World Football

EPL Week 25 Predictions: Projecting Top Performers and Biggest Surprises

Chelsea's Eden Hazard in action during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Monday Feb. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Clint Hughes)
Clint Hughes/Associated Press
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

Premier League Week 24 will be remembered for Jose Mourinho's tactical wizardry, David Moyes' continued heartache and the impact of a swinging arm attached to the behemoth that is Andy Carroll.

The recently red-carded West Ham forward failed to see his ban overturned, as reported by BBC Sport, so he can't be taken into consideration for the projected top performers of Week 25. Thankfully, there's a division full of in-form souls to do exactly that.

Below, I'll weigh up the most likely stars across the coming week, as well as the biggest potential surprises.

 

Projecting Top Performers

EPL Week 25 Projected Top Performers
RankPlayerClubAvg. Match Rating*
1.Eden HazardChelsea7.65
2.Daniel SturridgeLiverpool7.51
3.Kevin MirallasEverton7.03
4.Adam JohnsonSunderland6.89
5.Juan MataManchester United6.87
*according to WhoScored.com

Eden Hazard, Chelsea

Jon Super/Associated Press

Jose Mourinho is playing a huge part in the development of Eden Hazard. The Belgian superstar's hard-working performance against Manchester City epitomised a Blues side that shouldn't fear anyone in the Premier League.

As noted by OptaJoe, Hazard's boundless energy knew no limits against Manuel Pellegrini's side:

The player's energy has coincided with plenty of direct influence on results. Hazard is Chelsea's top scorer with nine successful strikes this season, per WhoScored.com. He has also contributed five assists, ensuring he is becoming more than useful across the entire pitch.

Hazard will thrive against a Newcastle outfit that has managed just one win in seven matches. Alan Pardew failed to replace Yohan Cabaye, meaning Newcastle are forced to pin their hopes on the lazy Hatem Ben Arfa.

There's a lack of belief and plenty of space for Hazard to exploit, so expect the 23-year-old to maintain his fantastic run of form.

 

Juan Mata, Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Juan Mata of Manchester United competes with Kim Bo-Kyung of Cardiff City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Cardiff City at Old Trafford on January 28, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (
Michael Regan/Getty Images

While it was quickly obvious that Juan Mata won't propel Manchester United toward next season's Champions League on his own, the Spanish superstar has posted two useful performances for the Red Devils.

In fact, his WhoScored.com performance data averages him out at 7.52 in a United shirt, much higher than his stop-start record with Chelsea this campaign. Mata's movement has been sharp and his positioning clever, as highlighted by two assists in as many games.

Despite toiling down in seventh, most will expect United to beat Fulham, who recently suffered an FA Cup defeat against Sheffield United. Mata can thread passes, weave possession through to Robin van Persie and make a real difference in a game that is destined to be closer than United fans hope.

 

Projecting Biggest Surprises

Rene Meulensteen to Shock His Old Club with Old Trafford Victory

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04:  A deejcted Manager Rene Meulensteen of Fulham walks on the pitch after defeat during the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between Fulham and Sheffield United at Craven Cottage on February 4, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

It can't really happen, can it? Fulham are bottom of the Premier League with one win in their last eight matches. An excellent transfer window brought Clint Dempsey, Lewis Holtby and Kostas Mitroglou to the club, all three of whom will need to be in top form if the Cottagers are to snatch victory away from United.

As unlikely as it seems, United's inability to win simple matches has come back to haunt them many times this year. The recent loss to Stoke was summed up by a wicked deflection off Michael Carrick, who really should have put his body in front of the ball that would eventually bounce past David de Gea.

Meulensteen, who left his job as a United coach in the summer, didn't think much of his Fulham side during the recent loss to Sheffield United.

"We could have played until next month and not scored a goal," he said, per BBC Sport. With United handing out gifts on a weekly basis, Fulham might not have to.

 

Norwich to Compound Bad Week for Manchester City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  A dejected Yaya Toure of Manchester City and Edin Dzeko of Manchester City leave the field at the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Manchester City's campaign will come under the spotlight at Carrow Road. Fresh from defeat against Chelsea, Manuel Pellegrini's side needs to bounce back quickly. Norwich have won just once in 11 games, but there's reason to get excited when City arrive.

Pellegrini is likely to utilise Martin Demichelis in midfield again. Fernandinho's injury will keep him out for two weeks, as reported by Richard Jolly of ESPN FC, meaning City's overruling sense of mobility is missing from the centre. With Sergio Aguero also on the recovery table, the Canaries have hope.

Of course, it will take a herculean effort from Chris Hughton's men. They were comfortably beaten by Fulham in January but will call upon home support in order to challenge their superior visitors.

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