Every time it seems like you know what to expect in the English Premier League, the competitive league finds a way to surprise everyone.
In Matchday 22, clubs like Southampton, Liverpool and Everton each failed to secure victories and suffered for it in the league table. In the upcoming week of close matchups, there will be even more surprising results.
While it is tough to exactly predict what will happen, here is a preview for the upcoming set of fixtures on both an individual and club level.
|2||Oscar||Chelsea||West Ham United|
|3||Sergio Aguero||Manchester City||Tottenham|
|4||Patrice Evra||Manchester United||Cardiff City|
Luis Suarez, Liverpool
Although this is an obvious choice based on the year he has had, Luis Suarez has been simply incredible this season. His 22 goals not only lead the EPL, but he is tied with Cristiano Ronaldo for the most league goals in any of the major European leagues.
As Squawka Football notes, Suarez has been vital to Liverpool's offensive production this year:
Happy 27th birthday to Luis Suárez. He's been directly involved in 51% of Liverpool's Premier League goals this term. pic.twitter.com/aTB5VGFIGT— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 24, 2014
He also showed in the recent FA Cup win that he is capable of creating opportunities for others when he is not scoring himself, totaling two assists in the win.
This skill will be vital against Everton, who have been playing excellent defense all season. With Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin doing a great job stopping opposing attacks in front of the net, it will be a challenge for Liverpool to score.
However, Suarez has shown the ability to come through when his side needs it the most, and he should be able to score at least one goal in the Merseyside Derby.
Of all of the clubs in contention for a league title, Chelsea have the easiest matchup with a home contest against West Ham United.
This presents a great opportunity for Oscar to continue his strong level of play for the Blues. OptaJoe provides a look at the midfielder's recent performances:
5 - Oscar has scored three goals and assisted two more in his last six appearances for Chelsea in all competitions. Focus.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 26, 2014
The 22-year-old player has been effective on the attack as both a scorer and a passer, and he has been a big reason that Chelsea have scored at such a high rate lately.
Against an opponent that has struggled mightily this year, Oscar should be able to give his club an early advantage. This will be enough to earn a necessary three points against West Ham.
|Manchester United||3-1||Cardiff City|
|Norwich City||1-2||Newcastle United|
|Crystal Palace||0-1||Hull City|
|Aston Villa||1-1||West Bromwich Albion|
|Chelsea||2-0||West Ham United|
Sunderland Continue Their Strong Play
Despite the fact that Sunderland remain tied for last place in the EPL table, they have been playing extremely well lately.
The EPL club clinched a spot in the Capital One Cup final thanks to a win over Manchester United, and they also advanced in the FA Cup with a Round 4 win over Kidderminster. Pair this with four points in the last two league matches, and the squad is seriously turning things around after a poor start.
Manager Gus Poyet turned his attention to the upcoming battle, although he did not seem too confident in saying, "Wednesday, that is the key now, that's the most important thing, three points on Wednesday somehow. I would like to say playing well, but somehow," via Damian Spellman of the Irish Independent.
While Sunderland are currently in the relegation zone, they are fully aware they are two wins away from 10th place. Some more strong play could help them climb the table in a hurry.
Stoke City have been struggling, and they are likely to be the latest victim of Sunderland's solid string of play.
Tottenham Will Struggle at Home
If Tottenham want to compete with the top clubs in the league, they will have to start defeating those squads. However, they have had a hard time against those at the top of the table.
So far this year, Spurs have lost to Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool by a combined score of 12-0. They earned draws against Chelsea and Everton, but it will be tough to even get a point in this match.
Manchester City scored six goals against Tottenham at Etihad Stadium, and they have been just as solid on the road lately as well. City have won their last three road matches in the EPL with a total of nine goals scored.
Sergio Aguero is coming off a hat-trick against Watford, and they are likely to get production out of Yaya Toure, David Silva and others. Tottenham simply do not have the quickness to keep up with this many weapons, and they will allow at least a few goals in a losing effort.
Although a Manchester City win would not be entirely surprising, the fact that this will not be close is what will truly turn heads.
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