Red end for City
Paul Merson says Liverpool will take points off Man City, but Aston Villa will struggle at Swansea.
Last Updated: 27/11/11 10:11am
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.
He's taking a close look at the live games but this season he's also having his say on all of the other matches, too.
Ford Football Special: Stoke v Blackburn
12.30pm, Sat, Sky Sports HD2
I hardly ever back against Stoke at home, but I can't believe how they're playing at the moment. They're all over the place.
I know they've struggled with the impact of playing in Europe, but they had a two-week break before the game with QPR and I thought they'd be fired up, back to the same old Stoke, but they conceded three goals at home.
They're not defending well and I don't think the midfield is giving the back four enough protection. If Wilson Palacios is fit he should play because they need a solid midfielder to screen the centre-halves.
They spent a lot of money in the summer and I tipped them for the top eight at the start of the season. It wouldn't have surprised me if they were where Newcastle are now.
But it isn't gelling and while I don't think they'll go down I have seen better teams than this finish in the bottom three over the years. At the moment it's not the Stoke we know and it's strange to see, but they are capable of turning things around and going on a roll.
I wrote last week that Blackburn had been unlucky this season, but they couldn't have had more luck against Wigan last week.
You could say that late equaliser is a turning point, but at the same time they were playing a Wigan team in poor form. It's not ideal when you are relying on good luck to beat a team like that.
Steve Kean has been good for the Blackburn owners because he has taken all the stick away from them, but I was surprised to see them announce they were giving him a new contract. I'm not saying he shouldn't get one, but why wind the fans up even more?
They'll miss David Dunn after his red card because he's one of their players who can do something out of the blue. They'll still go and score some goals at Stoke because this is a good time to play them... but they'll concede a few as well.
Put me down for a Desmond.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2
Super Sunday: Swansea v Aston Villa
1pm, Sun, Sky Sports HD1
I keep saying it, but Aston Villa remain my dark horses for relegation this year.
I know Tottenham are a good team, but Villa were so poor on Monday night. They've got players like Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan and Charles N'Zogbia in their squad, but they started with Alan Hutton on the right wing, which is very unadventurous.
They were concerned with keeping Gareth Bale quiet and I understand that, but on the other wing Gabby Agbonlahor was spending too much time dropping deep and that simply isn't his game. He's the sort of player you want on the shoulder of defenders chasing balls over the top.
Darren Bent must have been licking his lips when he signed and they had Ashley Young on one wing and Stewart Downing on the other. Now he's not getting nearly enough service.
If Villa play that way again then they will lose again. Swansea are a decent team who will keep the ball, stretch Villa and make chances. They haven't conceded many goals at home, but teams have looked like scoring against them and Villa must try to attack them.
I have been impressed with Swansea so far. You can ignore the Man Utd game because Sir Alex Ferguson was never going to let his team come away with anything less than three points after City's result earlier in the day, but I like what Brendan Rodgers has been doing.
Looking at the way Villa played last week and looking at Swansea's home form, I think I have to back the home team.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1
Super Sunday: Liverpool v Man City
3.30pm, Sun, Sky Sports HD1
It will hurt Roberto Mancini's pride if Manchester City drop out of the Champions League, but it might just help them win the title.
They had a difficult group with a strong Napoli team and a Bayern Munich side who are among the top four teams in Europe right now. I expected them to go through, but it was always going to be a big ask in their first season.
This is a team that is just starting out and you have to learn to walk before you can run. They won the FA Cup last season and this year should be about winning the Premier League. You can't realistically challenge for all the major honours at this stage.
If they end up in the Europa League I'm sure they could field a reserve team and do alright - but as long as they are top of the Premier League, their fans won't mind what happens.
As Napoli have proved, this team is beatable. They've hardly been wiping the floor with everyone in the last few weeks and they will be tested by Liverpool. I watched City play Newcastle on Soccer Saturday last week and if Demba Ba had scored a great chance at 0-0 it could have been a different game.
Remember, Liverpool are a big-game team and they rarely disappoint against the big boys. We've seen them win at Arsenal and Chelsea this year and they should have beaten Man Utd as well.
Their fans know their football and they're quite shrewd. If Liverpool set up with a 4-5-1 on Sunday the fans won't get on their backs; they understand that's the best way to play the game.
They lacked pace against Swansea, so I was pleased to see Craig Bellamy in the team at Chelsea and I would play him again here, probably on the wing with Stewart Downing on the other.
You have to pick Luis Suarez, but I'd ask him to come a bit deeper and connect himself to Nigel De Jong or Gareth Barry when City have the ball to prevent them from dictating play. They can't afford to be picked off in midfield. You could then go with Andy Carroll as your targetman who could provide an option up front when things get tight in midfield.
They need to keep things tight, but I think Liverpool are a big-game team and will get a result.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1
The rest of the weekend's games
Bolton v Everton
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1
Everton had a good result last week and need to put a run together, so it's important they don't lose. Bolton would have been disappointed against West Brom and will also have highlighted this as a game they can win. I think it will be a draw.
Chelsea v Wolverhampton
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0
This is a big pressure game for Chelsea and Wolves will turn up and try to keep the crowd quiet for 20 minutes. Chelsea are low on confidence at the moment, but surely they've got to win this?
Man Utd v Newcastle
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1
I watched Man United in midweek and they missed Wayne Rooney's X-Factor. Newcastle went to Man City and played 4-4-2, so I think they'll do the same thing again here. I don't think Alan Pardew will complicate things because his players all know what they're doing. They are capable of scoring a goal and I wouldn't be surprised if it's a draw, but I'll go for United... just.
Norwich v QPR
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2
It was a great win for QPR at Stoke last week and you've got to give any team credit for scoring three goals away from home in this league. Heidar Helguson has been a big surprise and if they can win this they can start looking upwards and not downwards. Norwich are a bit leaky and I don't see Neil Warnock letting his team lose here.
Sunderland v Wigan
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1
I'm doing this game for Soccer Saturday and I'm pretty sure Wigan won't go there and keep a clean sheet. But they could be dangerous opponents for Sunderland because the pressure is on them to win this. Wigan won't go and keep things tight, they'll play their normal open game, and I see Sunderland winning narrowly.
West Brom v Tottenham
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2
Tottenham are playing well, but they could have lost their last two away games at Fulham and Blackburn, so West Brom should take heart from that. Spurs are not invincible and aren't playing well enough away from home, so I think West Brom have a chance of getting a draw.
Arsenal v Fulham
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0
I think Arsenal should win this by at least three - with Robin van Persie getting two. There are no words to describe him at the moment, but the others are starting to play well too. Aaron Ramsey has been excellent, Alex Song has been good and Theo Walcott is playing better than he has for a long time. They're bouncing off Van Perise's example and playing well at the same time.
Follow Saturday's football on Soccer Saturday from 12noon on Sky Sports News HD and then see extended highlights on Football First from 8.25pm on Sky Sports HD2.