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Football News: Premier League Games Preview for 1 December 2018

Premier League Games Preview for 1 December 2018
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Crystal Palace v Burnley


This is a game between two sides who are both struggling for form at the moment. Crystal Palace are winless in eight in all competitions, and haven't won any of their six league games at Selhurst Park in 2018-19, whilst Burnley are themselves without a win in six league matches. They could both do with three points today.


To be fair to both sides, their respective winless streaks have not contained easy opponents - Palace have faced Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Man Utd in their last four league games, whilst Sean Dyche's Clarets have taken on the likes of Man City and Chelsea in their current winless run. But winning isn't an easy habit to get into in the Premier League, and with these two sides well short of that winning feeling, games like this become all the more important.


Worryingly for Burnley, their record away at Crystal Palace is not good, boasting just one win in their last 12 visits, a 2-0 triumph in April 2017.


Having said that, Palace, who were 1-0 winners against Burnley at Selhurst Park last season, haven't actually ever won back-to-back league games against the Clarets - surprising when you consider they have met on 38 previous occasions in the Football League. And indeed, before that win in January, they had lost three straight games against Sean Dyche's side home and away - so it is Burnley who come out on top in overall Premier League faceoffs between the two sides.


All of this indifference really makes this match a tough one to call. It will likely be decided by fine margins, but ultimately both teams need to improve upon their recent displays to earn anything here today.


Key players:


Wilfried Zaha - I'm finding it very difficult to pick anyone other than the Ivorian for Roy Hodgson's side. They build everything around him and that means he is the most important player for them - it's little wonder they have lost 14 league games in a row when he hasn't started.


Sam Vokes - He scored Burnley's goal on Monday against Newcastle and is now their top scorer in all competitions this season with four goals. In fact, he is just one goal short of matching his league tally of four for the whole of last season, such is his upturn in form in front of goal, and he's finally being given a solid run of starts by Sean Dyche.





Huddersfield Town v Brighton and Hove Albion


All of a sudden, Huddersfield have found some confidence. They have won two of their last three league games, having won just one of 20 prior to this, and they could go four Premier League games without defeat for only the second time should they avoid a loss today.


They face a Brighton side who are winless in three league games, and who are notoriously poor travellers in the Premier League, winning just one of their last 20 away league games. And they evidently don't like travelling to Huddersfield either - they have only won one away game against the Terriers in their last 10 league visits, a 2-1 Championship win in November 2012.


Strangely enough, they have scored at least once in nine of those 10 trips, so they are arguably unfortunate to have only won once in that time. But Huddersfield are a side against which they failed to beat in the Premier League last season, so the fact is that they have a poor recent head-to-head record against David Wagner's side.


Indeed, the Seagulls have never won away at a Yorkshire club in the top-flight, so today would be a good day for them to end that record and halt their current winless streak in the Premier League.


Despite that run without a win, Chris Hughton's side have managed to score in each of their last six league games - their best such streak in the Premier League, so they are not short of goal scoring form heading into today, and they will need that against Huddersfield, who have let in just one goal in their last three league games.


Key players:


Steve Mounie - Whilst it was midfielder Aaron Mooy who popped up with two important goals to earn three points against Wolves last time out, Mounie has scored three in two against Brighton in the Premier League, including a brace against the Seagulls at the John Smith's Stadium last December. With those three goals accounting for 43% of his league total for Huddersfield, this is the perfect opportunity for him to bag his first goal of 2018-19.


Anthony Knockaert - His record against Huddersfield really does stand out. He has five goals and two assists in six league appearances against them; against no other club has he bagged more in the English leagues, and he even once scored a brace at the John Smith's for Leicester City in October 2012.





Leicester City v Watford


Leicester are on a strange run of form - whilst they are unbeaten in five games in all competitions, four of those have been draws, and they have won just one of their last seven, although they did progress in the League Cup on penalties against Southampton in midweek after a goalless draw.


Their opponents today are Watford, who themselves are without a victory in three league games, and have actually managed just two wins in their last 10 matches in all competitions - and that reads just one in six away from home.


And speaking of away games, the Hornets have struggled in recent visits to Leicester, winning just one of their last 11 there in all competitions and losing all four of their Premier League away games against the Foxes. That's Leicester's best 100% win ratio at home against any opponent in the Premier League, and is surely a good sign for them today.


Indeed, of clubs against which Claude Puel has faced 4+ times in the English top-flight, he has earned the most points per game against Watford (1.75), winning two, drawing one and losing just one of his four games against them as manager of both Southampton and Leicester.


Despite Watford's superb start to the season, they now find themselves just two points above Leicester heading into this game, so this is an opportunity for the Foxes to leapfrog them in the table and cement their position in the Premier League's top half going into a busy December schedule.


Key players:


Jamie Vardy - He ended his mini scoring drought with a penalty at Brighton last weekend, and will be aiming to build on that today against Watford. He has two goals and an assist in his last three league appearances against them at the King Power Stadium, and he will be aiming to be involved in a goal in a fourth straight home match against them here.


Troy Deeney - We all know he has history against Leicester, scoring that famous playoff goal on the counter attack against them when they were both battling for Championship promotion, and the mere memory of that will always make him fired up for clashes with the Foxes, against whom he has had a hand in six goals in his last eight league starts.





Manchester City v Bournemouth


Bournemouth have taken a stumble of late. Their three-game losing run is the worst ongoing streak in the Premier League - far from ideal going into an away game against the defending Champions and league leaders, no less.


Indeed, Bournemouth had only lost two of 12 league matches prior to this losing streak, so this will be frustrating for Eddie Howe, who will do well to lead his side to anything other than a defeat at the Etihad today.


A draw against Lyon in midweek has ended an eight-game winning run for Man City in all competitions, but in the league, the Citizens have won eight in a row at the Etihad, and are the only side to have won all of their home Premier League matches in 2018-19. They have scored 27 goals in seven home league games this season, and when you consider that Bournemouth have kept fewer clean sheets than every ever-present Premier League side since they joined the division in 2015-16, it's hard to envisage Guardiola's side not adding to that total today.


Not only that, but Bournemouth have lost all six of their Premier League matches against Man City, conceding a huge 21 goals whilst scoring only two themselves - and it's worse at the Etihad, where they have lost their three visits by an aggregate score of 13-1.


In fact, the Cherries have never beaten Man City in any competition in 12 previous clashes, only managing to avoid defeat in two of those. It simply doesn't look good for them.


Key players:


Raheem Sterling - I can't pick anyone else. He has seven goals in just five league games against Bournemouth, his best tally in the Premier League, and he has scored in every single league game he has played against the Cherries. They must frankly be sick of the sight of him. He's won all five of those matches too.


Jefferson Lerma - He scored an incredible own goal against Arsenal last week, but he will have to be on form today if Bournemouth are to survive a Man City onslaught. He ranks top for interceptions amongst his teammates this season, and he been in more duels than any other Bournemouth midfielder since his arrival in the Premier League - no doubt he'll have to make a few more of those today.





Newcastle United v West Ham United


A dreadful winless start has been swiftly turned around by Newcastle, who now find themselves going into this match above their opponents West Ham having won three consecutive league games.


West Ham, meanwhile, have only won one of their last seven games in all competitions, and were comfortably beaten by Manchester City last time out. And in Newcastle, they are facing an opponent against which they have lost their last three meetings, and they've only managed won win in their last 14 Premier League visits to St. James' Park, a 1-0 win in November 2012 courtesy of a Kevin Nolan goal.


And it isn't just Newcastle who West Ham have a poor record against - Rafael Benitez himself has won 11 of his 14 league games against the Hammers, more than he has against any other opponent in the Premier League. Indeed, the Spaniard has won six of his seven home league games against West Ham, seeing his sides concede just one goal in those matches.


But there's a positive for West Ham in the form of their manager Manuel Pellegrini - he won five of his six league games against Newcastle when he was Manchester City boss, drawing the other 1-1 in April 2016. His Man City team scored 20 goals across those six games, and he'd love to maintain that unbeaten record today.


The two managerial giants in Benitez and Pellegrini have only met once previously in the Premier League - and that was Newcastle's 1-1 draw with Man City in April 2016. They were even then, and with both managing sides who are level on points going into the game today, they will likely find this match to be another close contest.


Key players:


Mohamed Diame - A mainstay in Benitez' Newcastle side, Diame has yet to score or assist a league goal for his team this season, but with two goals in his last two league starts against West Ham, he will be aiming to put an end to that today and be the driving force of Newcastle's midfield.


Fabian Balbuena - The Paraguayan has made more successful passes and interceptions than any West Ham player so far this season, and how he performs will be crucial today - this game will be a battle, and no doubt Balbuena will be at the heart of that against Newcastle.





Southampton v Manchester United


Manchester United come into this match off the back of what feels like yet another late winning goal, this time against Young Boys in midweek. They have actually kept two clean sheets in a row, as many as their previous 13 games combined in all competitions, and could keep three in a row for the first time since January.


They face a Southampton side without a win in 11 in all competitions, including a penalty shootout elimination away at Leicester City the same evening Marouane Fellaini was striking the winning goal late on against Young Boys for Man Utd. And at St. Mary's, Southampton's form is perhaps even more turgid - just one win in 17 league games there, and none in their last seven.


Southampton actually have half the points after 13 games this season (eight) than they had at the same stage in 2017-18 (16), and they only finished one place above the drop zone in that campaign. They need improvement and they need it fast.


But to get it, they'll have to beat a Man Utd side against which they have won just one of their last 10 home league games. The Red Devils manager himself, Jose Mourinho, has only lost once in 11 meetings with the Saints in the Premier League, and that was with Chelsea in October 2015 at Stamford Bridge.


Mark Hughes is clearly a man under pressure at Southampton, but his home league record against his former club is a good one. He has only lost two of his 10 home league games against Manchester United as a manager in the top-flight, and not since November 2008 when he was Man City boss, winning two and drawing four of six such matches since then.


Hughes is also unbeaten in four against Jose Mourinho in the league, so his record against him is not so bad. But he has a number of problems to fix. Whilst he has improved them going forward of late, notching as many goals in their 3-2 defeat to Fulham as they had in their previous seven league games combined, defensively they have let in 10 in their last three - they just can't seem to find the right balance, and it won't be easy to amend that against a Man Utd side who will be buoyed by their dramatic victory in midweek that secured their place in the Champions League knockout stages.


Key players:


Danny Ings - Whilst he is a doubt for this match, he has a goal and an assist in his last two games for Southampton, and does have a Premier League goal against Manchester United to his name when he was a Burnley player. If he is available, the Saints will need him to be on form to get something from this match.


Romelu Lukaku - He was a substitute in midweek, and he is without a goal in seven league games, but the Belgian has six goals and two assists in his nine league starts against Southampton, and if Man Utd can start to provide him with some service, it will go some way towards helping them climb higher up the Premier League table.

Written by Reid the Red December 01 2018 09:12:10

 

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