Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Premiership predictions

European football took centre stage in midweek but the Premier League will hit the headlines over the weekend with some super matches lined up. The big one of course sees Chelsea travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. Belfast Telegraph sports Editor Steven Beacom runs his expert eye over all this weekend's games in the top flight.

(All games kick-off tomorrow at 3pm unless stated)

Arsenal v Derby

There have been occasions in the past when Derby have stunned the Gunners and left London with a shock win. This won't be one of them. Arsenal have been really impressive in the league this season to date.

True, they were fortunate to beat Fulham on the opening day of the season but since then they collected some fine results.

Derby beat Newcastle on Monday night and it is against inconsistent sides like that that they will have to gain most of the points. Against sides like Arsenal, it will be a case of keeping the score down.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

Fulham v Man City (Saturday 5.15pm)

Remember the last time Lawrie Sanchez took on Sven Goran Eriksson? Thought you might.

September 7, 2005. Northern Ireland 1 England 0. David Healy.

Always feels good writing that. And you know what, I fancy Sanchez to overcome the Swede once more.

City are looking good at the moment and deserve to be up in second spot. They won't stay there. I suspect mid-table is where they will finish. Ditto Fulham actually if they get out of that bad habit of conceding late goals that turn draws into defeats and wins into draws. If Healy starts expect him to score against Sven again.

Beacom Prediction: 1-0

Liverpool v Birmingham

Liverpool's last two games have been nothing to write home about. Against Portsmouth, they were sub-standard all over the park and in the end were fortunate to escape with a 0-0 draw. They were even luckier to take a point home from Porto in the Champions League.

More than that is a must against Birmingham. I believe the Reds will come good against Steve Bruce's side.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

Middlesbrough V Sunderland

North-east derby. Expect a few goals.

Beacom Prediction: 2-2

Reading v Wigan

I said that last week Reading were going through that difficult second album phase. Hopefully they will snap out of it as the Premier League can do with the class act that is Stevie Coppell.

Beacom Prediction: 3-1

Aston Villa v Everton (Sunday 2pm)

Villa lost 1-0 to Manchester City last weekend. Everton lost 1-0 to Manchester United last weekend. With a cutting edge, both would have gained a draw. That's what they will get on Sunday.

Beacom Prediction: 1-1

Blackburn v Portsmouth (Sunday 3pm)

Blackburn's UEFA Cup tie last night means this will be tight, but Rovers should still come through.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

Bolton v Tottenham (Sunday 3pm)

Whoever loses this one could find themselves needing a new manager. It only appears a matter of time before Martin Jol leaves the Lane while Sammy Lee's days are looking increasingly numbered at Bolton.

Beacom Prediction: 2-2

Man United v Chelsea (Sunday 4pm)

The Special One has left the building. Incredible stuff. Maybe he didn't fancy a trip to Old Trafford, where of course he made his name that night he ran up the touchline after Porto scored late on to knock United out of Europe.

The cracks have been there at Chelsea for quite some time, but no one expected Mourinho to leave this week. It's tough to take for Chelsea fans, but a win at the Theatre of Dreams will ease the pain.

Will they get it? I can't see it. I feel that Ronaldo and the boys might just rub Chelsea noses in it.

Incidentally well done Cristiano on your subdued celebrations in Lisbon the other night. Touch of class that.

Mourinho was a fine manager for Chelsea. He guided them to unprecedented success although obviously he was given the money to do it. Unfortunately Jose lacked a lot of grace, but regardless of that he will be missed in the Premier League because he was incredibly good value whether you liked what he had to say or not.

It would be nice to see him back managing in England. Spurs might need a new boss soon and maybe, just maybe, he could replace Fergie at Old Trafford when the great Scot calls it a day. One last thing, Avram Grant? Missing you already Jose.

Beacom Prediction: 2-1

Newcastle v West Ham (Sunday 1.30pm)

Lee Bowyer and Craig Bellamy can expect a lovely reception from the Toon Army. Yeah right.

Beacom Prediction: 1-1

Belfast Telegraph


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