We’re all in agreement that this has been one of the craziest season in Barclays Premier League history right? Well, actually, if you take out the team that everyone thought would be in the relegation but is actually leading the league (Leicester) and the team that everyone thought would be leading the league but is actually near the relegation zone (Chelsea), the table pretty much looks exactly the way we expected it to.
That doesn’t mean there still aren’t some unusual factors. If you remember back to the first month of the season I pointed out that home teams were struggling to win games at an alarming rate. Through the first four weeks, home teams won just nine of 40 games. Of course on match-day five, seven home teams won and I decided to shove that theory. The only problem with that is since then, while away teams are winning slightly less often, home teams aren’t winning any more often. Through 15 weeks, home teams have won just 36 percent of their games, away teams are right behind them at 33 percent.
What this means is that anything truly can happen in any given day. Does this mean I’m going to pick Bournemouth to knock off Chelsea and Manchester United in back to back weeks? You’ll just have to wait and see, though that would be crazy, right?
Crystal Palace vs. Southampton (10:00 AM Saturday)
Do you remember early in the season when everyone was enthralled with Crystal Palace and West Ham but Southampton just kept quietly doing exactly what they did last season? That’s not happening anymore. Recently, Southampton have been bad–really bad. The Saints haven’t won a game since November 7, which is before the last international break. Their defending has been atrocious and their ability to score has been non-existent. However, despite Palace’s five goal outburst at home against Newcastle a few weeks ago, I’m still not buying their ability to score goals in droves, and their home record this season has been surprisingly poor. This one seems like it ends in a 1-1 draw.
Manchester City vs. Swansea (10:00 AM Saturday)
I’m still having trouble buying into Manchester City even after their midweek win in the Champions League. Mainly because I’m still not buying in to the de Bruyne-Sterling-Silva triumvirate, who once against struggled when playing together. City didn’t get their flourish of goals until after Kevin de Bruyne was subbed off. If there was ever a case to be made for too much creativity, Manchester City is making it.
Now they take on a Swansea side who are playing without a manager. Last time they faced a manager-less side they drew with Aston Villa. The difference is this time they plat at home. Manchester City win 3-1.
Bournemouth vs. Manchester United (12:30 AM Saturday)
Even though I’ve been warning you since before the season–then the whole first month of the season–that Chelsea would be really bad, for some reason I keep falling into the trap of “surely they won’t lose this home game,” which is why I only picked Bournemouth to get a draw last week. I underestimated the Cherries and that’s on me, but surely Bournemouth can’t beat Chelsea and United in back to back weeks.
If there was ever a time to draw Chelsea and United in back to back weeks that time is right now. Practically everyone on United is injured at the moment, including Chris Smalling, the heart and sole of their defense. That leaves Daley Blind as not their only healthy first team center back, and he’s not even a center back. Furthermore, five of United’s last 10 matches have ended 0-0, which quick math says is every other game. Well last game United scored not one but two goals, effectively using up their goal scoring for the week. That’s right, *upset pick of the week* Bournemouth does the impossible and grabs the 1-0 win.
Tottenham vs. Newcastle (11:00 AM Sunday)
When you’ve been picking games every week like I have, you start to learn how to decipher when one game is the start of a trend or if it’s just a blip on the radar. Newcastle’s win last week against Liverpool? That’s just a blip on the radar. This week they face a very good defensive Tottenham side, whose offense is waiting to break out after two lackluster weeks. Tottenham win 4-0.
Leicester City vs. Chelsea (3:00 PM Monday)
It’s no. 1 vs. no. 14, just like we expected! Well sort of. The only two out-of-place teams in the table square off in a Monday afternoon showdown.
For Chelsea, you have to throw out their 2-0 midweek win over Porto. Chelsea is like last season’s Dortmund, as in they always seem to put things together in Europe and then go back to completely falling apart domestically just a few days later. Since the Premier League loves serving up craziness, wouldn’t it be ironic if lowly Chelsea couldn’t beat anyone but managed to beat first place Leicester? It would be, but it’s almost too ironic that everyone sees it coming. I can’t go with everyone and I can’t forget about Chelsea’s inability to defend (though having Thibaut Courtois back helps out there) and their inability to score. Leicester City win 2-1.
Rest of the games
If you’re looking for a week to sleep in this is your week. The early game should be good for a few Everton goals, but I can’t expect Norwich to give them much of a game. 3-0 Everton.
Do you know when the last time West Ham scored more then one goal in a game? October 24th against Chelsea. That’s six weeks ago, and that’s not good news as they face Stoke side with confidence after beating Manchester City. Make it two wins in a row and four of five for the Potters, 1-0.
Watford have lost five games this season. Those losses have come against Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Leicester City, and Crystal Palace, five of the top six teams in the league. The Hornets quietly managed to sneak up to 10th place despite playing the toughest schedule so far. Now they get to face the minions that Leicester has been beating up on. That’s bad new for Sunderland. 2-0 Watford.
While Arsenal fans have been thinking of all the different injury excuses they can make, the Gunners have quietly gone unbeaten in their past four games. Other then dull draw against Norwich they’ve looked really good doing it as well. Now that they’re starting to get healthy it’s hard to see Aston Villa getting in their way. 3-0 Arsenal.
Enjoy the games!