Goal.com Predicts: Chelsea 1-0 Bolton, Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham, Norwich 0-3 Manchester United and Cardiff 1-2 Liverpool

Our reporters believe the north London derby will end in a draw whilst Kenny Dalglish will taste yet more success at Wembley with a win against the Welsh side

It is England versus Wales in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday, as Liverpool take on Cardiff City with the destination of the first trophy of the season set to be decided.

Kenny Dalglish's side saw off Manchester City in the semi-final with the Reds in search of their first piece of silverware since 2006. Standing in their way are Malky Mackay's Championship outfit, who beat Crystal Palace to reach the showpiece clash.

Meanwhile in the Premier League, Arsenal look to bounce back from a miserable week, which included defeats in both the Champions League and FA Cup, with a north London derby at home to Tottenham.

A win for Spurs would see them keep up with the pace of second-placed Manchester United, should overcome Norwich City at Carrow Road, while the Canaries continue to push the top seven.

Under pressure boss Andre Villas-Boas also looks to get back on track from the midweek defeat to Napoli with the visit of Bolton Wanderers, while top four rivals Newcastle United play host to Wolves, in Terry Connor’s first game in charge of the latter.

Mark Hughes faces former club Fulham for the first time since his acrimonious departure from Craven Cottage, while bottom side Wigan welcome Aston Villa to the DW Stadium and Blackburn Rovers visit league leaders Manchester City.

Sunderland and Swansea travel to West Brom and Stoke respectively, with the latter hoping to bounce back after being knocked out of the Europa League by Valencia on Thursday.

Meanwhile Everton have a week off, with their Merseyside derby clash with Liverpool rescheduled due to the Reds League Cup final participation.

So ahead of the weekend's action, Goal.com's team expert of reporters are on hand to offer their predictions...



With the pressure facing Andre Villas-Boas near to reaching critical mass, Stamford Bridge is sure to have an intense atmosphere on Saturday and I’m really looking forward to experiencing what is certain to be an inimical air.

Chelsea’s team selection has been near impossible to second guess so far this term, with the line-up against Napoli revealing yet more fractious relationships at the club that threaten to terminate Villas-Boas’ contract. It is a complete mystery who the Portuguese will field come kick-off, though I’m sure Owen Coyle will not be fooled by any duped team-sheets he may find lying around.

Lowly Bolton will not be the fodder that Blues fans will hope but I think the home side will stumble over the finish line to record a narrow and unconvincing victory.



Despite their 5-0 hammering at Tottenham two weeks ago, Newcastle have been outstanding this season, particularly at home where they have just lost twice this season.

Wolves are struggling and not just on the pitch as they were seemingly rejected by every candidate they approached for the vacant manager's position before opting to promote from within with Terry Connor’s appointment.

The only result that looks likely is a win for the Magpies but stranger things have happened.

After conceding five goals against West Brom, the Wolves defence will  surely be nervous about coming up against 16-goal striker Demba Ba. Along with January signing of Papiss Demba Cisse, it could prove to be a long afternoon for the visitors.



It is derby day in west London, and a game that the home side really need to win to put a bit of distance between them and the relegation places. They sit in 16th position, with only goal difference keeping their heads above the drop zone, and the prospect of taking on an inconsistent Fulham side should be enough to get the fans going.

The last time the two sides met Fulham triumphed 6-0, but I wouldn't put too much money on a repeat performance. The visitors are only nine points clear of the relegation places themselves, but I can see them edging this game if they can get the likes Moussa Dembele, Bryan Ruiz and Clint Dempsey on the ball.

For all of manager Mark Hughes' new arrivals, the R's still look shaky defensively and are without a win since their 3-1 victory against Wigan over a month ago. If Fulham play to the standard they know they can, it should be a win for the visitors.



Tony Pulis’ decision to travel to Valencia with a squad of just 15 players perhaps highlighted the Welshman’s priorities of the club’s domestic affairs over their European ambitions and the possibility of overturning their deficit to the La Liga outfit.

The Potters’ run in the Premier League possibly backs-up the need to keep key men fresh for the weekend, with Stoke failing to take three points since January 2nd, five games ago, whilst lucky draws in the FA Cup have given them some hope in ending the season on a positive note as they size up Liverpool for their sixth round tie.

Meanwhile the Swans missed out on bragging rights to fellow new boys to the top-flight Norwich City in their last outing, with Swansea suffering just their second defeat at the Liberty Stadium. A stern challenge awaits them at the Britannia Stadium and one the league’s surprise packages might just have a battle on their hands once more.

West Brom


No-one must want to play Sunderland at the moment. Everything appears to be going right for the Black Cats since Martin O’Neill took control of the reins at the club.

They have only lost three times since he took over in early December and they dumped Arsenal out of the FA Cup last weekend, so are bound to be full of confidence for the trip to the Hawthorns.

The Baggies have only won three games in 2012, but they recorded a fantastic 5-1 victory over local rivals Wolves last time out and will be hoping Peter Odemwingie can keep scoring following his hat-trick in the game.

This has the potential to be a close game seeing as both sides are coming off the back of good victories, but I can only see the Sunderland revival continuing and the Black Cats fans going back up to the North East happy.

  Aston Villa


Wigan manager Roberto Martinez turned down the chance to join this weekend’s opponents in the summer, in a display of loyalty rarely seen in football.

The Spanish boss may have hoped to be rewarded with a season for this act without a relegation battle, but once more Wigan will fight against the odds to retain their status.

The visitors to the DW Stadium this weekend, Aston Villa, have, arguably, also been drawn into the scrap with their form of just one win in the last six. The pre-season losses of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing have never quite been replaced despite the hopes resting on £9million Charles N’Zogbia, signed, ironically, from Wigan.

Martinez’s men will be aware that if they are to squirm free of danger once more they need to be picking up points at home against the likes of Aston Villa and I fully expect them produce the winning result when it matters most.

Manchester City

Roberto Mancini reckons the next few weeks could see his side pull clear of rivals Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League.

City have shown a ruthlessness at home all season and the optimism within the squad is that United will slip up in tricky away trips to Norwich and Tottenham.

Much like their last home game against Fulham, City will expect a comfortable home victory but will, of course, remember that Blackburn won at Old Trafford earlier in the season.

I am looking forward to seeing Yaya Toure back in full stride in the Premier League. City felt his absence during the Africa Cup of Nations and he can be the man to lead the charge in the last three months of the season.

Without Russia-bound Chris Samba, it’s hard to see how Blackburn will have any chance of keeping Sergio Aguero & Co. in check and City could take the chance to extend their goal difference advantage over United.



The Arsenal fans are not exactly known for their hostility but the visit of Tottenham - and the return of Emmanuel Adebayor - will make for a red hot atmosphere at Emirates Stadium this weekend.

Rather than just passion, there will also be fear among the Gunners fans that this game could confirm the changing of the guard in north London. Tottenham will travel down the Seven Sisters road confident that they can, at least, maintain the 10 point gap between the two sides.

With Arsenal vulnerable following morale-sapping defeats to Milan and Sunderland, Spurs will sense the chance to make a real statement of intent and it will be interesting to see how ambitious the visitors are in attack.

The Arsenal defence is vulnerable and the likes of Adebayor, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric have the quality to steer Spurs to a second successive victory at the Emirates.

But I have a feeling that we could be in store for a rather scrappy game, especially bearing in mind the expansive brand of football both teams usually play. In Robin van Persie, Arsenal will boast the best forward on the pitch and I fancy a low-scoring draw.

Norwich City
Manchester United


Norwich gave Manchester United a scare in early October, asking questions and creating chances only to waste them and lose 2-0 at Old Trafford, but it is hard to see them improving on that on Sunday. The Canaries are in an up-and-down run of form, having done well to beat Bolton and Swansea but turning in a poor effort as they succumbed to a 2-1 FA Cup defeat by Championship side Leicester City last weekend.

United, meanwhile, are scoring plenty of goals, and the home side will have been worried to watch how the Red Devils treated a disorganised Chelsea defence to pull off a comeback from 3-0 down at Stamford Bridge earlier this month - and, for all the thrills that fans have witnessed at Carrow Road this season, there have been quite a number of goals conceded by the hosts.

Despite that shaky record at the back, it should be worth keeping an eye on goalkeeper John Ruddy, who has been excellent all season in spite of his defenders and could take the advantage of a high-profile match to make a point to the England higher-ups, having been overlooked for the Three Lions squad to face the Netherlands despite growing calls for his inclusion.

There is no question that Norwich have earned the right to approach this game with optimism but realism strongly suggests that Sir Alex Ferguson's men will have it takes to comfortably emerge triumphant, particularly if Wayne Rooney can recover from a throat infection in time to terrorise the Canaries.

Cardiff City


Following a second consecutive painful week for its representatives in European competition, English football needs a cathartic shot in the arm.

I am looking forward to the League Cup final providing it with a fabulous spectacle worthy of the occasion and the world game's most famous venue.

The first of the season's domestic finals will come in the middle of a week-long spell in which Wembley is the hub of the national sport.

The stadium looked resplendent in the north London sunshine on Thursday when Stuart Pearce announced his first senior England squad for the friendly against Holland at Wembley next Wednesday.

First comes the showpiece in which narratives abound: Craig Bellamy against his boyhood club; Kenny Dalglish aiming to lift his first silverware as Liverpool boss in 22 years; Luis Suarez at FA HQ; and a classic David v Goliath battle.