EPL Week 22: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert EPL Picks

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIJanuary 11, 2013

EPL Week 22: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert EPL Picks

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    After a two-week hiatus, the English Premier League is back...and it's back in a big way, with a fantastic slate of matches for this weekend.

    Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City, Manchester City and Chelsea all face difficult away matches this week, whilst Arsenal and Everton face tough fixtures at home.

    Throw in the latest installment of the great rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool, and the Premier League action for this weekend is looking to be one of the best we've seen all season.

    Who do Bleacher Report writers see coming out on top this week?

    Read on to find our complete predictions for this weekend's EPL action.

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 167 points
    Joe Tansey EPL Featured Columnist 164 points
    Mohamed Al-Hendy World Football Featured Columnist 161 points
    Mike Cummings World Football Lead Writer 142 points
    Karl Matchett World Football Featured Columnist 140 points
    Sam Tighe World Football Tactics Writer 137 points
    Will Tidey World Football Editor and Lead Writer 127 points

Goals Total for EPL Week 22

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    The total goals for Week 22 of the English Premier League is set at 27.5 goals

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

     

     

    Over goals: 

    Dan Talintyre, Joe Tansey, Sam Tighe

     

    Under goals:

    Karl Matchett, Mike Cummings, Mohamed Al-Hendy, Will Tidey

Queens Park Rangers vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:45 a.m. ET

    Kicking off the action this weekend is 20th-placed Queens Park Rangers, who are at home to face the high-flying Tottenham Hotspur.

    Spurs have climbed all the way up to third now under Andre Villas-Boas and haven't lost their last five matches. They've been very good at home and solid away from it, and they will have no problems traveling to Loftus Road to take on former boss Harry Redknapp.

    Redknapp, despite a slow start, is finally starting to do some good things with Rangers this season and will take great confidence into this match following last week's stunning victory over Chelsea.

    All hope is not lost just yet for QPR, who still feel they have a real chance to avoid relegation this season.

    For that to happen, however, they'll need to start picking up points at home and against the top teams—meaning that this one could well be a cracker of a match.

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

Aston Villa vs. Southampton

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    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Aston Villa will be thoroughly disappointed with their Capital One Cup loss to lowly Bradford City and will be out to prove that they can still play quality football this weekend in the Premier League.

    The Villans have endured a tough few months in the domestic competition—winning only one of their past seven matches and sitting just two points above the relegation zone—but they will still consider themselves a genuine chance this weekend against Southampton.

    The Saints sit below them on the table at the moment, though they have been strong of late this season—they drew their last three matches that included some very tough fixtures. 

    They will feel that if they can take on Arsenal at home, travel to Craven Cottage and to the infamous Britannia Stadium and pick up points in all three matches, they can certainly be competitive at Villa Park this weekend.

    Dan TalintyreSouthampton win 2-1 
    Joe TanseyDraw, 2-2 
    Karl MatchettAston Villa win 2-1 
    Mike CummingsSouthampton win 2-1 
    Mohamed Al-HendyAston Villa win 2-1 
    Sam TigheSouthampton win 3-0 
    Will TideyAston Villa win 2-1 

Everton vs. Swansea

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    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Everton got their season back on track with a huge away win over Newcastle United on Jan. 2 and are now back in Merseyside to welcome Swansea City to town.

    The Toffees are still genuinely in the hunt for a Top Four finish this year—they sit just two points from the Champions League positions—but know that they need to continue to win their home matches if they are to pick up that fourth spot this season.

    Games like this one—at home to Swansea—are a must-win for David Moyes' men—not only for their Top Four aspirations, but also for their confidence as a team that they can, indeed, topple sides that also have explosive attacks and a dominant midfield.

    Swansea picked up a huge victory at Stamford Bridge during the week and will no doubt take plenty of confidence into this fixture. Undefeated in their last four Premier League matches, and with Michu in his usual goal-scoring form, expect the Swans to put up a real fight for the Merseyside club.

    But will it be enough to stop the Toffees at home?

    Dan TalintyreEverton win 3-0
    Joe TanseyEverton win 2-0 
    Karl MatchettEverton win 2-1 
    Mike CummingsEverton win 2-1 
    Mohamed Al-HendyEverton win 2-1 
    Sam TigheDraw, 2-2 
    Will TideyEverton win 3-0 

Fulham vs. Wigan Athletic

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    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Fulham might not have had the season so far that they desired, but they find themselves with a great chance to pick up back-to-back league victories this weekend against Wigan Athletic.

    Having won a huge match at the Hawthorns last week against West Brom, Martin Jol's men proved that they have what it takes to pick up wins when they need it most and will no doubt look to build upon that here against the hapless Latics.

    Wigan currently sit inside the relegation zone this season with just five wins for the year. They have conceded the third highest amount of goals out of any team and, at times, look simply bereft of ideas in attack and particularly in front of goal.

    Roberto Martinez will once again have a tough task on his hands to help this team avoid relegation, and if they're going to do so, they need to start picking up points against the lower teams—starting with this match away at Craven Cottage.

    Dan TalintyreDraw, 2-2 
    Joe TanseyFulham win 1-0 
    Karl MatchettFulham win 2-1 
    Mike CummingsFulham win 2-1 
    Mohamed Al-HendyFulham win 2-1 
    Sam TigheDraw, 2-2 
    Will TideyDraw, 1-1 

Norwich City vs. Newcastle United

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    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Their season isn't going as well as they would have liked. They're nowhere near the dominant force that they were last season. The man who was netting goals seemingly at will last season doesn't have the form, and the man most likely to bag goals this year has been shipped off to Chelsea.

    They don't have replacement for him up front, nor do they have the midfield depth required, having been crippled by key injuries throughout the season.

    They most recently lost at home to Everton and now face the tough journey to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City—a fixture that Manchester United, Arsenal, Stoke City and West Ham all dropped points at throughout the course of the season.

    Welcome to Being: Newcastle, a proposed documentary charting the dramatic decline of the Magpies over the course of the 2012-13 Premier League season. 

    Newcastle desperately need a win this week to restore some confidence and self-belief back into the club that they are, indeed, a top side in the English competition. For if not, they'll potentially even find themselves inside the relegation zone.

    Can they get it going on the road, or will Norwich's tough defense and home advantage prove too much for the men from up north?

    Dan TalintyreNorwich win 2-0
    Joe TanseyNorwich win 2-1 
    Karl MatchettNorwich win 2-0 
    Mike CummingsNorwich win 2-1 
    Mohamed Al-HendyDraw, 1-1 
    Sam TigheNorwich win 2-0 
    Will TideyNorwich win 2-0 

Reading vs. West Bromwich Albion

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    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    West Brom's sensational start to the season is slowly starting to slip away (how about that for some alliteration) and unravelled further with a home loss to Martin Jol's Fulham on Jan. 1—a result they'll be desperate to make up for this week.

    The Baggies will travel to the Madjeski Stadium to take on Reading, who were simply out-classed and out-gunned by a better Tottenham side, also on Jan. 1.

    The Royals now sit just a goal difference away from the bottom of the table and are in serious need of some assistance if they're going to avoid relegation this season—something that they need to start sooner rather than later, if they want to stay in the top flight.

    Steve Clarke's side have been solid this season, and with the news that Romelu Lukaku will stay until the end of the year, look likely for a top-half finish.

    You just wonder, though, whether they have quite as much to play for as Reading, heading into this weekend—it could make for one very interesting matchup by the time Saturday morning rolls around.

    Dan TalintyreReading win 1-0
    Joe TanseyWest Brom win 2-1 
    Karl MatchettDraw, 1-1 
    Mike CummingsDraw, 1-1 
    Mohamed Al-HendyDraw, 1-1 
    Sam TigheDraw, 1-1 
    Will TideyDraw, 0-0 

Stoke City vs. Chelsea

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    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    The journey to the Britannia Stadium is one of the toughest to make in the Premier League this season. For Chelsea, it comes at the completely wrong time this year.

    The Blues have dropped out of the Top Three in the table with their shocking loss to Queens Park Rangers on Jan. 2, which they then followed up with an embarrassing performance against Swansea City in what could very well cost them their Capital One Cup ambitions.

    Marquee striker Fernando Torres isn't wanted by the fans, Rafa Benitez still isn't completely comfortable in his new job and now they have to travel to the Britannia to take on a Stoke City side that hasn't lost a game there all season.

    In fact, the Potters have conceded more than one goal at home only once all season and have only lost one of their past 11 Premier League fixtures.

    If Chelsea are going to stand up and show that they're still a competitive force this season, this is the match to do it.

    Otherwise, they could well find themselves outside of the Top Four entirely by the end of this weekend's matches.

    Dan TalintyreChelsea win 2-0
    Joe TanseyDraw, 1-1 
    Karl MatchettChelsea win 3-2 
    Mike CummingsDraw, 1-1 
    Mohamed Al-HendyChelsea win 2-1 
    Sam TigheChelsea win 2-1 
    Will TideyDraw, 1-1 

Sunderland vs. West Ham

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    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Sunderland find themselves back at the Stadium of Light this weekend—a venue where they've had good success over the past few years—to take on West Ham United in the Premier League.

    The Hammers have been very good in their first season back in the top flight but have slipped out of the top half of the table and are drifting back down the ladder—they have won just one their past five league matches this season.

    In particular, they've only won two matches away from Upton Park all season. At a tough venue, they will be hard pressed to get a result this week against the Black Cats. 

    Martin O'Neill's men have won three of their past six league matches and showed against Tottenham on Dec. 29 that they can mix it with some of the best attacking teams in the league this year.

    But do they have enough to get all three points at home this week?

    Or will it be more success from the Hammers in their maiden season back in the league?

    Dan TalintyreDraw, 1-1
    Joe TanseySunderland win 2-0 
    Karl MatchettDraw, 0-0 
    Mike CummingsDraw, 0-0 
    Mohamed Al-HendySunderland win 2-1 
    Sam TigheSunderland win 2-1 
    Will TideyDraw, 2-2 

Manchester United vs. Liverpool

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    Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. ET

    And then there's the big one.

    Few matches carry more meaning and significance than that of Manchester United against Liverpool, and given the drama and controversy that occurred when they first met during the year, this one is set to be one of the best league matches we've seen all season.

    United currently sit seven points clear on top of the league with the best attack by a mile and look in complete control for whatever 2013 might throw at them.

    Players are returning from injury, their defense is finally tightening up and they look like a very tough side to run down in the title race.

    However, when it comes to rivalry games, absolutely anything can happen, and Liverpool will like their chances of picking up a result at Old Trafford this weekend. The Reds have won six of their last eight matches to move within seven points of the Top Four and will no doubt be geared up for a big match against the Red Devils. 

    Either way, this one looks set to be one heck of a football match.

    Dan TalintyreManchester United win 1-0
    Joe TanseyManchester United win 3-2 
    Karl MatchettDraw, 1-1 
    Mike CummingsManchester United win 3-2 
    Mohamed Al-HendyManchester United win 2-0 
    Sam TigheManchester United win 3-1 
    Will TideyManchester United win 1-0 

Arsenal vs. Manchester City

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    Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. ET

    Our Premier League action concludes with another brilliant matchup—this time between sixth-place Arsenal and second-place Manchester City.

    The two sides played out a dramatic 1-1 draw when they met at the Etihad earlier in the season, and both will no doubt be looking for a better performance when they clash again.

    Arsenal have struggled for consistency this season but have risen well for the big matches—particularly when playing in front of their home crowd.

    Manchester City are always a tough team to break down, but the Gunners will fancy their chances of beating the reigning champions, given the fact that they don't seem to play as well away from home as they do at the Etihad.

    Arsene Wenger's men will be primed for a big match here, having received an embarrassing 1-1 draw on Jan. 1 to Southampton.

    City, by comparison, cruised to a 3-0 win over Stoke City, although that one did happen at the Etihad.

    Who will triumph in the battle of midfield—Jack Wilshere or Yaya Toure—and will Theo Walcott's probable new contract evoke a huge performance from the 23-year-old?

    Either way, this one has the makings of being just as good as the match prior to it on Sunday.

    And who knows? It might even be better.

    Dan TalintyreDraw, 1-1 
    Joe TanseyManchester City win 3-1 
    Karl MatchettManchester City win 2-1 
    Mike CummingsDraw, 2-2 
    Mohamed Al-HendyManchester City win 2-1 
    Sam TigheArsenal win 2-1 
    Will TideyArsenal win 2-1