Premier League Preview: Gameweek 16

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In the same week that our very own Ben Harrison jetted off to South America (no, we didn’t get an invite to the World Cup draw) Arsenal found their lead at the top of the table increase to five points while Sunderland found themselves five points adrift at the bottom. What do this week’s fixtures have in store and can they help me rise even further up the Hit Row Z Fantasy League? Here’s my Premier League Preview for Gameweek 16…

Man City v Arsenal
We are once again treated to two mouth-watering fixtures bookending the weekend’s matches, and our curtain raiser is a mammoth clash at the top of the table. Both teams have now qualified for the knockout stages, although City proved they have character after beating Champions League holders Bayern from two goals down, while Arsenal showed they weren’t completely infallible in their defeat in Naples.

I’m calling a 2-1 home win in this one, with Arsenal’s lead in the league being significantly reduced.

Cardiff v West Brom
Malky Mackay’s men have only won one in their last nine league games so will see the urgency to win this six pointer against the Baggies, who share the same underwhelming statistic with their opponents. A defeat against fellow strugglers Norwich last week means the Canaries leapfrogged Steve Clarke’s side, and the Scot will most certainly do anything to prevent that happening again.

I predict a scrappy 1-1 draw in the Welsh Capital, satisfying neither manager.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Mourinho’s men were undone last week thanks to a last minute wonder strike from Oussama Assaidi. After a midweek win in Europe, the Blues will be hopeful of a second successive victory at Stamford Bridge. Tony Pulis will most certainly have other ideas. A win could lift Palace right out of the relegation zone and will not roll over for the side occupying third spot in the league.

Even so, I feel Mourinho will demand all three points claimed in style after a poor defensive display last week. 2-0 home win.

Everton v Fulham
Relatively speaking, the Toffees are the in-form side in the league right now, fresh from picking up four points from Old Trafford and the Emirates. Martinez is gaining plaudits and rightly so, however the Spaniard will have to remember how to beat a club struggling in the league again (all Man Utd jokes preempted). Rene ‘The Mule’ Meulensteen arrested a run of six straight defeats against Aston Villa and would do well to steal a point from Goodison Park.

1-0 to Everton.

Newcastle v Southampton
Alan Pardew faces his old side fresh from rewriting the record books (I trust he has administrative support for this?) and a famous victory at Old Trafford against a Man Utd side really feeling the pressure, unlike the Magpies. The Saints are without a win in four now and will be eager to recover from what has been a fairly demanding run of fixtures. The last two visitors to St James’ Park have left with one goal and no points, however I think Pochettino’s side may not travel home empty-handed.

An entertaining 1-1 keeps both managers happy.

West Ham v Sunderland
Another six pointer (a phrase I’m clearly using far too often at the moment) and another crucial game for both managers, although its fair to say Poyet edges Allardyce on ‘points necessity’. The Uruguayan has delivered only seven points from a possible 30 in the last ten league games, although Big Sam can only boast eight from the same time period. A defeat for Sunderland could mean their distance of five points from 19th place may increase.

This will arguably be the least cultured encounter of the weekend, and I foresee a 1-0 win to the Hammers.

Hull v Stoke
In a fixture I predicted would be a relegation fight at the start of the season, Hull and Stoke collide in what can be described as a mid-table affair. Classy. Both teams lie within five points of the dotted line, so not quite the right time to get too complacent. Mark Hughes inspired the Potters to a superb win at the weekend, while Danny Graham’s first league goal in 17 years was enough to snatch a draw at an improving Swansea City. Expect a defiant home support voicing their concerns at a potentially official name change to Tigers, and rightly so in this blogger’s humble opinion.

I can see a goalless end to this one – 0-0.

Aston Villa v Man Utd
This fixture has previously delivered some interesting encounters and I expect nothing less this time round. the home side have enjoyed some solid form (one defeat in their last six) while the visitors only have one win in their last five. Troubling times for Mr Moyes who has magically turned the fortress of Old Trafford into somewhat of a bouncy castle. Lucky for him, he travels to Villa Park where I’m sure Man Utd must have won a few FA Cup semi-finals in their time, right? Omen? The pace of Agbonlahor and Weimann still remains Villa’s obvious threat, although Lambert’s men could well cause a headache from set pieces against a defence lacking stability.

I don’t see three straight league defeats for Man Utd and think they’ll steal a 2-1 victory.

Norwich v Swansea
Both Chris Hughton and Michael Laudrup have enjoyed a slight upturn in fortunes of late, although following the win-lose-win-lose form pattern of the Canaries, they are set to lose this one. Apart from losing against Man City, the Swans have been picking up enough points to see them grace the top half, albeit poking their heads above the parapet. Both sides could do with their star strikers to be fully fit and on top form if they are to climb further up the table, but both will most likely endure a similar disadvantage given van Wolfswinkel and Bony’s respective injuries.

Tottenham v Liverpool
Superb Sunday culminates in a fiery encounter as former Chelsea employees Andre Villas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers lock horns. Despite Spurs’ recent criticism, they still remain only three points behind the Reds and will eye an opportunity to claw their way into the top four. Standing in their way is future England World Cup opponent Luis Suarez who has goals escaping from almost every orifice right now. Scoring enough goals for both himself and the injured Daniel Sturridge, Suarez will be setting his sights on a once stubborn defence that has now failed to chalk up a clean sheet in their last five matches. In the same period, Liverpool have hit the net 17 times…Uh oh.

This one should be a belter and could go either way. I’m calling a 2-2 draw.


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