EPL Predictions – Gameweek 2

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Throughout the 2013/2014 English Premier League season, we’ll embark upon the daunting task of predicting the result of every single game. Putting our credibility on the line, we’ll look to beat the odds and give you the insights that will hopefully guide you through to tipping, fantasy and betting success this coming season.

With one week behind us and the uncertainty of Gameweek 1 a thing of the past, we move on to what should be a slightly less erratic second week of EPL predictions. With the transfer window still open, the landscape of the league is still changing dramatically. Liverpool’s defense, Fulham’s midfield and Southampton’s forwards have all received additions whilst Gareth Bale’s departure for Real Madrid appears imminent. Some managers are under threat – mainly Wenger – and others have stamped their authority on their new teams – Manuel Pellegrini. Regardless though, all 20 teams are on show this coming weekend and have the opportunity to further their quest for league points.

So without further ado, here are our predictions for Gameweek 2 of the 2013/2014 English Premier League season.

(9) Fulham v Arsenal (16)Craven Cottage

Arguably outplayed against Sunderland in Gameweek 1, Fulham have somehow managed to make this match rather difficult to predict. Whilst a trip to the Cottage is always a difficult prospect, Arsenal’s dismal showing last weekend would have thoroughly undermined their confidence. Suspension to Koscielny undermines an already depleted back four, not something you want when travelling to a side that has scored 94 goals at home over the last 3 seasons. The return of Carzola to the starting XI and improved fitness of Theo Walcott should somewhat offset the loss however.

Meanwhile, Fulham’s signing of Scott Parker on a 3-year deal constitutes the best business of their summer. Steve Sidwell was appalling against Sunderland and should deservedly lose his starting spot the new signing. Despite Darren Bent also being in line to make his debut, Arsenal should be too strong and without the pressure of their home fans jeering an absence of new talent, the pressure is somehow off the Gunners when on the road.

Prediction: Fulham 1 – 2 Arsenal

(20) Newcastle United v West Ham (4)St James Park

No one expected Newcastle to beat Manchester City, but given the latter’s struggles in the off-season, many expected them to put in a better showing. Losing a defender early never helps, but an inability to adapt and close down attacking players was a significant worry, especially when we identified their midfield ability to pressure as a positive. The continued absence of Remy will hurt and whilst they’ll have a full complement of players heading into this one, ineptitude at both ends of the park doesn’t bode well.

Cardiff are s tricky prospect and West Ham accounted for them with minimal fuss. Whilst Andy Carroll remains absent, the Jarvis, Downing, Nolan combination looks worthy of a mid-table team. The fact that Manchester City scored 4 times, through 4 different players, excluding Dzeko who had 8 shots on his own means that West Ham’s attacking players will most likely be looking forward to this fixture. With the Hammers’ defense of no concern to them, this game will really come down to how well Newcastle recover. In saying that, they aren’t as bad as last week’s scoreline suggested. Last time Newcastle lost 4-0 to City in fact, they defeated Fulham 1-0 the next week.

Prediction: Newcastle 1 – 1 West Ham

(18) Hull City v Norwich City (11)KC Stadium

Tigers v Canaries doesn’t really sound like a great clash, but this game should carry a lot of interest. Norwich played poorly last week and still managed a 2-2 draw against a fairly talented Everton side. Hull on the other hand played a brilliant 2nd half against Chelsea yet never really threatened to score. We’re expecting Hull to experience a slump this week after such a concerted effort last time out. They’ll anticipate being in with a shot of snatching a win at home against a Norwich team who secured only 13 of their 44 Premier League points on the road last season, but we don’t think they’ll get close.

The potential return of Snodgrass for the visitors is a major boost whilst surely the Canaries won’t get absolutely everything wrong this week like they did against Everton. Ricky van Wolfswinkel should be joined by Hooper and lead an unknown but formidable attacking force, leading to a few goals as Hull will surely attack more readily than the did at Stamford Bridge.

Prediction: Hull City 0 – 2 Norwich City

(10) Everton v West Bromwich (14)Goodison Park

On last season’s form, we’d expect a thrilling match, however on last week’s showing, both of these sides are thoroughly off the pace. West Bromwich looked inept in attack without Romelu Lukaku, despite having a prolific pre-season in front of goal. Meanwhile, the defensive integrity Everton were renowned for under Moyes was evidently absent. Something has to give as those trends can’t both continue and we’re predicting that it will be Everton’s defense to stand resolute this week.

As we mentioned in our pre-season player evaluations, Anelka cannot be relied on for more than single-digit goals this campaign whilst Everton’s 4-3-3 that Martinez has decided to implement, as opposed to his favored 3-4-3 presents the Toffees with plenty of options. Expect a conservative game from both sides but for Everton to steal the points.

Prediction: Everton 3 – 1 West Bromwich

(15) Stoke City v Crystal Palace (13)Britannia Stadium

Is there anyone who actually likes Stoke? Seriously, if you’re out there, comment below because we’d like to meet you. Despite being throroughly and comprehensively outplayed against Liverpool, Ryan Shawcross and his band of merry men almost snatched a point at Anfield to launch their season. As expected, the diminutive Liverpool attack was stumped against the enormous bodies of Stoke’s defense and the lone goal came from distance. Is anyone from Palace capable of breaking down this wall of boredom Stoke call tactics?

Not really… Gayle and Chamakh were both impressive, however were isolated and too reliant on their pace. With Stoke sitting back so far, the likes of Gayle won’t have the space to run into that they crave and with Chamakh as your only hope, Palace will be lucky to score. This game will only hold interest if Stoke go on the attack, and given Palace’s admirable showing against Tottenham, they may need to to take the much coveted and needed 3 points. A toss-up between 1-0 and 0-0, we’ll reluctantly take the former for the sake of anyone who watches this match. Also, Charlie Adam must start for Hughes. If he doesn’t, we’re looking at 0-0 all over again.

Prediction: Stoke City 1 – 0 Crystal Palace

(6) Southampton v Sunderland (12)St Mary’s Stadium

Admittedly, I saw less of these two teams last weekend than any other and would be thoroughly stumped as to who to pick if Sunderland weren’t so poor away from home. Just 8 wins in the last 2 seasons ties them with Fulham and their inability to defeat Fulham, at home last week is a warning sign that the Black Cats could be in for a very long season.

Southampton weren’t overly convincing either however managed to grab the win, something that good sides are able to do. Their signing of the incredibly temperamental Osvaldo is a good one and it will be intriguing to see how he fits into the Saints’ plans given Lambert’s preference to play as a lone-striker. An open and shut case in many ways, expect Boruc to be busy but never really threatened as Sunderland hit and hope for much of the afternoon.

Prediction: Southampton 2 – 0 Sunderland

(5) Aston Villa v Liverpool (7)Villa Park

Credit to Aston Villa, they were our performers of the week in Gameweek 1. Their performance against Arsneal in what was frankly an odd football match was superb whilst their showing against Chelsea was also admirable. Christian Benteke lacked opportunities but convereted more often than could be expected of nearly any other striker in the league. Delph and Vlaar were also incredibly impressive with the former seemingly bound for a season in which he’ll establish himself in the top flight.

Liverpool on the other hand were simply a poor match-up for Stoke. Villa should suit them significantly more with the high line employed against Chelsea conducive to conceding multiple goals on an off day and with Lambert’s men having played twice on the opening weekend, fatigue will play a minor, yet relevant factor late in the match. Despite Aspas seemingly lacking a first-touch, he combined well with Sturridge and Coutinho, the latter of whom should have a massive game. Gerrard was impressive as always in a more defensive role whilst Johnson and Jose Enrique mean there are too many weapons for Villa to mitigate.

Last week’s result against Arsenal wasn’t a fluke, nor was the near-draw against Chelsea. Villa did play well on both occasions, however at some point in time, surely they’ve got to come back to earth.

Prediction: Aston Villa 1 – 3 Liverpool

(8) Tottenham v Swansea City (19)White Hart Lane

There were 5 goals, like we predicted, but they didn’t fall as evenly as we might have guessed. Manchester United thoroughly outplayed Swansea last weekend and the Swans draw doesn’t get much easier from here. Traveling to White Hart Lane, to a Bale-less Tottenham may not sound as intimidating as hosting Manchester United, however it is likely to end in roughly the same way.

Roberto Soldado was sublime in his Premier League debut. His world-class first touch and ability to put himself in the right position were impeccable whilst aside from Aaron Lennon, the entirety of the first XI played exceptionally. Danny Rose and Chadli were particularly strong and whilst 1-0 isn’t the most convincing result against the relegation, AVB will be content with his side’s showing. Expect a little bit more intensity this week and Spurs play at home. Swansea are in for a tougher season than many expect.

Prediction: Tottenham 2 – 1 Swansea

(17) Cardiff City v Manchester City (2)Cardiff City Stadium

At this stage of the season, predicting margins remains difficult, especially when teams are at such opposite ends of the spectrum. Manchester City were flawless against Newcastle and Aguero’s return to his form of 2 seasons ago is incredibly ominous. Down back there are still some concerns derived from City’s injury crisis, however against Cardiff they shouldn’t matter too much.

Thoroughly outplayed by West Ham, it is hard to be optimistic about Cardiff’s chances. The best defense in the Championship a season ago looks to be under threat early and that threat is only going to get worse this weekend. Whilst a defensive formation will be deployed and Cardiff will look to shut the game down, very few sides have been able to stunt Manuel Pellegrini’s attacking flair.

Prediction: Cardiff City 0 – 4 Manchester City

(3) Manchester United v Chelsea (1)Old Trafford

The only way this fixture could be more exciting, is if Alex Ferguson was still manager at United. The return of Jose to Old Trafford promises to revive one of the greatest rivalries of modern Premier League football, and take considerable pressure of the Manchester derby rivalry. Two sides with impressive outings, both sides come into the fixture off victories – all be them very different wins.

United were heavily reliant on superstars whilst Chelsea played like a cohesive unit after only several fixtures  back under the watchful eye of the ‘Special One’. With 4 fixtures in 2 weeks, Chelsea’s squad rotation is being geared for this match, however it is unlikely to be sufficient to ward off fatigue in its entirety. If fit, Fernando Torres appears likely to start for the visitors in front of a midfield consisting of Hazard, Oscar, Mata, Ramirez and Lampard – arguably the best in the league. Romelu Lukaku is seemingly going to be confined to a substitute role whilst Demba Ba’s woeful performance against Villa will almost certainly see him sold before the window shuts.

United’s greatest threat will be how their defenders negotiate Chelsea’s small, creative midfielders. Whilst we guess it won’t be convincing, the player most likely to create a goal from nothing in this match is Robin van Persie. Expect him on the scoresheet and don’t be surprised if he’s joined by Wayne Rooney, just to taunt the Chelsea faithful and their inability to secure the Englishman’s services.

Prediction: Manchester United 2 – 1 Chelsea

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On twitter @rombarbera. Australian sports by day, international sports by night. Co-founder of Blindside Sport. Fantasy sport addict.

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