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Football News: Premier League Match Preview Saturday 3rd February 2018

Premier League Match Preview Saturday 3rd February 2018
Image from: taxileaks.blogspot

Saturday 3rd February 2018


Burnley v Manchester City 12:30pm kick off


Tarkowski (groin strain) major doubt
Defour (knee cartilage injury) out
Marney (MCL injury) out
Walters (knee injury expected return 3rd March) out
Wood (MCL injury expected return 24th February) out
Ward (knee injury) slight doubt
Brady (knee injury) out
Heaton (dislocated shoulder expected return 10th February) out

Burnley are falling into the clutches of the teams below them as their struggles continue. It has now been 8 games since they won, they have been badly hindered by a spate of injuries, which shows no sign of abating and they are still struggling to score goals. Added to that, they are still not entirely safe from relegation yet. The end of the season could be a long hard slog for the Clarets. The loss of Steven Defour is a particularly bad body blow to Burnley.
Most important player: Jeff Hendrick. He has been poor lately, which has caused a few problems with him being the only real goal threat from midfield.


D Silva (abdominal injury) late fitness test
Stones (illness) slight doubt
Sane (ankle injury expected return 12th March) out
Delph (knee injury) major doubt
Jesus (MCL injury expected return 4th March) out
Foden (ankle injury) out
Mendy (ACL injury expected return 18th April) out

It has been back to business as usual for Man City, with two fairly routine wins since losing against Liverpool. Their only real worry is the injuries they have suffered as teams are still sitting back and making it easy for them in the league.
Most important player: Sergio Aguero. The one place in the side that they do have a slight weakness in is the striker role, with Jesus out injured. There is a lot riding on Aguero.


Defining Battle: Burnley tend to drop deep and defend with bodies around the edge of their penalty area which is playing right into Citeh's hands. The key would be if Burnley can be brave and get at City, with Laporte still being new and the defence showing in recent months that it is fragile, they could have some joy. The problem is that they lack the players to put a press on City and the quality finishers to actually take advantage of any chances they do get. What will decide this is how calm will Pep Guardiola remain against Burnley's physical approach?


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 0-4
Ed003 - 0-4
Ed004 - 1-3
Ed007 - 1-5
Ed018 - 1-3
Ed025 - 0-2
Ed033 - 0-2


Bournemouth v Stoke City 3pm kick off


A Smith (thigh injury expected return 24th February) out
Defoe (broken ankle expected return 24th February) out
Mings (back injury) out

Their recent good form has seen the Cherries get themselves into the top half but, even though they are 10th, they are still nowhere near safe from relegation yet. It is so tight from them downwards that any one of the teams down there having a bad run could get relegated. With a run of form over the last 6 games that has seen them getting good wins over Arsenal and Chelsea, all Eddie Howe needs to do is keep the team on its toes and not allow them to rest on their laurels.
Most important player: Callum Wilson. He has been badly missed while injured and then trying to get back to full fitness. Now he is approaching something like his best form.


Butland (dead leg) slight doubt
Johnson (knee injury) slight doubt

The Potters have shown some signs of revival since sacking Mark Hughes. Paul Lambert has a lot to do in order to save Stoke, but things are at least looking up for them. So far this season, their away form has been their biggest problem and this is a chance to begin fixing that. The last 2 games have at least been an improvement defensively, their big achilles heel, with 2 clean sheets. For a team that had let in 50 goals previously that is a huge step forward.
Most important player: Moritz Bauer. The right back's energy and pace has been essential to the recent good form.


Defining Battle: the wide areas are key, both teams have pace and skill out there that likes to cut in and attack the box. Winning control of the flanks is likely to decide who wins the match.


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


Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United 3pm kick off


Skalak (ankle injury) out
Brown (ACL injury) out
Locadia (hamstring injury 10th February) out
Sidwell (back injury) out

Despite gaining a place in midweek, Brighton are still in a terrible run of form with just one win in 14 matches leaving them in real danger of relegation. At home they are much stronger than away, scoring twice as many goals in one less match, though it has only given them one more win as their defence has been weaker. Seagulls manager Chris Hughton needs to find a balance between attack and defence.
Most important player: Pascal Gross. The main creative force for Brighton is the German, he is the key to everything they do.


Obiang (MCL injury) out
Arnautovic (hamstring injury expected return 10th February) out
Lanzini (hamstring injury expected return 3rd March) out
Reid (groin injury expected return 10th February) major doubt
Carroll (fractured foot expected return 21st April) out
Fernandes (ankle injury) out
Masuaku (suspended) out

Form has improved under David Moyes, but the Hammers are still struggling to get the wins they need to really feel safe. They have gone on an unbeaten run of 6 games but only 2 have been wins and it is wins they really need to find to survive. With a real unquiet around the club following a January transfer window, which was little short of a debacle, Moyes has got a difficult job to keep them moving upwards.
Most important player: Joao Mario. After a short spell at Inter Milan he has a point to prove.


Defining Battle: the Hammers' defence is makeshift right now, the key is whether Brighton have the players to take advantage of that weakness. They have pace down the flanks but the key will be movement in the middle to really pull the West Ham defenders around and create space.


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


Leicester City v Swansea City 3pm kick off


Morgan (hamstring injury expected return 16th February) out
Mahrez (unavailable) out

It was a big setback that was suffered against Everton, not just because it was a defeat to a team in and around them, not even because it arrested their upward momentum, but because it was a symptom of the problems behind the scenes with Riyad Mahrez causing unrest. This is the first real test of Claude Puel's management since he took over at the Foxes and it is a huge test. Unless he can reunite the team, all the good work he had previously done may go out of the window.
Most important player: Jamie Vardy. A few Vardy goals will soon quell any worries over unrest.


Sanches (hamstring injury) out
A Ayew (hamstring injury) slight doubt
King (cannot face parent club) out

Two big wins in a row, against Liverpool and Arsenal, have given the Swans a chance of survival. Is it the so-called 'new manager bounce' or is it the genuine effect of Carlos Carvalhal? A bounce is not enough to save them, so they will be hoping it is the latter.
Most important player: Leroy Fer. He provides drive and energy in the midfield, something they lack without him in there.


Defining Battle: how well will the new look Swansea backline cope with Leicester's attack? The lack of Mahrez loses a lot of the skill and creativity but they do have more pace and workrate on the flanks. Will the Swans cope with that or will their wing backs get caught upfield and expose the centre backs?


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


Manchester United v Huddersfield Town 3pm kick off


Fellaini (MCL injury) out
Blind (ankle injury expected return 11th February) out
Ibrahimovic (knee injury expected return 25th February) out
Bailly (ankle injury expected return 11th February) out

The Red Devils will be looking to bounce back after their terrible performance against Spurs in the week. They will also have revenge against a Huddersfield team which became the first team to beat them this season in mind. With that in mind, United should be really up for the match and at Huddersfield from the first moment of the match to ensure they do not suffer a first minute aberration again!
Most important player: Paul Pogba. Will he and Jose Mourinho have sorted out the differences that led to him getting the hook against Spurs?


Lowe (groin strain expected return 11th February) major doubt
Kongolo (illness) slight doubt
Malone (knock) late fitness test
Williams (dead leg expected return 11th February) slight doubt
Kachunga (MCL injury expected return 10th March) out
Stankovic (ACL injury expected return 24th February) out

This season is turning into one of an almost uncontrollable slide back down into the Championship after a promising start. They are now on a 4 game losing streak, with no sign of that ending soon as the Terriers look devoid of even a bark, let alone bite. The pressing game seems to have been discarded and the high energy and intensity that got them promoted has been missing in recent weeks as they dropped like a stone. Unless they can rediscover the verve they showed initially they are only going one way.
Most important player: Aaron Mooy. The Aussie has been struggling lately after a strong start to the season. They need him at his best.


Defining Battle: the Huddersfield that shocked Man Utd was full of verve and used high energy to take the game to United. Will they be able to do that once more? If they decide to sit back and allow Man Utd to attack them, they will slump to yet another limp defeat. Are they brave enough to have a go?


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


West Bromwich Albion v Southampton 3pm kick off


Krychowiak (thigh injury) late fitness test
Gibbs (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Evans (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Robson-Kanu (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Livermore (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Chadli (thigh strain expected return 24th February) out
Morrison (achilles injury expected return 24th February) out

The arrival of Alan Pardew has done nothing to rescue the Baggies from their slide donw the table as he has taken them to the bottom of the Premier League to prop up the rest on an awful run of form. Added to that his team have suffered a string of soft tissue injuries, which throw doubt on his training methods, despite his attempts to blame VAR. Those injuries are usually caused by a lack of fitness or exhaustion through being overworked. Unless Pardew can turn this around quickly it will be too late, as they are already 3 points adrift of the teams above them.
Most important player: Jay Rodriguez. He has a point to prove to his former club who let him go in the summer.


Gabbiadini (hip injury) late fitness test
Austin (hamstring injury expected return 3rd March) out
McQueen (knock) slight doubt

Without a win in 12 league games, it is little surprise the Saints have dropped into the relegation places. It is difficult to argue that they do not deserve to be there as their play has been so lacking. They are a team going backwards at a vast rate of knots. Is Mauricio Pellegrino really the man to even steady the ship, let alone turn it around?
Most important player: James Ward-Prowse. Soton are almost totally reliant on his delivery from setpieces to create chances.


Defining Battle: neither team are playing well, both are tentative and look scared from the moment they step foot on the pitch. The battle will be in the heads, which of these two has the fight to go and win the game no matter what it takes? And I am not referring to the crude challenges of James McLean, I mean genuine battling spirit, to chase lost causes and give their all. The lack of quality the two teams possess means it will come down to who wants it more.


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


Arsenal v Everton 5:30pm kick off


Aubameyang (illness) late fitness test
Wilshere (illness) late fitness test
Welbeck (muscle injury expected return 10th February) major doubt
Cazorla (plantaris injury) out

The Gunners will approach the end of the season with fresh hope despite the loss of their best player Alexis Sanchez. Has Arsene Wenger done enough in the January window to fix all the issues? Or has he once again strengthened the wrong areas at the detriment of the real weakness of the squad? It does seem worrying that a team that has spent so much money in the window has Granit Xhaka as a first choice midfielder still!
Most important player: Petr Cech. Is he a spent force?


McCarthy (broken leg) out
Baines (calf strain expected return 3rd March) out
Stekelenburg (groin injury) doubt
Funes Mori (ACL injury expected return 3rd March) out

There is growing optimism around Goodison Park at the moment, not only have the Toffees broken their run of awful form, but they feel they had a very good January transfer window. Something of a Sam Allardyce speciality is recruiting well to turn around a club's fortunes for the end of the season. 7th place is still a very attainable target for Everton, they just have to go and get it.
Most important player: Seamus Coleman. The return of Coleman from injury has been a huge boost to Everton. Now they have some attacking thrust down the right side of the pitch with him combining with Walcott.


Defining Battle: Everton's strength is down the right, just where Arsenal are lacking. Even worse for the Gunners is that they have to face the return of a former player in Walcott, and we all know how they often play better when facing former teams. Has Wenger got something up his sleeve to cope with the threat down his left flank?


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


Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed025 - 160 points
2. Ed002 - 159 points
3. Ed018 - 158 points
4. Ed033 - 150 points
5. Ed004 - 149 points
6. Ed003 - 145 points
7. Ed007 - 142 points


*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 2nd February 2018 (not including results for that day)

Written by Tris Burke February 03 2018 03:35:56