There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes, “He who tries to predict truly is a di….” Actually, maybe that was one of Ron Atkinson’s, but the sentiment is clear, it’s bloomin’ difficult to foresee the future. With that in mind, I thought I’d make a fool of myself (once again) by going head-to-head with EA Sports FIFA game to see which of us is better at predicting Premiership matches. Think of it as the Garry Kasparov verses Deep Blue of football punditry – if Garry was played by a rather thick monkey and Deep Blue was played by the FIFA development team.
The rules are simple: each week FIFA and I will be attempting to predict the outcome of six English Premier League games (for simplicity’s sake they’ll be the half dozen from the Sky Sports Soccer Saturday Super 6 game). Five points are awarded if you predict the outcome of a match exactly right (e.g. you say Arsenal will beat Chelsea 2-0 and they do). Two point if you get the result right but the score wrong (e.g. you say Arsenal and Chelsea will draw 2-2 and they actually draw 1-1). Until FIFA 13 is released on the 28th of September, I’ll be using FIFA 12 with the squads and starting XI’s as close as possible to reality.
Alright, so let’s kick things off with our predictions for the week 1 matches:
Arsenal v Sunderland
James: It’s been a tumultuous week for the Gunners, Van Persie out the door, Alex Song waiting in the hall with his coat on. The new signings have some imposing boots to fill. I think they’ll just about manage it against Sunderland who are a stubborn side that are more familiar with one another. Quality on the ball and home advantage will prevail – just. 2-1 to Arsenal.
FIFA: Arsenal’s mastery of possession and Sunderland’s rather brittle back line made this one an easy win for the Gunners. 3-0 to Arsenal.
Fulham v Norwich
James: Even with last year’s player of the season, Clint Dempsey, manning a brassier and placard outside of Craven Cottage, Fulham are still a formidable force at home. With that said, I fancy Norwich to get something here. Players out to impress new manager Chris Hughton and the return of that battling, never-say-die attitude from last season will get them a surprise win. 2-1 to Norwich.
FIFA: FIFA’s also going for a 2-1 scoreline, just the other way round. 2-1 to Fulham.
QPR v Swansea
James: This could either be a real barn-burner of a game or an early season damps squid. Two teams with lots of changes, but, to be honest, I’m not as fussed about the score as getting to see Swansea’s new signing Chico (please let it be that Chico). Either way I just can’t see Swansea having the X Factor (have you seen what I’ve done there, ha, ha, ha…oh dear). QPR to give The Swans a Simon Cowell-style smackdown. 3-0 to QPR.
FIFA: A wide open game this one. It could have ended in a cricket score if the finishing up front hadn’t been as poor as the ineptitude at the back. 1-1.
Reading v Stoke
James: Lots of people seem to have Reading rock bottom of the Premiership come the end of May. I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Royal’s fans should start pre-booking European flights ready for next season (although if they’re travelling with Ryanair they might need to head off now to be able to make it from the airport to the ground in time), but they’ve made some decent signings. Going away from home against a newly promoted side on the opening day is never an easy task. 2-1 to Reading.
FIFA: An extremely cagey tie this one with both sides finishing with a point gained rather than two dropped. 1-1.
WBA v Liverpool
James: It’s the grudge match of the century. Steve Clarke (you know, that guy who was assistant manager at Liverpool last season…No?…Never mind) against his old employer. I say it ends honours even. 2-2.
FIFA: FIFA seems to have a bit of a thing for everyone’s favourite ponytailed oil tanker, Andy Carroll. I’m not sure of the exact reason why, but the greasy Geordie came off the bench to cap a scintillating substitute performance by grabbing an all important second goal. 2-0 to Liverpool.
West Ham v Aston Villa
James: Are Aston Villa still alive? I haven’t heard anything from them in weeks. If you went round to Villa Park right now I fear you might see worrying signs that no one has taken the milk in for a few days and there’s a ton of post sticking out of the letterbox. Sam Allardyce and sons continue to surf the crest of the promotion wave. 2-0 to West Ham.
FIFA: A game played out by two teams who seemed to be struggling to find a reason to carry on living. Dull doesn’t even begin to describe it. 0-0.
So there you have it. Enjoy the football, see you next week.
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