World FootballDownload App

Premier League Week 22 Fixtures: Previewing and Predicting EPL's Biggest Matches

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Oscar of Chelsea is challenged by Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United  during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Mike ChiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2017

With so much parity near the top of the EPL table this season, each and every week of play is of the utmost importance.

Although Week 22 may seem a bit short on marquee matchups, there is no denying the fact that the contests are important in terms of separating the contenders from the pretenders.

Just seven points separate first-place Arsenal from fifth-place Everton, and quality squads such as Tottenham and Manchester United are lurking as well. A single win or loss can shake things up significantly, so none of the top teams can afford to slip up.

Here is a look at the three biggest EPL matches on tap for Week 22, along with predictions for how each will ultimately play out.

EPL Week 22 Schedule
Home TeamAway TeamDateTime (ET)Time (GMT)
SunderlandSouthamptonSaturday, Jan. 187:45 a.m.12:45 p.m.
Manchester CityCardiff CitySaturday, Jan. 1810 a.m.3 p.m.
Crystal PalaceStoke CitySaturday, Jan. 1810 a.m.3 p.m.
Norwich CityHull CitySaturday, Jan. 1810 a.m.3 p.m.
ArsenalFulhamSaturday, Jan. 1810 a.m.3 p.m.
West HamNewcastleSaturday, Jan. 1810 a.m.3 p.m.
LiverpoolAston VillaSaturday, Jan. 1812:30 p.m.5:30 p.m.
Swansea CityTottenhamSunday, Jan. 198:30 a.m.1:30 p.m.
ChelseaManchester UnitedSunday, Jan. 1911 a.m.4 p.m.
West BromEvertonMonday, Jan. 203 p.m.8 p.m.
PremierLeague.com

 

Chelsea vs. Manchester United

HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates scoring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Chelsea at KC Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It is always an event when Chelsea and Manchester United lock horns, but this encounter feels a bit different from usual.

They are usually battling for position atop the table, and while the Blues are within two points of first, the Red Devils are simply trying to remain afloat. United are in grave danger of missing the Champions League and even the Europa League in their first season under manager David Moyes, but a win over Chelsea could potentially work wonders.

Unfortunately for Manchester United, they will have to play this match at less than 100 percent. According to Sky Sports, Moyes said that star striker Wayne Rooney will miss yet another contest:

Wayne's come back fresh but not ready for Chelsea. He's doing some running and looking good. He's had a break, done some strengthening work on his groin. Hopefully he'll benefit, but not for this game.

Moyes also confirmed that Robin van Persie will have to sit out this huge clash:

I'm hoping Robin's got a good chance of training at the start of next week. If I could get him back on the grass it would be a great boost for us-- he's a really important player and one we've missed.

As for Chelsea, they appear to be in fine form with five consecutive wins to their credit, and star winger Eden Hazard is reaching elite status. With the Blues' momentum, and the fact that they will be facing a shell of United's usual line-up, expect Chelsea to win in fairly routine fashion at Stamford Bridge.

Prediction: Chelsea 2, Manchester United 0

 

Arsenal vs. Fulham

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on October 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A match that appears to be even more lopsided on paper than Chelsea vs. Manchester United is the Jan. 18 showdown between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners currently top the table with 48 points, but Manchester City, Chelsea and several other teams are nipping at their heels. Most observers figure that this should be an easy victory for Arsenal, but the pressure that comes with clinging to first place could make things difficult.

With that said, Arsenal are unbeaten in their past six matches and have generally performed quite well against clubs that they are supposed to beat. Fulham fall into that category as they currently sit 16th in the standings, just one point clear of the relegation zone.

That means that the Cottagers will have plenty riding on this match as well, but desire can only take a team so far. Also, Arsenal have a long history of success when it comes to beating Fulham, per the Premier League on Twitter:

Arsenal are third in the EPL in scoring, while Fulham have allowed 11 more goals than the next closest team. Clearly, that isn't a recipe for success as far as the Cottagers are concerned.

With the likes of Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil scoring at an impressive clip, the Gunners simply have too much firepower for Fulham to handle. Things could get very ugly at the Emirates.

Prediction: Arsenal 4, Fulham 1

 

Manchester City vs. Cardiff City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City in action during the Budweiser FA Cup Third Round Replay match between Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers at the Etihad Stadium on January 15, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Ch
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Arsenal may be in first place right now, but it can certainly be argued that Manchester City have been the EPL's most dominant team in 2013-14.

The Citizens trail the Gunners by a single point and boast the best goal difference in the Premier League by a wide margin at plus-36. City will host Cardiff City on Jan. 18 in what will be a huge match for both teams, but it is extremely difficult to envision the Citizens dropping this contest at the Etihad Stadium.

There is no question that Manchester City are questionable when it comes to defense and goalkeeping. Joe Hart and Costel Pantilimon have had their struggles with consistency between the pipes; however, it hasn't come back to bite City too often due to the fact that they tend to score in bunches.

In fact, Manchester City have scored 13 goals over their past three matches while surrendering none, so perhaps everything is starting to come together. According to WhoScored.com, the Citizens are one goal short of 100 over the past year, as seen in this interesting graphic:

That graphic makes it quite apparent that Manchester City have so many players who can beat the opposition. They also enter their match against Cardiff on an unbelievable roll, not having lost since dropping a 1-0 decision to Sunderland way back on Nov. 10.

Cardiff, on the other hand, are 18th in the Premier League standings and have just one win over their past six matches. All of that points to a winning recipe for Man City.

Prediction: Manchester City 3, Cardiff City 0

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices