EPL Week 16: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert Picks

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIDecember 7, 2012

EPL Week 16: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert Picks

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    After a busy week of European football, the English Premier League returns with another brilliant round of fixtures and matches set to take place this weekend.

    From Chelsea looking for their first league win under Rafa Benitez to the top-of-the-table Manchester derby between Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini, Week 16 of the Premier League looks set to be another great week of domestic football.

    Which teams will and won't emerge as winners this week? Read on to see who the Bleacher Report writers think will be winning in the Premier League this weekend.


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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 whomever 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 122 points
    Dan Talintyre World Football Featured Columnist 110 points
    Michael Cummings World Football Lead Writer and Blogger 102 points
    Karl Matchett World Football Featured Columnist

    98 points

    Joe Tansey EPL Featured Columnist

    97 points

    Sam Tighe World Football Featured Columnist 91 points
    Will Tidey World Football Lead Writer and Editor 83 points

Arsenal vs. West Bromwich Albion

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    Update: Arsenal top West Brom 2-0 on Saturday at Emirates Stadium.

    Arsenal were beaten easily by Swansea City last weekend in the Premier League—prompting the usual questions about the direction of this team to surface once more.

    The North London club currently sit in 10th position and are just one point above Liverpool heading into this weekend's match against a West Brom side desperate to get back in the winners' circle.

    The Baggies have lost back-to-back matches following their four-game winning streak and, despite the losses, still find themselves well ahead of the Gunners in fifth position—on the same number of points as third-place Chelsea, to be precise.

    Steve Clarke's men are more than capable of competing with the top teams in the league this season, but can they get the job done at the Emirates this week against a side desperate to prove that their current performances are no cause for concern?

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

Aston Villa vs. Stoke City

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    Update: Aston Villa, Stoke Play to 0-0 draw at Villa Park.

    Aston Villa haven't lost in their past three matches and will welcome Stoke City to Villa Park this week with the dream of extending that streak to four straight.

    The Villans have been dynamic on the counterattack with Belgian international Christian Benteke proving his worth for the club with big goals when they need it most.

    However, the Potters are more than capable of shutting down whatever offensive pressure Villa can mount against them, having conceded the second fewest goals in the league this season and possessing one of the top pressure defenses in England.

    Stoke won't score a whole lot on the other end but with three straight wins and one loss in their past seven matches, it's hard to count out Tony Pulis' men from being a real threat here.

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

Southampton vs. Reading

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    Update: Southampton moves out of relegation zone with 1-0 win over Reading.

    Southampton will play hosts to their newly promoted friends Reading, who also happen to join the Saints in the relegation zone heading into this match.

    Despite strong performances over the past two weeks, the Saints sit in 18th position and the Royals in 19th, respectively, with both sides desperate to get out of the dreaded drop zone with three competition points this week.

    Southampton have just one loss from their past three matches whilst Reading have lost three straight, but don't let those statistics fool you about this Royals team.

    They've pushed neatly every team they've played this season and haven't lost a game since September by more than one goal—proving they're no pushovers here. Southampton and Rickie Lambert will have to be at their attacking best to pick up all three points in this one.

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

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week.

Sunderland vs. Chelsea

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    Update: Chelsea top Sunderland 3-1 behind Torres' 2 goals.

    Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez lost the little respect he had from Blues' fans last week when his side were beaten 3-1 by West Ham at Upton Park, and he'll travel to Sunderland this week desperate to try and pick up his maiden EPL victory as the Blues manager.

    The West London club were eliminated from the Champions League during the week and will be keen to keep performing well domestically now—something that might not bode well for Martin O'Neill's men, who will take on the struggling champions this week.

    The Black Cats have been typically strong at home for some time now, but have just one win from their past eight matches and sit just one point outside the relegation zone this year.

    They've been poor in attack, with no real options other than Steven Fletcher, and against a Chelsea side desperate to make amends for the heartbreak and frustration that has flowed from the past month or so, will be hard-pressed to pick up any points at home this week.

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

Swansea City vs. Norwich City

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    Update: Norwich top Swansea 4-3 at Liberty Stadium.

    Following their big win over Arsenal at the Emirates last week, Swansea are now back at Liberty Stadium to take on Norwich City—a team that has been gradually improving all season to reach a point where they are no longer just an easy three-point victory.

    Norwich haven't been beaten in their past eight matches this year and have brought themselves out of the relegation zone to sit just two points off the top half of the table.

    They were perhaps lucky to win all three points last week after some wasteful finishing from Sunderland, but backed by a strong defense, the Canaries will take on Swansea this week full of confidence.

    The Swans, however, will be tough at home. As they showed last week, they are a handful to break down in defense and have attacking talent right across the pitch that has the potential to devastate opponents on even the slightest hint of a counterattacking opportunity.

    Swansea haven't been beaten in their past seven matches and are just one win outside of the top four—something few would have expected at the start of the season.

    Can their incredible run continue with a win this week against Norwich?

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

Wigan Athletic vs. Queens Park Rangers

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    Update: QPR, Wigan play to 2-2 draw at DW Stadium.

    Harry Redknapp's arrival at Queens Park Rangers has the London club hopeful that they will avoid relegation this season, but there is seemingly still an abundance of work to be done by the former Tottenham Hotspur manager before that will happen—least of which is winning a league match.

    Rangers remain winless through their opening 15 matches and are on the road this week to take on Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium—a venue where the likes of Stoke City, Everton and West Ham United have all struggled at this season.

    The Latics sit just above the relegation zone in 16th position heading into this one, knowing that a win would help calm the fears about a possible relegation fight like last season—something that Roberto Martinez definitely doesn't want to go through again.

    They've lost four of their last five matches—although last week's result was dictated by an early red card—and have lost two of their last three home matches also.

    Could this be the week for Harry's boys to finally get their maiden victory?

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

Manchester City vs. Manchester United

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    Sunday, December 9, at 8:30 a.m. ET

    The Manchester derby headlines the week of Premier League action with the two best teams currently in the league set to square off on Sunday.

    City will be at home, a venue where they typically play very well, and Roberto Mancini will be looking to build upon last season's success against Sir Alex Ferguson, against whom he won both league encounters as well as taking the title off the Red Devils.

    The second-place Citizens haven't been beaten this year in the Premier League and have conceded the fewest goals in the league—something that could well be tested by the attacking strengths that United possess in Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

    United's defense remains the main concern here, with the Red Devils continuing to concede early and easy goals against teams they really should be holding out, such as the three they allowed to lowly Reading last week in the Premier League.

    The battle of midfield will also be interesting, with Yaya Toure likely to be the man that could have a game-winning impact for Manchester City. Either way, this one is hyped as being a big, big match—and that's because it will be.

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

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week.

Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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    Sunday, December 9, at 10 a.m. ET

    It might not carry the same attention with it that the Manchester derby does, but Everton's home match against Tottenham Hotspur is also set to be a fascinating matchup this week.

    The Toffees have just one loss in their past 12 matches, but also have only four wins in that time also—drawing three of their past four home encounters.

    The likes of Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic continue to dominate in attack for the Merseyside club and will provide for a tough matchup against a strong Spurs back line that has only conceded one goal (that wasn't a comedic own goal) in their past three matches.

    The North London club have seemingly turned a corner since their embarrassing defeat to the hands of Arsenal three weeks back—winning all three matches since and moving into the top four in the Premier League ahead of the Toffees.

    With Chelsea struggling and the two Manchester sides playing, both teams will know the seriousness that this result could have in their quest for European football next season and will no doubt be desperate to pick up as many points as they can in this one.

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

    * denotes highest scoring game of the week.

West Ham vs. Liverpool

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    Sunday, December 9, at 11 a.m. ET

    West Ham were the shock winners of the week last week when they took down Chelsea at Upton Park, and they'll be looking to do the same this week against Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool.

    The Reds aren't scoring a stack of goals lately and struggled to get past Southampton last week, making this week's ask of stopping a high-flying Hammers in front of their home crowd a very big ask.

    The Merseyside club have only won one away fixture all season; West Ham have scored all but five of their goals at home this year and concede an average of less than one goal per game.

    Luis Suarez and co. are no doubt talented, but are they good enough to get the job done away from home against a team brimming with confidence?

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

Fulham vs. Newcastle United

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    Monday, December 10, at 3 p.m. ET

    Newcastle United ended their losing streak last week when they ran out 3-0 winners over Wigan Athletic, but with the Latics playing most of the match with just 10 men, it's hard to truly evaluate just how Alan Pardew's men are traveling at the moment.

    What we do know is that the Magpies haven't played well away from home this year, with no wins from their seven away matches to date, and that they are playing without a stack of players in their side due to injuries right across the field (per The Injury Room).

    That makes them very vulnerable on the road this week at Craven Cottage, where Martin Jol's men will be looking to bounce back into the winners' circle—a circle they haven't been in since a 1-0 home victory over Aston Villa back in October.

    The Cottagers were easily beaten by Tottenham Hotspur last week and whilst they've held the likes of Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal to draws in the past month or so, they haven't been able to get the job done and pick up all three points—something that will no doubt by worrying Jol.

    Is this the week that Fulham finally end their winless streak with three points—continuing Newcaslte's prolonged slide down the Premier League ladder in the process?

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

Sunderland vs. Reading

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    Tuesday, December 11, at 2:45 p.m. ET

    We wrap up our Premier League week with a surprise Tuesday night football encounter between Sunderland and Reading, who will have both played big games over the weekend.

    The Black Cats will have been at home to a fired-up Chelsea whilst Reading will have taken on Southampton away from home in their all-relegation affair—both of which will no doubt have an impact on how this one will turn out.

    The key will be whether Martin O'Neill's men can find their home form again, with the match against Chelsea no doubt a good indicator of whether they're on the right path to turning the Stadium of Light back into the fortress that it once was.

    Reading, on the other hand, will have played consecutive away games with a short turnaround in between, which could affect their effectiveness in this one.

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


    Who do you think will be running out winners in EPL Week 16?

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