EPL Predictions – Gameweek 4

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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 in our weekly EPL Predictions article. 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!

Gameweek 4 may have been a long time coming, but thankfully, at least it represents what should be a more straightforward week of tipping than we’ve experienced of late. Injuries sustained during the international break make fantasy selections increasingly difficult, but with the elite teams in the Premier League facing off against those woefully out of form, several results are nothing short of guarantees.

So without further ado, here are our predictions for Gameweek 4 of the 2013/2014 English Premier League season.

(7) Manchester United v Crystal Palace (14)Old Trafford

The Moyes era at Old Trafford has gotten off to an uncertain start, however the former Everton manager finally has an opportunity to secure all 3 points against a recently promoted opponent. Palace haven’t been as dismal as many predicted, however are still rightly favored for the drop at the end of this season. A 3-1 victory over Sunderland is incredibly misleading given the latter’s absolute lack of quality and a resolute defensive performance against Tottenham in Gameweek 1 also counts for little given that AVB’s men still haven’t scored from general play this season.

United haven’t resolved the lack of quality that plagued them on the flanks last season, van Persie looks as out of touch as a player of his quality can and Wayne Rooney is in doubt with that horrendous head wound. Nevertheless, we’re expecting a comprehensive performance from the Red Devils on the back of their loss to Liverpool.

Prediction: Manchester United 3 – 0 Crystal Palace

(13) Aston Villa v Newcastle United (12) Villa Park

It remains to be seen whether Villa’s competitive start to the season is a one-off derived from Benteke’s brilliance, or whether they have improved that dramatically since last campaign. Finally they get a chance against a mid-table team and whilst on current form they should comfortably win, this is far from a foregone conclusion.

Fabian Delph is having a breakout season at Villa, holding midfield with a confidence he was bereft of last season. On the other side, Remy’s fitness is a major boost for Newcastle, who despite dominating a hapless Fulham in Gameweek 3, only grabbed the 3 points at the death. Aside from Hatem Ben Arfa (who everyone is praising for the time being, despite him being just another excessively styled Frenchman who has found a home in Newcastle only to seem unappreciative of it) we’re really impressed with Davide Santon and predict he’ll play a major role in determining Newcastle’s success this season.

We’re bucking the trend in this one and predicting an Aston Villa victory; partially because Newcastle are woeful away from St James Park and partially because Johan Cabaye is distracted and his role at the Magpies is more significant than many are willing to acknowledge.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2 – 1 Newcastle

(17) Fulham v West Bromwich Albion (20) Craven Cottage

An opening week win away from Craven Cottage provided the Fulham faithful with some reason for optimism. Maybe the worst away team in the Premier League for the last 3 seasons had finally made some progress. Alas, Fulham’s showing at St James Park in Gameweek 3 was the worst of any team this season. At the same time, the fact we can still predict them to defeat West Bromwich is an even bigger blight.

The only team yet to score a goal this season, West Brom are in dire need of a victory, however are unlikely to find it in Fulham. The combination between Bent and Berbatov will click once the duo get back to the Cottage (and the latter stops sulking) and Scott Parker’s dominance in midfield should over-run what is likely to be another hapless showing by Albion.

Prediction: Fulham 3 – 1 West Bromwich Albion

(10) Hull City v Cardiff (14)KC Stadium

Hull seem a far more competent team this time around in the Premier League. A comprehensive defensive effort against a rampant Manchester City was impressive last time out, however it is their midfield we’re most confident in. Koren, Brady and the addition of Tom Huddlestone provides a solid foundation for any young side to build from.

Cardiff’s showing against City was unquestionably more impressive, but Joe Hart’s incompetence and set-piece ineptitude from your opposition can’t be relied on ever week, especially with Hull’s stopper McGregor in such fine form.

Both teams have fired off just 21 shots so far this campaign – tied lowest in the league – so expect this game to be played between the boxes with Hull attempting to slow the game and resist the counter-attacking prowess of their opponents. Hull the inferior side but the home advantage secures a point.

Prediction: Hull City 0 – 0 Cardiff

(6) Tottenham v Norwich City (9)White Hart Lane

You can just imagine AVB attempting to explain tactics that make sense in his head but can’t be implemented overnight. If anything, there has been too much change at White Hart Lane over the summer. Roberto Soldado is potentially the most isolated striker in the league, and whilst the defensive midfield duo of Paulinho and Dembele are flourishing, one can only question whether too much focus is being placed on the defensive end of the park with so far, Defoe being the side’s most prominent attacking threat this season.

The addition of Erik Lamela should hopefully provide a link to Soldado, however for this weekend only we’re optimistic that Norwich’s attacking inefficiency this season will allow a more attacking mentality to be implemented. The dam wall has to break eventually, and whilst it may not be this week, hopefully some cracks begin to appear.

Prediction: Tottenham 2 – 0 Norwich City

(5) Stoke v Manchester City (3)Britannia Stadium

How is this game between 3rd and 5th? Early season tables are ridiculous. The script for this match has already been written, it is just whether or not Manchester City can play their part. Stoke will set up shop, hope to hit on the counter-attack in the last 10 minutes if the game is tied, but otherwise will be content to limit the damage as much as possible. Injury to Charlie Adam does everything to confirm that Mark Hughes’ men won’t go out of their way to make this good viewing.

City meanwhile couldn’t have this fixture come at a better time. Whilst their embarrassment of semi-riches in Dzeko and Negredo up front presents an interesting selection dilemma, injuries continue to plague them defensively. New arrival Demichelis arris already injured and whilst Nastasic and Zabaleta are more than competent to handle Stoke’s inept general play, set pieces could present an issue, especially when we consider what happened in Cardiff.

Prediction: Stoke 0 – 1 Manchester City

(15) Everton v Chelsea (2)Goodison Park

Arguably the most disappointing team of the campaign to date, Everton have fallen from European hopefuls to mid-table fodder. The absence of any creative instinct, the loss of Fellaini (the only player capable of creating) and the poor form of strikers Jelavic and Kone simply put to waste the incredibly efforts of Everton’s back-four, primarily Seamus Coleman who is undoubtedly the form full-back in the league alongside Zabaleta and Jose Enrique. New signing Romelu Lukaku is unable to play this weekend against parent-club Chelsea.

This game therefore comes down to what Chelsea are prepared to do. We’re predicting they’ll be prepared to trounce the Toffees and ensure Martinez is under serious pressure by Christmas. New signing Willian won’t start but it will be interesting to see how Mourinho deploys Eto’o with Torres still firmly in the mix.

Hazard and Oscar should keep Coleman and Baines honest whilst Chelsea’s midfield duo of Lampard and Ramirez should have no troubles accounting for what is now an Everton centre evidently lacking class.

Prediction: Everton 0 – 3 Chelsea

(10) Southampton v West Ham (8) St Mary’s Stadium

Even though they both sit comfortably mid-table, we can’t help but feel we’re over-rating both these sides by a considerable amount. Southampton lost to the attacking incompetence of Norwich whilst West Ham were defeated by Stoke on their last showings – both games we predicted they’d at least secure a point from. When they go head-to-head, this all becomes about match-ups.

Defensively, West Ham have been the more secure this season with Southampton seemingly finding a way to concede every week (including against Sunderland). At the same time, Southampton’s attacking prowess is far greater, at least until Andy Carroll returns from injury. Whilst Osvaldo is a petulant child, he could form a lethal combination with Rickie Lambert. In fact, whilst Southampton may have the advantage in this match-up, we think the result will be determined by Jarvis, Cole and Downing. West Ham will have to score twice to win this match, and their greatest avenue to goal is through their midfield.

At the end of the day, West Ham create more chances, but miss the presence of a dominant forward. Petric off the bench for a late equaliser on debut perhaps?

Prediction: Southampton 1 – 1 West Ham

(19) Sunderland v Arsenal (4)Stadium of Light

At this stage of the season, we’re already prepared to state that Sunderland will be relegated. It is one thing for a team to play so terribly, it is another for the scoreline to reflect that. Poor teams have scrapped their way to draws or narrow defeats in the past, but any side prepared to lose 3-1 to Crystal Palace doesn’t deserve their spot in the top flight.

This game is all about Arsenal. Can Giroud maintain the rage? Is Ozil the best number 10 in the world as claimed by Jose Mourinho? Will their combination being the best out of Walcott and Carzola, both of whom have been underwhelming open the season? The answer to the first and third question is ‘yes’; we need a bit more time to consider the second. Regardless, this is the perfect training run for what is arguably the most lethal and complete front 4 in the Premier League.

In Gameweek 1, Sunderland posed a threat to Fulham, yet couldn’t capitalize, peppering the goals with largely feeble long-range attempts. A few easy saves could be just what Szcezny needs at the moment as well.

Prediction: Sunderland 0 – 4 Arsenal

(17) Swansea City v Liverpool (2) Liberty Stadium

The most consistent team of this season so far, Liverpool, came through its greatest challenge in Manchester United just before the international break. Complacency will provide them with a new hurdle to overcome this week in what should prove a difficult trip to Wales.

Daniel Sturridge is under an injury cloud, Philippe Coutinho has been largely mitigated this season and Aspas still lacks a first touch. Without their star striker at 100%, can Rodgers inspire his team to another slender yet convincing victory? The answer is most likely yes. Michu and Bony are yet to form the partnership we anticipated and the Swansea defense that was moderately impressive last season has conceded a league-high 5 goals.

Steven Gerrard really is the key for this team now, more so than he has been since the departure of Torres. Whilst he previously had to create and score, his more withdrawn role has revitalized his career and has him in the early running to be considered the most valuable player in the Premier League this season. Gerrard to have 2 assists in a high-scoring affair.

Prediction: Swansea City 1 – 3 Liverpool

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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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