EPL Predictions: Week 15

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With previews and predictions readily available, Blindside Sport prides itself on the quality of our analysis, depth of our knowledge and in turn, the accuracy of our predictions. Each week, we’ll impart that knowledge on our weekly article to help guide you through the unpredictable chaos that is the English Premier League. Since this column began mid-way through the 2013/2014 Premier League season, we’ve tipped 417/746 results correctly for a success rate of 55.90%, whilst predicting 69 correct scorelines along the way.

2015/2016 Season EPL Predictions Record

  • Roman Barbera: 70/140 – 13 correct scorelines
  • Clinton Madden: 61/140 – 8 correct scorelines

EPL Predictions Week 15 Preview

Week 15 gets underway with a trap game for Manchester City against fellow mid-week League Cup victors Stoke. Saturday continues with West Ham travelling to Manchester United, Leicester trying to maintain their form against an out-of-sorts Swansea and Chelsea looking to build on their back-to-back-to-back clean sheets against a Bournemouth outfit still in disbelief following last weekend’s comeback against Everton. The weekend concludes with Everton and Liverpool looking to secure all three points against Palace and Newcastle respectively.

EPL Predictions: Week 15 – Matchday 1, 2015/2016

(12) Stoke City v Manchester City (1)

Venue: Britannia Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: February 11, 2015 (1-4)

Both sides were victorious in League Cup action earlier this week, and will come into this on a high. Manchester City in particular will be buoyed by the return of David Silva, who was exceptional against Hull mid-week, and should also welcome back Sergio Aguero and potentially Joe Hart for the trip to Stoke. The Potters meanwhile will welcome back Ryan Shawcross who missed midweek through suspension as a result of his match-changing red card against Sunderland last weekend. The concern isn’t so much how the back four cope however, it is whether Stoke can pose an attacking threat should their clean sheet record take a battering. Stoke have conceded in just 2 of their past 7 league games, however they’ve lost both without scoring themselves. Marko Arnautović and Bojan were poor last weekend and Stoke will need more from them to exploit a porous City defence.

Manchester City haven’t scored in their past two EPL away trips, however Silva’s return is as significant to their going forward as Kompany’s is to their defensive integrity. Everything in this game, from Stoke’s perspective at least, points to a low-scoring affair, however City can’t keep clean sheets without their captain and Silva looks raring to go after a month out through injury.

Key Statistic | Stoke have kept 5 clean sheets over their past 7 league outings. They also kept a clean sheet in Wednesday’s League Cup victory.

Key Player | Jack Butland v David Silva – Silva’s return saw Kevin De Bruyne put in his best showing in a month, and saw City offer something going forward that has been lacking in recent times – a constant threat. Should Aguero return too, Butland will be in for a long night.

Prediction | Stoke City 1 – 3 Manchester City

(4) Arsenal v Sunderland (17)

Venue: Emirates Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: May 20, 2015 (0-0) 

Arsenal have dropped points in each of their past two outings, however most disappointingly they were both games they should have easily won. They weren’t unfortunate on either occasion and even considering the Carzola penalty miss, don’t deserve to have more than 1 league point over the past fortnight. Sunderland meanwhile come off a 2-0 win over Stoke, a scoreline which flatters considering their opposition were down to 10 men for 40 minutes. With Carzola, Coquelin and Alexis Sanchez all sidelined, this looms as a game in which the visitors could hold their own in midfield, however the Black Cats’ away form isn’t deserving of that borderline accolade.

Aside form a 1-0 victory over an out-of-sorts Palace outfit, Sunderland have taken 1 point on their travels this term, and have conceded 18 goals away from home. Whilst things have been better under Sam Allardyce, don’t expect the Gunners to drop another one, even with a massive UCL game upcoming. Sunderland will shut up shop however and in typical Allardyce fashion, won’t be broken down easily.

Key Statistic | Twelve of the past 16 matches between these sides have seen 2 or fewer goals.

Key Player | Olivier Giroud v Duncan Watmore – Giroud has been in fine form of late, however with Sanchez out, his responsibility will increase dramatically. Watmore was exceptional against Stoke and his work rate was inspiring. He deserves to lead the line at the Emirates.

Prediction | Arsenal 1 – 0 Sunderland

(3) Manchester United v West Ham United (8)

Venue: Old Trafford | Last Corresponding Meeting: September 27, 2014 (2-1)

Manchester United were beyond conservative against Leicester, however West Ham should provide even their slow-paced build up play with attacking opportunities. The Hammers have lacked imagination since Dimitri Payet went down and now have just two goals in 225 minutes without their French midfielder. Van Gaal’s men were exposed on the counter last weekend so expect tracking to have focussed on throughout the week. We can’t see the Hammers providing much of a challenge through more conventional attacking build-up play, and with the counter taken away, we don’t see them scoring at Old Trafford. For United, Rooney looked lethargic last weekend and was rightly recalled after the hour mark. Van Gaal may utilise Europe as an excuse to start his ‘talisman’ from the bench given the effectiveness of Depay in recent weeks and Martial since he arrived in England.

Key Statistic | In 12 home games this campaign in all competitions, Manchester United have conceded just twice at home (and just once in 6 EPL home fixtures).

Key Player | Chris Smalling v Mauro Zárate – We focussed on Smalling last weekend, and whilst it wasn’t his fault Vardy scored (it was Darmian’s) it was still his man that got the better of David De Gea. Zárate meanwhile has scored in three of his four starts for West Ham this season.

Prediction | Manchester United 2 – 0 West Ham

(10) Southampton v Aston Villa (20)

Venue: St. Mary’s Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: May 16, 2015 (6-1)

Aston Villa showed signs of improvement against Manchester City, and whilst they were somewhat absent in the 4-0 demotion to Everton, we had hoped progress would have been restored upon returning to Villa Park. A 2-3 loss to Watford however suggested that the side is no closer to finding an answer to their poor form under Remi Garde, and Southampton could find themselves with an opportunity to play themselves into form. The Saints themselves endured an embarrassing 6-1 defeat to Liverpool in the Cup midweek, however if their exit from Europe was any indication concerns other than the league tend to distract Ronald Koeman’s men more than most. With the burden of Cup action no longer and Graziano Pelle returning to the fray, we’re expecting a resurgent effort from a side that has lost two straight and has scored just twice over their past three outings.

Key Statistic | Aston Villa are winless over their past 13 matches. They’ve conceded 9 times over their past 3 away games.

Key Player | Graziano Pelle v Jordan Ayew – Pelle has just 1 goal and 0 assists over his last 5 EPL outings, a run that has coincided with Southampton’s form slump. Ayew meanwhile has only improved over the course of the season and was on the scoresheet again last week.

Prediction | Southampton 2 – 1 Aston Villa

(15) Swansea City v Leicester City (2)

Venue: Liberty Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: October 25, 2014 (2-0)

This match could prove as simple to predict as knowing that Leicester have scored in all of their EPL fixtures this season, and that Swansea are so horribly out of form that they’re fairly likely to not score. The Swans have been held scoreless in 4 of their last 6 league outings and have taken 1 point from their past 3 home games. Leicester meanwhile have performed well irrespective of venue and have 6 goals over their past two away matches. Jamie Vardy may endure some form of let down after his record-breaking goal on the weekend, however judging by the side’s performance after he netted, we don’t expect his achievement to damped the Foxes’ willingness to press forward. Riyad Mahrez was exceptional against the Red Devils and should carry that form to Wales.

Key Statistic | Swansea haven’t scored in 4 of their past 6 least games, whilst Leicester have scored 29 times in 14 outings this term.

Key Player | Andre Ayew v Riyad Mahrez – Mahrez was Leicester’s most convincing midfielder against United last weekend, and even though Vardy was the man on the scoresheet, he was outplayed by his Algerian team-mate. With Gomis out of form (hasn’t scored in his last 700 minutes of league action), Ayew looms as Swansea’s best option going forward.

Prediction | Swansea City 1 – 3 Leicester City

(11) Watford v Norwich City (16)

Venue: Vicarage Road | Last Corresponding Meeting: February 21, 2015 (0-3)

Norwich have been amongst the most inconsistent sides in the league this season, earning a draw against Arsenal and disappointing against the likes of Newcastle. In recent weeks however, their run of fixtures have been notably unfavourable, with the Canaries facing Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City all in the past month. Watford represent a slightly easier challenge, however have themselves been in the midst of a form streak. The Hornets have won 3 of their past 5 and have netted in 5 games straight, an attacking run which almost ensures that for the 10th time in 11 meetings between the sides, both teams will score. Norwich have been poor on the road this season however they aren’t as bad as their recent form suggests. The Newcastle match was an abomination but since that, the Canaries have won, drawn or lost by a solitary goal. A Watford win should be the favourite result, but we’ll back Norwich to salvage a draw.

Key Statistic | Norwich have taken 4 points from their past two home games (against Swansea and Chelsea), however have lost their past 3 away from home and have taken just 2 points from their past 6 away from Carrow Road.

Key Player | Odion Ighalo v Robbie Brady – Ighalo has scored or assisted on 12 of Watford’s 15 goals this season. Brady may not have had the same impact on the scoresheet, but the midfielder-turn-defender has been a constant source of creativity for Norwich off the left flank this season.

Prediction | Watford 1 – 1 Norwich City

(13) West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham (5)

Venue: The Hawthorns | Last Corresponding Meeting: January 31, 2015 (0-3)

Tottenham remain undefeated since the opening day of the season, however after a 0-0 draw with Chelsea last weekend, Spurs will be looking to rediscover their attacking threat. West Bromwich are likely to deploy a similar tactic to the Blues – defend deep and hit on the break. Tottenham deserved more than a point against Mourinho’s men, but at the same time were fortunate Chelsea didn’t luck their way into a winner. Kane and company had a number of opportunities to go ahead early however couldn’t break the deadlock and the 90 minutes descended into a grind. Albion need to weather the storm early if they’re to get anything out of this, and with Tottenham already having secured their European fate, they’ll be directing all of their efforts at snaring 3 points on the road against a team that has shown quality this season.

Tottenham have secured draws against ‘big’ clubs and dispatched lesser opponents by multiple goals over the past couple of months. Whilst this won’t be as emphatic as a 4-1 or 5-1, expect Tottenham to secure the win.

Key Statistic | Tottenham haven’t lost an EPL fixture since the opening weekend, where Kyle Walker’s own goal saw Manchester United emerge 1-0 victors.

Key Player | Jonny Evans v Harry Kane – In his 828 minutes of action for West Bromwich this season, Jonny Evans has conceded 10 goals at 1 every 83 minutes. Harry Kane meanwhile has scored 8 EPL goals in his last 8 domestic fixtures.

Prediction | West Bromwich Albion 0 – 2 Tottenham

(14) Chelsea v Bournemouth (18)

Venue: Stamford Bridge | Last Corresponding Meeting: September 21, 1994 (1-0)

Jose Mourinho spent the better part of early 2015 grinding out narrow, low-scoring victories. Having kept three consective clean sheets in all competitions, don’t expect ‘The Special One’ to let his defensive momentum stall. Bournemouth performed a miracle to escape with a point against Everton, and Chelsea will be wary of any lapses in concentration. Marking at left and right back will be a focus point given Bournemouth’s effectiveness in wide areas late against the Toffees and Chelsea’s susceptibility from the flanks this campaign. For the most part, Everton were dominant against Bournemouth, scoring goals at will in the first half before turning off in the second. Regardless of who Mourinho elects to deploy up front, we back them to score against a side that has conceded 18 goals over their past 6 outings. With Chelsea finding form, now is not a good time to get in their way. Unfortunately for Bournemouth, the Blues should be able to grind out a convincing win here.

Key Statistic | Chelsea haven’t conceded a goal in three straight games, whilst Bournemouth have conceded 18 times over their past 6 EPL outings.

Key Player | Eden Hazard v Adam Smith – Not a number 10 or a number 9 apparently, Hazard has lost his way at Stamford Bridge. He missed a golden aerial chance against Tottenham and will need to improve if retained up front. Smith was brilliant off the bench last weekend, scoring a stunner to trigger the initial Bournemouth comeback and creating the space from which the side’s 3rd goal was scored. Whoever occupies the right flank will have a tough act to follow if he doesn’t start.

Prediction | Chelsea 2 – 0 Bournemouth

EPL Predictions: Week 15 – Matchday 2, 2015/2016

(19) Newcastle United v Liverpool (6)

Venue: St. James’ Park | Last Corresponding Meeting: November 1, 2014 (1-0)

Newcastle have been far better at home this season than they have been away from St. James’, however they meet Liverpool during their best period in two years. The Reds dominated Southampton midweek, Bordeaux the week before, Manchester City before that and managed to sneak past Swansea in the league last weekend. Those four wins over a two week period will alleviate some of the fatigue associated with such a packed schedule, however wins over the likes of City count for little if they can’t be consolidated against teams entrenched in the relegation battle. Newcastle meanwhile have lost their past two EPL fixtures by an 8-1 aggregate and will struggle majorly here. The presence of Daniel Sturridge in particular is a mammoth boost for the visitors, whilst Newcastle’s inability to defend for the most part of the season will plague them in a game which promises goals. Palace found their feet against the Magpies and Liverpool don’t look likely to lose their form in the same fixture.

Key Statistic | Courtesy of www.premierleague.com: “Liverpool have covered 6.9 kilometres extra and made 84 sprints more per match under Jurgen Klopp than Brendan Rodgers in the BPL this term.” Effort goes a long way.

Key Player | Robert Elliot v Daniel Sturridge – Tim Krul’s injury was a horrific blow to Newcastle’s chances this term, and whilst Elliot has been respectable, he’ll need to perform spectacularly to keep his dignity intact against a firing Liverpool now boasting a somewhat fit Daniel Sturridge.

Prediction | Newcastle United 0 – 3 Liverpool

(9) Everton v Crystal Palace (7)

Venue: Goodison Park | Last Corresponding Meeting: September 21, 2014 (2-3)

Everton will be seething after dropping two points against Bournemouth last weekend. Complacency through midfield and defence in the second half gifted the Cherries chances that they didn’t even necessarily earn. Roberto Martinez will be pleased the side somewhat responded midweek in the League Cup, and given the Sunday kick-off, should expect nothing negative and just additional confidence to have stemmed from the win and clean-sheet. Crystal Palace meanwhile turned what had been a disastrous few weeks into a potential turning point with a 5-1 win over Newcastle. Just as important as the three points was the realisation that Palace could score from open play with a semblance of competency, however that feeling is likely to be short-lived. Everton won’t be as expansive as they were against Bournemouth and definitely won’t believe a job is done until the final whistle has been blown. Last weekend’s results mask what has been a vast gulf in quality between these sides over the past month and one result won’t change our opinion of who should win this one.

Key Statistic | Everton have scored 14 goals and conceded 6 times over their past 4 games. Palace have scored multiple goals in an EPL match on just 3 occasions since August.

Key Player | Romelu Lukaku v Yannick Bolasie – Lukaku can somewhat be absolved from the blame that stemmed from Everton’s collapse last weekend. The likes of Ross Barkley have far more to prove this coming weekend but it is difficult to look past the goal-scoring form of the Belgian (8 goals from his last 8 EPL matches). Bolasie meanwhile has endured criticism of his goal-scoring inability over much of the past two seasons. Will his success against Newcastle prompt some form of transformation? Probably not.

Prediction | Everton 2 – 1 Crystal Palace

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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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