Our reporters back Sir Alex Ferguson's side to take another step towards the Premier League title, while Harry Redknapp's Spurs will be involved in another derby-day thrillerWelcome to the latest edition of our weekly series, where we introduce you to the Goal.com reporters who will be travelling the length and breadth of the country to bring you all the action from the grounds.
The weekend kicks off with the league's struggling sides looking to heap pressure on Avram Grant's West Ham, ahead of the Hammers trip to Eastlands in the final match of the round.
Tottenham meanwhile will be hoping their London neighbours can do them a favour against Manchester City, as their fading Champions League hopes - a tough run in - sees them travel to Stamford Bridge for a derby against Chelsea.
But the game of the weekend takes place at the Emirates, as Arsene Wenger's side look to put their lacklustre form behind them as they face champions-elect Manchester United on Sunday.
So with 10 matches on offer, here are the predictions of the Goal.com team...
Jonathan Birchall says....
As is often the way for those at the foot of the Premier League table, Blackburn fought admirably, arguably even proving the better side before succumbing to Edin Dzeko’s 74th minute winner in Monday’s defeat to Man City. The performance will certainly have provided a little hope for Steve Kean’s side, for whom time is running out to escape the relegation scrap.
Whether desperation brings out the best or the worst in the hosts remains to be seen and local rivals Bolton will be looking to score early to make sure it’s the latter. Having reacted to their embarrassment at Wembley admirably at home to Arsenal and terribly at Fulham on Tuesday, predicting which Trotters outfit turn up is as difficult an estimation you’re likely to get this weekend.
Derbies are tight at any stage of the season and the nerves will be ramped up as thoughts of the drop swirl around Ewood come Saturday. I can see both teams cancelling each other out, which will do Rovers very few favours at all.
| Stoke City
Mike Allen says...
After an impressive start to their debut season in the Premier League, Blackpool have been in freefall since the turn of the year, winning just two games since January. Their last win came back in February and with just four games left in the season, their chances of picking up the points they need to survive are running out.
The Seasiders will take some comfort from their victory over Stoke at the Britannia earlier in the season, but Ian Holloway will be aware of the challenge ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Following their emphatic win in the FA Cup semi-final, Stoke will be full of confidence ahead of their trip to Wembley in May. The Potters enjoyed a comfortable victory over Wolves in midweek to send them back into the bottom three and Holloway will be cautious about a similar fate for Blackpool on Saturday.
Blackpool are always capable of scoring but they have shown nothing of late to suggest they can turn their season around. Stoke meanwhile are finishing their season on a high and will continue this with a win against the league strugglers on Saturday.
Simon Sinclair says...
Steve Bruce and all Sunderland fans breathed a huge sigh of relief after victory over Wigan eased their relegation worries. Unfortunately for the Black Cats it came at cost with Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck limping out of the game leaving them with no recognised strikers.
Stephane Sessegnon is expected to lead the line for Steve Bruce's side so it will be interesting to see how he copes with Brede Hangeland, who’s over a foot taller than him. A great battle in prospect there.
Fulham had a great result in midweek, comfortably beating Bolton, and are now more or less back to full strength with Bobby Zamora added to their attack. He gives them an extra dimension to their game I expect him to play a pivotal part.
I think this game will finish in a draw like the reverse fixture at Craven Cottage. Fulham’s away record isn’t the best and Sunderland will probably struggle without Gyan and Co.
| West Brom
| Aston Villa
Nick Price says...
It'll be a tale of two managers at the Hawthorns on Saturday, with wily Roy Hodgson facing up to the relatively raw and inexperienced Gary McAllister, who stands in again for the unwell Gerard Houllier.
Hodgson has rejuvenated the Baggies since his February appointment, with the side having only been beaten once – that at the hands of Chelsea the last time the Midlands side played at home – in his eight games in charge. His players responded magnificently from that body blow by bouncing back and snatching a point at White Hart Lane last weekend, while Villa did similar against Stoke, albeit at home, in McAllister's first match at the helm.
Both sides can see the holy grail that is top flight survival on the horizon, but despite being almost safe there is still plenty to play for, as a defeat – combined with wins lower down the pecking order – could pull either club back down into the mire. Expect to see both teams go at it with the prize of safety on the line, with a goal apiece likely – a result that would be welcomed by both sets of supporters.
Alex Fisher says...
This weekend I will be returning to the DW Stadium to see if Wigan’s mission impossible can continue against Everton after last week’s disappointing defeat at the hands of Sunderland.
Everton have very little to play for other than pride now which could be dangerous for the Latics as any side playing with that bit of extra freedom are a threat. In recent matches involving Wigan I have been impressed with their midfield, especially Ben Watson, and I am looking forward to seeing how they cope against the strength that Everton have with Jack Rodwell, Phil Neville and Tim Cahill.
Wigan were excellent against Blackpool and a similar performance in this match could secure a crucial three points, but I’m afraid I can’t see it happening and think a slender away win is on the cards for David Moyes’ men.
Wayne Veysey says...
It was around this time 12 months ago that all the years of pain at White Hart Lane were finally dumped in the skip of history.
The ‘nearly men’ tag was hurled away as Harry Redknapp masterminded victories over Arsenal, Chelsea, Bolton Wanderers and, famously, fourth-placed rivals Manchester City to seal the final Champions League spot.
It provided the springboard for an intoxicating debut Champions League campaign but stagnation is on the horizon should Spurs fail to reproduce last year’s end-of-season heroics.
In-form Chelsea are the first of five opponents (Blackpool, City again, Liverpool and Birmingham City follow) who Spurs could very well have to beat to dine at Europe’s top table again next season.
Sink or swim, it is likely to be in a blaze of goals. There have been 10 in Spurs’ last two League games, while Chelsea’s last couple of matches have provided seven.
Calculators at the ready. Spurs just don't do dull.
Matt Monaghan says...
Birmingham City are one win from Premier League safety, but do they deserve to survive? Alex McLeish's side scaled the heights with their League Cup triumph, though continue to plumb the depths in the top flight.
Last season's rock solid defence has turned porous, playmaker Alexander Hleb has resembled a blind man picking a lock and strikers such as Cameron Jerome threaten row Z rather than the back of the net. All these factors combined in last weekend's shambolic display at Anfield when they received a fully deserved 5-0 thumping from Liverpool.
Sunday's opponents Wolves look nailed on for relegation but common consensus has them as an improved outfit from last term. Similarly, Blackpool have provided a breath of fresh air but also look destined for an instant return to the Championship.
A strong performance in front of a St Andrew's crowd fired up for a Midlands derby would provide the three points to ensure survival. A victory by several goals would underline the quality in the Birmingham squad that should separate them from the likes of Wolves but no such result seems guaranteed on current form.
Jonathan Birchall says...
With seemingly little to play for, the talismanic Steven Gerrard out for the season and the promise of riches in the summer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool fans would like this campaign to finish now and let the preparations begin for 2011-12. Not a chance of it.
The good times are well on their way to being back on Merseyside and finishing off the season in style would make the volume of calls for a contract for Kenny Dalglish from the Kop rise ever higher.
Having all but secured their safety, Newcastle also have a summer to look forward to but their mood on Sunday may well depend on the fitness of Andy Carroll. If the £35 million man overcomes his recent knee injury and starts, I can’t wait to see the reaction that the Magpies have in store for their former favourite son.
With or without the striker, I still think Liverpool will have enough going forward to shoot down Alan Pardew’s side and give King Kenny another boost.
| Manchester United
Wayne Veysey says...
Should Wayne Rooney continue his path to redemption by providing another hammer blow to Arsenal, mention of him in the same breath as the world’s football elite will seem as appropriate as it was 12 months ago.
The greatest of players influence the most significant of matches and it has been stirring to witness Rooney’s revival in recent weeks.
Dimitar Berbatov has been castigated, seemingly by his own manager, for being a flat-track bully but Rooney at the height of his powers can count victims of all shapes and sizes.
It would be no surprise to see Arsenal, shrinking by the game, fail to stand up to him. The repackaged Rooney is not the rampaging, goal-scoring centre-forward of 2009-10, but a more subtle assassin who can load the gun as well as fire it.
The man who wears No.10 has been playing the No.10 role to perfection. All eyes will be on whether he can wrap up Premier League title 19 for Manchester United at Emirates Stadium.
| Manchester City
| West Ham
Greg Stobart says...
Everything seems to be slotting together for Manchester City just at the right time – they have even managed to get Edin Dzeko to score in a league goal.
They could be seven points clear of Tottenham in the race for fourth by the end of this weekend and will expect to win against a brittle West Ham side that are in deep trouble at the foot of the Premier League.
Hammers midfielder Scott Parker is expected to be fit and he is just about the only hope for Avram Grant's side, who have been impotent in front of goal and porous at the back.
City have shown their character in the last two weeks and Roberto Mancini will be urging his side to keep their foot on the pedal, to score early and never allow West Ham back into the game. I think that is exactly what will happen.
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A hit and miss weekend for our reporters last time out, with Mark Fordham the star of the show having successfully predicted Aston Villa's 1-1 draw with Stoke City. Meanwhile, Oliver Yew was within a goal of scoring perfect marks, and his 3-1 Chelsea win was wronged by West Ham's misfiring strikers.
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