It’s EPL time again and with only six games to go everything is still to be decided. Chelsea look dead certs to win the EPL, while Arsenal, Manchester United and Man City look good for a spot in next year’s Champions League. However, Liverpool still have an outside shot at landing in the top four, while Tottenham and Southampton are close behind waiting to snatch their Europa Cup spot.
At the bottom of the table it is all still open with any team from 20th to 13th in danger of being relegated.
Last week’s predictions
|Crystal Palace v West Brom||0-2||3-1|
|Everton v Burnley||1-0||2-0|
|Leicester v Swansea||2-0||2-1|
|Stoke v Southampton||2-1||0-0|
|Chelsea v Man Utd||1-0||1-1|
|Arsenal v Reading (FA Cup)||2-1||3-1|
|Man City v West Ham||2-0||3-0|
|Newcastle v Tottenham||1-3||1-2|
|Liverpool v Aston Villa (FA Cup)||1-2||1-1|
This week’s predictions
|Southampton v Tottenham||2-1|
|Burnley v Leicester||1-2|
|Crystal Palace v Hull||2-1|
|Newcastle v Swansea||1-1|
|QPR v West Ham||2-0|
|Stoke v Sunderland||2-0|
|West Brom v Liverpool||1-2|
|Man City v Aston Villa||2-1|
|Everton v Man Utd||1-2|
|Arsenal v Chelsea||2-0|
Southampton v Tottenham
Southampton lost last week and continue to experience their worst form of the season. The Saints lost 2-1 away to Stoke to all but end their aspirations of landing a spot in the Champions League next season.
Ronald Koeman’s side started the season extremely well and at one-point looked like a good bet to finish in the top four, however, they have stuttered in the last few months and have now just won three of their last nine EPL games.
Tottenham won 3-1 away to Newcastle last week, but still look unlikely to challenge for a Champions League spot. Spurs, like Southampton, looked like they were going to challenge all the way to the last game, but they have been poor recently – They have won just four of their last 12 matches in all competitions (D3, L5) – and realistically are fighting for a place in the Europa Cup.
Harry Kane was once again on the score sheet for the north Londoners, and became only the fourth Spurs player to hit 20 or more EPL goals in a season – Gareth Bale, Jurgen Klinsmann and Teddy Sheringham – and the third player aged 21 or younger to score 20 EPL goals in a season – Robbie Fowler (28 in 1995-96 and 25 in 1994-95) and Chris Sutton (25 in 1993-94).
Southampton are without Victor Wanyama, who is banned, while Filip Djuricic, Fraser Forster and Jay Rodriguez are out injured.
Tottenham could call back keeper Hugo Lloris, who has returned from a knee injury, but Kyle Walker is out with a foot injury.
Southampton have lost just four of the 15 times they have hosted Spurs in the EPL. However, the Saints are not playing well and are struggling to score goals – they have scored just eight goals in their last 11 league matches. Nevertheless, I think the added spice of former coach Mauricio Pochettino returning to St. Mary’s will get the crowd going and push the Saints to another victory.
West Brom v Liverpool
West Brom won 2-0 away to Crystal Palace last week to end a miserable run of recent results. That win all but ensures the Baggies another season in the EPL and takes the pressure off manager Martin Pulis.
Liverpool did not play an EPL game last week, but suffered a major disappointment by losing their FA Cup semi-final with Aston Villa. The Reds actually took the lead through Brazilian midfielder Philipe Coutinho, but Villa were by far the better team and were well worth their victory in the end.
West Brom midfilerder Youssouf Mulumbu is suspended, while on-loan defender Andre Wisdom is ineligible to face his parent club.
Liverpool remain without Daniel Sturridge, Mamadou and Lucas Leiva who are all out injured.
Liverpool won their first four games at West Brom in the EPL, but have earned just one win in their last four visits to the Hawthorns (D1, L2). However, the Baggies have lost their last two games at home and I think the Reds will make it three in a row.
Man City v Aston Villa
Champions Manchester City bounced back from their disappointment in the Manchester Derby with a good win against West Ham last week.
The Sky Blues won 2-0 and thoroughly dominated the game from start to finish. Striker Sergio Aguero scored his 20th EPL goal of the season and became only the second City player after Carlos Tevez, to score 20 or more Premier League goals for the club in two different seasons.
Aston Villa did not play in the EPL last week, but enjoyed one of their best result in years by beating Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final. The Villans played well and striker Christian Benteke was once agin on the scoresheet – the Belgian international has scored nine goals in his last seven league and cup games for Aston Villa, having only scored three times in his first 21 appearances. He has scored with 53% of his shots in the Premier League since Tim Sherwood took charge, compared to 5% before his arrival.
Manchester City will be without captain Vincent Kompany, defender Gael Clichy, midfielder Samir Nasri, and striker Stevan Jovetic, who are all out injured. However, Wilfried Bony, David Silva and James Milner are all back in contention following injuries.
Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is in contention to play after recovering from a hamstring injury, while Carlos Shanchez returns from suspension. However, Ciaran Clarke, Alan Hutton and Nathan Baker remain out.
Manchester City have a great recent record against Villa winning their last seven, but the Villans are playing well – they have taken 10 points from their last six league matches, as many as they managed in the previous 15 games. However, City cannot afford to lose any more games this season, as Liverpool will be hot on their heels if they drop any games.
Everton v Man Utd
Everton beat Burnley 1-0 at Goodison Park last week to continue their fine recent form. The Toffees have struggled for most of the season, but they are playing well now and are unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches, winning four of them.
Manchester United’s six-game winning run in the EPL came to an end last week with a 1-0 defeat away to EPL leaders Chelsea. The Red Devils played well and were a tad unfortunate not to come away with a draw, however, they looked a little toothless without Wanye Rooney playing as striker and will probably have to invest in another striker in the summer.
Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar is a major doubt, but fellow midfielders Leon Osman and James McCarthy should return.
Manchester United’s defensive trouble continue with Phil Jones, Marcus Rojo, Daley Blind and Michael Carrick all out injured.
Everton are playing well and looking for their third consecutive victory over United at Goodison Park – In fact, Everton have lost just one of their last six games hosting the Red Devils (W3, D3, L1). However, I think Manchester United have finally begun to find their style and rhythm and I think they will just edge this one.
Arsenal v Chelsea
This game is probably meaningless, as I think Chelsea will win the EPL and Arsenal will get second, however, it is still a massive game and could let us know how far or close Arsenal are from challenging for the EPL tittle.
Arsenal didn’t play in the EPL last week, but won their FA Cup semi final against Reading to get to the FA Cup final for the second year running. Alexis Sanchez scored both goals for the Gunners and now has 21 goals for the season.
Arsenal is aiming for a ninth consecutive league victory. They have won their last 11 matches in all domestic competitions and their tally of 33 points in 2015 is higher than any other Premier League side.
However, the Gunners face a tough task as they face neighbors Chelsea, who they have not scored a goal against in their last four meeting in all competitions – in fact, they have conceded 10 goals in those four games.
Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 last week to all but secure their fourth EPL title. The Blues were once again not at their best, but managed to do just enough to get all three points. Cesc Fabregas scored the all-important goal for the Blues, but has been creating goals most of the season – he has a league-high 16 Premier League assists this season. Only Thierry Henry (20 in 2002-03), Frank Lampard (18 in 2004-05) and Fabregas himself (17 in 2007-08) have ever registered more in a single Premier League campaign.
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker is a doubt after hobbling out of last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final with an ankle problem.
Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlande-Chamerlain are back from injury and could be on the bench.
Chelsea continue to have striker problems with Diego Costa and Loic Remy out, meaning Didier Drogba is likely to continue upfront for the Blues.
Arsenal have won just two of their last 12 EPL games against Chelsea (D2, L8), while manager Arsene Wenger has never beaten Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho (W0 D5 L7). However, the Gunners are currently playing the best stuff in the EPL, while Chelsea seem to scraping wins out, and that’s why I think Arsene Wenger will finally end his hoodoo with Jose Mourinho.