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EPL Week 15 Predictions: Premier League Picks, Key Players and Fixtures

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30:  Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and AFC Bournemouth  at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on November 30, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Liverpool's Merseyside derby with Everton and Jose Mourinho's first game against former club Manchester United highlight the midweek fixtures in the Premier League.

Manchester City begin things on Tuesday with a difficult trip to Turf Moor to take on Burnley. The Citizens' title hopes are hanging by a thread after Saturday's 2-2 draw away to Newcastle United, but the creativity of David Silva and Bernardo Silva can see them to a vital win.

Liverpool own an 11-point cushion over City, and the leaders can take advantage of their struggling rivals and maintain their lengthy unbeaten run in England's top flight, provided Virgil van Dijk is on form at the back.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has won two from two in the league since replacing Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur, but he will have extra motivation against United after the Red Devils sacked him last December.

Mourinho will once again rely on Dele Alli proving the catalyst in the final third against a United defence suspect in recent weeks.

     

Week 15 Fixtures and Picks

Tuesday, December 3

  • Crystal Palace vs. Bournemouth: 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET (Palace)
  • Burnley vs. Manchester City: 8:15 p.m. GMT/3:15 p.m. ET (City)

     

Wednesday, December 4

  • Chelsea vs. Aston Villa: 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET (Chelsea)
  • Leicester City vs. Watford: 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET (Leicester)
  • Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur: 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET (Draw)
  • Southampton vs. Norwich City: 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET (Draw)
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. West Ham United: 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET (Wolves)
  • Liverpool vs. Everton: 8:15 p.m. GMT/3:15 p.m. ET (Liverpool)

      

Thursday, December 5

  • Sheffield United vs. Newcastle United: 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET (Draw)
  • Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion: 8:15 p.m. GMT/3:15 p.m. ET (Arsenal)

       

Silvas to Help City Keep Fading Title Hopes Alive

Shipping goals has wrecked City's title defence so far. Injuries at the back have caught up with a team on a run of conceding at least one goal in seven-straight matches in all competitions.

City's depleted defence has been struggling.
City's depleted defence has been struggling.LINDSEY PARNABY/Getty Images

Burnley can expose City's vulnerability, despite being blanked by Crystal Palace during a 2-0 defeat on Saturday. Towering strikers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes will fancy their chances of exploiting converted midfielder Fernandinho in the air.

City have missed the Brazilian's protection in front of the back four, while Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan may struggle to gain a foothold in the engine room against an aggressive Burnley team.

If City can own the ball, Pep Guardiola's squad still has the players to punish any team. Specifically, David Silva and Bernardo Silva can both pick a pass and score goals.

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

David Silva, off balance and about to fall over... Cue the back-heel assist 😍 Absolutely class from the Spaniard 👏 https://t.co/ECPJzp5UZW

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

Raheem Sterling puts the Champions ahead! 🦈 https://t.co/aEeJZVs2qV

The latter came off the bench against the Magpies but has five league goals to his credit already and should pose Burnley problems from the start.

Prediction: Burnley 1-3 City

     

Dele Alli Will Help Mourinho Avoid Defeat at Old Trafford

It's been so far so good for Mourinho at Spurs, with three wins in a row in all competitions. Scratch a little beneath the surface, though, and the 56-year-old will be concerned about his team's vulnerability at the back.

Tottenham have conceded two goals in every game Mourinho has overseen. The Lilywhites were 3-0 up against both West Ham United and Bournemouth before barely surviving late rallies.

Mourinho's old team have the players to take advantage of this weakness. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have the pace to unsettle experienced centre-backs Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.

Rashford is the man in form, having put together a prolific run recently:

Manchester United @ManUtd

4️⃣ games 3️⃣ goals 1️⃣ assist 🔥 @MarcusRashford 🔥 https://t.co/QO33TqaGPt

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need Rashford and the rest of the United forward line on form to keep pace with a Tottenham attack revitalised since Mourinho's arrival. He's wisely made Dele central to the revival, and the mercurial midfielder has responded enthusiastically.

Dele found the net twice during the 3-2 win over the Cherries on Saturday. The 23-year-old has been matching skill with energy to produce complete performances:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Dele Alli’s game by numbers vs. Bournemouth: 82% pass accuracy 8 successful take-ons 8 ball recoveries 5 shots (3 on target) 2 tackles 2 goals Thriving. 🙌🙌🙌 https://t.co/crMNyb4J8q

Dele's ingenuity will unsettle a United back line guilty of shipping five goals in the last two matches following Sunday's 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa.

There will be goals in this one, but United often raise their game against top-class opposition at home, having already beaten Chelsea and drawn with Liverpool and Arsenal at Old Trafford.

Prediction: United 2-2 Spurs

      

Van Dijk Key to Liverpool Winning Again

Everton would relish being the team to snap Liverpool's unbeaten run in the top flight at 31 matches. It's not likely to happen, though, not when the Reds have mastered the art of winning ugly, a perfect trait for a derby.

Liverpool were far from in peak form during Saturday's 2-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion but still found a way to earn three points. This time the way involved talismanic defender Van Dijk heading in from a pair of Trent Alexander-Arnold crosses, while Mohamed Salah and Co. laboured up top.

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Virgil van Dijk’s game by numbers vs. Brighton: 100% aerials won 100% tackles won 90% pass accuracy 5 ball recoveries 5 clearances 2 goals MOTM. 🇳🇱 https://t.co/FTL1yOgoec

Jurgen Klopp will be confident Salah and fellow strikers Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will regain their form. Klopp's bigger worry will be how Adrian fares in goal with Alisson Becker set to serve a suspension following the red card he received against the Seagulls.

Gracenote Live @GracenoteLive

✋ - Alisson is the first Premier League goalkeeper to be sent off for committing handball since 11 February 2015, when his replacement Adrián was sent off for West Ham United against Southampton. #LIVBHA

The Liverpool defence will also miss the destructive tendencies of midfield minder Fabinho, after the Brazilian was ruled out until 2020 with an ankle problem, per James Carroll of the club's official website.

Liverpool appear primed to be exposed, but an Everton team with only 14 goals so far this season will struggle to get beyond Van Dijk.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Everton