BPL Predictions, Week 8
Champ Warren ’17
January 20 – Although due to fixture congestion last week I didn’t write a prediction article, instead opting to go with a column summarizing what each club needs in January, this week resumes weekly Barclays Premier League (BPL) predictions. There were quite a few exciting games over the weekend, specifically the Everton-Chelsea game that in my opinion was one of the most exciting matches I’ve seen this year, and this week should have some exciting games in store also.
Saturday- Norwich vs. Liverpool
PREDICTION: Norwich 1-3 Liverpool
Last week Norwich suffered a third straight loss, this time 3-0 to Bournemouth. Norwich, as expected, had more possession, but Bournemouth still had more shots and looked the more threatening team overall. Striking options for the Canaries continue to be inconsistent as their both strikers have only scored 3 goals all season, and when a team can’t score and can’t defend bad results are inevitable. Liverpool is the exact same story. Benteke has been misfiring as of late, the midfielders can’t seem to score either, and the defense has looked shaky as ever. As I’ve said before the lack of quality wingers combined with Benteke’s static play kills any speed in Liverpool’s attack, and even when Firmino has come in to play striker his finishing has looked suspect to me. Overall I see Liverpool dominating possession much like they did against Manchester United, and despite their lack of goals I see them taking all 3 points.
Saturday- West Brom vs Aston Villa
PREDICTION: West Brom 1-2 Villa
This game has been historically difficult to call (4 wins, losses, and draws for each team in the past 12 meetings) so this this is a bit of a shot in the dark. Villa come into this game miraculously drawing would-be league leaders Leicester 1-1 in a very odd game: Villa, bottom of the table, dominated possession and Leicester, 2nd in the table, played their counter attacking style, but oddly enough one of the worst defenses in the league held up and only conceded one against a Leicester side really struggling for goals. As I predicted earlier in the season, Rudy Gestede manages to score when he gets service and this game he accordingly did both. West Brom were soundly beaten 3-0 and never really looked like scoring against a rejuvenated Southampton side. The Baggies managed only one shot on target and looked poor in just about every position. This really is Villa’s last chance to save themselves this season, and I think the belief could be there for them to come away with a point or three.
Saturday- Watford vs Newcastle
PREDICTION: Watford 1-3 Newcastle
Watford have been on quite a disappointing slump over the past few games, losing 4 out of their last 5 games in all competitions, a huge reversal of the team no one wanted to play less than a month ago. The team has struggled to get shots on net and create meaningful chances, leaving goalscorers Deeney and Ighalo with no service and as a result few goals. The defense, once one of their most solid parts of their game, has also been poor recently. Newcastle, on the other hand, has somehow managed to prove the impossible is possible by taking points from 2 games in a row, drawing Manchester United and remarkably beating West Ham last week. They have actually showed character and looked like a team for once, and even when they conceded last game, they managed to keep it together where normally they would have probably lost. As I’ve said before Newcastle has the best players in the bottom quarter of the table and they can easily move out of the drop zone and put some wins together, as they have done in the past, so I think Newcastle will win this one and keep the streak alive.
Saturday- Manchester United vs Southampton
PREDICTION: United 0-3 Southampton
Anyone who watched the United-Liverpool game knows that that win for United was one of the most lucky games I’ve ever seen. United were completely dominated by Liverpool for 70 minutes and can only thank De Gea for keeping their hopes alive, yet somehow Rooney managed to score United’s only shot on target off of a corner rebound. If Van Gaal thinks he can keep playing like that and take points, he’s mistaken. Southampton has managed to turn their miserable run of from around recently, keeping two consecutive clean sheets and looking like the Southampton of last season. They’ve held possession well, created lots of chances, scored goals, and defended well, basically Manchester United’s nightmare. Grazianno Pelle is also finally fit, so his presence could cause lots of trouble for United. I think Southampton will play just as well as Liverpool did against United, but do two things Liverpool didn’t: keep a clean sheet and score goals.
Saturday- Leicester vs Stoke
PREDICTION: Leicester 1-2 Stoke
Nowadays this prediction is considered a big upset, but I think the stats back it up. Leicester struggled mightily against basement team Aston Villa last weekend, a game everyone thought would be a walk in the park, and continued their disappointing form. Admittedly Mahrez did miss a second penalty in 2 games (he has since been relieved of his penalty duties), but Leicester lacked that clinical finish that has seen them beat so many teams this season. They will also be coming off of a cup game replay against Spurs in the midweek so the could struggle even though they have kept a few clean sheets recently. Stoke have continued their decent run of form, managing a draw against Arsenal in a game where they looked the more likely to score. Stoke managed to hold on against Leicester last time these two played, drawing 2-2, and I think that Stoke’s in form, skillful attacking players against Leicester’s defense will be an interesting clash. I think that Stoke will just edge this one, potentially beginning Leicester’s fall from grace.
Saturday- Palace vs Spurs
PREDICTION: Palace 1-3 Spurs
Palace come into this game in quite poor form, having lost to bottom of the table Aston Villa 1-0 and thrashed 4-0 by City in their past 2 games. The team is clearly suffering from the lack of a quality striker, as I mentioned in previous articles, and that combined with the inconsistencies shown by their generally more consistent players like Dann and Hennessy have resulted in losses. The need for a proven goalscorer is significant and for me until a signing is made or one of their forwards hits form results will continue to be average at best. For Spurs this fixture has been a bit of a bogey match in recent recently, with only one win in the past 3 meetings. However, Spurs come into this game in great form having dispatched Sunderland 4-1 and beating Leicester in the cup in one of the best Spurs performances in a long time. Heung Min Son played brilliantly as a striker and Chadli finally scored his first since August. Eriksen could also return to the number 10 position, having reportedly requested that Pochettino move him back to his preferred position, and it will be interesting to see how the team plays as a result. Overall I see Spurs continuing their form and taking all 3 points.
Saturday- West Ham vs Manchester City
PREDICTION: West Ham 0-3 City
Another competitive fixture as of late, this game could go either way for me. West Ham has looked better since Payet’s return from injury, but produced a lackluster performance against Newcastle and lost as a result. They managed only 3 shots on target but allowed Newcastle 14, and if they do that against City they will pay the price. In fairness, they did improve in the second half and grabbed a consolation goal, but did not play like a team in 6th. City, however, demolished Palace and looked good in just about every position. Aguero finally looks back to his best, and therefore so do City. Although many may expect a close game, I expect City to continue their form and win comfortably.
Sunday- Everton vs Swansea
PREDICTION: Everton 2-1 Swansea
Everton were 10 seconds away from taking 3 points in their game against Chelsea, but in almost a “Spursy” type scenario they conceded at the last second to split the points with the Blues. They showed great resilience to keep pushing for goals, yet their defensive frailty showed itself again. To be fair, one of Chelsea’s goals was a deflection while the other, the 3-3 equalizer, was offside, but either way Everton should be doing way better than that, especially against a struggling Chelsea. Swansea managed a 1-0 win against Watford, finally showing some form, yet their attackers drew a blank again as center half Ashley Williams managed to put the Swans through. The lack of shots, shots on target, and attacking chances in general is still an issue, so even though Everton remain shaky defensively I think they should take all 3 points if they can remained focused at the back.
MUST WATCH GAMES:
Saturday- Sunderland vs Bournemouth
PREDICTION: Sunderland 0-2 Bournemouth
Sunderland continued their erratic form with a 4-1 loss to Spurs in a game they were thoroughly dominated in. Patrick Van Aanholt did manage to put Sunderland ahead, but shocking defending lead by new signing Jan Kirchoff handed Spurs a comfortable win. Allardyce changed his formation yet again and the team’s unfamiliarity with the system cost them. Both Watmore and Fletcher, in my opinion 2 of Sunderland’s best players, were benched, and I think that also had an impact on their loss. For me Sunderland need to play a 4-4-2 in a direct Sam Allardyce style and look for Fletcher and Defoe to play off of each other and create chances. Bournemouth managed to solidly defeat Norwich 3-0 and are beginning to get further and further away from the relegation zone. Their signings are already improving the team and it’s good to see a team who plays attacking soccer getting good results. For me, even though Sunderland could have a chance, Bournemouth will take all 3 points.
Sunday- Arsenal vs. Chelsea
PREDICTION: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea
Arsenal looked very sub-par in their match versus Stoke and were lucky not to lose at the end. Without Ozil the team looked average and failed to create many chances and as a result drew a blank in terms of scoring for the first time in five games. Wenger’s experiment with a 4-3-2-1 also didn’t go to plan, so I’d expect him to revert back to his favored 4-2-3-1 in this match. Chelsea showed great character and resilience in their 3-3 draw with Everton and despite their defensive lapses looked reminiscent of the free-scoring Chelsea of last season in terms of scoring goals. Cesc finally scored for the first time in what seems like years and Costa is looking better, and Chelsea continued their run of 7 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions. I see the game being a very tight affair, with neither team wanting to concede first. Being away, Chelsea could very likely adopt their park the bus mentality and look to counter, which could be interesting given their inconsistent defense this season. I do think, however, that the confidence Hiddink has brought into this team will serve them well in this match, but overall I can’t seperate them and have settled on a 1-1 draw.