Welcome to "High Fives" the personal column of our ace Director of Football "Magic Mike".
Magic Mike's football credentials are first class. Last season he handily beat the Beeb’s expert tipster “Lawro” who never got a look in after Magic took an early lead at the start of the 2008/09 season.
A good number of our players were rescued by Magic’s tips in our Five Lives scheme which automatically gives you his tips, up to five times during the season, should you forget to enter them yourself. Magic Mike's canny inside knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of players and teams, combined with a passion for getting it right, is what you need to make an impact in this game. It also means you're going to have to be at your best to outdo him.
The North London derby Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium kicks-off round 11.The Gunners conceded a 2 goal lead that ended their 4 game winning run at Upton Park last Sunday that still saw them move up a place into 3rd ahead of Spurs, who surprisingly lost at home to Stoke. Arsene Wenger will be ruing the 2 points lost as they failed to take full advantage of Champions Manchester United’s defeat.
Harry Redknapp saw his side finish with 10 men against Stoke last Saturday having used all his 3 substitutions only to see Aaron Lennon injured and unable to continue. Like Arsenal, this was a wasted opportunity for Spurs as a win could have seen them move into 2nd place in the league table.As Tottenham have designs to break the grip of the “big 4” this season,Harry will be anxious that his side bounce back and get something out of a game thatcould count for more than usual when the points are tallied at the end of the season.
Magic predicts: Arsenal 2 - Tottenham Hotspur 1
Bolton Wanderers vs. Chelsea at the Reebok Stadium.Gary Megson’s side took all 3 points from last Sunday’s North West derby encounter to register their first home win of the season. It was a real confidence booster for the Trotters that lifted them 5 places in the league table and means there is less pressure on them as they face league leaders Chelsea.Substitute Ivan Klasnic struck the winner after Everton had pegged back a 2 goal deficit.
Not many teams can count the Reebok Stadium as a happy hunting ground but Chelsea certainly can. They have won their last 5 Premier League fixtures at The Reebok Stadium and secured their first title with a victory at the Reebok Stadium 5 seasons ago.The Blues regained the top spot last weekend with a 5-0 thrashing of Blackburn and will Carlo Ancelotti will be eyeing another victory to stay one step ahead of title rivals Manchester United.
Magic predicts: Bolton Wanderers 0 - Chelsea 2
Burnley vs. Hull City at Turf Moor. Burnley crashed to their first home league defeat of the season to Wigan last Saturday and Owen Coyle will be anxious that his side return to winning ways against Premier League strugglers Hull City. Hull’s visitwill also serve a reminder toof how a good Premier League start can quickly change following the Tiger’s battle survive in the closing weeks of last season following a remarkable start to the 08/09 campaign.
Phil Brown will be looking at this game as a 6 pointer as he aims to lift his Hull side out of the bottom 3.Last week Hull played out a drab goal-less draw against fellow strugglers Portsmouth and the key in that game for both managers was to avoid defeat as will be the case today. A win for Hull would lift them to within a point of Burnley whilst a win for Burnley would build a 7 point cushion between the 2 sides.
A tight tense game to be expected.
Magic predicts: Burnley 1 - Hull City 1
Everton vs. Aston Villa at Goodison Park- Everton have a mounting injury list which is a major concern for David Moyes as his team face a heavy fixture list on both the domestic and European fronts. Last Sunday, a battling performance saw the Toffees almost rescue a point after coming back from a 2 goal deficit at Bolton only to concede late on to lose all 3 points. Everton will face, Manchester United, Liverpool , Chelsea and Spursin the next 7 games and are struggling in the bottom half of the table already. Thoughts go back to the season EvertonplayedChampions League football and narrowly avoided relegation.
Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill was disappointed his side couldn’t hold onto to a 1 goal lead at Molineux last Saturday as his team push for European football again next season. Last season Villa won an epic match at Goodison 3-2 that saw Ashley Young score with the last kick of the game.A repeat of that performance and result would no doubt keep Mr. O’Neill happy.
Magic predicts: Everton 0 - Aston Villa 2
Fulham vs. Liverpool at Craven Cottage - Fulham stunned Manchester City last weekend in coming back from a 2 goal deficit to snatch a point. Roy Hodgson’s side will be out for another scalp today as they try to halt a resurgent Liverpool side , following their defeat of Champions Manchester United. Last season Liverpool battled to a 1-0 victory at Craven Cottage in the middle of their great end of season run a and Rafa Benitez would settle for a similar result to put the Reds Championship challenge back on course.
Magic predicts:Fulham 0 vs. Liverpool 2
Portsmouth vs. Wigan Athletic at Fratton Park. Portsmouth took a vital point at Hull last Saturday to bounce back from the previous week’s home defeat and return to their home patch to play their 6th game of the season there and still looking for their first points. Pompey need to start picking up points at home and soon to have any chance of survival.With just 4 points on the board they are 5 points adrift of the safe zone and their return in their next 10 games until the end of the year will need to produce at least 3 times that number to remain in touch.
Wigan ended Burnley’s 100% Premier League home record last season with Hugo Rodallega firing a brace to add to his ever increasing reputation. That win saw Wigan move to a comfortable mid-table position but Roberto Martinez will know that this is a potential 6 pointer and a win would see Wigan move 12 points clear of Portsmouth.
Magic predicts: Portsmouth 0 vs. Wigan Athletic 1
Stoke City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke stunned Spurs at White Hart Lane with a late Glenn Whelan strike that took all 3 points.Tony Pulis’s side return to their home patch looking to make it 3 wins in 3 games to consolidate their place in the top half of the table.
Wolves can thank Sylvan Ebanks-Blake for rescuing a point with a late penalty against Aston Villa and now face a second consecutive game against Midlands’ opposition. Wolves are languishing in 17th place in the table and are looking for their first win in 5 matches.Despite earning creditable draws in their last 2 matchesit’s a 3 point return that Mick McCarthy’s men badly need.
Magic predicts: Stoke City 1 - Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Sunderland vs. West Ham United at the Stadium of Light.Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will have been disappointed with his return to St Andrews last Saturday as his side performance failed to match the endeavours shown against both Manchester United and Liverpool in previous weeks. Bruce will be looking for a much improved showing against a struggling West Ham side.
Gianfranco Zola can take heart from his side’s fighting comeback against Arsenal last Sunday and will look for that kind of inspiration as West Ham search for only their 2nd win of the campaign. Carlton Cole was again on the mark for the Hammers but more goals will be required from other sources if the Hammers are to survive this season.
Magic predicts: Sunderland 2 - West Ham United 1
Manchester United vs. Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford. The Red Devils will be smarting after defeat to their North West rivals Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday, a result that saw Chelsea regain their leadership of the Premiership.Sir Alex will be in no mood to see further points slip against a struggling Blackburn side that were comprehensively beaten at Chelsea last weekend. United’s performances in the last month have been below par by their high standards and Blackburn could feel the full whiplash.
Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn side have failed to pick up an away point this season although they have faced tough opposition so far. It doesn’t get any easier for Blackburn as United will be determined to get back to winning ways.
Magic predicts: Manchester United 2vs. Blackburn Rovers 0Banker
The Sunday fixture features Birmingham City vs. Manchester City at St Andrews Stadium. Birmingham earned a hard-fought victory against Sunderland to begin the Carson Yeung era at the club. The vital win eased pressure on Birmingham’s league standing and saw them move a place higher in the table and closer to the pack of clubs occupying mid-table positions. Alex McLeish will be looking to build on that victory.
Mark Hughes will have been very disappointed that his side gave away a 2 goal advantage and had to settle for a draw at Eastlands against Fulham on Sunday. City threw away a chance to make up vital ground in the title chase and a result at St Andrews will now be even more important.
Magic predicts: Birmingham City 0 - Manchester City 2.
Wednesday sees the rearranged game due to Aston Villa’s European participation, West Ham United vs. Aston Villa at Upton Park.A big game for both sides; for West Ham it gives them a chance to ease their relegation fears and for Villa a chance to keep up the pace at the top of the table. Last season at Upton Park, Aston Villa shaded a very closely fought contest to take all 3 points in the middle of their good run. At Villa Park, the Hammers snatched a late equalizer to earn a point.