Barclays Premier League-Week 13
Champ Warren ’17
Aston Villa vs Chelsea
PREDICTION: Villa 0-3 Chelsea
As just about everyone knows, Villa are deservedly the worst team in the league and continue to prove why. They continued their losing streak against Swansea and have struggled in every department, with manager Remi Garde supposedly stepping down in the near future. Chelsea have begun to enter a bit of a mediocre streak with a draw and 2 losses in their past 3 games, but I still think they will easily come out on top. Diego Costa, assuming he is fit, will likely run rampant against the shaky Villa defense, and I think Hazard could potentially get his first goal of the year in the BPL as Bacuna isn’t the most solid of right backs. Gestede will always be a threat, but the lack of service to him coupled with John Terry’s aerial prowess should allow Chelsea to see this game out comfortably
Arsenal vs Watford
PREDICTION: Arsenal 1-1 Watford
This exact fixture was played on March 13 in the FA Cup. Arsenal ended up losing to the Hornets 2-1 in a very poor game by their standards. Despite dominating shots and possession, Watford exploited Arsenal’s mediocre defense and punished them when they had the chance. Their recent change to a 4-3-3 has been an unusual choice, especially with Deeney out wide left, but unlike the first time it was tried against Spurs, Watford were able to create counter attacks and take advantage of Arsenal’s overcommitment in the final third. Deeney out wide will be one to watch, along with whatever holding mid combination Wenger chooses to employ. This will be a huge test for the latter duo as they will be tasked with keeping both Ighalo and Deeney quiet and Watford pinned in their own half, which will be an interesting challenge given their very average form as of late. This time I expect Arsenal to be wary of making the same mistakes, likely leading to a cagey game, yet I think they will lead until the end of the game.
Bournemouth vs Manchester City
PREDICTION: Bournemouth 1-2 City
Not taking into account their recent loss to Spurs, Bournemouth have been in inspired form lately, notching up wins against Southampton, Swansea, and Newcastle. The return of Max Gradel has drastically helped the team going forward and the team is winning the games they should be expected to win and while also getting draws and wins against harder opponents, leaving them in an impressive 13th. City have been extremely poor lately, having lost 1-0 to crosstown rivals Manchester City. They have looked rather toothless going forward and defensively have continued to struggle with injuries. Although this game finished 5-1 in City’s favor last time out, I think it will be a lot closer this time around given both teams’ form. I was close to going with a draw given Bournemouth are at home, but I think City’s attacking quality will rebound and they will just barely get away with 3 points.
Norwich vs Newcastle
PREDICTION: Norwich 0-1 Newcastle
Norwich have somewhat improved over the last few games, conceding fewer goals, but are still struggling to get results. Their lack of a spine in their team, along with a consistent striker, are continuing to show. Newcastle have similar issues but under Rafa Benitez already look a lot better. The defense is still their weakest aspect, but Benitez is renowned as a defensive manager so I expect him to shore it up in the coming games. Last time the score was 6-2 in favor of Newcastle at home, and although I don’t think it will be quite that one-sided, Newcastle have played better away this year so this potentially plays into their favor. Although both of these teams have their own issues, Newcastle clearly have more quality in their ranks and a new manager that fits the needs of the club, so I think they will barely get the win here.
Stoke vs Swansea
PREDICTION: Stoke 1-1 Swansea
Ever hard to predict, Stoke continue to ride their erratic form up the league table with close wins, draws, and losses in their most recent games. Arnautovic, even when he is not scoring, is consistently performing and looking dangerous on the left wing, and I think he could have a good game against the likes of Angel Rangel. Swansea have not been particularly great themselves but are slowly gaining more consistency in terms of results. Gylfi Sigurdsson has been in great form and has been key in Swansea’s last 3 games, so he will be one to watch. He is known for his free kicks and Stoke are known to be rambunctious in their tackles, so the Icelandic midfielder could fancy himself a direct free-kick goal, especially given that Stoke’s first choice keeper will be out due to an injury picked up in England’s win against Germany. Normally, I would have gone for a Stoke win in this game, but I think Butland’s absence could be an issue for the Potters, so I think things will finish even come 90 minutes.
Sunderland vs West Brom
PREDICTION: Sunderland 1-1 West Brom
Sunderland underachieved in the Tyne-Wear derby against Newcastle by their standards, only taking a point from a fixture that they’ve come to dominate the past few years. Sunderland played very well in the first half and managed to convert a scrappy chance late in the half, but were extremely poor in the second half and were lucky not to lose in my opinion. The same issues remain: poor defending and a tendency to not be able to convert results. West Brom played Norwich most recently in a game of few chances to both sides, but the Canaries ended up on top. The Baggies have struggled to create chances recently and are lacking a consistent attacking threat; both Rondon and Berahino, who has been playing in midfield recently, have both struggled for consistent form. Overall I see this game as another close scrappy encounter and I’m struggling to separate the teams. Saying this about Sunderland feels strange, but because of their attacking quality, especially Defoe and Khazri, I think they will just edge this one, but it could go either way depending on the dynamic of the game.
West Ham vs Crystal Palace
PREDICTION: West Ham 2-0 Palace
This game should be pretty straightforward for West Ham, who are undefeated since February. They played exceptionally well on the counter attack against Chelsea and were unlucky to concede a penalty towards the end of the game to only come away with a draw. Palace have continued their poor form with a 1-0 loss to Leicester, who arguably deserved a point. They created half chances here and there but still continue to lack a goal threat and a final ball, especially with Cabaye still being deployed in holding midfield. The lack of a goalscorer continues to plague Pardew’s team, and because West Ham will likely give them few chances to begin with, I doubt they will have much of a chance in this game.
Leicester vs Southampton
PREDICTION: Leicester 0-1 Southampton
Leicester narrowly won their most recent game against Crystal Palace and, in my opinion, have been lucky to get wins in their last 3 games. They have taken their chances when they had them, granted, but time and time again I thought the opposition looked more dangerous and that Leicester would lose that 1-0 lead they have become accustomed to recently. They ended up getting away with playing in that fashion against the more mediocre teams, but I don’t think they will be able to get away with it against Southampton. The Saints most recently beat Liverpool 3-2 in a thrilling comeback win and their form is picking up, so I think they have the goal threat to punish Leicester, therefor I’ve decided on a close 1-0 win for Southampton.
Game of the Week:
Manchester United vs Everton
PREDICTION: United 2-1 Everton
Manchester United somehow pulled off a 1-0 win against crosstown rivals Manchester City in their most recent games, end despite failing to create many chances, Rashford slotted home when he got his chance and United’s defense stayed strong in the second half with the help of David De Gea. United have managed to secure decent results in their recent games, but in their past two fixtures I still thought their performances were underwhelming. Speaking of underwhelming, Everton were very poor against Arsenal, inciting a chorus of boos as the Toffees left the field after 90 minutes. Their defense has continued to struggle to say the least and Lukaku is basically carrying them. They lacked movement and intensity in the midfield, along with defensive stability, and Lukaku was starved for opportunities up front. Many of the team’s crucial players are beginning to show their age and are struggling to keep up with the pace and intensity of the league. Looking at this ficture specifically, I think Everton’s players will be well rested considering few were called up in the international break, but I don’t know if Martinez will be able to incite any changes in performance for this game. I think that United, despite being fairly average recently, have more quality in their squad and are playing better and especially given that they will be playing at home and still have 4th place to compete for, will come out on top.
Spurs vs Liverpool
PREDICTION: Spurs 2-1 Liverpool
Spurs played Bournemouth it their most recent fixture and comfortably won 3-0 in a completely dominant performance. Bournemouth were suffocated in their own half for significant spells, creating countless chances while not allowing the Cherries a single shot on frame the entire game. I think this was Spurs’ best game of the season and the team looks to be in very good form, especially considering the performance of Spurs’ English players in the international break. One concern, however, is that Alderweireld is reported to have caught a stomach bug during the international break which may rule him out of the game, but I expect him to be ok in time for the game. Liverpool somehow managed to spurn a 2 goal lead against Southampton to end up losing 3-2. The Saints looked to be down and out by halftime, but in the second period a rejuvenated Southampton side managed to score 3 goals despite missing a penalty. This creates a huge question mark regarding Liverpool’s defense, which has been especially poor over the past few years. Although they will not be caught out by pace as much playing against Spurs, who often play a slightly slower buildup, Spurs’ movement in the final third could cause the likes of Lovren and Sakho problems. Similarly I would expect Klopp to attempt to employ a high press in his typical fashion, but although it has worked against Spurs in the past, specifically in the Dortmund games, I don’t think the Liverpool players have the ability to keep it up against one of the better passing-based teams in the league. However, I do expect Liverpool to be dangerous on the counter if they sit back and leave Sturridge and/or Coutinho in advanced positions, but if Klopp employs a pressing game then I doubt they could afford to leave players in advanced positions without making them press too. Overall I think the game will be very close despite Liverpool’s poor standing in the league right now and I think that Liverpool will score, but I think Spurs’ squad is in better form and, against a mediocre Liverpool defense, should be able to take 3 points.