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Steven Beacom's Premier League predictions

After all the weather problems and postponements, some football matches are actually being played these days.

Mind you, Liverpool probably wish they had called off Wednesday night’s FA Cup tie against Reading. The Reds are first up in the Premiership this weekend and Sports Editor Steven Beacom is back to cast his expert eye over that fixture at Stoke and all the rest of the top flight games.

All kick-off at 3pm on Saturday unless stated and as usual Paddy Power provides the odds.

STOKE v LIVERPOOL |(Saturday 12.45pm)

This really is a nightmare period for Liverpool. You could say that it all started just over a year ago at Stoke, so this is probably the last place Rafael Benitez wanted to go to after the shock FA Cup exit.

You may recall that before Liverpool played against Stoke last season Benitez launched his attack on Sir Alex Ferguson.

At the time Liverpool were looking good for the title. After the rant came a run of draws, including against Stoke, that saw them fall behind United.

Yes, there was a late, exciting flurry but it was too little, too late and Liverpool lost a title they should have cantered towards. Now ahead of another visit to the Britannia Stadium they are in danger of losing their manager after a shocking run of form. They’ll get no sympathy from the Stoke fans desperate to rub it in.

With Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard both out injured (again) just once Liverpool fans would like to see the rest of the team stand up and be counted or alternatively for new Argentine signing Maxi Rodriguez to play like Diego Maradona!

Beacom Prediction: 1-2

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

CHELSEA v SUNDERLAND

Chelsea didn’t play last Saturday but it turned out to be one of their best weekends of their season with Arsenal and Manchester United dropping points. Manchester City might just turn into Chelsea’s biggest challengers for the title this season. Can’t imagine Steve Bruce would like that. He’ll do all he can to help Sunderland and his old boss at the Theatre of Dreams. Even without Didier Drogba, away on African Nations Cup duty, Chelsea should have enough to win, unless Darren Bent has another beach ball tucked up his jersey.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Chelsea 2/9 Draw 5/1 Sunderland 12/1

MAN UNITED v BURNLEY

I find it difficult to understand how a manager who was unsuccessful at a Championship club, Sheffield Wednesday, can jump straight into a Premiership job.

I hope Burnley know what they are doing appointing Brian Laws because I’d love to see the Turf Moor outfit stay up.

Laws has stated his main aim is to improve Burnley’s awful away form. Even though United are playing terribly, it won’t happen tomorrow.

Sir Alex Ferguson will demand a big response after recent shocking displays and by the end of it Laws will be a broken man.

Beacom Prediction: 4-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: United 2/11 Draw 11/2 Burnley 15/1

PORTSMOUTH v BIRMINGHAM

Birmingham have been on a fantastic run of late, avoiding defeat against Chelsea and United and beating just about anyone else in their way. Sorry, but they are punching above their weight. My bet of the day is for struggling Portsmouth to beat them.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Pompey 13/8 Draw 23/10 Birmingham 13/8

SPURS v HULL

In the past Spurs have made a right mess of games like this. Not this time.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Spurs 2/7 Draw 4/1 Hull 11/1

WOLVES v WIGAN

Relegation battle. I’m going for Wigan to edge it.

Beacom Prediction: 1-2

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

EVERTON v MAN CITY |(Saturday 5.30pm)

I fancy this to be the tastiest match of the weekend. Slowly, but surely, Everton are finding a bit of form. They are getting injured players back and were dreadfully unlucky not to beat Arsenal last weekend. It will be tough against City though. They are playing assured football and scoring bags of goals, notably Carlos Tevez who is relishing playing on a regular basis after his stop start career at Old Trafford. Could be a Saturday evening cracker.

Beacom Prediction: 1-2

PADDY POWER ODDS: Everton 9/5 Draw 9/4 City 6/4

ASTON VILLA v WEST HAM (Sunday 1.30pm)

Villa’s last league game at home saw Martin O’Neill slumped in despair after a late Liverpool winner from Fernando Torres. West Ham don’t have anyone of that quality so Martin should be a bit happier this weekend.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Villa 8/15 Draw 11/4 West Ham 6/1

BLACKBURN v FULHAM (Sunday 3pm)

Roy Hodgson returns to Ewood Park. He’ll get more respect on Sunday than he ever did when he was the Rovers boss. And his team can expect to pick up a point.

Beacom Prediction: 1-1

PADDY POWER ODDS: Blackburn 5/4 Draw 9/4 Fulham 11/5

BOLTON v ARSENAL (Sunday 4pm)

I didn’t really get Owen Coyle’s switch from Burnley to Bolton. It’s destined to end in tears, though it may start pretty well. Coyle once played in a famous Bolton win over the Gunners in the FA Cup. He’d take a draw this time.

Beacom Prediction: 2-2

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

Belfast Telegraph