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Goal gluts galore

Merse gives his verdict on all the weekend's games

Paul Merson - Paul Merson Posted 27th October 2011 view comments

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

We asked Soccer Saturday expert Paul Merson to look at the fixtures and give us his verdict on where the games will be won and lost.

He's taking a close look at the live games but this season he's also having his say on all of the other matches, too.

Villas-Boas: needs a result against Arsenal

Villas-Boas: needs a result against Arsenal

So read on for his shouts and don't forget to let us know your views in the comments box...

Ford Football Special: Chelsea v Arsenal
12pm, Sat, Sky Sports HD2

Arsenal haven't been impressive lately, but they've won seven out of eight games and you can't argue with that.

They've fallen over the line in many of those games, but they've got some good results against Marseille and Olympiakos plus they've moved up the Premier League table. Now they go to Chelsea in decent form.

I just hope they get their tactics right and keep things tight. This is the first time they've played one of the big boys since that drubbing at Old Trafford and I hope Arsene Wenger has learned from that.

He should play 4-5-1 with Robin van Persie up front and Gervinho and Theo Walcott on the wings, utilising their pace on the counter-attack. If they say "you-play-we-play" then Chelsea will rip them to shreds.

There couldn't be a better time to play Chelsea. They had a shocking result at QPR, they've just played 120 minutes against Everton and now all of the pressure is on them to beat Arsenal because nobody expects an away win here.

If they lose this one they can kiss goodbye to the title. They could end up nine points behind Man City by Saturday evening and I don't see them making that up over the rest of the season.

Didier Drogba has bullied Arsenal over the years, but he's suspended and Chelsea aren't really a bullying team any more. They're not as big and physical as they used to be and with all eyes on John Terry he can't exactly go out kicking people left, right and centre.

You have to play your best players in these games, so Terry must play; it's a no-brainer. I'd partner him with Alex, who might be able to nick a goal at the other end, which could be crucial in a tight match.

Arsenal are incapable of keeping a clean sheet, so I can't see them winning, but with no pressure on them and a bit of momentum I can see them getting a draw.


Super Sunday: Tottenham v QPR
3.30pm, Sun, Sky Sports HD1

In days gone by Tottenham had to play really well to win games, but that's not the case any more.

They weren't great at Blackburn last week, but they still won the game and that will be very pleasing for Harry Redknapp and the Tottenham fans. They've got a lot of players who can do something out of the ordinary, but also lots of players who can dig in when things aren't going well.

Scott Parker has been great, Ledley King is a big plus for them, Emmanuel Adebayor is a presence and Jermain Defoe is playing better than he has for a long time. They're a good team and I would pick them for fourth right now (although Luis Suarez is so good he might carry Liverpool into the Champions League on his own).

They let themselves down last year when they didn't score enough goals at the end of the season, but Harry has set them up to attack and I expect them to absolutely slaughter QPR.

Don't get me wrong, QPR had a great result last week. Chelsea thought they just had to turn up with their boots on the right feet, but QPR wanted it more and got the result.

It will be different on the big pitch at White Hart Lane. When you score an early goal against a superior team at Loftus Road you can sit back and defend, but Spurs will spread balls out wide to the likes of Gareth Bale and that makes it so hard to keep them out.

Remember, it was only a couple of weeks ago they conceded six goals to a Fulham team that have only scored five goals in their other eight games combined. That's why I don't give them a chance.

Their job is to stay in the league and Neil Warnock knows there are some games where it's important to pick up points and other games where it's just important to avoid injuries! This is one of those.


Monday Night Football: Stoke v Newcastle
7pm, Mon, Sky Sports HD1

Newcastle haven't got many superstars in their side, if any, but they are playing as a team and working hard for each other.

Alan Pardew is a very good manager too. He should never have been sacked by Southampton, he did well at West Ham and now he is getting results with Newcastle.

I thought Demba Ba was a great buy at £4million. He's quick, strong and he scores goals - what more do you want from a striker? He wasn't a big name, which is why certain teams didn't go for him, but at the moment you'd rather have him in your team than Andy Carroll.

My only concern is that they have to play at 100 per cent every week to get a result. If they lose a couple of matches then things could quickly go the other way and after this game against Stoke they play Everton, Man City, Man United and Chelsea in a row. That's a really tough run of fixtures and this team that has done so well could easily lose four on the spin before you know it.

So this trip to Stoke is a massive game. You have to remember that Tony Pulis's side have played Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham at home in the league and haven't lost to any of them - so that's the challenge that Newcastle face.

Stoke have to play an away game in the Premier League on the Sunday after all eight of their Europa League group games. That's bordering on disgraceful and I don't think the top teams could cope with a fixture list like that. As a result, they've had some bad results against Swansea, Sunderland and Norwich. That's not fair.

That means they need to win their home games and I'd never back against them at the Britannia Stadium. I like Newcastle a lot, but even if Stoke were playing Man United on Monday night I wouldn't pick an away win.


The rest of the weekend's games

Everton v Man Utd

What will Sir Alex Ferguson do here? Will he pick the same team (minus the suspended Jonny Evans) and ask them to get them out of it? Or will he drop two or three players until after Christmas? It'll be a very interesting selection. Everton lost in extra time in midweek, but they'll give Man Utd a game and I think the away team will only just scrape home.

Man City v Wolves

Man City won't batter teams week after week, but I think Wolves have gone. I don't know how they managed to draw with Swansea last week because they played so poorly and although it will be different to the team that played in midweek I don't think the score will be too different. I expect Man City to win very easily.

Norwich v Blackburn

From the players to the manager, I think Norwich have been outstanding this season. They took a leaf out of Blackpool's book by attacking their opponents, but they've kept the back door shut as well. I think they'll definitely win against a tired Blackburn team. Expect Norwich to fly out of the traps.

Sunderland v Aston Villa

In my opinion, Villa's game against West Brom should be replayed. It's all very well rescinding Chris Herd's ban, but they lost the game because of that terrible decision. Anyway, I think Villa are struggling - they never looked like scoring in the second half last week - and I see a Sunderland win here. They've been unlucky so far and should be higher up the table.

Swansea v Bolton

Bolton had a terrible result last week, but so did Swansea. They'd have taken a point before the game, but they were cantering in the second half and should have beaten a Wolves team that couldn't have played worse. I'm going to pick a home win, but I wouldn't be surprised if the scoreline was the other way around. Bolton have decent players and sooner or later their luck will change.

Wigan v Fulham

Wigan look like they're going to go this year. Roberto Martinez asks his defenders to play the ball out from the back, but they're not good enough to do it. They gave away three goals to Bolton by doing that and they keep shooting themselves in the foot. Fulham aren't in great form, but I see them making enough chances to win this match.

West Brom v Liverpool

As long as Luis Suarez stays fit, he can guide Liverpool into fourth place this year. His first goal against Stoke was unreal and you've got to fancy them because he can do something out of the ordinary. The thing is, West Brom have turned the corner with two big wins in local derbies, so I'm going for a draw here.

Follow Saturday's football on Soccer Saturday from 12noon on Sky Sports News HD and then see extended highlights on Football First from 8.25pm on Sky Sports HD2.

Comments (9)

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Amr Owaineh (Arsenal fan) says...

what do you think about Arsenal now. we will always concede goals but we will always score more! GO GUNNERS!

Posted 09:21 30th October 2011

Jack Davidson (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

Hope Spurs win 4-0 but can't see it happening. Maybe 2-1 or 3-1 perhaps. Adebayor has seemed to stop scoring but like you said is indeed a presence. VDV has to play, perhaps Defoe come on as impact sub. I see a Spurs win but not by much.

Posted 11:49 29th October 2011

Dan Kabrovski (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

Thanks for the vote of confidence Merse and you're right - this is on paper a game that Spurs should romp to victory in. The trouble is that we always seem to struggle in games against the so called weaker teams and failure to pick up points against newly promoted sides cost us dearly last year. I think we'll win but I don't think the guys will make it easy for themselves. As long as we keep the unbeaten run going, I don't care how they get it done. P.S Correction - Tottenham haven't played Stoke away in the league yet, we did in the Carling Cup. Only failed to beat Man U and Newcastle away so far.

Posted 10:53 29th October 2011

Ashley Clarke (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

so you think Villa game should be replayed because of silly decision (which it was) however how many games has their been in the past where this has been the case? sorry Mers but vill fans will just have to live with that poor decision.

Posted 10:46 29th October 2011

Howells Peters (Chelsea fan) says...

merson chelsea can beat any team any day with fundamental mentality. Seven to eight changes will be put to face a rejuvenated arsenal side from the mid week game against everton. I see chelsea running away with three point here regarless whatever treat they will received from their london rival.verdict 3--1

Posted 16:59 28th October 2011

Fan123 Fan123 (Queens Park Rangers fan) says...

4-0 Tottenham wins with such margin? I can't argue with that in theory of course. But then again it's football, anything can happen. Chelsea was favorite prior last Sunday's but end up losing. There are a quite number of bets with odds in favor of QPR winning it actually, how's that possible? Firstly it's an away game and QPR proves to be capable at it, secondly 6-0 lost to Fulham and how fans react positively towards it somehow boosted their morale like a reverse psychology after effect, thirdly so called 'Divine Rights' another words to describe of psychological advantage of big clubs towards new comers are no longer automatic, last but not least there will be 3000 of R's fans coming as 12th player. And me of course at home pounding my war drums this weekend. Upward & on-wards u R'ssssssssssssssssssssssssssss! On another note: I used to have these Tottenham Hotspur jersey during school days, it was great.

Posted 15:09 28th October 2011

Laurie Cockayne (West Bromwich Albion fan) says...

Villa vs WBA should be replayed? I see you have failed to mention Hutton's assault on Long? Villa got what they deserved.

Posted 13:53 28th October 2011

Shaun Whitfield (Norwich City fan) says...

Well done Paul! For the 1st time this season you have given Norwich credit. All i've heard this season so far is that Norwich are going to struggle and that they are too open with the way they play and to a degree that is true, but Paul Lambert knows his team and knows they can cope with the fast pace of the Premier League and so far he has got it spot on. No big ego's just good football from a very hard working spirited team. I like the fact that everyone disses Norwich that they are not good enough but they have and will surprise a lot of teams this year. Well done Paul Lambert and his team, keep up the hard work it will be worth it by the end of the season! OTBC!!!!!

Posted 12:28 28th October 2011

Brendan Cosgrave (Aston Villa fan) says...

3 or 4 seasons ago i'd of called you "Mad" predicting 4 or 5-0's but I find myself in the bookies each Saturday doing exactly that! The odds are same,. Its sad to see the gulf in difference opening even further between the mid-tabler's and the top 6.

Posted 10:43 28th October 2011

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