Barclay Premier League Predications
Champ Warren ’17
Hello everyone, and welcome to Premier League Prognosis, where I analyze each of the 10 upcoming Barclays Premier League matches, point out the must-watch games of the week, discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and key players of each pair of teams in those specific games, and predict what I think the score will be and why. This is the first of a series of weekly articles, and because it is a new article, most people won’t know about it, so please share it so we can create a larger following. I am going to try to make it simple enough to where people who aren’t so familiar with soccer can understand and possibly get interested in the sport, but at the same time in depth enough to be interesting to those more knowledgeable about soccer. Anyway, let’s get into the fixtures:
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Prediction: Palace 3-1 West Brom
Palace looked good defensively last week against recently promoted Watford, and created plenty of chances through Yohan Cabaye. Brede Hangeland dominated the defense and proved to be a threat on set pieces while Zaha came on as a game-changing sub. West Brom, on the other hand, was 2-0 up vs Everton only to throw it away and lose 3-2. Their big summer signing Salomon Rondon has struggled and their defense has looked shaky.
Manchester City v Newcastle United
Prediction: City 2-0 Newcastle
Manchester City was completely destroyed by a hard working Spurs 4-1 over the weekend to continue a shocking run of form in recent games. Aguero was hardly in the game, and City’s 2nd string defense was average at best, yet with Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany looking like they will be fit to start, I think they will wake up and find some form. Newcastle had a shock result of its own, finding themselves up 2-0 on BPL Champions Chelsea only to concede 2 and earn a point at home. It was probably the best showing from Newcastle all year as players like Wijnaldum, Mbemba, and Ayoze Perez look to build up some form. Despite their good performance, however, I can’t see City choking again, especially at home.
Aston Villa v Stoke City
Prediction: Villa 1-1 Stoke
Aston Villa was unlucky not to snatch a point from an underperforming Liverpool side at the weekend, losing 3-2, but there were a few positives. Newly-signed Rudy Gestede showed his dominance in the air once again as he headed home twice to give his team some hope, and fullback Jordan Amavi looked decent. However, the Villa has been poor and lacked any real consistency so far this year. Stoke on the other hand is one of the most unpredictable teams in the league, playing some games as if challenging for the top 4 and others looking like a relegation threatened side. As a result, I can’t really separate the two sides and have gone with a 1-1 draw.
Bournemouth v Watford
Prediction: Watford 2-0 Bournemouth
Watford was unlucky to lose 1-0 to Palace as they were in the game for quite awhile, but a rash challenge from Nyom gave away the deciding penalty. Despite this and striker Troy Deeney’s poor form, Watford has been a solid team so far and should win this game. Bournemouth got one of the worst possible results over the weekend: not only did they lose 2-1 to Stoke in a game they easily could have taken at least a point from, but they lost their star striker Callum Wilson to a knee injury that could keep him out for 2 months or more. Wilson was Bournemouth’s best player by far and their top goal scorer, so I think they may really struggle in his absence.
Norwich v Leicester
Prediction: Leicester 3-2 Norwich
Norwich has had a decent start to life in the BPL so far in this season and will look to continue that form away to Leicester. Cameron Jerome has looked good so far this year and will likely be the man to score if the Canaries do find themselves on the scoreboard. It might not be too hard because despite Leicester’s amazing start to the season, they have leaked goals at the back especially due to keeper Kasper Schmeichel’s in poor form. However, the superb form of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy will just carry them through.
Sunderland v West Ham
Prediction: West Ham 3-0 Sunderland
Sunderland has been absolutely atrocious so far this season. Barely able to score goals but quick to concede them, Sunderland sit at the bottom of the table and despite weeks of “crisis talks” between manager Dick Advocaat and his team, nothing seems to be getting better. West Ham on the other hand has been sublime away but rather poor at home, failing to win again this past weekend vs Norwich. The Hammers still sits in the top 4, however, so I think they will blow Sunderland out of the water with a simple and straightforward performance.
Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur
Prediction: Spurs 2-0 Swansea
Swansea has continued their poor run of form losing again over the weekend. Striker Bafetimbi Gomis has not scored for 4 games and star signing Andre Ayew has struggled to rediscover his early season form, while the Swans’ defense has especially looked vulnerable as of late. Last weekend Spurs (the team I support–I will attempt not to be too biased here) amazingly beat league leaders Manchester City 4-1 at home with a fantastic team effort. Players like Lamela and sub Clinton N’Jie have begun to find their form while Eric Dier controlled the midfield and Harry Kane finally found himself on the score sheet. Christian Eriksen also had a good game and has completely revitalized Spurs having just returned from injury. Although Swansea is never an easy place to go, I am confident we can get another 3 points from this match.
MUST WATCH GAMES:
GAME 1: Chelsea v Southampton- Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Chelsea
Southampton has had a lacklustre start to the season, especially compared to their dream start of last season where they found themselves in the top 4 at Christmas. Although players like Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle have played well for the most part, others like Jose Fonte and reserve keeper turned starter Maarten Stekelenburg have struggled to perform this year. Regardless, the team did step it up over the weekend, beating Swansea 3-1 after having beaten lower league outfit MK Dons in the midweek. They look to be gaining confidence at the moment and sit in a solid 10th place so far. Chelsea on the other hand continued their shocking start to the season with a poor performance against a hardworking Newcastle side, drawing 2-2 away. At one point the defending Champions were down 2-0, and were it not for the impact subs of Willian and Ramires, Chelsea would have suffered yet another defeat. The team as a whole has been sub-par with Hazard consistently going missing in matches and starters last year such as Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa failing to perform, and in Costa’s case, getting suspended from league play. Manager Jose Mourinho has been largely ineffective in resolving this crisis, and despite their win against a 9 man Arsenal side, I question whether they have what it takes to claim all 3 points this week. This will be a great game to watch with action on both sides (and the best on Saturday), especially given the circumstances, so you can’t miss this one.
GAME 2- Everton v Liverpool (Merseyside Derby)- Sunday, 7:30 a.m.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Liverpool
For me this is going to be the best game of the weekend. Everton comes into this one off of a 3-2 come-from-behind win against West Brom on Monday, with striker Romelu Lukaku scoring 2 and assisting another in their emphatic win. Gerard Deulofeu assisted Lukaku’s goals and looks to be slowly maturing as a player, looking up for the pass instead of over-dribbling as he was known for in his first spell with the club. In other news Gareth Barry managed to not get booked (I can’t remember the last time I saw him end a game without a yellow) and Everton’s backline, despite conceding 2 early goals to West Brom, has remained largely solid. Central defender Phil Jagielka will be one to watch as he will be tasked with dealing with Daniel Sturridge and possibly Benteke, with his stunning 30-yard half volley in the last minute of this game last year still fresh in the minds of both groups of supporters. Liverpool comes into the game having narrowly beaten Aston Villa 3-2 last weekend with the team still clearly struggling. Brendan Rodgers has been under extraordinary pressure as of late and continually changed his preferred formation, specifically the defense where he has deployed 3, 4, or even 5 defenders in different games with no real consistency coming from the back line. Although Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have played decently so far, with the former scoring a double last weekend, the rest of the team has been rotated in and out with Rogers proving to be almost tactically clueless regarding his own team. Although they have played better recently, I can’t see Liverpool winning or even drawing against an in form Everton team, much less away from home.
GAME 3- Arsenal v Manchester United
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal
In what may become a deciding game of the season, Arsenal take on Manchester United at home in what will most certainly be a nervy affair. Arsenal come into the game having shockingly lost yet again in the Champion’s League, this time 3-2 to Olympiacos, and looks to be struggling. Despite a 5-2 win away at Leicester, the team is struggling defensively, having conceded 10 goals in their past 5 games. Key defender Laurent Koscielny was subbed off midweek because of an injury and looks to be unavailable for this fixture, leaving a mostly untested pairing of Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista to hold up the center of defense. It will be interesting to see if Wenger decides to play Walcott (who started there against Olympiacos and bagged a goal and an assist) or Olivier Giroud (who came on at Leicester and made a decent impact by scoring a goal towards the end of the game). Giroud has the height and power that could cause some issues for the United defense, specifically the diminutive Daley Blind, but Walcott would provide blistering pace that would suggest a more counter-attack based strategy. United arrives into the fixture having just come up against Wolfsburg on Wednesday, winning 2-1 via goals from Juan Mata and Chris Smalling. The team has looked unusually solid defensively so far this season with Chris Smalling in particular having an amazing season in which he has nailed down a starting spot and gained the trust of manager Louis Van Gaal. He has, however, played with Daley Blind at the back, who is a liability in the air as mentioned previously and could struggle against Giroud. Another good sign from United is that goals have come from all over the pitch with the likes of Mata, Martial, and Rooney with Memphis slowly finding the net recently. For me given United’s solid defensive record thus far, their impressive goal tally, and the fact that they possess a goal threat from various players, I think they will dominate an untested Arsenal back line, especially on the counter. I don’t believe Arsene Wenger will be up to this tactically. Instead, I think he will be soundly beaten by a well-drilled, fluid Manchester United side.