Another round of cup games aside and it is time for matchday 21! Most leagues are back in action now (except for the Bundesliga). Let’s see what happened in the last round of league fixtures predicted.
Recap of scores from Matchday 20:
Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United: Another draw away from home from United and a convincing display from Stoke.
Hull City 2-0 Everton: What is going on with Everton? More tragic defending. Big win for Hull.
Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City: The Reds have thrown away another victory, this time at home to Leicester.
Manchester City 3-2 Sunderland: A tricky fixture for City given their recent history, and a valuable win. Harsh on Sunderland.
Southampton 2-0 Arsenal: Wasteful Arsenal gunned down by the Saints who go marching on. Tottenham 5-3 Chelsea: Surprise of the lot, with the Spurs shutting many critics down. Superb win.
Matchday 21: Sunderland v Liverpool gets the day underway. Remember the old beach ball incident? Surely there will be no repeat but this game is a tricky one for the Reds. Chelsea v Newcastle: Newcastle inflicted the first defeat on Chelsea in all competitions this season and the Blues will look to gain revenge. Everton v Manchester City is next and the Toffees are looking more and more vulnerable with each game. A scrappy 1-1 draw to West Ham will not be good enough against the Citizens, who are joint leaders. Crystal Palace v Tottenham is next and Spurs are the favourites despite having struggled against Palace in recent meetings. Arsenal v Stoke City is always feisty and after a decent performance in the FA Cup, the Gunners will look to capitalize on home advantage. Manchester United v Southampton is the pick of the lot. The Saints were robbed of the points in the previous fixture and with both sides in good form, it will be interesting as to how this match unfolds at the Theater of Dreams. On the continent, Barcelona v Atletico Madrid is a big one. Atletico have just inflicted the second consecutive victory over Real Madrid and Barcelona have a chance to eliminate Real Madrid’s game in hand, but inner turmoil may prove the Blaugrana’s downfall. 3rd place Lazio take on 2nd place AS Roma is the derby of derbies in Rome. Expect clashes, flares, and a late Totti winner. Meanwhile, Napoli v Juventus is huge as well. Napoli are free-scoring at the minute, and Juve will need to be at their defensive best to keep them out.
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Summary of Matchday 20:
Predictions tally for our Pundits:
Predictions tally for our Contributors:
Matchday 21 Predictions:
Games of the Week:
Bernie: Napoli v Juventus: As Alexander so eloquently put it; Napoli and Juventus engaged in a shootout in the Middle East not too long ago. Napoli came out of that showdown victorious and the Bianconeri will be out for revenge. Rafa Benitez would have had the Scudetto on his mind before the season started but now he’ll have to fight tooth and nail for the last Champions League spot. Allegri’s men need a victory to keep Roma in their rear view mirror but this will not be easy in Naples against Gonzalo Higuain and co. If Juventus play to their potential in this one then the class of their midfield maestro’s Vidal, Pogba and Pirlo should overpower Napoli. With that in mind I’m going for Juventus to steal the win 2-1. J
Alexander: Manchester United v Southampton: This one is intriguing. Southampton have rediscovered the excellent form that saw them rocket up the table earlier this season, and it’s keeping them in the Champions League spots at the moment. This time however, they’ll be without the tormentor of Arsenal, Sadio Mane – lost to the African Cup of Nations – whose pace really could have troubled Evans et al. United meanwhile are unbeaten in 11 games, but seem to have lost their attacking fluidity over the last couple of weeks. I don’t really expect them to get it back here, and think the Saints will battle to a 1-1 draw.
Mohaned: Barcelona v Atletico Madrid: Exciting. Atletico are just coming off a morale boosting win over Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey with a beautiful 2-0 home advantage. Barcelona on the other hand are in a state of TURMOIL! Messi is leaving to join a French team in Serie A, Luis Enrique is giving the board ultimatums, and the Nou Camp ball boys are on strike. Either way, Barcelona are not in the best of form with Suarez unable to hit a barn door and Xavi barely able to make a three point turn. The main question remains, will Torres start for a second consecutive game? Whatever, 2-2 draw.
Rishay: Everton v Manchester City: I have learned not to underestimate the underdog in recent weeks, but we have to be realistic for this one and understand that Everton have no chance in hell of securing any form of result. City are joint leaders with Chelsea and this is when the two horse race begins to take its final shape. Everton have had a disappointing season and Martinez’s true form has been revealed. There is nowhere to hide for the Toffees and they will be lambs to the slaughter for this well lubricated City machine. 2-1 Manchester City.
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