EPL Predictions: Week 16

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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 419/756 results correctly for a success rate of 55.42%, whilst predicting 69 correct scorelines along the way.

2015/2016 Season EPL Predictions Record

  • Roman Barbera: 72/150 – 13 correct scorelines
  • Clinton Madden: 65/150 – 8 correct scorelines

EPL Predictions Week 16 Preview

Another difficult week on the tipping front with many of the league’s bigger clubs struggling to capitalise on a relatively easy run of fixtures. Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham all stumbled, whilst Everton were unfortunate not to beat Palace and Southampton somehow only managed a draw against Aston Villa. Leicester City seem to be the only reliable side in the league at present, with even Newcastle losing no longer a given. Seemingly over are the days where 4-5 results per week were almost predetermined, and whilst that is arguably a testament to the EPL, it makes our job somewhat more difficult. Regardless, here is our attempt at previewing Week 16 of the 2015/2016 season.

EPL Predictions: Week 16 – Matchday 1, 2015/2016

(16) Norwich City v Everton (9)

Venue: Carrow Road | Last Corresponding Meeting: August 17, 2013 (2-2)

Everton have dropped 4 points over the past two weeks despite dominating for the majority of both matches. Delivery from wide areas (both set pieces and from general play) has been their downfall defensively, whilst a lack of constant concentration over the full 90 minutes has hindered their potential going forward. Norwich attack down the flanks more than 18 other EPL sides, however their ability to capitalise on that match-up advantage is another matter. The Canaries have scored just 3 goals over their past 6 league outings, a record which is unlikely to challenge an Everton side that has netted 28 times this term. Romelu Lukaku has scored in 6 straight matches (5 straight in the league) and Ross Barkley is as good as any attacking midfielder in the league when he involves himself, giving Everton a notable advantage in the attacking third. Everton have kept just one clean sheet in their past 6 league outings, however this looms as the perfect opportunity to build on that record.

Key Statistic | Everton have scored 16 goals over their past 6 league fixtures. Norwich meanwhile have netted just 3 times over the same period.

Key Player | Robbie Brady v Gerard Deulofeu – Robbie Brady lived up to expectation last weekend, however lacked the finishing touch which would have taken his good game to another level. Deulofeu meanwhile was brilliant for Everton. He should have done more with the space he was afforded down the right flank, but provided the assist for Lukaku’s goal and was strong in his delivery. 

Prediction | Norwich City 0 – 2 Everton

(6) Crystal Palace v Southampton (12)

Venue: Selhurst Park | Last Corresponding Meeting: December 26, 2014 (1-3) 

Southampton should have beaten Villa last weekend, however the failure to provide an end product when the Saints were dominating through the opening half an hour eventually cost the side. Almost every one of Southampton’s big name players missed a clear-cut chance and in turn, contributed to the side’s inability to resurrect what is now a flailing campaign. Following a mid-week exit in the Cup, we expected a focussed effort, however Koeman’s men seemed lethargic and distracted for most of the match. Palace meanwhile were potent on the break against Everton and threatened to steal all three points at Goodison. They’ve clearly hit a patch of form after a two month period in which defence was Alan Pardew’s priority, however their 5-1 victory over Newcastle remains of just two comprehensive performances from the past 8 weeks. As much as we feel Southampton could salvage a draw, we have to back the hosts.

Key Statistic | From Week 4 to Week 12, Southampton scored 17 goals at almost 2 per game. They took an average 1.8 points per fixture over that 9 game span. Either side of that streak, they’ve netted 4 goals in 7 matches and earned 3 points from a possible 18. Southampton’s showings haven’t been affected by venue this year, which leads us to largely disregard that this game is at Selhurst.

Key Player | Connor Wickham v Graziano Pelle – Palace have looked infinitely better following the return of Wickham, a centre forward who can actually hold the ball up. Bolasie’s move to the number 9 role was only effective given the open nature of the game, however the likes of Fonte won’t be as ambitious as John Stones was last weekend. The key to Southampton’s successes this season has been their ability to score goals (around 2-3 per game). Pelle has been imperative to that attacking efficiency, however hasn’t scored or provided an assist over the past four games (Home record – 11 of a possible 24 points. Away record – 10 of a possible 21 points).

Prediction | Crystal Palace 1 – 0 Southampton

(3) Manchester City v Swansea City (15)

Venue: Etihad Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: November 22, 2014 (2-1)

Manchester City have left it late in most of their UCL fixtures this season, but their midweek comeback victory could be the springboard for a spectacular season. City have now qualified top of Group D and should at least progress to the Champions League Quarter-Finals this term. With that item on their season objectives completed, City can focus entirely on the domestic scene, with the League Cup and EPL their current priorities. In Swansea, they have arguably the easiest opponent to face of a short turn-around. The Swans have scored the fewest goals in the league this term, a crucial fact considering Vincent Kompany’s continued absence. Swansea were comprehensively outplayed by Leicester last weekend and the team seems resigned to the fact that they’ll lose Garry Monk in the near future. When he departs, the team may rediscover some positivity, but for now they seem set on engaging themselves in a relegation battle.

We haven’t forgotten that City were abysmal last weekend – that their back four looked as lost we’ve seen in the top flight and that David Silva looked a shadow of his pre-injury self. Against Swansea however, we’re willing to let it slide.

Key Statistic | Manchester City have conceded 1 league goal in 720 minutes with Vincent Kompany on the field this season. With him absent, City have shipped 15 in 630 minutes of action.

Key Player | David Silva v Gylfi Sigurdsson – David Silva was poor last weekend, however his showing against Hull was enough to encourage City fans that he will inject life into what has been an underwhelming outfit of late. Sigurdsson meanwhile has the potential to influence his side in a similar manner. His 7 goals and 10 assists in 32 games last season have become 2 goals and 1 assist through 13 games this season. Swansea need more.

Prediction | Manchester City 3 – 0 Swansea City

(19) Sunderland v Watford (10)

Venue: Stadium of Light | Last Corresponding Meeting: August 10, 1999 (2-0)

Two sides that many predicted would spend this campaign at the foot of the ladder have endured very different paths through the early part of this season. Somehow, both have hit a patch of form heading into Christmas though, with Sunderland wining two of their past three and finding a semblance of composure at both ends of the pitch. Watford meanwhile have won four of their past six on the back of an improved showing in attack and a penchant for keeping clean sheets. This game looms as a closely contested affair, and the result will likely hinge on the ability of both sides to finish their chances. Sunderland were exceptional against Stoke, even playing with the man advantage, whilst Watford have been clinical for the best part of two months now. Neither side has been particularly good or bad at or away from home so venue isn’t a strong consideration. A low-scoring draw looms as the likely result, but we think the Hornets will march on. Watford are likely to be the more threatening team but Sunderland are more than capable of striking on the counter under the typically English management of ‘Big Sam’. How Watford contain Watmore and Lens will be key to determining whether they can snatch all three points on the road.

Key Statistic | Since mid-October, neither of these sides have recorded a league draw and 6 of the 7 wins recorded between them have come with a clean sheet. It isn’t often these sides concede and still manage to salvage something from a game so expect a cagey affair.

Key Player | Duncan Watmore v Troy Deeney – Ighalo may be the man on the scoresheet most weeks, but Deeney is becoming increasingly prominent in the final third. As Watford improve this term, Deeney’s slightly withdrawn role has gathered influence. Watmore meanwhile has become one of the more effective front men in the league, even if his sample size is somewhat lacking.

Prediction | Sunderland 0– 1 Watford

(7) West Ham United v Stoke City (11)

Venue: Boleyn Ground | Last Corresponding Meeting: April 11, 2015 (1-1)

West Ham are winless over the past 5 league outings an have netted just three goals in five and a half games since Dimitri Payet went down with his long-term injury. The side hasn’t looked the same in his absence, and whilst Victor Moses, Andy Carroll and Mauro Zarate have done their best to fill the void, the penetration and creativity in the attacking third is desperately lacking. Stoek meanwhile are building to what could be a club-defining season. Their best start in league history has turned into a comfortable mid-table berth, and for the first time in a long time they are playing attractive football. Shaqiri was exceptional against Manchester City, whilst Bojan and Marko Arnautović provided an fluid front-four capable of challenging even the most resolute of defences. Speaking of resolute defences, Stoke haven’t conceded in the 406 minutes of league action that Ryan Shawcross has been involved in this term.

Key Statistic | Stoke have not conceded in the 406 minutes of league action that Ryan Shawcross has been on the park for them.

Key Player | Andy Carroll v Ryan Shawcross – With the pace of Sakho and skill of Payet on the sideline, Carroll’s aerial threat looms as West Ham’s best avenue going forward. In Ryan Shawcross though, he’ll find one of the more physical defenders in the league.

Prediction | West Ham United 0 – 2 Stoke City

(17) Bournemouth v Manchester United (4)

Venue: Vitality Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: February 18, 1989 (3-0)

Bournemouth come off a stirring away win at Chelsea, whilst United head to Bournemouth having been eliminated from the Champions League in sensational fashion. The defensive integrity upon which van Gaal has built his side was thwarted by Wolfsburg, and whilst Bournemouth should lack the same attacking threat, United will be low on confidence heading into the weekend. With continental football over for the time being and United’s focus firmly on the league, expect somewhat of an immediate response from the Red Devils. United are unbeaten in their past 7 league outings but will look to keep pace with the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham – all of whom have objectively easy fixtures this weekend. Whether Juan Mata plays will determine the margin for us, however United should be good enough to net at least twice even should the Spaniard not make the starting side.

Key Statistic | Only one of United’s past 6 league outings has seen more than 2 goals.

Key Player | Adam Smith v Juan Mata – Smith was brilliant against Everton and was part of the rearguard which kept a clean sheet against Chelsea. He will be tested against United but given Mata is one of the few players willing to actually take on a defence and possibly the only player on current form capable of unlocking one with his passing, it may be moments of inspiration as opposed to persistent bombardment which gets the job done for United.

Prediction | Bournemouth 0 – 1 Manchester United

EPL Predictions: Week 16 – Matchday 2, 2015/2016

(20) Aston Villa v Arsenal (2)

Venue: Villa Park | Last Corresponding Meeting: September 20, 2014 (0-3)

Arsenal showed in the UCL midweek that they’re more than capable of scoring despite the plethora of injuries that have gutted their midfield and striking stocks. Olivier Giroud has been exceptional of late and will find the prospect of an Aston Villa defence that has yielded 8 goals over its past three outings somewhat enticing. Villa have shown more promise at home than they have on the road, but Remi Garde has quickly realised setting up a rearguard and looking to strike solely on the counter will likely be insufficient if the Villains are to escape the relegation scrap. A home clash with Arsenal is likely to prompt a temporary delay in adopting a more attacking set-up however, with the Gunners amongst the more dangerous sides in the league when in full flight. Villa will set up as they did against Manchester City in Garde’s first showing as manager at Villa Park, and whilst the damage will likely be somewhat limited, don’t expect Arsenal to finish as poorly as De Bruyne and Sterling did in that 0-0 draw.

Key Statistic | Arsenal have won 10 of their past 14 away league games, whilst Villa are winless in 14 straight league clashes.

Key Player | Brad Guzan v Olivier Giroud – Giroud has been incredible of late, alleviating the pressure that invariably comes Wenger’s way for not signing more world-class forwards. Guzan meanwhile was incredibly fortunate his many errors against City were not punished in their clash a month ago. He’ll need to be better this weekend.

Prediction | Aston Villa 0 – 2 Arsenal

(8) Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion (13)

Venue: Anfield | Last Corresponding Meeting: October 4, 2014 (2-1)

Liverpool’s home form under the watchful eye of Jurgen Klopp has been deceptively indifferent. Despite earning results more often than not, a 1-0 victory over Swansea and 2-1 loss to Palace highlight the potential for sides to some into Anfield and leave with points. Expect Albion to emulate the effort of Newcastle last weekend, by sitting deep and depriving Liverpool space between the lines. Whilst Albion don’t score on the counter often, their ability to frustrate their opposition and strike in a similar manner to what Newcastle did last weekend will irk Liverpool management. If there is a side capable of repeating the Magpies’ dose, it is a side that has recorded 1-0 away wins more regularly than any other side in the league over the past 6 months. In what could be a snowy Merseyside, we’re going to avoid the trap we fell into last time Albion travelled to a venue of note – Old Trafford. United ground out a 2-0 victory with relative comfort against Albion on that occasion, and a repeat of that margin here wouldn’t surprise.

Key Statistic | Liverpool managed to rest many of their starters against Sion midweek. Coutinho also earned a valuable 30 minutes on the field in his return form injury.

Key Player | Daniel Sturridge v James Morrison – With Sessegnon set to miss, Albion’s pace down the flanks will wane unless someone steps up. Rondon is a strong target but will need strong service to best the physicality of Skrtel. Sturridge meanwhile was off the pace after coming on against Newcastle last weekend. We expect him to start given Benteke’s ineffectiveness in the limited space allowed by the Magpies last outing. 

Prediction | Liverpool 2 – 1 West Bromwich Albion

(5) Tottenham v Newcastle (18)

Venue: White Hart Lane | Last Corresponding Meeting: October 26, 2014 (1-2)

This looms as a massive let-down game for Newcastle. An emotional home win against a league heavy-weight to be followed by a rested Tottenham side high on confidence after dismantling another European opponent. Newcastle have travelled poorly this season, scoring 3 goals and conceding 18 over their 7 games away from St. James’ in just another ominous statistic. Newcasstle are highly unlikely to be capable of (1) setting up as defensively away from home as they did last week at St. James’ Park or (2) showing the discipline and sheer stubbornness Chelsea demonstrated in their recent 0-0 trip to White Hart Lane. Something more in line with the 4-1 drubbing handed out to West Ham sits more in line with how we see this one playing out.

Key Statistic | Newcastle have travelled poorly this season, scoring 3 goals and conceding 18 over their 7 games away from St. James’.

Key Player | Harry Kane v Georginio Wijnaldum – Both players have been sensational this season to date, however only one has the support cast to help earn a victory here.

Prediction | Tottenham 5 – 1 Newcastle United

(1) Leicester v Chelsea (14)

Venue: King Power Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: April 29, 2015 (1-3)

Leicester’s tendency to play an expansive, counter-attacking brand of football will likely provide Jose Mourinho with a tactical dilemma heading to King Power Stadium. Leicester won’t be frustrated as Tottenham were a few weeks ago, as their brand is far more dynamic, unpredictable and individualistic. Meanwhile, Mourinho will still be cautious that if his still out-of-form side looks to make the running, they’ll leave themselves exposed to another unaffordable loss. The pace of Mahrez and Vardy will undoubtedly trouble Chelsea’s back four, and in a week where Chelsea have travelled, expect goals in this one. Leicester have the form line to win here, however a draw wouldn’t surprise. The Foxes have impressed on their unbeaten run by not only avoiding losses, but by enduring wins and not settling for splitting the points on offer. Chelsea will be happy to escape with a point and they should be good enough to earn one.

Key Statistic | Chelsea have won just 1 of their past 8 away league matches (5 losses).

Key Player | Riyah Mahrez v Eden Hazard – Hazard’s run of league matches in which he hasn’t scored is becoming an unbelievable statistic and a form line that could see him leave Stamford Bridge. Mahrez meanwhile may also be going somewhere in the summer, after he (not Vardy in our opinion) has been the primary catalyst for Leicester’s incredible season to date.

Prediction | Leicester 1 – 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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