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Football News: Premier League Preview 9 March 2019

Premier League Preview 9 March 2019
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Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton managed to end a seven-game losing streak in the league with a late winner against bottom side Huddersfield last time out, which will give them renewed confidence going into this match against two rivals.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, have lost just once in their last eight matches in all competitions, winning five of those, and are arguably one of the Premier League's form sides right now - indeed, only Man City (15) and Man Utd (13) have earned more points over their last five Premier League matches than Roy Hodgson's side (10).

And Palace have enjoyed their recent clashes with Brighton more than the Seagulls have - of the Eagles' last 10 home league games against them (including play-offs), they have lost just one. However, Brighton beat Palace 3-1 in December, and are aiming to do a league double over them for the first time since 1983-84, and having only lost one of their previous seven matches against Palace when including top-flight matches only, they have form of their own against their rivals.

Their manager, Chris Hughton, has a great record against Palace too - he's beaten them six times in the dugout, his joint-highest such tally against a single club in his managerial career.

Currently, Crystal Palace are three points ahead of Brighton in the table having played a game more, so they will want to win this to further remove themselves from talk of a relegation scrap, whilst a win for Brighton would see them win back-to-back league matches for the first time since December - when their second such win was against Palace.

Key players:

Wilfried Zaha - He loves this fixture, having scored five league goals against Brighton in his career (including play-offs). Against no other side has he bagged more, and with five goals in his last five league games, he is a player in red hot form.

Glenn Murray - He's goalless in four league games, but Murray has scored in both of his last two versus Crystal Palace, and if Brighton are to climb away from the current relegation battle, they need him to start firing again.

Cardiff City v West Ham United

As the relegation battle hots up, Cardiff will know that their home games between now and the end of the season will be so crucial to their survival hopes, and today is a huge game for them.

The Bluebirds have earned 17 of their 25 points at the Cardiff City Stadium this season, but they have only won one of their last six league games there, losing four of them, form that has seen them drop into the relegation places.

West Ham meanwhile, have won two of their last three league games, but it is away from home where they are deeply struggling. They've lost five of their last six on their travels in all competitions, drawing the other 1-1 at another London side in Crystal Palace in February. Evidently they aren't coping well when journeying to games, and Cardiff need to take advantage of that.

In terms of the head-to-head record, well let's just say it doesn't look too good for Neil Warnock's side. Cardiff have lost each of their last seven matches against West Ham in all competitions, including all three in the Premier League, and they haven't beaten the Hammers at home since November 2004 in the Championship's inaugural season.

But West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini did lose his only previous league visit to Cardiff in August 2013 in what was his first defeat as Manchester City manager. So he will hope to avenge that today with his West Ham side, despite their poor away form.

Key players:

Callum Paterson - It says a lot that Cardiff's joint-top league scorer this season has gone 12 league appearances without scoring, but that is exactly the case with Paterson. He has played in a variety of positions for the club this season though, from striker to right back, so it is his versatility that has been so important for Neil Warnock.

Robert Snodgrass - With two assists in his last two league games, Snodgrass has been key for West Ham under Manuel Pellegrini, and he has three goals and two assists in his last seven league appearances versus Cardiff.

Huddersfield Town v Bournemouth

After getting a glimmer of hope by beating Wolves, Huddersfield's faint survival dreams were crushed against Brighton last time out. 13 points adrift with just 27 points left to play for, they are as good as relegated at this stage, which makes this a tough match to preview.

The Terriers are looking to win back-to-back home league games for the first time since November 2017, and Eddie How has lost three of his last four league visits to the John Smith's Stadium, all against different managers too (Grayson, Robins, Wagner), so Siewert will be looking to make it a fourth here today, regardless of Huddersfield's troubles.

Huddersfield have only managed to win two of their last 13 league games against Bournemouth (including play-offs), although on the flip side they have only lost two of their last 13 against them at home, so home advantage could actually prove pivotal today, as it evidently so often does in meetings between these two sides.

As for Bournemouth, while they are unlikely to get relegated this season, they are on a run of five league matches without a win, and away from home they have lost a huge 10 matches in a row in all competitions. Only Fulham have conceded more away league goals this season than the Cherries, and even though Huddersfield are comfortably the league's lowest scorers, they still won't be overly confident of keeping a clean sheet here.

Key players:

Alex Pritchard - Pritchard has two goals and an assist in his two home league appearances against Bournemouth, and whilst he has struggled with a lack of quality around him in his time at Huddersfield, he will still look to pull the strings for them today.

Callum Wilson - Against no other side has Wilson scored more goals in English league football than the six he has against Huddersfield, and with those six goals coming in just five matches, he will be looking forward to today's match, confident he can add to his goal tally.

Leicester City v Fulham

In a week in which Brendan Rodgers' Glasgow home was robbed while his wife and step-daughter hid in the bathroom, it's hard to envisage that the Northern Irishman will be in the best frame of mind to prepare for this match. Hopefully Rodgers' wife and step-daughter are ok and the idiots that conducted the burglary will be caught. My thoughts are with Rodgers and his family, as this cannot be an easy thing for them to go through just as he makes the switch from Celtic to Leicester.

As for this match itself, Leicester have, somewhat surprisingly, never beaten Fulham in the Premier League in five attempts, scoring just one goal across all five of those meetings. In all competitions, the Foxes have won just one of their last 10 matches versus Fulham, although at home that does look much better from their perspective, having lost just one of their last nine.

Ultimately, with Fulham 10 points adrift of Premier League safety, anything less than a win here and they are down. Even with victory, their survival ambitions are looking very thin, and it's not hard to see why. They have shipped a huge 65 goals already; only Swindon Town in 1993-94 (67) and Barnsley in 1997-98 (66) have ever let in more after 29 Premier League matches. That's an astonishingly poor record, and one Scott Parker will no doubt immediately look to address quickly.

But today they meet a Leicester team that have only won one of their last nine games in all competitions. Brendan Rodgers has lots of improvements to make to this side, although he will look at Fulham as a great opponent to do just that - he's won all six of his Premier League games against them as a manager, more than he has against any other opponent in the competition.

Based on Fulham's current form, he will feel he has a great chance of making it seven wins out of seven today.

Key players:

Jamie Vardy - He scored Leicester's first and only goal under Rodgers last week and is now one short of his 100th goal for the Foxes. He would be the first player to reach that milestone for the club since Gary Lineker, so that's quite the landmark for the England forward.

Aleksandar Mitrovic - He is one of the few Fulham players that can hold their head up high this season, but even he is without a goal in 12 away league outings. That goes some way to explaining Fulham's struggles, as if he isn't scoring, Fulham aren't in truth.

Newcastle United v Everton

It's been a great few weeks for Newcastle despite their loss at West Ham last time out. Having been in the relegation zone in mid-January, they are now 14th and six points above the drop having won four consecutive home league games. They last won five straight home matches in the top-flight back in 2006 when Alan Shearer was just retiring.

Opponents Everton will also be more confident having kept back-to-back clean sheets in the Premier League in a win at Cardiff and a draw at home to Merseyside rivals Liverpool, which felt as good as a win for them as it meant their rivals dropped points in the title race. The last time Everton kept three straight league clean sheets was in January 2017 under Ronald Koeman, and they are looking for back-to-back away league wins for the first time since September 2016 when they won their first two such matches on the road under the Dutchman.

Everton have a superb record versus Newcastle too - they have only lost one of their last 12 league meetings with them, including nine wins in this time. Only against West Ham (24) have the Toffees won more Premier League matches than they have against Newcastle (20).

However, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has only lost one of his eight home league games against Everton, although that was with Newcastle last season, so whilst his record is a positive one against the Toffees, he will want his side to quickly get over that defeat today.

Key players:

Miguel Almiron - Since his first league start, Almiron has made more sprints than any other Premier League player, and he has created more chances than any of his teammates. He looks to be a very shrewd signing, and one that has boosted Newcastle just as they needed it.

Theo Walcott - Only against West Ham (six) has Walcott scored more league goals in his career than against Newcastle (five), and he has 10 combined goals and assists versus the Magpies in the Premier League - more than against any other side.

Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur

The wheels have come off a bit for Spurs in the Premier League. They may have knocked out the Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate in the Champions League, but they are without a win in three league games, which has seen them drop from title hopefuls to just fighting to remain in the top four.

Indeed, Spurs last went four league games without a win in November-December 2017, so they will be looking to avoid that today as they hope to re-increase the gap between themselves and the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Southampton, meanwhile, have lost three of their last four league games, this after having only lost three of their first 10 under Ralph Hasenhuttl, so they will aim to improve themselves today. They did win their last home league match, though, last winning back-to-back league games at St. Mary's in December 2016 under Claude Puel - who, of course, has since left the Saints, joined Leicester and left Leicester. Indeed, Hasenhuttl is the Saints' third permanent manager since Puel's departure. Much has changed in that time.

But Southampton are still in a real relegation scrap, just two points above Cardiff in the league table, and with the likes of Burnley and Newcastle showing an upturn in form recently, the Saints need points to keep pace, else they risk being involved in this relegation scrap for longer than they would like.

Of course, today they face a former manager in Mauricio Pochettino, who has never lost at St. Mary's with Spurs, last losing at the ground in April 2014 as Saints boss against Cardiff. He serves the first of a two-match touchline ban today, though, so perhaps his lessened pitch side influence could help his former club today.

Key players:

James Ward-Prowse - With five goals in his last eight league games, Ward-Prowse has struck some real form under Hasenhuttl, having scored his last five league goals over 52 games beforehand. He will be crucial again for Southampton today against a top opponent.

Harry Kane - Kane has six goals in his last four league games against Southampton, and has 10 goals in his last 11 appearances in all competitions. Southampton simply must keep him out of sight of goal to have a chance today.

Manchester City v Watford

After a couple of months of being behind Liverpool, Manchester City will now start a Premier League match at the top of the table for the first time since their 0-2 defeat at Chelsea in early December. Pep Guardiola's side have won a superb 15 of their last 17 matches in all competitions, failing to win only versus Newcastle in January and the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea in February, which they triumphed on penalties anyway after a goalless draw.

Their confidence will be sky high, having scored 54 goals while conceding only eight in this 17 match run, and it's hard to envisage Watford side who have lost their last nine meetings with the Citizens in all competitions by a 29-5 overall score troubling them.

But this is football, an unpredictable beast, and Watford have won four of their last five matches in all competitions, albeit the other was a 5-0 loss at Anfield versus Man City's title rivals Liverpool. If Watford play this match like they did that one, they will no doubt be on the receiving end of a similar scoreline.

Man City have won 42 of the 45 possible points available in their 15 home league games this season, an exceptional record, losing only to Crystal Palace in December, so if Watford are to get anything from this match, they will really have to upset the odds against what is an absolute steamroller of a Man City side at the Etihad under Guardiola.

Key players:

Sergio Aguero - He has a superb record against Watford, as, let's face it, he does against most clubs. 10 goals in his six appearances against the Hornets in all competitions stands up with his record versus any side. He is a superb striker, one of the Premier League's all-time greats and he will be the man to stop for Watford here.

Troy Deeney - He's been directly involved in eight goals in nine league games in 2019 so far, scoring five and assisting three, including three goals and two assists in his last three games. He has a hugely important job to hold the ball up and let Watford's defence have a break from Man City's possession style today.

Written by Reid the Red March 09 2019 08:05:22


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