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The Easter hunt

Merse tips draws for Sunderland, Villa, Southampton and QPR... but says it's all eyes on Wigan.

Last Updated: 04/04/13 at 11:59

Benteke: will he boss Liverpool again?

Benteke: will he boss Liverpool again?

Merse gives his verdict on all the weekend's games

As ever, you can follow all the Premier League action this Easter 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 Football Special: Sunderland v Man Utd
12pm, Sat, Sky Sports 2 HD & Sky 3D

If you asked Martin O'Neill to name the two players he can't afford to be without, he would probably say Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole - and both of them are out for the rest of the season.

But I have a funny feeling they will get something out of this game - and it's so important that they do because they're only four points above Wigan (who have a game in hand) in 18th.

I say that because I expect Manchester United to make major changes to their team. They've got the league wrapped up, their players have just come back from international duty and they've got a massive game with Chelsea on Monday lunchtime.

I think Sir Alex Ferguson will rest players ahead of that game and look to make the FA Cup a priority.

So I think Sunderland will get a draw out of this. They're missing some key players, but I'm a big fan of Danny Graham and I expect him to start turning up now Fletcher is injured.

Both of those players like playing up front on their own and I think he will perform much better on Saturday, especially as Sunderland won't be very open.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1

Ford Super Sunday: Aston Villa v Liverpool
1pm, Sun, Sky Sports 1 HD & Sky 3D

Aston Villa had a big win against QPR last time out and there's loads of teams in the relegation picture now. If Wigan win their game in hand it goes all the way up to Stoke.

But let's not get away from the fact that Liverpool is a very difficult game for them, although I think the international break was good for Villa. They are a team full of young lads who've been asked to play a lot of minutes and I think they needed a rest.

They need to be fully focused for this match. Ciaran Clark has taken a few chances for Ireland and for Villa recently and they need to cut the mistakes out. He's one of the more experienced defenders in their team and he's still a young man!

Liverpool lost at Southampton two weeks ago, but Villa don't usually play the pressing game. I hope a scout looked at what Southampton did and tells the Villa players to get tight because if you give players like Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard time on the ball they will rip you apart. Southampton smothered them and were rewarded for it.

If Villa sit off and let them play, then I see nothing but an away win but I think they can take a point. Christian Benteke ripped Liverpool apart at Anfield when they won 3-1 and they can take a lot of heart from that.

I predict lots of goals and an open game. I'm going for a Desmond.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2

Ford Monday Night Football: Fulham v QPR
7pm, Mon, Sky Sports 1 HD

The defeat at Aston Villa was massive for QPR because it was a six-point swing against one of their relegation rivals.

They deserved to get something out of that game because they battered them in the first half and a draw would have been a decent result. They need to win back-to-back games again - and quickly.

But this is when Harry Redknapp is at his best. He's just going to have a right go for the rest of the season. If they're going to go down they'll go in a blaze of glory.

He'll bring Adel Taarabt back into a free role behind the strikers and I wouldn't be surprised to see him play with three at the back and just go for the points. They need to win this game so he'll take the shackles off.

Fulham had a great result against Tottenham when the pressure was off, but they will be expected to beat their neighbours at home.

We often see a lot of goals just after the international break, which can be a real leveller. I'm going for another Desmond here.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2

Arsenal v Reading
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0

A draw is no good to Reading here - they won't be doing handstands if they get a 0-0 draw at the Emirates - so they have to come out and try to win this game. That will play into Arsenal's hands and I expect them to hit them at the other end and win comfortably, even without Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby in the team.

Man City v Newcastle
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1

Man City's title bid has gone totally Pete Tong and they've let the trophy out of their hands with a bit of a whimper. They owe their fans a bit of a show on Saturday and I expect them to win. Newcastle are still in the relegation mix, but I expect them to get out of it because Alan Pardew will get his tactics right more often than not. I don't see them winning at the Etihad, though.

Southampton v Chelsea
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2

Southampton do well against the top teams and I was at Stamford Bridge when they drew 2-2 with Chelsea earlier this season. Chelsea are not stone-wallers for the top four yet, but I think Rafa Benitez would rather have the glory of the FA Cup and the Europa League on his CV when he leaves (I reckon I could probably get Chelsea into the top four...). So I can see people like Juan Mata being rested for the Man United game on Monday and that will give Southampton a chance to get a high-scoring draw.

Swansea v Tottenham
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1

This is Tottenham's biggest game of the season. I think Arsenal will win so that puts them one point behind Spurs and level on games. All of a sudden, Tottenham need a win here and it won't be easy for them. You rarely see Swansea get battered and even though they didn't have a shot on target against Arsenal, they had plenty of the game. If they play that way against Tottenham I see them getting a result - and that would be a nightmare for Tottenham fans.

West Ham v West Brom
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1

West Brom have been up and down this season, so it's weird to see them just one point behind Liverpool at this stage. They drew at Stoke and beat Swansea, but West Ham will have a buzz after getting the all-clear for the Olympic Stadium so it should be pretty even. It's a difficult game for both teams and I see a draw.

Wigan v Norwich
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1

For me, this is the biggest game of the weekend. Teams like Stoke, Newcastle, Sunderland and Villa will all be looking at this result. If Wigan win this and the teams just above them slip up then all of a sudden you could have everybody up to Stoke back in the relegation scrap. Norwich know that a draw would see them alright, but a defeat means they're back in it themselves. The title race is over, so I'm going to go for a Wigan win because it would make the rest of the season so exciting... and you always know when April's here because Wigan start playing like Brazil! They seem to play better when the days are longer!

Everton v Stoke
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0

I can't give Stoke anything at the moment because they've been so disappointing away from home. I'm a fan of Stoke and they were flying along this season until they drew with Southampton at home when they were expecting to wipe the floor with them. They have struggled since that day and I can't see anything but an Everton win.

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I

may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Mike_Christie
Please Stop Telling Us What To Think

H

ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

TheWhiz
Wenger hails important win

I

s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

redbornandbred
De Gea's Europa League target

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