Premier League Table 2013 Week 8: Predicting Post-Weekend Landscape
Week 8 sees the Premier League recommence after the disruptions of the international break, with plenty of intriguing ties to focus attention back on the domestic club scene.
Arsenal go into the next round of fixtures top of the table, equal on points with Liverpool but ahead thanks to their superior goal difference. With Arsene Wenger's men apparently galvanised by the arrival of Mesut Ozil, whispers regarding the authenticity of the Gunner's title challenge are starting to grow louder.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are flying high, and with plenty of room for further improvement. Daniel Sturridge is arguably yet to reach top form this year, while Luis Suarez is still finding his feet after coming back from suspension. The man who replaced him following the Uruguayan's biting incident, Philippe Coutinho, is also injured, and his return could be a welcome boost to Brendan Rodgers, whose team's current form appears unsustainable without January reinforcements.
Behind the top two, Chelsea linger just with a brooding malevolence, thanks to the presence of Jose Mourinho and a sense that the club are all but a sleeping giant, waiting for the finishing touch or change in mentality to turn their players and resources into another era of Premier League domination. So far, however, like Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City, the new manager's results haven't been entirely convincing, although both teams should grow into the season as it continues.
At the bottom of the table, Sunderland and Crystal Palace already look cast adrift, with the Black Cats having now replaced their sacked manager, Paolo Di Canio, with Gus Poyet. His appointment may be more of a move aimed at winning promotion back into the league next year rather than saving the club from relegation in 2014.
Who will be sucked into their downward spiral remains open to question. Fulham, Norwich City and Stoke City all teeter over the precipice, equal on seven points from seven games.
But how will the Premier League landscape lie after the next weekend of games?
|Date and Time (BST)||Home team||Prediction||Away team|
|Saturday October 19 - 12:45||Newcastle United||1-3||Liverpool|
|Saturday October 19 - 15:00||Arsenal||2-0||Norwich|
|Saturday October 19 - 15:00||Chelsea||3-1||Cardiff City|
|Saturday October 19 - 15:00||Everton||2-2||Hull City|
|Saturday October 19 - 15:00||Manchester United||1-1||Southampton|
|Saturday October 19 - 15:00||Stoke City||0-2||West Bromwich Albion|
|Saturday October 19 - 15:00||Swansea City||2-0||Sunderland|
|Saturday October 19 - 17:30||West Ham United||0-2||Manchester City|
|Sunday October 20 - 16:00||Aston Villa||2-1||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Monday October 21 - 20:00||Crystal Palace||1-1||Fulham|
Week 8 Fixture Predictions (all times BST)
Saturday October 19, 12:45: Newcastle United vs. Liverpool
Loic Remy has been one of the only success stories of Newcastle's season thus far, yet with Alan Pardew having bet a Mars bar that his side will finish above Everton after the Toffee's 3-2 win over the Magpies, his team may come unstuck again with the visit of Liverpool's other club.
Rodgers' ever-improving Liverpool side will be confident of blasting their way to victory at St. James's Park. Unless Newcastle can somehow get at the Reds' midfield weak point in order to smother Sturridge and Suarez, forcing the likes of Henderson and Enrique to get busy helping out Gerrard and Lucas rather than pushing forwards, they will likely be dominated at home.
Cabaye, Sissoko and Tiote's contributions, along with Remy's eye for goal, will be key, but Liverpool's charge won't run out of steam just yet.
Saturday October 19, 15:00: Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Similarly to their fellow table-toppers Liverpool, Arsenal's attack looks to be in full flow at the moment. And while Chris Hughton will likely set up his team to defend above all else once again, the Canaries look set to be swept away at the Emirates.
The visitors will rely on Ricky van Wolfswinkel to snatch chances with minimal support, but with the return of Mikel Arteta to bolster Arsenal's midfield alongside Rosicky, Wilshere and Ramsey, Norwich may find themselves frozen out of possession and the game as a whole.
Hughton's plan to be hard to break down and beat should be a good test of Ozil's skills as a lock-picker, but whether the breakthrough comes in the first half or the last 10 minutes, it will likely only be a matter of time before he and his teammates find the right combination in front of their home crowd.
Saturday October 19, 15:00: Chelsea vs. Cardiff City
Cardiff City have been able to put up a decent fight so far this season, but last season's Championship winners will have to pack a serious suckerpunch if they're to take anything away from Stamford Bridge.
With a crunch match against Schalke in the Champions League awaiting Mourinho's men in the week, Chelsea look set to rotate their squad, which could lead to a hungrier line-up of players eager to prove their worth to the Portuguese's new order.
Having beaten Norwich City 3-1 away in Week 7, a similar margin of victory at home looks likely. The confusion and melodrama currently besetting the Cardiff camp will be of little help to Malky MacKay and his men.
Saturday October 19, 15:00: Everton vs. Hull City
Roberto Martinez has been hailed as one of the managerial stars of the first seven weeks of the Premier League season, yet Steve Bruce has also achieved some excellent results at Hull City.
With Lukaku busy for Belgium in the international break, Everton's towering loanee may still be tired from his World Cup qualification heroics, and Martinez may be hoping that Jelavic can make up any difference in energy levels or sharpness up front.
Yet Hull could spring a surprise at Goodison Park. Bruce has brought together a close-knit team with a strong sense of self-belief, high morale and a good work ethic.
While all these qualities are easy prey for the cliche hunters out there, they could see the Tigers snatch a point away from home, especially considering the defensive frailties shown by Everton of late.
Saturday October 19, 15:00: Manchester United vs. Southampton
David Moyes must be careful not to fall to another unlikely home defeat, as Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton arrive at Old Trafford with a taste for blood.
West Bromwich Albion showed how Manchester United can be bullied at home, and not just through brute force and strength. Pochettino has the Saints playing an intense pressing game, which could lead the likes of Michael Carrick to be overrun and rendered anonymous in the midfield battle, exposing United's defence.
United will be hoping that Robin van Persie's record-breaking goalscoring while on international duty will translate into a triumphant return to service in his club colours. The Dutchman enjoyed some of his best performances against Southampton last season, although the side he will face this year are very different to the one Nigel Adkins managed.
Saturday October 19, 15:00: Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion
After impressive performances against United and Arsenal, which West Brom won and drew respectively, Steve Clarke's men enter their away game against Stoke as the in-form favourites.
They should do well too, with Amalfitano and Berahino the perfect mix of speed, skill and strength to pester and puncture Stoke's lumbering defenders.
Mark Hughes has been credited with changing Stoke's style of late, but he'll have to do more than increase their percentage of short passes to prove the team have turned any corners. Fans may have to wait until the second half of the season to see his good work start to come to fruition.
Saturday October 19, 15:00: Swansea City vs. Sunderland
It's hard to say what impact Poyet will have on Sunderland in such a short timescale, but considering the burst of form unleashed by the club in the honeymoon periods of their last three managers (Bruce, O'Neil and Di Canio) Swansea may be in for more than they bargained for.
Michael Laudrup's low-lying technocrats should be able to pierce the visitor's momentum, however, with a win here likely to lift the Swans into a more respectable position.
The 2013 League Cup winners are in better shape than their points tally at present suggests, with potency in Europe allowing them to dominate their Europa League group. Having scored on his Spain debut, Michu will look to take his good form back to the day job at the weekend.
Saturday October 19, 17:30: West Ham United vs. Manchester City
Sam Allardyce masterminded a 3-0 drubbing of Tottenham Hotspur away in Week 7, but Pellegrini's City team look like a far more complete and well-rounded outfit, even if they too suffer jelling problems similar to Spurs.
The likes of Kompany, Toure and Negredo are far better-suited to dealing with the Hammers than Eriksen and Co., and it will be a major surprise if the visitors fail to take all three points back to the North West with them.
A win at the Boleyn Ground could raise City to within touching distance of the Premier League's leading pack, just behind Chelsea, and firmly in the running to profit off any dropped points by those ahead of them.
Sunday October 20, 16:00: Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Having been beaten by a smash-and-grab West Ham side at home in Week 7, Spurs must regroup and put their punishing loss behind them.
A trip away to Villa Park is hardly ideal, however, with Paul Lambert's men deserving of a higher league position and prepared to work hard to reach their just rewards in the top half.
Christian Benteke will as always pose a massive threat to Villa's opponents, who still look like a collection of high-class players finding their way together than a team.
By contrast, the trials of last season appear to have galvanised Lambert's men in their mission to self-improve and grow as a group with mid-term, top-six ambitions. Their solidarity and home advantage may well count against a Spurs side that could be rattled and got at.
Saturday October 21, 20:00: Crystal Palace vs. Fulham
It looks unlikely that Ian Holloway's return to the Premier League will be as memorable as his debut turn in charge of Blackpool, yet Martin Jol's Fulham arrive at Selhurst Park beset by their own issues and lack of competitiveness.
Dimitar Berbatov, Adel Taarabt, Bryan Ruiz and Darren Bent all seem like the finishing, creative touches to different teams brought together to spoil a broth. Scott Parker is the slapstick light relief rather than a disciplined, sensible holding player to allow such flair to coexist successfully.
Palace may well be able to grab a much-needed victory here, but based on each team's respective form and team quality, a draw looks likely.
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