Thirteen. Unlucky for some! We're a third of the way into the season and the Premier League is starting to sort itself out... or is it? The Premier League remains fiendishly difficult to predict, which is why the StanJames.com Premier League Predictor Competition remains so popular! Our in-house experts predict what we believe will be the outcome of selected games on a Saturday, and then we challenge everyone to beat our score!
So, if you think you know your football, come and prove it!
The first kick-off is at 3pm, so make sure you get your scores in before then as we cover all six of Saturday's matches for Week 13 of the Predictor!
So, what do I have to do to enter this FREE COMPETITION?
All you have to do is head over to our Predictor Competition, complete the quick registration form then simply enter your selections for the upcoming Premier League fixtures. Three points are awarded for a correct score and one for a correct result. The overall winner will bag a £25 Free Bet and anyone who finishes in the top 25 players will receive a £5 free bet.**
Don't forget, in order to collect your prize you must have placed at least one bet (any stake) in the 14 days prior to playing. Full T&Cs can be found here!
** Free bets will be credited within 48 hours.
CRYSTAL PALACE 2 V 1 STOKE CITY
Crystal Palace come into this game with just one win in five, but there has certainly been a marked improvement under former England supremo Roy Hodgson. A narrow 1-0 defeat away at Spurs was followed up with a battling 2-2 draw at home to Everton last time out. True, the Eagles currently lie bottom of the Premier League, but it surely won't be too long before they're flying back up the table, given their recent displays. Hodgson remains realistic about the task ahead, however, stating: "We've got five points from our last five matches and take heart from that. This will take more than the wave of a magic wand." However, the one player who could help them off the bottom of the table seems to have a magic wand of a left foot - Wilfried Zaha has been in scintillating form of late and now that Benteke has returned from injury the wizard of the wing has an outlet.
Stoke arrive in much the same vein as Palace: Mark Hughes' men have just one win in five as well, with two draws, both coming in their last two outings and both 2-2s! The Potters are averaging 1.25 goals a game and, like Palace, their star players are beginning to shine. Kurt Zouma has been an excellent signing at the back, whilst Choupa-Moting remains a dangerous goal threat since signing. Xherdan 'The hips don't lie' Shaqiri is weaving his magic once more, which leaves Stoke as you were: extremely difficult to beat and capable of producing their own moments of magic to rival any of those of Zaha's wand!
As mentioned, Hodgson welcome Benteke back to the fold, whilst Patrick van Aanholt and Jordon Mutch could also feature after proving their fitness since returning from injury. Striker Connor Wickham is a definite absentee for this one though, as is, the 'Blue Dragon', South Korean midfielder Chung-Yong Lee. Stoke, meanwhile, will continue with Grant between the sticks as Butland recovers from a broken finger. Robust defender Geoff Cameron will undergo a late medical following concussion. .
What We Sayin'?
A tough one to call as 15th visits 20th. On paper, you may side against the team rock bottom of the PL, but, as a wise sage once said, 'football isn't played on paper!' Palace are unbeaten at home in the Premier League against Stoke, having won three and drawn one of their four meetings. The Townsend, Zaha, Benteke trident has potential and it will be interesting to see how they measure up against a resolute team such as Stoke.
So, what are we saying? We can see a surprisingly open game here. As Stoke showed in the draw away at Brighton, they are enjoying their football, playing more expansively than might be expected. Shaqiri has five assist and two goals in 11 games this season and we like the look of him to grab the opener at 17/2. However, Stokes willingness to press forward away from home could be their undoing, especially against teams with the pace of Zaha and Townsend. We'll take Palace to win late on, Benteke with the final goal in a 2-1 victory: 22/1*
MAN UNITED 4 V 0 BRIGHTON
Having slumped to a surprising 0-1 defeat away to Basel in the Champions League, Jose Mourinho will demand an instant response from his troops, especially as they need at least a draw away to Shakhtar to ensure qualification. That game, sandwiched between matches against Arsenal and then Manchester City is surely one in which the master tactician will have wanted to rest players. No such luck! Still, he does have the luxury of welcoming Pogba and Zlatan back, the pair featuring in last week's 4-1 demolition of Newcastle. They have won all five games at Old Trafford this term, scoring 19 times and conceding just once. It seems Jose is taking a leaf from Fergie's blueprint for winning league titles: You win your home games and get what you can on the road - he's certainly turning Old Trafford into a fortress, despite the best intentions of Chris Smalling!
Brighton arrive on the back of a 2-2 draw with Stoke, a game both sides feel they might have won but, deep down, will probably happily settle for the draw. Chris Hughton's team are mixing it well in their first season in the Premier League, sitting in ninth after impressing people with heir blend of stylish, attacking football. However, the ex-Spurs and Republic of Ireland international has been in the game long enough to know he must temper fans expectations with realism. Every point gained is another notch towards safety, though, and the Seagulls may have their wings clipped at the Theatre of Dreams... not that facing Manchester United away will dampen the hopes of the 4,000+ away fans expected for the game.
Both Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo are in contention to return from injury after overcoming a knock. Carrick and Jones remain absentees due to injury. For the visitors, Chris Hughton has almost a full squad to choose from, Steve Sidwell the Seagull's only injury concern.
What We Sayin'?
Some days you're the Seagull, some days you're the statue... The Premier League is a brutal, unforgiving league and Old Trafford the graveyard of many a visiting teams hopes and aspirations. The Red Devils will be smarting after the defeat to Basel and their support will be baying for blood. If Brighton are to get anything - and that's a big if - then star summer signing Pascal Gross needs to be at the top of his game. The £7m steal has four goals and five assists to his name already!
United have pace and powe all over the pitch, especially in midfield. Fellani, a handfull on his own, could line-up with Pogba and Matic. That's where we see Brighton being overrun. We'll take United to win this one fairly comfortably. United to win to nil: 4/6 United 4-0: 17/2 Lukaku to return to goal-scoring form and net the first: 2/1.*
NEWCASTLE 2 V 2 WATFORD
Fifty-one thousand passionate Geordies will be hoping the Toon can put their three-match losing streak to bed when they host one of the season's surprise packages, Watford, in what promises to be an intriguing game tomorrow. Last time out, Newcastle took the lead away at Man United before eventually succumbing to a 4-1 defeat. However, Rafa Benitez, fighting battles with his own board as well as his Premier League rivals, will have seen enough to know that his side are on the right path. Shelvey is looking like he could be finally fulfilling his potential, whilst Dwight Gayle remains a threat at any level he's playing.
The Hornets are buzzing right now, and a few teams have been stung by Marco Silva's new-look side. They are up to eighth in the league, having turned West Ham over 2-0 last time out, To be fair, they were composed and controlled in that game, and nil flattered the Hammers. Of their new signings, Will Hughes and Richarldson have both impressed, whilst Heurelho Gomes remains a solid and reliable 'keeper. The Brazillian made two world-class saves against West Ham last time out and his experience and calm seems to be benefitting the entire team.
The Geordies have a couple of injury woes coming into this one. Jamaal Lascelles and Christian Atsu are out, whilst Isaac Hayden serves a one-match ban after picking up five yellows. On a brighter note, Paul Dummett is a possibility, as is Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino, who returns from injury. Silva will be sweating on the fitness of defender Kiko Femenia, who faces a late fitness test. Nathaniel Chalobah, Craig Cathcart, Isaac Success and Tommie Hoban are all out with knee injuries, whilst Younes Kaboul is another who faces a late test after injuring his thigh. Troy Deeney remains suspended after picking-up a three-match ban for violent conduct.
What We Sayin'?
A really interesting match could be brewing here. Watford have scored twice in each of their away games, yet Newcastle have been rather parsimonious at home. An edgy game of cat 'n' mouse then, with both teams cancelling each other out? Funnily, we see the complete opposite. Newcastle will be driven on by the home crowd and we can see Watford keeping up their away goal-scoring record!
SWANSEA 0 V 2 BOURNEMOUTH
Swansea know they need to start picking up points - fast! They lie nineteenth in the Premier League, with just 8 points to show for their endeavours this term. They were comprehensively outplayed away at Turf Moor, losing 2-0 to Sean Dyche's high-flying side, and manager Paul Clement will know that such fixtures are pivotal in their chances of retaining Premier League status this term. The Swans are yet to win against Bournemouth in the Premier League, losing three and drawing one of four encounters... not the best time to pop your cherry against a team high on confidence at the moment!
Bournemouth travel to Wales in great shape! They are looking for their third successive PL victory for the first time in their history, having smashed Huddersfield for four last time out, that victory coming on the back of a battling 1-0 away at Newcastle. Eddie Howe has the Cherries all singing from his songsheet, his team play with panache and style. On #Blackfriday, the £4,000 Bournemouth paid for Harry Arter seems to be one of the deals of the century, the Republic of Ireland midfielder being the catalyst for everything good about Bournemouth. If the fulcrum's on song, the rest of the team usually are too!
Long-term absentee kyle Bartley sits this out for the hosts, while Tammy Abraham faces a late fitness check after straining his back. Jermain Defoe and Junior Stanislas remain sidelined for Bournemouth, who should be able to recall the services of big frontman Benik Afobe for this one.
What We Sayin'?
Another tough afternoon for the Swans, who are surely in danger of sinking from the PL at this rate. Their effort and commitment can not be faulted, but sometimes even the best-laid plans and intentions go awry!
Striker Callum Wilson looks like he is fully over the horrific injury that saw him sit last season out and the Cherries crack marksman is an enticing 19/5 to score first. Despite enjoying a lot of possession - the Swans can play - we can't see them being a threat in the final third, especially if Abraham's does sit this one out - so we'll take the scorecast as well: Bournemouth win: 0-2 at 11/1.*
TOTTENHAM 3 V 0 WEST BROM
Traditionally Spurs have struggled when returning from European competition, but this new-look Spurs side are no longer the wilting daisies of yesteryear. Their drive and resolution is there for all to see and after coming back from a goal down to win away at Dortmund midweek they will be raring to go against a West Brom who have parted with their manager and seem in a state of disarray. Spurs have only lost one of their last 15 PL games against West Brom, though The Baggies have lost only one of their last five away games at Spurs. Food for thought as Pochettino looks to develop a way to counteract teams who come to Wembley and play deeper against his expansive, exciting youngsters.
West Brom arrive with just one draw in their last five games, and four losses on the bounce. They were walloped by Chelsea last time out, forcing the managerial change. Gary Megson will act as interim boss for the game against Spurs and he certainly has a job lifting his charges, who seem able to adapt to the high-tempo, high-pressing game many of the top six are implementing. Interestingly, stalwart Gareth McAuley will be the second-oldest outfield player in PL history to reach 200 appearances in this game, and Megson will look to the veteran to marshall and lead a defence hoping to contain Kane, Ali, et al!
Spurs are without key defender Toby Alderweireld which may see Dier switch to the back. Victor Wanyama remains short of match fitness while Eric Lamella could make an appearance from the bench. West Brom have no new injuries to note though Nacer Chadli, James Morrison, and Craig Dawson are all still unavailable.
What We Sayin'?
LIVERPOOL 1 V 3 CHELSEA
What, in the name of all that is holy, is going to happen in this game? Quite simply, this could be absolutely any result! Both teams have fantastic attacks and can be lethal going forward. In their CL game, Liverpool's first-half display against a VERY strong Sevilla was as dominant as even the most diehard 'Pool follower might have wished for. Unfortunately, their second-half collapse illustrates in graphic detail, their need for a defensive shake-up. It could be this vulnerability at the back that determines the outcome of this encounter though to be fair the Reds have only conceded one in their last eight PL games... We know, right? Salah is on fire, and Liverpool will look to their Egyptian talisman to take the game to Chelsea. Captain Jordan Henderson will need to marshall his backline from midfield if Liverpool are to get anything from his, and he may have to curb his natural attacking urges in the process.
Chelsea have one of their easier CL games midweek, taking apart the Moldovian champions Qarabag with relative ease in a routine 0-4 victory. The Pensioners arrive at Anfield third in the table, nine points adrift of pacesetters Man City, and manager Conte will hope to keep the pressure on the Sky Blues with victory here. Interestingly, a home win for Liverpool would see them move level on points with Chelsea... food for thought!
Joel Matip could return for the Reds, and Klopp may fancy throwing Sturridge into the mix against his former club, just for giggles! Lallana is in full training but it remains to be seen if he is risked for this one. Victor Moses could make a surprise appearance after returning from a hamstring injury, though Michy Bathsuayi is expected to be ruled out after hurting his knee.
What We Sayin'?
As mentioned, both teams can be sublime going forward, but we'll take Chelsea's defence to be the difference here. Conte seems to like his 3-5-2 formation and it will be interesting to note how Klopp counteracts this. Chelsea had the luxury of resting a few players midweek, while Liverpool has fielded nine out of ten outfield players for consecutive games. Kante's return for the Blues will be key, and the midfield dynamo will be as fresh as a daisy for this one.
Anfield was built for games like this, and quite seriously we could end up with egg on our faces with our prediction - it wouldn't be a surprise after all if Liverpool won. That said our picks are: Morata 1st GS 19/4. Salah to score at any time: 6/5 and Chelsea to win 1-3: 25/1.*
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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