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 draw or a win for Aston Villa. Likewise, if you picked a draw but one of the sides wins)
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 instead)
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: Stamford Bridge, London.
Kick-Off: Saturday 12.45pm (GMT), 7.45am (CT), 8.45am (ET), 5.45am (PT)
Last Season: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (Oct. 5, 2014)
Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea (Apr. 26, 2015)
Form: Chelsea (17th): DLWLL - 4 Points. Arsenal (4th): LWDWW - 10 Points.
Preview: Under-fire Portuguese boss Jose Mourinho faces one of the toughest matches in his illustrious career this Saturday as in-form Arsenal make the short trip across London with every intention of adding to the misery for the reigning Champions.
The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ has overseen the Blues’ worst start to a top-flight campaign since 1986 after collecting just four points from the first five games. Last week’s 3-1 humbling away to Everton has seen them plummet to 17th in the table; it followed a desperately poor display in the 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace. All of this after limping to a 2-2 draw against Swansea on the opening day and getting romped by Manchester City at the Etihad a week later.
A resilient win away at West Brom sandwiched those previous results, but failed to materialize into a return to form and Chelsea are now in danger of being blown out of the title race before it has even begun. They are currently eleven points off league leaders Manchester City and six behind their opponents this weekend, Arsenal. A loss to the Gunners this weekend may put Mourinho in danger of being the first managerial casualty of the season, especially as he was sacked under similar circumstances in his first spell at the club.
His opposite number in the dugout on Saturday, Arsene Wenger, has also been criticized from some quarters of the Arsenal fan base after a less than impressive transfer window. An opening day defeat at home to West Ham raised familiar concerns that the Gunners were lacking depth upfront, but Wenger resisted the temptation to panic buy as options dwindled. His decision to stick to his guns hasn’t yet resulted in domestic repercussions: Arsenal have three wins in four matches and Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott finding the net in a comfortable 2-0 victory against Stoke last week.
Now the first real test of their attacking strength and title credentials is upon them and they will need to end a horrendous record against Mourinho in order to grab all three points. The Gunners have never beaten Chelsea in the league under the Portuguese manager’s stewardship, although they can point to the 1-0 victory over the Blues in the Community Shield six weeks ago as a confidence builder.
Goalkeeper Thibault Courtois has been ruled out for up to three months with a knee injury, so Asmir Begovic will continue in goal for the short term. Falcao is struggling with a similar injury and Willian looks set to miss out after picking up a hamstring strain against Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
Arsenal are still without their three long term absentees: Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, and Danny Welbeck remain on the side-lines. Olivier Giroud is likely to keep his place upfront despite his red card in the defeat at Dinamo Zagreb midweek.
Prediction: In the last few seasons, this would be a comfortable 2-0 win in favour of the home side. Mourinho has never lost to Wenger in the league and Chelsea’s ability to nullify the threat from a side as open as Arsenal are reason enough to favor the Blues, let alone the visitors’ poor record away at the top four. But the Champions are shaky, and what was an almost impenetrable defense last year is being cut open at will. That new deficiency plays into the Gunners’ hands. They’ll have the confidence of four consecutive games unbeaten and the quality in attacking areas to cause further problems for Chelsea. If there was ever a game for Mourinho to prove the doubters wrong then this is it, but Arsenal will provide a very strong test.
Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal
Other Games to Watch
Stadium: Villa Park, Birmingham
Kick-Off: Saturday 3pm (GMT), 10am (CT), 11am (ET), 8am (PT)
Last Season: West Brom 1-0 Aston Villa (Dec. 13, 2014)
Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom (Mar. 3, 2015)
Form: Aston Villa (15th): WLLDL - 4 Points. West Brom (14th): LDLWD - 5 Points.
Preview: Struggling Midlands’ pair Villa and West Brom meet in a local derby on Saturday in one of the more intriguing fixtures this weekend.
Aside from the fierce rivalry, it’ll be a battle between the master and the apprentice when Tony Pulis and Tim Sherwood lock horns in the dugout. They favor contrasting styles, with Pulis focusing on a solid defensive base that is hard to break down and Sherwood preferring to attack with pace and width.
But the latter learnt a valuable lesson in last week’s devastating 3-2 defeat at Leicester. The Villains were superb for 70 minutes and looked in complete control after fantastic strikes from Jack Grealish and Carles Gil had put them 2-0 up. That was until Ritchie De Laet headed a lifeline for the Foxes and Villa subsequently collapsed to let their lead slip and throw away all three points. Some have questioned Sherwood for not bringing on Kieran Richardson or Ciaran Clark to counteract the growing influence of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, although the majority of the blame should be levelled at the players for not having the ability to see out the game.
Sherwood could do no worse than to look at the West Brom boss when it comes to keeping teams off the scoresheet. The Baggies have kept three clean sheets from their first five games, only conceding against Manchester City and Chelsea. They are also yet to be breached on their travels this season, which won’t boost the morale at Villa Park ahead of kick-off. However, the sacrifice for being defensively sturdy has been a lack of firepower at the other end as the Baggies match their three game shutouts with the same amount of blanks in their own goals column.
The much publicised spat between star striker Saido Berahino and Chairman Jeremy Peace has severely hindered their goal-scoring prowess, although the first signs of bridge building appear to be underway after the England U21 striker made a substitute appearance last week. If he and new £12 million signing Salomon Rondon can build a relationship up top then it won’t be long before West Brom are finding the net with regularity.
Villa could be without up to six players this weekend. Idrissa Gueye is almost certainly out, while Adama Traore and Carles Gil are huge doubts. Jose Angel Crespo, Jores Okore and Gary Gardner are long term absentees.
Tony Pulis’ only concern this weekend is the fitness of Jonny Evans who was taken off due to cramp against Southampton, while Ben Foster continues to be side-lined from a serious knee injury. Saido Berahino may be given his first start after his failed move to Tottenham.
Prediction: The big question is whether or not Villa can put aside the final 20 minutes at Leicester. To lose a two-goal lead in a game that they were completely dominating will have had a massive effect on the team’s confidence and its the last thing Tim Sherwood would have wanted going into a local derby. West Brom are organized and tough to beat, with Pulis preferring to set his stall out defensively. If they change tactics and go for Villa from the kick-off they may be able to play on the home side’s frailties. Statistics and history all point to a tight game, which Villa might just edge because of its home advantage.
Aston Villa 1-0 West Brom
Stadium: Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth.
Kick-Off: Saturday 3pm (GMT), 10am (CT), 11am (ET), 8am (PT)
Last Season: N/A
Form: Bournemouth (16th): LLWDL - 4 Points. Sunderland (19th): LLDDL - 2 Points.
Preview: For the second choice of games to watch this weekend we’ve decided to bypass Tottenham v Crystal Palace and Southampton v Manchester United (which should be equally as entertaining) to instead shine some spotlight on an early season relegation tussle.
Now, Bournemouth v Sunderland might not sound that glamorous on paper but when you consider both sides have huge defensive problems and buckets of pace in attack, we may well be in for a thrilling encounter on the coast.
The hosts come into this match still waiting for their first ever clean sheet and home win in the Premier League after last year’s surprise promotion. The barnstorming 4-3 win away at West Ham highlighted just how good the Cherries can be going forward and just how poor they can be defensively in equal measure. Young boss Eddie Howe has always favoured the risk and reward strategy of attacking football and they could get a lot of change out of a Sunderland defence that has also failed to produce a shutout.
But despite the obvious flaws of conceding eleven goals in five games, Dick Advocaat’s men looked a much bigger threat against Tottenham after the acquisitions of Fabio Borini and Ola Toivonen to go alongside Jermain Defoe and Jeremain Lens. That wealth of pace caused the Lilywhites’ some major problems last week and the outcome could have been a lot different if Defoe and Rodwell hadn’t seen their efforts rebound off the woodwork.
With a season-long relegation battle on the cards for both sides this is a big chance to take points from a close rival, and hopefully that will translate into two teams going all out for the victory.
New signings Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings could miss the rest of the season after bizarrely suffering the same ACL injury in the match against Leicester. Harry Artur is still side-lined until mid-October and Charlie Daniels may miss out with a hamstring injury.
Dick Advocaat will be without the two Adam’s, Johnson and Matthews, for a few months yet while Steven Fletcher continues to struggle with a knock. Duncan Watmore has been suffering from an illness this week but should be back in the squad.
Prediction: Bournemouth haven’t won at home yet and Sunderland haven’t won at all, so something has to give. Although it’s too early in the season to call this a relegation six-pointer that doesn’t mean it isn’t a huge game for both sides. Sunderland looked a much better outfit against Spurs than in any other game this season and they’ll need that same hunger and drive to get a result on the coast. Callum Wilson will cause problems upfront, but Bournemouth seem to lack that killer instinct in front of goal. Jeremain Lens, Jermain Defoe and Fabio Borini should be threats on the counter and they may well punish any missed opportunities from the hosts.
Bournemouth 1-3 Sunderland
Winner: Luke Hoban - 12 Points
Luke took victory last week with a sensational treble of correct scores. He predicted Arsenal’s comfortable 2-0 win at home to Stoke, West Brom and Southampton’s lacklustre 0-0 draw and Tottenham’s narrow 1-0 win away at Sunderland. Luke backed up those nine points by guessing wins for both Manchester United and City, while also using his banker to good effect with the latter to earn an extra bonus point, taking his tally to 12.
Two other players deserve a special mention. Noah, for matching Luke’s 12 point haul and securing the full 6 points that his banker on a 2-0 Arsenal win brought, and Max, not just for being the only person to back Everton to beat Chelsea, but to also correctly guess the incredible 3-1 score-line. Congratulations to all three!
Mark still holds the lead for the 3rd week running but has seen his five point advantage cut to just three. PJ is the man to do that with another steady eight points to add to his week-winning thirteen in the previous Predictor. Luke makes the jump over Sam and Orion into 4th and last year’s champion, Noah, continues to make his way up the table.
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!
Edited by John Ray.
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