Premier League Week 21 Fixtures: EPL Picks and Predictions

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2016

Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny celebrates scoring a goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Week 21 of the 2015-16 Premier League season will see league leaders Arsenal visit Liverpool, while Manchester City will take on a dangerous Everton squad. Manchester United will be on the road to take on a slumping Newcastle United team, and Chelsea host West Bromwich Albion.

The festive season may be over, but the fixture list for England's top division remains fierce. With more action on the way at the weekend, managers will have to balance their squads and make some tough decisions.

Let's have a look at the schedule for Week 21 along with picks and predictions:

Premier League Schedule: Week 21
Tuesday, Jan. 12Aston VillaCrystal PalaceCrystal Palace
Tuesday, Jan. 12BournemouthWest Ham UnitedDraw
Tuesday, Jan. 12NewcastleManchester UnitedDraw
Wednesday, Jan. 13SwanseaSunderlandSunderland
Wednesday, Jan. 13ChelseaWBAChelsea
Wednesday, Jan. 13Manchester CityEvertonManchester City
Wednesday, Jan. 13SouthamptonWatfordWatford
Wednesday, Jan. 13StokeNorwichStoke
Wednesday, Jan. 13LiverpoolArsenalArsenal
Wednesday, Jan. 13Tottenham HotspurLeicesterTottenham
Source: BBC Sport


Mental Boost for Liverpool, Arsenal?

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Jurgen Klopp the head coach / manager of Liverpool and assistant manager Zeljko Buvac during the Capital One Cup Semi Final, First Leg, between Stoke City and Liverpool at Britannia Stadium on January 5, 2016 in Stoke
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The Gunners may sit at the top of the Premier League standings entering Week 21, but Arsenal have been far from their best in the last couple of weeks and could use some momentum, with Manchester City seemingly improving with every passing week.

Meanwhile, injuries have taken their toll on the Reds, who are in real danger of dropping out of the race for the European spots if they don't turn their form around in a hurry.

Given the lack of form for both sides, Wednesday's top clash could fail to live up to its billing, but a win would go a long towards improving each team's fortunes. The Gunners may be favourites, but Anfield remains a difficult place to visit, and Liverpool will provide a stiff challenge.

A rash of injuries will have their effect on both sides, but key absentees always open the door for new stars to emerge and become key contributors. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes winger Joel Campbell has done just that, per Chris Harris of the club's official website:

He is kind of in Coquelin's position last year. Nobody expected him [to do well] and now he is taking his place in the team and he is ready to fight for the position and he is efficient.

I agree [that he is playing with confidence]. That comes out of his game. Compare one month ago to today, he believes he belongs there and has a right to play.

The Costa Rican has done enough to deserve a spot in the starting XI against the Reds, and he could play a huge factor as Liverpool try to shut down the middle of the pitch.

The Reds will have few healthy creative forces to count on, which will place an even greater emphasis on Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke. Both have shown their remarkable talent in flashes this season, but the consistency hasn't always been there.

Prediction: The winners of this match pick up some much-needed momentum and go on a run in the coming weeks.


Goalfest at the Etihad?

NORWICH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City throws the ball during the Emirates FA Cup third round match between Norwich City and Manchester City at Carrow Road on January 9, 2016 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Im
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Per, both Manchester City and Everton have recorded just one clean sheet in the Premier League since November. Both teams are led by some of the best forwards in the league and are built around attacking football.

There's little left to say about Romelu Lukaku, who currently leads the league in scoring and should put some serious thought into leaving the Toffees if the club fails to qualify for the Europa League this season.

Lukaku has carried the side at times in 2015-16, and outside of Gerard Deulofeu, he has too few team-mates who have made a consistently positive impact of late.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Romelu Lukaku of Everton celebrates scoring his team's second goal  during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Dave Tho
Dave Thompson/Getty Images

On the other side of the pitch, perhaps for the first time since returning from injury, Sergio Aguero looked like the fearsome striker fans have grown accustomed to in the FA Cup win over Norwich City.

James Robson of the Manchester Evening News maintains the striker is the ultimate wild card in any match―if he's healthy:

Aguero is the man who can win the title after the 90th minute has passed in the final game of the season.

He’s the man who can score a hat-trick to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against the mighty Bayern Munich.

The man who scores five goals in 20 bewildering minutes against Newcastle.

With Aguero fully fit, anything can happen.

Which is why Pellegrini could barely contain his enthusiasm when declaring his talismanic striker was back to his best at Carrow Road.

The 2015-16 campaign has not been Aguero's finest, in part because of the aforementioned injury, and City have struggled in his absence. Now, with the Argentina international rediscovering his form, the team suddenly look like title favourites again.

Wednesday's clash with Everton provides Aguero with the perfect opportunity to show the rest of the country he's back.

The Toffees' defence has looked atrocious at times this season, and it will be up to Aguero to deliver or risk Lukaku stealing the show once again.      

Prediction: Aguero confirms he's healthy and in form again as City easily down Everton.