Friday, January 9, 2015

EPL 2014/15 - Week 21

Man City ate away Chelsea's lead in the past weeks and should actually be on top at the moment had they not let 2 points escape against Burnley a fortnight ago. I still give a slight advantage to Mourinho's men as they have proved more cohesive as a team while the Citizens have mainly relied on striker Aguero to make the difference in many of their matches. Here are my thoughts on this week-end's matches.

Sunderland v/s Liverpool. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the Kops with the knowledge that long-serving captain Gerrard will be leaving the club come May. Will it spur them to a better second part of the season or will it be a self-inflicted distraction? Their form of late has been improving with the trio of Lallana, Coutinho and Sterling giving vibrant displays up front. The team will get better with the return of Sturridge. Sunderland are capable of the better or worse and cannot be backed with confidence in this type of match-up. I think this will end in a draw. Draw.

Burnley v/s QPR. A 6-pointer at the tail end of the table. I've made a mess of predicting Burnley's outings so far but this looks an ideal match for them to get 3 crucial points as QPR have an awful away record. Home win.

Chelsea v/s Newcastle. I thought that Chelsea were unlucky to lose the fixture at St James Park a few weeks ago. They were undone by some bounces not going their way on the Newcastle goals. I can't see anything other than a Blues win here. Home win.

Everton v/s Man City. Everton are reeling at the moment and Man City will find that it's the perfect time to visit Goodison Park. The hosts will be hampered by the loss of keeper Tim Howard to injury. The Citizens will have to cope without play maker Yaya Toure, who has gone to play in the African Cup. On form and paper, the visitors should edge this match. Away win.

Leicester v/s Aston Villa. This looks set to be a low-scoring affair with both teams not re-known for their goal-scoring. The hosts showed great spirit and endeavour to snatch a point at Liverpool in their last game. They will aim to maximize points against a Villa team that has specialized in goalless matches of late. The problem with the visitors is their over-reliance on Benteke to get goals. I think the hosts will just edge this. Home win.

Swansea v/s West Ham. The loss of Bony to Man City is a huge loss on the pitch for Swansea. It remains to be seen where they will get the goals from now on. I expect West Ham to have a tougher second half of the season and although they are a top 10 club, they are mightily flattered by their 4th position at the moment. I don't think they will be in the top 7 in the end. A draw looks to be in the offing here. Draw.

WBA v/s Hull. The Pulis era has started at West Brom and I think that pretty much guarantees their safety in the top flight. Mind you, even before Pulis' arrival, West Brom were playing well and with purpose but were just being wasteful up front in some of their recent matches. With some better judgement and luck in these matches, they could easily be 6 points higher up the table than their precarious position. Striker Berahino is a great talent, albeit a raw one. Hull have no cutting edge and I think they could be in serious relegation trouble if they don't improve in the coming weeks. A home win looks to be the value punt of the week-end. Home win.

Crystal Palace v/s Tottenham. What Harry Kane is doing for Spurs is unbelievable. He single-handedly destroyed Chelsea last week. If he keeps up his goal scoring form, Tottenham will be difficult to beat in this match. It will be new manager's Pardew's first league match for the Eagles and as from now on, it's safe to throw away their previous nonchalant form. I think this match will either end in a draw or a Spurs win. Draw.

Arsenal v/s Stoke. This won't be a walk in the park for the Gunners as Stoke are very resilient as an away team. They beat the Gunners a few weeks back at home after storming through a commanding 3-goal lead. Obviously they won't get away that lightly in this match but I still expect them to pose problems for Arsenal who have over-relied on Alex Sanchez so far. The Chilean has spared his team many times recently and one has to wonder for how long they can rely on his goal scoring exploits. I see Arsenal losing another 2 points here. Draw.

Man Utd v/s Southampton. After a turbulent period, Southampton are back to their winning ways. They will pose a serious test to the Mancunians as manager Koeman has made them difficult to pin down. They are at ease playing with or without the ball. The good news for United is the return of Di Maria who will give their attack immediate impetus. With Rooney, RVP, Falcao, Di Maria and Mata, this is a team that will will have goal scoring chances at any time during a match. This could end in a draw but I give a slight home advantage to Van Gaal's team. Home win.

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