EPL Week 21: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert EPL Picks

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIDecember 31, 2012

EPL Week 21: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert EPL Picks

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    Welcome to 2013, everyone, and all that the English Premier League has in store for us over the remaining 18 rounds of competition.

    With the turn of the New Year, every team will be looking to improve on the season they've had to date—consolidating on the good work they've already done or rectifying the mistakes that have plagued their game throughout 2012.

    What better way to do that than Week 21 of the Premier League, with a brilliant slate of matches and individual matchups scheduled for this week. Read on to see who the football writers here at Bleacher Report see winning (and losing) this week.

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 to predict the total number of goals scored over the course of the round—predicting whether the goals will be "over" or "under" a determined number. For example, the goal limit might be set at 28.5 goals; our writers will predict whether there will be (a) 28 goals or fewer or (b) more than 29 goals over the weekend.

    A correct pick will earn them five points, with the total goal amount changing from week to week.

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

    Dan Talintyre World Football Featured Columnist 161 points
    Joe Tansey EPL Featured Columnist 153 points
    Mohamed Al-Hendy World Football Featured Columnist 152 points
    Mike Cummings World Football Lead Writer 138 points
    Karl Matchett World Football Featured Columnist 131 points
    Sam Tighe World Football Tactics Writer 125 points
    Will Tidey World Football Editor and Lead Writer 118 points

Goals Total for EPL Week 21

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    The total goals for Week 21 of the English Premier League is set at 25.5 goals.

    A correct selection of whether the total goals this week will be "over" or "under" that amount will earn writers five points.

    Dan Talintyre Under 25.5 goals
    Joe Tansey Over 25.5 goals
    Karl Matchett Over 25.5 goals
    Mike Cummings Under 25.5 goals
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Over 25.5 goals
    Sam Tighe Over 25.5 goals
    Will Tidey Over 25.5 goals

West Bromwich Albion vs. Fulham

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    Tuesday, 1st January, 2013 at 7:45 a.m. ET

    Steve Clarke's side kicks off the Premier League action this week with a home performance against Fulham—a match the Baggies will be looking to win to keep up their impressive start to the 2012/13 season.

    They sit in seventh position heading into this week, but they are only three points outside the top four and five points outside the top three—and having put up strong performances this year against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, they cannot be counted out here.

    Fulham come into this one with a slightly different storyline, having won just one of their past 12 matches and just one match away from Craven Cottage all year.

    The Cottagers have struggled for midfield consistency, and whilst they were solid at home to Swansea City last week, were still comfortably beaten by a side without their top-goal scorer and best attacking talent—something that isn't likely to bode well for them this week either.

    West Brom are a dangerous side at the Hawthorns and deserve to be favorites for this match.

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

Manchester City vs. Stoke City

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    Tuesday, 1st January, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Manchester City tried to lose last week against Norwich City but managed to hang on for a 4-3 victory, and now travel back home to the Etihad Stadium for this week—a venue that they are typically hard to be beaten at over the years.

    Their opponents this week are Stoke City, who somehow saved home defeat last week by scraping back for a 3-3 draw against Southampton. The Potters have prided themselves on their defensive strength this season and will be no doubt looking to sure up at the back this week against the Citizens.

    Interestingly, Tony Pulis' side hasn't been beaten in their last 10 Premier League matches this season and having already drawn against Roberto Mancini's men, know that they have what it takes to succeed against Manchester City this week.

    They may only have one away win for the season, but having conceded just 17 goals through 20 matches including three last weekend, there's little doubting that the Potters will still provide for a difficult matchup this week against the reigning league champions.

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

Swansea City vs. Aston Villa

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    Tuesday, 1st January, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Aston Villa will look to avoid their third straight demolition this week when they take on Swansea City at Liberty Stadium on Tuesday, who fortunately for the Villans, are most likely going to be without their star midfielder Michu once more.

    Paul Lambert's men have been beaten 8-0, 4-0 and 3-0 respectively over the past three weeks and with a difficult away match this week, will be looking for an improved performance against a strong midfield—proving to fans and the league alike that they are still a good team this season.

    Aston Villa did beat Swansea earlier in the year, but without home field advantage and in the form slump they're currently in, it will no doubt be the Swans who enter this match with the momentum and favorite tag around their necks—and rightly so.

    Undefeated through their last three matches, Swansea can come within two wins of the top four with a win this week against Aston Villa.

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

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Reading

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    Tuesday, 1st January, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Andre Villas-Boas' revolution at Tottenham Hotspur is starting to gather some good momentum this season, with Spurs now up to fourth position and playing some good football in the process.

    The North London club have only suffered one defeat in their past eight matches and haven't been beaten at home in their last four either—taking good momentum and self-belief into their home clash against Reading this weekend.

    The Royals moved off the bottom of the ladder with a home win against West Ham last weekend, but traveling to White Hart Lane presents an entirely different challenge for Brian McDermott's men, who have tasted defeat in eight of their 10 away matches this season.

    The other two fixtures ended in draws, meaning that Reading are without an away win this year—something that seems unlikely to change after this week.

    Dan Talintyre Tottenham win 4-1 
    Joe Tansey Tottenham win 3-1 
    Karl Matchett Tottenham win 4-0 
    Mike Cummings Tottenham win 3-1 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Tottenham win 3-0 
    Sam Tighe Tottenham win 4-1 
    Will Tidey Tottenham win 4-1

West Ham United vs. Norwich City

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    Tuesday, 1st January, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Both West Ham and Norwich City suffered losses last week and will be looking to bounce back well with a win here—sitting just two points apart currently on the league ladder.

    After an incredible run, the Canaries have lost three straight matches (although they have been competitive in all three) and travel to Upton Park in desperate need of a win to try and break back into the top 10 of the Premier League this year.

    West Ham, on the other hand, despite spending a large portion of the year in the top half of the table, have slipped down to 12th with just two wins from their past 11 matches—something they'll be looking to improve on and rectify this week.

    The two teams played out a scoreless draw when they met at Carrow Road earlier this year; what will the fixture have in store for us this time around?

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

Wigan vs. Manchester United

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    Tuesday, 1st January, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Undefeated in their last eight matches and seven points clear on top of the table heading into the New Year—it's safe to say that it's fairly easy being Manchester United at the moment.

    The Red Devils notched up another home win last weekend with a stronger defensive performance against West Brom, and will be looking to carry over their strong win when they travel to the DW Stadium to take on Wigan Athletic this week.

    Wigan sit just point above the relegation zone heading into this one, but chalked up a strong 3-0 win away from home last week against Aston Villa, and will be looking to improve on that result with a good performance here against the league leaders.

    Manchester Untied thumped the Latics 4-0 when they came to Old Trafford earlier in the year; are we in for a repeat performance from the Manchester club here or are Roberto Martinez's men set for a fightback this time around?

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

Southampton vs. Arsenal

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    Tuesday, 1st January, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. ET

    Arsenal are no doubt flying high after their thrilling 7-3 victory over Newcastle United last weekend—marking the sixth time in the league this year that the Gunners have scored three or more goals.

    Arsene Wenger's men now travel to St. Mary's Stadium to take on Southampton—a side that they thumped 6-1 earlier in the season at the Emirates Stadium.

    The Saints showed last weekend that they are a genuine force to be reckoned with at times, taking the fight to Stoke City at the Britannia and doing what no other team could manage to do so far this year—score goals and come away with some sort of a result.

    They'll be looking to improve on that result with a good performance against the London club here, but having won four in a row and now just one win outside the top four on the table, Arsenal will certainly not be an easy side to get a result against here.

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

Chelsea vs. Queens Park Rangers

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    Wednesday, 2nd January, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Rafa Benitez might not be winning over the fans as quickly as he would have liked, but with four straight wins in the Premier League, Chelsea are certainly back and traveling in the right direction once more.

    The Blues moved back into third last weekend with a 2-1 victory over Everton at Goodison Park; a result that certainly wasn't easy for the West London club to achieve and one that they will no doubt take plenty of confidence and self-belief from.

    They'll now play at Stamford Bridge this week against the last-placed Queens Park Rangers, who despite having plenty to play for every week, just aren't capable of putting in a strong, 90-minute performance.

    Harry Redknapp has certainly made this team play much better than they were against Mark Hughes, but with significantly less talent to work with than his opponents this week, is most likely set to taste defeat once more as the QPR manager.

    Surely Rangers can't get any sort of a result in this one.

    Dan Talintyre Chelsea win 4-0 
    Joe Tansey Chelsea win 3-0 
    Karl Matchett Chelsea win 5-0 
    Mike Cummings Chelsea win 3-0 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Chelsea win 3-0 
    Sam Tighe Chelsea win 3-0 
    Will Tidey Chelsea win 5-0

Liverpool vs. Sunderland

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    Wednesday, 2nd January, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Liverpool moved back into the top half of the table with a win last weekend (albeit against QPR) and will carry good momentum back home to Anfield, where they will take on Sunderland this week.

    The Merseyside club have had an up-and-down season under Brendan Rodgers, but with Luis Suarez having one of his best years for the club and their defense seemingly improving with every passing week, Liverpool are no doubt heading in the right direction in 2013.

    The Black Cats held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw when the two sides met earlier in the year, but that was at the Stadium of Light—one of the tougher places to get an away win.

    This is at Anfield, the ground where Liverpool thrive and seemingly find another gear every week, and they'll be more than ready to do battle against Martin O'Neill's men this week.

    Dan Talintyre Liverpool win 3-0 
    Joe Tansey Liverpool win 2-1 
    Karl Matchett Liverpool win 4-0 
    Mike Cummings Draw, 0-0 
    Mohamed Al-Hendy Liverpool win 2-1 
    Sam Tighe Liverpool win 2-1 
    Will Tidey Liverpool win 3-2

Newcastle United vs. Everton

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    Wednesday, 2nd January, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET

    You've really got to feel for Newcastle United at the moment, who just can't seem to take a trick in the 2012/13 English Premier League season.

    Already crippled by a number of injuries, the Magpies have scored three goals in their last two league matches this year—all for no points—losing 4-3 and 7-3 respectively over their past two matches.

    What's more, is both came away from home against quality sides—Manchester United and Arsenal respectively. To score three goals, away from home, against those sides really has to hurt for Alan Pardew's men at the moment as they head back home to St. James' Park for this week's fixture.

    The Magpies will take on Everton, who dropped out of the top four with a loss at home to Chelsea last weekend. The Merseyside club will be looking to improve on that here, and with just two losses from their last 17 league matches, are no doubt a definite chance at stealing all three points in this one.

    Can Newcastle get over the heartbreak and disappointment of the past two weeks with a home win here, or will the Toffees ruin their parade with a strong and commanding performance away from home?

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