EPL Week 16 Predictions: Teams Set to Fall Deeper Under Pressure

Leigh WalshCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21:  Scott Parker of Fulham is tackled by Jason Puncheon of Crystal Palace during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Fulham at Selhurst Park on October 21, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

December is a tricky month for those clubs lingering around the relegation zone.

The turnaround between games is shorter than at any other point in the season and few have the luxury of being able to rotate their squad.

The festive period can make or break some clubs’ survival hopes. Just one team in the history of the Premier League—West Bromwich Albion—have sat bottom at Christmas and survived the drop in May.

Sunderland, who currently sit 20th, have some work to do if they’re to avoid being that ill-fated team this year. 

Here’s a look at a full slate of predictions before we delve a little deeper into those clubs that will fall further under pressure this weekend.

EPL Week 16 Predictions
FixtureDateTimePrediction
Man City vs. ArsenalDec. 1412:45 p.m. GMT/7:45 a.m. ET2-1
Chelsea vs. Crystal PalaceDec. 143 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET2-0
Cardiff vs. WBADec. 143 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET1-2
West Ham vs. SunderlandDec. 143 p.m. GMT/ 10 a.m. ET1-1
Everton vs. FulhamDec. 143 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET3-1
Newcastle vs. SouthamptonDec. 143 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET1-2
Hull vs. StokeDec. 145:30 p.m. GMT/12:30 p.m. ET2-0
Norwich vs. SwanseaDec. 151:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ET2-2
Aston Villa vs. Man UnitedDec. 151:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ET1-2
Tottenham vs. LiverpoolDec. 154 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ET2-2
Schedule via premierleague.com

Crystal Palace

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  Marouane Chamakh of Crystal Palace celebrates after scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Cardiff City at Selhurst Park on December 07, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/G
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Since taking charge, Tony Pulis has picked the Crystal Palace players up off the floor and put them back on their feet again.

The immediate surge in performance when a new manager takes the reins has been in full effect around Selhurst Park. The Eagles have collected six crucial points over fellow strugglers West Ham and Cardiff City in their last two games.

But despite Pulis’ noteworthy efforts so far, the honeymoon phase may be coming to an end.

Palace face off against Chelsea, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Manchester City between now and Jan. 1, and it’s difficult to envision them picking up many points in that period.

Pulis has the experience to turn things around in South London. He never received the praise he fully deserved at Stoke due to their style of play, and he will be determined to prove a point with Palace.

But their limited squad will be stretched to the max in the coming weeks. Getting out of the relegation zone before the turn of the year will be a tough ask. 

 

Fulham 

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08:  Dimitar Berbatov of Fulham collides with Chris Herd of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage on December 8, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Get
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Similarly to the Pulis effect at Palace, Rene Meulensteen seems to have had a positive impact since he took over from Martin Jol.

In the Dutchman’s first game in charge, Fulham suffered a narrow defeat to Spurs before they brought an end to their six-game losing streak by beating Aston Villa at the weekend. 

Meulensteen has his team playing with more commitment and passion than they did under Jol, and he has the experience in his squad to help them in a relegation battle.

But up next for Fulham is Everton and Manchester City, two of the Premier League's most in-form sides, and the Cottagers will struggle to pick up anything from the two games. Everton have lost just once this season, while City will be looking to keep pace with league leaders Arsenal.

It could be a very nervy Christmas period for the Craven Cottage faithful.

 

Sunderland

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Adam Johnson of Sunderland celebrates scoring the opening goal with team-mate Jozy Altidore during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur at Stadium of Light on December 07, 2013 in Su
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Gus Poyet has made Sunderland a more resilient side since he took over from Paolo Di Canio. Six of their last seven league games have been decided by a goal or less, and they are starting to show signs of improvement. 

But, unfortunately, points on the board are all that matter when it comes to a relegation battle, and the Black Cats have picked up just one of those in their last four games. 

They have two vital games away to West Ham and at home to Norwich before Dec. 25 and they can’t afford to suffer defeat in either of them.

Sunderland are odds-on favourite to be rooted to the bottom come Christmas Day. The Black Cats sit five points adrift of Crystal Palace with two rounds of matches to be played, and despite what they do on Matchday 16, they will remain under pressure.