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Preview and predictions for Monday Premiership games

last updated Monday 02nd January 2006, 11:18 AM

Fulham are at home today in Matchday 21, against bottom of the league Sunderland, and despite a major injury crisis The Cottagers must win to ensure Christmas 2005 is not a complete disaster for the club.Over the Christmas holiday The Cottagers have suffered two defeats in three games, both away of course, and turned a home win into a draw. One of the defeats was away at Fulham Broadway so although it may make the blood boil, in light of Russian billions it may have been expected. However a 3-3 home draw against Aston Villa and a 1-0 away defeat at Pompey were not expected by Fulham boss Chris Coleman or anyone else, including Harry Redknapp. At the moment even Sunderland, seemingly one of the worse teams to make it to the Premiership, might be forgiven for harbouring hopes of starting 2006 with a point or three. Of course it is difficult to see past The Black Cats past results but there have been sparks of success in many of their games. With rumours that a new manager could be on his way to the Stadium of Light the Sunderland squad could be a tougher proposition. Going into the game anything other than a Fulham victory is hard to see even for sceptics and with a win and other favourable results Fulham could finish the day two places higher in the Premiership. If Fulham lose they could slip even closer to the drop zone, in the worse case, just goal difference keeping the Cottagers out of the bottom three.Elsewhere our friend Mr Souey will be praying for a win against local rivals Boro and Mr Pardew will be hoping to stick it to Mr Mourinho. Tomorrow could see a memorable battle at Highbury with the visit of Man Utd desperate to get closer to Fulham Broadway. Individual match comments below come from Jonathan Turner and David Tindall at Bettingzone.

Premiership Match Day 21 Games
Home Away KO T.V.
Monday 2nd Jan 2006
West Brom Aston Villa 12.00  
West Ham Chelsea 12.45 ppv
Birmingham Wigan 15.00  
Bolton Liverpool 15.00  
Everton Charlton 15.00  
Fulham Sunderland 15.00  
Newcastle Middlesbro' 15.00  
Blackburn Portsmouth 19.45 sky1
Tuesday 3rd Jan 2006
Arsenal Man Utd 20.00 sky1
Wednesday 4th Jan 2006
Man City Tottenham 20.00 sky1
Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts Gd
1 Chelsea 20 18 1 1 43 9 55 34
2 Man Utd 20 13 5 2 40 17 44 23
3 Liverpool 18 12 4 2 26 9 40 17
4 Tottenham 20 10 7 3 29 18 37 11
5 Wigan 20 11 1 8 25 24 34 1
6 Arsenal 19 10 3 6 27 15 33 12
7 Bolton 18 9 4 5 23 18 31 5
8 Man City 20 8 4 8 27 22 28 5
9 Blackburn 19 8 3 8 24 24 27 0
10 West Ham 20 7 5 8 26 27 26 -1
11 Newcastle 19 7 4 8 18 21 25 -3
12 Charlton 18 8 1 9 23 27 25 -4
13 Aston Villa 20 5 7 8 23 29 22 -6
14 Middlesbro 19 5 6 8 23 28 21 -5
15 Fulham 20 5 5 10 23 29 20 -6
16 Everton 20 6 2 12 11 30 20 -19
17 West Brom 20 5 4 11 19 29 19 -10
18 Portsmouth 20 4 5 11 15 31 17 -16
19 Birmingham 19 3 4 12 13 29 13 -16
20 Sunderland 19 1 3 15 14 36 6 -22
West Brom v Aston Villa (KO 12.00 - Monday - 02 January 06)
Their excellent recent home form initially suggests West Brom could be victorious over their local rivals. The Baggies may still be searching for their first win on their travels but it's been a different story in front of their own fans. They've won three and drawn one of their last four at the Hawthorns, scoring eight goals and conceding none. However it's clear the packed fixture list is affecting them more than most and their valiant efforts at Anfield on Saturday could easily take their toll.They are also meeting a Villa side that's much improved of late and picked up a decent point against Arsenal at the weekend. Villa have already won a second city derby at Birmingham this season and if pushed we'd go for the visitors. Verdict: West Brom 1 Aston Villa 2
West Ham v Chelsea (KO 12.45 - Monday - 02 January 06)
West Ham have performed perfectly creditably on their return to the top flight but they start 2006 with resources stretched to the limit by the fixture list. They are now in their worst run of the season and the alarm bells are really ringing as the goals have dried up - after scoring in eight games on the trot they've suddenly failed to find the net against both Charlton and Wigan. A A visit from the champions isn't exactly what they wanted therefore, especially as Chelsea are going for nine wins in a row. They triumphed 2-0 against Birmingham on Saturday but the scoreline didn't come close to reflecting their superiority. The strength in depth of their squad means they are one of the few sides who can handle four games in eight days which tilts things even more in their favour. Jose Mourinho's post-match comments about Joe Cole on New Year's Eve - however tongue in cheek - also suggests he won't tolerate any sort of let-up and an emphatic win for the Blues looks in the offing. Verdict: West Ham 0 Chelsea 4
Birmingham v Wigan (KO 15.00 - Monday - 02 January 06)
Wigan manager Paul Jewell named an unchanged side for the third time in a week on Saturday but he may be forced into a rethink here as the players looked out on their feet in the 3-0 defeat against Blackburn. We've nothing but huge praise for the Latics this season but they might just be a team to leave alone for a while. However the problem here is that Birmingham have struggled horribly this term and just one win at St Andrews hardly marks them out as a likely winner. Verdict: Birmingham 0 Wigan 0
Bolton v Liverpool (KO 15.00 - Monday - 02 January 06)
Liverpool made it ten wins out of ten in the Premiership by eventually breaking down a dogged West Brom side at Anfield on New Year's Eve. They look clinical up front and are getting better by the match as Peter Crouch's confidence continues to soar and Harry Kewell's form gradually approaches something like his best. Defensively though is where they really deserve the plaudits - James Beattie's header in the Merseyside derby being the only goal they've conceded since October 2. Bolton won this fixture 1-0 last term but they were on a hot streak then and their current form is distinctly chilly - being dumped out of the Carling Cup by Wigan, failing to score against whipping boys Sunderland and then being on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline against Manchester United at the weekend. They at least have El-Hadji Diouf back from suspension but uncharacteristic defensive mistakes at Old Trafford are of more significance. Verdict: Bolton 0 Liverpool 2
Everton v Charlton (KO 15.00 - Monday - 02 January 06)
The daggers would really have been out for David Moyes had Everton followed successive 4-0 hammerings and a 3-1 derby loss with defeat at Sunderland on Saturday. By all accounts they deserved to get beat too but Tim Cahill's injury-time winner means Moyes gets a little breather and a potentially disastrous week has been averted. A similar tale can be told about Alan Curbishley and Charlton who arrested a terrible slump with a 2-0 home win over West Ham. Of course neither wins masks the general underlying problems and it's hard to put any trust in either of these two sides at the moment. Earlier in the season, the Addicks would have been favourites to win this as they boasted the best away record in the Premiership. But after winning their first five on the road they've now suffered defeats in their last three - at Blackburn (4-1), Aston Villa (1-0) and Wigan (3-0). Everton also boast a negative goal difference of seven in their last three home games (all defeats) so perhaps a draw looks the safest option. Verdict: Everton 1 Charlton 1
Fulham v Sunderland (KO 15.00 - Monday - 02 January 06)
Mick McCarthy stood in disbelief as Everton stole the points with an injury-time winner at the Stadium Of Light on Saturday. The Black Cats had done everything to win the game but their chronic inability to put the ball in the net cost them dear. McCarthy will be stressing the positives of that game and also their Boxing Day 0-0 draw with Bolton but it will be extremely difficult to lift his players from their latest hammer blow for the long trip to London. Fulham have taken only one point from nine over the Festive period but this is obviously a great chance to improve that record. And on past evidence this season, Chris Coleman's men have shown they can bank three points just when it seems they might be sliding into trouble. Only the top six in the table have scored more home wins than Fulham this season and one of their only two defeats was at the hands of Manchester United. Fulham have been in front in all of their last five Premiership home games and went on to win four of them. Verdict: Fulham 2 Sunderland 0
Newcastle v Middlesbro' (KO 15.00 - Monday - 02 January 06)
Saturday's miserable defeat pretty much summed up 2005 for Newcastle fans. It must have been a long journey home from north London for the Toon faithful after they were brushed aside 2-0 by Spurs, then heard the news that Michael Owen was out for several months after breaking a bone in his foot. Just when they thought it couldn't get any worse goalkeeper Shay Given was ruled out of this match because of bruising - and a potential broken bone - to his hand. Those two have been key men for the Magpies this season and their absence means Graeme Souness' side simply have to be opposed. Middlesbrough aren't exactly the side you'd choose to get with given their own worrying inconsistency (six points from the last eight games) in the league and a poor record in this particular fixture but circumstances suggests that's the only way to go. Verdict: Newcastle 0 Middlesbrough 1
Blackburn v Portsmouth (KO 19.45 - Monday - 02 January 06)
Blackburn took full advantage of being the fresher side against Wigan on Saturday and they make plenty of appeal to follow it up with another three points here. Their home form is excellent, they did the double over Portsmouth last season and are boosted by the return from suspension of Tugay. Throw in the fact that Portsmouth have struggled horribly away from home (have lost seven out of ten, including the last four by an aggregate 13-1 margin) and suddenly you have the makings of the easiest prediction of the day. It gets even better when you factor in the thought that Harry Redknapp appears to be concentrating efforts on picking up as many points as possible at Fratton Park (seven out of last nine) while possibly sacrificing one or two on their travels. Verdict: Blackburn 3 Portsmouth 0
Arsenal v Man Utd (KO 20.00 - Tuesday - 03 January 06)
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Man City v Tottenham (KO 20.00 - Wednesday - 04 January 06)
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