It has not been a good week for Premier League sides as the league’s final three teams still in European action were all eliminated and must now concentrate on their domestic commitments. The big question coming from this is can Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton, who suffered a crushing 5-2 defeat at the hands of Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League on Thursday, bounce back in the league this weekend? Our EPL expert takes a look at all this weekend’s matches and gives a few EPL predictions.
Man City v West Brom:
Although they sit second in the league Manchester City have lost four of their last five games in all competitions, including losing 2-1 at home and 1-0 away to Barcelona to exit the Champions League at the last 16 stage, and they know that they must win this Saturday afternoon in the opening Premier League game of the weekend if they are to keep up the pressure on Chelsea. They were beaten 1-0 by Burnley last weekend at Turf Moor, but they have lost only once since the end of August at The Etihad Stadium so will be confident for this weekend’s match.
West Brom were hit by a major injury loss last weekend as two-time Carling Cup Final Man of the Match Ben Foster suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for a month. Backup goalkeeper Boaz Myhill has not played much football this season so taking a new and untested defence to Man City will be a risk. They have not won away since November as they have lost four and drawn five road trips in that time and have not won a Man City v West Brom game in Manchester in more than 12 years, losing all of the last six meetings, so even at full strength this would be a tough test for the guests. It will be all but impossible this weekend
Outcome – Closely fought home win as City bounce back from their midweek defeat with their superior quality.
Aston Villa v Swansea:
The mood at Villa Park has vastly changed in recent weeks as Tim Sherwood has arrived in the Midlands and changed the fortunes of the club. Villa were looking down and out after collecting just 22 points from their opening 25 matches of the season as they had netted just 12 goals. However, despite close defeats against Stoke and Newcastle in his first two games at the helm, Villa have won their last two matches, bagging six goals as they defeated local rivals West Brom 2-1 at home and beat Sunderland 4-0 at the Stadium of Light, costing Gus Poyet his job.
Villa are also in the FA Cup Semi Finals after seeing off West Brom after beating them in the league and things are now looking much brighter in the Midlands. They welcome a Swansea side that will not make Europe and will not be relegated this weekend and will fancy their chances against a side that has nothing to play for. Three losses, two wins and a draw in their last six games on the road shows how inconsistent Swansea are right now and with Villa having plenty to play for and Swansea the opposite we see a fourth win in a row for Sherwood and his players this weekend.
Outcome – Home win.
Newcastle v Arsenal:
Newcastle come into this match against the Gunners having won just two of their ten Premier League matches in 2015, and these came against two of the bottom six in Hull and Aston Villa. They are struggling with a large injury and suspension list for this weekend’s game, and with their guests having won five games in a row and eight of their last nine in the Premier League this match looks as if it’ll be a struggle for the Magpies.
Arsenal showed how they can perform during the week as they triumphed 2-0 in Monaco as they came within inches of progressing to the last eight stage of the Champions League. With them just a point behind Man City in second place in the league they’ll be looking to keep the challenge going on them for a place in the Champions League as the pressure from Man United and Liverpool below increases too.
Outcome – Arsenal to edge the game and take all three points.
Southampton v Burnley:
Both Ronald Koeman and Sean Dyche will see this match at St. Mary’s as a must win game as Southampton look to close the four point gap to Liverpool and the Europa League spot above them while their guests look to move out of the relegation zone at the expense of Sunderland. Burnley won the first meeting between the sides this season with a 1-0 home victory in December and after ending an eight game winless streak by beating Man City 1-0 last weekend they will believe that can upset the odds once again.
Southampton have won just one in five and have won just once in six home matches since New Year’s Day. Both sides are struggling for goals of late with just three and five scored respectively in their last six games and we believe that this clash will be another close game.
Outcome – Low scoring game that is likely to end as a draw. If either side will snatch all three points, the visitors offer plenty of value to do so.
Stoke v Crystal Palace:
Just like Aston Villa, the away side in this Stoke v Crystal Palace game at the Britannia Stadium are showing an upturn in form under a new manager as former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has collected 16 points for the Londoners in eight games with five wins and a draw after they’d taken just 17 in the first 21 matches of the season. He’s guided them to wins over Burnley, Leicester and West Ham on the road before suffering a late 1-0 loss to Southampton in their last away game, so he and his players will be confident about winning this Saturday afternoon.
Stoke will be looking to bounce back from the 1-0 defeat at West Brom last weekend and with only Manchester United winning on this ground in six league clashes since before Christmas Mark Hughes will be confident too. The first clash between the teams this season ended 1-1 and our EPL expert can see another game that both of these sides find the net.
Outcome – This match could see either side win or them share the spoils, but back both teams to score.
Tottenham v Leicester:
Last weekend’s performance at Old Trafford for Spurs was one of the worst defensive performances seen in the league this season, but with them having gone unbeaten in nine home Premier League games at White Hart Lane and you can be sure that Mauricio Pochettino has motivated his players for this match against bottom of the league Leicester so there should a big change for the North London side this Saturday.
Top scorer for the Londoners Harry Kane has netted 16 times this season, including once in the 2-1 win at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day, which is just once fewer than Leicester have managed all season. The visitors are without a win in seven and with Kane looking to celebrate his England call up we see goals from the highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League in an easy home win.
Outcome – An easy home win for Tottenham with Harry Kane to find the net at least once.
West Ham v Sunderland:
Both of the sides involved in the late Premier League kick off on Saturday need to win this match as the hosts at the Boleyn Ground have lost their early season form that saw them challenging for a European place as they now sit tenth in the league 17 points off fourth place and Sunderland have lost their manager after 4-0 thumping at home to Aston Villa last weekend.
West Ham have won none of their last seven in the league and have beaten only Hull in 12 matches since before Christmas, while their guests are without all three points in six games and have beaten on Burnley in 12. The teams drew 1-1 in December but are struggling for goals and confidence at the moment so we expect another close game.
Outcome – We expect a draw, but Sunderland may experience a resurgence under new manager Dick Advocaat and they could upset the odds in East London. We see Sunderland taking at least a point on Saturday evening.
Liverpool v Man United:
The first Premier League match on Sunday is the weekend’s biggest clash as two massive rivals meet at Anfield in this 5th v 4th game. Liverpool can leap their guests this weekend to find themselves in a Champions League spot should they be able to take all three points and with five straight wins and 13 unbeaten matches in the EPL since losing to this weekend’s opposition in December they are certainly showing great form at the right time of the season.
United have won six of their last eight Premier League games, but they do not win many away games either as they have just two triumphs, against QPR and Newcastle, in seven matches away games since their win over their hosts three months ago at Old Trafford. United have won on just a single occasion in seven meetings between the teams at Anfield and despite Wayne Rooney rediscovering his goal scoring form lately it will still be tough for them to take all three points this weekend.
Outcome – The match could see either side take all three points, but our EPL expert sees goals at Anfield as seven of the last nine meetings have seen at least three goals.
Hull v Chelsea:
After a loss to Stoke and draws with Sunderland and Leicester in their last three matches Steve Bruce and Hull City will know they have a tough task on their hands to end their winless streak this weekend as they welcome the league leaders to the KC Stadium. They have not beaten anyone sitting higher than 12th in the table on home soil this season and with them finding the net just once in three matches before this weekend they will struggle against Jose Mourinho’s men.
Chelsea have won all of the last three matches against Hull and with the home side having top goalscorer Nikica Jelavic out for six weeks after knee surgery we see the home team again struggling. Chelsea have won all of their last three away games in the Premier League and have not lost away from Stamford Bridge since January 1st. They are not as free scoring on the road as in West London right now, but they will have enough to see off the relegation battling home team.
Outcome – Chelsea to take all three points.
QPR v Everton:
The final game of the weekend comes from Loftus Road and pits two out of sorts sides against each other, but it will be the home side that will fancy their chances more of the two teams. QPR may have lost all of their last four games and are searching for their first three point haul on home soil since before Christmas, eight games ago, but in Charlie Austin they have the league’s fourth top scorer and if he can add more to his 15 goal tally the Londoners should be able to close the gap to safety this Sunday evening.
Everton returned to England on Friday after a heavy 5-2 loss in the second leg of the Europa League last 16 stage to Dynamo Kyiv and their domestic away form does not make for easy reading for Toffees fans either. They have lost eight of their last nine away league games and their last five road trips in the EPL have seen just one goal. This poor form coupled with the extra game time and travelling leads our man in the know to believe that Chris Ramsey and QPR will know that this will be their best chance at taking all three points in more than six weeks since their last win.
Outcome – Expect a close game between two sides lacking confidence, but there will be goals and QPR will take at least a point against the team from Merseyside.