Predicting the Biggest EPL, Liga, Serie A Matches: Arsenal to Lose Ground

Joshua Hayward@@JoshuaHayward99Contributor IFebruary 6, 2014

Predicting the Biggest EPL, Liga, Serie A Matches: Arsenal to Lose Ground

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    Following a busy week of European football, we now have a new leader in Spain whilst the Premier League and Serie A are pretty much "as you were," though Arsenal will be counting their blessings.

    The Gunners were dealt a title blow in recent weeks and could have come into this week's round of fixtures in second place, but lady luck—or rather Little Boy Blue—was on their side and they still sit atop the Premier League.

    They'll face yet another tough challenge this weekend, however, as they travel to Anfield, whilst Chelsea and Manchester City have relatively easier fixtures.

    In Spain, surprise league leaders Atletico Madrid travel to Villarreal, who will be looking to spoil their season with a home victory. Real Madrid and Barcelona will look to get back to winning ways after differing, but equally disappointing results last weekend.

    And last but not least, in Italy, high-flying Napoli take on Clarence Seeforf's lowly Milan and league leaders Juventus travel to Verona as they search for their 30th league title.


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    Saturday February 8


    Liverpool vs. Arsenal

    Chelsea vs. Newcastle

    Norwich vs. Man City


    La Liga

    Real Madrid vs. Villarreal

    Almeria vs. Atletico Madrid


    Serie A

    Napoli vs. Milan


    Sunday February 9

    La Liga

    Sevilla vs. Barcelona


    Serie A

    Verona vs. Juventus

Liverpool vs. Arsenal

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    Arsenal can count themselves pretty lucky that they are still top of the league.

    Obviously hard work enabled them to be in that position in the first place, but after the Gunners' midweek draw against Southampton towards the back end of January, it looked like they had lost ground in the title race—especially as Manchester City hosted Chelsea the following weekend.

    However, it transpired that Jose Mourinho's Blues would leave the Etihad Stadium with all three points after a terrific 1-0 shut out of the Citizens. The title race was blown wide open once again, and we're now set for one of the most exciting season finales in recent years.

    Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side travel to fourth-placed Liverpool this weekend in a match where Liverpool will be trying to gain revenge for the 2-0 defeat at the Emirates in the reverse fixture.

    Though Brendan Rodgers' men are only eight points behind the league leaders, their hopes of claiming the Premier League title are very slim, so cementing a top-four place will be their priority now.

    The Reds go into the fixture off the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw against West Brom and will be looking to bounce back with a solid performance against the Gunners, who will want to distance themselves from the chasing pack.

    Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Chelsea vs. Newcastle

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    Chelsea did their title hopes the world of good on Monday as they went to the Etihad Stadium and left with all three points, stopping City from scoring in the process—the first side to do so since Birmingham City in December 2010.

    Jose Mourinho's side could have been six points adrift of City if the hosts had managed to claim victory on the night, but they now lie just two points behind Arsenal and will go into their clash with Newcastle high on confidence.

    The Magpies, however, will feel about as low as they can possibly get ahead of the fixture at Stamford Bridge.

    Alan Pardew's men suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat at the hands of arch-enemies Sunderland at St. James' Park last weekend, so they'll be hoping to make amends as they travel to London. But regardless of what Pardew says to his team, it won't be enough to stop them falling victim to Chelsea's relentless title push.

    Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle


Norwich vs. Manchester City

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    Manchester City had the chance to leapfrog leaders Arsenal on Monday evening, but they missed out as they were well beaten by Mourinho's stubborn Chelsea. You get the feeling that had City gone top, they would have almost certainly stayed there for the remainder of the season.

    But as it happens, that wasn't the case and the Citizens are now left to fight for every point as they hope to claim a second Premier League title in three years.

    Pellegrini takes his men to the east coast to face lowly Norwich, who are just two places above the relegation zone.

    City have been free-scoring all season, netting more than 100 goals in all competitions. However, they severely lacked creativity in their clash with Chelsea and will hope that lightning doesn't strike twice.

    Expect City to get back to scoring ways and come through against Norwich—but only just.

    Prediction: Norwich 0-2 Manchester City

Real Madrid vs. Villarreal

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    Looking at the La Liga table is a breath of fresh air. A complete shock but a breath of fresh air nonetheless.

    Neither Barcelona or Madrid occupy top spot. Instead, it is Madrid's arch-rivals Atletico who sit comfortably three points clear after 22 games.

    After Barcelona lost at home to Valencia last weekend, Los Galacticos had the opportunity to close the gap on Atletico as they travelled to the San Mames to face Athletic Bilbao. It didn't quite go as planned, however, as Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off in a disappointing 1-1 draw.

    Carlo Ancelotti's men got back on track in midweek, however, when they hosted Atletico in the first leg of the Copa del Rey, comfortably beating them 3-0—effectively securing their place in the final, in which they are more than likely to face Barca.

    Real will be without Ronaldo this weekend but will be boosted by Gareth Bale's return. High on confidence, they should brush aside fifth-placed Villarreal and put pressure on their closest rivals.

    Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Villarreal

Almeria vs. Atletico Madrid

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    Sitting atop the La Liga table is some achievement, even if coach Diego Simeone insists that his side will not be in the same position come the end of the season.

    Regardless, Los Rojiblancos deserve to be where they are and, despite the midweek dismantling by Real, will continue to fight it out for as long as possible.

    This weekend they travel to Andalusia and will face an Almeria side who hover perilously above the relegation zone. Francisco Rodriguez's side have claimed just three points from a possible 12 in recent weeks and are two points above 18th-placed Valladolid.

    The first-leg semi-final defeat in midweek is sure to have hurt Simeone's side, but they'll forget about it and inflict yet another defeat on the struggling Almeria.

    Prediction: Almeria 0-1 Atletico Madrid

Sevilla vs. Barcelona

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    Barca suffered a shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Valencia last weekend—losing at home in the league for the first time since April 2012—and handed Atletico Madrid the chance to move into top spot, which they duly took.

    The hosts looked to be cruising after seven minutes as Alexis scored a sublime chip, but the Blaugrana looked out of sorts at the back and were deservedly beaten.

    Now they must face Sevilla as they look to get their title defence back on track after what was, in all fairness, a huge blow.

    Sevilla go into the clash with the league champions on the back of two disappointing defeats to Levante and Malaga but before that had embarked on an eight-match unbeaten run in which they had collected 18 points from a possible 24.

    Tata Martino must now rally his troops as they hope to return to winning ways, and a midweek Copa del Rey win over Real Sociedad will give his side the confidence to beat their next opponents.

    Prediction: Sevilla 1-3 Barcelona

Napoli vs. Milan

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    Rafa Benitez's star-studded Napoli face a floundering Milan in what once would have been a hotly-contested fixture. However, Milan have struggled all season, collecting just five league wins before taking the decision to sack coach Massimiliano Allegri.

    Former Milan midfielder and all-round hero Clarence Seedorf has taken over the reins and is, so far, unbeaten in the league.

    Napoli, on the other hand, sit comfortably in third place, and, with Juventus seemingly running away with the league, will be fighting it out for second place with Roma.

    Napoli have lost just once in their last nine fixtures but will come unstuck against a rejuvenated Milan side.

    Prediction: Napoli 1-1 Milan

Verona vs. Juventus

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    League leaders Juventus travel to fifth-placed Verona knowing that a win will edge them closer to a 30th league title. La Vecchia Signora have lost just once this season and are unbeaten in 16 league matches, which doesn't bode well for this weekend's hosts.

    Verona have won just once in their last four matches, though three of them were against Roma, Milan and Napoli, so to still be sitting in fifth place is testament to just how well they have done this season.

    Regardless, the Juventus juggernaut will keep rolling on and they will come away with a comfortable three points.

    Prediction Verona 0-2 Juventus