BPL Predictions, Week 2

Champ Warren ’17

Finally after a week off the Barclays Premier League (BPL) is back in action with all 16 of the teams playing on Saturday, with two playing on Sunday and Monday, respectively. As before, I will predict the score of the game and provide analysis as to why that will be, including key players as appropriate. Also, the must watch games will be at the end of the article with a more in-depth analysis provided. As always, feel free to email me with any feedback at cdwarren17@mail.strakejesuit.org.

Chelsea vs Aston Villa- Saturday, 9:00 a.m.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 1 Villa
This is one of the more interesting games of the weekend, and the only reason I decided not to make it a must watch game is due to a conflict with Everton – United game. Last game week Chelsea suffered yet another disappointing result, losing to Southampton 3-1. The team selection was especially strange, but the fact that Mourinho subbed in Nemanja Matic at the half for Ramires, just to bring him off 20 minutes later was especially shocking. Chelsea is clearly all over the place, with Mourinho rumored to be on the chopping block, but international breaks like the one we had this past weekend often help that. Villa have been extremely poor so far this term, having lost their past four league games consecutively. Ex-Spurs boss Tim Sherwood looks to be in danger of losing his job as well, making this game especially intense. Villa’s only decent attacking force seems to be Rudy Gestede, yet the whole team has struggled for form this season and I don’t see it changing, giving Chelsea a desperately needed win.

Manchester City vs Bournemouth- Saturday, 9:00 a.m.
Prediction: City 3 – 0 Bournemouth
Before the break Manchester City completely steamrolled Newcastle United, winning 6-1 in a game I personally thought would be a lot closer given City’s poor form by their standards from the past few games. David Silva and Sergio Aguero were key players in the match, with the former breaking the BPL record for fastest time to score 5 goals, yet both were injured over the international break, a huge blow for City. Bournemouth on the other hand did far better than I had expected against Bournemouth last game week, scraping out a 1-1 draw despite the absence of Callum Wilson. Bournemouth will put up a decent fight, but I don’t see it going anywhere, especially away from home.

Watford vs Arsenal- Saturday, 9:00 a.m.
Prediction: Watford 1 – 1 Arsenal
Watford is in decent form but could be doing a lot better. They were definitely the better team in my opinion against Bournemouth but struggled to find the back of the net. Watford is awkward to predict because they don’t score tons of goals, but they also don’t concede many. Arsenal on the other hand had a resounding victory against Manchester United with Alexis Sanchez looking to finally regain his form from last term. Despite my personal bias against them, this seems like a game the Gunners could drop points in: they just won a huge game, they are expected to win this game by a decent margin, and they’re away. Everything seems to be going for them, but I have a feeling this might be an upset.

Crystal Palace vs West Ham- Saturday, 9 a.m.
Prediction: Palace 2 – 1 West Ham
I think this match will be pretty straightforward prediction-wise. Palace solidly beat West Brom 2-0 last game week, continuing their good form. Another thing worth mentioning is that when Palace have won, they have played well and often deserved it, getting goals from almost all of their midfielders and forwards. West Ham, strangely enough, have been poor at home but brilliant away, so it will be interesting to see how they manage after a long break. Despite their good away record, the Hammers have conceded quite a few goals recently, so I think Palace will take advantage of this and barely scrape by with all 3 points.

Southampton vs Leicester- Saturday, 9 a.m.
Prediction: Southampton 2 – 2 Leicester City
Both Southampton and Leicester have been scoring plenty of goals as of late, which could end up making this game a bit of a goal fest. Southampton’s Grazianno Pelle has been in great goal scoring form as of late with Mane and Tadic also playing well. Leicester’s Vardy, just called up for his first senior cap for England, has been in good form as well, netting in 4 out of his last 5 league games. Their defense has played well but been a bit inconsistent. Overall this game is going to be really close, and either team could come out of it with 3 points, but I think the safe bet is to call it a high scoring draw.

West Brom vs Sunderland- Saturday, 9 a.m.
Prediction: West Brom 0 – 0 Sunderland
I doubt anyone will watch this game especially with all the other matches going on at the same time, but either way I’ll give a quick summary. West Brom comes into the game having struggled for form the past couple of games, whereas Sunderland has pulled off an unexpected draw against West Ham. Sunderland’s manager Dick Advocaat resigned after the game, with, ironically, ex-West Ham boss Sam Alardyce stepping in. I think Alardyce will do decently with his direct style of play, but I question whether Sunderland have the players or the motivation to do that. But with a new manager usually comes a short term improvement, so I think Sunderland may just get away with a point.

Newcastle vs Norwich- Sunday, 10 a.m.
Prediction: Newcastle 0 – 2 Norwich
Newcastle was absolutely destroyed over the weekend: conceding 5 goals to Aguero, being second best in every position, and frankly looking like a mid-table 2nd division side. Although new man Mitrovic got on the score sheet, the team conceded 5 in the second half and clearly had their confidence shot. Norwich was unlucky not to come away with any points last game but has continued to play decently even when they lose. Cameron Jerome will surely cause problems with his pace and movement, and I think Irish attacking midfielder Wes Hoolahan will have a great game as historically Newcastle have a hard time dealing with a number 10 in form. I think Norwich will have an easy time in this game especially if Newcastle play with the same pathetic attitude they did last game week.

Swansea vs Stoke City- Monday, 2 p.m.
Prediction: Swansea 1 – 0 Stoke
Swansea come into this game having drawn my team Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 at home for a desperately-needed point and played decently throughout. The Swans’ defense did well to keep Spurs out and only conceded on free kicks, a lot better from a defense that was struggling to maintain any kind of consistency as of late. Swansea also finally scored, twice, so things look to be going in the right direction. As far as Stoke goes, it’s almost not even worth trying to predict. Stoke is one of the most inconsistent teams in the league, playing like an upper third one week, to then getting dominated by a modest lower-half team the next. Overall, I think Swansea will pull out a close win, but frankly anything is possible in this game.


Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool- Saturday, 6:45 a.m.
Prediction: Spurs 2 – 1 Liverpool
Before you email me about how I’m a biased Spurs fan who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, let me explain why I think Spurs will take points from this match. First off, Liverpool. The Reds just recently sacked Brendan Rodgers after 3 years with the club. Just about everyone expected this to come at some point, but to replace him with ex-Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp was genius. Klopp’s system of fast attacks and high press off the ball on paper looks like it could cause Spurs a lot of problems, but there are two issues: 1. The system is not something that can be learned overnight and 2. Klopp’s system needs pace out wide to function well. Spurs played well overall in the 2-2 draw vs Swansea but struggled to close down Swansea’s wingers, both of whom scored. Liverpool don’t have true wingers in their squad besides Ibe due to Brendan Rodgers always playing a narrow formation or a 5 defender formation with width coming solely from the fullbacks. As a result I question Liverpool’s ability to adapt to Klopp’s style of play so quickly, especially in a formation (Klopp’s ever-present 4-2-3-1) that they haven’t played in since August. Spurs come into the game off of a 2-2 draw with Swansea in which they had 13 shots on target yet only managed a point via 2 free kicks from Eriksen. Spurs have struggled this year with a lack of pace on the wings, which often results in a slower, unproductive buildup. Heung Min Son’s arrival was a revelation and drastically helped this, but the Korean picked up a foot injury against Manchester City and is very unlikely to play. Eric Dier, Spurs’ defender turned defensive mid, will also be unavailable for this game which could prove to be a huge loss for such a high intensity game. This leaves players like Lamela, who has had a surprisingly good year, and Eriksen, whose return from injury revitalized the squad, to step up in a big game like this. Overall I’m very conflicted on what I think the end result will be as it’s hard to tell how a team will play with a new manager but I’m going to go out on a limb and say Spurs win 2-1, simply because the team looks like it has gelled well and frankly we are due a win against Liverpool, whereas I think Liverpool will struggle initially to adapt to Klopp’s system.

Everton vs Manchester United- Saturday, 9 a.m.
Prediction: Everton 1 – 1 Manchester United
This is probably going to be the game that everyone watches out of the seven games at 9 on Saturday, and I think it will be a decent game overall. Everton come into the game after a draw with Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby but remain unbeaten since August, with plenty of draws it must be said (the Toffees are 3-4-1 so far this season). Although not a perfect team in terms of getting consistent wins, Everton has done well in taking points in almost every game they play in, with Roberto Martinez being able to rely on a relatively solid defense much like Chelsea did last term. Even when they have gone behind in games Everton keep working hard and have shown a lot of character thus far, specifically when they beat West Brom 3-2 after going 2-0 down early in the game. That coupled with the scintillating form of Lukaku in recent games along with new Barcelona arrival Deulofeu finally maturing and looking for a pass instead of a dribble, Everton looks like a team that will be hard to beat. United on the other hand had a bit of a shocker, soundly losing 3-0 to a well-drilled Arsenal side. The entire defense looked suspect, especially Daley Blind and Ashley Young. Why a team like Manchester United can’t field a proper center half or have a true backup left back amazes me but given how stubborn Van Gaal is I don’t see him changing that. Depay also has continued his poor form with the Netherlands, failing to qualify after having come 3rd in the World Cup just over a year ago. Martial has continued to look decent, but Rooney’s lack of goals is still a concern as is the ever-changing defensive midfield partnership. For me United’s form does not suggest that they will have an easy time, and I expect United to play a cautious, slow, defensive game, which could unfortunately lead to a bit of a dull affair. All in all Manchester United have the ability to win this, I don’t think they will especially given Everton’s form.