EPL Predictions: Week 17

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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 423/766 results correctly for a success rate of 55.22%, whilst predicting 71 correct scorelines along the way.

2015/2016 Season EPL Predictions Record

  • Roman Barbera: 76/160 – 15 correct scorelines
  • Clinton Madden: 70/160 – 9 correct scorelines

EPL Predictions Week 17 Preview

Week 17 is headlined by several blockbuster clashes and many more that boast significance so far as the shaping of the table is concerned. Arsenal host Manchester City and Everton host Leicester City in the games of the weekend, whilst Chelsea v Sunderland, Southampton v Tottenham and Watford v Liverpool all have potential to be thrillers. With European action having been concluded for 2015, here’s to the league’s elite settling into some form over the Christmas period and helping us get back on track in what has been an incredibly difficult tipping campaign.

EPL Predictions: Week 17 – Matchday 1, 2015/2016

(16) Chelsea v Sunderland (19)

Venue: Stamford Bridge | Last Corresponding Meeting: 

Chelsea have a notably shorter turnaround heading into this game, and given the pressure the side is under, the fatigue associated with their Leicester clash earlier this week is sure to play a role. Regardless of form however, this is a veteran side with depth in midfield, something that should see that disadvantage effectively managed. Off-field issues continue to plague the side, however Sunderland provides a good opportunity for Chelsea to alleviate some of the pressure on Mourinho. The Blues have looked good in patches over the past few weeks, comprehensively beating Porto and holding Tottenham to an admittedly shaky 0-0 draw. Sunderland will look to out-work and consistently pressure Chelsea, however if they cannot execute to the level of Leicester, they could find themselves exhausted or found wanting on the counter attack. The Black Cats will fancy their chances of taking something from Stamford Bridge, but we’re backing Chelsea to win in the league for the first time in almost one month.

Key Statistic | Since November 2, only two fixtures that have involved these sides have seen over two goals (10 games).

Key Player | Willian v Duncan Watmore – Whilst Watmore is in no way an equivalent to Jamie Vardy, his nous and ability to run in behind opposing defences renders him a similar threat to that of the league’s top scorer. With Terry under an injury cloud, Zouma is likely the only defender capable of tracking him. Willian meanwhile remains the only Chelsea player we feel has improved this season, and with Hazard out, his centrality to the side increases.

Prediction | Chelsea 1 – 0 Sunderland

(10) Everton v Leicester City (1)

Venue: Goodison Park | Last Corresponding Meeting: 

Arguably the fixture of the weekend, Everton host Leicester City in a battle that could define the Christmas period for these sides. Each plays a ‘top 4′ club in the fortnight following this match-up, so a loss here could easily see one of these sides fall off the pace. Everton have been a far better side than they have been on the road since the start of November, romping Villa and Sunderland, and earning a somewhat unfortunate draw with Palace. Leicester meanwhile have won 5 of their past 6 and have played notably more difficult opposition over that period than Everton have. If there is one thing we can guarantee in this one, it will be goals. Everton fixtures have averaged 4 goals each over their past 6 outings, whilst Leicester games this season have averaged a league-high 3.5 goals each. Leicester haven’t played a side of Everton’s quality away from home in some time, and given Everton’s ability to match the scoring power of the Foxes and John Stones’ ability to track Jamie Vardy, we’re backing a draw.

Key Statistic | Nine of the past 11 games between these sides have finished in a draw.

Key Player | John Stones v Jamie Vardy – One of the match-ups of the week, Stones has the pace and intelligence to track Vardy. Riyad Mahrez has been the star for the Foxes in recent weeks but how Vardy negotiates the league’s premier young centre-back will go a long way to determining the result in this one.

Prediction | Everton 2 – 2 Leicester City

(4) Manchester United v Norwich City (18)

Venue: Vitality Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: 

Norwich lived up to our expectations at home, keeping things tight with an astoundingly talented Everton outfit. As referenced in last week’s preview however, they’re markedly worse away from Carrow Road. They’ve lost each of their past three away from home, and with United coming off an exceptionally difficult fortnight, we’re expecting a bounce-back showing. It didn’t come when we claimed it would, but even van Gaal and his exceptionally bizaare methods need to coax a response from a side too talented to lose to Bournemouth and miss out on the UCL knock-out stage. It’ll be a cagey affair, with the Canaries looking to arrest their away slump and United looking to avoid another embarrassing defeat. A typically professional and dull showing from the hosts is on the cards.

Key Statistic | Norwich have lost their past 4 away matches by a combined margin of 8 goals.

Key Player | Wayne Rooney v Cameron Jerome – Two relics of the Premier League, Rooney needs to stand up whilst Jerome was impressive when handed another opportunity to start last weekend.

Prediction | Manchester United 1 – 0 Norwich City

(13) West Bromwich Albion v Bournemouth (14)

Venue: Stadium of Light | Last Corresponding Meeting: 

Bournemouth have been heralded as ‘giant killers’ over this past fortnight, however they still languish in the doldrums of the Premier League table, primarily because they failed to get the job done against lesser opponents when their fixtures were more favourable. A trip to West Bromwich is less dangerous than hosting the Baggies, however this is going to be a difficult match regardless. Bournemouth’s high-possession game style can go horribly wrong at times, however it also has the potential to be highly effective if players are in form. If this game were at Vitality, we’d favour West Bromwich to execute on the counter, however with both sides looking to make the running, absolutely anything could happen here. We’re expecting to see goals and wouldn’t be surprised if they were evenly split after the 90 minutes.

Key Statistic | Both sides have scored in 7 of the past 8 EPL fixtures involving either of these sides.

Key Player | Jonas Olsson v Junior Stanislas – It was the pace of Stanislas and King which troubled United last weekend, so it’s only natural we look to Stanislas again when taking on the strong and notoriously rigid Baggies’ defence.

Prediction | West Bromwich Albion 2– 1 Bournemouth

(12) Southampton v Tottenham (5)

Venue: St. Mary’s Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: 

Southampton have been on the decline for some time, however without a win over the past month, the situation is getting desperate. At home in recent times, they’ve dropped points to Aston Villa and lost to Stoke, and have scored just one goal across those fixtures. Tottenham meanwhile have been draw merchants, however will see this as an opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the top 4. No mid-week action and eager to get back into action after an abysmal loss to Newcastle should see the effort levels at a near season-high, and whilst the form of Kane has dropped somewhat, the Tottenham midfield is too deep and too hard-working in the pivot to be out-run by the likes of Mane or Tadic. A comfortable away win for the better side on paper.

Key Statistic | Tottenham have scored more set-pieces goals than any other side in the league this season.

Key Player | Graziano Pelle v Harry Kane – Southampton’s decline has firmly coincided with Pelle’s fall from grace. The Italian has struggled of late and will have issues dealing with the height and speed of Tottenham’s back four. Kane meanwhile has fallen away slightly of late but still remains a constant threat. In limited touches last week, he still forced an exceptional save from Rob Elliot.

Prediction | Southampton 0 – 2 Tottenham

(11) Stoke City v Crystal Palace (6)

Venue: Britannia Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: 

This looms as a defensive grind, with both sides in good form and both priding themselves on defensive integrity so far this term. Stoke have been impenetrable of late, keeping a clean sheet in 7 of their past 9 Premier League fixtures and 8 of their past 9 when not conceding a red card. Whilst not the most threatening side in the league in attack, the work of Bojan, Shaqiri and Arnautovic has begun to reap benefits and has ensured that for the most part at least, clean sheets are worth 3 league points as opposed to one. Palace meanwhile have been far more impressive since the return of Connor Wickham and have been strong away from home of late, defeating Liverpool in arguably their greatest scalp of the season to date. A low-scoring clash looms here, and whilst the run of uneventful Stoke games will have to end soon, these sides are too evenly matched for it to happen here.

Key Statistic | Not since Week 7 has a Stoke City EPL Game seen 3 or more goals. They’ve kept 7 clean sheets in their past 9 EPL fixtures.

Key Player | Ryan Shawcross v Connor Wickham – In the 496 minutes of EPL action Ryan Shawcross has seen this season, Stoke are yet to concede. Connor Wickham may not be the man to personally break that streak, however his presence for Palace is integral to the functionality of their front four.

Prediction | Stoke City 0 – 0 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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