The English Premier League season in 2013-14 has been an unsolvable puzzle with pieces changing shape from week to week.
Less significant pieces in that puzzle to start the season—take Arsenal and Liverpool, for instance—have evolved into giants of the league and dominating forces that are controlling the top of the table. While an average season, or even regression in some opinions, was expected from the Gunners and Reds, the exact opposite has occurred.
On the other end, clubs that dominated last season such as Manchester United and Manchester City haven't had as easy of a season as was expected. United, in particular, are reeling as they head into Week 16 in ninth place.
While every club enters the weekend in a different situation, each has similar hopes of three points. While the season has been gloom and doom for some and prosperous travels for others, it's early. Everything can change before it's all said and done.
Here are my Week 16 EPL predictions.
|Date||Home Club||Road Club||Prediction|
|Dec. 14||Manchester City||Arsenal||2-2|
|Dec. 14||Cardiff City||West Brom||1-1|
|Dec. 14||Chelsea||Crystal Palace||3-1|
|Dec. 14||Newcastle United||Southampton||2-0|
|Dec. 14||West Ham United||Sunderland||2-0|
|Dec. 14||Hull City||Stoke City||1-0|
|Dec. 15||Aston Villa||Manchester United||1-3|
|Dec. 15||Norwich City||Swansea City||1-1|
Week 16 Picks
Most Notable Fixtures
Manchester City vs. Arsenal
Considering Arsenal's expectations entering the season, Arsene Wenger may have taken City's squad for his own, especially considering they've scored 41 goals thus far on the season.
Not quite. Per the club's official website, Wenger made it clear there's no jealousy involved—he'll take his starting 11 over anyone's.
City have a very strong squad, I do not deny that. But I look at my squad and I do not envy them.
What is important is how we play together. On that front, I think we have done very well since the start of the season.
Wenger may not envy the likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and company, but he'll have to defend against them. That's proven difficult for EPL foes and even elite competition, as they hung three goals on Bayern Munich in the Champions League this week.
Arsenal drew with Everton and lost to Napoli in their last two outings, but they should turn things around in such a high-stakes contest. It would be a shocker to see them pull out three points on the road against a squad that is so dangerous at home, but a draw isn't out of the realms of possibility for a club that has been consistent all season.
Prediction: Manchester City 2, Arsenal 2
Newcastle vs. Southampton
Newcastle United were the surprise of last weekend in the Premier League by doing something that suddenly isn't much of a surprise anymore—beating defending champions Manchester United.
Sitting pretty just two points adrift of the top four, Newcastle are returning home and could use a cupcake match. Instead, they get a struggling Southampton squad hungry to get back to their winning ways.
Once a top four invader, Southampton only have a point in their last four Premier League matches. But they could tie Newcastle for seventh in the league table if they pulled out an improbable win on the road.
Newcastle have much better form, having toppled the defending champs while Southampton can't seem to get a point anywhere they turn. Having Loic Remy, one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league this season with eight goals to his credit, will make a huge difference.
The Magpies produced great form on the road, and they're a sure bet at home against a very beatable club.
Prediction: Newcastle 2, Southampton 0
Tottenham vs. Liverpool
These two clubs are separated by four spots in the standings but just three points overall. Along with the Manchester City-Arsenal showdown, the outcome of this match will loom very large at the top of the table.
Liverpool enjoy a table advantage, sitting with Chelsea at the No. 2 spot but will be looking to replace Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge in the short term as injuries have plagued two of the club's most vital playmakers.
Spurs sputtered to a hapless start, and a 6-0 drubbing from Manchester City further fueled critics of Andre Villas-Boas. With his job seemingly on the line, he's won two straight league matches heading into this ever-important showdown.
The form of Brendan Rodgers and company hasn't been bad, either, as they've outscored opponents a combined 9-2 in their last two games—wins over Norwich and West Ham.
Luis Suarez has been on fire in recent weeks and that should continue, despite this game being in White Hart Lane. But should Tottenham continue shutting things down on defense, this game should be split.
Prediction: Tottenham 1, Liverpool 1