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EPL Week 15 - Saturday Preview

SoccergracieottoComment
EPL Week 15 - Saturday Preview

Watford v Everton @ Vicarage Road

The early kickoff on Saturday comes from Vicarage Road where Watford host Everton in a mid-table struggle. After a great start to the season, Watford have lost 3 of their last 4 matches including their last two games against Stoke and West Brom. Central to their problems in the last four matches has been shipping goals having conceded 12 in their past 4 games, after conceding just 3 in the previous 6 games. Everton's strong start to the season when they had a run of four consecutive victories ended in September. Everton have won just one of their previous nine Premier League matches, however fought hard to secure a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United last week with a late penalty to Leighton Baines earning them a share of the spoils. Watford have not beaten Everton in any competitive match since 1987, with Everton being unbeaten in their last 11 matches against Watford. Last year the sides played out a dull 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road. 

Verdict - Watford 1 Everton 1

Both these sides seem out of sorts in the last month, so favouring a draw here. Can see this game being low scoring with both sides a bit short on confidence, one goal could be enough for either side to win this one I feel. \

 

Arsenal v Stoke @ Emirates Stadium

The Gunners will be looking to be equal at the top with leaders Chelsea with a victory  against Stoke on Saturday. Arsene Wenger's men are on a high of late, having crushed West Ham 5-1 and finished first in their Champions League Group courtesy of a 4-1 win over FC Basel. Striker Alexis Sanchez has been in red hot form of late, having netted 8 goals from his last 13 matches in all competitions, including a marvellous hat trick against West Ham. With rumours about his long term future, Arsenal can ill afford to lose a player of his quality. Stoke are on an outstanding run of form themselves, having lost just 1 of their last 8 Premier League games, with 4 wins and 3 draws. Central to that run of form has been the return of their water tight defence, with just 4 goals conceded in that run of 8 games. Stoke have a truly awful record at Arsenal having lost their last 14 matches against them away from home, with their last victory coming way back in 1981/82.

Verdict - Arsenal 3 Stoke 1 

Stoke have a horrible record at Arsenal and I can't see them turning that around here despite their recent run of form. Alexis Sanchez in particular seems to be in the mood of late and I can see him adding to his tally here and the Gunners continuing on their free scoring ways. 

Burnley v Bournemouth @ Turf Moor

Burnley will be looking to arrest a three game losing slide when they host Bournemouth at Turf Moor on Saturday. After a strong start to the season, Burnley have fallen away of late sitting in 14th place, just 3 points ahead of the relegation zone. Burnley have conceded 8 in their past 3 losses, however their form at Turf Moor this year has been strong with 4 victories, 1 draw and narrow defeats to powerhouses Arsenal and Manchester City. Bournemouth are enjoying life in the top half of the Premier League table sitting in 10th after 14 rounds. They are fresh from one of their most memorable results in the Club's history, having come from 3-1 down in the last 20 minutes to eclipse Liverpool 4-3. Eddie Howe's men were dominated for long periods in the game,  however showed quality and fighting spirit to dislodge a Liverpool team seen as potential Champions this season. Burnley have a remarkable record at Turf Moor against Bournemouth having never lost to them at Turf Moor, with 7 wins and 6 draws, with Saturday's game the first ever between the teams in the top flight of English football. 

Verdict - Burnely 2 Bournemouth 2

Tricky game to call here with Burnley hard to beat at home and Bournemouth riding the high of that astonishing come-from-behind victory over Liverpool. I reckon this game will be end-to-end with plenty of goal mouth action. 

Hull City v Crystal Palace @ KC Stadium

It's a crucial match up between fellow strugglers Hull City and Crystal Palace when they meet at the KC Stadium on Saturday. Despite being through to the League Cup Semi-Finals, Hull are on a wretched run of form in  the Premier League, which has seen them slump to 19th spot. Hull had just won one of their past 12 Premier League matches and had another bitter blow last week with a tight 1-0 loss at Middlesbrough. Crystal Palace broke a horrible run of six straight Premier League losses with a commanding 3-0 victory over Southampton at Selhurst Park. The result was enough to momentarily take the heat off besieged manager Alan Pardew, however Palace remain just 3 points away from the relegation zone sitting in 14th spot. Pardew will become the 5th English manager to coach 300 games in the Premier League when his side runs out on Saturday.  When the sides last met in the Premier League at the KC Stadium in October of 2014, Hull ran out 2-0 winners. 

Verdict - Hull 1 Crystal Palace 2

I could not take Hull against anyone at the moment and I can see them being rolled again being by fellow strugglers Palace. Despite losing six in a row,  Palace had several opportunities to achieve better results, and after that horror run and their 3-0 win last week should be the start of building some momentum back in their season. 

Swansea City V Sunderland @ Liberty Stadium

It's a desperate battle at the bottom of the table as Sunderland visit the Liberty Stadium and last placed Swansea on Saturday. David Moyes' men are on somewhat of a hot streak, having won 3 of their past 4 Premier League matches after experiencing a terrible start to the campaign. Sunderland have been much steadier at the back in the last month having conceded just 4 goals in their last 4 games, including a 2-1 home victory over Champions Leicester City in their last start. After being a clear last for much of the campaign, Sunderland are now up to 18th, just one point below the relegation zone. The same cannot be said for Swansea City who are rooted in last position, having been thrashed 5-0 at Tottenham in their last game. Bob Bradley is under intense pressure to hold on to his job with Swansea, leaking goals at an alarming rate. Swansea have been conceding goals in their past 5 games at an average of over 3 goals per game. Swansea have lost just one of their past 8 Premier League games against Sunderland, however that defeat came in the last match up at the Liberty Stadium where Sunderland won a wild game 4-2. 

Verdict - Swansea City 2 Sunderland 3 

I am going for Moyes' men to win a fourth game from five, and continue Bob Bradley's nightmare at Swansea. I just think Sunderland have a bit more resolve about them than Swansea at the moment, and that could prove crucial in a tight game. I expect this game to have plenty of goals and plenty of mistakes to keep the fans on the edge of their seats. 

Leicester City v Manchester City @ King Power Stadium 

Champions Leicester City are in danger of being sucked into a relegation struggle as they host Manchester City in the late kick off on Saturday evening. The Champions are on a rotten run of form, having lost 3 and drawn 2 of their past 5 Premier League games, leaving them precariously placed in 16th place just 2 points above the relegation zone. Leicester also copped a 5-0 battering from Porto in midweek, despite already qualifying for the final 16 in the Champions League. Manchester City are suddenly 4 points off the top of the table having lost a high octane top of the table clash to Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium. City dominated the contest for long parts and should have led by more than a goal before Chelsea seized the initiative and scored three goals in the final half an hour to taken command at the top of the table. It's been a puzzling run of form for City who had a 5-point lead at the top of the table after five games. With Sergio Aguero out for four games and Fernandinho out for three games due to their remarkable acts of ill-discipline at the end of last week's game, it shapes as a tricky month for Guardiola in the lead up to the New Year. 

Verdict - Manchester City 2 Leicester City 1 

Going for a Manchester City victory although not convinced about their recent form, especially given no Aguero or Fernandinho. Leicester are playing with little confidence at the moment and, despite being at home where they are much tougher to beat, I don't think they will get anything out of this game.