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Football News: Premier League Previews 29 September 2018

Premier League Previews 29 September 2018
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West Ham United v Manchester United


Just as you thought Manchester United were getting over some of their early season criticism, they surrender a lead to Wolves and follow that up by doing the same en route to suffering a penalty elimination to Championship side Derby County.

In a strange way, it might do the Red Devils some good to be away from Old Trafford here, where they have suffered from three straight games without a win in all competitions now - they last did that in December 2015 (four games) when Louis van Gaal was at the helm.

Away from home, they have won three in a row in all competitions. Perhaps the reduced pressure of not playing in front of their increasingly frustrated home support helps them, rather than hinders.
West Ham meanwhile, have gone from losing their first four league games of the season to now being unbeaten in two, including a draw against flying starters Chelsea last week which they could, on another day, have won with the chances they created.

But they won't find this game easy against a side whom they have beaten just once in the last 19 league meetings - 3-2 in their final match at Upton Park in May 2016.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has himself only ever lost one of 13 Premier League clashes with the Hammers, whilst Pellegrini won three and lost two of his six against the Red Devils whilst he was Manchester City boss.
But Pellegrini has only beaten Mourinho once in five Premier League encounters - 3-0 in August 2015. He won't find it easy to improve on that record either, even with the recent issues Mourinho's side have faced, but he might feel he won't get a better opportunity than this.

Key players:
Andriy Yarmolenko - After netting two goals on his league debut, the Ukrainian missed a golden chance against Chelsea at home last week, and they will need him to return his clinical best to maximise their chances of a win today. How he performs could go a long way towards deciding this match.

Romelu Lukaku - The Belgian loves facing West Ham. He has scored nine Premier League goals against them, more than he has against any other side, including a brace in his only match against the Hammers for Manchester United. He has almost gone a little under the radar this season, what with the media hype surrounding the Red Devils at present, but he does have four goals already - the joint-third highest tally in the Premier League so far. West Ham will have to keep him at bay to have a good chance of getting anything from this match.

 

 

 

Arsenal v Watford


After a tough start against Manchester City and Chelsea, Arsenal are well back on track with four straight wins in the Premier League, something they didn't manage at any stage in Wenger's final campaign last season.
In fact they are now level on points with their old rivals Spurs, and above Manchester United, something few would have expected so quickly after those two opening defeats.

But they face a Watford side who are above them in the early Premier League standings, and have lost just one of their opening six games to this season. Not many will have expected them to make such a solid start to 2018-19, but they have, and will be a serious threat to Arsenal here.
Having said that, Watford's record against the Gunners isn't great. They've lost eight of 10 Premier League meetings, including four of five away from home, scoring only two goals in those five visits.

Their general form on their travels has been woeful too. Just one win in their last 14 away league games, scoring only six goals in that time - it could not be more opposite from their impressive home form under Gracia.
By contrast, Arsenal are lethal at the Emirates - 34 goals in 12 league matches there in 2018 so far, winning nine of those, including a 3-0 win over Watford in this run. To beat them here, you have to play well from front to back, first minute to the 90th, taking your chances whilst restricting Arsenal's - which, as Everton found out last week, is not a simple task. Watford will hope to be more clinical when they do get opportunities in order to have a chance at going home with a point or three.

Key players:
Alexandre Lacazette - Start him and you will be rewarded. Six goals and two assists in his last seven league starts for Arsenal, it's amazing that Emery used him as a substitute in their first three games of 2018-19. His goal against Everton last week was a superb finish in a game that at the time looked like it could go either way, showing his importance to this Arsenal side.

Troy Deeney - The striker has scored in both of Watford's Premier League wins over Arsenal, and does seem to be increasingly pumped up for encounters with the Gunners. He will look to impose himself on an Arsenal defence that has been conceding chances in this season's Premier League, and use that to strike against them again here.

 

 

 

Everton v Fulham


All of a sudden, an unbeaten start has become just one win in six for Everton. Just one point separates these two sides' from their early season form, and both teams could therefore do with a win today in order to build some confidence going forward - wins are not easy to come by in the Premier League when you're struggling for form.

Whilst this will be Everton and Fulham's first meeting in the Premier League since 2014, Everton are unbeaten in nine against the Cottagers at this level, winning seven of those. And at Goodison Park, they have won all 13 of their Premier League matches against Fulham - the best 100% win rate of its kind in the competition's history.

To go even further, the Toffees are without defeat in 12 against newly promoted sides at Goodison Park, scoring 28 goals in those games. They have won each of their last eight against such opposition and that consistency could be a strong factor in their favour today.
Fulham's recent away form does not help their case either. Including the play-offs, they are winless in their last five away league games, losing four of those and conceding 12 goals. If they continue with that across the season, they won't be competing as high up the table as they will no doubt be targeting after their significant summer spending.

The Cottagers have only lost one of their last four league games though, which was against defending champions Manchester City, so there are signs that they are getting more and more accustomed to life in the top-flight. They showed the determination needed to come from behind draw against Watford last week, and indeed had chances to potentially win the match too, so they are unlikely to go down without a fight here either.

Key players:
Theo Walcott - He missed a number of key opportunities last week against Arsenal, but Walcott has scored four of his five league goals for Everton at Goodison Park, and will look to use home advantage to improve his end product today. Everton could really do with him doing just that as they search for their second league win of the season.

Aleksandar Mitrovic - Who else but the man who no player has scored more Premier League goals than so far this season? If Fulham are to improve upon their away form, they need him to be at his clinical best, upsetting the Everton defence and creating chances. He is incredible tough for centre backs to handle, and that won't be any different for Everton today.

 

 

 

Huddersfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur


Bottom of the table Huddersfield, one of only three sides without a win to their name in the Premier League so far this season, face Spurs - a side against which they haven't beaten in any competition since 1956.
The Terriers' struggles are clear to everyone. They just cannot score enough goals. They've only scored six of them in their last 17 games in all competitions. No wonder they have won just one in this stretch.

That perhaps wouldn't be so bad if they were resilient at the back - remember they survived the Premier League last season despite scoring just 28 goals in 38 matches - but they have already conceded 16 goals in seven matches in 2018-19 in all competitions, with their only clean sheet coming against Cardiff City - the only side who have scored as few goals as they have in this season's Premier League.

In fact, at the John Smith's, their goal scoring record is even worse. Since they beat Bournemouth 4-1 back in February, they've managed just one goal at home in nine matches in all competitions. One in nine. They need to start giving their fans something to get excited about, else they will remain at the bottom of the table for longer than they will want to be.

By complete contrast, they face a Spurs team that have only drawn a blank once in their last 45 matches in all competitions - doing so in a 1-0 defeat at West Brom in May. Goals are not hard to come by for Pochettino's, but Huddersfield will perhaps buoyed by the fact that Spurs have only kept one clean sheet in all competitions so far this season, conceding twice in four of their last five. They have, in fact, only won once in those five matches too (as well as a penalty shootout triumph over Watford after a 2-2 draw in midweek), so Spurs have hit what could be argued to be a small rocky patch in their quest to climb the table.

Key players:
Chris Lowe - He has created more chances from open play than any other player for Huddersfield in the league this season, and he's been a key part of their back five too in the opening stages of the season. He needs to look to contain Spurs on their right side whilst also trying to get crosses in for Steve Mounie if Huddersfield are to have as good a chance as possible of ending their drought here.

Harry Kane - With three goals and an assist in three league appearances against Huddersfield (including what was just his fourth goal in English league football in February 2011 whilst at Leyton Orient), Kane's remarkable record against sides lower down in the table makes him the man for the Terriers to stop here today.

 

 

 

Manchester City v Brighton and Hove Albion


The last in a run of six straight league games against each of the last six promoted sides to the Premier League, Man City will be hoping they can build from back-to-back wins since their last game at the Etihad, a 2-1 loss to Lyon, and keep their strong start to the season going.

Brighton's troubles on their travels are well documented - winless in 16 away league games, scoring only seven goals in this time - and they've never won away at Man City in eight previous attempts in their history either. They will have to improve drastically on their away league displays to have any hope of altering that.

Anything other than a defeat for Man City here will see them equal Chelsea's record of 33 straight games without defeat (between 2006 and 2009) in Premier League games kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday, and it would take a serious upsetting of the form books for that not to be the case here today.
Since the start of last season, Man City have only picked up 59 points from 66 available at the Etihad, only slipping up against Everton (1-1), Man Utd (2-3) and Huddersfield Town (0-0) in this time. An incredible record that shows just how tough a proposition this is for Chris Hughton's side.

Indeed, Hughton has lost five of his seven games against the Citizens in the Premier League, including three of four at the Etihad - although he did win there in May 2013 on the final day of the 2012-13 season with Norwich - even if that was a meaningless game with City having already lost the title to Man Utd that campaign.
This time, it's all to play for, with City aiming to capitalise on the two teams they are sandwiched between in the table, Liverpool and Chelsea, playing one another later the same day, and making another statement that they mean business in their quest to defend their league title.

Key players:
Sergio Aguero - Directly involved in 17 goals in his last 10 league games at the Etihad, scoring 14 times in that run, Aguero will be so tough for Brighton to stop here. He's a ruthless finisher and relishes these kinds of games at home to sides City are expected to beat.

Shane Duffy - If Brighton are to stop Aguero, Duffy will need to be on top form. He's made more interceptions than any of his teammates in the league so far this season, and that's what he'll have to do today - stop the supply into the box as much as possible to allow his side's midfielders and attackers to try and restrict City elsewhere.

 

 

 

Newcastle United v Leicester City


It's been a real struggle of a start for Newcastle, with this their first home game of the season against a non-"big six" side, having faced Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal at St. James' Park so far.
That might be the boost they need to climb out of the relegation zone by earning their first win of the campaign, as their home crowd will finally have a game where they are perhaps not overwhelming underdogs to get excited about.

And they play a Leicester side that have lost five of their last six away league games, conceding a huge 19 goals in that time. With that in mind, this could be Benitez's side's biggest chance of the season so far to get their first win.
But Leicester have won five of the last six games between these two sides in all competitions, including their last two visits to Newcastle. They last beat them away from home three times in a row in November 1965.

You get the feeling that this a much more important game for Newcastle than it is Leicester because of their tough start to the campaign. The longer they go without a win, the more restless their supporters will get, and winning will become tougher and tougher in the competitive Premier League.
Leicester have been more hit and miss so far this season - the only side in the Premier League to have both won and lost three games so far. They haven't really been able to get a run of form going, and so will see this as an opportunity to do just that after beating Huddersfield last week.

Key players:
Salomon Rondon - Although yet to find the back of the net this season, Rondon has scored three goals in his six league games against Leicester, including two in three home games. If he can start firing, that will be just the catalyst Newcastle need to start climbing up the table.
James Maddison - The midfielder has scored in both of his last two games for Leicester, and will be looking to score in a third successive league game for the first time in his professional career. He is an immensely talented and hard-working player, and someone Leicester can build their team around for years to come.

 

 

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Southampton


It's been a strong start to the season for Wolves, having lost only once so far in the Premier League, and are unbeaten in four in the competition, including an impressive draw at Old Trafford last time out.
And at the Molineux they are yet to lose a match this season, and have only lost twice at home under Nuno Espirito Santo in 30 matches in all competitions (and not at all since January).

Today they face Southampton, who they have beaten three times in a row, including a League Cup win last season at St. Mary's. The last time the Saints beat Wolves was at the Molineux in March 2007 - a 6-0 Championship thrashing.

Indeed, the Saints have actually only lost once in their last 10 visits to Wolves in all competitions, albeit have of those came over 30 years ago.
Mark Hughes' side have only lost one of their last four games in all competitions, albeit that was their last match against Liverpool at Anfield. They have improved overall this season compared to last, though, and will have belief that they can get a result here today.

In Wolves' last home match, they fired in a massive 30 shots against Burnley, even though they only scored once. They are creating chances exceptionally well for a promoted side, with those 30 shots their highest ever figure in a Premier League match. Speaking of Wolves being a newly promoted team, the Saints have drawn six of their last eight against such opponents (also winning once and losing once). Perhaps not a good omen for this one being a thriller, despite Wolves' impressive shot figures.

Key players:
Raúl Jiménez - The striker has been directly involved in more goals than any other Wolves player so far this season, scoring twice and assisting Joao Moutinho's goal against Man Utd last time out. He is starting to find his feet in the English top-flight, and that will be crucial for Wolves going forward.
Charlie Austin - With Ings' able to play again after missing out against his parent club Liverpool last week, Austin's new strike partner is back, and that could be a massive help for the Saints. Austin has scored in both of his previous league games against Wolves, albeit both in the Championship, and he'll be aiming to continue that streak here today.

 

 

 

Chelsea v Liverpool


This game has even more importance after the events of their midweek meeting at Anfield, in which Eden Hazard inspired Chelsea to a comeback victory in the EFL Cup.
It was a familiar tale for the Reds against Chelsea - they have only beaten them twice in their last 15 matches in all competitions, although both of those have been at Stamford Bridge, the setting for this contest.

In fact, Liverpool haven't kept a clean sheet against the Blues since November 2011 in a League Cup quarter-final tie, going 17 games without one since then.
However, a win for Jurgen Klopp's side would make the German the first Liverpool manager to win three Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge. And Liverpool are aiming to win each of their opening seven games to a top-flight season for only the second time (after 1990-91), and would also become just the second team to achieve the feat in the Premier League. Who were the first? None other than their opponents today in Chelsea, who did it in 2005-06.
Indeed, the last team to beat Liverpool in the league were Chelsea, back in May last season - 1-0 thanks to an Olivier Giroud goal. The Blues have been a real thorn in Liverpool's side in recent years, and will be incredibly confident of a result here after a big win at Anfield just three days ago.

Maurizio Sarri's side are unbeaten in eight in all competitions since losing to Man City in the Community Shield in August, and they haven't lost at Stamford Bridge since April against Spurs - one of only two losses in their last 27 home games in all competitions.
There is an argument for this being the biggest game of the season so far against two teams who have won 11 of their 12 league games combined so far this season. If the midweek match was anything to go by, it is certainly not one to be missed.

Key players:
Eden Hazard - Before midweek, I was going to go with Olivier Giroud, but after his superb goal at Anfield on Wednesday, it's clear that if Liverpool are to have a chance of winning this match, they have to stop the in-form man of the moment in the Premier League. Six goals already in all competitions this season - no Premier League player has more - and you wouldn't put it past him adding to that today.

Virgil van Dijk - He has a job on his hands here. Not only does he have to deal with the strength and hold-up play of Giroud, but he will have to make sure the Liverpool back line is organised enough to deal with Hazard having a free roam of Stamford Bridge. If he isn't at the races, then Chelsea's creativity and attacking prowess will prove very tough to stop.

Written by Reid the Red September 29 2018 10:09:24

 

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