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Football News: Premier League Preview Saturday 20th January 2018

Premier League Preview Saturday 20th January 2018
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Saturday 20th January 2018


Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea 12:30pm kick off


Brown (ACL injury) out
Sidwell (back injury) out

The Seagulls have been dropping down the table worringly of late, to now sit just 3 points above the drop zone in 16th. It has now been 4 games without a win and just one win in 12 matches, which has seen them drop out of the top half and into the relegation battle. Brighton's major problem stems from the negativity that they play with, an inability to turn draws into wins, particularly at home. Chris Hughton has them fairly solid defensively, but at the expense of the attack, which has led to them scoring just 17 goals this season in the Premier League.
Most important player: Bruno. The Spaniard has had a few moments of madness this season and at 37 it must be questionable how much he has left in the tank.


Cahill (hamstring injury) doubt
Fabregas (hamstring injury) doubt
Pedro (suspended) out
Morata (suspended) out

Two draws in a row in the Premier League have seen Chelsea drop out of 2nd and into 4th, just 3 points behind Man Utd in second. Despite being unbeaten in 7 games, there has been a fair bit of muttering about the poor quality of their football in recent weeks. There are a number of players struggling for form and Chelsea have not looked as good as they were last season. With manager Antonio Conte coming across in the media as unhappy with transfers, this is a difficult time for the club. Despite the disquiet, they are still right in the mix for second place and for the Champions League and FA Cup.
Most important player: Eden Hazard. His form is key to Chelsea's performances, when he plays well, so do Chelsea.


Defining Battle: Chelsea are going to have to do more than just put crosses in to beat Brighton. One thing Brighton do well is defend crosses. The key for Chelsea will be to find other ways to break down that packed Seagulls defence.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 1-3
Ed003 - 1-3
Ed004 - 0-0
Ed007 - 0-2
Ed018 - 0-2
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 0-2


Arsenal v Crystal Palace 3pm kick off


Maitland-Niles (illness) late fitness test
Ozil (knee injury) late fitness test
Koscielny (achilles injury) slight doubt
Monreal (ankle injury) doubt
Giroud (hamstring injury expected return 30th January) out
Cazorla (plantaris injury) out

The Gunners are struggling badly of late, just 2 wins in 9 games and 2 defeats, including a defeat at the hands of Bournemouth last time out. With Alexis Sanchez now all but gone, can Arsene Wenger revive their fortunes? Something needs to give as Arsenal have dropped 8 points behind the top 4 and, even worse, 5 points behind deadly rivals Spurs. That cannot be allowed to continue, especially as there is no FA Cup win to salve the anger of the fans.
Most important player: Alexander Lacazette. So far he has not been a success, he needs to step up and prove himself quickly.


Schlupp (ankle injury) out
Townsend (ankle injury) late fitness test
Dann (ACL injury) out
Puncheon (PCL tear) out
Loftus-Cheek (ankle injury) out
M Sakho (calf strain expected return 4th February) out
Ward (groin strain) doubt
Wickham (ACL injury expected return 26th February) out

The Palace revival has continued apace, with the London side now sitting in a midtable position after two wins in a row. After failing to score for their first 7 matches, they have now scored 21 in 16, so everything is looking up for the Eagles, as they eye a position in the top half. Away from home though they still need to boost their form, as they have just 2 wins on the road and have only managed to score 6 goals. Perhaps they will need more of a tactical plan than defend deep and give the ball to Zaha when they are not at Selhurst Park?
Most important player: Bakary Sako. Finally Palace have someone else to threaten opposition defences and take some of the weight off Zaha's shoulders.


Defining Battle: Arsenal just need to ensure they deal with players bursting into the box at pace, as Palace do that well. No dangling legs, just blocking space for them to attack when Palace have the ball. If Arsenal can do that then they will have pretty much shut out any possible threat Palace can pose.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 3-1
Ed003 - 3-0
Ed004 - 2-0
Ed007 - 2-1
Ed018 - 2-1
Ed025 - 2-1
Ed033 - 1-0


Burnley v Manchester United 3pm kick off


Walters (knee injury expected return 3rd March) out
Taylor (rib injury) slight doubt
Arfield (tight hamstring) slight doubt
Wood (MCL injury) major doubt
Ward (knee injury expected return 31st January) out
Brady (knee injury) out
Heaton (dislocated shoulder expected return 3rd February) out

Despite not having won in 6 matches, the Clarets are still holding on to 7th place in the Premier League, way above the place they would have expected to be in. Lately, however, they seem to have been to some degree found out. Tarkowski's tendency to throw himself into challenges in the box has resulted in a number of penalties (and at least one that should have been a penalty) and put the team on the back foot. Their inability to score has held them back badly and there is little sign of anything changing unless they can find a solution to their problems scoring goals.
Most important player: James Tarkowski. The centre back has to start learning from his constant errors of judgement in lunging for the ball in the box. Throwing yourself in to block shots is one thing, but throwing yourself into a tackle in the penalty area is asking for trouble.


Ibrahimovic (knee injury expected return 21st February) out
Bailly (ankle injury 3rd February) out
Carrick (heart condition expected return 31st January) out
Blind (knock) doubt

After a run of draws, United have got themselves back on track with 2 wins in a row to return to second place and the hope of chasing down the blue half of the city. Away from home their form has not been anything like as good as at home, as they have won just 6 of their 11 matches on the road. For a side that has spent the huge sums they have, that is not really a good enough record. At least not this season, as the pace set by Man City has been relentless and only victories are good enough to keep up with them. Will the imminent arrival of Alexis Sanchez be the spur to drive them on in the second half of the season?
Most important player: Paul Pogba. The French midfielder makes them tick.


Defining Battle: Burnley will pack the centre of the pitch and look to get bodies in the way of any shots, which is where they are strongest defensively. However, get round the side of them and attack them on the flanks and they are in trouble. They will then have to either concede space on the wings or leave spaces central where they can then be got at. Their defence is not the best at dealing with crosses, which is why they are in trouble if teams get at them wide. If they do leave space centrally, then any runs at Tarkowski will cause havoc, as he will always opt to make a lunge for the ball which risks giving away setpieces.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 0-2
Ed003 - 0-4
Ed004 - 1-2
Ed007 - 1-3
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 1-2


Everton v West Bromwich Albion 3pm kick off


Keane (foot injury) doubt
Baines (calf strain) out
Stekelenburg (groin injury) doubt
Funes Mori (ACL injury expected return 1st April) out
Coleman (broken leg) out

Things have taken a sour turn for Everton and Sam Allardyce in recent weeks, and it has now been 5 league matches since they tasted victory, as they look to have taken a few steps backward since their initial surge up the league. While they are still sat in 9th at the moment, losing the last 3 games in a row has seen the chasing pack close right up on them and their goal difference is only better than 3 teams in the Prem. It is up to the new signings to take the team up a level in the same way as his January signings managed to do at both Sunderland and Crystal Palace.
Most important player: Cenk Tosun. His first appearance was promising, but the Toffees need to give him better service than a few long balls booted in his general direction if they are to get the best from him.


Dawson (head injury) slight doubt
Hegazy (head injury) slight doubt
Chadli (thigh strain expected return 24th February) out
Morrison (achilles injury expected return 24th February) out

Finally Alan Pardew has managed to get a win from this Baggies side, after a run of 20 games without a single win the relief will be massive within the squad. Could it be that all they needed was a win to get them up and running? They will just be thankful to still be within touching distance of safety.
Most important player: Jonny Evans. Will his head be turned by all the rumours of interest in him, knowing that Pardew needs to sell to buy?


Defining Battle: the key to this will be positivity. Both teams have been incredibly negative all season, so one will need to be brave and take the game to the other. You would expect that to be Everton, as they are at home.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 1-1
Ed003 - 2-0
Ed004 - 2-1
Ed007 - 1-0
Ed018 - 2-2
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 1-0


Leicester City v Watford 3pm kick off


James (ankle injury) slight doubt
Huth (match fitness) late fitness test
Morgan (hamstring injury) out
Simpson (hamstring injury) late fitness test

The renaissance under Claude Puel seems to have well and truly come to an end as the Foxes have just one win in their last 6 league matches and have lost half of them. It has seen them stall in 8th place, despite Burnley also hitting a poor patch of form, though they have been lucky that Everton below them have been struggling themselves and unable to take advantage. With a recent loss to Watford, on Boxing Day, to spur them on with thoughts of revenge, Puel will be hoping to return to the form he coaxed from the players when he first stepped into the role.
Most important player: Riyad Mahrez. On his day he can win games almost singlehandedly, as he very nearly did last week against Chelsea.


Cleverley (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Femenia (hamstring injury) out
Hughes (hamstring injury expected return 3rd February) out
Britos (bruised foot expected return 3rd February) out
Kaboul (fractured metatarsal expected return 3rd February) out
Success (knee injury expected return 31st January) out
Chalobah (knee injury expected return 3rd February) out
Cathcart (knee injury expected return 31st January) major doubt
Hoban (ACL injury) out

Since beating Leicester on Boxing day, Watford have not managed to win. More worrying still for the Hornets is that is their only win in their last 10 Premier League games. They have hit the buffers since Everton showed interest in taking their manager Marco Silva and suddenly it is not looking like they chose correctly in keeping Silva. Their defence was not exactly solid before but now it borders on shambolic at times, with no sign of organisation when under pressure. Their saving grace has been their attack, which is keeping them in games, at least.
Most important player: Troy Deeney. His power and strength can be a key weapon.


Defining Battle: this is likely to come down to a battle of the tricky wingers. Will Richarlison actually put the ball in the back of the net or will he continue to pass up an increasingly large number of chances? Will the Mahrez that played against Chelsea turn up once more or will he not be bothered against a 'smaller' club who are not going to be interested in buying him?


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 3-1
Ed003 - 3-2
Ed004 - 2-1
Ed007 - 2-1
Ed018 - 2-1
Ed025 - 3-1
Ed033 - 2-1


Stoke City v Huddersfield Town 3pm kick off


Pieters (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Shawcross (calf strain) slight doubt
Johnson (knee injury) late fitness test
Jese (personal reasons) out

Stoke have been, to be frank, awful most of this season and it was no surprise when Mark Hughes was canned. What was a surprise was that choices to replace him were so uninspiring, especially the one who actually took the job, Paul Lambert. Now he has to prove that his dire time with Aston Villa was an aberration and that he was just hamstrung by the lack of funds available to him. The owners certainly have the financial clout to back him, if they choose, with substantial funds to take the club forward. With just one win in the last 8 games, it is clear that investment is needed in the playing squad, which entirely lacks balance and depth.
Most important player: Xherdan Shaqiri. The team has been built around his talents, it is just unfortunate that he fails to utilise them most weeks.


Quaner (hamstring injury) doubt
Cranie (ankle injury expected return 3rd February) out
Lowe (foot injury) doubt
Kachunga (MCL injury expected return 10th March) out
Stankovic (ACL injury expected return 3rd February) out

The Terriers have lost their way in recent weeks, a few heavy defeats sapping their confidence and seeing them slip down the table to 14th as they have lost their last 2 in a row and not won a game in 5. They will have been boosted by the signing of Alex Pritchard in this window, giving them some more options in the midfield area and taking some of the pressure of Aaron Mooy. However they still lack goalscoring in their side, which is why they have managed just 8 goals on the road this season.
Most important player: Aaron Mooy. The arrival of Pritchard will allow Mooy a lot more freedom to just play and should help get the best from the Aussie midfielder.


Defining Battle: David Wagner has not always given his team freedom to press opponents high, especially away from home, since they won promotion. It is expected that he will see the opportunity to take the game to the Potters, which will mean the game will revolve around Stoke's ability to beat the press.


Editors' Note:
Ed002 - 1-1
Ed003 - 1-1
Ed004 - 0-0
Ed007 - 2-1
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 2-1
Ed033 - 0-0


West Ham United v Bournemouth 3pm kick off


Ayew (knock) late fitness test
Hernandez (illness) slight doubt
Kouyate (knock) slight doubt
Rice (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Reid (groin injury expected return 30th January) out
Carroll (ankle injury) out
Sakho (knee injury) out
Antonio (groin strain expected return 3rd February) out
Fernandes (ankle injury) out
Fonte (ankle injury expected return 30th January) out
Byram (knock) slight doubt

The appointment of David Moyes has led to a major upturn in form for the Hammers, leading them up to 11th in the table. They have only lost one game in their last 8 as they climb away from the danger zone at the bottom of the table. However they are now beset with a swathe of injuries, which will present a real problem for Moyes to surmount if they are to continue on their winning run.
Most important player: Manuel Lanzini. He is the creative hub of this team, linking up particularly well with the revitalised Marko Arnautovic.


King (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Stanislas (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Defoe (broken ankle 24th February) out
Mings (back injury) out

Bournemouth are also a team on the up, after struggling near the bottom of the table for a while, 4 games without defeat has moved them up to 13th. What will particularly give them a boost is that last time out they beat a team from the top 6, Arsenal, after regularly struggling against them since earning promotion to the Premier League. Now the job for Eddie Howe is to keep the Cherries moving up.
Most important player: Jordon Ibe. The winger has found his form of late, finally opening his account with a goal against Arsenal.


Defining Battle: if Bournemouth are to win this, they will need to find a way to stifle the West Ham pairing of Arnautovic and Lanzini, who have been causing havoc of late. The Cherries defence has been its achilles heel this season, it will need to be on its toes to cope with the movement and pace.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 2-0
Ed003 - 2-1
Ed004 - 3-1
Ed007 - 1-0
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 0-1


Manchester City v Newcastle United 5:30pm kick off


Delph (knee injury) major doubt
Jesus (MCL injury expected return 13th February) out
Kompany (calf strain expected return 23rd January) major doubt
Foden (ankle injury) out
Mendy (ACL injury expected return 18th April) out

Having finally lost last weekend, Citeh will now be looking to bounce back and get back to winning ways. With a 12 point cushion over second placed Man Utd, the Cityzens can afford to drop a few more results before the end of the season and still win the league comfortable. However they are looking stretched with no real left back available to Pep Guardiola and that is something they could do with addressing if they are to keep the results rolling on. At home they should have no fears facing a struggling Newcastle side having only failed to win once there, scoring 39 goals and conceding just 8.
Most important player: Ederson. He had a bit of a shocker last time out against Liverpool, they can ill afford him to do the same again or the uncertainty could once again affect their form the way Claudio Bravo's mistakes did last season.


Gayle (knock) doubt
Mbemba (knee injury) late fitness test
Lejeune (foot injury expected return 28th January) out
Mitrovic (back injury) late fitness test
Gamez (ankle injury) out

Newcastle have once more given themselves hope of survival by remaining unbeaten in 3 but they are still just hovering above the relegation places in 15th, with a 3 point gap to 18th. With owner Mike Ashley going public over the collapse of the takeover attempt by Amanda Staveley's consortium, will there be unrest amongst the Toon army, who are desperate to see the back of Ashley's regime? They have been unstinting in their support for Rafa Benitez, but this news will feel like all their fears have been realised.
Most important player: Christian Atsu. If they are to have any hope of a shock result they will need him to be at his best and make the most of the space that Kyle Walker leaves behind him.


Defining Battle: this game is likely to be attack against defence, as it is unlikely Benitez will see Liverpool's example as the one to follow and take the game to Man City. As such it will be all about how disciplined and organised the Newcastle team can stay, whether they can avoid being pulled out of position by the movement of the Man City team or not will decide the game.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 6-1
Ed003 - 6-0
Ed004 - 4-0
Ed007 - 4-0
Ed018 - 3-1
Ed025 - 3-0
Ed033 - 3-0


Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed025 - 144 points
2= Ed002 - 141 points
2= Ed033 - 141 points
4. Ed018 - 140 points
5. Ed004 - 139 points
6. Ed003 - 137 points
7. Ed007 - 128 points


*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 19th January 2018 (not including results for that day)

Written by Tris Burke January 20 2018 03:57:12