EPL Predictions: Week 27

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Another weekend without EPL action has come and gone, and now we’re blessed with the prospect of two rounds of fixtures being played out over the next five days. No shortage of work for those of us writing EPL Predictions articles! European action has recommenced, with English clubs enjoying mixed results over the break. In the FA Cup, Arsenal were somehow held by Hull, whilst Everton dislodged Bournemouth from contention. This weekend, Leicester will try to take advantage of an easier fixture after back-to-back games against Arsenal and Manchester City, Chelsea travel to Southampton in a battle between two form sides and Manchester United host an Arsenal outfit fresh off the toughest fixture in football – Barcelona. Two fixtures are postponed this weekend, giving us an abridged article which doesn’t include Liverpool v Everton or Newcastle United v Manchester City.

2015/2016 Season EPL Predictions Record

Since this column began mid-way through the 2013/2014 Premier League season, we’ve tipped 470/876 results correctly for a success rate of 53.65%, whilst predicting 75 correct scorelines along the way.

  • Roman Barbera: 123/260 – 21 correct scorelines
  • Clinton Madden: 114/260 – 12 correct scorelines

EPL Predictions: Week 27 – Matchday 1, 2015/2016

(7) West Ham United v Sunderland (19)

Venue: Boleyn Ground | Last Corresponding Meeting: March 21, 2015 (1-0)

West Ham were clinical against Blackburn in the FA Cup last weekend, running out 4-1 winners against a Championship side that had secured results with reasonable regularity in recent times. Sunderland meanwhile went into the break having scored a combined 4-1 against Liverpool and Manchester United over their last 100 minutes of league action. What has changed at the Stadium of Light? A lot of the positivity can be put down to Wahbi Khazri, whose general play and set-pieces have been phenomenal since arriving from Ligue 1. In what looms as an open battle, Sunderland’s away form has to be considered. The Black Cats have conceded 36 goals in 13 home games this season, including 15 over their last 5 outings. Whilst they’ve shown ability going forward without Watmore and now Adam Johnson, they have serious issues at the back. West Ham’s fullbacks, particularly Cresswell was far too advanced at times against Blackburn, giving the likes of Khazri something to exploit. Expect one of the more expansive games of the weekend, with both sides with a lot to play for. West Ham should be too strong at home, even though they have struggled against minnows this season.

Key Statistic | The Black Cats have conceded 36 goals in 13 home games this season, including 15 over their last 5 outings.

Key Player | Dimitri Payet v Wahbi Khazri – If it weren’t for Riyad Mahrez, we’d be hailing Payet as the buy of the season. His creative influence snd sublime set pieces were on show again against Rovers, and he’ll be looking to dictate play again this weekend against a side that struggles to defend away from home. Khazri’s set piece delivery in particular has been exquisite of late, and whilst West Ham have been respectable at defending set pieces, Sunderland’s 9 goals from dead ball situations ranks equal fourth in the EPL this season.

Prediction | West Ham United 3 – 1 Sunderland

EPL Predictions: Week 27 – Matchday 2, 2015/2016

(1) Leicester v Norwich (17)

Venue: King Power Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: April 5, 1995 (1-0)

This is our lock of the week. Leicester may have pressure on them atop the EPL table, but after a last gasp loss to Arsenal, the Foxes will be keen to ensure their lead doesn’t diminish further this weekend. Leicester have dropped points in just 11 games this season, losing just 3 all up. At home, they’ve taken 25 of a potential 36 points, but notably have only dropped points against big sides (Tottenham, City, Manchester United, Arsenal) with the exception of Bournemouth. The Foxes have taken care of business at home, and whilst they’ll be without Danny Simpson, they should have too much attacking prowess for a team winless 7 and that has conceded 30 goals away from home this season. If you discount Norwich’s early season form, they’ve scored just 3 goals in their past 7 away games. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Leicester net 3 themselves in this one, and as a result, we give the visitors no hope of taking anything away from this match.

Key Statistic | Leicester haven’t dropped 2 points to a side outside the Top 5 in the League all season. Norwich have conceded 30 goals away from home this season.

Key Player | Riyad Mahrez v Robbie Brady – Whilst they’ll find themselves on opposite sides of the field, Brady has been Norwich’s best avenue forward this season. He’s fired the most shots for Norwich over the past fortnight and has demonstrated a work ethic he may not have had whilst at Hull. Mahrez meanwhile was withdrawn early against Arsenal as Ranieri looked to compensate for Simpson’s dismissal. Expect him to have a bit of extra motivation coming into this one.

Prediction | Leicester 3 – 0 Norwich

(6) Southampton v Chelsea (12)

Venue: St Mary’s Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: December 28, 2014 (1-1)

This looms as one of the clashes of the weekend. Southampton haven’t conceded a goal since January 10th (6 straight games) and come up against a Chelsea side which, whilst in form, has played a lot of football over the past fortnight. Both sides will be gunning for all three points, with draws not really useful for either at this stage of the season. Away from home, Chelsea have tended to try and hit on the break however, and that has tended to play into low-scoring clashes. The Blues haven’t conceded in their past 4 away games.  By the same token, over that period they’ve averages scoring 1 goal per game themselves, scoring 16 in their past 6 at home by comparison. This looms as a classic ‘snatch and grab’ scenario, with the Blues poised to exploit a Southampton team which has scored just 3 goals over their past four Premier League appearances. An early goal could turn this game on its head, but a low-scoring game looks most likely.

Key Statistic | Chelsea are undefeated in their past 13 matches on English soil. Southampton haven’t conceded in 6 straight games.

Key Player | Diego Costa v Fraser Forster – Costa has found form following the departure of Mourinho, and Forster’s efforts since returning from injury have been nothing more than exemplary. The former England international will have his hands full though, especially with Eden Hazard now hitting the scoresheet.

Prediction | Southampton 0 – 1 Chelsea

(10) Stoke v Aston Villa (20)

Venue: Britannia Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: August 16, 2014 (0-1)

With Jordan Ayew returning from suspension, expect Villa to put up more fight than they did against Liverpool. Ayew has been exceptional for the visitors this season, however even if he helps Villa net two, he isn’t likely to stop Stoke from netting more. Villa have been poor on the defensive end all season, however their 6-0 drubbing to Liverpool was a new low. The side seems resigned to their fate, and that is a dangerous position to be in with months still remaining in the campaign. Stoke meanwhile emerged from a horror run of fixtures with a 3-1 win over a plucky Bournemouth side. Their attack had gone missing in recent weeks and finding it could see them end the small form slump they’d experienced. Prior to the Liverpool loss, Villa had been noticeably poorer away from home than they had been at Villa Park. Their 2-0 loss to West Ham was their most encouraging away performance of the season (before Ayew was sent off), however the optimism which had been built over several weeks to that point has surely subsided now. Stoke should win this comfortably.

Key Statistic | Aston Villa have lost 4 of the past 5 meetings between these sides. 

Key Player | Giannelli Imbula v Jordan Ayew – Imbula, Stoke’s record signing, netted his first goal for the club before the break, and will look to continue that form against a Villa outfit which has struggled to stay in games after going behind of late. Ayew meanwhile has been Villa’s best this season, and his return is very much needed. In an unsurprising turn of events, he even led the clubs’s U21 side to a 3-0 win over the senior outfit during the league break.

Prediction | Stoke 2 – 0 Aston Villa

(9) Watford v Bournemouth (15)

Venue: Vicarage Road | Last Corresponding Meeting: September 20, 2014 (1-1)

Two of the more impressive promoted Premier League outfits of the past decade, Watford and Bournemouth head into this looking to restore a semblance of consistency to their performances. Watford enter this one in better form, and whilst Bournemouth have been more potent in attack of late, Watford’s defence has a strong chance of earning them three points here. The Hornets have lost 1-0 to Tottenham and drawn to an in-form Chelsea outfit 0-0 in recent weeks, whilst the Cherries have scored just 3 goals over their past 4 away fixtures. Dropping all three points to Stoke at home last time out was a big miss, and whilst they could make amends in this one, the relative fitness of Watford’s squad should prove decisive.

Key Statistic | Watford has lost just 1 of the past 9 meetings between these two clubs, however 3 of the last 4 have resulted in draws. Both sides are very different today than they were last season though. More importantly, Watford have conceded 11 goals at home this season, however they’ve been scored by Crystal Palace (when they were in form), Arsenal (3), Manchester United (2), Tottenham (2), Manchester City (2) and Newcastle United (1). That is just 1 goal against a side that wasn’t in the Top 5 at the time of the meeting. 

Key Player | Odion Ighalo v Benik Afobe – A battle between two quick, scrappy and physical strikers, goals could well be at a premium in this one (particularly for Bournemouth). Both have gone a little cold of late, so a return to form wuld do their sides wonders for the run home.

Prediction | Watford 2 – 0 Bournemouth

(14) West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace (13)

Venue: The Hawthorns | Last Corresponding Meeting: October 25, 2014 (2-2)

What a horrible game this looms as. Crystal Palace welcome back Yannick Bolasie and Bakary Sako to league action in huge news for a club that has struggled to score of late. Palace’s 1-0 FA Cup win over Tottenham was a touch fortunate (very fortunate), however it could prove the confidence boost that the club needs. Adebayor is yet to find his feet and tends to find himself isolated in wide areas and losing the ball far too often. Also consider that set piece defence against Tottenham was atrocious and Bolasie and Sako could take time to readjust after months out of action and this may be a chance for Albion to notch another win. Albion’s 1-0 win against Everton was arguably the most unjust result of the season to date, with the shot count resembling a Harlem Globetrotters scoreline more than an actual competitive fixture. Neither side can defend at present, but Palace at least have the pedigree to suggest that they can withstand a mediocre attack. Abion haven’t played a big-hitter in several weeks, and whilst Palace aren’t that, they should be able to match the likes of Newcastle, Bournemouth and Swansea in taking all three points off the Baggies. After an FA Cup win however, and with Albion at home, a disappointing draw looms as the most likely result as Bolasie, Sako and Adebayor misfire in their first league outing together.

Key Statistic | Albion have the same record at home and away from home this season, however home fans have been treated to 33 goals as opposed to the 23 goals away fans have witnessed. The higher scoring nature of home games will benefit Palace here.

Key Player | Stephane Sessegnon v Yannick Bolasie – Two of the more exciting EPL prospects at various times during their careers, Bolasie’s pace will be key on the counter and Sessegnon’s set-piece delivery could be crucial for a side which excels in dead-ball scenarios when coming up against a team which struggled mightily in such situations against Tottenham.

Prediction | West Bromwich Albion 1 – 1 Crystal Palace

EPL Predictions: Week 27 – Matchday 3, 2015/2016

(5) Manchester United v Arsenal (3)

Venue: Old Trafford | Last Corresponding Meeting: May 17, 2015 (1-1)

The atmosphere will somewhat lessened compared to in previous years, after both sides lost in Europe over the break. Arsenal’s shorter turnaround shouldn’t play too much of a role as they placed a second-string side for the majority of their FA Cup tie. United were horrid in Denmark, whilst Arsenal were respectable against a Barcelona side which should win the Champions League at a canter this season. Arsenal found something late against Leicester which will have motivated them to succeed on the domestic front, and with their European draw all-but dead for another year, expect a big effort against United. Arsenal won this match-up 3-0 earlier in the season, and whilst United have maintained contact with the Top 4, they’ve dropped points with too much regularity to threaten City in 4th. Losses to Sunderland, Norwich, Southampton, Stoke and Bournemouth since the start of December don’t make for great reading, and whilst a win against Liverpool and two draws against Chelsea make for more respectable reading, neither can be considered to be on Arsenal’s level at present. With Welbeck back, Giroud’s workload will lighten, and after their loss to Barcelona, Arsenal will make a statement here.

Key Statistic | Arsenal haven’t beaten United at Old Trafford in an EPL fixture since 2011, and before that not since 2006. United have dropped points in 6 of their 8 league games after a European encounter. Arsenal have dropped points in 3 of 6 such meetings.

Key Player | Anthony Martial v Alexis Sanchez – Martial has arguably ben more effective than his counter-part this season, with the Chilean not having scored since October. Whilst he missed 8 games through injury Sanchez hasn’t looked nearly as involved since his late-January return.

Prediction | Manchester United 0 – 2 Arsenal

(2) Tottenham v Swansea (16)

Venue: White Hart Lane | Last Corresponding Meeting: March 4, 2015 (3-2)

Tottenham’s ability to secure a draw in Italy will far outweigh their FA Cup defeat. There is no doubt the club would have liked to compete on three fronts, but the Premier League campaign is clearly the priority. In Swansea, Spurs face  aside that has somewhat rediscovered some form, but still struggles to dominate matches. With a 5-4 aggregate over their past 5 games, there is nothing exceptional about this Swansea outfit, and when you consider those games were against Southampton, Palace, West Bromwich, an inconsistent Everton and Watford, asserting Swansea as a giant killer is likely about five steps too far. Tottenham meanwhile have been expert in defence, and are incredibly unlikely to give up any more than 1 goal in this one. Away from home, expect Swansea to sit deep and counter through Andre Ayew, however against the speed of Walker and Rose, he’s unlikely to make many inroads. This is a poor match-up for Swansea, with Christian Eriksen likely to dictate play with ease if the Swans drop too deep. A low scoring but comprehensive win for the hosts.

Key Statistic | Swansea average 0.9 goals per game away from home, whilst Tottenham have conceded just 9 goals at home this season.

Key Player | Kyle Walker v Andre Ayew – Either Walker or Rose could be highlighted here, but if their speed can negate the influence of Ayew, Tottenham will go a long way to winning this game considering Spurs have been kept scoreless at home just once in their past 12 EPL outings.

Prediction | Tottenham 2 – 0 Swansea

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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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