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EPL Week 17 Predictions: Teams Set to Fall Deeper Under Pressure

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30: The West Ham United Manager Sam Allardyce is surrounded by bubbles during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Fulham at Boleyn Ground on November 30, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Leigh WalshCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2013

The Christmas period isn’t often very festive for those clubs lingering around the relegation zone.

Squad depth becomes an issue for most in the bottom half of the table. By the time Jan. 1 rolls around, players are being strapped up and trotted out no matter what niggles they’ve picked up or how fatigued they are.

Devoid of the luxury of 25 competent players, the lower-ranked sides struggle to keep up with the big guns in December.

Here’s a look at some clubs likely to fall deeper under pressure once Matchday 17 concludes.

EPL Week 17 Predictions
FixtureDateTimePrediction
Liverpool vs. CardiffDec. 2112:45 p.m. GMT/7:45 a.m. ET3-1
Sunderland vs. NorwichDec. 213 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET2-1
Crystal Palace vs. NewcastleDec. 213 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET1-1
Man United vs. West HamDec. 213 p.m. GMT/ 10 a.m. ET3-1
Fulham vs. Man CityDec. 213 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET1-2
Stoke vs. Aston VillaDec. 213 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET2-2
West Brom vs. Hull CityDec. 213 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET1-1
Southampton vs. TottenhamDec. 221:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ET2-1
Swansea vs. EvertonDec. 224 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ET2-2
Arsenal vs. ChelseaDec. 238 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET2-2
Schedule via PremierLeague.com

 

Cardiff City

CARDIFF, WALES - DECEMBER 14:  Cardiff manager Malky MacKay looks on prior to the Premier League match between Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion at Cardiff City Stadium on December 14, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

All is not well around Cardiff City Stadium.

Club owner Vincent Tan issued an extraordinary statement midweek in which he said “not a single penny” would be spent on transfers in January—per BBC Sport 

Cardiff’s form this season has been overshadowed by wrangling off the pitch between Tan and head coach Malky Mackay, and Tan’s latest comments will surely have applied more fuel to the fire.

The Bluebirds picked up their first win in six games last weekend, but a daunting trip to Anfield is on the horizon this Saturday. 

Liverpool have dropped just three points at home this season, and with Luis Suarez firing, it is difficult to envision Cardiff getting anything from the game on Merseyside. 

They currently sit 15th in the table, four points off the relegation zone. But things could be set to get worse before they get better.

 

West Ham

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21:  Mark Noble of West Ham is shown a second yellow card during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton at the Boleyn Ground on September 21, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

West Ham picked up an impressive win in the Carling Cup midweek, but their league form has failed to inspire this season.

The Hammers have collected just one win in their past nine games, and a trip to Old Trafford this weekend could spell further trouble for Sam Allardyce’s side.

Manchester United at home may not be the feared opponent of seasons past, but the Red Devils produced one of their performances of this season in beating Aston Villa on Matchday 16 and they will be eager for all three points again.

A loss for West Ham could see them sucked into the relegation zone with Crystal Palace, who host Newcastle, just one point behind them in 18th place. 

 

Fulham

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/
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Rene Meulensteen has grouped together the players at Fulham and got them playing as a team. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, he took over at a time when a tough run of fixtures—Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton and Manchester City—lay on the horizon.

Three points against Villa handed Fulham their first league win in seven games, but with Manuel Pellegrini’s free-flowing side visiting Craven Cottage this weekend, the West London outfit could be set to fall deeper under pressure.

City will be without the services of top scorer Sergio Aguero, but they have plenty of other firepower to call upon.

Fortunately for Meulensteen, there are less daunting fixtures on the horizon. He has the chance to carry Fulham from the dark days with games against Norwich, Hull, West Ham and Sunderland to come.

But expect them to remain under a cloud after Matchday 17.

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