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Game over?

Merse gives his verdict on the Easter weekend fixtures

Paul Merson - Paul Merson Posted 5th April 2012 view comments

As ever, you can follow all the Premier League action this Easter 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.

Argen-time: City must start Tevez against Arsenal, says Merse

Argen-time: City must start Tevez against Arsenal, says Merse

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

Live Ford Football Special: Swansea v Newcastle
4pm, Good Friday, Sky Sports 1 HD

Both of these teams have been brilliant this season.

Newcastle surprise me every week; I thought the wheels would come off by now but they haven't and to still be challenging for a Champions League spot is fantastic.

Alan Pardew has done a fantastic job and so have his scouts; other clubs with greater finances must be looking at the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse and kicking themselves that they didn't buy them.

During the first half against West Brom a few weeks ago, Newcastle's front three of Demba Ba, Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa were outstanding; it was like watching the Arsenal of old.

They carried on that good form against Liverpool on Sunday and I think they can nick a point in this game in what should be a very open match against a very good side.


Live Ford Football Special: Sunderland v Tottenham
12.30pm, Saturday, Sky Sports 2 HD

I did Sunderland's 3-3 draw with Manchester City last week for Soccer Saturday and they really should have won the game - they will be absolutely gutted that they didn't. They were the ones missing chances at 3-1, not City.

They would have been devastated going back on the coach but they need to take it as a positive and think: 'Almost every team that has gone to Man City this year has been slaughtered so we have done brilliantly'.

We were talking before the game and said Nicklas Bendtner probably wouldn't join Sunderland permanently in the summer as the work ethic he would need might not suit him.

But I would have thought Martin O'Neill might be trying his hardest to sign him now, after he gave City defender Vincent Kompany the run around - something I've not seen anyone else really do.

I think Tottenham, meanwhile, are just about favourites to finish third, even though I expect them to be behind Arsenal by Sunday evening.

The pitch probably won't be the greatest at the Stadium of Light and that won't help Spurs' free-flowing football. I think they will only get a draw.


Live Ford Super Sunday: Man United v QPR
12.30pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 1 HD

I thought Man United were very impressive against Blackburn on Monday night and I think they will walk away with the title now.

There was a lot of pressure on them but they kept the ball, never panicked and never started whacking it; there must have been about 40 passes that led to the first goal.

Antonio Valencia scored the opener and he is one of the hardest-working right-wingers I have seen.

He reminds me, god bless him, of the late David Rocastle when he was at Arsenal. There aren't many players who put in that match effort, can beat players, can tackle and score goals, too.

QPR got a massive result against Arsenal and at the moment they are out of the bottom three. Their run-in is tough, though, and you fear that, especially away from home, they could ship a few goals. I think they'll do that on Sunday.


Live Ford Super Sunday: Arsenal v Man City
3.30pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 1 HD and Sky 3D

If I'm right on my prediction for Man United v QPR, Man City will be eight points behind United before they kick-off at Arsenal.

They then MUST win this game to keep the title hopes alive, while Arsenal will be desperate to maintain their push for third. Sit back and enjoy what could be one of the most open football matches you have ever seen!

Arsenal will fancy their chances because they won't fear City's front two of Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli, while Roberto Mancini's side have lost a bit of their team shape over recent weeks.

I think that with Sergio Aguero out, Mancini has to pick Carlos Tevez in order to give them a spark. It's no good leaving him on the bench for 60 or 70 minutes because they could be out it by then.

I see Arsenal winning this quite comfortably and the title race being virtually over.


The rest of the Easter games

Bolton v Fulham

Bolton have got the easiest run-in of the sides at the bottom and some real momentum after winning three games in a row. Ryo Miyaichi, who is onloan from Arsenal, has really given them a lift with his pace and willingness to take players on and I think he'll be on the winning side on Saturday. Fulham will give everyone a game at Craven Cottage but they are not the same team away.

Chelsea v Wigan

The Champions League win over Benfica will have taken a lot out of Chelsea because it wasn't a walk in the park. They will also have to deal with a subdued atmosphere compared to the noisy one on Wednesday as their fans will expect them to wipe the floor with Wigan. It won't be that easy as Wigan have won two in a row, including at Liverpool, but I'll go for Chelsea - just.

Liverpool v Aston Villa

Liverpool aren't as bad as people are making out; it's their terrible level of finishing that has done them up. They are still creating chances and with a better shot conversion rate could be higher up the league. Villa are five points above the relegation zone and will be in danger, for me, until they get one more win and a draw. 37 points should be enough because these bottom teams aren't going to have too many wins left in them.

Norwich v Everton

Everton might not have Europe to play for - in the League at least - but they will be desperate to finish above Liverpool. They have won three games in a row by a 2-0 scoreline and are beginning to look like the efficient side we are used to. Norwich is a hard place to go, though, and I think this match will end all square.

Stoke v Wolves

Everyone is saying that Wolves are all-but relegated anyway so the pressure could be off a little bit and they might put in decent performance, but Stoke will be up for it, as they are still fighting to finish in the top 10 of the Premier League for the first time. If Wolves were at home I might favour them, but not at the Britannia Stadium.

West Brom v Blackburn

Blackburn had a couple of decent chances against Man United and the fact they always look like scoring gives them an edge over some of the other teams in the relegation area. Yakubu is always dangerous, while Junior Hoilett can get do something out of nothing. Blackburn have flair players and they are just as vital as your battlers and grafters when you're down at the bottom. I think Rovers can get a draw against a West Brom team who aren't that great at home.

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 (6)

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James Vickers (Scunthorpe United fan) says...

i seriously can not see man city losing 3-1 at arsenal, i think they'll get at least a point

Posted 13:40 6th April 2012

gooner 4life (Arsenal fan) says...

Now that everyone has us as favorites i bet you we'll lose!!!!!!!!!

Posted 13:39 6th April 2012

Damilola Ayoade (Chelsea fan) says...

Strongly as a Chelsea fan.i think united will obviously beat QPR While i think the highest result man city can hope for is a draw at Arsenal.i think Chelsea will just about finish in the top four.i think it will man city,manu,chelsea and arsenal.i think Spurs might lose their pace towards the end of the season.

Posted 13:38 6th April 2012

Trevor Naidoo (Manchester United fan) says...

Swansea vs Newcastle: If Newcastle go 2 up I cannot see the swans coming back - having said that the Swans have been brilliant at home this season. Sunderland-Spurs: I think that Sunderland will be tough to beat at home - may just nick it if they play like they did for the first 85 minutes against City Arsenal vs City: If RVP is on Song (no pun intended), 3-1 looks good and the fat lady can start warming her vocal chords! Liverpool-Villa: upset (of sorts)- think that Villa may nick this one WBA-Rovers: pick Rovers to nick this - after their brilliant display against United on Monday night Lets see if I can get a job at Skysports next season!

Posted 11:53 6th April 2012

Carl Fairclough (Manchester City fan) says...

i think if we can win on sunday then its gameon but if we lose or draw then yes its game over for this season but hopefully qpr can do us a favour as well at old trafford

Posted 11:43 6th April 2012

Homzie D (Manchester United fan) says...

Agree with you Merse...there is no doubt that this is the pivotal weekend in the EPL... I don't think Utd will have it easy as, if we underestimate QPR, we could be in, it is not as easy as it looks on paper. But, football is not played on paper...As a United fan, the ideal scenario would be a big Utd win followed by an Arsenal home win against City.... it could be that City would trail Utd by 8 come Sunday could also so happen that 2 away wins (one for QPR and the other for City) could blow the title race wide open... will the latter happen? NOPE (just as you've predicted, Merse). it would be interesting to see what team Sir Alex puts out as the league is our only hope of silverware this season and nothing would taste sweeter than winning #20 at Eastlands! I hope Sir Alex puts out his strongest XI. I'm hoping for 2 home wins on Sunday and I have a feeling that Utd will get a nervy 3-1 home win while Arsenal will do both teams (Utd and Arsenal) a favour by beating City 2-1. My predictions - UTD 3 QPR 1 and ARSENAL 2 CITY 1 and UTD to be 8 points clear at the top!

Posted 10:52 6th April 2012

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