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Football News: Premier League Match Preview Saturday 10th March 2018

Premier League Match Preview Saturday 10th March 2018
Image from: mapio.net

Saturday 10th March 2018

 


Manchester United v Liverpool 12:30pm kick off

 

Martial (knock) slight doubt
Herrera (hamstring injury) out
Rojo (knock) doubt
Jones (knock) out
Fellaini (MCL injury expected return 31st March) out
Blind (ankle injury) out
Ibrahimovic (knee injury) out

Man Utd seem to be over their mini-blip now with back to back wins against Chelsea and then Palace which has kept them in second place. Now they have a chance to secure second by beating Liverpool as they already did Chelsea. That would create some daylight between themselves and the rest of the top 4 chasing pack. While a draw would keep them ahead, can they really afford to risk that when they have the Manchester derby upcoming? They would then be gambling on the rest to drop points or themselves to get a result against City, both a big ask the way the season has shaped up. Will this be the moment Jose Mourinho chooses to unleash his players to go for the win in a game against one of the other top 6 sides?
Most important player: David de Gea. Possibly the best keeper in the world, do I need to say more to explain his importance to the team?

 

Henderson (dead leg) slight doubt
Clyne (fitness) out
Wijnaldum (illness) doubt
Robertson (knock) slight doubt
Woodburn (illness) doubt

Usually Liverpool would go into a match like this feeling fully confident, as their performances against the top few sides were always excellent, it was the lesser sides they tended to struggle against. This season has been a little different. Results have mostly been better against the lesser sides, but they have not done as well against the other top 4 sides, particularly away from home. The only defeats the Reds have suffered this season have all come on the road, two of them particularly heavy ones, which goes a long way to explaining why they have conceded so many on their travels. What they do have in abundance is goals scored, which will mean they enter this game with a genuine belief they can win.
Most important player: Virgil van Dijk. The Dutch defender has brought some calmness to the backline that had been missing in recent years.

 

Defining Battle: I know we all expect Mourinho to park the bus, but he has shown in the past the capacity to surprise teams wi.... Ah who am I trying to kid? Jose will defend deep and look to hit on the counter. Lots of numbers in and around the central areas of the pitch to try and block Liverpool players from getting a run or finding the space to pick passes. It is up to Liverpool to find a way to get through, while ensuring they do not over commit and leave themselves open at the back.

 

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

 


Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion 3pm kick off

 

Mangala (knee injury) out
Jagielka (knock) slight doubt
McCarthy (broken leg) out
Stekelenburg (groin injury expected return 31st March) out
Williams (suspended) out

If this game was anywhere but Goodison Park, you would be seriously worried for the Toffees' chances of getting anything from the game, as their away form is, to put it mildly, atrocious. At home though they are a completely different kettle of fish, as Sam Allardyce actually looks to win games there, usually. They look to be safe from relegation, though they looked to be heading that way before Allardyce arrived anyway, so he will have done the job he believes he was brought in to do. The problem is that Everton should not be thinking in those terms after the summer outlay and very few fans see themselves as a team that should be happy only to compete for a place in the Premier League, with little ambition beyond survival.
Most important player: Leighton Baines. His ability to deliver a cross and at least make an attempt to defend against opponents has been badly missed. The more Cuco Martina plays, the more he is missed!

 

Schelotto (concussion) doubt
Skalak (ankle injury) slight doubt
Brown (ACL injury) out
Sidwell (back injury) out

Brighton will enter the game full of confidence after beating Arsenal last time out and because they are on a 5 match unbeaten run that has seen them move above Everton on goal difference into the top half of the Prem. Almost certainly safe from relegation, can they maintain their good form without the need for points to drive them on? Away from home the Seagulls are not in good form, not having won on the road since November, though they have been close to getting wins in their last three away matches, so they will be hopeful that they can finally get a third away win of the season.
Most important player: Glenn Murray. He is not particularly quick, not the strongest, tallest, most skilful or has any particularly outstanding technical or physical attributes. What he does is score goals when he gets a chance.

 

Defining Battle: Brighton's main attacking threat is fast pace down the wings. If Everton are to stop them, then they have to be sure to nullify the widemen and keep them pressed back so they have no time and space to create problems.

 

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

 


Huddersfield Town v Swansea City 3pm kick off

 

Pritchard (dead leg) slight doubt
Scannell (shoulder injury expected return 31st March) out
Mooy (knee injury) slight doubt
Kachunga (MCL injury) doubt
Stankovic (ACL injury expected return 31st March) out
Hefele (Achilles injury) out
Kongolo (knock) doubt

The defeat to Spurs last weekend has stalled their attempt to climb out of relegation troubles for now and left them still fighting for their life at the bottom of the table. That was not the most important game though, this one is one that really matters, against a team that is also scrapping against the drop. With games running out and a tough end to the season, the Terriers are in desperate need of reaching safety before the final few games. With Swansea only ahead of them on goal difference, this result is vital and could set the tone for the run in. A win puts them in a good place to survive, a defeat leaves them in very real danger, while a draw is neither here nor there. Will David Wagner go for it though, or will he settle for the draw?
Most important player: Rajiv van La Parra. Plenty of ability but he struggles to use it to best effect.

 

Britton (back injury) late fitness test
Fer (Achilles injury) out
Bony (ACL injury) out
Rangel (groin injury expected return 31st March) out
Sanches (hamstring injury expected return 17th March) out

They have managed to get themselves away from the drop zone with a good run, after being sat bottom for the Xmas period. Their form is good, just two defeats in the last eight games and five wins in that run, has given them genuine belief that they will survive. However it is their away form that is holding them back with just two wins on the road all season, that could cost them if they are not careful.
Most important player: Alfie Mawson. The defender has a mistake in him and needs to work on his concentration.

 

Defining Battle: Huddersfield's press has been absent for large parts of the season, against the Swans a return would give them a real chance to get at the South Wales side. Swansea have struggled against teams that give them no time to play their football.

 

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

 


Newcastle United v Southampton 3pm kick off

 

Shelvey (knee injury) out
Slimani (thigh strain expected return 31st March) out
Gamez (ankle injury) out
Elliot (knock) out

This season has been a long hard slog for Newcastle fans to sit through after the initial euphoria of owner Mike Ashley finally putting the club up for sale has receded with his refusal to accept any of the offers made. Added to that is his lack of backing for manager Rafael Benitez, through his puppet at the club, Lee Charnley. Putting ridiculous restrictions on spending, such as an arbitrary low limit on a maximum price to be paid on a player has left the Toon struggling against a relegation that should have been easily avoidable for a club with 50k+ fans following it each home game.
Most important player: Mikel Merino. The Spaniard has had to fill Shelvey's boots as the creative heart of the team.

 

Yoshida (knee injury expected return 31st March) out
Davis (hamstring injury expected return 18th March) out
Austin (hamstring injury expected return 31st March) out

Saints have gradually been dragged down into the relegation battle as their form has been abysmal with just one win since November. Manager Mauricio Pellegrini has them on a tight leash which is stifling their attacking talents and they are struggling to create chances. They have the look of a team on a downward spiral, which can only lead one way if it is not turned around quickly. Every week that goes by makes the summer sacking of Claude Puel seem more and more incomprehensible.
Most important player: Wesley Hoedt. The Dutch centre back has established himself but lacks pace which can cause the team problems at times.

 

Defining Battle: two teams that play a very similar deep-lying compact system with one midfielder to sit in front of the defence and break up play and another to spray passes around. Their attack is mostly based around pacey, skilful widemen who also have to get back to help protect the defence. This could very well be a stalemate, more akin to a chess match than a Premier League game. Who will have the most ambition? Both need the win badly, a draw is not really going to help them, but both managers are often happy to settle for one from the start.

 

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

 


West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City 3pm kick off

 

Evans (illness) late fitness test
Brunt (illness) late fitness test
Barry (knee injury expected return 17th March) major doubt
Sturridge (hamstring injury expected return 31st March) out
Robson-Kanu (hamstring injury) doubt
Chadli (thigh strain expected return 31st March) out
Morrison (Achilles injury expected return 15th April) out

It is hard to understand just what is going on at the Baggies, they are on a run of five defeats in a row, sat bottom of the league eight points off safety and they look to be getting worse each time they play. Yet Alan Pardew is still there, despite all his poor tactical decisions. It just makes you wonder if the board have written off the season already, only there is absolutely no reason to continue to back a manager who has never shown any ability to take a club anything but backwards. Still, at least when he does go, he knows exactly where to go for a taxi home...
Most important player: Jake Livermore. Time for him to step up and start showing some responsibility now. He has had a tough time in recent years, but he needs to grow up a bit and stop using that as an excuse for his continuing bad behaviour.

 

Amartey (hamstring injury expected return 7th April) out
Okazaki (knee injury) doubt

It has now been five league games since the Foxes picked up a win and it has seen their faint hopes of catching Arsenal fade away and now Burnley are back to winning ways, they are going to have to lift themselves to get 7th. Manager Claude Puel will be hoping Riyad Mahrez's late equaliser against Bournemouth has cleared his head of the Man City failed bid cobwebs and he can return to something like his best. Without him firing on all cylinders Leicester looked devoid of any real threat.
Most important player: Riyad Mahrez. The Foxes look toothless without Mahrez at his best.

 

Defining Battle: can WBA offer anything going forward to put Leicester under pressure at the back? Their weakness is their defence, if they are got at they struggle badly as the partnership between Maguire and Morgan is nothing like as solid as Morgan was alongside Huth. They are no longer able to absorb attacks and then spring forward with a quick counter because their defence crumbles. However West Brom struggle to muster any kind of attack and that could turn this game into a stroll as their sluggish backline has to face Vardy's pace.

 

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

 


West Ham United v Burnley 3pm kick off

 

Reid (MCL injury) out
Byram (ankle injury) out
Ogbonna (illness) slight doubt
Collins (tight hamstring) late fitness test
Obiang (MCL injury expected return 2nd July) out
Carroll (fractured foot expected return 21st April) out
Fernandes (ankle injury) out
Masuaka (suspended) out

The 'Moyesiah' effect seems to have worn off now and the Hammers have lost three of their last four in the Prem, the last two by a scoreline of 4-1. While that scoreline is not going to effect confidence too much the first time, especially when it can be put down to facing a Liverpool attack scoring goals for fun, but the second time, against a fellow struggler in Swansea, and it becomes genuinely dangerous to the team's morale. It has left them dangerously close to the bottom three and firmly ensconced in the relegation scrap they looked almost certainly clear of in mid-January.
Most important player: Manuel Lanzini. The Argentine is a creative force on a good day, but he has not yet got back to his best since he returned from injury.

 

Arfield (calf strain expected return 17th March) major doubt
Defour (knee injury) out
Walters (knee injury expected return 31st March) out
Brady (knee injury) out
Heaton (dislocated shoulder) doubt

Finally, after 11 games without a win, the Clarets have got that win they so desperately required to get themselves back on track. The most remarkable thing is that they are still sat in 7th place, despite their terrible run. A decent run of results until the end of the season and they could put pressure on an Arsenal side with little to really play for in the league. One thing is for sure, they have achieved all they set out to do this season already, anything more they get in the way of points is a bonus.
Most important player: Aaron Lennon. His pace has given Burnley an outlet when under pressure.

 

Defining Battle: stop Arnautovic and Burnley will have a huge advantage. The Austrian is the main goal threat as Chicarito, for all his quality in front of goal, is not fitting well into David Moyes' style of play.

 

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

 


Chelsea v Crystal Palace 5:30pm kick off

 

Kante (illness) slight doubt
Ampadu (hamstring injury) out
Bakayoko (calf strain) late fitness test
Luiz (ankle injury expected return 1st April) out
Barkley (hamstring injury) out

Last season's champions could once again end up as also runs the following season, for the third season in a row. From challenging for second place, the Pensioners have slipped down to fifth after a run of four defeats in five games and they are now fighting to get a Champions League place for next season. Manager Antonio Conte's demeanour, criticisms of the club's transfers and the constant press speculation about him going to take a job elsewhere have certainly not helped matters. It is up to him to manage the situation though, to get himself and his players focused on the pitch, rather than about carping on about not getting the players he wanted in the transfer windows.
Most important player: Marcos Alonso. He may not be the best player in the world but he weighs in with important goals just when needed.

 

Cabaye (adductor strain expected return 17th March) doubt
Ward (muscle injury expected return 17th March) doubt
Sakho (calf strain expected return 31st March) out
Zaha (knee injury) late fitness test
Speroni (knee injury expected return 7th April) out
Sako (broken ankle expected return 18th August) out
Dann (ACL injury) out
Puncheon (PCL tear) out
Loftus-Cheek (unable to play against parent club) out
Wickham (ACL injury expected return 21st April) out

They looked like a team climbing clear of any problems until it all went wrong and they have now gone 6 games without a win as they were beset with injuries. The boost of having Wilfried Zaha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek closing on a return to full fitness could be the tonic they need to revive their fading survival hopes.
Most important player: Patrick van Aanholt. He still has a lot to do to prove Chelsea were wrong to let him go.

 

Defining Battle: the key to beating Chelsea is to keep their wing backs pegged back as neither are the best defensively. If Hodgson is brave and keeps the two up top to contain the back three, then a lot depends on if Kante and/or Bakayoko are available in midfield to stop the backline being overrun at times. While Bakayoko has not been a big hit with the fans, without his energy and movement in the centre of midfield, Chelsea have been exposed at times as Kante, great player that he is, cannot be everywhere all at once. Though it can seem like he is at times!

 

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

 



Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed025 - 184 points
2. Ed002 - 183 points
3. Ed033 - 181 points
4. Ed007 - 177 points
5. Ed018 - 176 points
6. Ed004 - 173 points
7. Ed003 - 167 points

 

*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 9th March 2018 (not including results for that day)

Written by Tris Burke March 10 2018 06:17:25