Premier League Week 17 Predictions: Picking Winners for Most Pivotal Contests

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IDecember 18, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29:  Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal (L) and Willian of Chelsea battle for the ball during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on October 29, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Chelsea will roll into Anfield on Monday during Week 17 in an attempt to knock Arsenal from the perch atop the Premier League.

After the Gunners were humbled 3-6 last week playing Manchester City at Etihad, their lead in the table has been reduced to just two points over both Chelsea and Liverpool. 

That means a win from Chelsea will guarantee them at least a share of the lead. With Liverpool hosting 15th-place Cardiff City, a share of the lead is likely the best Chelsea could do with a win. 

One of the just mentioned matches cracked my list of the week's most pivotal. You might be able to guess which one. 

Check out my full predictions for Matchday 17, and then I'll offer up a closer look at the three most pivotal contests of the week. 

Langford's Week 17 Picks
HomePredictionAway
Liverpool3-0Cardiff
Crystal Palace1-1Newcastle
Fulham1-2Manchester City
Manchester United2-1West Ham
Stoke City0-0Aston Villa
Sunderland1-2Norwich
West Brom1-1Hull City
Southampton1-0Tottenham
Swansea0-1Everton
Arsenal1-1Chelsea

 

Arsenal vs. Chelsea

When: Monday, Dec. 23 at 3 p.m. ET/8 p.m. GMT

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Samuel Eto'o of Chelsea reacts after missing an opportunity as Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal looks on during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on October 29, 2013 in Lon
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

This match is a proving ground for both squads.

The Gunners opened up serious doubt about their championship caliber by allowing six goals to the Citizens. That is more than half of the 11 Arsenal had allowed in all of their EPL matches leading up to that contest.

As for Chelsea, the Blues head into this contest having taken just three points in their last three league contests.

Chelsea's defense has also seen some recent struggles. They've allowed a combined nine goals in their last four league matches.

Arsenal will enter this match with fresher legs, but they will also likely be missing the defensive services of the injured Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere—who is facing a ban, according to a report by Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph

I expect both teams to focus on defense. That will result in a cautious and low-scoring draw. 

Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea

 

Swansea City vs. Everton

When: Sunday, Dec. 22 at 11 a.m. ET/4 p.m. GMT

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Pablo Hernandez of Swansea City holds off a challenge from Leon Osman of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Swansea City at Goodison Park on January 12, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Phot
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The Swans are doing just enough to stay in the top half of the table. Since a blowout loss to Manchester City on Dec. 1, they have posted a 1-2-0 league record. Their win was an impressive home drubbing of Newcastle. 

Everton, however, will arrive at this match with even more impressive recent form. In their last three league matches, Everton has seven points with an away win over Manchester United, an away draw with Arsenal and then an easy home win over Fulham. 

This sets up for what will be a well-played match, but the Swans will struggle for quality looks. Swansea doesn't have the firepower to crack the fierce defense of Everton. 

Prediction: Swansea 0-1 Everton

 

Southampton vs. Tottenham

When: Sunday, Dec. 22 at 8:30 a.m./1:30 p.m. GMT

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 04:  Artur Boruc of Southampton punches the ball clear of Jermain Defoe of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton at White Hart Lane on May 4, 2013 in London, England.  (P
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It's hard to know how Tottenham will respond to the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas:

Of course, it will be hard for them to look any worse than they did their last time on the pitch in a 0-5 demolition at home against Liverpool.

Tottenham will have to display much better form to score on Southampton.

Southampton is coming off a recent stretch of defensive ineffectiveness. In a three-match span with matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and Aston Villa, Southampton gave up a combined eight goals while losing all three.

They got right back on track, however, with a 1-1 draw against Manchester City and then a 1-1 draw with Newcastle.  

I expect that defense to blank a somewhat shell-shocked Hotspur. 

Prediction: Southampton 1-0 Tottenham