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Football News: Premier League Matches Previews 3 November 2018

Premier League Matches Previews 3 November 2018
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Bournemouth v Manchester United


Few would have expected Bournemouth to be two places and three points above Manchester United going into this game on MD11, but that is the scenario we go into here.


On current form, it's hard to suggest anything other than Bournemouth actually being favourites here - they are on their longest ever unbeaten run at home in the Premier League and are one of only four teams yet to lose at home in the competition this season, along with Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea.


In fact, if we include their cup exploits so far this season, Bournemouth are unbeaten in nine at home, winning seven of those, and they are averaging over two goals at game in that time.


But form isn't everything, and whilst Bournemouth were eliminating Norwich from the League Cup in midweek, Jose Mourinho's side have had a week away from match action. That longer gap between games could help Manchester United go into this game feeling fresher and perhaps better prepared for the match.


They have won three of their last five away games in all competitions, and that was minutes away from being four out of five but for a late Ross Barkley equaliser for Chelsea in their last away outing. You get the feeling that Man Utd are just starting to find their feet after a rocky patch.


Bournemouth's record against the Red Devils isn't the best - just one win in the six previous Premier League meetings, and that was their first ever such clash in December 2015. Since then, they've lost four of the five games, and they didn't even score a goal against Man Utd last season.


But on current form, Eddie Howe will have belief that they can change that recent head-to-head record and stay above their visitors in the table for a little while longer.


Key players:


Callum Wilson - The striker is in hot form, having scored five and assisted four goals in the league already this season. He bagged a brace against Fulham last week and should he maintain his scoring run, will be crucial for Eddie Howe's side again today.


Romelu Lukaku - The Belgian forward has hit a mini-goal drought in recent weeks - his current run of five league appearances without scoring is his longest for Manchester United, and indeed is his poorest streak in front of goal since August 2016 when he went 11 without scoring in the Premier League for Everton. But his eyes might just light up against Bournemouth here - he has seven goals in six league appearances against the Cherries, despite only starting four of those six games. He scored two of Man Utd's three goals against Bournemouth last season, and if he can find some form, it could be a major boost for the Red Devils.





Cardiff City v Leicester City


I don't think I can preview this game without first discussing the horrific events that have overshadowed Leicester's week. This will be an emotional game for Leicester, who are driving to this match rather than flying as a result of the helicopter crash that so sadly took the life of their owner and four other passengers. This will be a difficult game for all of their players as they have been grieving the loss of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the man who led the club to a remarkable Premier League title at odds of 5000-1, doing so through care, kindness, and passion for the city of Leicester. I would like to take the opportunity with this preview to send my thoughts and condolences to the friends and family of those on board that helicopter. They will not be forgotten.


Back to the normality of the previews - I'm sure Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha wouldn't want anything other than Leicester and the footballing community carrying on despite the tragic events of last week. This will be a surreal, unique game of football but it still has to go on. Cardiff are only outside of the relegation zone on goal difference, whilst Leicester are without a win in three league games and can count themselves fortunate to have not lost all three after Wilfried Ndidi's deflected equaliser against a ten-man West Ham outfit last week.


Despite being dominated by Liverpool last week and managing just two shots in the entire 90 minutes, Cardiff have actually scored as many goals in their last two games (five) as they had in their other nine games combined at the start of this season. But where Cardiff are seriously struggling of late is at the other end of the pitch. They have let in 24 goals in their last eight games in all competitions - exactly an average of three per game.


But it has to be said that those eight games included visits to Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool, as well as home games against Arsenal and Man City. A tough run of matches which they have now put behind them. They beat Fulham 4-2 in their last home game, and the Cardiff City Stadium will be buzzing for them to make it two for two there.


And they will perhaps be buoyed by the fact that Leicester have only won two of their last nine away games in all competitions, losing six of them. And their manager Neil Warnock has a good record against the Foxes, winning seven of his last eight home games against them as a manager, including one in the Premier League as Crystal Palace boss in September 2014.


But on a much more positive note for Claude Puel's side, Leicester have won six of their last eight league games against newly promoted clubs, including both of their last two away from home. And after the devastating loss of their owner last week, this will almost certainly be a more driven and determined Leicester side than perhaps we have ever seen before. What bigger motivation could they have to fight for? They will want to win this for Vichai.


Key players:


Callum Paterson - With a goal in both of Cardiff's last two Premier League games, Paterson could become the first ever player to score in three straight Premier League appearances for the Bluebirds. Whilst this is only their second ever campaign in the competition, that's still a good feat for him to potentially achieve.


Jamie Vardy - No player appears to have been more affected the events of the past week than Jamie Vardy, who knows how important a man Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was to not just Leicester as a football club, but as a community too. This will be an emotional match for him, after making multiple visits to the memorial of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha outside the King Power Stadium during the week, and he will epitomise the feelings of Leicester City in this match.





Everton v Brighton and Hove Albion


After a run of three consecutive league wins, Everton lost 2-1 at old Trafford last week, and will be hoping to bounce back immediately at Goodison Park here. They have only lost two of their last 13 home league games, and have won both of their last two without even conceding a goal.


But they face a Brighton side who are bang in form - three consecutive Premier League wins is their best ever run in the competition. They even ended a 17-game winless run on their travels on their league in their last such away game against Newcastle in October, and will be high on confidence going into this match.


But the Seagulls have only ever won one of the 10 top-flight matches between these two sides, doing so in February 1982. They lost 2-0 at Goodison last season, and they will need to battle against the history books against Everton here.


Brighton boss Chris Hughton has a pretty even record against the Toffees - in seven encounters with them in the Premier League, he has won two, drawn three and lost two, although his last win over them came in February 2013 when David Moyes was Everton boss. A lot has changed since then!


Just one points separates these two sides going into this game, with them both having won four of their 10 matches so far. Both clubs will perhaps have hopes of reaching even higher up the table than the 9th and 11th they are in respectively right now given their decent current form


Key players:


Gylfi Sigurdsson - Arguably one of the most in-form players in the Premier League right now, Sigurdsson has five goals in his last six games in the competition - that's as many as his previous 45 such appearances combined, showing what a remarkable upturn in fortunes the past few weeks have been from the Icelandic midfielder.


Glenn Murray - The 35-year-old is the only player to have scored more than half of his side's goals in this season's Premier League, having bagged six of the Seagull's 11 in the competition. If he doesn't score, it's hard to tell if Brighton would have enough firepower to score enough goals to survive at this level, and he will be of paramount importance for them again here.





Newcastle United v Watford


Even in Rafael Benitez's worst nightmares, I doubt he would have expected a start to the season as poor as this from Newcastle. Three points is their joint-lowest ever tally after 10 games to a season, alongside 1977-78 - and even in that season they had at least won one match!


The Magpies have never previously failed to win any of their opening 11 league games in a season so that is something that they will be desperate to avoid here today. They face a Watford side who have won two on the trot without conceding a goal, so the Hornets will not make it easy for them.


What's perhaps even more worrying for Newcastle is the fact that they have lost each of their last four Premier League games against Watford, conceding 2+ goals each time. Watford put three past them at St James' Park last season, and they can ill afford a repeat of that today.


Javi Gracia's side have made their best ever start to a top-flight season, with six wins from 10 games. They will see a winless Newcastle as a prime opportunity to further build upon that by taking advantage of the inevitable lack of confidence the Magpies will have.


Key players:


Salomón Rondón - When your team is struggling, you need your goal scorer to step up to the plate. Rondon is yet to score in the league for Newcastle, and now they need him to more than ever. He did score against Watford for West Brom last season, so perhaps he can repeat that here today.


Andre Gray - Gray scored in both meetings between these two sides last season, and whilst he hasn't started for Watford in the Premier League since the start of October against Bournemouth, that 100% scoring record against Newcastle could be a positive omen for him here today.





West Ham United v Burnley


Based on the league table, this is a game between two evenly matched sides, who have identical win/draw/loss records from their opening 10 games so far.


Neither side currently has a great run of form to boast about. West Ham are winless in four in all competitions, losing three of those, whilst Burnley have won just one of their last 11 away games in all competitions, which was at struggling Cardiff in September.


The Hammers have only lost one of their last eight games against Burnley in all competitions, but that was the last such meeting at home in March last season, a 3-0 mauling. Burnley last won consecutive games against West Ham in September 1978 - how they would love to do just that here today.


West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini actually struggled in his two league meetings with Burnley as Man City boss in 2014-15 - he drew 2-2 at the Etihad before losing 1-0 at Turf Moor, so he needs to improve on that to guide his side to an important three points today.


Key players:


Robert Snodgrass - With three goals in his last four league starts against Burnley, Snodgrass will perhaps be looking forward to this game. Only Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic have created more scoring chances for the Hammers this season so far than Snodgrass, and he will look to be the man to unlock the Burnley defence today.


Chris Wood - With three goals and an assist in the two league meetings between these two sides last season, Wood clearly enjoyed facing West Ham and will hope that that record continues today. As will Sean Dyche, for that matter.





Arsenal v Liverpool


This is a real test for both sides here. Arsenal have won 12 of their last 13 games in all competitions, whilst Liverpool have made their best ever start to a Premier League season.


For Jurgen Klopp's side, this marks the first of six away games in their next eight fixtures, including four of six in the Premier League, a tough run of traveling that could go some way towards defining how this season will pan out for them.


Games between Arsenal and Liverpool in recent years have been thrillers. The last 12 meetings have seen a total of 51 goals - that's over four per game. In fact, since Klopp took over at Liverpool, it's 27 goals in five games - a massive 5.4 per match.


Incredibly, if Liverpool net 3+ here, it will be the first time they've scored three or more in six straight league games against a particular opponent, and the first time Arsenal have conceded three or more six time in a row against another side.


Whilst Liverpool are unbeaten in six against the Gunners, their record away at Arsenal is frankly atrocious. Just two wins in their last 22 visits in all competitions, a measly 9% win rate. If Liverpool do win here, Klopp will have won as many away games against Arsenal in three visits (two) as Houllier, Benitez, Dalglish (in his second spell) and Rodgers managed combined in 22 away meetings in all competitions.


This is Emery and Klopp's first encounter since the Spaniard's Sevilla side beat Liverpool 3-1 in Europa League final, so Emery is one up on Klopp there. Liverpool were 1-0 ahead at half-time in that game before falling apart in the second half, and that has been a feature of Arsenal's season so far - they haven't been ahead at half-time in any of their league games so far this season, and yet still have an impressive 22 points from 10 games. It's clear that Liverpool will have to be on the ball from start to finish, even if they are ahead at half-time, to have a chance of getting anything here.


Key players:


Mesut Ozil - With two goals and an assist in his four home league games against Liverpool, and three goals and an assist in his last five Premier League games, Ozil's creativity will be crucial for Arsenal here to unlock the door and create chances for the likes of Lacazette and Aubameyang. Liverpool will do well to keep him from pulling the strings here.


Roberto Firmino - Firmino loves facing Arsenal. Five goals, three assists in five appearances against them under Klopp, his best record against any Premier League side. His pressing, work rate, and skill on the ball will be crucial again for the Reds today.





Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur


This game is unusual in that it is only the fourth in Premier League history to kick off at 7:45 on a Saturday, with this the third at such time and day since the start of last season.


After having a great month of games in September, Wolves have hit a slight stumbling block, losing their last two without scoring a goal.


They face a Spurs side whose eyes light up at the sight of a newly promoted club. 38 unbeaten in the league against such opposition, winning 35 of those.


But like Wolves, Tottenham too have a league loss to bounce back from having gone down 0-1 at home to Manchester City last week. Only three times previously have Spurs lost back-to-back league games under Mauricio Pochettino, albeit they have done so this season, so they will expect to avoid that today.


Wolves last beat Spurs in the Premier League in February 2010 - since then, the London club are unbeaten in four against Wolves, scoring nine goals in those games. Indeed, Tottenham have won five of their last seven visits to Wolves in all competitions, although this is their first since September 2011.


If Wolves upset that recent record, they will move to within three points of Tottenham after 11 games - an incredible start for a newly promoted club, especially when you consider that Spurs' 21 points from 10 games so far is actually their highest tally at this stage of a season under Pochettino.


Key players:


Ruben Neves - In big games, Wolves will need their talisman to shine. How he performs today will go some way towards deciding the outcome from Wolves' point of view. He has had more touches and successful passes than any other of his teammates, and they will look to play through him again here to try and end their losing run.


Harry Kane - Since the start of 2014-15, Kane has scored 25 goals in 24 appearances against newly promoted sides, more than any other Premier League player. That ruthlessness is partly why Tottenham's record against such clubs is so fiercely good. And Wolves need to be wary of that today.

Written by Reid the Red November 03 2018 09:00:47

 

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