Paul Merson says Man Utd will beat QPR, Liverpool might edge Villa and Arsenal will beat Man City.
Tuesday 23 September 2014 16:17, UK
If you’re a neutral then Man United are the team to watch this season. They will let in goals because they’re nowhere near good enough at the back, but they could be as good as anybody going forward if all the players click. Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao are both out-and-out centre-forwards and like playing up front on their own, so if he plays them both you might see them running into each other. Then you’ve got Wayne Rooney, Angel di Maria and Juan Mata – can you play all three of them? Louis van Gaal is getting paid a lot of money to make those decisions, but I do wonder why they sold Danny Welbeck for £16m when they’re buying wing-backs for £30m? I think this is the ideal game for the new players to come in, though. QPR had a massive result against Sunderland and if they can come away with a respectable score they’ll be happy. They will set themselves up to be hard to beat, but I don’t think they’ve got the ammunition to score in this game.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0
Hull v West Ham, 7pm, Monday, Sky Sports 1
I like Steve Bruce and I think he’s a good manager with some good players, but Hull haven’t been great so far. They dug in to get a result against Stoke, but they will be very disappointed with the defeat at Aston Villa and also with their exit from the Europa League. They would have loved to have got into the group stages, so that was a real kick in the teeth. West Ham looked like the Harlem Globetrotters against Crystal Palace, but the performance against Southampton was probably the worst they have had in years. I don’t know which West Ham will turn up in this game and so I will go for a draw. These are probably the two most unpredictable teams of the season so far.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1
Liverpool v Aston Villa
This is the hardest game of the weekend to predict and it really should be the easiest. Daniel Sturridge’s injury is a big problem for Liverpool and the question is will Mario Balotelli step up? The reason they paid the money is for games like this and they need him to perform. This game will suit Villa, as we saw last season when they were 2-0 up at Anfield and should have won. They like to play on the counter-attack with their pace and they don’t have to worry about making things happen. They haven’t lost a game yet, so their confidence is high and it all depends how they cope with Liverpool’s movement. I’ve got a feeling about this game. I have to go for a home win because Liverpool should have too much class, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it ends up being a draw.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1
Arsenal v Man City
Danny Welbeck ticks all the boxes for Arsenal and is exactly what Arsene Wenger wants – £16million for an England international who has already played for a big club is great value. He’s just scored two goals for his country in midweek and that makes things even better. I would say he needs to play as a centre-forward and I just hope the manager isn’t stubborn and plays Alexis Sanchez ahead of him because I think he can definitely make Arsenal a better team. I honestly think they will beat Man City on Saturday. You see complacency in Man City (why else do they lose to teams like Stoke?) and they aren’t going to kick Arsenal off the pitch. Man City beat them 6-3 last season, but Arsenal had as many chances in that game and it wasn’t a steamrollering. I think City will lose this – and that would be a disaster for them.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1
Chelsea v Swansea
Swansea have been doing very well and this will be a hard game for Chelsea because they have got pace to trouble them on the counter-attack. I thought Chelsea were brilliant going forward in their last game against Everton, but I couldn’t believe how open they were. Usually you see Chelsea teams protecting the back four like a machine, but Jose Mourinho must have decided he’s got the players to go another way and he wants to have a go. He’s never had the forwards to score bundles of goals before, but now he thinks he can outscore the opposition in every match. This will be a hard-fought home win.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0
Crystal Palace v Burnley
This game is a cup final and is a big, big football game for both teams. Both of these teams are going to be around the bottom of the table and both of them will be highlighting this game as one they can win. If you lose this game then things will only get harder and it’s a really tough one to call, but I would have to go with Palace because of their experience of being in hard Premier League games last year. Burnley drew with Man United in their last game, but showed Swansea too much respect a few weeks ago. They would take a draw, but I will lean towards the more experienced team.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1
Southampton v Newcastle
Southampton have been doing very well in the games they haven’t been expected to win, but have found it hard when they are in games they should win. They played really well against Liverpool and won easily at West Ham when they expected nothing – but they never looked like winning their so-called “easy” game against West Brom. I think they will expect to win this game and it’s harder to make things happen in those matches. Newcastle have been playing well, but haven’t been getting the results that their performances have deserved. They are not as bad as some of their results.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1
Stoke v Leicester
How are you supposed to predict football sometimes? Stoke fell over the line to draw with Hull, who had 10 men for most of the game – but then went to Manchester City, who have one of the best home records in the world of football and won. How can you call that? I hate going against Stoke at home, but I must say I have been very impressed with Leicester – however, they haven’t got a lot of points yet and that’s a concern. I will go for a home win, but only a narrow one because Leicester aren’t a bad side.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0
Sunderland v Tottenham
I’ve watched Sunderland quite a few times this season. They did well against Man United, but against West Brom they didn’t do very well and against QPR they were terrible. I think Tottenham will suffocate them, despite losing to Liverpool in their last game. Liverpool were very good that day and I think that showed Spurs are still some way behind the top teams, but I’m definitely going for an away win this week.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-2
West Brom v Everton
I’m doing this game on Soccer Saturday and there should be goals because Everton have let in 10 goals in their three games so far. Is Roberto Martinez going in for entertainment like he did at Wigan? At that club he wasn’t really expected to win every week, but Everton need to perform this year given the amount of money they’ve spent. They’ve been all over the place so far. West Brom were disappointing at Swansea and it could have been any score that day, so I’m going for an Everton win to kick-start their season.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3