World Football

EPL Week 31 Predictions: Projecting Top Performers and Biggest Surprises

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 15:  Andy Carroll of West Ham United celebrates in front of Stoke City fans with James Tomkins of West Ham United as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and West Ham United at Britannia Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Dan BrettContributor IIIMarch 19, 2014

As another crucial week of Premier League fixtures ticks around, Arsenal travel to Chelsea in the game of the weekend, hoping for more inspiration from Tomas Rosicky after his stunning goal at White Hart Lane.

Rosicky was the star as the Gunners beat Spurs to keep pressure on the table-topping Blues, while Steven Gerrard performed an even more influential role for Liverpool at Manchester United.

With so much on the line at both ends of the table, where will the next twist emerge? And which players will be responsible? We make our predictions below.

EPL Week 31: Fixtures, TV Info, Live Stream and Predictions
DateTimeFixtureTV InfoLive StreamPrediction
March 2212.45 p.m. GMT, 8.45 a.m. ETChelsea vs. ArsenalBT SportBT Sport app2-1
March 223 p.m. GMT, 11 a.m. ETCardiff vs. LiverpoolNBC Sport Live Extra (US Only)NBC Sport Live Extra app1-3
March 223 p.m. GMT, 11 a.m. ETEverton vs. SwanseaNBC Sport Live Extra (US Only)NBC Sport Live Extra app2-0
March 223 p.m. GMT, 11 a.m. ETHull vs. West BromNBC Sport Live Extra (US Only)NBC Sport Live Extra app1-2
March 223 p.m. GMT, 11 a.m. ETMan City vs. FulhamNBC Sport Live Extra (US Only)NBC Sport Live Extra app4-1
March 223 p.m. GMT, 11 a.m. ETNewcastle vs. Crystal PalaceNBC Sport Live Extra (US Only)NBC Sport Live Extra app1-1
March 223 p.m. GMT, 11 a.m. ETNorwich vs. SunderlandNBC Sport Live Extra (US Only)NBC Sport Live Extra app0-2
March 223 p.m. GMT, 11 a.m. ETWest Ham vs. Man UtdSky SportsSky Sports app1-0
March 231.30 p.m. GMT, 9.30 a.m. ETTottenham vs. SouthamptonNBC Sport Live Extra (US Only)NBC Sport Live Extra app3-1
March 234 p.m. GMT, 12 p.m. ETAston Villa vs. StokeNBC Sport Live Extra (US Only)NBC Sport Live Extra app2-2
March 257.45 p.m. GMT, 3.45 p.m. ETArsenal vs. SwanseaTBCTBC2-0
March 257.45 p.m. GMT, 3.45 p.m. ETMan Utd vs. Man CitySky SportsSky Sports app2-2
March 257.45 p.m. GMT, 3.45 p.m. ETNewcastle vs. EvertonTBCTBC1-3
March 267.45 p.m. GMT, 3.45 p.m. ETWest Ham vs. HullTBCTBC2-0
March 268 p.m. GMT, 4 p.m. ETLiverpool vs. SunderlandSky SportsSky Sports app4-2
Live-footballontv.com

 

Top Performers

Tomas Rosicky

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

The Czech Republic midfielder sealed his side's win in the North London derby and will be brimming with confidence ahead of the short jaunt to Stamford Bridge.

His strike in the 72nd second of the match showed intent not only from Arsenal but from the 33-year-old himself, who is keen to earn the Gunners' first title in 10 years.

His relationship with manager Arsene Wenger is testimony to the pair's good relationship, as tweeted by Sky Sports' Pete O'Rourke:

With Chelsea's solid back line, which includes John Terry and Gary Cahill, chances could be limited for lone striker Olivier Giroud.

Therefore, it will be the work of Wenger's attacking midfielders to put Jose Mourinho's side under pressure at the Bridge.

Rosicky has recently hit form with two goals in his last three league matches, per WhoScored.com, and few players boast his capacity for magic in big games.

 

Raheem Sterling

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Raheem Sterling of Liverpool competes with Michael Carrick of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (P
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Sterling's pace in behind the defence could prove pivotal against Cardiff as he, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge continue up top for Liverpool.

The Bluebirds' defence couldn't keep a hold of Romelu Lukaku during Everton's 2-1 win in their last outing. Despite Lukaku failing to get on the scoresheet, his effort was parried by goalkeeper David Marshall and into the path of Seamus Coleman for the game's winner.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  Raheem Sterling (R) of Liverpool holds off the challenge of Mikel Arteta (L) of Arsenal during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2014 in London, England.  (Ph
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Cardiff will have an even tougher job against Liverpool. The Reds' attacking trio have netted 49 goals between them in the league this season, per WhoScored.

Sterling will likely be influential in a Reds win, as he was in the home fixture when he netted in a 3-1 victory. With Cardiff forced to be slightly less compact on home soil, he should get even more space to run into this weekend.

The England international's pacey runs and close ball control make him a serious threat against most sides.

Against a Cardiff outfit struggling in 19th place, he represents an even greater danger.

 

Biggest Surprises

West Brom At the Double on the Road

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  Pepe Mel the mamager of West Brom passes the ball back during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Fulham at The Hawthorns on February 22, 2014 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Ross
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Baggies boss Pepe Mel will be looking for Albion's second consecutive away win when his outfit travel to the KC Stadium to face Hull.

They'll face a Hull side who sit just three places above Mel's men in 13th, with Steve Bruce's contingent suffering a 2-0 home defeat against Manchester City last time out.

West Brom sit just three points above the drop zone and will be looking for a second successive win to boost the club's survival chances.

Their 2-1 triumph at Swansea was their first away league triumph since the 2-1 victory over Manchester United in September, per WhoScored.

SWANSEA WALES - MARCH 15: West Bromwich Albion goalscorer Youssouf Mulumbu (C) celebrates his goal with Thievy Bifouma and Zoltan Gera (R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion at The Liberty Stadium on Mar
Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Baggies midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu scored against the Swans and said after the game that he believes Mel has finally seen the club's true colours, according to the Mirror's James Nursey:

In the second half I saw a great team – and the real face of West Brom.

It’s a good game to keep as a reference and now we will go to Hull next, stay focused and have the same positive attitude.

Hull have failed to record a home win since December, per WhoScored, so it will be the Baggies who look to make it back-to-back jubilation at the KC Stadium.

 

Andy Carroll Key To Irons' Success

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 15:  Andy Carroll of West Ham United evades Marc Wilson of Stoke City during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and West Ham United at Britannia Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Phot
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Manchester United need a Premier League response against West Ham as David Moyes' men bid to boost their chances of Europa League qualification.

However, Andy Carroll's return from injury and goal against Stoke show a striker who is still looking to battle his way into England's World Cup squad.

The Hammers have won their last three consecutive home matches with wins over Swansea, Norwich and Southampton, according to WhoScored.

Speaking with West Ham's official website, Sir Geoff Hurst believes Carroll has the right ingredients to make it into Roy Hodgson's squad:

There is every chance for Andy. I mentioned him recently while doing some media work not because he is a West Ham player, but because we talked about people who have the opportunity. There are ten Premier League games to go and if he scores in every game and West Ham continue to rise up the table and he keeps himself fit, he has the chance.

Rickie Lambert is a good player and is playing well but if he gets injured, we may be looking for another front player who gives us the option of the high ball and Andy is a difficult player to mark. If Andy keeps plugging away, keeps himself fit and he keeps scoring the goals then, no question, he has a real chance of being there.

United's three conceded goals against Liverpool highlighted weaknesses in Moyes' defence, but perhaps the Red Devils' loss to Stoke is better fit to demonstrate Carroll's potential.

The Potters ran out 2-1 winners on the day thanks to a Charlie Adam strike and a Michael Carrick own goal.

But Phil Jones and Jonny Evans, the team's centre-back pairing, failed to deal with the physical frame of Peter Crouch, who helped his side to victory on the day.

Carroll can have a very similar impact and, with the flight to Brazil looming, he'll want to stick a goal past one of the league's top sides to prove his worth to the national selectors.

 

Follow me @DanBrett90 for more insight, analysis and reaction from the beautiful game.

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