Barclays Premier League Predictions, Week 5
Champ Warren ’17
This past week’s games turned out to be fairly predictable and while there were some especially exciting games, such as Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Chelsea and Everton’s 6-2 thrashing of Sunderland, there were also some extremely boring games, as exemplified by Manchester United’s dreadfully uneventful 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace. This week looks to have an arguably dull set of games, but there are a few that should be exciting.
Bournemouth vs Newcastle- Saturday, 6:45 a.m.
PREDICTION: Bournemouth 0-2 Newcastle
Newcastle has been so unlucky the last few games. Two weeks ago in the Tyne-Wear derby they lost 3-0 as a result of a questionable red card despite being clearly the better side both before and after the sending off. Their misfortunes continued last weekend as they drew Stoke despite playing one of their better games of the season due to the heroics of Stoke prodigy goalkeeper Jack Butland. Bournemouth is continuing to struggle as a result of all their injuries, this time losing 2-0 to Southampton in which they failed to gain much meaningful possession or create many chances. The team has struggled to deal with the absence of key players such as Gradel and Wilson, and truthfully the way things stand Bournemouth looks to be on the way to relegation. The way Newcastle have been playing they deserve a win, and I don’t see Bournemouth having a great chance in this game.
West Ham vs Everton- Saturday, 9 a.m.
PREDICTION: West Ham 1-2 Everton
West Ham is becoming increasingly unpredictable as the weeks go on: they managed to beat Chelsea 2-1 yet were beaten 2-0 by Watford away in what proved to be an extremely poor showing by the Hammers. I don’t understand how they can go from looking like a top-4 team to playing that poorly in a matter of a week, but despite their great position in the table the team needs more consistency. Everton completely destroyed Sunderland 6-2 on Sunday, a great turn around from their 4 previous underwhelming results. Arouna Kone looked great out wide and managed to score a perfect hat trick while Lukaku set him up time and time again and Barkley played better than he has been in recent games. Everything seemed to just flow for Everton and despite giving up two goals before the half ended the confidence in the team is evident, II therefore expect them to win what I think will prove to be a close match.
Manchester United vs West Brom- Saturday, 9 a.m.
PREDICTION: United 1-1 Brom
Manchester United bored me to death for the second week in a row. Their performance against Palace was poor to say the least: constantly passing the ball left and right without any real penetration or frankly any notable attacking threat. Rooney continues to underperform and needs to be dropped as Anthony Martial, United’s soul attacking threat, is not nearly as effective out wide. Van Gaal has continued to play a similar lineup and given his history of tactical obstinance. I don’t expect that to change unless their Champions’ League game against CSKA Moscow goes terribly wrong. West Brom managed to put up a good fight against Leicester, losing 3-2 in the end much to the chagrin of Tony Pulis. Salomon Rondon put in another great performance, definitely something to build on. The Baggies are slowly improving. Based on United’s form, they will come out with a point from the game.
Norwich vs Swansea- Saturday, 9 a.m.
PREDICTION: Norwich 0-2 Swansea
Norwich managed to put up a good fight against league leaders Manchester City, holding the Citizens to a 1-1 scoreline until a late penalty and red card resulted in a narrow 2-1 win for City. Their 5-4-1 system, although as negative an approach as you get, proved to be decently effective and although they were utterly dominated in possession, they still created a few chances and managed to defend slightly better than in previous matches. Their overall performance was certainly better than in their past matches, having lost 5 consecutively, but I think they will struggle against Swansea, who lost 3-0 to Arsenal. The Swans played decently in the first half, doing well to limit Arsenal’s chances in front of goal, but struggled in the second half and lacked that trademark confidence that helped them win games against the bigger clubs last year. Fabianski looked suspect in net and was directly responsible for Koscielny’s goal. Anyone who has ever watched Swansea knows they are very capable of playing well. They will thrive against Norwich’s negative approach and come out on top.
Sunderland vs Southampton- Saturday, 9 a.m.
PREDICTION: Sunderland 0-3 Southampton
As I said before Sunderland were extremely fortunate to claim all three points against Newcastle and were rightly put back in their place with a 6-2 smashing at Everton. Big Sam’s tactical experiment with a 3-5-2 proved effective, yet they crumbled defensively. Sunderland doesn’t have the quality of defenders to play such a formation, but two up front looked like a positive change, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 4-4-2 be Sam Allardyce’s formation of choice this week in an attempt to have a more defensive team while still maintaining an attacking threat. Southampton played brilliantly against Bournemouth in their 2-0 home win and looked like the Southampton of last season. The passing was incisive and quick, particularly from Pelle. Mane’s pace and dribbling constantly caused problems, and Tadic’s crosses were great, resulting in assists for both goals. The game was a pleasure to watch. I don’t see them having any problem taking all 3 points in this fixture.
Stoke City vs Chelsea- Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
PREDICTION: Stoke 1-1 Chelsea
Where do I even start with Chelsea? Chelsea managed to get lucky and got 1-0 up vs Liverpool in the 4th minute through a Ramires header and looked decent overall to start. Yet instead of going on to look for a second goal, tactical genius Jose Mourinho decided to park the bus for the rest of the half. Liverpool grew in confidence as the match went on and continued to pressure the Chelsea defense, which inevitably conceded and went down from there. The game ended 3-1 and Chelsea once again looked shocking. The obvious question is how long does Mourinho have left? I’ve already talked about what should change to improve the Blues’ results, but it remains to be seen how Mourinho will respond against Dinamo Kyiv. Stoke likewise had a lackluster performance against Newcastle, only managing one shot on target. Diouf, should he play, would cause the Chelsea defense huge problems, but I can’t separate the two sides, so I’ve opted to go with a draw.
Aston Villa vs Manchester City- Sunday, 7:30 a.m.
PREDICTION: Villa 2-4 City
I know it seems almost laughable to think that Villa will manage to score at all against City, but multiple factors seem to suggest that Villa could put up a fight. They have just recently hired new manager Remi Garde, whose name they managed to misspell on their website, which statistically almost always results in a boost for the team’s morale and performance. Likewise they looked a lot better against Spurs on Monday and managed to make the ending to the game a close one, so there is certainly potential in the squad. City obviously is coming into this game with a point to prove, having struggled against Norwich, but they have also leaked a few goals in recent games so the fixture may not be as straightforward as most would think.
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace- Sunday, 10 a.m.
PREDICTION: Liverpool 2-1 Palace
Liverpool played one of their best games in a while, coming back against Chelsea to win 3-1. Their defending early in the match was sub-par, allowing Ramires to score a header to put Chelsea 1-0 up, but Liverpool responded well and dominated proceedings thereafter. They created chances going forward, with Coutinho looking especially threatening as he managed to score 2. Starting Roberto Firmino up top seemed to be a questionable decision, and I don’t think he has enough of an eye for goal to play there, but Benteke immediately caused problems when he was substituted in and should definitely be starting. Palace managed to improve their form of 3 consecutive losses with a draw against United and looked far more defensively solid, despite being rarely tested by United’s attack. Palace arguably should have won the game and were unlucky to miss a few key chances, but they have improved. Despite this they will be unlikely to overcome a confident Liverpool side, but expect the game to be close.
Games of the Week
Leicester vs Watford- Saturday, 9 a.m.
PREDICTION: Leicester 1-1 Watford
This game is my most difficult of the week to predict. Leicester has maintained their unbeaten run, scraping past West Brom 3-2 courtesy of goals from Vardy and Mahrez. They are an exciting team to watch, and they score a lot of goals, but their defense has been consistently underwhelming, which could begin to cost them later in the season as fatigue begins to set in. They have maintained their unbeaten run, however, and continue to be one of the hardest teams in the league to beat. Watford has been solid in their own right, conceding very few goals but still managing to score with decent frequency. They did very well to stifle West Ham over the weekend, beating the Hammers 2-0 and keeping yet another clean sheet. I think Watford will have the quality to challenge Leicester especially given their improved form and good defensive record, but neither team will come out on top, so I have opted for a draw. Although this probably isn’t a game most would think to watch, I think it will be a great, close game between 2 teams that aren’t given enough TV time, so, if you can, watch this fixture.
Arsenal vs Spurs- Sunday, 10 a.m.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 1-1 Spurs
The North London Derby is one of the most exciting games of the season. Even if you don’t support either of the teams, if you’re going to watch one game this weekend, I highly recommend this one. As a Spurs fan I cannot wait for this derby, but I will attempt to make the prediction and analysis as unbiased as possible. Spurs beat Aston Villa 3-1 on Monday, and despite a nervy finish looked to be in control throughout. The new center midfield trio of Dele, Dier, and Dembélé has looked exceptionally solid and so has the defense, a great sign going into such a high profile game, especially away from home. One of the biggest questions as far as Spurs’ team selection goes is whether or not Heung-Min Son will start, assuming he’s fit, or whether Eriksen will keep his place out on the left. Whereas Son looked great in his first few games for the club before his injury with his pace and willingness to dribble at opponents, Eriksen has proved an integral part of Spurs’ midfield and the team has always looked better when he plays. Starting Eriksen in central attacking midfield and moving Son out wide is certainly a possibility and would signal an attacking mindset for Spurs from the beginning. Such an attacking-based lineup could prove too risky and could ultimately lead to a lack of defensive solidity, something the team has relied upon for much of the season thus far. Arsenal has been in good form recently, beating Swansea 3-0 and extending their unbeaten run in the league to 5 games. Despite the result they looked very average in the first half of the Swansea game and have recently lost multiple key players such as Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain to injury. Joel Campbell had a good league debut, and I expect him to start, but Arsenal’s most dangerous player right now is Mesut Ozil who leads the league in assists. All of Arsenal’s attacks go through the German, so shutting him down should be one of Spurs’ primary objectives if they are to take anything from the game. Sanchez is another huge threat for Arsenal, so Kyle Walker cannot be caught too high up the pitch. Arsenal’s Champions’ League game against Bayern Munich will also have a huge impact on how this game will play out: if Arsenal start a full strength side against Bayern then fatigue will almost certainly have an impact on the Gunners, especially because their squad is so thin due to injuries. Looking at the game as a whole, the teams seem very close: the quality of players in both teams isvery similar and so is each team’s respective form. Having not taken into account the Bayern game and how it will affect Arsenal, I decided to go with a 1-1 draw.