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Football

Premiership Football Premiership’s Top 6 Expect the title to come down to the wire between Manchester City and Manchester United. Manchester City and Mancini have a very strong squad and despite Carlos Tevez’s attempts to disrupt the club, they look like they could go all the way. A lot of money was wasted with Mark Hughes buying players who in the end were hardly used or just sold on for peanuts. Mancini however seems to have created the right balance in the team and even though they are still looking a little nervous at times they have one of the best chances in 40 years to win the league title. Manchester United once again, are at the top. They have the experience in their midfield to win their 20th title. Their title tilt however, may all come down to whether their Dad’s Army of Giggs and Scholes have got the legs to last to the wire. De Gea continues to learn, and needs to as while he is a fantastic shot stopper, he is very weak in the air. This inexperience may cost United in the end. Arsenal will have done the normal Arsenal thing and be in most of the major competitions till mid February when their defence will let them down. The mauling against A.C. Milan was true to form and even their excellent attack couldn’t make a dent on the Italians. Since the England manager’s job came available and the FA showed interest in Harry Rednap to become the next England Manager, Spurs have seemed to lose focus on the title race. There seems to be an unsettled feeling in their camp now that their dreams of the title have faded away. After all, every manager’s dream is to manage their country. Chelsea have had problems all season resulting in their new manager Andre Villas-Boas getting sacked in March. Villas-Boas’ main problem was trying to get an aging squad play in a style that he created at Porto with a younger team. Chelsea’s older players haven’t got the legs anymore and this is one of the reasons that Chelsea find themselves off the pace in the league and fighting for a Champions league place. Newcastle have done wonders and to be in the battle for a top 6 place is a real testament to Alan Pardew. Despite selling their 4 best players in the summer, somehow Newcastle have managed to play good attacking football and maintained a challenge for the top 4. They may just fall short but they are without doubt the team of the Season. The main problem with Newcastle is that the owner will then sell once more in the summer. Whether Pardew can repeat the ’sell for a lot/buy for cheap’ process for another season will really test his skills. After the last half of last season, where Liverpool played neat attacking football, this did not repeat itself this season. Selling their best player of last season and replacing him with expensive nonperforming English buys did not help.

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menandautotrader.com april 2012


Football

The Battle Against Relegation: Bottom 3 Five teams are in the mix for the fight against relegation.

If I was a betting man then I think QPR, Wolves and Wigan will get relegated.

Queens Park Rangers, Blackburn, Wolves, Bolton and Wigan are all in severe trouble. Sacking Mick McCarthy who has the experience to deal with these situations was probably not the brightest idea but it all hinges on the idea of the new manager bringing a boost to the players. This can work quite nicely depending on the quality of the manager but it can also be an epic fail. Queens Park Rangers have no real experience of the top flight and so that puts them in danger. Blackburn have been playing some good football this season and I would think that they may just have enough class to stay safe. I can’t believe Bolton are down battling for survival after last season and I think they might do just enough to be safe.

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Football

Premiership Prediction Forecast Saturday, 31 March A Villa vs Chelsea Can only see Chelsea winning this one. Sure they’ve had their problems but they’re a much better outfit than Villa. 0 – 1. Fulham vs Norwich Both sides are fairly evenly matched and with Fulham at home and Norwich playing well away. I’ll have to go with a draw on this one. 1 – 1. QPR vs Arsenal Tricky one for Arsenal, QPR will be fighting for the premiership survival and as it’s a London Derby and at QPR then Arsenal may have some problems. Another draw here. 1 – 1.

Sunday, 01

April

l vs Liverpoo the Newcastle rward to for fo k o lo to e y am la g p a s to s try Alway se both team ound to start au ec b al tr b neu ool is tball. Liverp que flowing foo uy) and Enri b ad (b ll ro ar C al o th g o f a lot o with b d there’ll be an e. 2 – 2. n y) o u b is d th o r (go draw fo a r fo g in o G attempts. vs Swansea a will have Tottenham here. Swanse rs u Sp main r fo that’s their Home win miership so re are p d e an th h in stayed the other e e. Spurs on ar n is o d th e e iv lik ct obje and games e a tl ti so e al th e r t lane ar fighting fo at White har g rs in u n in Sp w s. in must w I see them outfit and so very strong 3 – 0.

Wolves vs Bolton A relegation special and a 6 pointer. If one team wins the loser is left deep in the mire. Can see Bolton just edging this one. 1 – 2. Everton vs West Brom Everton seem to pull it together at the end of the season and with no threat of relegation they may just challenge for a place in Europe. West Brom however have picked up lately so can see a draw here. 1 – 1. Man City vs Sunderland Interesting game because of the upturn in Sunderland’s fortunes after the arrival of Martin O’Neill. Can’t see Man City losing this one though and as they’ll be aiming at the title they know they can’t lose. 2 – 0 for City.

Monday, 02 A pril Blackburn vs Man Utd Only one winne r here, United will want revenge for losing earli er in the season and Fergie will have his full strength sid e out. Blackbur n will be swept aw ay with zero chance of light ning striking tw ice again. 0 – 2.

Wigan vs Stoke City I’m going to stick my neck out here and go with a home win, Stoke are very strong at home, but as Wigan battle to avoid relegation I think there’s every chance that Wigan might win this one. 1 – 0.

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Football

Saturday, 07 April Arsenal vs Man City Should be a great game with Man City abso lutely needing a win and with Arsenal playing for the 4th Cham pions League place. This is a make or break game and all depe nds on which Arsenal turns up. Tough call to make but I see City just edging it. 1 – 2. Chelsea vs Wigan Wigan may be on the end of a bit of a hidin g here. Chelsea will still be trying to get into the top 4 and the Champions League and they’ll tear Wigan apart doing so. 4 – 0. Man Utd vs QPR Easy win for Man Utd with QPR swept away at Old Trafford. Not even Joey Barton can save this one for QPR. 3 – 0. Stoke City vs Wolves Stoke are strong at home and Wolves aren ’t good away so I can only see Stoke winning this. 1 – 0. Swansea vs Newcastle Both teams will try to win this and I can see a high scoring draw. Swansea have cemented their place in the premiership and Newcastle will still be there or thereabouts in the race for a place in Euro pe. 2 – 2.

Arsene Wen ger

Bolton vs Fulham Bolton will be fighting for their lives here and Fulham have been pretty awful away lately, so I think Bolto n will edge this one 2 – 0. Liverpool vs A Villa Villa have good away form since Christmas and this game all depends on which Liverpool turns up, they’ve lost poin ts whenever they play teams at the bottom of the table. Still see Liverpool edgi ng this 1 – 0. Norwich vs Everton Norwich are strong at home and Everton haven’t been too clever on their travels so I think a home win for Norwich. 2 – 1. Sunderland vs Tottenham A humdinger of a match with Sunderlan d revived with O’Neill and Tottenham heading for the Champions league and keeping in contact with the League leaders. Both teams will go for the win but they must just cancel each other out in the process. Spurs to edge it though. 1 – 2. West Brom vs Blackburn West Brom’s home form has been pretty dire for the last few months and now that they’re safe from any chance of relegation, Blackburn might just scrape through. Touch and go though. 0 – 1.

Martin

O’Neill

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Football

Monday, 09 April A Villa vs Stoke City y from home recently Stoke have been pretty average awa pretty dire so Stoke but then Villa’s home form has been 1. might actually sneak a win here. 0 – Everton vs Sunderland and with Sunderland Everton are always strong at home t game. I’ll still go grea a be playing well, this promises to gh. thou -1 2 it ing edg with the home side Man City vs West Brom resistance from West Man City to win but after some stern their skin away recently. Brom who have been playing out of 2 – 0. QPR vs Swansea icularly well so this has Both these sides are not playing part . all the makings of dull 0 – 0 draw Wigan vs Man Utd after initial fighting from Man United will win this at a canter last ten minutes as the in t leas at Wigan. Expect 2 goals 1 – 3. eventually Wigan’s defences crumble. Blackburn vs Liverpool away this season than at Liverpool have been playing better e while ok is not going home and Blackburn’s form at hom ing fairly comfortably. winn to be able to stop the Reds from 0 – 2.

Martin Jol Fulham vs Chelsea are no mugs at home A tricky game for Chelsea as Fulham tly brilliant either. A and Chelsea’s form hasn’t been exac Fulham winning 2 – 0. shock may be on the cards here with Newcastle vs Bolton team of the season Newcastle in my book have been the Bolton. This could nst agai and I see no problems for them e of 4 – 0 scor a and ors visit the for even be a kicking wouldn’t surprise me. Tottenham vs Norwich stiff resistance from Tottenham to win but only after fairly ball away from foot Norwich who play some of their best home. 2 – 1. Wolves vs Arsenal e now but if they are still Wolves maybe playing only for prid just pull of a shock may they then ival in the fight for surv nothing to play for. against an Arsenal team who also have 2 – 1.

Saturday, 14 April Liverpool vs Fulham Despite Liverpool dropping points at home, they’l l still win as Fulham haven’t shown much fight at all on the road. 2 – 0. Bolton vs Tottenham Do or die for Bolton in their relegation struggle and they may just pull off a surprise here. 1 – 0. Man Utd vs A Villa Villa will be on the receiving end of a thrashing if they play anything like how they have been recently. I can’t see anything here apart from a 3 – 0 win for Man Utd.

Norwich vs Man City Games like this are must wins for Man City and while Norwich has pretty decent home form, I can only see Man City come out as winners. Their large squad and bit of extra class will see them through 0 – 2.

Stoke City vs Everton Stoke have been pretty solid at home this seaso n and Everton pretty woeful away. So this points to a pretty comfortable 2 – 0 win for Stoke.

Sunderland vs Wolves Sunderland to win at a canter. Wolves haven’t been much use away from their place and I can’t see it chang ing today. 2 – 0.

Swansea vs Blackburn Swansea has an average home record but Black burn have been awful playing away. Swansea might just edge this 1 – 0.

West Brom vs QPR West Brom have terrible home form and QPR are pretty terrible away! This doesn’t fill me with any great expectation! This has 0 – 0 written all over it.

Arsenal vs Wigan Arsenal while not being devastating at home will surely have enough in their armoury to blow Wigan away. If Wigan doesn’t fight then Arsenal could knock quite a few goals past them which may be the difference between relegation or survival when it comes down to goal difference. I’ll go for 4 – 0 to Arsenal.

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Chelsea vs Newcastle An excellent game to watch for the neutral as both sides could easily win this. Newcastle will certainly be up for it as will Chelsea, both sides have weaknesses and streng ths and this game has all the hallmarks of a classic. Sayin g that it’ll be 0 – 0! But I’ll go 3 – 2 Chelsea.

menandautotrader.com april 2012


Saturday, 28 April

Arsenal vs Chelsea A cracker of a game and a 6 pointer with both sides fighting for the last Champions league place. Winner takes all and I have a feeling Chelsea might just edge it.

Stoke City vs Arsenal Tricky tie for Arsenal as Stoke have very good home form. Stoke could just edge this 1 – 0.

1 – 2.

Roberto di Matteo

Swansea vs Wolves Both sides may cancel each other out but as it’s home and Swansea are a better team I think Swansea may just win 1- 0.

Football

Saturday, 21 April

West Brom vs A Villa This could go to either team and it really comes down to who wants it more. West Brom have been awful at home and Villa not much better away. This could easily be a 0 – 0 draw. Everton vs Fulham A comfortable home win for Everton with Fulham having no form away from home. 2 – 0 to Everton.

Blackburn vs Norwich Norwich have been pretty good on their travels and they fancy themselves to win this. Blackburn have been very hit and miss and it depends which team turns up. Norwich to win 0 – 1. Fulham vs Wigan With Fulham being strong at home and Wigan fairly weak away, there’s only going to be one winner here. Fulham by a couple of goals. 3 – 1 to Fulham. Man Utd vs Everton Everton always play well at Old Trafford but in the end I can’t see any shock result. Man United to win 2 - 0. QPR vs Tottenham Sure it’s a London derby but Tottenham are too good for QPR. Tottenham to win 2 – 0. A Villa vs Sunderland Villa have hardly made their home a fortress and Sunderland can easily sneak a win here. But I’ll still go for a Villa win 1 – 0. Bolton vs Swansea With Bolton fighting for survival I think this will make the difference between the 2 sides. Bolton to edge it by one goal. 1 – 0 to Bolton. Liverpool vs West Brom On paper this looks like a fairly comfortable result for Liverpool, but West Brom are a difficult side who have been playing very well away from home. This could be a draw and more lost points for LFC. 1 – 1. Newcastle vs Stoke City Newcastle may have problems with Stoke, and I could see both sides cancelling each other out. 1 – 1. Wolves vs Man City Can’t see Wolves offering any resistance to this side fighting for the title. City will do an efficient job and end up as winners. 1 – 3.

Norwich vs Liverpool Liverpool have been better on the road than at home and they should just about win through here. 1 – 2. Sunderland vs Bolton Sunderland are hard to beat under O’Neill and Bolton who have been a shadow of last season won’t come away with anything here. 2 – 0 to Sunderland. Wigan vs Newcastle Desperation will have set in and this is a must win for Wigan. Oddly enough I could actually see them get something from this game and so I’ll go for a 1 – 1 draw.

Sunday, 29 April Chelsea vs QPR R aren’t good s for Chelsea here. QP rrie wo y an see n’t ca I ng any fight to unlikely that they’ll bri away and it’s highly win 4 – 0. this game. Chelsea to burn Tottenham vs Black ght they the relegation dogfi in ll sti are rn bu If Black in. If they als go letting too many should be warned of 0. – 2 to urs Sp y can limit keep it tight then the

Monday, 30 April Man City vs Man Utd A brilliant game and could be a case of the winner takes the spoils. Both sides can’t afford to lose and if there is a winner they could win the Premier league title as wel l. City could win it against the ir hated neighbours and United could win it at the home of the ir old enemy; in both circumstan ces victory could be sweet. I’m goi ng for City to win 2 – 1.

Sir Ale x Fergu s

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Football

Game of the season! With both Manchester sides out of the Europa league and with no cup distractions, both will be concentrating on winning the league. Both can. Will it be the tried and tested experience of Alex Ferguson’s side, Manchester United, or the rich upstarts of Roberto Mancini’s side, Manchester City who will win the day? The entire season comes down to this game and it is definitely a case of winner takes all. Both sides can’t afford to lose this monumental game as this is a typical six pointer. If one of the teams is leading by a small margin going into this game, then they could see themselves home and safe with a win here. So what will it come down to? Ferguson calls this time of the season ‘squeaky bum time’ pointing to any title challenger needing enough bottle to cross the finish line. In my opinion Manchester City does have the bottle to win the league. Another question is, do Manchester United’s Giggs and Scholes have the legs to last until the end of the season? City has beaten United 6-1 at Old Trafford this season and were only edged out of the FA Cup by a single goal. There is every chance that the two teams will cancel each other out. Normally I’d go for a predictable draw, but with the likes of Balotelli and Aquero leading the line for City, I see Manchester City sneaking this 2 – 1.

Championship Always of note, are the likely contenders to come into the Premiership from the Championship, with West Ham and Southampton being the favourites for automatic promotion and taking the top two promotion places. Recruiting Sam Allardyce was a clever move from West Ham after their relegation and he has transformed the team into a potential premier one once more. With the play off place (for the 3rd spot) in the premiership is one of the most hotly contested games in Europe, worth a cool 40-60 million depending on which figures you read. Cardiff and Birmingham are currently playing very well and have had great experience of this type of pressure games. Having said that the team that comes in 6th place in the league (and sometimes considerably less points over the season) can sometimes spring a surprise result and finish out winners.

Sam Allardyce

Scottish Football With Rangers going into administration in mid February, the title instantly becomes a stroll for Celtic who were leading the league by four points which quickly became 14 due to Rangers current predicament. If Celtic do not claim the league title then their collapse will have been of a similar kind to Newcastle under Keegan. A few years previous, Celtic had no money and were under severe financial problems but through tightening their belts they managed to avoid the same fate as Rangers. How this could have happened to Rangers is another matter but the speed in which they fell into serious debt was staggering as just 3 years ago they were in the UEFA cup final (held in Manchester).

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Real Madrid continue to lead Barcelona by 10 points and in my mind they need those points. There’s still plenty to play for and a few draws by Real and a few wins by Barca can certainly turn things around. Barcelona have the class to come storming back, it’s up to Real to have the experience and bottle to stop that. We shall see if they have in the next month or so. At a local level Malaga have been playing well but whether they have sufficient class to claim a top 4 Champions league place is another matter. On a personal note it would be awesome to see the top European Clubs coming down to play at the Rosaleda stadium.

Football

La Liga

Jose Mourinho

FA Cup Predictions The quarter finals have this line-up: Liverpool v Stoke City Chelsea/Birmingham v Leicester City Stevenage/Tottenham v Bolton Wanderers Everton v Sunderland

So I’ll be going for Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and Everton for the semis.

menandautotrader.com april 2012

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Football

Champions League Due to Chelsea’s remarkable comeback against Napoli, the Premier League is still represented in the Quarter Final Stage of the Champions League. Arsenal gained back some respect when beating AC Milan 3-0 but they still lost 4-3. Considering only 3 years ago there were 3 English teams in the last 4 in the competition there is a decline in the power of the Premier League.

Quarter-finals

Semi-finals

First leg Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 March and the 2nd leg Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 April.

First leg Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 April, with the second leg on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 April.

Quarter Final Group 1: Apoel Nicosia vs Real Madrid. For the first time in their history, the Cypriot team Apoel Nicosia, got through to the last eight, all the other teams would love to meet them in the next round. That Real Madrid gained that pleasure means that the first quarter final looks pretty obvious to the winner. Real will be favourites to win. Quarter Final Group 2: Marseilles vs Bayern Munich. Though Marseilles have done well to get this far after beating Inter Milan in the last round, I predict that Bayern Munich (winners against Basel 7-1) will have enough to beat Marseilles. Quarter Final Group 3: Benfica vs Chelsea. An extremely good draw for Chelsea after their incredible rebirth against Napoli, what a difference a new manager makes and with the introduction of Chelsea old boy, Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea are playing better football now than they have done all season. Chelsea will win over Benfica. Quarter Final Group 4: AC Milan vs Barca. Both teams have played each other in the Champions league early stages and both games were very close affairs, resulting in a 2-2 draw and a 3-2 win to Barcelona. Expect more of the same as both sides are full to the brim of talent and skill. Having said that I still expect Barcelona to win the quarter finals and step into the Semi’s.

Both Semi final’s are mouth-watering games and all 4 teams are strong and experienced enough to go on and win. Semi Final Group 1: (QF 2) Marseilles/ Bayern v (QF 1) Apoel/Real Madrid I’ve predicted a Bayern Munich v Real Madrid semi final here and predicting the outcome of a winner here is extremely tricky. Both sides are on form and playing well and I expect both semi final games to be very close affairs. My prediction though is that Real Madrid will just edge it. The Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho, has been here before with Porto and Inter Milan and that may make all the difference. Semi Final Group 2: (QF 3) Benfica/Chelsea v (QF 4) Milan/Barcelona As I’ve gone for Chelsea v Barcelona for this Semi final, I’ll go for a Barcelona win. But make no mistake these two games will go down to the wire. The real difference between the two teams is Lionel Messi, and if Chelsea can cancel him out they could end up as eventual winners. Sadly though and looking at Chelsea’s form this season I still see Barcelona winning the 2 legs. A far closer affair though than many predict.

Champions League Final The 2011/12 UEFA Champions League final Saturday 19 May 20.45CET. My prediction for the final teams: Real Madrid v Barcelona. A lot of football pundits call this the dream final with the two Spanish mega teams clashing. The only problem with that is that I’ve watched the last 5 or 6 games between the two and all the games have been about gamesmanship and diving from both sides. All these games have been pretty tedious and this final will need an extremely tough referee to cut out all the nonsense. The majority of these games have ended in a Barcelona win and to be honest I can’t see anything different here. Barcelona to win the 2012 Champions League final.

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8 managers in 8 years! So it’s April, which means Chelsea has a new manager after Andre VillasBoas got the heave ho after a string of bad results. Under Roman Abramovich and his billions, Chelsea has encountered incredible success. Unfortunately, it also means a slightly enhanced opinion of themselves and what they should win. Certain clubs can have a certain amount of expectation due to their history but as for Chelsea the last time they won the league was 50 years before Roman. Though money obviously helps bring in new players and can transform the fortunes of a team, it does not mean that success is guaranteed, especially in the Champions League which Roman wants to win so desperately. Roman needs a certain amount of patience, and successful managers that he brings in need to be believed in and given time.

Ranieri was someone else’s appointment, and wanting his own man, Roman chose Jose Mourinho, the hot shot from Porto, who had just won the Champions league in 2004. Mourinho went on to be the most successful manager Chelsea had ever known winning 6 trophies in 3 years. Somehow Mourinho and Roman fell out, and so Mourinho left; thus ending Chelsea’s dominance in football. Avram Grant took over for less than a year and soon got sacked when losing the Champions league final. Luiz Felipe Scolari, manager of World cup winners Brazil previously, was then sacked within 8 months, Guus Hiddink left within 4 months only to be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti who went on to win the double of the League and FA cup, and who then promptly got sacked again within a year of that double.

Football

Chelsea...

Ex player Roberto Di Matteo has now taken over until the end of the season. The problem though is that as Chelsea keep changing their managers so regularly (8 in 8 years), top managers see this and begin to avoid. The favourites are currently the return of Mourinho from Real Madrid, Rafa Benitez and Guardiola. Why Mourinho would want to work for Roman again after their spectacular falling out is anyone’s guess. Why Guardiola would leave Barcelona is another odd link. That they didn’t bring Benitez in for the rest of the season, especially with his tactical genius in Champions league football, would show that though linked to the Chelsea job, he may not be fancied in the long run.

Another hotshot from Porto, Andre Villas-Boas never really fitted in and tried to change things too quickly, and with an aging squad, many of the players were resistant to change. Leaving out Lampard didn’t help his cause either and so he was sacked following a woeful loss at West Brom.

menandautotrader.com april 2012

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Football Section