Premier League Preview: Chelsea Look to Make it Four in a Row Against Arsenal

01 October 2010

Could Drogba be doing this on Sunday? This was Chelsea's opener against Arsenal from February. (Credit Image: © Action Images/ZUMApress.com)
While this weekend is all about the battle at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, there are still a few intriguing storylines out there in this weekend's Premier League matches. Can Everton go on the road and break Birmingham City's home non losing streak? Can West Ham win two London derbies in a row?

Please note that all times are Eastern and TV schedule is subject to change.

Saturday 7:45 am: Wigan Athletic v Wolverhampton Wanderers (Live on ESPN3.com). There’s only one reason this game was moved from Monday night to the early Saturday morning kickoff spot…so Sky can have programming that helps them meet quota while the Ryder Cup is going on. So if Sky feel like this game should be thrown behind a barrier, and ESPN don’t have the decency to broadcast it (but instead throw it on broadband), why should we care. Either way, Wigan can’t defend and Wolves can’t hold a lead. Prediction: Wigan Athletic 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.

Saturday 10:00 am
Birmingham City v Everton (Live on FoxSoccer.tv. On delay, FSC 12:00 pm)
: For a team who is still looking for a win, the last side Everton would want to face is one that hasn’t lost at home in 18. However, there is some hope for them against Birmingham City, as they have only scored 2 goals at home this season, with their last two home fixtures ended 0-0. With leading goal scorer Craig Gardner out, I think we’ll see the third consecutive nil-nil draw at St. Andrews this season. Prediction: Birmingham City 0 Everton 0.

Stoke City v Blackburn Rovers (Live on FoxSoccer.tv, On delay FS+ 4 pm): If Blackburn could get off to a fast start, something Stoke City have no idea how to do, they could enjoy their day out. The Potters players are still trying to adjust to their new style of play, and in a game like they will have this weekend, it might be best to revert to their old ways. If there’s one thing we can expect from this game, it’s plenty of tackling. I don’t think Stoke come back from another halftime deficit. Prediction: Stoke City 1 Blackburn Rovers 2.

Sunderland v Manchester United (Live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com): I think Sunderland’s luck of their last two results come back to haunt them here. With Rio Ferdinand more than likely getting a start, don’t expect United to leak the goals they did while he was out. Prediction: Sunderland 0 Manchester United 2

Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa (Live on FSC): Ledley King or not, this should be a fun match. Spurs are riding a Champions League high, while Villa are riding the new manager high. This fixture has a history of draws, but with Villa having to play in two tricky matches in a row away from home, I think that’s enough of a difference. Expect Van der Vaart to play like a man possessed, and possibly get a goal or two. Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2 Aston Villa 0.

West Bromwich Albion v Bolton Wanderers (Live on FoxSoccer.tv. On delay, FS+ on Sunday 10:30 am): West Brom have played exceptional football at the Hawthorns this season. With Owen Coyle’s attacking style failing them away from the Reebok Stadium, I think West Brom continues to fly. Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 2 Bolton Wanderers 1.

West Ham United v Fulham (Live on FS+ and FoxSoccer.tv): Fulham are the ultimate mystery. Mark Hughes has not had a full compliment of healthy strikers all season long, yet have yet to lose a game. West Ham United deserved their three points against Tottenham, but I have no faith in them making it two in a row. I would not be shocked if Clint Dempsey scores a goal here that all of us collective go WTF. Prediction: West Ham United 0 Fulham 1.

Sunday 8:30 am: Manchester City v Newcastle United (Live on FS+ and FoxSoccer.tv). On the day Andy Carroll probably gets called into England’s senior side, I expect him to have his worst Premier League performance this season. With Manchester City’s stifling defense, I don’t expect him to have any chances on goal. I think Adebayor will also come into the fray here and show his worth to Roberto Mancini. Prediction: Manchester City 3 Newcastle United 0.

Sunday 10:00 am: Liverpool v Blackpool (Live on FoxSoccer.tv, on delay, FSC 5:00 pm). There’s no way Blackpool can get a point at Anfield…right? With the way Liverpool’s been playing this season, it’s possible. Add to the fact that Liverpool produced another lifeless performance on Thursday, mixed with Ian’s belief, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility Blackpool could get three. The problem with this is, whenever I think something along these lines, the favored side usually wins 1-0. I’m thinking that happens here when Gerrard finds Torres to take all three points. Prediction: Liverpool 1 Blackpool 0.

Sunday 11:00 am: Chelsea v Arsenal (Live on FSC). So the big one on Ryder Cup Sunday happens at Stamford Bridge. Both sides are coming off identical weeks where they lost their last league match, and then had convincing Champions League performances. The only difference in the preparation is Carlo Ancelotti had to miss the last half of the week after the death of his father.

Arsenal are a walking wounded right now, with six different first team players out for Sunday. Lukasz Fabianski will be in the sticks for Arsenal, something that should worry them. While he had a good performance against Partizan Belgrade, he will be dealing with a different class of striker here. Make no mistake about it though, Chelsea aren’t fully fit either. If Arsenal was smart, they would make Ramires’s job difficult. In replacing Lampard against City, he was by far Chelsea’s worst player.

In truth, this match boils down to if Chamakh or Drogba has the better day up front. This will be Chamakh’s first great test in a Premier League match, and his pace could cause Chelsea’s center backs problems. If Chelsea’s spacing is spot on against him, I think Chelsea ends up neutralizing him out of the match. With Didier Drogba facing a center back partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci, he won’t have as easy a time as he did in the last three meetings. The one thing that will be to Drogba’s advantage is that Arsenal’s center backs have not had to deal with someone of Drogba’s size and strength in the Premier League to date.

When it’s all said and done, while Drogba will not have an easy day up front, with the help of Anelka, and even Kakuta off the bench, there will be enough for Chelsea up front to wreck havoc. Since Scolari was sacked by Chelsea, this fixture has not been a competitive one. While Arsenal will get closer to competitive in this match, with the combination of Chelsea's home form right now and the shaky keeper situation at Arsenal, it all equals another comfortable Chelsea win. Prediction: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 0.

How do you see this weekend's action in the Premier League shaping out? Let us know in the comments below.

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Bundesliga Preview: Can Mainz Tie History And Extend Lead at the Top?

Mainz head coach Thomas Tuchel smiles during a press conference on Thursday. Mainz is surprisingly topping the Bundesliga table undefeated and faces TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday. (Credit Image: © DPA/ZUMApress.com)
I would like to take this moment to air my contempt of both GolTV and ESPN right now. There have only been two other times in the history of the Bundesliga that we have seen a team start the season 7-0-0, and neither network felt it was necessary to show potential history in the making. Sure, you can say I’m biased when it comes to Mainz, but all I’m saying is: when history can be made, you have to show it. Considering their opposition, it should be an open contest. If results go in Mainz’s favor this weekend, they could end up with a 5 point lead atop the table.

Friday 2:30 pm (Live on GolTV): Hannover 96 v St. Pauli. With Carsten Rothenbach injured and out for St. Pauli, the right of the park is completely exposed for Hannover to exploit. They should be able to do so with ease. Prediction: Hannover 2 St. Pauli 0.

Saturday 9:30 am
Borussia Monchengladbach v Wolfsburg:
Gladbach give up goals for fun, and with Wolfsburg getting back into the groove of things after their early season start, I think this will be a no contest. Prediction: Borussia Monchengladbach 0 Wolfsburg 2.

Hamburg v Kaiserslautern (Live on GolTV): Considering both teams lack of defending, this should be a very open affair. However, Kaiserslautern’s attack has faltered since starting the season so brightly. Hamburg’s got the experience to take advantage, and I expect them to do so here. Prediction: Hamburg 3 Kaiserslautern 1.

Mainz v Hoffenheim
: If you follow my twitter account, you know I have no problem in not hiding my love for Mainz. What has been amazing about them this season is they have defended brilliantly (save one moment of stupidity against Bayern Munich), and attacked with purpose. When teams throw wave after wave forward, Mainz has almost perfectly connected the dots in the counter attack. The other impressive thing about Mainz is they have been able to score in a variety of ways.
I hate to be so blunt about Hoffenheim, but it’s been the same old story with them. They love to attack, score goals in bunches, but their defending lets them down in critical situations. Against an in form Mainz side, away from home, I think that costs Hoffenhaim in the end. That’s right, the eternal pessimist when it comes to the clubs I support is actually going to predict Mainz starts the season 7-0-0. Prediction: Mainz 2 Hoffenheim 1.

Nurnberg v Schalke: Schalke have had more than their fair share of problems getting this season started. Their defending abandoned them at critical moments, and their attack failed miserably when having to come from behind. Nurnberg don’t have the greatest of attacks, but they have defended very well. All signs point to a draw here, but I think Schalke’s got just enough class, and confidence, to pull through. Prediction: Nurnberg 0 Schalke 1.

Freiburg v Koln: Koln keep losing strikers, with Sebastian Freis being the latest one who won’t be available. Considering Koln haven’t been hitting the back of the net already, I think Freiburg’s surprising start to this season continues with another win. Prediction: Freiburg 1 Koln 0.

Sunday 9:30 am (Live on ESPN3.com): Stuttgart v Eintracht Frankfurt. Make no mistakes about this one, it will be ugly. Stuttgart are a mess, and Eintracht Frankfurt have had their fair share of screw-ups that have cost them at least six points. I’m still sticking to my guns with regards to Stuttgart, though I would not be surprised if this game ended in a 1-1 draw. Prediction: Stuttgart 1 Eintracht Frankfurt 2.

Sunday 11:30 am
Bayer Leverkusen v Werder Bremen
: Both sides form coming out of European competition is weighing heavily on my mind. Bayer gave up six to Gladbach and drew 0-0 to Nurnberg in the following fixture after playing in the Europa League, while Bremen have lost to Hoffenheim and Mainz immediately after Champions League play. When it’s all said and done, I think a score draw is appropriate. Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 1 Werder Bremen 1.

Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich (Live on ESPN3.com): Bayern Munich have not lost to Dortmund since 2007. However, since the loss of Ribery, Bayern Munich have looked an even worse mess. There is hope for Bayern Munich though, as Dortmund did not have a great European adventure. I think Bayern Munich pull off the same theft they did in their wins against Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim to steal another three points. Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 0 Bayern Munich 1.

What do you think will happen this weekend in the Bundesliga? Let us know in the comments below.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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