Thursday, 11 February 2016

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek 26

It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. I did reasonably well last week with one perfect scoreline, five correct outcomes and four incorrect. I'm still on top of my predictions league with a third of the season to go as you can see from the table below and who knows I might even have a chance of winning it.

BadgesThis WeekPTS
 1 (1)  Michael Sheehy 3+40800
 2 (2) sensisoccerworld 2+80715
 3 (3)  Wayne Hubbard 5+10585
 4 (5)  Malcs 3+55565
 5 (4)  Rutland Gooner 4-50500


 
Saturday February 13

Sunderland v Manchester United 

12.45pm GMT, Stadium of Light, Sunderland 

Sunderland fought back to earn a very good point away to Liverpool last week. They have lost half of their 12 home games, but no other team in the bottom half of the table has conceded less goals at home. They have only taken two points from their last four games and haven't kept a clean sheet in their last 11.

If Sunderland are to have any chance of staying up Jermain Defoe might not do too badly for fantasy managers.

United should have won away to Chelsea last week, but they were pegged back by a very late goal. They have only won five of their 13 away games and have conceded more away goals than any other team in the top eight. They have taken 11 points from their last six games though and look like they might finally be playing well.

United's defenders have done well for fantasy managers at home in particular while Wayne Rioney has done well in recent weeks.

I think Sunderland will give their all and cause United a few problems and they might just get a point from the game.

Prediction: 1-1

Bournemouth v Stoke City 

3pm GMT, Dean Court, Bournemouth 

Bournemouth lost at home to Arsenal last week and never really looked like getting anything from the game. They have only won three of their 12 home games with only Everton and Chelsea conceding more goals at home. Before losing to Arsenal they had taken seven points from three games and more of that will keep them in the Premier League for another season.

Benik Afobe has started well since joining Bournemouth in January and could be a possibility for fantasy managers along with Charlie Daniels.

Stoke were well beaten at home by Everton last week and are sliding quickly down the table. They have only lost five of their 13 away games, but only four other teams have scored less goals on the road. They have lost each of their last three games by the same 3-0 scoreline and have failed to score in their last four.

Stoke defenders had been good until recently for fantasy managers, but it might be better to avoid them until they turn things around.

If Bournemouth can win this game it would give them some breathing space at the wrong end of the table and I think they might just do it.

Prediction: 2-1

Crystal Palace v Watford 

3pm GMT, Selhurst Park, London

Palace came from 1-0 down to get a point away to Swansea last week to finally put an end to an awful run. They have lost more home games than any other team and have lost their last three at home. They haven't won in eight games and they failed to score in five of those games.

Despite their poor form Scott Dann continues to impress for fantasy managers thanks to his goalscoring exploits.

Watford fought well away to Spurs last week, but were beaten 1-0. They have only won four of their 13 away games and have scored more goals away from home than at home. They have only won once in their last eight games and have failed to score in four of their last five.

Odion Ighalo has been the stand out Watford player for fantasy managers, but his return has fallen off recently as their results have faltered.

I think this will be a very close game and a draw is the most likely outcome.

Prediction: 1-1

Everton v West Bromwich Albion 

3pm GMT, Goodison Park, Liverpool 

Everton got a very good 3-0 win at Stoke last week to continue their improvement since their Capital One Cup semi final defeat. They have only won four of their 13 home games and no other team has conceded more goals at home, but only City have scored more home goals. They have won their last two games by the same 3-0 scoreline after only winning one of the previous 10.

Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku might still have something to offer fantasy managers while Everton's defenders have been good in recent weeks too.

West Brom lost away to Newcastle last week and they're only six points above the bottom three. They have only won three of their 12 away games with only Newcastle scoring less goals on the road. They have only taken three points from their last five games and failed to score in three of those games.

I can't see any West Brom players who might make a difference for fantasy managers at the moment.

I think Everton will continue on their winning ways with a narrow victory.

Prediction: 2-1

Norwich City v West Ham United 

3pm GMT, Carrow Road, Norwich 

Norwich lost away to Villa last week and dropped into the relegation zone as a result. They have only lost five of their 12 home games, but only Everton and Chelsea have conceded more goals at home. They have lost their last five games and conceded 16 goals in the process. 

I can't see any Norwich players to recommend to fantasy managers at the moment.

West Ham were beaten away to Southampton last week, but they put Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Tuesdsy night. They have only lost four of their 13 away games with only the top three scoring more away goals. They have only lost two of their last 12 games, but those defeats both came in the last two away games.

Michail Antonio and Enner Valencia look like the West Ham players most likely to succeed for fantasy managers right now while Dimitri Payet must surely return to form soon.

Norwich need something from this game, but I think West Ham might just get a narrow victory.

Prediction: 1-2

Swansea City v Southampton 

3pm GMT, Liberty Stadium, Swansea

Swansea led at home to Palace last week, but they had to settle for a point and they're gradually moving away from the bottom three. They have only won four of their 13 home games with only Villa scoring less goals at home. They have taken eight points from their last four games to move four points clear of the relegation zone.

Gylfi Siggurdson is looking good for Swansea at the moment while Andre Ayew is still their best season long fantasy performer.

Southampton won at home to West Ham last week to move within four points of fifth place. They have only lost four of their 12 away games with only Spurs conceding less goals on their travels. They have taken 13 points from their last five games and kept a clean sheet in each of those games too.

Southampton's defenders look like must haves for fantasy managers right now with Fraser Forester still to concede a goal in his five league games since returning from injury.

This looks like it will be a close game, but I think Southampton will get the better of Swansea.

Prediction: 0-1

Chelsea v Newcastle United

5.30pm GMT, Stamford Bridge, London 

Chelsea needed a late goal to snatch a somewhat fortunate 1-1 draw at home to United last week. They have only won four of their 13 home games with only Everton conceding more goals at home. They are unbeaten in their last nine games and have kept clean sheets in four of them, but they have drawn six of those games.

Diego Costa still looks like the Chelsea player to have for fantasy managers at the moment.

Newcastle got a precious win at home to West Brom last week to climb out of the bottom three. No other team has lost more games or scored less goals away from home. They have won two of their last four games and the clean sheet they kept last week was their first one in 10 games.

Georginio Wijnaldum is the best of the bunch for fantasy managers in the Newcastle team, but only when they play at home.

I think Newcastle will make a game of it, but Chelsea will take the three points.

Prediction: 2-0

Sunday February 14

Arsenal v Leicester City

12pm GMT, Emirates Stadium, London

Arsenal got a much needed win at Bournemouth last week to move up to third place. Only City have won more home games than Arsenal and only United have conceded less goals at home. That win last week was their first in five games, but they have kept clean sheets in five of their last seven games since Southampton put four past them.

Mesut Ozil still looks like the Arsenal player to have for fantasy managers with their defenders doing well too.

Leicester got a great 3-1 win at City last week to go five points clear at the top of the table. They have won more away games and scored more away goals than any other team. They have taken 15 points from their last seven games and have only conceded two goals in those games.

Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are still the Leicester players to have for fantasy managers with their defenders performing admirably in recent weeks too.

I think this will be a very close game which could go either way, but I think Arsenal will edge it.

Prediction:  2-1

Aston Villa v Liverpool

2.05pm GMT, Villa Park, Birmingham 

Villa got a very important win at home to Norwich last week, but they're still eight points away from the safety of 17th place. They have won less home games and scored less home goals than any other team. They have taken eight points from their last five games to keep their slim hopes of staying up alive though and they have kept clean sheets in three of those games.

Villa's defenders and goalkeeper have done well in recent weeks, but it's a big risk for fantasy managers to pick Villa players.

Liverpool led 2-0 at home to lowly Sunderland last week, but ended up drawing 2-2. They have only won four of their 12 home games and have conceded more goals than they have scored at home. They have only won once in their last six games and they conceded 12 goals in those games.

Roberto Frimino has been the must have player in the Liverpool team recently for fantasy managers.

I think Villa will make a game of it, but surely Liverpool will be good enough to beat them.

Prediction: 1-2

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur 

4.15pm GMT, Etihad Stadium, Manchester 

City were well beaten at home by Leicester last week and dropped to fourth when a win would have seen them go top of the table. They have won more home games and scored more home goals than any other team, but they have lost three games at home too. That defeat last week was their first one in eight games and they kept clean sheets in four of those games, but they still haven't won back to back league games since mid October.

Sergio Aguero is still a great bet for fantasy managers even with City so inconsistent.

Spurs won 1-0 at home to Watford last week and moved up to second in the table. They have only lost one of their 12 away games and no other team has conceded less goals away from home with only Leicester and Arsenal scoring more on the road. They have taken 22 points from their last nine games and kept clean sheets in four of those games.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen are all doing very well for fantasy managers and the Spurs defenders aren't doing too badly either.

This is a game both teams want to win and neither can afford to lose, but I think it will end in a draw.

Prediction: 2-2

That's it for this week.

See you next week.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

It's Now Or Never For Arsenal At Bournemouth

Arsenal failed to win against Southampton on Tuesdsy night for the fourth Premier League game in a row. To make matters even worse they failed to score for the third league game in a row. As if all of that wasn't bad enough the rest of the top six won their games and Spurs moved above Arsenal on goal difference into fourth place.

It's a pretty bleak picture I paint and they're now eight points off the summit in the league with the fifth place team only five points behind Arsenal. If Arsenal can catch the leaders then United can catch Arsenal and they could find themselves embroiled in their annual race for fourth place rather than chasing their first league title in 12 years. As bad as United have been this season they're only five points behind Arsenal and slag Spurs as we may they are ahead of us and playing an awful lot better at the moment.

Of course all teams go through bad patches and Arsenal are just as likely to go on a good run as they are to continue in their current vein. They're not the only team who have underperformed at some stage this season and they won't be the last. It's coming to the stage where any more of the same will put an end to their title aspirations though and they have to turn a corner now.

After Leicester won away to City yesterday they opened an eight point gap over Arsenal with Arsenal playing their game in hand today. If they beat Bournemouth today the gap will be five points again and Leicester come to Arsenal next week while City play Spurs. The opportunity for Arsenal to move into second place and close the gap is there and they just have to take it.

Part of the problem for me is the poor quality of their finishing. I know Fraser Forester was the man of the match in goal for Southampton on Tuesday night, but I didn't think he had to make outstanding saves at any point. He might have made loads of saves, but you would have expected him to have probably saved all of Arsenal's efforts. 

Sometimes it looks like Arsenal players are just content to get their effort on target and add it to the "shots on target" statistics for the game. The experts will say you have to get your shot on target or you cannot score, but you also have to do everything to insure your effort evades the goalkeeper. Arsenal have been goal shy in recent weeks and their return of goals scored so far in the league has not been good enough. 

For me they still don't have the world class finisher with pace and trickery who wins points all on his own. I don't doubt that Arsene Wenger would like to add such a player to the squad, but they're not easy to find. If he's going to utilise the best playmaker in the game in Mesut Ozil to his full potential he has to do just that. The money is there and he needs to find that striker this summer.

For the moment though we have to make do with what we have and those players are still good enough to win the league this season. There's 14 games left starting today at Bournemouth and Arsenal have to target as many wins as possible from those games. They include tough trips to United, Spurs, City and West Ham, but this team has to ability to beat any team.

That ability needs to come to the fore at once and they need to start punishing the opposition as often as possible. There have been too few games where Arsenal have finished the opposition off early enough to cruise to a comfortable victory. They need to start putting plenty of goals past the weaker teams in particular to show they have something to offer in the title fight. 

I'm not saying a trip to Bournemouth is an easy game because Bournemouth have been a breath of fresh air since their promotion. They have tried to play football against every team at home and away and I sincerely hope they stay up. They have taken some notable scalps along the way and Arsenal cannot let themselves get added to that list.

The game gives us a chance to see first hand how Benik Afobe has progressed since failing to make the grade at Arsenal. He joined Bournemouth only a few weeks ago, but he already has three Premier League goals in four appearances and those goals came in the last three games where Arsenal failed to score. There aren't too many players who have failed to make the grade at Arsenal in Wenger's reign who have come back to haunt us and gone on to make the grade, but Afobe certainly looks like he could do just that.

The players must realise that they have the opportunity to get right back in there and they quite simply have to take it. They need to be going into next week's game with Leicester with a chance of closing the gap at the top to two points and see how Leicester cope with the pressure. Despite their current rut Arsenal have not yet done enough damage to their title ambitions to be written off and now it's time to live up to the expectations.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Predictions For Premier League Gameweek 25

It's that time of the week again when I attempt to predict the outcomes of the upcoming Premier League games. I did pretty well in the midweek games with one perfect scoreline, seven correct outcomes and only five incorrect. Those results kept me on top of my predictions league and I'm starting to dream of league titles and popping bottles of champagne in May as you can see from the table below.

Player NameBadgesThis WeekPTS
 1 (1)  Michael Sheehy 3+90760
 2 (2) sensisoccerworld 2+60635
 3 (4)  Wayne Hubbard 5+60575
 4 (3)  Rutland Gooner 4-10550
 5 (5)  Malcs 3+130510



Saturday February 8

Manchester City v Leicester City

12.45pm GMT, Etihad Stadium, Manchester 

City just about won 1-0 away to Sunderland on Tuesday night to stay three points behind the league leaders. They have won more home games and scored more home goals than any other team. They have taken 15 points from their last seven games and have kept clean sheets in four of those games.

Sergio Aguero is the City player to have for fantasy managers at the moment.

Leicester won 2-0 at home to Liverpool on Tuesday night to stay three points clear of City at the top of the table. They have won more away games and scored more away goals than any other team. They have taken 10 points in their last four games and have kept clean sheets in five of their last six.

After a barren spell both Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have come good again and are almost must haves for fantasy managers again while Leicester's defenders have done very well in recent weeks too.

This is a meeting of the top two and the best home record against the best away record and I think it will be a very close game, but City might just shade it to go top on goal difference. 

Prediction: 2-1

Aston Villa v Norwich City

3pm GMT, Villa Park, Birmingham 

Villa were beaten away to West Ham on Tuesday night and surely it's just a matter of time before their relegation is confirmed with a 10 point gap to 17th place. They have only won once in 11 home games and no other team has scored less goals at home. They have only won two league games so far this season and have failed to score in 10 of their 24 games.

I can't see any Villa players to recommend to fantasy managers.

Norwich lost at home to Spurs on Tuesday night and they're still only one place above the relegation zone. They have only won two of their 12 away games with only Sunderland conceding more goals on the road. They have lost their last four games and have conceded 14 goals in those games.

Steven Naismith is still an outside possibility for fantasy managers now that he's at a club where he will be first choice.

This is a game both teams need to win and I have a feeling Villa will be the ones to do just that.

Prediction: 1-0

Liverpool v Sunderland 

3pm GMT, Andield, Liverpool 

Liverpool lost away to Leicester in midweek and their chances of a top four finish have almost gone. They have only won four of their 11 home games and have conceded more goals than they have scored at home. They have only taken four points in their last five games and they failed to score in three of those games.

When Liverpool have done well recently Roberto Frimino has been their best performer for fantasy managers, but who knows when they will play well.

Sunderland were a little unlucky to lose at home to City this week and they have a tough run of games at the moment. No other team has lost more games or conceded more goals away from home. They have only taken one point from their last three games and haven't kept a clean sheet in 10 league games.

I can't see any Sunderland players making a lasting impression for fantasy managers.

Liverpool might be up and down this season, but surely they will get the better of Sunderland in this game.

Prediction: 2-0

Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion 

3pm GMT, St. James' Park, Newcastle 

Newcastle lost away to Everton on Wednesday night and they're still in the bottom three. Only Villa have won less games at home, but they have scored more than they have conceded on their own ground. They have only taken four points in their last seven games and they failed to score in four of those games.

Georginio Wijnaldum has been the outstanding fantasy performer in the Newcastle team and he has done all of his good work at home.

West Brom got a late goal to get a point at home to Swansea on Tuesday night. They have only won three of their 11 away games with only Newcastle scoring less goals on their travels. They haven't won in their last four league games, but they have only lost one of their last six.

I can't see any West Brom players to interest fantasy managers right now.

Newcastle need a win and I think they might just manage one in this game.

Prediction: 2-1

Tottenham Hotspur v Watford 

3pm GMT, White Hart Lane, London

Spurs won 3-0 away to Watford on Tuesday night and moved up to third in the table. They have only won half of their 12 home games, but only City and Everton have scored more goals at home. They have won their last three league games and have taken 19 points from the last 24 available to them.

Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and all of Spurs' defenders are looking pretty good for fantasy managers at the moment.

Watford got a good point at home to Chelsea on Wednesday night to keep their place in the top half of the table. They have won as many games as they have lost away from home and have scored more away goals than home goals. They have only won once in seven league games and have failed to score in three of the last four.

Odion Ighalo is still the best of the Watford players for fantasy managers with Troy Deeney doing quite well too.

I think Watford will make a game of it, but Spurs will take the three points.

Prediction: 3-1

Stoke City v Everton

3pm GMT, Britannia Stadium, Stoke

Stoke were well beaten by United on Tuesday night and they've had a bad couple of weeks. They have won five of their 11 home games, but only Swansea and Villa have scored less goals at home. They have lost their last two games by the same 3-0 scoreline and have failed to score in their last three.

Stoke's defenders had being doing well until a couple of weeks ago and they're still a good bet for fantasy managers.

Everton won 3-0 at home to Newcastle on Wednesday night, but they're still in the bottom half of the table. They have only lost one of their 11 away games and only four other teams have scored more away goals. That win against Newcastle was only their second win in 11 games and they need to turn more of their draws into victories.

With Romelu Lukaku misfiring at the moment Riss Barkley looks like the Everton player most likely to succeed for fantasy managers.

This is a game which could go either way and I have a feeling it will end in a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

Swansea City v Crystal Palace 

3pm GMT, Liberty Stadium, Swansea

Swansea got a point away to West Brom in midweek and they continue to move away from the dreaded drop zone. They have won four, drawn four and lost four of their home games, but only Villa have scored less goals at home. They have taken seven points from their last their games and have scored in each of their last five after a run where they found goals hard to come by.

Andre Ayew is still the Swansea player most likely to do something for fantasy managers with Gylfi Sigurdsson chipping in recently too.

Palace lost at home to Bournemouth on Tuesday night and their slide down the table seems to be gathering pace. They have won five of their 11 away games, but only three other teams have scored less goals away from home. They have lost their last five league games and have only scored two goals in their last seven.

With Palace's current form I can't see any of their players making a difference for fantasy managers.

I think this will be a very close game and both teams will probably be happy with a point.

Prediction: 0-0

Southampton v West Ham United

5.30pm GMT, St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton 

Southampton got a very good point away to Arsenal in midweek to continue their recent good run. Only three teams have won more home games than Southampton and only two teams have scored more home goals than them. They have taken 10 points from their last four games and have kept clean sheets in all of them.

Southampton's defenders have done very well in recent weeks and are certainly worth considering for fantasy managers.

West Ham got the better of Villa on Tuesday night and they're only one point behind fifth placed United. Only three teams have won more away games and scored more away goals than West Ham. They have only lost once in their last 11 games and have won four of their last six

Michail Antonio and Enner Valencia are the West Ham players looking good for fantasy managers right now with Dimitri Payet capable of doing very well too.

I think this will be a very close game and the spoils will probably be shared.

Prediction: 1-1

Sunday February 9

Bournemouth v Arsenal 

1.30pm GMT, Dean Court, Bournemouth 

Bournemouth got a very good and important win away to Palace on Tuesday night to move themselves seven points clear of the bottom three. They have only won three of their 11 home games and have conceded more than they have scored at home. They have taken seven points from their last three games and have three clean sheets in their last seven.

Benik Afobe has looked the part since joining Bournemouth and could be worth a shot for fantasy managers while Marc Pugh and Charlie Daniels have looked good recently too.

Arsenal couldn't get past Fraser Forster on Tuesday night and could only draw 0-0 with Southampton as a result. Only Leicester  have won more away games than Arsenal with only Leicester and Spurs scoring more goals on the road. They haven't won in their last four league games and haven't scored in their last three. 

Arsenal's defenders have being doing well for fantasy managers recently and surely Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will come good again soon. 

Bournemouth will give Arsenal a rough ride, but I think Arsenal will get their first league win of 2016.

Prediction: 2-1

Chelsea v Manchester United

4pm GMT, Stamford Bridge, London

Chelsea could only draw away to Watford on Wednesday night and they're still in the bottom half of the table. They have won as many games as they have lost at home with only Everton conceding more goals at home. They are unbeaten in eight games in the league and have kept clean sheets in four of those games.

Chelsea's defenders have done well in recent weeks and are worth considering for fantasy managers as well as Diego Costa.

United looked good in winning 3-0 at home to Stoke in midweek and they're not giving up hopes of a top four finish yet. They have lost four of their 12 away games and have conceded as many goals as they have scored away from home. They have taken 10 points from their last five games and have kept clean sheets in three of their last six.

Both Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are looking good for fantasy managers at the moment along with United's defenders.

Both teams could do with a win in this game, but a draw is the most likely outcome.

Prediction: 1-1

That's it for this week.

See you next week.