Arsenal head into Week 16 of Premier League play with a five-point edge over Liverpool and Chelsea for the top spot in the table. Manchester City and Everton round out an extremely competitive top five as the season's halfway mark quickly approaches.
The main talking point right now, however, is Manchester United. The pressure is beginning to mount on manager David Moyes as United's woes in league play were amplified by home losses to Everton and Newcastle. They need to start turning things around quickly to climb back toward the top.
Between the tight battle atop the table and United's struggles, the Premier League campaign is already starting to heat up. Let's take a look at the complete list of fixtures on tap for Matchday 16, make predictions for each and preview the best clashes of the weekend.
Matchday 16 Predictions
|Date||Home Club||Road Club||Prediction|
|Dec. 14||Manchester City||Arsenal||2-1|
|Dec. 14||Cardiff City||West Brom||1-1|
|Dec. 14||Chelsea||Crystal Palace||3-0|
|Dec. 14||Newcastle United||Southampton||2-2|
|Dec. 14||West Ham United||Sunderland||1-1|
|Dec. 14||Hull City||Stoke City||1-0|
|Dec. 15||Aston Villa||Manchester United||1-2|
|Dec. 15||Norwich City||Swansea City||1-1|
EPL Week 16
Breaking Down Top Matches
Manchester City vs. Arsenal
One of the most impressive things during the early portion of the campaign has been City's form at home. The Sky Blues have won all seven of their matches at Etihad Stadium with an eye-popping 29-2 goal differential. Arsenal will be their toughest home test to date, though.
Arsenal are coming off a draw with Everton. While the result was acceptable, the lack of urgency from the Gunners throughout the match was worrisome. They allowed the Toffees to control the play for extended stretches, which isn't good enough against other top sides.
Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and the rest of the midfield must find a way to get more heavily involved if they are going to earn a positive result on the road against City. But given how dominant Sergio Aguero and the Sky Blues' attack have been at home, they face an uphill battle.
Prediction: 2-1 Manchester City
Newcastle United vs. Southampton
Before the campaign began, few expected both Newcastle and Southampton to sit ahead of Manchester United in the table after 15 matches. While United's problems are obviously key to that, both unheralded sides deserve credit for taking advantage of opportunities to stay in the mix.
What will be the weekend's best match?
The Magpies should be riding high after their midweek victory over United. Even though Yohan Cabaye emerged as the hero with a second-half goal, it was truly a team effort. The job they did to frustrate and shut down the Red Devils' attack was tremendous.
Avoiding a letdown after a major result like that is always difficult, though. Southampton is capable of taking advantage if Newcastle even goes through a minor drop in form. Expect Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Co. to do enough to get a draw.
Tottenham vs. Liverpool
Tottenham are an intriguing side. They haven't played anywhere near their potential so far but are still in sixth place and currently stand just three points behind second. If Spurs can elevate their level of form to where they're capable based purely on talent, they will be a club to watch down the stretch.
Liverpool come off a pair of blowout wins over Norwich and West Ham. An in-form Luis Suarez makes all the difference in the world as he's been virtually unstoppable as of late. Whether he can find a way to completely take over the match against a more stable back line like Tottenham's is the question mark.
All told, this should be a very entertaining, back-and-forth match between two sides with rising expectations. That type of match bodes well for Jermain Defoe and Hugo Lloris should make a couple key stops so Tottenham can come out on top.
Prediction: 2-1 Tottenham