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EPL Week 15: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert Picks

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIJanuary 3, 2015

EPL Week 15: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert Picks

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    The English Premier League is back with a full slate of games again this week, with many teams playing their third league match in the space of eight or nine days.

    How will teams fare with the short turnaround? How will our Bleacher Report writers fare in the short turnaround to get their tipping skills up and running once more?

    Read on to see who the guys think will be the winners and losers of Week 15 in the EPL. And I guarantee you, there's bound to be a surprise or two in there as well.

Leaderboard

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    For those not familiar with the way this works, each writer has to pick a team and a score for every match in the Premier League that week.

    A correct pick (e.g. Chelsea win) will earn them one point, and a correct score (e.g. Chelsea win 3-0) sees them earn three points.

    Also, for the next few weeks or so, our writers will try and predict the highest-scoring game of the weekend (the game that produces the most goals). Should there be two or three games that have the same highest total, then we will give out points to whoever picked any of those games. A correct pick will earn them five points.

    Let's take a look at our Bleacher Report experts and how their predictions have held up through the opening weeks of the competition.

     

    Mohamed Al-Hendy World Football Featured Columnist 117 points
    Dan Talintyre World Football Featured Columnist 101 points
    Michael Cummings World Football Lead Writer and Blogger 94 points
    Karl Matchett World Football Featured Columnist

    90 points

    Joe Tansey EPL Featured Columnist 88 points
    Sam Tighe World Football Featured Columnist 87 points
    Will Tidey World Football Lead Writer and Editor 79 points

West Ham vs. Chelsea

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    Saturday, 1 December, 2012 at 7:45 a.m. ET

    Opening the Premier League this weekend is an all-London affair between West Ham and Chelsea—a fixture that will have mixed significance for both teams.

    The Hammers will be looking to establish themselves against top opposition again this week, having held Manchester United for all but the opening minute last week. They still sit inside the top 10 and know that a result here would be huge in their quest to stay in the top flight this year.

    But for Chelsea, you get the feeling that this is a huge game.

    The Blues are yet to win—or score—under Rafa Benitez, and with a lot of fans disenchanted with the ideology and principles that the former Liverpool man is implementing, he himself needs a result here to steady the ship and show that he is the right man for the job.

    He won't get an easy chance to do that this week, though. West Ham are strong at home and will be another tough matchup for the European champions here.

    Dan Talintyre Draw, 1-1
    Joe Tansey Draw, 0-0 
    Karl Matchett Draw, 1-1 
    Michael Cummings West Ham win 1-0 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Chelsea win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Draw, 0-0 
    Will Tidey Draw, 1-1 

Arsenal vs. Swansea City

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    Saturday, 1 December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    They took the lead in the opening minutes last week against Everton, but could not find a result again, leaving Arsenal with another draw for their season to date.

    The Gunners have simply been unable to finish off matches as hoped, and with three of their past four matches finishing in draws, they head into Week 15 needing a win to keep pace with the Premier League's top four.

    Standing in their way will be the side just one point and one position behind them on the league ladder, Swansea City, who have almost unassumingly worked their way up inside the top half of the table once more following their earlier decline in form.

    The Swans stopped the high-flying Baggies last week, and with just one loss from their past eight matches, will be a real test for Arsene Wenger's men this week—even if the North London club have the home-ground advantage.

    Dan Talintyre Draw, 1-1 
    Joe Tansey Arsenal win 2-1 
    Karl Matchett Arsenal win 2-1 
    Michael Cummings Draw, 2-2 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Draw, 2-2* 
    Sam Tighe Arsenal win 1-0 
    Will Tidey Arsenal win 3-1

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week.

Fulham vs. Tottenham

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    Saturday, 1 December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Following their victory over Liverpool during the week, Tottenham Hotspur find themselves back in the European positions once more, moving to fifth on the league ladder ahead of Everton.

    The North London club will be looking to make it three wins in as many matches when they take on Fulham at Craven Cottage this week—a club that isn't having the same good fortune of late when it comes to getting results on the board.

    The Cottagers have been playing some quality football, but haven't quite been able to get the results to match, winning just one of their past nine fixtures (though they have also only suffered three defeats in that period and have taken points off Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton also).

    Fulham play significantly better at Craven Cottage than they do away, and whilst Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham Revolution is slowing starting to take shape, they don't quite have the same consistency yet to be a genuine certainty away from home.

    Dan Talintyre Tottenham win 2-1
    Joe Tansey Tottenham win 3-1 
    Karl Matchett Fulham win 2-1 
    Michael Cummings Draw, 2-2 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Tottenham win 2-0 
    Sam Tighe Draw, 1-1 
    Will Tidey Draw, 2-2 

Liverpool vs. Southampton

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    Saturday, 1 December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Brendan Rodgers hasn't enjoyed the greatest start to his reign as Liverpool manager, with the Merseyside club currently lagging in 12th position with just three wins from their opening 14 matches.

    Having said that, we know that the Reds are playing good football this season, and we've seen them play very well against plenty of top teams and very poorly against other teams as well.

    Which will it be for the Reds this week, who will have the added advantage of playing at Anfield in front of their home fans? Will it be more of the tough defense and possession-based middle, or will it be the same attacking inconsistencies that have let them down?

    Southampton—who still sit inside the relegation zone—haven't lost in their past four matches now, but you get the feeling that this is all about what Liverpool do. Anfield isn't an easy place to travel, especially when you have a poor record away from home, and the Reds should do enough to get the win here.

    Although we have said that before this season and been wrong.

    Dan Talintyre Liverpool win 3-1 
    Joe Tansey Liverpool win 3-1 
    Karl Matchett Liverpool win 3-0 
    Michael Cummings Liverpool win 2-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Liverpool win 2-0 
    Sam Tighe Liverpool win 3-1 
    Will Tidey Liverpool win 2-0 

Manchester City vs. Everton

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    Saturday, 1 December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    The Citizens welcomed a much-needed win away from home last week when they picked up the three points against Wigan Athletic—keeping them in touch with league leaders Manchester Untied but also proving that they can win away from the Etihad.

    Not that that will matter much to them this week, as they are at home to take on Everton, who came from behind to pick up a 1-1 draw with Arsenal during the week.

    The Toffees have been consistent on the road this year, but haven't picked up a result against any decent competition away from Merseyside. Travelling to Manchester will be their biggest test to date and you wonder whether they have the striker power needed to contend with City's big guns in attack.

    Roberto Mancini will be looking for his side to get on the board early and control their opponents out of the match—a challenge that the Everton defensive unit will most likely be up for.

    But with all the goal-scoring weapons lined up against them, surely the Toffees cannot hold out the reigning league champions forever. Right?

    Dan Talintyre Manchester City win 3-1 
    Joe Tansey Manchester City win 3-1 
    Karl Matchett Manchester City win 2-1 
    Michael Cummings Manchester City win 3-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Manchester City win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Manchester City win 2-1 
    Will Tidey Manchester City win 1-0 

Queens Park Rangers vs. Aston Villa

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    Saturday, 1 December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Harry Redknapp didn't see a loss in his second week as manager of Queens Park Rangers, which I guess is some comfort, but he didn't see a win either.

    That would make it 14 matches now for Rangers without a win, though their Week 15 matchup at home to Aston Villa could provide another good chance for that maiden victory.

    Villa currently sit just one point outside of the drop zone, and whilst they come off back-to-back home results against Arsenal and Reading, they are on the road this week and against a club that simply has to win at some point this year.

    The Villains have scored just one goal in their past three matches; Rangers have scored just three in their past six matches. One goal could well win it this week, and with the likes of Cisse and Adel Taarabt roaming around, Redknapp's men could just get the job done for their new manager.

    Dan Talintyre QPR win 1-0 
    Joe Tansey Draw, 1-1 
    Karl Matchett QPR win 1-0 
    Michael Cummings Draw, 0-0 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy QPR win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Aston Villa win 1-0 
    Will Tidey QPR win 2-1 

West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City

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    Saturday, 1 December, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    West Brom came crashing down to earth last week after their winning streak was snapped with an away loss to Swansea City, where they were dominated for the entire 90 minutes.

    It was bound to happen sooner or later for Steve Clarke's men, and they'll now be looking for a strong performance at home to Stoke City to get back in the winners circle this week.

    But the Potters won't be a pushover, even without the home-ground advantage.

    Their pressure throughout the defense and midfield causes turnovers from even the most polished attacking sides, and they've only lost one of their past six Premier League encounters.

    The Potters will still be a tough side to break down this week and West Brom will have to be at their clinical best if they want to take the three points in this one.

    Dan Talintyre Draw, 1-1 
    Joe Tansey West Brom win 2-0 
    Karl Matchett West Brom win 2-0 
    Michael Cummings Draw, 1-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy West Brom win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Draw, 1-1 
    Will Tidey Draw, 0-0 

Reading vs. Manchester United

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    Saturday, 1 December, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. ET

    They might have 11 wins for the season with the victory over West Ham last week, but United will know that they still weren't convincing in midfield or attack throughout the match.

    Scoring in the opening minute, the Red Devils then could not find the back of the net for the entire match and know that they must be better against tougher opponents this year if they want to keep their spot on top of the league table.

    They travel to Reading this week, who are coming off consecutive losses against Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa. Late goals hurt the Royals in both matches there and, having played on the road, will be glad to be back at home this week for the league leaders.

    Interestingly, Reading haven't been beaten at home since Tottenham Hotspur beat them back in just the third week of the 2012/13 Premier League season.

    There's no doubt that United have the ability and talent needed to score goals here, but whether they can get the three points—well, that one might not be quite as easy as it seems for Sir Alex Ferguson's men.

    Dan Talintyre Manchester United win 4-2*
    Joe Tansey Manchester United win 4-1* 
    Karl Matchett Manchester United win 3-1*
    Michael Cummings Manchester United win 4-2* 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Manchester United win 2-0 
    Sam Tighe Manchester United win 2-1 
    Will Tidey Manchester United win 3-0 

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week.

Norwich City vs. Sunderland

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    Sunday, 2 December, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. ET

    Through their opening seven weeks of the season, Norwich City couldn't even buy a win if they tried, and seemingly couldn't stop the onslaught of goals they were picking out of their own net.

    However, their past seven weeks have been almost the complete opposite to that, as the Canaries' strong run of form has seen them concede just three goals in seven weeks and not lose a single match in that time period as well.

    At Carrow Road, they beat the likes of Arsenal, Stoke City and Manchester United, meaning that welcoming Sunderland this week will hold no fear for the Canaries. 

    The Black Cats are slowly slipping down the league ladder and have won just one match away from home this season—a shock 3-1 victory over Fulham a few weeks back. 

    And considering that Martin O'Neill's men don't score a whole lot of goals on the best of days, against a tough defensive unit like Norwich, they'll no doubt find this away fixture a tough day at the office.

    Dan Talintyre Norwich win 2-0 
    Joe Tansey Norwich win 1-0 
    Karl Matchett Norwich win 1-0 
    Michael Cummings Draw, 1-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Norwich win 1-0 
    Sam Tighe Norwich win 1-0 
    Will Tidey Norwich win 2-0


Newcastle United vs. Wigan Athletic

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    Monday, 3 December, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. ET

    Our final match of the Premier League this weekend sees the slumping Newcastle United back up north to welcome Wigan Athletic to St. James' Park—a fixture that the Magpies simply must win to instill some confidence and self-belief back in the club.

    They've slipped into the bottom half of the table with four consecutive losses against relatively weak opposition, and even with the home-ground advantage, don't look to be a sure thing to win this fixture here against a surprising Wigan Athletic side.

    The Lactics held Manchester City for two-thirds of their match last week but simply couldn't hang on against the Citizens' attacking talent, suffering their eighth defeat of the season and their third in their past four matches.

    Typically hard to read this year, Wigan could well pull out their best performance of the year against Newcastle and take the points. Or, they could play the Magpies back into form. They're simply that tough to read—as are Alan Pardew's men at the moment—meaning that we could either have one brilliant or one terrible game of football coming our way.

    Dan Talintyre Draw, 1-1 
    Joe Tansey Wigan win 2-1 
    Karl Matchett Wigan win 2-1 
    Michael Cummings Wigan win 2-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Newcastle win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Draw, 2-2* 
    Will Tidey Newcastle win 4-3*

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week.

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