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Football News: Premier League Match Previews for 14 and 15 April 2019

Premier League Match Previews for 14 and 15 April 2019
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Sunday April 14th

Crystal Palace v Manchester City

The title race begins again today, with this game presenting Manchester City with a chance to at least briefly return to the top of the table, depending on Liverpool's result against Chelsea.

Football's a funny game, and almost exactly five years ago, Man City visited Crystal Palace the same day that Liverpool lost 0-2 at home to Chelsea to effectively present the Citizens with the title. Similar scores today would see Manchester City take a huge step towards being the first side to retain the Premier League title this decade.

After defeat to Spurs in midweek ended an eight-match winning run for Man City, they will look to bounce back in league action and return to form ahead of their second leg against the London side. Standing in their way are Crystal Palace - the only visiting side to win at the Etihad in the Premier League this season - so revenge will be on the minds of Pep Guardiola's side today.

Indeed, Palace could become the first side from outside of the Premier League's current top six clubs to do a league double over Man City since Everton in 2010-11, with Palace themselves last doing so in the top-flight well back in 1972-73.

But they will have to be at their very best to do that today - Man City have won 12 of their last 13 league games, including each of the last eight, and they have only conceded one goal in their last seven league fixtures. Away from home, they haven't let in a Premier League goal since Newcastle beat them 2-1 in January - which feels an awfully long time ago now.

And Crystal Palace's form has been somewhat indifferent really. They have alternated between a win and a defeat in each of their last seven league matches, winning four and drawing three. If that trend were to continue today, they would be due a defeat. They haven't won back-to-back league games since December, which was when they beat Man City at the Etihad, incidentally.

Man City themselves have only lost one of their last eight visits to Selhurst Park in all competitions, winning six and drawing 0-0 last season. They very nearly lost that game to a penalty which Palace ultimately missed - the rate at which Palace are winning penalties this season, you wouldn't bet against them getting one again here.

Key players:

Luka Milivojevic - Speaking of penalties, it's this man that has been tucking them way so efficiently for the Eagles. He is one penalty away from equalling Andrew Johnson's Premier League record of 11 penalty goals in one season set back in 2004-05 - also with Crystal Palace of course. The Eagles clearly love a spot-kick.

Sergio Aguero - Penalties are a clear theme here, but Aguero missed a very important one at Spurs in midweek which would have given his side a crucial away goal to take to the second leg. As for this match, Aguero has had a hand in five goals in his last three league starts against Crystal Palace, scoring three and assisting two, although he is yet to score in five league games at Selhurst Park. Only at Anfield (seven games) has he made more Premier League appearances without scoring. He'd love to correct that today.

Liverpool v Chelsea

It's hard to predict how this game will go as so much could actually depend on the Manchester City result earlier in the day.

Should City beat Palace, the pressure is suddenly on Liverpool to win the game, else they will end the day behind their title rivals in the table having played a game more - a bad situation this late on in the campaign.

But a City slip-up will put a different kind of pressure on the Reds as they will know the title is back in their hands so to speak. It's a strange scenario. Ultimately though, Liverpool need to do what they can to win this match regardless of City's result.

And this has not been a good fixture for Liverpool in recent years. They have only won two of their last 16 meetings with Chelsea in all competitions, and at Anfield they are winless in eight since a 4-1 Premier League win in May 2012. Chelsea have Liverpool's number, and are even the only visiting side to have won at Anfield this season, knocking them out of the League Cup third round back in September.

Since that game, Liverpool have won 14 of their 17 matches at Anfield across all competitions, including 11 of 13 in the Premier League. The Reds have won six consecutive matches in all competitions, although the 2-0 win over Porto was their only clean sheet in this time, so defensively they will have to be much better against this Chelsea side who love visiting Anfield.

Chelsea themselves have won three consecutive league matches, although away from home they have lost four of their last six in the Premier League, and were fortunate to beat Cardiff 2-1 in their last such match. But the Blues need the points themselves here, with the top four battle heating up. Chelsea will have played a game more than their top four rivals after this match, so they need the points in order to apply pressure to the sides around them.

And if they do win here, they would be the first club to win twice away at Anfield in the same season since Arsenal in 2006-07. It would be a bitter blow for Jurgen Klopp's side if they were to have a repeat of that famous game against Chelsea here five years ago, and they need to put aside their poor recent record versus Chelsea in order to earn a win today.

Key players:

Roberto Firmino - Firmino is in fine form for Liverpool, scoring eight goals in his last eight home matches in all competitions, not to mention assisting a further two on top of this. However, he has never scored against Chelsea in the Premier League in five previous appearances versus them; only against Man Utd (eight) and Everton (seven) has he played more games in the competition without scoring. Klopp would love for him to change that here.

Eden Hazard - Hazard has scored in both of Chelsea's games against Liverpool this season, and has seven goals against them in all competitions overall during his career. Not only that, but he's hitting great form, scoring six and assisting two goals in his last eight league starts, including three goals and an assist in his past two. When he's on the form he is right now, he's so difficult to stop. And if Liverpool don't manage that, he could deal a killer blow to their title hopes.

Monday April 15th

Watford v Arsenal

With this the final match of the weekend's action, Arsenal have had to wait for all of their top four rivals to play before finally getting their chance to pick up three points against Watford here.

The key question in this game is whether or not Arsenal can get over their poor away record. The Gunners have won just two of their last 12 games away from home in all competitions, at Blackpool in the FA Cup and Huddersfield in the Premier League. It's not an impressive stat for them, and there's more bad news for them when you consider they are one of only two sides in the top four tiers of English football yet to keep an away league clean sheet this season, along with the Championship's bottom side Ipswich Town. That's 15 away league outings without a shutout for the Gunners - only the second time in their league history they haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their opening 15 away league games in a season.

Indeed, only nine sides in Premier League history have ever gone a full season without an away clean sheet. Arsenal do not want to become the 10th. It's an issue they need to rectify.

And it won't be easy for them here against a Watford side who will be buzzing with confidence after their comeback FA Cup win last time out over Wolves. Not only did they win at Wembley, but their home form is exceptional too - they've won four in a row in all competitions at Vicarage Road, and a win today would make this their best home winning run since March 2014 when they were a Championship club.

Having said that, Arsenal have won five of their last six visits to Watford in all competitions, losing the other in this fixture last season, so they have proved they know how to win there, but even so it would still take a vast improvement on their recent away displays, and even Watford's recent home ones, for the Gunners to earn three points here.

Key players:

Troy Deeney - Deeney has been directly involved in eight goals in his last eight games in all competitions, scoring five and assisting three, and he has two goals in his last four league games versus Arsenal. He has history against them and he'll be more than up for this match.

Alex Iwobi - This is a left-field choice, as Iwobi has been used as a squad player of late, in and out of the starting XI, but he was brought on to try and change the game against Everton last time out, and even if the same happens here, he will hope to make an impact against a side he has scored twice against before in the Premier League. He has plenty of talent and ability - improvement to his end product will make him a real danger man for the Gunners.

Written by Reid the Red April 14 2019 09:20:12


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