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BPL Preview – Week 8

The 2015/16 Barclays Premier League campaign is proving almost impossible to predict. The defending champions are floundering, the sleeping giant from Manchester has reawoken, and the so-called smaller teams are giving the big guns a run for their money. Week 8 is set to be a cracker, featuring the first real Super Sunday of the season. TheYellowCap writer Aziz Jacobs takes a look at the key fixtures.

Manchester City v Newcastle (Saturday, 16:00 – Etihad Stadium, SS3)

Despite Chelsea’s poor start to the season, I thought the Blues would have slaughtered Newcastle last weekend. The Steve McClaren era at St James Park has begun in disastrous fashion, but they managed to hold the champions to a 2-2 draw. Man City though will pose an entirely different set of challenges.

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is under pressure

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is under pressure

After two humbling defeats have knocked them off the top of the league, Manuel Pellegrini’s men are like a wounded animal at the moment, and I expect them to come out fighting. They returned to winning ways in the Champions League in midweek, and I fancy Sergio Aguero to build on his late penalty to steer City back to the summit of the table.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Newcastle

Chelsea v Southampton (Saturday, 18:30 – Stamford Bridge, SS3)

The Blues have to come good sooner or later, and I expect them to do so this weekend against the Saints. Despite succumbing to defeat, the defending Premier League champions played decently against Porto in the Champions League, and could have come away with a draw.

Iker Casillas celebrates Porto's win over Chelsea

Iker Casillas celebrates Porto’s win over Chelsea

The signs of a resurgence are there in the performances, despite the poor run of results. It will take one big performance and one big result for the Blues to kickstart their season, and I suspect it’ll come this weekend against a Southampton side battling to recreate the highs of last season.

Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Southampton

Everton v Liverpool (Sunday, 14:30 – Goodison Park, SS3)

One point separates the Merseyside rivals in the table but a gulf exists between the managers in terms of the pressure they are under. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is seemingly on borrowed time after a string of poor results, the latest of which coming in the Europa League on Thursday, where the Reds drew 1-1 with Swiss minnows Sion. Everton’s Roberto Martinez meanwhile is riding high on a wave of optimism, with the Blues sitting fifth on the table coming into the weekend.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has faced criticism for the Reds slow start to the season

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has faced criticism for the Reds slow start to the season

Rodgers has never lost a derby at Goodison Park and Daniel Sturridge’s return should improve Liverpool’s finishing. Roberto Martínez’s side, however, look far more mature this season with Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku improving.

The returning Daniel Sturridge struck a fine brace against Aston Villa

The returning Daniel Sturridge struck a fine brace against Aston Villa

Both sides will have a proper go at each other and Sturridge’s return is a massive help for the game itself and Liverpool. Rodgers has had to deal with the loss of Luis Suarez, and then Sturridge didn’t kick a ball for the best part of 18 months. Jordan Henderson has also been out to add to his woes. But he’s never lost a derby at Goodison Park, and with Sturridge looking sharp, I think he’ll maintain that record.

Prediction: Everton 2-2 Liverpool

Arsenal v Manchester United (Sunday, 17:00 – Emirates Stadium, SS3)

Undeniably the game of the weekend, and it’s a massive one. United began the season slowly, playing poorly but nicking results here and there. Now it seems that Louis van Gaal’s men are fully up and running, and have deservedly claimed the top spot on the log. It remains to be seen if they can go the distance, but one has to think that if they can win this game, they must surely be marked as serious title contenders.

Chris Smalling netted the winner as Manchester United beat Wolfsburg 2-1 on Wednesday

Chris Smalling netted the winner as Manchester United beat Wolfsburg 2-1 on Wednesday

Arsenal meanwhile have to win this game. After their abysmal defeat at home against Olympiacos on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger is under severe pressure to pull off a result. The Frenchman has been in this position on a number of occasions in the last few seasons, but always seems to pull something out of the bag just when the stormclouds over the Emirates are about to burst.

Arsenal slumped to an embarrassing defeat against Olympiakos

Arsenal slumped to an embarrassing defeat against Olympiakos

The game will probably go how it does all the time. Arsenal will turn up, dominate the game and United will break on them and score. Sir Alex Ferguson worked out the formula to beat the modern Arsenal a long time ago. Wenger will never change the way his team plays, meaning the tried and trusted contain and counter method, if applied correctly, will almost always prove the Gunners undoing.

Wenger needs the win, but I don’t think he’ll get it this time.

Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United

Full Fixtures

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