You never quite know what a weekend of Premier League action will have in store, but let's be honest—that shouldn't come from guessing.
And that's what we'll do here. Top performers? Yeah, we'll predict a few. Predictions for every game? Darn right. Projecting major surprises from the week? Sure, what the heck, we'll toss that in, too.
It's EPL madness, I tell you. Let's get to the prognosticating.
Fixtures and Predictions
|Week 30 Schedule|
|When (All times ET)||Home||Prediction||Away|
|Saturday at 8:45 a.m.||Hull City||0-3||Manchester City|
|Saturday at 11 a.m.||Everton||2-0||Cardiff City|
|Saturday at 11 a.m.||Fulham||0-2||Newcastle|
|Saturday at 11 a.m.||Southampton||1-0||Norwich City|
|Saturday at 11 a.m.||Stoke City||1-1||West Ham|
|Saturday at 11 a.m.||Sunderland||1-0||Crystal Palace|
|Saturday at 11 a.m.||Swansea City||1-1||West Brom|
|Saturday at 1:30 p.m.||Aston Villa||0-2||Chelsea|
|Sunday at 9:30 a.m.||Manchester United||3-2||Liverpool|
|Sunday at noon||Tottenham||1-2||Arsenal|
Top Performers and Biggest Surprises
Yes, I think Manchester United is going to pull off the upset over Liverpool. It seems crazy, I know, given how well Liverpool have played this year and how wildly inconsistent the Red Devils have been, but this is literally United's season on the line.
Lose here and their already incredibly unlikely odds of reaching the Champions League next year through a top-four Premier League finish will be completely extinguished.
So the Red Devils should be pretty desperate.
Here's another surprising thing you'll see from that game—United will win without Robin van Persie in the starting lineup. The Dutch striker hasn't exactly been in fine form of late and his attitude hasn't been much better, so I wouldn't be shocked if David Moyes decided to shake things up and start van Persie from the bench.
I'm not the only one who thinks Moyes should consider doing so. From Ian Herbert of The Independent:
[Danny] Welbeck will never be the finisher that Van Persie is but there is consistent evidence that he can bring out the best in Wayne Rooney. As Welbeck took up a far higher role at The Hawthorns, Rooney stepped up into a more advanced No 10 position, from where he immediately scored and then provided Welbeck with a divine goal of his own.
“We like Danny a lot,” Moyes said in the aftermath. “[He’s] a really good player. He got one and maybe could have had two. I have seen him starting to look a lot sharper in the last week or so. He has done very well.”
The question for Moyes after Saturday’s bold decision to remove Van Persie so prematurely is whether he is prepared to take the next step and keep him out of the starting line-up to face Liverpool on Sunday—United’s last chance to prevent the old enemy bumping them out of the Champions League. There are good grounds for doing so.
If Welbeck indeed gets the start, don't be surprised if he and Rooney are the driving forces behind United's win over Liverpool. And don't be surprised if this is van Persie's final season at Old Trafford.
The other big game this week is another fantastic rivalry, as Spurs host Arsenal. The Gunners tend to get the better of their rivals, and they really need this win to keep pace with the title contenders in the Premier League.
Amidst an alarming number of injuries, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has really shined for Arsenal in the past several games. I expect him to terrorize Spurs all game long and chip in with a goal and an assist.
For fantasy owners out there, this would be a good week to go out and add Loic Remy. Fulham have given up a league-worst 65 goals this season, so Remy could be in line for a tasty brace. Romelu Lukaku should also make it three straight appearances with at least a goal, as he faces a Cardiff City side that has given up 50 on the season.
Finally, here's one that should make you smile (or shake your head in bemused disbelief). With Fernando Torres out of action, Samuel Eto'o is going to give another big performance for Chelsea and earn a brace and then find two more ways to have a cheeky go at Jose Mourinho for doubting his age.
I'm not sure how he's going to pull off eating dinner at 4 p.m. in a goal celebration, but I'd certainly like to see him try.