Everton vs. Man City
This match has the potential to be one of the most interesting of the weekend. Although Manchester City will be the favorite coming in, it’s still a match that has the potential to swing either way. Currently, I would say Man City are clearly the club in better form, after easily beating Barnsley in the FA cup 5-0, while Everton lost their match up against Wigan 3-0. Unfortunately for Everton, goalkeeper Tim Howard also fractured two of his ribs recently and will miss this match (as well as US qualifiers for the World Cup, most likely, but that is another problem entirely). My prediction is that Man City will end up winning, but if players like Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini have anything to say about it then it will be a hard fought match at least.
Final Prediction: Everton 1 – 3 Manchester City
Aston Villa vs. QPR
Maybe not a Battle of the Titans, but one that should be interesting, if for no other reason than it holds a lot of weight in the futures of these clubs. With the relegation battle as close as it is, and with five or six teams that could realistically end in the bottom three, every point counts, especially when it is against another team at the bottom. QPR (20th) currently sit four points behind Villa (16th) but this match-up could close that gap to just one point, and with similar strengths in the rest of their matchups (although I think QPR does have a slightly easier finish), this is a huge match for both clubs. In this one, I’m taking QPR, if for no other reason that Villa showed me nothing against Reading, even if they got the win, whereas QPR is coming off a nice win at Sunderland. So, in the end, I think QPR comes out with three points, and makes the relegation battle even more interesting.
Final Prediction: Aston Villa 1 – 2 QPR
Southampton vs. Liverpool
These are two clubs who are currently in very different form. Southampton has won only two games in the New Year (although, to be fair, one was against Man City). Liverpool, on the other hand, will be on a high from their stunning victory against Tottenham (3-2 thanks to a cool Stevie G PK). The choice seems pretty clear to me. In their last three EPL fixtures, Liverpool has scored 12 goals while allowing only two. I also just can’t see Southampton having a solution that can keep Luis Suarez quiet for the whole game, especially with the form he’s been in. I’ll take Liverpool to win this game, in a match that if they play like they have been, Liverpool should take easily.
Final Prediction: Southampton 1 – 3 Liverpool
Stoke vs West Brom
Now this game is tough for one reason specifically – Stoke is home. And one thing that they have proved pretty consistently is that they are a tough team to beat at The Britannia. I do not like the style of soccer Stoke plays. It is very defensive, very rough, and in my opinion, usually very boring. But they do seem to find a way to stay in most games with hard nose defending and playing strong, and I think that’s what is going to happen here. If West Brom can use Lukaku and his size to counter the strength of the Stoke defense, they may be able to pull this one out. For me, though, this game ends in a draw, and more than likely than not it will be a very low scoring one at that.
Final Prediction: Stoke City 0 – 0 West Brom
Swansea vs. Arsenal
This is a very interesting matchup, and one that should hopefully be entertaining. These two teams play in a very similar style – possession and pass heavy soccer. Their season series has also been entertaining; Swansea took their EPL matchup at the Emirates 2-0, and then Arsenal beat them in the FA cup 1-0 later in the season. In the end, I think this comes down more to which Arsenal team shows up. Will it be the team that dominated Newcastle in December, or who were in defensive shambles against Tottenham last week? With a midweek fixture against Bayern Munich (already down 3-0 on aggregate after the first leg) it will be interesting to see how the Gunners respond not only to their most recent losses, but also to the fact that their star player, Jack Wilshere, may be out due to injury. I’m biased here, but I’m going with my team and say Arsenal pulls themselves together and take the game, and hopefully get themselves back on track.
Final Prediction: Swansea 1 – 2 Arsenal
Manchester United vs. Reading
There isn’t really much to say about this one, Man U are at the top of the league and look poised to take home the trophy, while Reading are in the relegation battle. Although their last match was pretty epic (Manchester United taking away a 4-3 win after the game was tied 3-3 at half), in the end, I just can’t see Reading putting up a fight like that again. I’m more curious to see who Sir Alex Ferguson decides to start against a clearly inferior club, especially after their FA cup draw against Chelsea. With another match not far on the horizon, and with so many star options, particularly upfront, it won’t matter. Manchester United and Old Trafford will take this easily.
Final Prediction: Manchester United 4 – 1 Reading
Sunderland vs. Norwich
One again, not exactly a clash of heavy weights here. Sunderland have not won a Premier League game in almost two months (January 19th, away at Wigan), and Norwich city have not been impressive either, scoring only two goals since January 30th. I’m not really sure which way to lean on this one, but I’m going to go with Sunderland, expecting them to hopefully step up to the plate and try and right their sinking ship. Norwich took the first matchup 2-1 and I think Sunderland may do the same this time.
Final Prediction: Sunderland 2 – 1 Norwich
Tottenham vs. Fulham
After their late loss to Liverpool, expect Tottenham to come out right from the beginning with guns blazing. Fulham are a mid-table team, while Tottenham are fighting to secure a Champions League position for next year. Unfortunately for Fulham, two of their better players from last season’s campaign are now members of the Spurs squad (Dembele and Dempsey). The only way that I can see Fulham taking points here is if they find a way to stop Gareth Bale, who is without a doubt the hottest player in the league right now (16 EPL goals and running the show for the Spurs). Don’t be surprised that they give him an inch, he will stretch it into a mile. However, I really can’t see Fulham stopping the Bale-train, or the Spurs in general. Tottenham won the first leg of this fixture away 0 – 3 in December and I expect more of the same here.
Final Prediction: Tottenham 2 – 0 Fulham
Chelsea vs. West Ham
I really don’t have too much analysis on this one. On paper, Chelsea is clearly far superior in practically every aspect. However, we all know that sports are never played on paper. If you remember correctly, West Ham shocked everyone with their 3 – 1 win over Chelsea back in December. Unfortunately for West Ham, I don’t expect this game to play out the same way. We’ve seen Chelsea have good games, and we’ve seen them fail to reach their potential, but in the end they’re just the better side and I don’t expect them to fall to West Ham twice this campaign.
Final Prediction: Chelsea 4 – 1 West Ham
Wigan vs. Newcastle
This has been a surprisingly disappointing season for Newcastle, after their strong campaign last year. Wigan on the other hand, seem to be in more or less the same position they were in last year – battling to avoid relegation. Newcastle has some real talent on their team, but just don’t seem to be able to play together on a consistent basis. Losing Demba Ba in the January transfer to Chelsea probably didn’t help their case either. Although I think Newcastle is the better team, I wouldn’t be shocked if Wigan pulled this one out either, because they somehow always seem to find a way to survive at the end of the season. So, for me, I’m going to go right in the middle.
Final Prediction: Wigan 2 – 2 Newcastle