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Andre's giant strides

Merse predicts wins for Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Everton, but says Spurs can hold Man Utd.

Last Updated: 18/01/13 at 14:13

Villas-Boas: will he show Chelsea what they're missing?

Villas-Boas: will he show Chelsea what they're missing?

Merse gives his verdict on all the weekend's games

As ever, you can follow all the Premier League action this weekend on Sky Sports.

We asked Soccer Saturday expert Paul Merson to look at the fixtures and give us his verdict on where the games will be won and lost.

Every week he'll be here on skysports.com to share his views on who he expects to be the winners and losers of the weekend.

So read on for his shouts and don't forget to let us know your views via the comments box...

Ford Super Sunday: Chelsea v Arsenal
1pm, Sun, Sky Sports 1 HD & Sky 3D

I went to Chelsea on Wednesday night and you have to wonder if Rafa Bentiez is having a joke with some of his decisions.

As soon as Southampton got back to 2-2 he took Frank Lampard off. When you're trying to win a game, why would you take him off? He's a player who scores important goals for you. My 11-year-old daughter wouldn't have made that decision and it's like he's trying to wind the fans up on purpose.

The fans have turned on Fernando Torres now because of Benitez, which made the whole thing worse, and the mood wasn't good at full-time. He said in the programme that real fans don't boo and it just feels like he's trying to wind up the supporters.

The game with Arsenal will be interesting because Chelsea have a big semi-final next week against Swansea. I think he might rest a couple of players because the Capital One Cup is a huge chance for them to win a trophy this season.

But this is a huge game for Arsenal because it looks like they're going to finish outside the top four for the first time since 1996.

I thought Laurent Koscielny deserved to be sent off against Man City - it was bad defending - and the team was heartless after that. The almost accepted they couldn't win with 10 men.

They needed leaders, someone to rally the lads, but they sulked for too long. James Milner's goal was a brilliant finish, but the Arsenal players were standing around and sulking; you wouldn't see that in kids' football.

Both Chelsea and Arsenal have looked flaky at the back (I still can't believe Chelsea gave away a two-goal lead to Southampton) and so this should be a high-scoring football match.

But at the moment I feel Arsenal are a long way behind.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-2

Ford Super Sunday: Tottenham v Man Utd
3.30pm, Sun, Sky Sports 1 HD & Sky 3D

Roman Abramovich should be looking at Andre Villas-Boas from the other side of London thinking 'why did I ever let him go?'

He's got an unpopular manager in charge, he's lost out on Pep Guardiola and I can't see Chelsea getting anybody better.

Admittedly, Harry Redknapp left Villas-Boas a very good football team with very good players and there wasn't a lot to change, but at the same time he's carried it on. They haven't been as entertaining this season, but they've been a lot more solid and I think they look like a top-four side.

I think they can get a result against Manchester United too. They'll miss Emmanuel Adebayor, who hasn't pulled up trees this season, but would have been a big asset in a tight game.

Man United normally like to have a go, but I'm sure Sir Alex Ferguson will be aware of Tottenham's pace on the wings. He may use people like Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young here to protect his full-backs and play on the counter-attack because he won't want Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon running at Rafael and Patrice Evra with pace all game.

With Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie up front they're always likely to score and I think Ferguson would take a draw. They rarely go anywhere looking for anything other than a win, but he'd take a point and tick the game off because I don't see too much between these two teams.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1

Ford Monday Night Football: Southampton v Everton
7pm, Mon, Sky Sports 1 HD

The way Southampton have treated Nigel Adkins is disgusting, absolutely disgusting.

Read Paul's verdict on Adkins' sacking here .

I didn't think Southampton would win this game anyway because Everton are such a good football team, but I'm even more convinced after that decision.

I still feel Everton have every chance of making the top four. They'll need a bit of luck with certain players staying fit, but as the games go by they look as solid as anybody.

Swansea played two right-backs against Leighton Baines last week and that shows you the respect Everton are getting from other teams. In the past, teams would go to Everton thinking they have a chance of winning, but it's a tribute to Everton (and Baines) that teams will change how they play to stop them.

They may have that problem for the rest of the season and will they be able to cope with that? It will be interesting, but I think they will win this.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3

Liverpool v Norwich
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1

Liverpool were too timid at Old Trafford last week. They were better in the second half, but it's easier to play when you're 2-0 down and I was disappointed by them. They're not a million miles away, but they lack consistency although I would expect them to beat Norwich. They were going through a bad patch and stopped the rot against Newcastle, but I think Liverpool are too strong.

Man City v Fulham
PAUL PREDICTS: 4-0

This is a home banker. Man City need to get on a roll and start winning football matches. They've not been great this year, they've fallen over the line a few times but I expect them to win this easily because Fulham are very up and down. City were 10 points behind Man United before the Arsenal game and it could be four points after this weekend. How quickly can this league change?

Newcastle v Reading
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0

Brian McDermott will go there, sit back for 20 minutes and keep things tight. The fans and players will get very shaky the longer it stays 0-0 and if Reading keep them quiet they've got every chance - and they will be very happy if they can come away with a point. It's all about the first 20 minutes, but I'm just going for Newcastle with home advantage. The 40,000 Geordies cheering them on will just give them a bit more energy in a tight match.

Swansea v Stoke
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1

I'm doing this game on Soccer Saturday and I think Swansea will rest a few players before the Capital One Cup semi-final. How often will they get this close to Wembley and to playing in Europe so I'd be shocked if people like Ashley Williams play in this game? However, Stoke's away record is not the best and they've been leaking goals recently so I'll go for a draw.

West Ham v QPR
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1

West Ham have been very decent at home, but QPR won't be too fearful and this result could easily go either way. Harry has made them more difficult to beat - they kept clean sheets against Tottenham and Chelsea - and if you don't let in goals you've always got a chance. They needed two or three goals just to draw games at the start of the season and Harry has tightened things up. The points are mounting up and they need to go to Upton Park and keep their run going with at least a draw.

Wigan v Sunderland
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1

I was shocked to see Sunderland go out of the FA Cup. The priority is to stay up, but the fans would like a cup run and I think the defeat to Bolton was very, very disappointing. Wigan have to win this football match or else they could be in major trouble and so I am going to go for them to do it. I just feel they need it more than Sunderland.

West Brom v Aston Villa
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2

Villa have a big semi-final on Tuesday night, but this game is much more important. I bet Paul Lambert wishes he could rest some players, but he needs to play his best team to try and get out of the bottom three. If my predictions are right then Wigan, Reading and QPR will all get points and Villa will be in big trouble. But West Brom aren't playing that well and I feel Villa can get a draw. I'm going for a Desmond.

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Readers' Comments

S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

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