The E.P.L is back after the last international break of the year and the many impending questions will be answered at the end of game week 13. The biggest; will Chelsea fortunes start to change? Will Leicester stars stumble? How will Man – City fair without their two main strikers? And has Klopp’s effect been lost at Liverpool?
In game week 12, no team scored more than two goals and only Manchester united won by more than a goal. It was a tough weekend but expect a flurry of goals this weekend with some electrifying matches lined up from foot of the table battle between Chelsea and Norwich to the London derby between Tottenham and Westam.
Watford v Manchester United 1545hrs (All times E.A.T)
The action kicks off at Vicarage Road where Watford entertains Man-Utd in the early kick-off. Watford will be my surprise team this season to beat the chop. They have a slightly in experienced squad but are very efficient. They remind me of the “Sam Alladyce Bolton.” They are a very difficult team to break down and it will be interesting to see how L.V.G’s boys will penetrate their “9-man” defense with Utd’s lethargic passing game. The Watford defence has let in few goals at home this season and were it not for a crazy 12min concentration lapse against Arsenal it would have been only the one Palace goal. They have managed to shut out Southampton, Swansea and Westham.
Van Gaal seem to yield to the fans’ demands, “attack! ,attack! ,attack!” . Utd’s last two matches he shifted to a 4-4-2 with Rooney and Martial being paired upfront, but with Mercurial Martial limping off the England friendly, he might revert back to his usual 4-5-1 with Rooney the lone striker. Utd are only two points adrift top spot which is pretty descent considering how they have played this season, but they have their defence to thank for it, especially eve present Chris Smalling and David De Gea.
It will be an interesting battle between Smalling and Ighalo and Deenay and Jones. I know Jones will be preferred to Blind because of Watford’s aerial threat. I however think ManUtd will win this one and keep another clean sheet. Anders Herrera to prove the difference in the game with Rooney to continue his good form in front of goal.
Prediction Watford 0 : ManUtd 2
Chelsea v Norwich City 1800hrs
Chelsea welcomes Norwich to Stamford Bridge, a team one point above them in the league table. A relegation battle in the offing? Maybe. Norwich couldn’t have found Chelsea at a better moment. I heard someone joke that Aston Villa are on the brink of losing their place at the bottom of the league due to Chelsea’s pressure to get to the bottom. It is unbelievable what is going on at the Chelsea camp and their fans are hoping the international break may bring change of fortunes but I do not think it will.
Chelsea have lost seven out of the 12 league games played, their worst ever start to a league. This has left Mourinho with a haunted looking face in interviews vis-a- vis his bubbly self - “I love it!” I can’t help it. Will there nightmare end this week? It should, but I don’t think it will. Norwich were picking up well before the international break unlucky to lose away to ManCity and beating Swansea at home. Alex Neil employed a 5-4-1 formation against ManCity and I think he will do them same and try and catch Chelsea on the break, this is most likely to work as Chelsea have lacked creativity and their defence leaky. Mourinho will not make it to the end of the season at Chelsea; yes quote me. Not unless he does something about his defence in the January transfer window..IF he makes it to January. Chelsea will rise back up, to no.8 maybe but not in this game.
Prediction Chelsea 1: Norwich 1
Westbrom Albion v Arsenal 1800hrs
Arsenal were high flying before they went to Germany and were reduced back to earth and earth they will remain. They face a difficult away trip to Westbrom where they always struggle but win somehow over the years. The last time Arsenal lost at the Hawthorns was 10years ago and Kanu was on target for Westbrom. This season Westbrom has a habit of losing to teams above them with a 2- 3 score line. Will we see one here again. I am tempeted to go for a draw here but as I said, Arsenal always steal a winner here but Pulis will want a win here after losing at Old Trafford so he might go with Rondon and Berahino upfront and it will pay dividends. Westbrom always take an early lead but crumble in the second half.
Prediction Westbrom 1: Arsenal 1
Southampton F.C v Stoke City 1800hrs
A cagey match at the St.Mary’s expected between these two hard to beat teams. Southampton however should have enough firepower to take down Stoke City’s organized defence. Tadic, Mane and Pelle are in red hot form and will pull the strings for Soton. With Stoke you never know which team will show up, a flat display or a completely spectacular Stoke.
Prediction: Southampton 2: Stoke City 0
Everton V Aston Villa 1800hrs
My easiest pick for the weekend as Everton are in a formidable run and Villa are just my “Big team for the Drop” this season. The new manager not losing on the 1st home game will have weaned off and Everton will tear them apart if Kone, Lukaku and the stars, Deulofeu and Stones show up.
A.Villa have lost all their away games this season after the opening day win at Bournemouth and Goodison Park is not an ideal ground to end this run. Expect a flurry of goals here but Everton to win comfortably courtesy of their red hot attack force.
Prediction: Everton 3 : Aston Villa 0
Swansea v Bournemouth 1800hrs
Swansea will host Bounemouth at the Liberty stadium this weekend. It will be a nice match to watch for total football lovers considering both teams like to posses the ball and knock it around nicely. I expect Swansea to see this off after a few draws and surprising losses they will win this match and ease the pressure on Gary Monk whose sack rumours have started surfacing. Sacking Monk will be a big mistake for Swansea though I know he will survive because he has a good squad and as soon as Gomis gets his scoring boots on again.
Swansea will win this duel in the end.
Prediction: Swansea 1: Bournemouth 0
Newcastle United v Leicester City 1800hrs
This is my game for the weekend. Expect fireworks at St.James’ Park. Red hot Foxes come into this game sitting 3rd in the league table. Top scorer Vardy has a slight injury concern but I think he will be fit to continue his imperious form in front of goal. Newcastle have recently had a change of fortune and notched up a few points but I think Ranieri’s boys will be better than them. Steve McClaren is getting it rough as the E.P.L has really changed since his last coaching spell to a more competitive league . Newcastle have a bunch of average players and will be in the relegation fight this season.
Expect goals in this one as both teams have leaky defences but with Mahrez, Vardy and D. Drinkwater still in their zones they will win this one.
Prediction Newcastle 1 : Leicester 3
Manchester City v Liverpool 1800hrs
It is deemed the big one for the weekend and yes, it will bring on a show. Some surprising statistic here, Manchester City have conceded at least a goal in all their home games in all competitions since the beginning of September so expect goals here. With Otamendi picking form, maybe the stats might change but not in this game. I believe the key to City’s easy march to the title is keeping Otamendi and Aguero fit.
The big focus in this game will be Raheem Sterling. This is his 1st game against his old club after the big money move in the summer and he will be keen to impress. Everyone now agree Raheem made a well – calculated move looking at the performances at the two clubs. It will be interesting to watch the Sterling Clyne battle. With both Bony and Aguero both out of this tie,it will be interesting to see if Pellegrini will stick with the youngster Iheanacho or go with De Bryune upfront but whatever choice Pellegrini will make, with Yaya and Fernandinho in that midfield; Liverpool will have no chance. The Klopp effect will end this weekend and the pressure will pick up again. Liverpool are not playing quite well currently and it will take some luck to get a point at the Etihad stadium.
Liverpool has Coutinho pulling the strings but alone he will not be able to break City. The only hope for Liverpool might be Sturridge who is back in training but it will still be a huge ask. For me the player they miss most is Henderson, who for me is the new holding factor to the team. Liverpool were lucky against Bournemouth & Southhampton and beat a flat Chelsea, ManCity will be looking to bounce back after the draw with Villa with a win.
Prediction: ManCity 3 : Liverpool 1
Tottenham Hotspur v Westham United 1900hrs
Another London derby for Tottenham. I have a feeling the Spurs fans will love these derbies this season and Spurs might just nick Chelsea’s spot in the top four this season. Westham have just lost their signing of the season to injury, Dimitri Payet. It will hit them hard, coach Bilic will hope Alex Song comes in soon to try fill the void left but Payet’s class can’t be matched. Tottenham were unlucky against Arsenal last time out not to pick all the three points but I can bet my money on Kane being on the score sheet and the Lily whites winning this match. Pochettino has found his groove this time round, thanks to the form of D.Alli, Moussa Dembele, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen.
It will be a hard fought win but Tottenham will take the bragging rights here.
Prediction: Tottenham 2 : Westham 0
Crystal Palace v Sunderland 2300hrs
Game week thirteen ends with this encounter at Selhurst Park. This is a no brainer, Pardew will win this match in his sleep. Sunderland will not be able to keep up with Palace’s pace, agility and individual talent on display. Zaha is back to his best, Bolasie is getting the goals, Cabaye is brilliant at the centre and the rock at the back Scott Dann. Where will Sunderland go through?
Palace have their strikers out injured but Cabaye upfront will do the magic. Big Sam’s boys will try and make it difficult for Palace by having nine guys behind the ball but finally they will be broken down.
Prediction C.Palace 2: Sunderland 0
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