Previews for the EPL fixtures from Match Day 27. There are several matches that will go a long way towards deciding places at both the top and bottom of the table. Here are the previews for each match this weekend.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Fulham v Stoke City: Fulham’s form throughout the season has been quite erratic with no real string of results at any point in the season. Stoke’s recent form has been quite similar. Both teams play much better at home and Stoke’s away form is full of draws (only 1 win away from the Britannia). This should be an interesting match to watch with both teams having well over a week to prepare. Neither team has any major fitness woes at the moment. I don’t think either team has what it takes to pull off a win and I’m predicting a low scoring draw. 1-1 is probably giving both teams a bit more credit than they might deserve. Stoke will look to shut down Fulham’s midfield which doesn’t have a great amount of speed and Stoke’s defense will likely close down Berbatov whenever he is on the ball. Probably the best chance for goals will come from set pieces for both teams.
Fulham (D, L, W, L, D) 1 – 1 Stoke (L, L, D, L, W)
Arsenal v Aston Villa: I feel like this match is a pretty massive turning point in the season. It will the Arsenal’s third home match in a row, with the previous two resulting in losses that meant the end of their chances at silverware (barring a miracle return leg in the Champions League). A loss to 17th placed Aston Villa will certainly turn the entirety of the Gunners support against them even more than they already are. A win would help, but I can already hear the sarcastic cheering that will surely come with it. Aston Villa does have the luxury of having had almost two weeks to prepare and could certainly produce a shock result. I think a draw would only leave Arsenal in limbo and would not help the fans opinions. I am predicting an Arsenal win, but this is assuming that they have what it takes to bounce back from two consecutive Cup losses, and I’m not entirely sure they have what it takes to do that.
Arsenal (L, W, D, W, W) 3 – 1 Aston Villa (L, D, L, D, W)
Norwich City v Everton: Norwich went through a bit of a skid and seems to have come through it and begun to get results again. Everton will surely be hurting from their weekend draw in the FA Cup which could be bad for Norwich City. I had originally picked a draw in this match, but after further analysis I think Everton will have enough to overcome Norwich and get the win. My prediction is a Toffees win, but again, this is one of those that could be a bit of a slip-up for Everton. Norwich has had the time to prepare and this could make it a tricky fixture. What I think puts Everton over the top is their desire to get back to winning following the FA Cup draw as well as their recent EPL results.
Norwich City (D, L, D, D, D) 1 – 1 Everton (D, D, W, D, L)
Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United: Queens Park Rangers’ only real chance at getting something out of this match is if they were able to do some bonding in the two weeks since their 4-1 loss to Swansea. They will need to set up shop deep in their own half and hold off what will be a Manchester United barrage. It is quite possible that they could get a counter goal or get something off a set piece (more likely from a set piece though), but I think United’s offense is far too potent. I’m predicting a Manchester United win in a match that will likely see them rest several players and try to keep Robin van Persie on the bench.
QPR (D, D, D, D, L) 0 – 3 Manchester United (W, D, W, W, W)
Reading v Wigan Athletic: The battle at the bottom begins here. While both teams will need to rely on the results of others a win for either team will definitely help in their chances of getting out of the bottom. Reading may have lost in their FA Cup match this weekend, but they did so by putting in an excellent performance against Manchester United. Wigan were equally impressive in their 4-1 win over Huddersfield as they showed how dominant they can be. Both teams have a lot of positives to build on and will be hoping that they can string a run together. Unfortunately I don’t think that will start on Saturday. I’m predicting a draw that could have plenty of goals in it.
Reading (W, W, D, W, L) 2 – 2 Wigan (D, L, D, D, L)
West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland: This should be a good match to watch. West Brom have been a good team throughout the season. They may be on the other side of their slump by now and having the 2 week break will help them get things together on the training ground. Their only major loss is the long term injury to Zoltan Gera that will keep him out for the rest of the season. West Brom have slipped down the table a bit from where they were before Christmas, but a win on Saturday would put them above Liverpool in 7th place. A win for Sunderland would keep them from being sucked into a possible relegation battle, while a loss could add to their 2 game losing streak and might begin a longer slide towards the bottom. I think Sunderland will make a match of it and could get themselves a result, but I’m picking West Brom to come away winners.
West Brom (L, D, L, L, W) 2 – 1 Sunderland (W, W, D, L, L)
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Manchester City v Chelsea: Be sure to check out this week’s Match of the Week preview.
Man City (W, W, D, D, L) 2 – 2 Chelsea (D, W, D, L, W)
Newcastle United v Southampton: I’m picking Southampton for another win in Sunday’s fixture. Newcastle will have had to travel to the Ukraine for their difficult second leg Europa League match and this will most likely affect their performance on Sunday. Southampton have had plenty of time to prepare for this and will also have their 3-1 win over Manchester City to build on. This is another battle at the bottom that could become crucial in the coming weeks. I would say that neither side is truly safe yet and certainly not guaranteed to be out of the woods yet. Either team could easily go on a losing skid and end up in relegation. This could be that match that propels either team towards safety. I’m predicting a Southampton win for a side that has been showing much promise since switching managers.
Newcastle (D, L, W, W, L) 1 – 2 Southampton (D, D, L, D, W)
Monday, February 25, 2013
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur: West Ham is yet another mid table side that has been extremely streaky all season. Their recent form is a microcosm of their season as a whole. I feel that Tottenham’s performance could be largely affected by their Europa League match taking place Thursday in Lyon. West Ham will have had plenty of time to prepare and will be looking to shut down Tottenham’s speedy offense, with a focus on Gareth Bale. This is going to be a match where they will need someone else to step up. Tottenham may have Jermain Defoe back but I would say he is questionable along with Tom Huddlestone, while Sandro is out of the season. I could see West Ham managing a draw in this one and I do believe the Spurs Europa League match will play a large role in their efforts on Monday. I am predicting a Tottenham win, but I would say that this is one that could easily swing in West Ham’s favor if they can shut down Bale.
West Ham United (D, L, L, W, L) 1 – 2 Tottenham (D, D, D, W, W)
*W/D/L stats are based on the past 5 Premier League competitions
Let me know what you think. Do you think I picked them right? Any changes you would make?