Gameweek 15: Premier League preview, predictions and betting tips
It’s that time of the season when things get thick in England, when intelligent managers with depth to latch on rotate, when games fall on teams like British taxes, when injuries fly around like Virgin airways, the time when the mettle of every genuine title contender is tested without throwing in doubts, this is December, other leagues across the world go on break soon but not here, you want to be champions? This is when to dust the rest by surging clear.
This season is quite different, this is the first time ever that we’re having such massive gap between the leader and their closest rival, all fingers seem to be pointing towards Manchester as the destination of the trophy with City increasingly looking like the team for the title, last few games have been full of struggles, they were lucky with referee calls against Arsenal, had to come from behind late on to beat Huddersfield and scored in the 96th minute to beat Southampton, something off the boots of Sterling again for the umpteenth time this season, it’s been established that you need a bit of luck to be champions anytime, City are getting it not in drops but in excess, but with a squad like that, luck will find you itself.
First thoughts fly around Stamford Bridge, lots of talents but title defence looks like a wishful thinking as the gap seems insurmountable, nothing is impossible with football but the Blues must rally and put in convincing performances on a consistent basis, against Swansea, a team on a downward spiral, Chelsea were wasteful and could even have dropped two points, now they host Newcastle, another team with lots to come up with, losing here and there from a position of comfort, Rafael Benitez has every reason to be worried, now that the vacant post at Everton has been filled with relegation specialist, Sam Alardyce, it’s time for the Spaniard to focus and fix things at St James’s Park, the ship is sinking, he needs to get a hold of the anchor. For Chelsea, it’s a must win with Arsenal breathing down their necks and with the gunners playing a strong opposition this weekend, it’s an opportunity to benefit from whatever result that comes out of that fixture,
Brighton and Hove host Liverpool, the new boys aren’t doing badly as such, they gave a great fight against Manchester United and were solid against Crystal Palace though they couldn’t find the net and did well not to concede either. Liverpool are on a roll, yet to lose in the league since that horrendous day against Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp rotated a bit in midweek and had to call on his talisman, Mohammed Salah when push was in town to shove, talking about the Egyptian, he’s certainly the most prolific forward in the league, he scores almost on all match days and he makes the Kops tick, what a signing he is. Brighton will need all their compactness, all their togetherness and everything they can muster to stop this Liverpool side, with a point enough at home on the final day of UCL qualifications next week, Liverpool will definitely give priorities to this as they have slipped below a little although within touching distance on points.
Everton at home to Huddersfield would be a cracker of sorts, a rejuvenated Everton, with a bogey manager in search of yet another reason to be crowned the messiah up against a team seemingly out of steam, or aren’t they? Huddersfield’s plans were in order until Arsenal turned on the style with Mesut Ozil in the heart of everything, five unreplied goals mark the new boys’ worst outing yet, to think they beat Manchester United and were minutes away from holding City before they collapsed, Everton looks like they are awake while David Wagner’s team needs to stop sliding down...
Elsewhere on Saturday, Leicester City will look to build on the magic of midweek in their own resurgence too when they beat Tottenham Hotspur at the KP Stadium, something that started as early as the first ten minutes, Jamie Vardy latched on to a sensational up field ball on a volley before Mahrez curled in a brilliant second, Kane’s consolation means nothing as Spurs slumped to their third straight shameful result, Burnley, another team on the rise will also look to build on their away win at Bournemouth here and Leicester must be at alert.
Watford rallied late at home to Manchester United but left things open at the back to allow United score the killer fourth, harsh lessons there for them next time they’re looking for an equalizer. They face another big shot, Tottenham, a team in a bit of trouble at a very wrong time, Tottenham haven’t won since beating Crystal Palace by the odd late goal late October, losing to Arsenal without scoring, playing out a 1:1 draw at home with a Westbrom team that hadn’t impressed until against them and then losing at Leicester. Mauricio Pochetino has to fix this now, albeit against a team that has so much to prove too, Watford, the problem lies in the middle for Tottenham, Cristian Eriksen isn’t providing, Dele Alli seems out of gas and Moussa Dembele looks unfit, Toby Alderwield is injured and that is also affecting the defence, the team needs to perform here or nosedive further down with surrounding teams picking points.
Stoke City and Swansea is one fixture that means so much to either side, Paul Clement could be on his way out with a defeat while Stoke could also pressure Mark Hughes if he doesn’t win, this game has draw written all over it.
Westbrom are home to Crystal Palace, everything isn’t ticking for the Baggies with the sack of Tony Pulis and the signing of veteran Alan Pardew, the former Crystal Palace and Newcastle manager is saddled with the responsibilities of steering them out of the drop zone while having to start against another manager recruited to survive relegation too, it’s a six pointer that is needed by both sides.
Finally on Saturday it’s the match of the round, Arsenal up against Manchester United, at the Emirates where the gunners haven’t dropped points this season, up against Jose Mourinho and his devils, the Arsenal team would be without record signing, Alexander Lacazette while the visitors will be without Nemanja Matic, both sides must go for a win but on days like this, Mourinho prefers to fight for a point, Arsenal have kept three straight clean sheets, while the visitors have scored in all but one of their fixtures all season long; Arsene Wenger defeated Jose Mourinho for the first time in the league last season, can he build on that? Mourinho knows every point must be taken if there would ever be any chance of catching runaway leaders Manchester City, he must drop points anywhere again or it’s over.
On Sunday, Bournemouth, wounded by Burnley will look to right the wrongs at home to another broken hearted team, Southampton. The Saints were seconds away from holding rampaging City to a draw at least but collapsed late on, they did score four against Everton last time out to dust their goal shy reputation, they must start climbing too and games like this deserve attention.
Finally, league leaders Manchester City host struggling Westham, how David Moyes managed to lose 4:0 to Everton on the form they are further explains the questions raised at his signing, he looks clueless, with January window approaching, he has the chance to buy his own saviours. Manchester City will win here; question is by how many goals?
Last time out we were two away from a hundred percent record, eighty percent isn’t a bad one and we’re going again with EPL predictions, as we always do...
Chelsea vs Newcastle
Betting predictions: Chelsea to win
Brighton vs Liverpool
Betting predictions: Liverpool to win
Everton vs Huddersfield
Betting predictions: Everton to win or draw
Leicester vs Burnley
Betting predictions: Burnley to win or draw
Stoke vs Swansea
Betting predictions: Draw
Watford vs Tottenham
Betting predictions: Both teams to score
Westbrom vs Palace
Betting predictions: Draw
Arsenal vs Manchester United
Betting predictions: Draw
Bournemouth vs Southampton
Betting predictions: Bournemouth to win or draw
Manchester City vs Westham
Betting predictions: City to win by more than two goals
Strictly the writer’s opinion