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  25-May-2019 21:17 GMT  

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 Management - Score Five

And now, once again, over to Magic Mike...

See what Mike had to say in the olden days - visit his 2008/09 season archives.

previous predictions -

Round 13.... Round 12.... Round 11.... Round 10.... Round 9.... Round 8

Blackburn Rovers vs. Stoke City at Ewood Park. The first away points of the season Rovers earned at the Reebok Stadium last week gave Sam Allardyce some cheer as he recovers from heart surgery. David Dunn was on the score sheet again for the 5th time in what is turning out to be a renaissance season for the local lad. The win lifted Blackburn to mid-table and they will be looking for a third consecutive win which would take them level on points with Stoke.

Stoke also won against basement club Portsmouth last time out but can count themselves fortunate on the balance of play that they recorded a win. Ricardo Fuller scored his first Premier League goal of the season that saw Stoke consolidate their 9th place in the table.

A close game can be expected.

Blackburn Rovers 0 - Stoke City 0  

 

Fulham vs Bolton Wanderers at Craven Cottage. Fulham’s 5 game unbeaten run came to an end at Birmingham last Saturday and Roy Hodgson will be looking for a positive reaction to the defeat ahead of CSKA Sofia’s visit in the Europa League. The Cottagers have an excellent record over Bolton in the Premier league and a win would open a useful gap between them and Bolton who fell into the drop zone after last Sunday’s defeat at home to Blackburn. Bolton have had only 1 win in the last 6 matches and just 1 home win in 7 attempts this season. The storm clouds are gathering over the Reebok Stadium it seems, but a win at Fulham would put a totally different complexion on things and shows how tight things are at the bottom.

Magic predicts: Fulham 2 - Bolton Wanderers 0

 

Manchester City vs. Hull City at the City of Manchester Stadium. Manchester City recorded a 6th consecutive draw at Anfield and Mark Hughes was mightily disappointed that his side didn’t secure victory when they conceded a goal with some slack defending after having taken a 2-1 lead. The drawn games mean the Sky Blues have lost ground in the chase for the title but have shown better consistency with just 1 league defeat all season. They face a struggling Hull side and will be looking to take all 3 points but will be cautioned by their manager not to be complacent after City conceded a late equalizer to Burnley in their last home fixture.

Hull manager Phil Brown was encouraged by his side’s first half comeback against West Ham last Saturday when after going 2 down, Hull walked of the pitch after 45 minutes, 3-2 up but in the end were happy to hold out for a draw after being reduced to 10 men with 35 minutes left to play.

Hull are out of the relegation zone but only just and every point is vital. Last season in the corresponding fixture Hull were crushed 5-1 and with Mark Hughes’ side anxious to get their title challenge on track, Hull have a mountain to climb. Jimmy Bullard though is back for Hull and his presence may make a difference.

Magic predicts: Manchester City 3- Hull City 1

 

Portsmouth vs. Manchester United at Fratton Park.  December is a big month for Portsmouth . They have a difficult looking fixture list through to the end of the year and will surely need 2 wins in those games to harbour any hope of survival. Last week Pompey could count themselves unlucky to not have at least shared the points at Stoke but today and they have a mountain to climb if they are to beat Champions Manchester United. Paul Hart has now become the first Premiership managerial casualty and that says it all about Portsmouth’s season so far.

Manchester United brushed aside Everton last Saturday and were set on their way by a great Darren Fletcher strike. Fletcher has come to prominence in the last 2 years and this season has got amongst the goals. He will looking to add to his tally for the season. United 's goals last week all came from midfield and that was a welcome boost. This game should be a stroll in the park for the Champions.

Magic predicts: Portsmouth 0 - Manchester United 2   Banker

 

West Ham United vs. Burnley at Upton Park. A battling draw for West Ham last week which helped them move out of the drop zone but their position is still far from safe. Wet Ham have just 1 home win all season and id they are to survive there will need to be an improvement in their home form. For the superstitious West Ham’s only home victory was against Aston Villa who play in claret as do today’s visitors Burnley.

Owen Coyle ‘s side earned another useful point against Aston Villa last Saturday but will have been disappointed not to have held on for all 3 points with just a late strike from Emile Heskey rescuing a point for Villa. Burnley recorded their first away point of the season at Manchester City 3 weeks ago and confidence will be high in the Burnley camp that they can take something out of this game.

Magic predicts: West Ham United 2 - Burnley 1

 

Wigan Athletic vs. Sunderland at the DW Stadium. Some desperate second half defending by Wigan saw them hit for 9 in what was one of the heaviest defeats ever witnessed in the Premier League. Roberto Martinez will have to somehow try and lift the spirits of his shell-shocked troops although after that display he made need to take some counselling himself. Wigan are still in the lower reaches of the league and that defeat means they have the worst goal difference record of all Premier League clubs.

Sunderland will be going into the game full of confidence having added Arsenal’s scalp to an impressive record of result against the” big 4” clubs this season. Steve Bruce returns to the DW stadium where he successfully managed Wigan and will be looking for another victory. Darren Bent is in great form for Sunderland and will be looking to add to his tally if he is fit.

Magic predicts Wigan Athletic 0- Sunderland 2  

 

Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park. 5th place plays 4th with just 3 points separating the teams. Villa earned themselves a late draw when Emile Heskey came to the rescue at Turf Moor last Saturday and Martin O’Neill will be anxious that his team get a win to draw level on points with Spurs and maintain the challenge for the elusive Champions League slot. They face a Spurs side that went on the rampage against Wigan last Sunday with Jermain Defoe in the form of his life reaping a 5 goal haul and doing his changes of a place in England’s World Cup squad no harm at all. Aaron Lennon another England hopeful also laid on 3 and scored 1 goal and the Spurs strike-force will be a significant threat to a Villa defence that has one of the meanest goals against records in the Premier League with just 13 goals conceded. An interesting game is in prospect.

Magic predicts: Aston Villa 1 - Tottenham Hotspur 2

 

The Sunday games begin firstly with the noon Midlands derby Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Birmingham City at Molineux. Wolves have faced some difficult games in recent weeks and unsurprisingly have lurched into the relegation zone. Mick McCarthy is no stranger to relegation battles having gone down with Sunderland. He knows his side needs to take a minimum of 4 points out of this and their next game against Bolton. After that Wolves face difficult trips to Manchester United and Tottenham and it’s a fair bet to say that Wolves will be filling one of the relegation spots at the turn of the year.

Birmingham are now on a 4 game unbeaten run after a 1-0 victory over Fulham last Saturday and seem to be consolidating themselves into the Premier league. They have the 2nd worst goals for record in the Premier League after Portsmouth, with just 11 goals scored but their defence boasts the 4th best goals against record, with just 14 conceded. All signs point to a close low scoring game but with the Blues full of confidence Magic expects them to nick the points.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 - Birmingham City 1

 

Everton vs. Liverpool at Goodison Park always guarantees a game that is full of commitment. Everton, after being soundly beaten at Manchester United last Saturday and lingering in the lower reaches of the Premier League will be anxious to hold the bragging rights on Merseyside and for Liverpool a win is vital as their Championship challenge flounders, with Chelsea having what looks like an unassailable 13 point lead with just 13 games played. Liverpool were again fortunate to claw a draw last Saturday against Manchester City and with a Champions League exit already confirmed on Tuesday, this  is starting to look like being Liverpool’s worst season in 5 years.

Magic predicts: Everton 1 - Liverpool 0

 

Another game to whet the appetite is the London derby Arsenal vs. Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal had a disappointing result last Saturday at Sunderland and were definitely missing Robin Van Persie’s scoring tough. The striker will be out for 6 weeks with ankle ligament damage so Arsenal will have to rely on goals from other sources. It was the first time the Premiership’s leading goal scorers have drawn a blank this season and this week they are up against the side that has the meanest defence.

Chelsea ran Wolverhampton Wanderers ragged last week with Michael Essien showing why he is rated as one of the best midfielders in the world. Chelsea were missing midfield trio Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Deco in that game as well as defensive stalwarts Ricardo Carvalho and Jose Bosingwa and leading goal scorer Didier Drogba. That just goes to outline the strength in depth in their squad.

A close game in prospect

Magic predicts: Arsenal 1 - Chelsea 2

 

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