Friday, March 20, 2015

EPL 2014/15 - Week 30

The EPL race got somewhat spicier with all English teams now out of the UCL. To say that Chelsea holds a significant advantage is an under-statement; the title is theirs to lose and with Man City being off-form, the Blues can also rely on their opponents floundering in their coming matches to comfort their advantage at the top. Unlike what Mourinho is saying, it's not a 5-team race, it's maybe a 2-team race, and will possibly be a 1-team race sooner rather than later.

Man City v/s WBA. Having suffered the wrath of Messi and Barcelona, City have to get back on track with a win against the in-form Baggies. Quite a difficult task given that Tony Pulis' men are proving a difficult team to break down. Also, the hosts will be without injured Yaya Toure and their record without the powerhouse midfielder is not stellar. I still think they will win in the end, but it won't be a surprise if the Baggies end up sharing the spoils. Home win.

Aston Villa v/s Swansea. Christian Benteke seems to have regained a new lease of life under Tim Sherwood and can add to his counter here. Swansea were unlucky to miss out on points against Liverpool last Monday and deserve respect on their road travels. They do however, have trouble holding a clean sheet, which is why I think the Villa tandem of Agbonglahor and Benteke can open them up while holding the visitors' defence at bay. Home win.

Newcastle v/s Arsenal. The problem for the Magpies right now is the absence of Papiss Cisse which limits their goal scoring ability. They don't have anyone close to filling that gap. Arsenal produced a strong performance against Monaco in the UCL and were unlucky not to get that 3rd necessary goal to go through. There is definitely a question on their fitness after their exertions at Le Principaute. Class should tell in the end and I think the Gunners will just edge this. Away win.

Southampton v/s Burnley. Burnley cannot cease to amaze and their last shocking win against Man City showed the determination of Ings and company to fight till the end. I think they will be up against it against Southampton as the hosts have a strong home record and are difficult to score against. Striker Pelle is due a goal for a long time and this might be the match to stop his rotten spell. I am going for a home win but Burnley has burnt my predictions before. Home win.

Stoke v/s Crystal Palace. This pits two teams that are on an even keel and safe from the relegation battle. I give a slight advantage to Stoke because of their strong form at home. Also, Palace might be without Jason Puncheon, which will remove some of the flair out of their quick and inspiring attacks. Home win.

Tottenham v/s Leicester. The Foxes somewhat disappointed me in not being able to break down a 10-men Hull team last week. This is a dangerous match for them against a no-nonsense Spurs team with Harry Kane at the helm. Leicester will be lucky to get a point out of this match. Home win.

West Ham v/s Sunderland. Dick Advocaat is a good manager but I am not convinced he is the person to guide Sunderland out of the relegation battle. He's more proven with teams playing on the other side of the table. Still, players always try to make first impressions during a new manager's first game so Sunderland can hope for a result here, particularly that the Hammers are in a rather rotten form. I think the tide will turn sooner than later for Allardyce's men and they have shown lately that they are not far from their early-season blistering form. I think they will edge this one. Home win.

Liverpool v/s Man Utd. The Red Devils gave one of their more convincing displays of the season when beating Spurs last week-end. Liverpool, at Anfield, are another piece of metal though. The Kops were lucky to beat Swansea in their last match and I am wondering whether they have peaked. This is a 6-pointer for the 4th and last UCL spot and I think this will end up in either a home win or a draw. Draw.

Hull v/s Chelsea. Hull are riding some good momentum but their task for this match has been made harder with the injury to top striker Jelavic and suspension of midfield stalwart Huddlestone. Chelsea should pounce on these shortcomings and get the full points. Away win.

QPR v/s Everton. Everton were booted out of the Europa League in mid-week after being destroyed 2-5 in Kiev. They are bound to feel the effects of that arduous match and Rangers have the capacity to cause the Toffees problems when playing at home. The hosts will have Barton back and need the full points but I think they will have to contend with just 1 in the end. Draw.

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