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January 17, 2019

Sunderland to miss key players in clash against inconsistent Liverpool

SAINTLY VICTOR: Victor Wanyama of Southampton (12) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Sunderland. Photo/Courtesy
SAINTLY VICTOR: Victor Wanyama of Southampton (12) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Sunderland. Photo/Courtesy

 Sunderland Vs Liverpool, Today 3:45pm,

My Prediction: Black Cats... 2 Reds.....2

I should start by saying that Sunderland have three wins out of 20 matches played in the English Premier League this season. But I’ll continue by saying that Liverpool have lost seven matches this term and have become one of the most unpredictable sides in the league. Sunderland are though missing the services of their captain Lee Cattermole who is still out with a groin injury; while Jack Rodwell faces a late fitness test following his hamstring problem. Sad because the Black Cats need all their forces behind them against this Liverpool side who seriously need to improve their fortunes. Last time out, they let a two-goal lead end up in 2-2 draw against Leicester and therefore Brendan Rodgers has a serious problem on his hands. He hopes to bring their on-loan striker Divock Origi back to the fold but that hasn’t happened yet. Conceding those goals against Leicester though shows they need extra cover at the back as well. Meanwhile, the news this week has been all about Steven Gerrard finally planning to call it a day in the summer to move to MLS side LA Galaxy and I’m sure that will lower the spirits of the side. Many players will be questioning their own commitment if the most committed Red over the past 20 years moves on. This will be a tense fixture and I actually believe they’ll come out all square.

Chelsea Vs Newcastle, Today 6pm,

My Prediction: Blues... 3 Magpies...1

Oh Chelsea! The loathing that Jose Mourinho has for Newcastle will definitely have a role to play in today’s match. Newcastle broke Chelsea’s unbeaten run last month and since then, the Blues have been on a somewhat downward spiral; although they are still top as we speak, but only on goal difference. The show loss to Newcastle at St. James’ Park woke the Blues up to the reality that they were human. Chelsea have since lost 5-3 to Tottenham and Mourinho is of course laying it all down to fatigue; although all sides are going through the same weariness. Mourinho still has the players to win this game but he had the players to beat Newcastle the first time out. The Portuguese tactician, however, thrives under pressure and Manchester City being neck-to-neck with them, is certainly massive pressure. Newcastle have just gone through management drama and that might affect their performance today. I’m giving this one to Chelsea after all Mourinho has made Stamford Bridge somewhat of a fortress.

Arsenal Vs Stoke, Tomorrow 4:30pm,

My Prediction: The Gunners... 3 Stoke...1

Oh my Arsenal! The team I love so diligently but who have let me down so many times over the last decade; including during the last league match against Southampton. I still feel that manager Arsene Wenger’s selection has been our biggest setback and not injuries as some fans claim. All teams go through injuries particularly after the heavy Christmas period; and teams are supposed to prepare for them. Teams like Chelsea and Man City are barely affected by injuries because their managers ensure adequate back-up; but Arsenal’s back up are often second rate players. Actually, Wenger puts several second rate players in the first team and then the second team; some of who we witnessed against Hull in the FA Cup last week; actually play better than their “first team” counterparts. Players like Tomas Rosicky who are only called up when others are injured is a special player for the Gunners but Wenger doesn’t see it. I’m still upset at Lukas Podolski’s exit but I won’t dwell on that because my manager is known to do strange things. Wenger urgently needs to sign at least two defensive players as conceding goals against Stoke has become the norm. We lost 3-2 to them in December so sealing that defensive will be critical. Stoke are just rough, but it gets them results. This will be tough game for Arsenal but I pray; more than know that we’ll win.

United Vs S’thampton, Tomorrow 7pm,

My Prediction: Red Devils..1 Saints..1

Now why can’t Southampton do us a favour when we need them to? Arsenal beat them 1-0 in December but lost 2-0 to them last week; while Man United beat them 2-1 in December so Southampton are due for a win. How I wish mathematics was that simple? Most teams had a rough time during the Christmas rush but at least Man United did not suffer a defeat. They drew with Stoke and Tottenham but managed a convincing win against Newcastle. You have to admire LVG. He has arguably the best goalkeeper in the league in David de Gea but has rushed to sign Victor Valdes. This is what you call good planning; and yet he isn’t even in Europe. This is why I say “plan for injuries Mr. Wenger!” Southampton, meanwhile, didn’t seem to miss Morgan Schneiderlin against Arsenal. Their confidence is so high right now with our very own Victor Wanyama in top form. This will be an interesting tie between number 3 and 4 in the league; with just a point separating them. I think Southampton can pull a fast one and at least leave Old Trafford with a point.

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