Title-worthy Spurs go top; Arsenal recover fast; Man United momentum slows – EPL predictions
Each week, The National predicts the outcomes of the English Premier League, this week online editor Jonathan Raymond guest predicting and seeing a win for Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at the top. Here are our results for the season.
West Ham United 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Why? Do you believe in Tottenham-as-title-team? Their current form – six successive Premier League wins, credible result against Fiorentina in the Europa League last 32, 16 points taken from their last 18 available away – suggest they may be England’s best. Their standing – two points behind Leicester, best goal difference in the division – makes for a convincing argument they are indeed England’s best. Now, with West Ham and Arsenal coming up, they get to prove it. Dogged defending, a bit of daring and a late decider give Spurs a well-earned three points against a good team. Just the kind of result title teams are made of.
Sunderland 1-2 Crystal Palace
Why? With Yannick Bolasie replacing Emmanuel Adebayor against West Brom, Palace’s attack came back to life. It was too little, too late against a West Brom side who are tough to break at home, but it bodes well for a trip to the Stadium of Light, where two goals should be enough for Alan Pardew’s men. Less Adebayor would not hurt, either.
Norwich City 1-3 Chelsea
Why? Whatever afflicted Chelsea earlier this season seems to have finally subsided, and though it’s too late for the champions to make any sort of run at retaining their title, or even sneak back into the top-four, they are good enough at the moment to handle a directionless Norwich team with one point from their last 18 available. Diego Costa ought to be good for at least one goal.
Leicester City 1-1 West Brom
Why? Leicester have shown recently (against Norwich, against Aston Villa) it is a bit harder for them to spring a shock on a side committed to playing them like an actual Premier League leading club. Worthy as they are to be in that position, West Brom are smart enough to treat Leicester as such and hold at bay a team who thrive on being underestimated.
Bournemouth 0-1 Southampton
Why? Bournemouth, for all the promise they brought from the Championship with their 98 goals that they could make devil-may-care attacking their signature in the top flight, never really got an actual chance to do so. They have not been the same since Calum Chambers’ injury, and are in the midst of a five-game stretch in which they have scored just three goals. Southampton, the Premier League’s joint-second stingiest side, should be able to shut them down.
Aston Villa 0-2 Everton
Why? Villa are bad. They are the worst, in fact. Now, accidents happen and if any team are the kind to randomly drop points in a goalless slog against a team like Villa, it is this year’s Everton. But more likely than not, as with any Villa match, is that they will lose. Ross Barkley on the double.
Arsenal 4-1 Swansea
Why? The result against Manchester United was a serious setback to their title ambitions, but Arsenal are still better than most teams they face, including Swansea. After every Arsenal loss comes some kind of overwrought reckoning around the club – handwringing by fans, media and observers otherwise. And yet, they are just five points off the lead, and with a manageable enough schedule the rest of the way. They may not be a legendary title team if they win the Premier League, but they can still very well be a title team. Time for Alexis Sanchez to break back into top form in time for the run-in.
Stoke City 2-1 Newcastle United
Why? Stoke are a funny team, aren’t they? They go and spend a couple months looking like a proper solidly top half of the table team, then get blitzed by a 9-0 combined scoreline in three straight matches against decent competition. Then they come back and take care of business against bottom feeders and sit there, eighth, looking like they might have a reasonable shout at qualifying for Europe again. It is hard to say what Stoke really are, but luckily for them in this fixture at least, they can feast way down the food chain on Newcastle.
Manchester United 2-2 Watford
Why? Lost in Marcus Rashford’s genuinely impressive debut and in their uplifting deflation of Arsenal is that Manchester United are still, amid a ridiculously unlucky injury situation, running out a patchwork and plenty vulnerable defence. The newly found attacking verve in Louis van Gaal’s side looks like it might be for real, but against one of the most professional and able strike pairs in the Premier League, Watford’s Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, they will leak in a couple.
Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City
Why? Did you see the League Cup final? These are a pair of fairly sloppy sides at the moment, both capable of moments of brilliance but in aggregate shaky enough that neither should feel confident of taking three points. Both were lucky not to allow another goal or two on Sunday (or unlucky not to score another or two, however you want see it), but the final result, before penalties, was fitting.
Published: February 29, 2016 04:00 AM