EPL Week 23: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert EPL Picks

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIJanuary 18, 2013

EPL Week 23: Bleacher Report Writers Make Their Expert EPL Picks

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    The English Premier League is back for another full slate of matches, which means our experts are back for another round of predictions as well.

    Several big matches dominate the headlines this week, including Arsenal's trip to Stamford Bridge as well as Manchester United's journey to White Hart Lane. 

    Can Queens Park Rangers get off the bottom of the ladder and continue their solid run under Harry Redknapp, or will it be West Ham that prevails in an all-London showdown? 

    Week 23 looks set to be another big week of football, so read on to see who the writers here at Bleacher Report like and don't like in their predictions.


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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 amount.

    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 selection 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 172 points
    Mohamed Al-Hendy World football featured columnist 171 points
    Joe Tansey Premier league featured columnist 167 points
    Mike Cummings World football lead writer 149 points
    Karl Matchett World football featured columnist 148 points
    Sam Tighe World football tactical analyst 143 points
    Will Tidey World football lead writer & editor 136 points

Liverpool vs. Norwich City

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    Saturday, January 19, at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Liverpool suffered a hard defeat to rivals Manchester United last week and will be out to get back in the winner's circle with a result this weekend against Norwich.

    The Reds have been typically tough to break down at home this year, and they will provide a very difficult challenge for the Canaries.

    After a nice run earlier on in the season, Norwich haven't won in their past five matches—losing four of them—and will be hard-pressed to stop that streak here.

    The Merseyside men ran all over the Canaries last time they met, winning 5-2 and dominating Norwich's normally strong defense. Will that transpire again this weekend, or will we see a resurgence at the back from Norwich once more?

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

Manchester City vs. Fulham

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    Saturday, January 19, at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Manchester City will no doubt be primed for a big game this weekend, with the Citizens fully aware of how significant this week could be in their title chase.

    League-leaders Manchester United face a difficult away trip to Tottenham Hotspur this week and could drop points there, meaning Roberto Mancini's men have a great opportunity at home to close the gap at the top of the Premier League ladder.

    Standing in their way will be Fulham, who have been surprisingly strong away from home at times this year. However, the Cottagers have only won one of their past six matches and couldn't even get past Wigan Athletic at Craven Cottage last weekend.

    If they can't do that, you would have to think that they would struggle to get a result away at the Etihad Stadium against a City side with everything to play for.

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

Newcastle United vs. Reading

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    Saturday, January 19, at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Newcastle United have looked poor since the sale of striker Demba Ba to Chelsea earlier in the winter transfer window, but they have a good chance to respond this week with a positive result.

    Alan Pardew will have been pleased with the point away at Carrow Road last weekend, and facing one of the worst teams in the league, his side should have enough to get past Reading—though you never quite know what will happen with the Royals.

    Down two goals last week against West Bromwich Albion, Reading came back to record a huge 3-2 win and keep their season in the top class alive. They'll need to pull off another strong performance if they are to succeed here, but they have proven throughout the year that they can pull out a result when needed.

    Could we see another shock result here for the hapless Magpies, or will the real Newcastle United come to the fore this weekend?

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

Swansea City vs. Stoke City

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    Saturday, January 19, at 10:00 a.m. ET

    After a heartbreaking loss to Arsenal during the FA Cup during the week and a frustrating draw to Everton just days before that, Swansea will be out for a better performance this weekend in the Premier League.

    The Swans have been somewhat of a revelation this year—sitting just four points off the sixth-place Gunners heading into this weekend—and have been prolific throughout midfield and attack. They'll be looking to continue that here when they take on Tony Pulis' Stoke City at Liberty Stadium.

    Notoriously difficult to break down defensively this year, the Potters have allowed 10 goals in their last three games and look very exposed at the moment.

    They've only won one of their last seven matches, and away from home, they are nowhere near the side that they are when playing at the Britannia Stadium.

    Can Michu lead the Swans attack to another big win here, or will the Potters' strong defense reestablish itself as a force once more this weekend?

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

West Ham vs. Queens Park Rangers

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    Saturday, January 19, at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Queens Park Rangers' miracle run at avoiding relegation will continue this week when they take on West Ham at Upton Park.

    Harry Redknapp's side have posted huge performances in succession in the league—beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and then keeping Tottenham scoreless at home—and will have no fear traveling to the East London club this weekend.

    Having started the season strong, West Ham are starting to slip as of late. They need a good performance here against the worst team in the league to steady the ship.

    They've only won once in their past six matches, and they were convincingly beaten away to Sunderland last weekend. You would think that the Hammers would normally be fine here against a team sitting 20th, but given the direction that both teams are currently heading in, anything could happen in this one.

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

Wigan Athletic vs. Sunderland

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    Saturday, January 19, at 10:00 a.m. ET

    Wigan Athletic are slowly slipping into the relegation zone at the moment and are in desperate need of a win—something that's only come once in their past nine matches and only twice at home all season.

    Roberto Martinez's men know what it's like to be in a relegation scrap, and they proved last year that they can succeed by winning the games they need to. 

    This week is a must-win game for the Latics.

    Sunderland don't travel particularly well, and despite a good performance at home to West Ham last week, they still enter this match with some questionable form.

    The Black Cats have only won twice on the road all year—once in their past four matches—and have dropped points to several of the league's bottom sides.

    Wigan Athletic will no doubt be hoping for that to continue again here.

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

West Bromwich Albion vs. Aston Villa

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    Saturday, January 19, at 12:30 p.m. ET

    West Brom's strong start to the Premier League season is slowly starting to slip away with the Baggies dropping further and further down the ladder.

    Last week, they let a two-goal slip against one of the worst teams in the competition—something they'll be desperate to make up for this week when they play Aston Villa, who have also been one of the worst teams in the league this year.

    It wasn't an 8-0 drubbing to Chelsea, but last week's loss at home to Southampton really wasn't a great result for the Villans. Granted it might have been on the back of a dubious penalty call, but even still, Villa really should have done more in that game.

    Away to the Hawthorns now is a big test for them, but it's still a very winnable match. West Brom are slipping, and their squad is depleted. Can they get a result, or will Romelu Lukaku once again drag this team to victory in the Premier League?

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

Chelsea vs. Arsenal

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    Sunday, January 20, at 8:30 a.m. ET

    One of the biggest matches of the week is the all-London affair between Chelsea and Arsenal—a huge game for both clubs on so many levels.

    Chelsea need to win to keep their top-four spot—something that the Gunners desperately need to pick up this weekend if they are to push for that Champions League berth. A loss here could see Arsenal fall as much as nine points outside the top four, making a very difficult deficit to overcome.

    Yet, on a more personal level, both teams need a result here to stabilize their fans and current climate at their respective clubs.

    Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez isn't at all popular with the fans, and his latest 2-2 draw with Southampton won't have done him in favors in that regards.

    Arsene Wenger is also growing much discontent for his refusal to bring in new attacking talent over the transfer window and for his inability to get the north London club's forwards (Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott) firing this year.

    It's your typical blue vs. red match. Who will walk away the victor?

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

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United

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    Sunday, January 20, at 11:00 a.m. ET

    Manchester United might have disposed of Liverpool last week, but they now travel to White Hart Lane to play their second difficult fixture in as many weeks.

    Andre Villas-Boas' side have been very strong this season and already have a win to speak of over the Red Devils—one of their three losses so far this year.

    United have won four in a row and haven't been beaten since playing away to Norwich back in November of last year, but Tottenham are a classy team this year and could well challenge Sir Alex Ferguson's men for the three points here.

    Tottenham are missing some key players due to injury and international duties, and it will be interesting to see how the likes of Adebayor and Sandro are missed here.

    Either way, this is shaping as a really important match for both teams and a fixture that both could look back on as a defining point of their year.

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

Southampton vs. Everton

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    Monday, January 21, at 3:00 p.m. ET

    Having picked up a huge point at Stamford Bridge last week—coming from two goals down as well—Southampton will be full of confidence when they take on Everton this weekend.

    However, the south-coast side will face the top-four chasers under a new manager after Nigel Adkins was sacked and immediately replaced by former Espanyol manager Mauricio Pochettino.

    The Saints were undefeated in their past five matches and are three points clear of the relegation zone, so Adkins' dismissal has come as a surprise to many. The team know that one slip-up could see them back in the scrap once more, so they'll clearly be desperate to avoid that happening here and impress their new boss.

    The Toffees have been very strong this season, and they've been one of the better traveling teams in the league as well, so they'll hold no fear heading to St. Mary's Stadium.

    David Moyes' team will play their consistent, pressing attack, and it will be up to the Saints to either make it or break it in this one. We could be in for an upset, or we could be in for another clinical display from the Merseyside men here.

    Which one will it be?

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

Arsenal vs. West Ham

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    Wednesday, January 23, at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Our final match for the week comes all the way on Wednesday night when Arsenal take on West Ham at home—a match that will no doubt be affected by the weekend's fixtures.

    We don't yet know how the two teams will play and how they will be impacted by injuries or performances—all of that we can't know until after Sunday night.

    But what we do know is that a London derby like this one is going to be huge and that form is often of secondary importance when it comes to rivalry games like this.

    Arsenal could have their top-four spot on the line here depending how the Chelsea match goes, and they will clearly know the importance of getting a result in this one.

    Being at the Emirates will help, but the Gunners have been far too inconsistent this year to instill confidence—even when playing at home. Expect the Hammers to make this a great one and push Wenger's men all the way.

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

Total Goals for EPL Week 23

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    As mentioned before, every week 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.

    This week, the total goals set is at 29.5 goals.

    Those picking under 29.5 goals this week:

    Joe Tansey, Mike Cummings

    Those picking over 29.5 goals this week:

    Dan Talintyre, Karl Matchett, Mohamed Al-Hendy, Sam Tighe, Will Tidey

    What do you make of our writers' EPL tips this week?

    Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: