Previews and predictions for this weekend’s games
Let’s be honest. In soccer, we all like to think that we can predict what the scores will be and take unrivaled joy in correctly guessing the outcomes of the biggest games. That sentiment is echoed by the soccer writers here at SQ, so we have decided to put our claims to the test with a weekly competition in which we will try and predict the scores for all of the Premier League games.
The outcome of each week’s predictions will be decided in a points format with a subsequent rankings table that will run until the end of the season to see who is the best predictor. The scoring system is as follows:
No points - for failing to guess the correct result. (Example, you pick Chelsea to win against Aston Villa, but the match ends in a win or draw for Aston Villa. Likewise, if you pick a draw and one of the sides win)
One Point - for correctly guessing the result without the score line. (Example, you pick Chelsea to win 3-0 but they win 4-0 instead, or you pick a 2-2 draw but it finishes 1-1 etc.)
Three Points - for correctly guessing the result and score line. (Example, you pick Chelsea to win 3-0, and they win 3-0)
New ‘Banker’ Feature
Ahead of the 2015-16 season, we here at SQ have decided to give all of our predictors the chance to earn even more points. The ‘banker’ is designed to double the points of one particular prediction and can be used only once per week by each player. The aim is to choose the prediction you are most confident in, select it as your banker and hopefully earn double points from that game. The following image will indicate which game each player has chosen as their banker:
Game of the Week
Stadium: Emirates Stadium, London.
Kick-Off: Sunday 4pm (GMT), 11am (CT), 12pm (ET), 9am (PT)
Last Season: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United (Nov. 22, 2014)
Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal (May. 17, 2015)
Form (Last Six): Arsenal (4th): WDWWLW - 13 Points. Man Utd (1st): WDLWWW - 13 Points.
Top Scorers & Assists:
Preview: Top of the table Manchester United travel to the Emirates this Sunday to take on fourth-placed Arsenal in a fixture synonymous with the Premier League title race.
It’s a meeting that has conjured up some of the classic moments in the league’s history; Marc Overmars slotting in the only goal at Old Trafford as Arsenal recovered from a 15 point gap to win the title in 1997/98; Sylvain Wiltord doing the same as the Gunners secured the 2001/02 championship with a 1-0 win; Wayne Rooney controversially ending Arsenal’s forty-nine game unbeaten run; and the astonishing 8-2 demolition for United in 2011/12.
But there are also the unsavory moments that have helped fuel anticipation whenever these sides meet. The notorious battles between respective Captains Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira made this fixture a must watch during the late 90’s/early 2000’s, with a no-holds-barred approach to each other on the pitch and plentiful spats off it. That ‘win at all costs’ mentality often seeped into the rest of the players, which resulted in food being thrown during a brawl in the tunnel—later dubbed as ‘Pizzagate’—and the ‘Battle of Old Trafford,’ where a bad-tempered 0-0 draw saw Patrick Vieira sent off, Ruud Van Nistelrooy mobbed after missing a penalty and eight players subsequently fined or suspended.
The intensity between the sides has somewhat diminished in recent years with Sir Alex Ferguson retiring and Chelsea and Man City becoming more prominent at the top. Both clubs have also slipped away from the position of perennial title contenders amid transitional phases and financial constraints. But it is still an intriguing encounter when these sides meet, which was applicable to the reverse fixture last season. The Gunners battered United for almost its entirety, only to lose 2-1 after the away side scored with both of their shots on target. Louis Van Gaal might opt for a similar defensive outlook on Sunday especially with the added threat of pacey striker Anthony Martial, who will be hoping to continue his good form further with another goal this weekend.
Last week’s hero of the North London Derby, Mathieu Flamini, is set to miss out this weekend after pulling his hamstring against Leicester. His replacement on the day, Mikel Arteta, is also out after picking up a thigh strain. Other than that Arsenal have the long-term absentees of Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky missing for Sunday’s clash.
Louis Van Gaal has two injury concerns ahead of this weekend as Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick race to recover from knocks. Marcos Rojo is out for another few weeks while Luke Shaw’s horrific leg break should see him sidelined until the end of the season.
Prediction: Matches between the pair at the Emirates are often close, low-scoring affairs and the same should be expected on Sunday. United may take a leaf out of West Ham, Olympiakos and Liverpool’s book, with all of them picking up favourable results after sitting deep and using the counter. Anthony Martial and Juan Mata have been particularly superb of late and will carry a threat for United, but Arsenal also have an abundance of attacking talent and seemed to click into gear during last week’s 5-2 win at Leicester. Both sides usually cancel each other out, although the Gunners should be on the front foot for most of the match with just enough to edge out a narrow win on home turf.
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United
Other Game to Watch
Stadium: Goodison Park, Everton.
Kick-Off: Sunday 1.30pm (GMT), 8.30am (CT), 9.30am (ET), 6.30am (PT)
Last Season: Liverpool 1-1 Everton (Sep. 27, 2014)
Everton 0-0 Liverpool (Feb. 7, 2015)
Form: Everton (5th): WLDWDW - 11 Points. Liverpool (9th): WDLLDW - 8 Points.
Top Scorers & Assists:
Preview: The famed Merseyside Derby makes its first appearance of the season as Everton welcome Liverpool to Goodison Park in the early kick-off on Sunday.
Like most same-city derbies, this one has a feisty edge that often results in a high-tempo match. This particular fixture has seen more red cards than any other with twenty-one being shown since the Premier League’s inception. It has been referred to as “the most ill-disciplined and explosive fixture in Premier League history” by some parts of the media, although there is also an undertone of friendliness between the pair. That’s because it is one of the few local derbies that doesn’t enforce fan segregation with a majority of families in the area often divided by their support for each club.
Usually when these sides meet it is Liverpool who have the upper-hand in terms of league position, but this weekend sees Everton begin as favourites after a stirring 3-2 win at West Brom on Monday put them fifth. Roberto Martinez will be hoping that the thrilling comeback from 2-0 down can give his side enough confidence to end a nine-game run without a win in the derby. In fact, Everton have only won six of the last thirty-eight meetings in all competitions, with Liverpool securing victory on eighteen occasions during the same period.
Brendan Rodgers will be pointing to those statistics himself in the hope that his stuttering side can make a statement with another derby win. The Reds lost back-to-back games against West Ham and Manchester United either side of draws against Arsenal and Norwich, with goals at a premium. They had only notched four in the opening six games but the return of Daniel Sturridge has been a massive boost, as proven by his two goal haul in the 3-2 win at home against Villa last week.
Roberto Martinez will be waiting on news of several first-team members as Seamus Coleman, Muhamed Besic and John Stones battle to be fit in time for the derby. Tom Cleverley, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar are all a few weeks away from fitness while Leighton Baines is a long-term absentee. Kevin Mirallas will serve the last of his three match ban for a red card at Swansea.
Christian Benteke is struggling to recover from a hamstring injury and may well be on the bench regardless of his fitness due to the decent form of Danny Ings and the return of Daniel Sturridge. Dejan Lovren, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Jon Flanagan are all ruled out through injury.
Prediction: The Merseyside Derby is famous for its intensity and passion, and hopefully that will return after the damp squib that last year’s 0-0 draw provided. On the positive side, Everton will be brimming with confidence after their terrific win on Monday and Liverpool were finally threatening in attack against Villa. Reds Boss Brendan Rodgers may be feeling some pressure to get a result as murmurs of discontent from the fans grow louder with every poor result and that could play into the hands of the hosts. They themselves have been quite solid at the back in most games and have already seen off Chelsea at Goodison Park this season. Romelu Lukaku also seems to have found his goal scoring touch and looks a good bet to get on the score-sheet again.
Everton 2-1 Liverpool
Winner: Luke Hoban (10 Points)
Despite a four-way tie at the top, Luke is awarded the winner’s spot after correctly guessing two scores and using his banker to perfection. He predicted Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win at Watford on Sunday and Manchester United’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Sunderland, with the latter including his banker to earn double points. That was enough to see off Max, who was unfortunate to finish second after correctly guessing Stoke’s 2-1 win and, like Luke, United’s 3-0 victory. Lucas Morel had the same score-line for United as well and joined those at the top by courtesy of his banker on the match. Congratulations Luke!
Mark continues to his weekly trend of stretching his lead which now sits at nine points. That is partly due to Luke leap-frogging PJ into second, while just eight points separates fourth from tenth. Gaurav slipped off the pace after missing out on last week’s predictions with Riley and Ivan needing a few high-scoring weeks to put themselves back in the mix.
Think you can do better?
We here at SQ want to know what you think. Send us your predictions for all 10 Premier League games in the comments section below, and we will add your name to the rankings table and weekly scores. Go head-to-head with our writers to earn the title of “SQ Predictor Champion.”
The overall winner at the end of the season will win a Premier League jersey of their choice! Send us your predictions each week to be in with a shout!
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- Aston Villa