Barclays Premier League – Match Previews

football

Manchester City v Middlesbrough:

 

The two teams last met in 2015 in the fourth round of the FA Cup, with the visitors winning 2-0 courtesy of goals from Patrick Bamford and Kike. The last Premier League meeting was in 2009, where a Craig Bellamy strike earned a narrow win for the hosts.

City head into this fixture in fine form. An impressive 3-1 over Barcelona in midweek will undoubtedly fill the team with confidence. City also boasts an impressive record over Boro in the league, winning four of the last six meetings.

City’s fine form can be attributed to their success going forward. They are joint top scorers in the league this season with Liverpool (24) after ten games. The attacking talent of Sergio Agüero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne have been a key part in City’s goal rush this season.

Middlesbrough however has struggled for goals this season, netting just nine. Only Burnley and Sunderland have scored fewer this season.

The fixture will also see a return of former Manchester City players Alvaro Negredo and midfielder Adam Clayton who will both be returning to their former stomping ground.

Burnley v Crystal Palace:

 

Burnley have started their second spell in Premier League under Sean Dyche on a good note. Their previous stint in English top flight lasted only one season and Dyche will be hoping for an extended stay this time around.

The Clarets are currently in the bottom half of the league table and are only four points above the relegation zone. But there are plenty of positives for Burnley to take in recent weeks as they picked up two important results. Firstly beating Everton 2-1 in a thrilling contest at Turf Moor and the following week shutting out Manchester United in a goalless draw at Old Trafford thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

Crystal Palace look like the same side that was plagued with inconsistency last season. After picking up three straight wins in a five match unbeaten run, they later lost three of the next four. Alan Pardew’s tenure is coming under increasing scrutiny and a negative result here will do little to silence the critics. Palace are currently 13th in the league, with the same 11 points as Burnley, who sit in 14th place respectively.

West Ham v Stoke City:

 

West Ham have struggled to adapt to their new home in recent weeks, with lacklustre results adding to the fans frustration. Recent trouble with fans in the London Stadium has pushed the spotlight on the fans, with the club asking fans to move to allow better segregation between home and away fans.

Despite the off-field issues, West Ham are struggling on the field also. The Hammers have only managed ten goals this season and have conceded 19, only Sunderland (20) and Hull City (23) have conceded more this season. The return of Andre Ayew is a boost for the Hammers, having missed him for most of the season so far with injury. West Ham’s defensive woes continue to be an issue and need to be addressed if Slaven Bilic wants to guide his side up the table.

Stoke City have enjoyed a resurgence in recent weeks, winning their last three games in the league. This form is a far cry from the start of the season, where they failed to win any of their first seven games (D3, L4) The turnaround in form is a testament to Mark Hughes and how he handled the pressure on him after such a dismal start.

Joe Allen has been the catalyst for Stoke’s irresistible form, with four goals and two assists in nine appearances.

Bournemouth v Sunderland:

 

Sunderland are arguably the worst team in Premier League this season. And it wouldn’t come as a surprise that they are at the rock bottom of the league table. With ten matches played, they have lost eight and only gathered two points from draws against Southampton and West Brom.

As the on field problems are mounting up for the Black Cats, the limelight is on David Moyes. However Moyes won’t be able to manage his team from the touchline on Saturday as he is serving a one-match ban for FA misconduct.

Bournemouth are a team in good spirits at the moment as they comfortably sit 10th in the league table with 12 points. But they haven’t won or scored in the last two league matches.

However, the Cherries can take a lot of confidence from their home record this season. They held Tottenham to a goal-less draw in their latest Premier League clash at the Dean Court. And they haven’t lost a match at home since the defeat to Manchester United on the opening day. They are unbeaten in the last 4 home matches with three wins and a draw. And conceded only one goal during the period.

Chelsea v Everton:

 

The home side have won their last four league games in a row and have kept a clean sheet in all of them. Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 has worked incredibly well so far and the Stamford Bridge outfit have managed to make themselves very hard to beat.

An added boost for the home side is that Conte will have a fully fit squad to choose from. Even the likes of Marco van Ginkel and Kurt Zouma have stepped up their return to first team action after featuring for the U23s.
Everton will have a considerable challenge ahead of them when they visit Stamford Bridge this weekend.

The Toffees have struggled a bit lately and Ronald Koeman’s men secured their first win in four league games during their last outing. Considering Chelsea’s impressive home form against them, Everton will be in for a tough time.

Furthermore, the away side will be without two of their key players in Idrissa Gueye and James McCarthy. Both players are integral to Koeman’s defensive setup and their work rate and defensive play will be sorely missed.
Arsenal v Tottenham:

 

Arsenal are in supreme form right now and have been unstoppable since their opening day defeat against Liverpool. They have been unbeaten in their last nine Premier League games and have won seven of those.
Arsene Wenger’s men demolished Chelsea at home earlier this season and will be looking to do the same to Spurs. Furthermore, they have an impressive home record against Spurs and will be heading into this game with a lot of confidence.

The home side will be without five of their first team players for the derby game. Welbeck, Perez, Mertesacker, Cazorla and Akpom are all ruled out with injuries.

Spurs are going through a rough patch right now. Although they are just three points behind bitter rivals Arsenal, they have failed to win any of their last six matches in all competitions.
The away side have not won any of their last six visits to the Emirates and on current form, that run is likely to continue.

The absence of Toby Alderweireld will make their job tougher against a top class attacking team.
Liverpool v Watford:

 

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will be looking to continue their good form, which has catapulted the Reds to joint top in the league. Liverpool’s tremendous ability in attack has been on display, with Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané all thriving against Crystal Palace.

Klopp will be hoping for a better defensive performance against a Watford side that have found goals hard to come by in recent weeks. The partnership of Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip has been encouraging thus far, however the awful mix up which lead to a Crystal Palace goal is still a cause of concern for Klopp if his team want to challenge for the title.

Watford head into the game having won two of their last three matches. However the Hornets go into the game with a poor record at Anfield. Watford have won only one of their nine league visits to Anfield (W1 D0 L8), earning their first PL victory with a 1-0 win in August 1999.

Troy Deeney will be gunning for his 100th goal as a Watford player at Anfield. The Hornets striker will be looking to put last week behind him, an awful display was capped off with a miss from point blank range, which he should have converted with ease.

Hull City v Southampton:

 

Hull City have been in complete disarray this season. A lack of goals and poor defending has resulted in the Tigers languishing in the relegation zone with just two wins all season. The Tigers have the worst defensive record in the league with 23 goals conceded in ten league games. With only eight going in at the right end, it’s clear to see why Hull have struggled this season.

With a barebones squad, Mike Phelan will be counting the days until the transfer window re-opens. Reinforcements are a necessity if Hull are to dig themselves out of this very deep hole.

Southampton have looked like a solid side under the leadership of Claude Puel. Charlie Austin and Nathan Redmond have impressed while Virgil Van Dijk has quickly become an established Premier League defender after his move from Celtic. Lying in ninth position, Southampton have made a decent start and should push on as the season progresses.

Many questioned whether Southampton could bounce back after the mass exodus, which saw many of their star players, sold. The Saints have responded time and time again and continue to establish themselves as a quality Premier League side.

Swansea City v Manchester United:

 

Swansea have struggled immensely this season, only amassing five points after ten games. New manager Bob Bradley has a tough job ahead him trying to beat the drop. Their only league win came on the opening day against Burnley on August 13th.

The Swans have the fourth worst defensive record in the league, conceding 18 goals in ten league games. Going forward has also proved problematic. Swansea’s tally of nine goals is only better than two other teams. Swansea need to improve both aspects drastically if they want to see a turnaround in form.

Manchester United have had an average season so far by many peoples standards. Currently sitting in eighth place, fans would have expected a better showing, considering the attacking talent United have on offer. Despite his blistering start, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has failed to live up to the huge hype surrounding him after his well-documented arrival. World record signing Paul Pogba has started to find his feet after a slow start to the season.

David De Gea continues to be a standout performer in the United side. His world-class performance against Liverpool at Anfield further cemented his status as one of the best goalkeepers in the world today.

Leicester City v West Bromwich Albion:

 

Despite their efforts in the Champions League, defending champions Leicester City have struggled in the league this season. The champions currently sit in 11th position after ten games.

Kasper Schmeichel has recently been ruled out for at least a month, which is a huge blow for the defending champions.

Jamie Vardy has struggled to replicate his title-winning form of last season. The striker has only netted twice all season, a far cry from last season where he broke the record for scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League games.

Many teams have started to “figure out” the defending champions, which has forced manager Claudio Ranieri to adjust his system accordingly. While Leicester won’t win the league again this season, they have built solid foundations for many years to come.

The visitors have also struggled this season, languishing in 16th place on ten points from ten games. With only one win from their last six games, the Baggies will want to end that run as soon as possible.

Salomon Rondon remains West Brom’s only true attacking threat alongside Saido Berahino, who has been linked with a move away from The Hawthorns for the best part of two years.

 

Jak Edgley

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