EPL Week 22 – News, Previews and Predictions
EPL Week 22 – News, Previews and Predictions avatar

News

Coloccini asks to leave Newcastle

Coloccini will leave a huge hole in Newcastle's defence and leadership. (Getty images)

Coloccini will leave a huge hole in Newcastle’s defence and leadership. (Getty images)

Newcastle United’s captain Fabrico Coloccini has told the club he wants to leave this January for personal reasons.

Coloccini, who signed from Deportivo La Coruna for £10.3m ($15.45m) in 2008, has made 143 appearances for the Magpies and signed a new four and a half year contract last year.

The 30-year-old defender has not handed in an official transfer request to the club, but feels he can no longer remain in England due to a crisis in his personal life.

Further talks are in planned in the coming days, with Newcastle prepared to do all they can to keep their captain. But behind closed doors club officials fear Colocinni has his heart set on a return to his native Argentina.

If Colocinni does leave it will be the second key player to have left the club in January, with forward Demba Ba having moved to Chelsea earlier in the month.

 

Walcott to sign new deal in coming weeks

Arsenal will be hoping that they can get Walcott to sign a new deal ASAP (Getty Images)

Arsenal will be hoping that they can get Walcott to sign a new deal ASAP (Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger has signaled he expects Theo Walcott to sign a new deal with Arsenal before 31st January.

The 23-year-old England international is in the final 6-months of his contract and could go for free in the summer.

When pressed on whether he thought Walcott would sign before the month was out, Wenger replied: “Yes. We’re on a good road.”

Walcott, who is Arsenal’s top scorer in all competitions with 14 goals, rejected a new five-year deal worth £75,000 ($107.500) a week in August and is thought to be holding out for closer to £100,000 ($150,000) a week.

When asked if Walcott’s desire to play as a striker had complicated the negotiations, Wenger explained: “No, it’s not linked with that.”

“I believe Theo can have a preference maybe to play through the middle, but first of all he never made such conditions to extend his contract. Certainly I would not accept it.”

“Secondly, he is always happy when he plays – on the flank or through the middle? I see him playing more up front.”

 

Previews and Predictions

Arsenal's game against Newcastle was a goal fest. (Getty Images)

Arsenal’s game against Newcastle was a goal fest. (Getty Images)

Well this will be my first batch of Predictions for 2013, as too many pies over the Christmas holidays meant I was in no condition to make any predictions for New Years day.

 

Week 20

Score

My Predictions

SATURDAY
Sunderland v Tottenham 1-2 1-0
Aston Villa v Wigan 0-3 1-1
Fulham v Swansea 1-2 2-1
Man Utd v West Brom 2-0 3-1
Norwich v Man City 3-4 0-1
Reading v West Ham 1-0 1-1
Stoke v Southampton 3-3 2-0
Arsenal v Newcastle 7-3 4-1
SUNDAY
Everton v Chelsea 1-2 2-1
QPR v Liverpool 0-3 1-2

A correct result is worth ONE point, while a correct score earns THREE points.

I got four correct results, with no perfect scores, giving me a dismally low score of 4 points.

The record score thus far is 13 points in week 14, lets see if I can start 2013 the right way and gain an even higher tally.

Week 22

My Predictions

SATURDAY
QPR v Tottenham 1-2
Aston Villa v Southampton 2-2
Everton v Swansea 2-1
Fulham v Wigan 2-0
Norwich v Newcastle 1-0
Reading v West Brom 1-3
Stoke v Chelsea 1-1
Sunderland v West Ham 1-0
SUNDAY
Man Utd v Liverpool 3-1
Arsenal v Man City 2-1

 

SATURDAY

QPR Vs Tottenham

Harry Redknapp will have a point to prove against his old club - who fired him last year. (Getty Images)

Harry Redknapp will have a point to prove against his old club – who fired him last year. (Getty Images)

Week 22 kicks off with QPR manager Harry Redknapp up against the side the sacked him during the summer.

Redknapp has not said much about his departure, but I am sure he still feels hard done by and will be chomping at the bit to get one over his former employers.

QPR have done well since Redknapp took over picking up nine-points from a possible 18, and will fancy their chances of taking on an inform Spurs team on their home turf.

Spurs have put a nice run of games together over the last month and a half, that has seen them slowly progress up the table to third place. They have only lost one of their last 12 games in all competitions, and a win on Saturday would see them move within three points of second place Manchester City who play away to Arsenal of Sunday.

Queens Park Rangers defender Ryan Nelsen is set to play, with no date yet set for his departure to coach Toronto. However, Junior Hoilett is out with a hamstring problem, while Samba Diakite is away on international duty.

Tottenham have no fresh injury concerns, though Saturday’s game will be without forward Emmanuel Adebayor this month as he prepares to depart for African Cup of Nations.

This game has been hyped as a clash between two different personalities and styles. Villas-Boas is famed for his meticulous scouting and preparation, but is still desperate to prove himself after a chastening experience at Chelsea.

On the other hand, Redknapp is of the old school of management having overseen over 1200 games, and has criticized modern coaches of “baffling players with hefty pre-match dossiers”.

If this really were a clash between the coaches I would go for Redknapp, but it is not and that is why I am going for Spurs because they have the better players and are the better team.

Predictions: 1-2

 

Stoke Vs Chelsea

John Terry returns from injury and will be hoping to be in the starting lineup (Getty Images)

John Terry returns from injury and will be hoping to be in the starting lineup (Getty Images)

Neither of these teams are in inspired form at the moment and will want to try and get back to winning ways fast having both lost on New Year’s day.

Chelsea lost midweek in the League Cup and Stoke is probably the last place they would have hoped to visit on the back of that defeat, but they may take encouragement from Stoke’s recent poor form –the Potters have won only one of their last seven games. But then again they have only lost one of those last seven, so Chelsea know they will be in for a hard game.

Stoke have no fresh fitness concerns ahead of Saturday’s game. Asmir Begovic and Kenwyne Jones may return after being rested last weekend in the Cup.

Chelsea’s John Terry made his comeback from injury in a development squad fixture on Thursday and is in the squad, though he is unlikely to start.

But Petr Cech remains injured and Victor Moses and John Mikel Obi are on international duty.

Chelsea are not playing well, but they have a brilliant record against Stoke, especially at Stoke’s ground the Britannia Stadium where they have not lost against the Potters since 1975.

I think much of this game will depend on who Chelsea start upfront, as they are up against the tightest defense in the EPL. If Chelsea start Demba Ba they will probably edge this one, as he will give them a physical presence up top and be more of a handful for the Stoke defense than Torres.

But to be honest I think this game will probably end in a stalemate.

Prediction: 1-1

 

SUNDAY

Manchester United Vs Liverpool

Robin van Persie has been on fire and deservedly won the EPL's December player of the month. (Getty Images)

Robin van Persie has been on fire leading his team to the top of the table and deservedly won the EPL’s December player of the month. (Getty Images)

For many this is the EPL’s Classico and Sunday will see England’s two most successful teams tussling it out for the 185th time.

Manchester United are in terrific form at present having won eight of their last nine EPL games, and know a win coupled with a Man City loss later in the day could effectively end the title race, as they would have a ten point lead at the top of the EPL.

United have been conceding goals for fun this season—they have already conceded 28 goals thus far, which is already more than were put past United in an entire season in three of their last four title-winning teams: 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09—however they managed to keep back-to-back shut outs for the first time this season with a 4-0 win over Wigan, and I do not think it is a coincidence that those shut-outs coincided with the return of captain Nemanja Vidic.

Liverpool were on a decent run but have come unstuck in recent weeks with losses to Aston Villa and Stoke City. The Reds are moving in the right direction, and they will be more than up for this game against their arch-rivals. However, Liverpool have yet to beat a side above them in the EPL this season and I do not think they will win at Old Trafford.

Nani and Anderson make their return to the Manchester United squad after being sidelined with hamstring injuries, though Wayne Rooney remains out with a knee injury but should be fit for the FA Cup replay against West Ham on Wednesday.

Liverpool will be without Jose Enrique and Martin Kelly who are still injured, so Andre Wisdom could start at right-back, with Glen Johnson on the left.

New signing Daniel Sturridge could make his league debut after scoring in the FA Cup win over Mansfield.

It is always hard to predict these games, but United have a good record against Livepool—winning seven of the last eight league meetings against the Reds at Old Trafford.

Van Persie and Luiz Suarez are both in exceptional goal scoring form, but the problem for Liverpool is that if Suarez does not have a good day at the office it is hard to see where they will get their goals from, whereas United have a whole host of players who can get you a goal.

And that is why I will go for Manchester United.

Prediction: 3-1

 

Arsenal Vs Manchester City

Yaya Toure (R) will be missing due to the African Cup of Nations. (Getty Images)

Yaya Toure (R) will be missing due to the African Cup of Nations. (Getty Images)

The EPL’s super Sunday culminates with a mouthwatering game, as fifth place Arsenal take on EPL Champions Manchester City.

It will be interesting to see how City approach this game because their result this weekend could define their entire season. If Manchester United beat Liverpool then City will need a win to stay in the race, but should United lose and City win they will be only four points behind their neighbors and right back in with a chance of retaining their EPL crown.

So it seems City have to go for the win. But that will be easier said than done, as Arsenal have a formidable record against City at home—the Gunners have not lost in 27 league encounters against City at home. City’s last league victory came at Highbury in the old Division One on 4 October 1975.

After a spot of trouble all is merry again at Arsenal and they have now won four of their last five EPL games. The Gunners run in form has coincided with Theo Walcott’s deployment as a forward and it will be interesting if Wenger sticks with Walcott upfront.

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud is a fitness doubt after suffering a cut knee in the draw against Swansea.  Though, midfielder Abou Diaby could be involved, having played for the Under-21 side during the week after three months out with a thigh problem.

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero will be out for at least another week with a knee injury. Samir Nasri is still suspended and so will not face his old side, while brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure are at the Africa Cup of Nations. But Aleksandar Kolarov is available again after recovering from a groin injury.

I think Arsenal will have a real go at City and put them to the test early on. City have been pretty solid away from home this season without playing well, but I think the absence of Aguero and Yaya Toure is a massive lose and Arsenal should maintain their exceptional record against the Champions.

Prediction: 2-1

 

 

 

 

About Anthony Ta

Anthony Ta is a writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, specializing in Premier League, Champions League and the Euros.
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