Written by Philip Oliver, a professional sports writer who blogs about the Premier League and soccer gambling.
Arsenal v Sunderland – Arsenal
Arsenal have not lost in the league since late November and it is difficult seeing them slipping up in this one, although they sometimes make hard work of beating lower ranked teams at the Emirates – since losing at home to Aston Villa in November, the Gunners have beaten Wigan, Portsmouth and Bolton by 1-0 margins and shared a goalless draw with West Ham.
Aston Villa v Chelsea – Chelsea
Not many people would have picked this match as a key battle in the race for third place at the beginning of the season, but Aston Villa’s resurgence shows no sign of abating. Their home form has not been as impressive as their away performances – they have drawn four of their last six league matches at Villa Park – and might just run into Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea at the wrong time.
Bolton Wanderers v West Ham United – West Ham
Bolton have put together good and bad runs this season and they are certainly on one of their downward slides at the moment, picking up seven points from the last 30. The Hammers are looking good and are playing well enough to record just their second ever Premier League win at the Reebok Stadium.
Manchester United v Blackburn Rovers – Man Utd
Nine straight league wins and no goals conceded in 14 Premiership matches. The statistics tell their own story and this Lancashire derby will surely provide another win for the team charging towards the title.
Middlesbrough v Wigan Athletic – draw
Wigan have scored just once (a penalty) in their last five league matches, but the Latics have been prolific in comparison with Boro, who have found the net once in their last eight and just 18 all season, the poorest return in the division. It would be remiss to predict anything other than a goalless stalemate.
Stoke City v Portsmouth – Stoke
An important relegation battle, especially for Stoke, who are almost solely relying on their home form for survival. Manager-less Pompey won their first game since sacking Tony Adams but are still vulnerable defensively.
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion – Fulham
Draw-specialists Fulham have shared the points in seven of their last 12 league encounters, but they should prevail against a Baggies outfit that continues to leak goals at an alarming rate.
Liverpool v Manchester City – draw
Mark Hughes has bemoaned his team’s away form and Anfield does not appear to be the venue to suddenly improve matters away from Eastlands. However, Liverpool are hanging onto their title hopes by the skin of their teeth, scoring last minute goals to win their last two, and this could be the game where the pressure Manchester United are exerting begins to tell.
Newcastle United v Everton – Everton
Everton have won 1-0 away from home four times this term and they know another clean sheet should hand them three points – the Magpies have conceded 15 goals in their last six league matches.
Hull City v Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs
Tottenham have been their customary soft touches on the road this season and will not relish the long trip to Hull having won once in their last nine. The Tigers have been struggling for even longer, winning once in 16 and defeat in this match will confirm that their stunning start has given way to a relegation battle.