Thursday, 18 December 2008

Lawro's Predictions Predictions

Welcome to the first week of Lawro’s Predictions Predictions, where I will attempt to predict the predictions that Lawro predicts in his weekly predictions.

Blackburn v Stoke
It was always going to be tough for Paul Ince to move from League 2 to the Premier League. Blackburn lost a few key players and his team have struggled badly. I think he needed to be given more time to stamp his personality on the club. Chairman John Williams has made the right choice to replace him with Sam Allardyce given their results this season.

Stoke have struggled on the road and they will be without top class launchbus Sidibe who suffered a bad injury last weekend. This combined with the impact of Sam Allardyce points to only one result. Clubs usually get a lift when a new manager comes in and this will be no different.


Bolton v Portsmouth
I’ve been impressed with Bolton recently and summer signing Elmander has finally started to pick up some goalscoring form. The question is now whether he has what it takes to do it consistently in the Premier League week-in, week-out? Portsmouth have been erratic under Tony Adama and you never seem to know what you’re going to get from them.

Bolton were poor against Aston Villa last weekend but I expect them to be a different proposition at home, Gary Megson will be looking for a positive reaction. That said, with Croucher and Defoe there are always goals in Portsmouth and those two will be a threat.


Fulham v Middlesbrough
Roy Hodgson has built a really good team at Fulham in a short space of time. They are really solid at the back and don’t give away many goals. However, they don’t score many goals either and with Zamora out the burden lies entirely on Andy Johnson. They will be looking for him to step up with some goals, particularly in home games like this.

Like Fulham, Middlesbrough don’t score many either and Afonso Alves has failed to hit top gear since his big-money move last January. Gareth Southgate has a young team and they are capable of fantastic results like the one against Arsenal last weekend. I expect Middlesbrough to go into this game on a high and give it a real go.


Hull v Sunderland
Hull have been a breath of fresh air and I expect them to continue their good form this weekend. They haven’t picked up too many points lately but their draw at Anfield and the nature of that match will see them head into this game sky-high on confidence. Phil Brown has been linked with a move away from Hull but I don’t expect him to leave the team he is building there.

Sunderland’s fortunes have completely turned around since the departure of Roy Keane with a fabulous result last week and a gritty showing at Old Trafford. Djibril Cisse and Kenwyne Jones are a real handful up front and Ricky Sbragia will be looking to put himself in the frame for the permanent managerial post.


West Ham v Aston Villa
West Ham have had some terrific results recently with draws at both Liverpool and Chelsea. Bellamy has started to pick up some form of late and he will need to stay fit, otherwise I can’t see where the goals are coming from? Zola seems to be finding out more about his best team every week, but the question is what kind of impact he can have in the long-term given the club’s financial position?

Villa performed poorly in the UEFA cup but were missing a number of key players. Their pace on the break with the likes of Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor makes them ideally suited to playing away from home and it will be interesting to see how West Ham cope with that threat. Villa have been fantastic recently and Martin O’Neill will be looking for more of the same here.


Arsenal v Liverpool
Arsene Wenger will be scratching his head about what he has to do with this Arsenal team. One week they are beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the next they are struggling at Middlesbrough. We have seen from that game at Chelsea and from the match against Manchester United that Arsenal are at their best in the big games. This match against Liverpool FC YNWA is the biggest of them all as a loss could put them out of the title race for good.

Liverpool have been poor at home recently but their away record is good and they are capable of grinding out results. As with the match at Chelsea, Liverpool can always rely on the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher to pull out the biggest performances in the biggest games and they will be looking to expose Arsenal’s weaknesses at the back.


Newcastle v Tottenham
Newcastle had a terrific result last week and they will be looking to continue that good form in front of their home fans. If Michael Owen can stay fit they have a proven goalscorer and he will get those all-important tap-ins. However, the question is will he stay? He is out of contract in the summer and perhaps Newcastle will look to cash-in in January before he can leave for free and Tottenham are one of the teams who could be looking at him.

As we know Harry Redknapp has worked wonders since he came in and he got another brilliant result last week against Manchester United. Tottenham have quality all over the team and with world class players like David Bentley and Darren Bent in the side it was only a matter of time until they pulled away from the relegation zone. It will be interesting to see how their defence copes with the threat of Owen.


West Brom v Man City
With Ishmael Miller out for the season I just can’t see where the goals are going to come from for West Brom. Tony Mowbray has an admirable philosophy on how the game should be played but it doesn’t seem to be getting them anywhere. They have recalled Craig Beattie but I don’t think he is the answer to their goalscoring problems.

You never know what you are going to get with Man City and they have struggled away from home, particularly in defence. They offer teams a lot of time and space. Many of their players will be feeling under pressure as we near January, fearing for their positions considering the funds available. Mark Hughes needs to start picking up results and struggling West Brom could be a good place to start.


Everton v Chelsea
After a poor start to the season David Moyes is slowly but surely getting Everton back on track. They have severe injury problems in the striking department but they are still capable of getting results. However, they have struggled at home. With no available strikers I expect them to deploy Tim Cahill up front again in a bus-parking manoeuvre.

Scolari’s honeymoon period is well and truly over and Chelsea’s home form is under intense scrutiny. They have struggled to break teams down at home and Everton’s injury predicament may put them in a similar situation here. Scolari could opt to bring Drogba back into the starting line-up for the physical battle but the question is whether he can fit both Drogba and Anelka into the same team? Nevertheless, Chelsea have a 100% away record despite their struggles at home.


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