EPL Week 7: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert Picks
Week 6 of the English Premier League wasn't the easiest week we've seen this year, with the big guns of the EPL all struggling to pick up points from their respective matches.
Whilst Chelsea and Manchester City prevailed, Arsenal and Manchester United did not, and they will look to get back in the winners circle with a win here in Week 7.
At the other end of the table, Southampton, Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City all remain winless through the opening six weeks of competition. Will they finally get their season going this week, or will they be forced to spend another week in the dreaded drop zone of the Premier League?
Let's take at what our Bleacher Report expert writers think. Feel free to let us know what you agree or disagree with in the comments section below.
Leaderboard and Overview
For those just joining us or simply wanting a refresher, every week, eight of Bleacher Report's world football writers make their predictions for the weekend's English Premier League matches. They predict a scoreline and get points based on whether those predictions were successful.
For a correct result (i.e. Chelsea win), a writer will get one point. For a correct score (i.e. Chelsea win 2-0), a writer will get three points.
After five weeks of predictions, let's take a look at the competition table below and see how the Bleacher Report writers are faring.
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||World Football Featured Columnist||47 points|
|Joe Tansey||English Premier League Featured Columnist||37 points|
|Mike Cummings||World Football Lead Writer||37 points|
|Ed Wyman||World Football Featured Columnist||36 points|
|Karl Matchett||World Football Featured Columnist||33 points|
|Dan Talintyre||World Football Featured Columnist||32 points|
|Will Tidey||World Football Lead Writer and Editor||32 points|
|Sam Tighe||World Football Featured Columnist||19 points|
Manchester City vs. Sunderland
Saturday, October 6, 7:45 a.m. ET, Etihad Stadium
Two of the three teams that remain undefeated in the Premier League are on show in this one, with the reigning champions looking to end the solid start made by Martin O'Neill's men this season.
The Black Cats might only have the one win this season, but with four draws, they have proven that they are a tough and pesky side to beat. And they will once again be a tough opponent for Manchester City, who have been solid but not world-beaters through the opening six weeks.
Having said that, City have a very, very strong squad, and at the Etihad Stadium, they can be one of the toughest sides to beat in world football.
Their defense has been suspect this season, having conceded goals in every match so far. But if Joe Hart's inspired performance in the Champions League mid-week is anything to go by, they'll still be very tough to break down defensively.
Dan Talintyre asks whether City caught a lucky break in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund during the week, whilst Sam Tighe explores how City can best utilize Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli in the same attack. He also shares eight key players who have improved drastically under Roberto Mancini as the Citizens' manager.
|Dan Talintyre||Manchester City win 3-0|
|Ed Wyman||Manchester City win 2-0|
|Joe Tansey||Manchester City win 3-1|
|Karl Matchett||Manchester City win 2-1|
|Mike Cummings||Manchester City win 2-1|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Manchester City win 2-0|
|Sam Tighe||Draw, 1-1|
|Will Tidey||Manchester City win 2-0|
Chelsea vs. Norwich
Saturday, October 6, 10:00 a.m. ET, Stamford Bridge
With five wins and a draw from their opening six Premier League matches, Chelsea have started the season in dynamic fashion and rightly find themselves on top of the league table.
They have conceded less goals than any other team and are showing signs of a very strong and successful season throughout both domestic and international competitions.
The same cannot be said for Norwich City, however, who have yet to find a win through their opening six matches and find themselves in the relegation zone. The Canaries will be desperate to find something to get themselves out of the dreaded drop zone; the question just becomes whether or not they stand any chance against the hottest side in the Premier League at their own home ground.
According to Will Tidey, Chelsea are the Premier League favorites, and their win over Arsenal simply reinforced their title credentials. Do you agree?
|Dan Talintyre||Chelsea win 2-1|
|Ed Wyman||Chelsea win 3-0|
|Joe Tansey||Chelsea win 4-0|
|Karl Matchett||Chelsea win 4-0|
|Mike Cummings||Chelsea win 3-0|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Chelsea win 3-0|
|Sam Tighe||Chelsea win 4-0|
|Will Tidey||Chelsea win 3-1|
Swansea City vs. Reading
Saturday, October 6, 10:00 a.m. ET, Liberty Stadium
After starting the year in explosive fashion, picking up crushing victories over West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers to sit on top of the table, Swansea City had us thinking that they were potentially a surprise contender for European qualification.
Fast forward four weeks and the Swans haven't won since the 25th of August. And they have slipped into the bottom half of the Premier League table as a result. Can they get back on the right track with a win against Reading at home?
You'd like to think so, but this Reading team is certainly able to cause their opponents some grief—if they show up, that is. The Royals currently sit in 19th position and are without a win. But they have played some very tough opponents so far this year, including Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United.
They've been tough to read, but showed great signs of improvement last week against the Magpies. And if they can bring that form to Liberty Stadium, then we'll be in for a fascinating 90 minutes of football.
|Dan Talintyre||Swansea win 2-1|
|Ed Wyman||Swansea win 2-1|
|Joe Tansey||Draw, 1-1|
|Karl Matchett||Swansea win 2-1|
|Mike Cummings||Draw, 1-1|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Swansea win 2-1|
|Sam Tighe||Swansea win 2-1|
|Will Tidey||Swansea win 1-0|
West Brom vs. Queens Park Rangers
Saturday, October 6, 10:00 a.m. ET, The Hawthorns
The pressure on Mark Hughes at the moment is second to none, with Queens Park Rangers yet to win a match through their opening six encounters and sitting dead last on the competition ladder.
They bought a plethora of players over the summer transfer window (enough for a brand new starting side), but have yet to bring those signings together into a successful result on the pitch. They have showed life, however, against the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City, and therefore cannot be discounted from this fixture.
Perhaps the exact contrast to Mark Hughes is Steve Clarke—the West Brom manager—who would no doubt be delighted with his side's start to the season.
The Baggies currently sit in sixth position and have only recorded one loss this year. Their defense is sound, and their attack has exciting, young talent. They will no doubt be a real handful at home, where they have won all three of their Premier League fixtures so far.
Dan Talintyre asks whether or not West Brom are the real deal this season, while Joe Tansey explores just how long Mark Hughes might have a Premier League job for.
|Dan Talintyre||West Brom win 1-0|
|Ed Wyman||West Brom win 2-1|
|Joe Tansey||West Brom win 1-0|
|Karl Matchett||QPR win 2-1|
|Mike Cummings||West Brom win 2-1|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||West Brom win 2-1|
|Sam Tighe||West Brom win 2-0|
|Will Tidey||Draw, 2-2|
Wigan Athletic vs. Everton
Saturday, October 6, 10:00 a.m. ET, D.W. Stadium
Everton are the team in the EPL with all the momentum, self-belief and public appeal, with the Toffees' strong start to the season perhaps the feel-good story of the year to date.
David Moyes' side currently sits second on the ladder, with their talented midfield and attack simply dominating the opening six weeks of the year. Names like Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas, Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar have been in devastating form, and they will look to continue their strong run when they travel to DW Stadium to take on Wigan Athletic.
The Lactics have started this year just like they started last season: poorly. They look like they'll potentially be in a relegation battle for at least some part of the year ahead, simply because they cannot perform well on a consistent level.
Roberto Martinez's side can be efficient on the counter-attack, or they can struggle throughout midfield. They can be sound at defensively, or they can leak goals at home. Just what Wigan side we're likely to see in this one could well be a mystery.
|Dan Talintyre||Everton win 2-1|
|Ed Wyman||Everton win 3-1|
|Joe Tansey||Everton win 2-1|
|Karl Matchett||Everton win 2-1|
|Mike Cummings||Everton win 1-0|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Everton win 2-1|
|Sam Tighe||Everton win 2-1|
|Will Tidey||Everton win 1-0|
West Ham vs. Arsenal
Saturday, October 6, 12:30 p.m. ET, Upton Park
Seventh plays eighth in the Premier League this weekend when the newly-promoted West Ham take on the legendary Arsenal—two clubs with a mountain of history and prestige between them, and therefore plenty to play for in this one.
The Hammers have just one loss through their opening six matches and have only conceded two goals in their past four matches—perhaps putting together a small run of form. But their biggest test from the year to date will be Arsenal, who are fresh off another Champions League victory during the week.
Arsene Wenger's men had conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League until last week when they were defeated by Chelsea 2-1. But they still have only allowed four goals through six matches. They'll no doubt be tested by a surprisingly talented Hammers attack that features Andy Carroll and the in-form Richard Vaz Te.
Will it be enough to get the home side the points, or will the Gunners walk away with the win and make a case for a top-four spot in the Premier League this season?
Gervinho has been superb for the Gunners so far this year. Dan Talintyre explores what has happened to the midfielder to give him his early success—a question that Mike Cummings also asks when he ponders whether or not Gervinho is for real this year.
With a successful return from injury last week, could Arsenal see the involvement of Jack Wilshere this week? Dan Talintyre takes a look.
Also, Karl Matchett will be blogging live on this match, so make sure you follow along.
|Dan Talintyre||Arsenal win 3-1|
|Ed Wyman||Arsenal win 3-1|
|Joe Tansey||Arsenal win 3-0|
|Karl Matchett||Arsenal win 2-0|
|Mike Cummings||Draw, 1-1|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Arsenal win 3-1|
|Sam Tighe||Arsenal win 3-1|
|Will Tidey||Draw, 1-1|
Southampton vs. Fulham
Sunday, October 7, 8:30 a.m. ET, St. Mary's Stadium
It looked as though Fulham had made one of the worst transfer blunders in recent years when they allowed both Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele to leave the club. But they have bounced back strong since the close of the transfer window, picking up two consecutive wins and a close 2-1 loss to Manchester City last week.
The Cottagers have been led superbly by former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov, who has relished the opportunity to find regular starting minutes—making Martin Jol's side a tough side to defeat in the English Premier League.
But do they have what it takes to get the points away from home in this one against the recently-promoted Southampton, who have just one win to speak of this season.
The Saints have scored 10 goals of their own this season and put up strong performances against both Manchester clubs, but they have conceded 18 goals of their own (most in the league) and have struggled to get anything going against the top sides of the Premier League.
What can they get done against another top-10 side in Fulham?
|Dan Talintyre||Southampton win 2-0|
|Ed Wyman||Fulham win 2-1|
|Joe Tansey||Fulham win 1-0|
|Karl Matchett||Southampton win 2-1|
|Mike Cummings||Southampton win 2-1|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Draw, 1-1|
|Sam Tighe||Draw, 2-2|
|Will Tidey||Fulham win 2-0|
Liverpool vs. Stoke City
Sunday, October 7, 10:00 a.m. ET, Anfield Stadium
It's been another emotionally draining week for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who saw the Reds pick up their first win of the Premier League season last week against Norwich City before watching his side somehow lose 3-2 to Udinese in the Europa League during the week.
What that loss will do to the confidence and desire of the Merseyside side will be interesting to see, with nearly all of Liverpool's starting players featuring in the match.
They'll be back at home to welcome Stoke City to Anfield—a typically dogged team who give very little away defensively and throughout midfield. And with Peter Crouch continuing to score goals and be a threat for all defenses, it's tough to rule out the Potters in this one, who have conceded just five goals so far this year.
Liverpool man Karl Matchett takes a look a number of things for the Reds in this one, including the player ratings from their match against Udinese, and gives his thoughts on how Luis Suarez can score 20 goals in the EPL this year.
|Dan Talintyre||Liverpool win 1-0|
|Ed Wyman||Draw, 1-1|
|Joe Tansey||Draw, 1-1|
|Karl Matchett||Liverpool win 2-0|
|Mike Cummings||Draw, 1-1|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Liverpool win 2-0|
|Sam Tighe||Draw, 0-0|
|Will Tidey||Liverpool win 3-0|
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa
Sunday, October 7, 10:00 a.m. ET, White Hart Lane
It's taken some time, but Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham Hotspur project might finally be coming together. The North London club has won their last three Premier League encounters and remain unbeaten since the 18th of August.
Courtesy of some big summer transfer-window acquisitions, Spurs have a very strong squad and have one of the deepest midfield and attacks in the EPL. And they will be looking to add to their win column with another strong performance at home.
Visiting White Hart Lane will be Aston Villa, who have just one win and just one point away from home to speak of this season. It does look like a formality for Spurs, but you simply never know what the Villans will pull out—especially if the likes of Darren Bent and Christian Benteke can finally start to hit their straps for the away side.
Speaking of Bent, Dan Talintyre explores just what's happening with Bent and manager Paul Lambert and what the implications of this could be for the Villains. Meanwhile, Joe Tansey asks about what we learned from Spurs' draw in the Europa League.
|Dan Talintyre||Tottenham win 3-0|
|Ed Wyman||Tottenham win 2-1|
|Joe Tansey||Tottenham win 2-0|
|Karl Matchett||Tottenham win 1-0|
|Mike Cummings||Tottenham win 2-0|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Tottenham win 2-1|
|Sam Tighe||Aston Villa win 2-1|
|Will Tidey||Draw, 1-1|
Newcastle United vs. Manchester United
Sunday, October 7, 11:00 a.m. ET, St. James' Park
It's perhaps fitting that the most intriguing fixture of week falls as the final match, where Manchester United will make the trek to St. James Park to take on a Newcastle United side that, historically, performs very well in front of their home fans.
Demba Ba has been in excellent form for the hosts. And with the Red Devils' defense very banged up, it stands to figure that the striker—along with Papiss Cisse—will cause havoc for the away side throughout the match, similar to what happened in their recent Capital One Cup match.
As mentioned, United's defense is missing several key players. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson will most likely be forced in sending a player like Michael Carrick or Chris Smalling into defense given the injuries to Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones.
Having said that, the Red Devils have a fearsome attack that boasts arguably the best striker duo in the Premier League (if not the continent) and are more than capable of netting goals and creating plenty of attacking chances required to win this match.
Two very good teams meet here, and we're bound to see one very, very good football match as a result. Just who will triumph after the 90 minutes? Guess we'll soon find out.
Dan Talintyre asks just how many goals Robin van Persie will finish with this season. Sam Tighe explores some tactical options to best include Wayne Rooney with the Dutch international.
|Dan Talintyre||Draw, 2-2|
|Ed Wyman||Manchester United win 2-1|
|Joe Tansey||Draw, 2-2|
|Karl Matchett||Draw, 2-2|
|Mike Cummings||Manchester United win 2-1|
|Mohamed Al-Hendy||Draw, 2-2|
|Sam Tighe||Draw, 1-1|
|Will Tidey||Manchester United win 2-1|
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