Premier League Predictions: Gameweek 13

Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero

It’s the novice against the master at Swansea, as 35-year-old Garry Monk takes on Neil Warnock, who started management the year after his opposite number was born. However, the award for most intriguing match in the Premier League this weekend goes to Southampton-Man City, as Southampton will be given a first major test of their Champions League credentials.

Swansea v Crystal Palace

Swansea lost 2-1 at Manchester City last week, and they were slightly unfortunate to lose, having twice come close to scoring at the end. Although there is plenty of positivity around Swansea at the moment, they have only won twice since August. If they were to go drop into the lower reaches of the table, this blog has doubts about whether a manager as inexperienced as Garry Monk would be able to keep players motivated.

This is Monk’s first year in management, and on Saturday, he faces a man who started out in 1980 with Gainsborough Trinity. Neil Warnock remains a controversial figure in the game, but after his side had been on a poor run of form, he got an excellent response from the players in the 3-1 win over Liverpool. Winger Yannick Bolasie was by far Palace’s stand out performer in that match, and he caused all sorts of problems for Glen Johnson on the right flank.

The strong suit of both teams this season, has been their ability to attack quickly down the wings, where both sides possess plenty of quality. Palace will be on a high after the Liverpool result, and if they are well organized on Saturday, they can get a draw.

Southampton v Man City

Sergio Aguero’s 2 late goals against Bayern Munich in midweek could be important ones for Manchester City, and their manager, Manuel Pellegrini. That victory underlined City’s reliance on Aguero this season, and it did little to hide the problems in their squad. This Manchester City side could do with an injection of some fresh, younger legs, because the only player there under 25 is centre-back Eliaquim Mangala, who was one of their best players on Tuesday night.

There needs to be a new-found sense of urgency in the way City look to evolve their squad. Not long ago, the likes of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure were key players for Manchester City. They have not become bad players overnight, but they seem to be suffering from a lack of competition and challenge, and are simply not as good as they were. City need to bring in players that can provide some pace, energy, and a willingness to prove themselves.

This match has the potential to exploit Manchester City’s vulnerabilities, but it will also provide a test of how good Southampton are. 8 of their 12 previous opponents are currently in the bottom half, and they played West Ham and Newcastle very early on in the season, when both of those teams were struggling.

Southampton drew 1-1 with Aston Villa on Monday night, and they were fairly disappointing in that match. They had plenty of possession against Villa, who sat deep for the most part, but Saints lacked the pace, width and creativity to break them down.

Southampton have done remarkably well so far, but this is a testing stage of the season for their small squad. They now have 9 games in just over a month, and 6 of those are against teams who finished in last season’s top 7. If they can get through this period unscathed, then they can be taken seriously as contenders for the Champions League. This blog has doubts.

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