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Hindsight's Premier League predictions

CITY SLICKER: Stoke’s midfield dynamo Nzonzi

FINALLY THE international break is over and the thrills and spills of the Premier League can resume. Chelsea remain four points clear of the pack, while it remains tight at the bottom with the majority worried about the threat of relegation.

Voice of Sport chief Rodney Hinds is at hand to cast his predictions for this weekend's fixtures and even decides to bet against his beloved Arsenal as they host Louis van Gaal's Manchester United.

All matches at 3pm unless otherwise stated

Saturday, November 22

Chelsea – West Brom

There is much talk that WBA hotshot Saido Berahino will be a future target for the league leaders; Saturday’s fixture should be a perfect audition for the new England man. However, no matter what joy he has at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho’s men should still have too much for the Midlanders. Chelsea frontman Diego Costa, who just doesn’t know how to miss the target, already has ten top-flight goals to his name and I would expect him to add to that tally against Alan Irvine’s troops. Costa cruise.

Everton – West Ham

The Hammers will face a stern test of their growing credentials when they visit Goodison Park. The East Enders will head to the North West with a degree of confidence; they are not in fourth place for no reason. In Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman, Everton possess defenders who can complement the likes of Romelu Lukaku up front. West Ham will counter with Enner Valencia and the in-form Stewart Downing. Hosts snatch a thriller.

Leicester – Sunderland

City must wonder where their next point is coming from. They might not manage any in this match either against a Sunderland who registered a fine 3-1 win against Crystal Palace last time they were on their travels. The Black Cats have striker Steven Fletcher and midfield maestro Jordi Gomez bang in form and they will be expectant as they head for the King Power Stadium. City skipper Wes Morgan, the Jamaican international, will need all his wits about him if his team are to get anything out of this fixture. Draw.

Man City – Swansea

Where would the home side be without the goals of Sergio Aguero? The little Argentine has already notched 12 goals this term as the champions stutter in their title defence. Last season’s top team, who are currently in third, need to be wary of Swansea’s pace and power. The South Wales outfit put Arsenal to the sword just prior to the international break with Bafétimbi Gomis hitting the surprise winner against the Gunners. With Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge supplying Gomis and Wilfried Bony with chances aplenty, this could go either way. Champions assert themselves at last.

HOME COMFORTS: Arsenal's Oxlade-Chamberlain (PA)

Newcastle – QPR

If United keep winning matches, the once much-maligned Alan Pardew will end up as manager of the season. After a terrible start and fan protests seemingly every other week, Pardew looked set for the chop.
However, he and his team have turned things round and are now in 8th position. Key to the turnaround has been the form of Sammy Ameobi, who has brought some pace and guile to the United attack. QPR, who have found some decent form themselves in recent times, won’t be any pushovers but Harry Redknapp’s men are likely to find their goal peppered by the rampant Magpies! Home win.

Stoke – Burnley

Free-flowing Stoke should have enough to see off Burnley, despite the Turf Moor outfit registering their first win of the season against Hull last time out. City general Steven Nzonzi will look to win the midfield battle in order to give the ball to the likes of Charlie Adam, Victor Moses and Peter Crouch. Burnley boss Sean Dyche will hope that the win against Hull will provide some momentum – I personally doubt it will. Potteries success for the Mark Hughes’ men.

Arsenal – Man Utd 5.30pm

This is a match-up of two ailing giants. United have the better attack and face a home defence that is porous to say the least. Wayne Rooney, Angel di Maria and Robin van Persie – who returns to the home of his former employers – could have a field day against the cumbersome Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal, who is essentially a left-back who has been asked to play as a centre-half. Just why a big club like Arsenal are asking Monreal to play in the heart of their defence sums up just where they are as a team right now – all over the place. The only way that Arsenal can win this one is if they put on a team display and hotshot Alexis Sanchez hits his customary goal or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain provides an assist. United win.

Sunday, November 23

Crystal Palace – Liverpool 1.30pm

The last time this fixture was played, the Reds lost a 3-0 lead, the PL title and the now departed Luis Suarez ended up being sponsored by Kleenex after crying his eyes out on the Selhurst Park turf. Revenge would be sweet for the Anfield side but it cannot be guaranteed such is their lack of consistency this campaign. Palace pace aces Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie will look to stretch the Merseysiders’ full-backs but this is likely to end as a stalemate.

Hull – Tottenham 4pm

This will be something of a reunion. Former Cockerels Michael Dawson, Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone will come up against their former club and will doubtless have a point to prove. Tottenham, beaten by Stoke last time out, also have their own ambitions; to climb out of the bottom half of the table after what has been something of a shambolic eleven games. Spoils shared.

Monday, November 24

Aston Villa – Southampton 8pm

Second-placed Saints will have too much for the home side. Everybody keeps expecting the Southampton roll to come to a halt but they have good players who are confident and know how to win. As for Villa, they are missing the likes of injured Fabian Delph and suspended Christian Benteke. Koeman’s men do the business again.

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