EPL Match Week 17 Preview
Written By: Mahdi Farahikia
As the World Cup concluded, the domestic leagues will resume. That means EPL is back, and we are back to the prediction and analysis business. Honestly, I missed Haaland in the World Cup. And the major event that happened during the tournament was Ronaldo's departure from Manchester United on mutually-agreed termination of the contract.
As with EPL tradition, the weeks after Christmas and New Year's Day are packed with matches. So, get ready for an overdose of exciting English soccer matches. Here is the preview of EPL Match Week 17.
Brentford vs. Tottenham:
A few Spurs' players were present in the World Cup; the most famous among whom are Lloris, Richarlison, Son, and Kane. None of them won the trophy, but Richarlison's injury is a blow to Tottenham. Brentford's players had a chance to rest, but they have never beaten Spurs. The best result for Brentford against Spurs has been a draw at home.
Brentford play a physical game. Two of their players have 35 and 25 tackles to their names, ranking slightly lower than Spurs' Bentancur with 36 tackles. This might irritate the exhausted Spurs players. However, since most of them left the World Cup early, it will be like another week in the EPL. A narrow win for Spurs is probably the outcome of this match.
Five Thirty Eight: BRE: 28%, TOT: 50%, Draw: 22%
Odds Shark: BRE: +285, TOT: -110, Draw: +275
Crystal Palace vs. Fulham:
Fulham's historical statistics against Palace are not great. They have only beaten their rival twice, but not in the past five encounters. Having 19 points and separated by goal difference, they sit at the 9th and 11th positions in the table. Fulham's performance has been more promising than Palace's, although their last two matches ended in 2-1 defeats to the Manchester teams. This game is between two teams of comparable strengths, which may end in a draw.
Five Thirty Eight: CRY: 49%, FUL: 26%, Draw: 25%
Odds Shark: CRY: +105, FUL: +245, Draw: +265
Everton vs. Wolves:
Stakes are high for both sides of this encounter. Wolves are sitting rock bottom, while Everton are only one point above the relegation zone. Everton's Pickford left the World Cup early and must be well-rested. Both teams have scoring problems, and their defensive lines are struggling. As both teams fight for survival in the EPL, this one is like a life-and-death match in which the hosts may enjoy a narrow victory. Although, I don't rule out a draw.
Five Thirty Eight: EVE: 41%, WOL: 31%, Draw: 28%
Odds Shark: EVE: +135, WOL: +220, Draw: +230
Leicester City vs. Newcastle:
The joy with the return of the EPL is seeing Almiron, Newcastle's under-appreciated magician, play again. Leicester, who suffered several defeats earlier in the season, have picked up their winning pace and only lost to Man City in their past five matches. The Magpies, on the other hand, have enjoyed a solid five-out-of-five winning streak, sitting right below City in the table.
Did the World Cup break take away Newcastle's momentum? Can they beat Leicester, who have enjoyed their impressive results? Well, Leicester still have one problem: their goalkeeper. The Welsh keeper's weakness came to the surface during the World Cup, and if Newcastle's engines are still on, it's hard to imagine that he can resist. This one may go for the visitors.
Five Thirty Eight: LEI: 28%, NEW: 47%, Draw: 25%
Odds Shark: LEI: +220, NEW: +120, Draw: +250
Southampton vs. Brighton:
Nine points separate the two sides as the hosts sit in the 19th position - just above Wolves. Southampton's records have not been satisfactory, although they pulled a draw against Arsenal. Brighton's records are mixed, too, as they defeated Chelsea but lost to Villa - both at home. Looking at the previous five encounters between the two clubs, the results are very even, with three draws and two 2-1 victories for each side. However, things don't look bright for the hosts this time, and this one will likely go for Brighton.
Five Thirty Eight: SOU: 28%, BRI: 48%, Draw: 24%
Odds Shark: SOU: +235, BRI: +110, Draw: +255
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool:
Mo Salah missed the World Cup, and the other Liverpool players had early exits. That should give them enough time to recover. Villa's keeper, Martinez, won the World Cup with Argentina, but it's an overstatement to say he was the hero. Villa pulled a historic 7-2 victory against Liverpool in October 2020 but lost the rest of the previous five encounters with the Reds. Even with a World Cup-winning keeper, Villa does not possess the Argentinian-style defense to keep Liverpool strikers at bay. The hosts should see this game through.
Five Thirty Eight: AVL: 20%, LIV: 59%, Draw: 21%
Odds Shark: AVL: +340, LIV: -135, Draw: +310
Arsenal vs. West Ham:
Arsenal have beaten West Ham 34 times in their match-ups, 20 of which have happened in London. Five of Hammers' eight victories over Arsenal occurred in the away fixture. But Arsenal are more motivated this time, sitting at the top of the league with only one defeat and one draw so far. The only setback to Arsenal's squad is Jesus' injury picked up during the World Cup. However, the Gunners have a team of good players who can fill Jesus' absence. In London, this game should be an easy win for Arsenal.
Five Thirty Eight: ARS: 65%, WHU: 12%, Draw: 25%
Odds Shark: ARS: -195, WHU: +500, Draw: +350
Chelsea vs. Bournemouth:
Those Chelsea players who participated in the World Cup left the tournament early and are rested. However, the London Blues have not had great memories from their ten encounters with Bournemouth, with five wins (only two at home) and one draw.
Chelsea have only beaten Bournemouth once in their last five encounters, while Bournemouth enjoyed a 4-0 home victory in January 2019. With Chelsea's conditions showing very little improvement, and Graham Potter's experiment demonstrating signs of failure, this may end in a draw or a narrow victory for the hosts.
Five Thirty Eight: CHE: 69%, BOU: 50%, Draw: 19%
Odds Shark: CHE: -305, BOU: +775, Draw: +440
Manchester United vs. Nottingham Forest:
The Red Devils made the most significant news of the EPL while the league was off for World Cup. Following Ronaldo's interview, it was mutually agreed to terminate his contract and release him. This is probably a blessing for Man United. They have won the last couple of games without him while losing 3-1 to Villa with him.
Man United's form has improved with Ten Hag. They're fifth on the table and show good-quality soccer. Forest, on the other hand, are in the relegation zone. Although they beat Liverpool and Palace at home, their away record isn't that great. This one should go for Manchester United.
Five Thirty Eight: MUN: 74%, NFO: 9%, Draw: 17%
Odds Shark: MUN: -325, NFO: +800, Draw: +460
Leeds vs. Man City:
This is the game to look forward to - not because the two teams have equal qualities, but for seeing Haaland's magic on the field again. While Leeds stunned City with a draw and a victory in 2020-21, they conceded 11 unanswered goals during both fixtures of the last season. While Leeds are suffering with unsatisfactory results, sitting in 15th place with 15 points, Man City's squad keeps showing signs of menace and improvement. This is an unbalanced match-up between the two sides, and the three points must go for the visitors.
Five Thirty Eight: LEE: 11%, MCI: 74%, Draw: 15%
Odds Shark: LEE: +750, MCI: -335, Draw: +500