World Football

EPL Week 21 Predictions: Projecting Top Performers and Biggest Surprises

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Olivier Giroud of Arsenal celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on December 29, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2014

The second half of the 2013-14 Premier League season is in full swing as clubs continue to jockey for position atop the league table.

Heading into Matchday 21, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea are separated by just two points. However, defending champions Manchester United are 11 points off the pace and three spots back of a Champions League berth next season.

But with another week comes another opportunity to right the ship at Old Trafford and across the league landscape.

Here I'll stir the pot with some predictions for this weekend's action. 

 

Top Performers 

Projected Top Performers
RankPlayerClubAvg Match Rating*
1Luis SuarezLiverpool8.7
2David SilvaManchester City7.8
3Eden HazardChelsea7.6
4Olivier GiroudArsenal7.6
5Danny WelbeckManchester United7.0
*according to WhoScored.com

Luis Suarez, Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Cardiff City at Anfield at Anfield on December 21, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool sniper Luis Suarez has cooled off following a sizzling December that saw him score 10 goals and record four assists in a four-match span. 

Still, the Uruguayan star is sure to turn in another jaw-dropping performance against Stoke City on Sunday. After all, no striker has been more productive or efficient as Suarez to this point and the Potters have proven awfully vulnerable from a defensive standpoint of late.

Mark Hughes' squad have conceded 30 goals in league play thus far (tied for fourth-worst) and let in eight combined in recent losses to Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle. 

It all points to another big day for the Reds' No. 7.

 

David Silva, Manchester City

NEWCASTLE, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 30: Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United (right) makes a challenge on David Silva of Manchester City during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James' Park on October 30
Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Manchester City midfielder David Silva doesn't always show up on the scoreboard, but his ability to attack a defence and open up scoring chances for the Citizens can't be overlooked.

The Spaniard has been one of the Premier League's most consistent players in 2013-14, scoring four goals and handing out five assists while completing more than 88 percent of his passes, per WhoScored.com.

Watch for Silva to be at his best against Newcastle at St. James' Park on Sunday. The Magpies have suffered back-to-back 1-0 losses to West Brom and Arsenal and surrendered four goals the last time the two clubs met back in August. 

Keep in mind that Silva netted the opening goal in City's rout of the Magpies earlier this season.

 

EPL Week 21 Match Predictions
DateHomeScoreAway
Sat, Jan. 11Hull City0-2Chelsea
Sat, Jan. 11Cardiff City2-1West Ham United
Sat, Jan. 11Everton1-0Norwich City
Sat, Jan. 11Fulham1-1Sunderland
Sat, Jan. 11Southampton2-1West Bromwich Albion
Sat, Jan. 11Tottenham Hotspur2-0Crystal Palace
Sat, Jan. 11Manchester United3-1Swansea City
Sun, Jan. 12Newcastle United2-4Manchester City
Sun, Jan. 12Stoke City1-3Liverpool
Mon, Jan. 13Aston Villa1-2Arsenal
---

 

Biggest Surprises  

Manchester United Will Bounce Back

NORWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Danny Welbeck of Manchester United celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and  Manchester United at Carrow Road on December 28, 2013 in Norwich, England.  (Ph
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

The Red Devils are reeling ahead of Saturday's showdown with Swansea City at Old Trafford. But despite having dropped three in a row to start the New Year, David Moyes' squad are poised to rebound against the Swans in what's obviously a pivotal game for United.

Although the defending champions are coming off a stunning 2-1 loss to Swansea in the FA Cup on Jan. 5 and will be without Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, expect Week 21's clash to resemble the Red Devils' 4-1 season-opening win back on Aug. 17.

United jumped out to a 3-0 lead in that match and got timely contributions from Danny Welbeck, who has scored seven times this season.

Given what's transpired of late, Moyes must have the full attention of his players by now. With Premier League points on the line this time around, you can expect a desperate team to take to the pitch on Saturday.

Prediction: Manchester United 3, Swansea City 1

 

Manchester City Will Roll Over Newcastle

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Edin Dzeko of Manchester City is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium on December 28, 2
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Manchester City's most explosive performances have come at Etihad Stadium this season, but with the Citizens set to take on a struggling Newcastle squad in Week 21, expect another high-scoring performance from Manuel Pellegrini's crew.

The Chilean boss has made it clear that City will be focused on the task at hand and nothing more this weekend, per MCFC.com: "But after West Ham, we will only be thinking about Newcastle. So I repeat, we are not thinking about the trophies, we are only thinking about the present."

So long as the Citizens aren't lacking focus on Sunday, they have the firepower to overwhelm Newcastle for a second time. City retained possession for 64 percent of the previous matchup and scored twice in each half. 

You can anticipate a stronger offensive effort from Loic Remy and company in their home venue, but nothing capable of matching City's 57-goal juggernaut.

Prediction: Newcastle United 2, Manchester City 4 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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