Friday, January 30, 2015

EPL 2014/15 - Week 23

Huge match between the 2 only contenders for the title; Man City visit Chelsea in a match that they cannot afford to lose. Big-name players Costa and Yaya Toure will not be playing and much will rest on the decisiveness of other star players such as Silva, Aguero and Hazard. Here are my week 23 predictions.

Hull v/s Newcastle. I think this looks prime to end in a draw. Hull have not been as solid at home as in previous years and I believe they will be seriously involved in the relegation battle. Newcastle played some lively football in their last loss at home to Southampton but they lack cutting edge with the absence of Papiss Cisse. The jury is still out on caretaker manager Carver as to how he will make of the Magpies. Draw.

Crystal Palace v/s Everton. New manager Pardew seems to have given the Eagles a lift after winning his first 4 matches. They move the ball well and are an attacking threat, but it is their defence that is their main Achilles heel. Everton are in a rot at the moment and will again be without the services of keeper Tim Howard. While the Toffees can never be discounted, I think the most they can look for here is a draw and that's my selection. Draw.

Liverpool v/s West Ham. The Kops should have a much better second half of the season. Sturridge should be back, Gerrard should have a spring in his step given that these are going to be his last months as a Kop. And more importantly, Coutinho and Sterling seem to have regained confidence in terrorizing defences. That said, the Hammers are no slouch. They are in a comfortable position at the moment and their offence has particularly clicked, giving them all-important goal scoring opportunities. Probably the hosts will edge this, by just. Home win.

Man Utd v/s Leicester City. The visitors have had a resurgence of late but I don't think they will go win at Old Trafford. The Red Devils lost this fixture in the first leg at King Power stadium, a match in which they looked like comfortable winners until referee Clattenburg wrongfully changed the course of the game. Van Gaal will probably resort to an attacking formation here to uncover the Foxes again. Falcao is begging for a goal and it could very well come in this one if he starts. Home win.

Stoke v/s QPR. The Potters were dealt a huge blow in mid-week by losing striker Bojan for the season. Rangers are hapless on the road and it looks like they need a quick goal in order to stand any chance of getting something out of this match. If Stoke replicate some of their late good form, they should win this. Home win.

Sunderland v/s Burnley. These are 2 teams where it would be stretching to back with any confidence and a draw could very well be on the cards. New Black Cat Defoe will be at ease playing the Burnley defence and should be a prime target to score. Draw.

West Brom v/s Tottenham. Probably another draw on the cards. West Brom will be difficult to break down at home under Pulis. Spurs had a hard mid-week match edging Sheffield United in the Carling Cup and are so ever-reliant on edging matches in the last 10 minutes or so. It should either be a home win or a draw and the latter is my selection. Draw.

Chelsea v/s Man City. That's the big one and I cannot see Chelsea losing this, even without Costa and possibly Fabregas as well. First, Mourinho will go for the draw if he sees his team cannot win this match. His league record at Stamford Bridge speaks for itself and it will take a City team at the top of its game to come away with the 3 points. Fact is, the Citizens are not even close to being at full-strength. Yaya Toure will be missing and City have expressed difficulty controlling the tempo of matches in the absence of their midfield enforcer. Striker Aguero has yet to fully discover the sparkling form prior to his injury layoff. A quick goal for City will certainly put Chelsea's home record into perspective and under pressure, but I believe there are more chances of damage being inflicted on Hart rather than Courtois over the 90 minutes. Chelsea might feel it more in their legs after their tempestuous mid-week win against Liverpool but in the end, I think they have the mental toughness to win this. Home win.

Arsenal v/s Aston Villa. It seems that "RoadRunner" Alexis Sanchez might miss this match but that should not prevent the Gunners scoring a win. Villa just cannot score and the Gunners should not have this kind of problem with the returning Walcott and in-form players like Cazorla and Rosicky. Home win.

Southampton v/s Swansea. The value home win of the week-end should go to the Saints. Swansea are finding it tough with life without Bony and the Saints are in impeccable form of late. After grazing the post so many times of late, Saints striker Pelle might finally get a well-deserved goal. Home win.

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