Cup final. Typical end-of-season contest to ensue.|

McKinley Prediction: 1-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Bolton 4/7 Draw 11/4 Portsmouth 5/1

BURNLEY v LIVERPOOL

(Sunday 3pm)

After taking trains, planes and automobiles to get to Madrid this will feel like a dart around the corner for Liverpool. A few years ago Rafael Benitez put out effectively a reserve team that was beaten by Fulham to aid their fight against relegation and this could be a good time for Burnley to face the Reds as there is no way they will have anything remotely resembling a full-strength team on the pitch. Can’t see anything but an away win though and that should help Liverpool make the Europa League, with Portsmouth’s failure to make Europe giving the top seven continental football next season.

McKinley Prediction: 1-3

PADDY POWER ODDS: Burnley 9/2 Draw 11/4 Liverpool 8/13

CHELSEA v STOKE (Sunday 4pm)

This one should be a home banker, but the pressure will be on Chelsea if Manchester United beat Tottenham and go two points clear at the top on Saturday afternoon. Stoke are the kind of team that could go to Stamford Bridge and park the bus in front of goal and frustrate the life out of Didier Drogba and co. Whatever happens at least things are still interesting after Chelsea lost to Spurs.

McKinley Prediction: 3-0

PADDY POWER ODDS: Chelsea 1/7 Draw 13/2 Stoke 18/1

EVERTON v FULHAM

(Sunday 3pm)

You’ve got to feel sorry for Fulham and Liverpool really. After their treks across dear knows how many European countries, they get halfway to Germany and Spain respectively only to find that if they’d held on they could have gone by air. The good news for Fulham is that they can fly to Liverpool for this one, but expect Roy Hodgson to send out a shadow squad after his team’s exertions this week.

McKinley Prediction: 3-0

PADDY POWER ODDS: Everton 4/9 Draw 16/5 Fulham 13/2

HULL v SUNDERLAND

Hull’s draw with Birmingham City last weekend gave them a point that could be priceless later on

They couldn’t do a ‘second-city double’ though when they lost to Aston VIlla. With a trip to Wigan and a final day showdown with Liverpool to come in their last two games, this one would appear to provide them with their best chance of three points. Sunderland could amazingly now end up in the top half of the table and a win in this one would actually see them move into tenth place which would be a decent achievement by Steve Bruce.

McKinley Prediction: 1-2

PADDY POWER ODDS: Hull 5/4 Draw 23/10 Sunderland 11/5

MAN UNITED v TOTTENHAM (Saturday 12.45pm)

It’s that long since Tottenham won at Old Trafford that it was Newton Heath rather than Manchester United that they beat! OK, I know that Newton Heath didn’t actually play at Old Trafford, but still, it’s been a fair while. Spurs do have a manager that likes to pull off upsets against United though and if Harry Redknapp leads his team to victory tomorrow then they deserve to finish fourth, after beating Arsenal and Chelsea too. The only reason I can find for wanting United to win is that I predicted they’d be champions at the start and it would look like I know something about the game.

McKinley Prediction: 2-0

PADDY POWER ODDS: Man United 1/2 Draw 3/1 Spurs 6/1

WEST HAM v WIGAN

If rival managers Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Martinez were playing this would be an even better game. West Ham haven’t even come close to living up to expectations this season, but they should just about survive. Wigan are now safe and playing carefree football could be bad news for the Hammers.

McKinley Prediction: 2-2

PADDY POWER ODDS: West Ham 5/6 Draw 5/2 Wigan 10/3

WOLVES v BLACKBURN

This one has all the ingredients of a, erm, bore draw. Wolves could still go down, so they need the points. Blackburn? Well, Sam Allardyce could still take them into the top half, but it’s unlikely they’ll win that battle with four teams still involved in that one.

McKinley Prediction: 1-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Wolves 13/10 Draw 9/4 Blackburn 21/10

Sports Editor Steven Beacom is replaced this week by Stuart McKinley who will try his best to call the outcome of the games that matter on Saturday and Sunday.

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