English Premier League Week 16: 5 Teams on Upset Alert This Week
The English Premier League is set to take center stage again following the midweek European action with another slate of fascinating matchups set to take place.
The Manchester derby between the table-topping United and City headlines a strong weekend of fixtures, including tough away matches for Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Newcastle United—all of whom will be looking to build on victories last week.
Arsenal face a tough one at home to West Brom, relegation battlers face off once more and Rafa Bentiez travels to Sunderland in search of his first league win.
With all of that and more set to take place, Week 16 promises to be another excellent round of matches, and here are the five favorites that you need to watch out for on Premier League upset alert this week.
5. Southampton (home to Reading)
Kicking off our list this week is an all-relegation, all-newcomer affair if you can call it that, with Southampton at home to Reading.
The Saints come into this with just one loss from their last five matches whilst the Royals enter with three consecutive defeats—facts that don't exactly inspire confidence for those wanting to get against Southampton this week in the league.
But the thing to watch out for is not the Saints, but rather Reading, who have been incredibly consistent this year without posting the desired results.
Since the 22nd of September, the Royals haven't lost a game by more than one goal and have forced teams to come from behind on almost half those occasions. They've played well at West Brom, at Swansea, at Liverpool and at Wigan—meaning that there's no reason why they can't continue to play well away from home this week against the Saints.
Is it just a pipe dream? Maybe. But there's definitely something about Reading this year to suggest they'll be more than just another also-ran in the EPL.
4. Everton (home to Tottenham Hotspur)
Granted, it's Everton and it's in Merseyside, but to see Andre Villas-Boas' men listed as outsides following a three-game winning streak is a shock for me.
The North London club have been strong since a tough spell against the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal—netting eight goals in three games—and really have not been troubled by their opponents offensively a great deal in that time either.
Everton, on the other hand, whilst only losing the one game in their past 12 matches, have drawn seven out of their past nine—including three of their last four at home.
David Moyes' men are a great attacking side at their best, but with Spurs' defense playing well and the likes of Jermaine Defoe in career-best form, it's hard to rule out the visitors from being a chance outsider this weekend.
Gareth Bale is a huge loss, but it's still very doable for Tottenham.
3. Manchester City (home to Manchester United)
This one here is a given—simply because you never know what's going to transpire in a local derby, especially between Manchester City and Manchester United.
We could have seven goals (like United did last week) or we could have one goal (like United had the week before that)—you just never know.
City will be favorites here, and rightly so. They are at the Etihad Stadium—their playground, if you like—and toppled the Red Devils both times last season when they met. They'll be out to avenge their Champions League humiliation here and will have planning this fixture for some time now given the rich history that's growing between Roberto Mancini and Sir Alex Ferguson.
Having said that, there's still a lot to like about United here—least of which being their ability to win from positions that they really should lose from.
The Red Devils continue to come from behind to record victories, and thus cannot be ruled out here—regardless of what the scoreline and clock might read. Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney will carry this team again here and with several United players rested this week, there's no doubt that the away side are more than ready to pull off the upset this week.
Even if City are undefeated.
2. Liverpool (away to West Ham)
West Ham are in a purple patch of form at the moment, and following their big win over Chelsea at Upton Park last week, will be tough to beat at home here.
The Hammers were very strong against some of the world's best players, and whilst Liverpool will be sound defensively, it's hard to argue against the East London club holding some sort of chance here—particularly with the home crowd behind them.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will be backing up after a tough trip to Udinese in the Europa League and only just managed to get past Southampton last week domestically. Keep in mind also that this is a team that has only won one away fixture all season and has only scored first in three of their seven matches away from Anfield.
Compare that to the fact that West Ham have scored all but five of their total goals at home and concede an average of less than one goal per game, and this one could definitely be swinging the way of the East London club here.
1. Aston Villa (home to Stoke City)
But my top team to watch out for on upset alert this week is Aston Villa and, yes, Villa are actually favorites for a Premier League game this millennium.
The Villans did pick up a win two weeks back against Reading and they did hold Arsenal scoreless at home, but they couldn't even beat Queens Park Rangers last week with that home ground advantage—and they still aren't that great a football team.
Paul Lambert's men have only scored 12 goals all season, and whilst Stoke City haven't netted a whole lot more either, they do have one of the best defenses in the league—conceding the second-fewest goals so far this year.
The Potters come into this one undefeated in their last five and with the knowledge that they have taken points off Wigan, Liverpool, West Ham and West Brom away from home this year—making Aston Villa no harder than any of their previous matches on the road.
This one isn't going to be high-scoring, and it might just take one goal to separate these two teams; something that Stoke City definitely must be considered favorites for, having won 1-0 in three of their past four league victories.
Ninth playing 15th? Arguably the best defense in the league against an attack that couldn't even get past QPR last week? Stoke City are definitely a chance here.
Agree? Disagree? Who do you think can pull off the upset this week?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
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