We are at it again – the Week 24 EPL Preview. The last premiership results which include Arsenal losing at home to Watford (Watford!), Crystal Palace winning by two goals at Bournemouth, Sunderland denying Spurs victory, Man Utd and Hull City playing a barren draw at Old Trafford, etc, are snippets from Joseph Kafka’s novel. One word: absurd. That is one beauty that sets the EPL aside and humbles analysts.
The last EPL preview now bears the touch of Elizabethan comedy.
What can we expect this weekend? One thing is sure: though the BuzzNigeria EPL Preview team may not get the results perfectly right, we might hit the crossbar.
EPL Preview – Saturday, February 4, 2017
Chelsea V Arsenal, 1.30pm
Before you rule Arsenal off, you might want to recall their capacity to mock reality. Arsenal is a club that is capable of beating Bayern on a Wednesday and losing to Sutton FC on the following Saturday. Losing to Watford on Tuesday has all but nailed Arsenal’s title credentials in the coffin. Chelsea’s match now has the look of the final burial.
Will Arsenal show up for the funeral? With Ramsey and Cazorla injured, Wilshere on loan, Elneny in Gabon and Xhaka suspended, Arsenal’s midfield barreness is sure to be exploited by the plethora of talents Chelsea bursts in the centre. Costa will look to make up for the missed penalty at Liverpool. Fancy him scoring against his hated rivals.
It will take something special from Arsenal’s big boys to stop the Chelsea train. Sanchez will stretch his energy but whether Ozil will turn up and Iwobi and Bellerin pour enough gasoline in Chelsea’s flanks is a couple of hours away. Chelsea will win the league and this match will add another finger on their grip on the summit of the ladder.
Final Score: 2-1 #CHEARS
West Brom V Stoke City, 4.00pm
Credit to West Brom, they didn’t let the hammering at Tottenham in mid-January get into their engine. Four points in the next two matches have cleared, if not sanctified, their morale. Stoke have not lost a league match since the 4-2 defeat in Stamford Bridge in New Year’s Eve.
There are whispers about European football next season for Stoke but they need to push Everton and Saturday’s opponents off the ladder to scream it out.
The battle for eight will likely end without a victor.
Final Score: 0-0 #WBASTO
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Crystal Palace V Sunderland, 4.00pm
What has Sam Alladyce up his sleeves? That 2-0 victory at Bournemouth is looking more like it: the veteran’s pathway to escaping relegation is on course. Coming against fellow strugglers Sunderland, they should fancy their chances.
Time is running out for David Moyes, with Hull City and Swansea are beginning to look like decent football clubs, he would have to get a big result soon. This is Crystal Palace’s three points to lose. We think they will lose two.
Final Score: 1-1 #CRYSUN
Southampton V West Ham, 4.00pm
Southampton have now lost five of their last six league matches. You have to go far back to 2003/2004 season when they got relegated for something close to this bleakness. In consolation, they are in the final of the league cup. If they win the cup, a possibility, on February 25, they will get into Europa League and can as well go to bed.
For now, Puel needs to do some magic, against a West Ham who lost 4-0 at home to Man City, he may need the minimum magic. Or the absolute because Bilic’s West Ham haven’t suddenly become useless after one bad (very bad) result. West Ham will want to put Man City behind with a strong performance in the south coast.
An entertaining showdown, this could go either way.
Final Score: 2-1 #SOUWHU
Watford V Burnley, 4.00pm
Watford should still be giddy with that three points in the Emirates. They are coming against a club with the worse away record in England, they should win this.
Burnley defeated the champions in the mid-week and should give Watford a decent battle but that might be their undoing, coming out of their fence to do battle. Their wait for another away point after Old Trafford might be extended.
Final Score: 2-0 #WATBUR
Everton V Bournemouth, 4.00pm
No club is an Island. Take a look at the Premiership table and Everton takes the slot of the nearest to an island. They are seventh, five points behind Man Utd who they cannot overtake and four above West Brom who cannot overtake them. They are stamped their and except Southampton wins the league cup they would be in Europa with this.
But nothing is guaranteed even in an island, Everton might surpass their 2005 record. Against Howe’s Bournemouth that were beaten by number 19th at their home, this looks dusted on paper.
But it is not that singular, Bournemouth have been unlucky, Wilson is out for the rest of the season and a lot more is going wrong. One wrong step and Everton would pounce.
Final Score: 3-1 #EVEBOU
Hull City V Liverpool, 4.00pm
Hull City welcomes the Robin Hood of the premiership. On Tuesday, Liverpool stole a point against league leaders Chelsea, they should give this point to Hull City to help their relegation course. They would not. Sadio Mane is back from Gabon to steady the ship Klopp brushed against an iceberg. No more bonanza, for now.
But it is unfair to analyse this match base on what Liverpool could lose, Marco Silva has shown, like we saw in Old Trafford, on Wednesday, that he is capable of earning a point from the jaws of a leopard. Not this leopard. Expect a good game but Liverpool will win, and win convincingly.
Final Score: 1-4 #HULLIV
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Tottenham V Middlesbrough, 6.30pm
Tottenham are second on goal difference, and they boast the longest unbeaten run in England, 10 matches, which says a lot about England. They dropped two points at the Stadium of Light and lost defender Danny Rose to injury.
Middlesbrough has earned 21 points this season, less than one point per match. It is set to be a battle of life for them. A draw at home to in-form West Brom left them relieved and frustrated. But this point in White Hart Lane would see them levitating.
Karanka, frustrated by the lack of purchases in the winter window, would see what special tactics he could throw into this fray. It might not amount to so much.
Final Score: 2-0 #TOTMID
EPL Preview – Sunday, February 5, 2017
Manchester City V Swansea, 2.30pm
Manchester City won by four clear goals on Wednesday; if you add their FA Cup triumph at West Ham that is an aggregate 9-0 in West Ham. But can they do it against ‘Der der der der der der der der der der der der der de de de de Swansea’? No, I am not stammering, this ‘der der der’ affair is what Swansea fans chant.
A lousy chant you might say but it has fetched them six solid points of the last six. It might not work against a rebranded (?) Man City. Kelvin De Bruyne and new boy Gabriel Jesus would turn out to be too much for them.
No shame, Paul Clement and Makelele, in losing this one. But trust the Welsh club to fight the entire minutes.
Final Score: 3-0 #MCISWA
Leicester V Manchester United, 5.00pm
Manchester United had 97 minutes to earn three points against Hull, they earned one, leaving Mourinho fuming at Mike Jones officiating. Now there are whispers about Mourinho not being better than Van Gaal. After more than a century in 6th position, perhaps this assertion is justified.
Leicester City are sharing points with the same vigour they gained them last season. It would get worse when Champions League football returns in a fortnight. Manchester United represents one big opportunity to free themselves from the shackles of relegation. Can they take it? Doubtful.
What really is wrong with Leicester? Perhaps the exhaustion of last season’s miracle. United have the fireworks to compound their woes, and if Referee Anthony Taylor doesn’t meddle, they will.
Final Score: 1-2 #LEIMNU
Note: All times in this EPL Preview is in Nigerian Time (GMT +1)