Leicester scrape past Norwich, Arsenal embarrass themselves at Old Trafford and Chelsea continue their march towards redemption. This past weekend had no shortage of interesting headlines, but at the end of the day, they’ll be short-lived. With a full gamut of EPL action to take place midweek, we’ll have new highlights to worry about in just a couple of days time. Here’s a taste of what to expect.
2015/2016 Season EPL Predictions Record
Since this column began mid-way through the 2013/2014 Premier League season, we’ve tipped 475/884 results correctly for a success rate of 53.73%, whilst predicting 75 correct scorelines along the way.
- Roman Barbera: 128/268 – 21 correct scorelines
- Clinton Madden: 118/268 – 12 correct scorelines
EPL Predictions: Week 28 – Matchday 1, 2015/2016
(20) Aston Villa v Everton (12)
Venue: Villa Park | Last Corresponding Meeting: May 2, 2015 (3-2)
Everton may have been inconsistent this season, but the majority of their unexpected losses have come at Goodison Park. Away from home, they’ve lost just once this EPL season, and that trend should continue against a Villa side which look hapless against any opposition. Many of Everton’s ‘undefeated’ games on the road have actually been draws, however a comprehensive win at Stoke coming off the back of draws against Chelsea and Manchester City should give the side a lot of optimism heading into this one. Villa have taken points from 6 of their 13 home games this season, however any momentum they gathered during a run of form 4-6 weeks ago has been thwarted by the interrupted league action of late. Jordan Ayew’s dismissal against West Ham and European/FA Cup breaks have seen Villa fall off the wagon again, and with Everton looking to make amends for a terrible loss to West Bromwich, and having not played on the weekend, this looms as a perfect chance to take all three points.
Key Statistic | Everton have lost just one game away from home this season.
Key Player | Jordan Ayew v Romelu Lukaku – Once again, Ayew is Villa’s only avenue to goal, and his battle with Lukaku will be interesting considering the latter is facing a high-profile move away from Goodison Park. Can he rebound from a form slump amidst the speculation?
Prediction | Aston Villa 0 – 2 Everton
(15) Bournemouth v Southampton (7)
Venue: Vitality Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: March 12, 2011 (1-3)
Pundits are fairly split on this one, but there is no doubt in our minds that Southampton are the superior team heading into this one. Bournemouth have lost their past 3 home games, and whilst Everton and Arsenal are top quality opposition, you’ll be hard-pressed to find too many sides that have been better than Southampton over the past two months. Last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea wasn’t just the Saints’ first defeat since January 13, but it was the first time they’d conceded. Whilst Benik Afobe had a strong start to life at Vitality Stadium, he’s gone cold of late, and as a result the Cherries have scored just one goal over their past four appearances in all competitions.
Key Statistic | Southampton have conceded in just 1 of their last 7 league games. Bournemouth have failed to score in 3 of their past 4 games in all competitions
Key Player | Max Gradel v Fraser Forster – Despite being criticised midweek, Forster has been one of the more impressive shot-stoppers in the EPL since his return from injury. Speaking of returning from injury, Gradel was spectacular prior to his extended absence. Can he inspired Bournemouth to a little more potency in attack.
Prediction | Bournemouth 0 – 1 Southampton
(1) Leicester v West Bromwich Albion (13)
Venue: King Power Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: November 1, 2014 (0-1)
Away from home, Albion will look to sit back, absorb pressure, and hit on the counter. Leicester are the best side in the league at executing that plan, so don’t expect Claudio Ranieri to be exploited in that manner. Leicester should find attacking a compact defence relatively difficult however, and almost failed to win at Norwich as the Canaries implemented a similar strategy to what we’re expecting to see from Tony Pulis. Norwich have been horrendous away from home this season, so you can’t necessarily discount Albion on the basis that they’re a poor team. Having conceded 3 against Reading, there is reason to believe Albion will be a fary fry from competitive here, but their 1-0 win at Goodison Park shows that a deep-lying defence, particularly in England, can lead to notable upsets. One goal will break this game open though, and we’ll take the hosts, even with Kante missing.
Key Statistic | West Bromwich away games average just 1.77 goals per game.
Key Player | Jamie Vardy v Ben Foster – Everton managed over 30 attempts at goal when the Baggies travelled to Goodison a few weeks ago. Expect Jamie Vardy and company to pepper him again.
Prediction | Leicester 1 – 0 West Bromwich Albion
(17) Norwich v Chelsea (11)
Venue: Carrow Road | Last Corresponding Meeting: October 6, 2013 (1-3)
Norwich have been a difficult team to gauge at home this season, however coming off a disappointing loss to Leicester, the Canaries are primed for a let-down game. Chelsea have been exceptional of late, and whilst they’re nowhere near their best, they’ve found a way to grind out results. Having conceded just once over their past 5 away games in the league, expect Norwich to struggle going forward, whilst their porous defence should be exploited by the craft of the Blues’ attacking midfield. Pato may make his club debut, whilst Pedro and Terry will be absent for the visitors. That shouldn’t really impact them though against a side that has lost 6 of their past 7.
Key Statistic | Chelsea are undefeated in their past 11 EPL games and 14 straight games in England.
Key Player | Cameron Jerome v Diego Costa – Jerome missed two clear-cut chances against Leicester and has been one of the less effective finishers in the league this season. Costa meanwhile continues his revival under Hiddink.
Prediction | Norwich 1 – 2 Chelsea
(19) Sunderland v Crystal Palace (14)
Venue: Stadium of Light | Last Corresponding Meeting: April 11, 2015 (1-4)
What a classic this could be… Palace were out-gunned by West Bromwich Albion on the weekend, with a Connor Wickham stunner the only thing that separated them from real embarrassment. Sunderland were respectable away to West Ham, and for the most part have been an improved team of late. Losses to Manchester City and Tottenham are their only blemishes in their past 7 league outings, whilst a win against Manchester United and a draw against Liverpool show the Black Cats can match it with the league’s ‘best’. Palace are by no means one of the league’s best. They’ve lost 7 of their past 8 in the league, and have lost away games against Aston Villa and Albion in that streak. Sunderland has been a new side with Wahbi Khazri in midfield, and we expect them to take a minimum of 1, but most likely 3 points in this one.
Key Statistic | Crystal Palace have lost 7 of their past 8 in the league.
Key Player | Wahbi Khazri v Connor Wickham – Wickham’s brace counted for little on the weekend, but can his breaking of his goal drought lead to some consistent productivity? Khazri has been exceptional for Sunderland, with his work from set-pieces particularly threatening.
Prediction | Sunderland 2 – 1 Crystal Palace
EPL Predictions: Week 28 – Matchday 2, 2015/2016
(3) Arsenal v Swansea (16)
Venue: Emirates Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: May 11, 2015 (0-1)
Arsenal will have a point to prove after their insipid showing against Manchester United. Their passing was atrocious, whilst their efforts to chase the game meant they were too fatigued to track back in defence late in the game. Fortunately for them, they’re back at home and are playing a side that lacks Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford. Swansea have scored just 18 goals in their last 23 EPL outings, and now come up against a side which, whilst conceding 3 on the weekend, hasn’t lost back-to-back games in the league since November 2014. This tendency to bounce back has never been needed more than now, with Arsenal just a Danny Wellbeck header away from being out of the Premier League race. With their European dreams almost dashed, Wenger will throw everything at this game, and should emerge victorious. Olivier Giroud should replace Theo Walcott, whilst even a 10% improvement in the side’s passing game should see them cut Swansea to pieces. A low-scoring win for the hosts.
Key Statistic | Arsenal haven’t lost back-to-back games in the league since November 2014. Since that time, they’ve bounced back with a total of 6 wins and 3 draws coming off a defeat.
Key Player | Olivier Giroud v Gylfi Sigurðsson – Sigurðsson had a point to prove against Tottenham, but couldn’t get the job done. Now he faces an Arsenal outfit which struggled to contain Manchester United’s midfield last week. With Coquelin still getting back to full fitness, he’ll need to dictate terms when Swansea get on the ball.
Prediction | Arsenal 2 – 0 Swansea
(8) Stoke v Newcastle (18)
Venue: Britannia Stadium | Last Corresponding Meeting: September 29, 2014 (1-0)
Newcastle have lost their last 5 away games in the league by a total aggregate of 12-2. They’ve scored just 7 goals away from St. James’ Park this season and will likely find that 1 goal will be insufficient against a Stoke side which has a tendency to score in bunches. Whilst the Potters have been held scoreless in 4 of their last 11 games, those outings were against Leicester Manchester United, Everton and Arsenal. Against other sides, they’ve netted 16 times in 7 games, winning on 5 occasions. Newcastle didn’t have to play on the weekend, with their game postponed as a result of the League Cop final. They’ll take an advantage from that, but haven’t beaten Stoke at home since 2011. All signs point to a home win, with Newcastle likely to only take points of sides which struggle to score themselves, of which Stoke isn’t one.
Key Statistic | Newcastle have scored just 7 goals away from home this season.
Key Player | Marko Arnautović v Andros Townsend – Townsend hit the ground at Tottenham running, and he’ll need to do the same at Newcastle to kep his side afloat. Whilst not as strong as Arnautović, he has the experience, confidence and skill to improve the Magpies’ away record.
Prediction | Stoke 3 – 1 Newcastle
(6) West Ham United v Tottenham (2)
Venue: Boleyn Ground | Last Corresponding Meeting: August 16, 2014 (0-1)
The prototypical game of attack against defence. West Ham are lethal moving forward, whilst Tottenham have struggled to pile on the goals in recent times. In saying that, they’ve won six straight EPL fixtures by an average of almost 2 goals each, however have netted just 4 times in their last 3 outings. West Ham are also good for around 2 goals per game, however are likely to come unstuck defensively in this one. Spurs put 4 past the Hammers in November, and whilst Payet can dictate terms going forwards, West Ham’s midfield accountability in defence isn’t strict enough to contain the likes of Eriksen, Dembele or Alli. Collins should be run ragged by Kane and whilst Spurs may not threaten from set pieces with the same consistency they have to date this season, they should have more than enough in general play to win a shootout should it come to that.
Key Statistic | Tottenham have conceded a league-best 21 goals this campaign. Their home v away split is also favourable, with 11 of those 21 goals (only just over 50%) being conceded away from home.
Key Player | Dimitri Payet v Dele Alli – Two of the more exciting attacking midfielders in the competition, which one can work harder in defence will likely be on the winning side. To a large extent, how high Tottenham are willing to press away from home will dictate this one.
Prediction | West Ham United 1 – 3 Tottenham
(9) Liverpool v Manchester City (4)
Venue: Anfield | Last Corresponding Meeting: March 1, 2015 (2-1)
It isn’t often you witness the exact same fixture twice in four days. Liverpool and City played out a 1-1 League Cup final on the weekend which resulted in City finally winning on penalties. The fall-out from that game has been notable, with Liverpool’s squad composition, Klopp’s ability to win finals and Liverpool’s lack of silverware all talking points. Noticeably, none of those talking points surround City. Aguero and company have slipped under the radar heading into this one, and will be the more rested side for that. In a fixture which generally produces goals (34 in the last 9 games), City clearly have the superior firepower. Whilst not as reliable away from home, and having come off back-to-back losses in the league, City take on a Lievrpool defence which has been in disarray of late. Aside from the 6-0 drubbing of Villa, the Reds have been poor in Europe, and conceded 14 goals in a run of fixtures which included Leicester (2), Sunderland (2), Norwich (4), Manchester United (1), Arsenal (3) and West Ham (2). Their 3 most recent league wins have come away from home and for all of City’s faults, they have more to play for here.
Key Statistic | Both teams have scored in each of the last 9 meetings between these two sides.
Key Player | Daniel Sturridge v Sergio Aguero – With Benteke clearly out of favour, Sturridge (who was also out of favour just a month ago) will lead the line. His battle with Aguero should determine this one given the high-scoring nature of these clashes.
Prediction | Liverpool 2 – 3 Manchester City
(5) Manchester United v Watford (10)
Venue: Old Trafford | Last Corresponding Meeting: January 31, 2007 (4-0)
Despite their win over Arsenal, there is no hiding from the fact that Manchester United are seriously undermanned and have had an incredibly busy week. Fortunately, they take on a Watford outfit which has struggled to post a threat to any defence in recent times. Deeney and Ighalo have lost form since the latter was linked with a big-money move to China, and the Hornets now seem resigned to a mid-table finish. United meanwhile come off their most successful week of the season. A win in the FA Cup, progress in Europe and another 3 points in the league, van Gaal won’t be letting up now. Expect a full-strength side from the hosts who have won 3 of their last 4 home games. Their one loss came against Sunderland, however the Black Cats are on the rise, unlike Watford. A narrow win for the hosts in a relatively low-scoring affair.
Key Statistic | Watford have scored 4 goals over their past 7 games.
Key Player | Juan Mata v Odion Ighalo – Ighalo is four straight EPL clashes without a goal. Mata meanwhile was crucial in United’s win over Arsenal, and alongside Depay looms as a key figure in the midfield battle here.
Prediction | Manchester United 2 – 0 Watford