EPL Week 23 Picks: Predictions for Most Important Matches

Dan Brett@@DanBrett90Contributor IIIJanuary 27, 2014

Samuel Eto'o Celebrates His Hat-Trick Against Manchester United
Samuel Eto'o Celebrates His Hat-Trick Against Manchester UnitedSang Tan/Associated Press

As Premier League managers look to stick or twist at crunch point in the transfer window, eyes will be firmly cast across the division as title challengers, European contenders and survival hopefuls do battle.

We're also treated to a few derbies on Matchday 23, as Everton make the short walk to Liverpool, West Brom lock horns with Aston Villa and Chelsea host West Ham United.

And then, there's the small matter of Manchester City's match against Tottenham Hotspur, as Manuel Pellegrini's men look to regain top spot and Spurs can push into the top four with a win at the Etihad Stadium. 

Here is a full list of predictions followed by a closer look at the most important matches.

English Premier League Matchday 23
DateTime (ET)Time (GMT)HomePredicted ScoreAway
Jan. 282:45 p.m.7:45 p.m.Manchester United4-1Cardiff City
Jan. 282:45 p.m.7:45 p.m.Norwich City2-2Newcastle United
Jan. 282:45 p.m.7:45 p.m.Southampton1-3Arsenal
Jan. 282:45 p.m.7:45 p.m.Swansea City1-1Fulham
Jan. 283 p.m.8 p.m.Crystal Palace1-0Hull City
Jan. 283 p.m.8 p.m.Liverpool1-2Everton
Jan. 292:45 p.m.7:45 p.m.Aston Villa2-2West Bromwich Albion
Jan. 292:45 p.m.7:45 p.m.Chelsea3-0West Ham United
Jan. 292:45 p.m.7:45 p.m.Sunderland0-1Stoke City
Jan. 292:45 p.m.7:45 p.m.Tottenham1-1Manchester City


Manchester United vs. Cardiff City

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Returns To United This Week
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Returns To United This WeekJon Super/Associated Press

The emergence of Juan Mata as Manchester United's new No. 8 will give Red Devils fans the confidence boost they require, as David Moyes' men host Cardiff.

There will be a hint of emotion to this affair for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, too, as he returns to face the club for which he played 235 times during his 11-year stint in England.

However, there's no room for sentiment in the Premier League as Cardiff remain rooted to the bottom of the league, but could leapfrog Sunderland, West Ham and Fulham with a draw and other results going their way.

The Bluebirds suffered a 4-2 defeat by Manchester City last time out. However, two goals from Craig Noone and Fraizer Campbell gave fans something to sing about and renewed hopes of taking points from United, who will be looking to bounce back from their 3-1 loss at Chelsea.

Mata stated his desire to work alongside striker Wayne Rooney, per Sky Sports, and looks set to get his wish as the England front man is in contention to feature, alongside Robin van Persie and Marouane Fellaini.

Cardiff could also hand a debut to Jo Inge Berget, a striker who signed from Solskjaer's previous club Molde, and will look to hand returns to a number of his starting line-up after last weekend's FA Cup win over Bolton.

The Welsh side will be buoyed by a number of giant-killings so far this season, after victory over Manchester City in August and a late equaliser against Moyes' boys at home on Nov. 24.

History doesn't favour the Bluebirds in this one, though, as the last time they recorded a win at Old Trafford was in April 1954, while United have won 13 of the 28 previous meetings.

Prediction: Manchester United 4-1 Cardiff City


Liverpool vs. Everton

Steven Gerrard Slots Home Against Aston Villa
Steven Gerrard Slots Home Against Aston VillaMichael Regan/Getty Images

There's always a sense of romance as these sides face up, and that's no different at Anfield on Matchday 23.

Fourth-placed Liverpool will be looking to remain undefeated in 2014, and keep their place in the top four as Tottenham, Everton and Manchester United chase for the last Champions League qualifying position.

The Toffees sit just one point off fifth and Europa League qualification place. They will look to arrest their run of 13 Merseyside derbies without victory.

Plenty of familiar faces are set to miss the match, as the Reds will be without Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho, as well as Jose Enrique, Daniel Agger, Lucas Leiva and Glen Johnson.

Everton have injury worries of their own, too, after left-back Bryan Oviedo suffered a broken leg during their 4-0 FA Cup win at Stevenage. Roberto Martinez will also be assessing the fitness of Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin, Antolin Alcaraz, Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and Steven Pienaar.

However, Kevin Mirallas looks likely to start the match and will be looking to build on his goal during their 1-1 draw at West Brom. Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku is hoping to get back on the goal trail after failing to score in his last three league matches.

Brendan Rodgers' side showed plenty of character during their 2-2 draw against Aston Villa, reducing their two-goal deficit after a fine strike by Daniel Sturridge and a penalty by captain Steven Gerrard.

There's a certain spark to Everton this year. A rejuvenated look under the stewardship of Martinez hints at a possible change in tradition in the Merseyside derby.

Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Everton


Chelsea vs. West Ham United

Carlton Cole Nets Against Newcastle United
Carlton Cole Nets Against Newcastle UnitedMike Hewitt/Getty Images

José Mourinho will be looking to build on his side's 3-1 victory against Manchester United. He will look to Samuel Eto'o to keep providing the goals after his sensational hat-trick.

Mohamed Salah may also be handed his Blues' debut as Chelsea look to keep Arsenal and Manchester City looking over their shoulders as the title race heats up, with just two points separating first and third place.

However, the situation remains critical for West Ham and manager Sam Allardyce, who could jump out of the bottom three with a point at Stamford Bridge.

The Irons could throw Italian loan duo Marco Borriello and Antonio Nocerino into action after joining from Roma and AC Milan respectively. The club hope their influence can steer the side away from danger.

The 3-1 defeat by Newcastle United on Matchday 22 will do nothing to give Hammers' fans confidence for their trip to West London, having gone two-nil down after just 33 minutes.

But with Andy Carroll now fit and back with first-team squad and memories of a 2-0 win at Cardiff City in their last EPL match away from Upton Park, a glimmer of hope rears its head ahead of this London derby.

However, with West Ham's record at Stamford Bridge reading without a point since 2008, there isn't too much to give hope to an upset in this one.  

Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 West Ham United


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