It’s March already, so we are now really at the business end of the season and we’ve got a decent set of fixtures lined up for this week; the North London derby, Ryan Giggs’ 1,000th competitive appearance and the glamour tie that is Stoke v West Ham.

EPL Predictions & Team News 2-4 March 2012

Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion– Saturday 2 March 2013 – 1500 KO

No-one can deny it’s been an interesting season for the men from the Kings Road, we’ve had a sacking of a Champions League winning manager, a ball boy being kicked and the appointment of a Champions League winning manager who gave the best post-match interview since the mighty Kevin Keegan lost it in the mid-nineties!
On the pitch they may have had a wake-up call with Spurs jumping ahead of them on Monday night, but I believe that will only be temporary especially as The Blues have an inviting run of fixtures at The Bridge although they have found these tough at times!

Premier League Team News: Benayoun apart, Chelsea have no new worries and will welcome back Gary Cahill who missed the FA Cup fixture against Middlesbrough in midweek.  The Baggies have problems up front with Lukaku unavailable to face his parent club and Shane Long crocked.  Popov’s 3 match ban concludes today, whilst schoolboy Isaiah Brown is added to the travelling party.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 2-0
Dream Team Star Man: John Terry

Everton v Reading – Saturday 2 March 2013 – 1500 KO

Reading found out how tough the EPL is last week when they shipped 3 against fellow relegation candidates Wigan at home, this now sees the bottom 4 cut off from the rest of the pack.  Anyway, I’m not sure the best place to go to get your confidence back is Goodison, Everton will hassle and hurry you all day long as they look to get back to winning ways after back to back defeats for the first time this season.

Premier League Team News:  Marouane Fellaini who was rested against Oldham in midweek returns to the squad but keeper Tim Howard will have a late fitness test.  Pogrebnyak is suspended for the Royals after his sending off last week, but Brian McDermott hasn’t got any further problems.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 3-1
Dream Team Star Man: Leon Osman

Manchester United v Norwich – Saturday 2 March 2013 – 1500 KO

It was 20 years ago today that Sir Alex told Ryan he could play.  Now I may have adapted that line from Messrs Lennon and McCartney, Ryan Giggs’ staying power is as strong as The Beatles. If he makes an appearance today it will be his 1,000th competitive appearance after turning out for United, Wales and Great Britain.
With another season signed on for he will have outseen 3 Prime Ministers and 2 Popes.  I can only imagine The Queen is now sitting slightly uncomfortably on her throne after hearing that!
For the record, The Simpsons were number one in the charts with ‘Do The Bartman’ when Giggs made his debut, which is perhaps apt as alongside Pele he is one of only two footballers mentioned in the programme.

Premier League Team News: Jones and Scholes are out for United, but RVP is fit after his altercation with a TV Camera, but be aware with an important European fixture in midweek anyone could be rested! Surman and Tettey are out for the Canaries along with long term absentee John Ruddy who will return to training within two weeks.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 3-0
Dream Team Star Man: Ryan Giggs

Southampton v QPR – Saturday 2 March 2013 – 1500 KO

This is surely the last chance saloon for QPR, although if today’s newspaper reports are to be believed about their recent warm weather training camp they may have already drunk it dry.

Premier League Team News:  Vergan Forren could be handed his Saints debut, and Ramirez should be restored to the starting XI whilst QPR’s Bobby Zamora is out injured and will be replaced by Loic Remy.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-1
Dream Team Star Man: Loic Remy

Stoke City v West Ham United – Saturday 2 March 2013 – 1500 KO

Anyone who sits in the front row for this one could end up with neck ache one as the ball may spend quite a bit of time in the air in this fixture.
Stoke looked pretty inept last time out against Fulham, whilst West Ham whose away form is abysmal will have to get over Mondays nights’ disappointment of Gareth Bale’s last minute thronker.

Premier League Team News: Rob Huth is suspended for this fixture and Steven N’Zonzi will don a Zorro style mask to protect a broken nose.  Ex-Hammer Matty Etherington is rated as 50/50 and may only make the bench.  The Hammers have big midfield problems after Dembele broke Skipper Kevin Nolan’s toe with a reckless challenge in midweek and Mark Noble struggling with an arm injury.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-0
Dream Team Star Man: Peter Crouch

Sunderland v Fulham–Saturday 2 March 2013 – 1500 KO

This fixture has the feel of an end of term affair; both of these teams should be safe from relegation and have little to play for.  There was a rumour going around that both managers had allowed players to bring in games to play but we can’t confirm that Berbatov rushed to Toys ‘R’ Us and bought Buckaroo.

Premier League Team News: Lee Cattermole may need surgery on a long standing problem whilst Danny Rose is nearing full fitness for the Black Cats. Fulham could welcome back Simon Davies for the first time in a year.  Richardson and Frei also return to the squad.
Premier League Betting Prediction:  1-1
Dream Team Star Man: Dimitar Berbatov

Swansea v Newcastle – Saturday 2 March 2013 – 1500 KO

Congratulations to Swansea on picking up the first bit of silverware this season, they certainly seem to have been popular winners and with a manager who appears to be as classy off the pitch as he was on it.
Swansea’s challenge is now two-fold; to keep the squad and manager together with bigger vultures circling around the Liberty Stadium and to keep going in the league and finish as high as possible. Against an in form Newcastle side, the latter could prove difficult.

Premier League Team News: Michel Vorm should return in goal for Swansea.  Newcastle will probably be without skipper Colocini with a back injury and could be replaced by Yanga-Mbiwa whilst Tim Krul is sidelined for a month.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-1
Dream Team Star Man: Ashley Williams

Wigan v Liverpool – Saturday 2 March 2013 – 1500 KO

Wigan produced the performance of the week last time out when they leapfrogged fellow strugglers Reading and they will be hoping to finish the season with a run-in like last year when they were the form team over the last 11 games and effectively cost United the title after beating them.
Liverpool only really have city pride to play for now and will be hoping to put their recent poor form behind them and overhaul Everton.

Premier League Team News: I seem to say this every week but Alcaraz WILL be back this week for The Latics along with Boyce.  Liverpool will risk Sturridge who has a knock but Borrini and Kelly are still injured.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-2
Dream Team Star Man: Daniel Sturridge

Tottenham v Arsenal – Sunday 3 March 2013 – 1600 KO

This could well turn out into a battle of two ex-Southampton boys as both teams have looked over-reliant on them at times.
Before really coming into Monday night’s game in the last third against West Ham with some strong running, Gareth Bale could have been accused of playing like another Saints legend in Matt Le Tissier in the first half, one bit of game turning magic and not a lot else.
Anyway, this fixture, which is the highest goal scoring fixture in EPL history, is of even bigger significance with the rivals squabbling over 4th place in the league.

Premier League Team News: Jermain Defoe is back with the squad quicker than expected after injury, but Dempsey is two weeks away from fitness with a calf tweak.  Sagna is out for The Gunners with Jenkinson expected to start at right back and his additional speed will be a welcome addition.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-2
Dream Team Star Man: Theo Walcott

Aston Villa v Manchester City – Monday 4 March 2013 – 2000 KO

I’m not sure playing this fixture on a Monday night actually does either of these teams any favours.  If results elsewhere go against them Villa could be three points adrift of safety whilst City could be fifteen points off Manchester United and only two clear of Spurs.

Premier League Team News: Darren Bent is doubtful for Villa along with skipper Ron Vlaar. City will be missing their captain as Kompany struggles with a calf injury.  Gareth Barry does return after injury though.
Premier League Betting Prediction: 1-2
Dream Team Star Man: Carlos Tevez


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