Blogs & Opinion


City slicker

Merse previews a massive weekend of Premier League football

Features - Paul Merson Posted 7th December 2012 view comments

As ever, you can follow all the Premier League action this weekend on Sky Sports.

And as ever, Soccer Saturday expert Paul Merson is on hand to take us through the fixtures and give us his verdict on where the games will be won and lost.

Tune in to skysports.com every week for his thoughts on who will end up winners and who will end up losers this weekend.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini prepare their sides for the derby

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini prepare their sides for the derby

So read on for his shouts and you can always let us know your views via the comments box...

Ford Super Sunday: Manchester City v Manchester United
1pm, Sun, Sky Sports 1 HD

In these derbies, strangely, the team playing away sometimes has a little bit of an advantage but I'm going to go for City in this one. If City were playing away, I'd fancy them even more because United would have to come forward and would get picked off.

Last year, City battered them in this fixture and it was the easiest 1-0 victory you could hope to see. I think they'll be just a little too good for them.

I think United will play a 4-5-1 with Robin van Persie up top on his own and try and frustrate City, but I think City have their number and will just nick it. Having said that, I watched the City game against Everton last weekend and when Carlos Tevez went off, they didn't look like scoring in a month of Sundays.

I think Manchester United's defending at the moment is all over the place and their goalkeeper situation is also questionable. There was some shocking marking in the 4-3 win at Reading but I don't know if City have got anyone like the lad Sean Morrison who comes up for corners and just says: 'I'm gonna score here.'

With regards to City's defence, I think Roberto Mancini needs to re-establish the Vincent Kompany-Joleon Lescott central defensive partnership despite the emergence of Matija Nastasic. That pairing won them the league and they were solid.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1

Ford Super Sunday: West Ham v Liverpool
3.30pm, Sun, Sky Sports 1 HD

If both sides were at full strength, I'd probably go for a draw given their respective forms - but Liverpool are missing their main man and striker Luis Suarez due to suspension.

If you couple the absence of Liverpool's main goal threat with the Hammers' encouraging 3-1 home victory over Chelsea last time out, I'm going to go with the home side to shade it. Upton Park is never an easy place to go and it'll be extra tough for Liverpool this time with the fans buoyed by beating the Blues, Sam Allardyce's men playing purposefully and being without the tireless run-making of Suarez.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1

Ford Monday Night Football: Fulham v Newcastle
7pm, Mon, Sky Sports 1 HD

Despite the fact that Fulham are without a win in seven Premier League games now, I think they've had some hard games. I quite like them.

I think Newcastle punched above their weight a bit last year. If they've got all their players on the pitch then they're a force but without some of their stars, they're not the same as last term.

I don't think the Magpies will be able to live with Dimitar Berbatov, so I can see the hosts getting back on track at Craven Cottage.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0

Everton v Tottenham
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1

This is a difficult one to call and should be a good game.

Everton are playing well but they're not winning football matches and that's always a worry. Manchester City didn't play very well against them last weekend but still didn't look like losing against them.

Having said that, Spurs will be missing the injured Gareth Bale and Everton's own star man Marouane Fellaini can cause anyone problems with his height and strength. At the moment, for me, he's as good as anybody in the Premier League.

I don't see much between these two teams so I'm going to go for a draw.

Arsenal v West Brom
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1

I don't understand Arsene Wenger sometimes. I'm a fan of Olivier Giroud and I think he's one of the players who's come in to the squad who can be a real force.

When Giroud's played, he's done well and then all of a sudden he gets left out by Wenger in favour of playing Gervinho up front on his own. For me, Gervinho is not a centre forward. Giroud is the in-form forward and keeps getting left out. I don't get it.

West Brom were the surprise package but have lost two on the trot now and may have hit a brick wall. When they lost the other week, Steve Clarke made about five changes to his side and you just thought that might be a bit harsh.

Aston Villa v Stoke
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1

This Darren Bent situation is all that people are talking about when it comes to Villa. There are now rumours going round that Villa will have to fork out another £5m if he plays three more games and triggers a clause in the transfer agreement, so I can't see him coming back now. You'd have thought he'd be on his way in January. If that's not the case, then how is Bent not one of the best 16 players at Aston Villa?

I like Stoke. I always think they must be a nightmare team to play against because they're so hard-working. I think they won away for the first time in 17 Premier League games at West Brom the other day so that will also be a lift for them.

Southampton v Reading
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1

I think Southampton will be alright. I think they've turned the corner a little bit in my opinion. I think they all know what they're doing and try and play some good football. I don't see anything but a Saints win here. Even when Reading sneaked victory at St Mary's in the Championship during their incredible run last season, they could've been beaten by 10 goals!

Reading may have a chance at set-pieces because as I've mentioned before, Morrison has a great attitude when he comes up for corners and Saints goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga has looked a bit shaky, but I don't think it will be enough.

Sunderland v Chelsea
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-4

Sunderland were shocking in the first half at Norwich and although they improved after the break, anyone can play when they're losing because the shackles are off and you just go out and play. I think Sunderland are a really struggling team. With no Lee Cattermole at the moment, I think they're going to find themselves in the relegation battle.

I can see Chelsea picking off the Black Cats very easily, ripping them to shreds and bagging an emphatic victory.

Swansea v Norwich
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0

If you talk about the in-form teams, you'd have to mention both of these teams but I can't back against Swansea here. We've heard speculation over big clubs coming knocking for the Swans' free-scoring striker Michu, and then manager Michael Laudrup saying that he won't listen to offers under £20m. If you could buy him for £20m and he kept on doing what he's doing now, you'd say it was a snip. He's a good player and there'll be a lot of scouts at big clubs in trouble for not picking him out, because he only cost Swansea £2m.

Norwich have got some good players as well with the likes of Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass on the flanks and I think a fit Sebastian Bassong is a top centre-half. But I'll be going for Swansea because of their passing.

Wigan v QPR
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2

This is a massive, massive game for Queens Park Rangers. They're not far off. They don't get battered but they manage to lose games.

I think that on their day, Wigan are one of those sides that can beat anyone. I watched them play against Manchester City a couple of weeks back and if they'd have taken their chances, they'd have won the game.

Draws are no good for QPR - if they draw the next 20 games they'll get relegated. They need to win and this has got to be a highlighted game for them because you look at the other fixtures and you'd say Villa could get something at Stoke and Saints are playing fellow strugglers Reading.

If Rangers lose this game, they could find themselves 10 points adrift of safety and that's too many even at this stage of the season. I'd say some of it depends on which Wigan show up, but I'll go with Harry to pull it off.

Don't miss any live and exclusive football coverage this festive season. Click hereto visit Sky Sports' Festive Calendar.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Martin Tyler

Tyler's stats and facts

Which letter surname gets the most goals? Who has made the most passes? Martin has the stats......

Guillem Balague

Balague: Real lack logic

Guillem Balague says Real Madrid’s poor football judgement has left them weaker than last season....

Alan Smith

Smith - Welbeck exit sad for United

Alan Smith says many Man Utd fans will be upset to see Danny Welbeck move to Arsenal....

Latest News RSS feeds

Live transfer updates

Aston Villa seal Tom Cleverley loan, Cesar Azpilicueta signs new Chelsea deal and Wayne Rooney welcomes Radamel Falcao.

Yorke: United spree could win title

Radamel Falcao can fire Manchester United to the Premier League title this season, says Dwight Yorke.

Tuesday football - live!

Follow all of tonight's Johnstone's Paint Trophy action, or watch Peterborough v Leyton Orient live on Sky Sports 1HD.

Rooney salutes Falcao arrival

England captain Wayne Rooney claims Manchester United have made a statement of intent by bringing in Radamel Falcao.

Cleverley joins Villa on loan

Tom Cleverley has joined Aston Villa on a season-long loan from Manchester United, both clubs have confirmed.

Features

Free Transfer XI: The pick of the players still available following the closure of the transfer window

Free Transfer XI: The pick of the players still available following the closure of the transfer window

Still not had your transfer fix? There are still players out there looking to find a new club this summer...

The Science of Scouting: Abroad

The Science of Scouting: Abroad

The globalisation of football is an opportunity for clubs savvy enough to identify talent from abroad. However, with players being expected to adapt to a new country, the risks are increased in line with the reward.