Football News: Weekend Premier League Preview

 

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Saturday 1st April 2017


Liverpool v Everton Premier League 12:30pm

Lallana (out - thigh injury)
Sturridge (doubt - hip injury)
Henderson (doubt - bruised foot)
Ejaria (out - ankle injury)
Ings (out - ACL knee injury)

Liverpool's form has picked up of late, but they have still found the gap to Everton closed to just six points as the league heads into the final stretch. The home record is excellent, with just one Premier League defeat, a shock defeat to Swansea City, and ten wins in their fourteen games so far. A place in the top four is still uncertain, even if the Toffees are counted out, as the other sides within the top six have one or two games in hand over the Reds. With that in mind, Liverpool can ill afford any result other than a win in the Merseyside Derby. It has become a must-win match for both sides, if they are to remain in touching distance of their ambitions for the season. Three games without defeat and three wins in five are signs of a team getting back into top form, they will need to be at their best to cope with an Everton team which is currently surging towards the top six.
Most important player: Sadio Mane. With the international break having intervened over the last few days, it is likely that most teams will be a little disjointed this weekend, as they get back into the groove. With that in mind, individual abilities, such as Mane possesses, alongside his incredible acceleration, are likely to be even more useful than normal. If there is one player with the ability to exploit any gaps, it is Mane.

Funes Mori (out - knee cartilage injury)
Coleman (out - broken leg)
Schneiderling (doubt - calf strain)
McCarthy (out - hamstring injury)
Bolasie (out - ACL knee injury)
Besic (doubt - ACL knee injury)

There was a long period of the season when it seemed like Everton were stuck in seventh place for the duration, but their excellent form has seen them drag themselves right into the battle for a top six finish. Normally heading into the Merseyside Derby we are talking about how form does not matter in this game as a way of suggesting Everton could upset the odds and snatch a result. This time around, despite a recent loss to Spurs, the Toffees are the form team with eight wins in their last twelve games and just one defeat amongst them. In fact the previous loss was the home derby match with a then rampant Liverpool, which was a very close 1-0. Now form has switched, Everton are the team scoring two, three, four goals each week, while Liverpool are the ones struggling to get going. Will Everton finally be able to improve their terrible recent record against their near neighbours?
Most important player: Ross Barkley. The loss of Seamus Coleman will hit Everton hard, even if it can be used to fire Everton up. Coleman is a very large part of the attacking threat that the Toffees possess, which means they will need Barkley to be at his best to make up for that loss. His creativity can open up other avenues for the attack to explore.

Defining Battle: as usual in a derby match, the midfield scrum (though these days it is less of a scrum and more of a ballet) will decide who wins and loses this match. Everton's game plan is based around extra midfielders to assert dominance, as well as protect the back four, while Liverpool love to control the ball. Whichever midfield can best protect their back four will almost certainly win this game.


Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur Premier League 3pm

Arfield (doubt - knock)
Gudmundsson (out - MCL knee injury)
Marney (out - ACL knee injury)
Long (out - knee surgery)

Having still not won away, Burnley will be glad to have reached the end of their mini roadtrip and return to the comforts of home. While they will know that any game against Spurs is a tough one these days, at least at home they have the confidence of an excellent record, as nine wins in fourteen stands comparison against most. However skewed it is by those four away games on the bounce, Burnley's recent form has been poor, with it being seven games since they last won a match and three defeats in their last six games. While they are still seemingly safely ensconced in midtable, Sean Dyche will know that his team still need to notch a few more points to ensure survival in the Prem at the end of the season.
Most important player: Michael Keane. How will the newly capped England centre back react to receiving his first England cap? Will he knuckle down and work harder to get another, or will he coast thinking he has made it now? His performance will be key to the Clarets' chances.

Janssen (late fitness test - illness)
Kane (out - ankle injury)
Rose (doubt - MCL knee ligament injury)
Lamela (out - hip injury)

Life is good if you are a Tottenham fan right now, though last season's collapse must weight heavily on your mind still as a warning to not get too excited! Sat in second, admittedly a long way behind the leaders Chelsea, but two points ahead of Man City in third and, most gratifyingly, a nine point lead over local rivals Arsenal, who sit outside the European places right now. There are still worries, particularly with the away form which is surprisingly poor. Just four wins in thirteen matches away from White Hart Lane in the Premier League, with three losses. That is something Mauricio Pochettino will need to look to improve if Spurs are ever to challenge for the title, rather than just a place in Europe. Even worse, they need to improve it without top scorer and all-round talisman, Harry Kane. Do they really have the goals in the squad to make up for his loss over the next few games?
Most important player: Dele Alli. In the absence of Kane a lot will be asked of young Alli. While there is no doubts over his ability or goalscoring, his temperament has shown signs of a weakness there. Against a highly physical Burnley side, who will no doubt give him no space to operate and attempt to wind him up, his ability to remain calm will be severely tested. The last thing Spurs need right now is another show of indiscipline by the youngster.

Defining Battle: how well can Burnley's wide players cope with Spurs' wing back pairing? That is going to make or break this game for the Clarets. If they can keep the wingbacks backpedalling and looking to defend, then they should pick up three points. Allow them too much freedom to get forward and it creates serious problems. If the fullbacks are drawn out to deal with them, then there is space left central, if the wide midfielders get back, then the forwards will be left isolated.


Chelsea v Crystal Palace Premier League 3pm

Costa (doubt - ankle injury)
Courtois (doubt - hip injury)
Moses (doubt - calf strain)
Hazard (doubt - calf strain)
Terry (doubt - knock)

The Premier League is pretty much all over bar the shouting now, with Chelsea still on a roll of three straight wins and eight unbeaten. With just one defeat in thirteen home matches, this match should be a stroll in the park for the Pensioners. Even taking into account all the sayings about how derby matches throw the formbook out of the window, the only real danger at Stamford Bridge is complacency. With a ten point lead over second placed Spurs, even complacency might not be enough to stop the fat lady limbering up her vocal chords ready.
Most important player: Diego Costa. With more rumblings about his unhappiness in England and his form recently dipping, as well as a return to last season's fractious, diving Costa, there is hope for the chasing pack. Costa, at times like this, is as much a liability as he is a help to his team. It will be a big test to Antonio Conte's undoubted man-management skills how he handles the situation until the end of the season.

Campbell (late fitness test - muscle injury)
McArthur (doubt - back spasm)
van Aanholt (doubt - ankle injury)
Flamini (doubt - muscle injury)
Remy (out - muscle injury)
Wickham (out - ACL knee injury)
Mandanda (doubt - knee surgery)
J Benteke (doubt - knee injury)
Souare (out - broken leg)

Palace are a lesson in how quickly things can change in the English Premier League. In the middle of February the Londoners looked dead and buried, with just one win and one draw in their last ten matches. Three games later and they look to be heading to safety, with three wins on the bounce and three clean sheets. The last thing Sam Allardyce will have wanted right now, is to face champions-elect Chelsea and risk a major setback, especially on the back of an international break, that reduces his time to work with the players. For a man with such a focus on preparation as Allardyce, that could be a serious problem.
Most important player: Wilfried Zaha. Overlooked by England and now a fully fledged Cote D'Ivoire international, Zaha has a point to prove. While his talent has never been in doubt, there has always been an issue harnessing those talents to make him an effective threat on a consistent basis.

Defining Battle: Allardyce will have spent a lot of time studying footage of Chelsea's recent matches to divine a strategy most likely to give his team success. I expect him to target two areas, keeping the wing backs deep in the defensive area, but mainly I expect him to target Costa up top. That will be the key to victory, winding up the Chelsea forward, keeping him from playing his game by losing focus while he argues with officials and lashes out at defenders. There is a genuine temperament issue there that has been bubbling up over recent weeks, it is exactly the kind of thing Allardyce will look to exploit.


Hull City v West Ham United Premier League 3pm

Marshall (doubt - hip injury)
Mbokani (out - hamstring injury)
Goebel (late fitness test - calf strain)
Dawson (late fitness test - calf strain)
Mason (doubt - fractured skull)
Keane (out - ACL knee injury)
Odubajo (out - patella fracture)
Henriksen (doubt - dislocated shoulder, illness)
Huddlestone (out - supension)

Currently the Tigers are sitting within touching distance of safety, just, but time is running out fast for Marco Silva's men. With two weeks to stew over a thrashing at the hands of Everton, at least his players will have a reason to be fired up when they face the Hammers. Their home record has the potential to save them, with five in a row at home unbeaten and that run includes three wins. With two home games against other bottom half teams now, there is a chance for Hull to make a real difference to the relegation battle over the next week.
Most important player: Alfred N'Diaye. With a number of absences likely in their midfield, N'Diaye's contribution will be key. The midfielder, on-loan for the rest of the season from Villareal, has been a vital cog in recent games, now he will be central to their hopes.

Reid (out - groin strain)
Antonio (doubt - hamstring injury)
Obiang (out - high ankle sprain)
Noble (doubt - dead leg)
Ogbonna (out - knee surgery)
Sakho (doubt - hamstring strain, back injury)
Tore (out - knee injury)
Arbeloa (doubt - calf injury)
Henry (out - ACL knee injury)

The Hammers had looked like a team on the up, after a bad start, but the train has come off the track in recent weeks and a mini-slump has hit their hopes. After looking certain to retain their Premier League place for next season, they are now looking like a team in danger of being dragged into the relegation places. Three straight defeats, following on from two draws, has seen them slide out of the top half and their total of 33 points is not enough to guarantee them safety. With a difficult run in until the end of the season, at least on paper, Slaven Bilic's job is once more in jeopardy.
Most important player: Cheikhou Kouyate. With Pedro Obiang out for the rest of the season and doubts over captain Mark Noble's fitness, Kouyate will be vitally important to the Hammers. His ability to cover the ground and quality on the ball in the centre of the pitch will be tested to its fullest. At least he is highly unlikely to once again be shunted out to right back, where he looks, at best, uncomfortable.

Defining Battle: With both teams suffering absences in the centre of midfield, the key battle will be to see who can take most advantage of the opponent's gaps in there. Both teams have pacey widemen, who can drag players into wide areas leaving gaps to exploit, but which has the players there to exploit those gaps?


Leicester City v Stoke City Premier League 3pm

Drinkwater (doubt - hip injury)
Morgan (doubt - back spasm)
Mendy (doubt - knee injury)
Wague (out - dislocated shoulder)

Since the controversial sacking of Claudio Ranieri things have been looking up at Leicester. Progression in the Champions League has been matched with three wins on the bounce in the Premier League, which has seen the Foxes edge away from the drop zone. Craig Shakespeare has profited from the demise of his former boss, being installed as caretaker boss until the end of the season, thanks to the good results that he has achieved. The difficult part is to maintain those good results, as the criticism received in the wake of Ranieri's departure was all the motivation the players needed. Now it is up to Shakespeare to motivate the players and prove he is capable of doing the job and is more than just a players' favourite who has the job to pander to them.
Most important player: Shinji Okazaki. With Jamie Vardy's black eye and Ahmed Musa leaving his nation's training camp early, it has been an interesting international break for Leicester's staff. One thing that has remained constant throughout the season is Okazaki, his workrate is exemplary and he added his 50th goal for Japan while away. Now he needs to maintain his focus in the league campaign.

Shaqiri (doubt - calf injury)
Cameron (late fitness test - thigh injury)
Johnson (doubt - shoulder injury)
Butland (doubt - ankle injury)
Ireland (doubt - broken leg)
Bardsley (out - suspended)

Stoke's inconsistency is getting more consistent by the game, in the last nine matches they have won three, drawn three and lost three. Away from home, however, their form has been fairly consistently poor, with half of their away games resulting in a defeat. With Southampton just three points below them, and holding two games in hand, the Potters need to string together a good set of results to hold onto ninth place in the Prem. They really need to find a way to add more goals to their game if they are to do so, particularly away. They have averaged exactly one goal per game scored, while conceding nearly twice that many. Mark Hughes will be thankful that safety is nearly certain already, as it releases a lot of pressure off the players and himself for the rest of the season.
Most important player: Saido Berahino. Hughes went out on a limb to get the forward from West Brom's reserves, where he had been effectively banished. After all his problems, not least a first half of the season which saw him too unfit to play for the Baggies, Berahino needs to repay Hughes' faith in him. So far, however, there has been little sign of him repaying anything.

Defining Battle: how well can the struggling Stoke defence cope with Leicester's resurgent forwards? A lot will be asked of Cameron, who will need to be looking to cover when Riyad Mahrez cuts inside and runs at the centre backs. With the pace and workrate they are facing, the centreback pairing of Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi will be unlikely to have anything to spare.


Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion Premier League 3pm

Mata (doubt - groin/pelvis injury)
Fellaini (doubt - toe injury)
Smalling (doubt - knee injury)
Jones (out - toe injury)
Pogba (doubt - hamstring injury)
Rooney (doubt - knee injury)
Wilson (out - ACL knee injury)
Williams (doubt - knee injury)
Pereira (out - knee injury)
Herrera (out - suspended)
Ibrahimovic (out - suspended)

Despite their long unbeaten league run, which now stretches back eighteen Premier League games, Man Utd have not got a particularly outstanding home record, despite losing just once at Old Trafford. Half of their games have resulted in draws, meaning they have scored more points away from home while playing one less away match. Jose Mourinho will hope to take advantage of the Baggies record of underachievement once safety has been secured, with fourth place within reach. Just four points behind Liverpool, United have two games in hand to cancel out that points advantage, but first they have to get three points against the Baggies.
Most important player: Anthony Martial. The French youngster has not lived up to his early hype so far this season, but, with so many absent for Man Utd this weekend, they need him to show more, starting against West Brom. It is certainly time he added to his tally of just three goals in the league for the season.

Chadli (late fitness test - shoulder injury)
McAuley (doubt - foot injury)
Phillips (doubt - hamstring injury)

Tony Pulis will be hoping that the win against Arsenal has signaled the end of the mini-slump suffered by his team after they reached the magical 40 point mark in the league. Having beaten the team that were in fifth last time out, they now face the team that replaced them in fifth this time around. The question is for Pulis is what does he do to inspire his players? There is little to no chance of moving up the table and the same of being overtaken, so what is there left for his players to fight for?
Most important player: Allan Nyom. The right back, playing at left back, has already made himself a favourite with the fans. With little for the team to play for, his all-action style will be important to inspire his team mates to try harder.

Defining Battle: with Manchester United missing Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera, the central midfield battle will be key. Darren Fletcher will desperately want to beat his old club and Jake Livermore will be buoyed up by his England experience. While Man Utd have some excellent replacements, it is always difficult to change such a large part of central midfield and retain the fluidity of play you normally have.


Watford v Sunderland Premier League 3pm

Deeney (late fitness test - illness)
Prodl (late fitness test - calf injury)
Behrami (doubt - hamstring injury)
Kabasele (doubt - hip injury)
Zarate (out - ACL knee injury)
Watson (doubt - groin strain)
Pereyra (out - knee meniscus injury)

Walter Mazzari's men have chosen a bad time to hit another patch of bad form, as going four games without a win, losing three of those matches, has left them in fourteenth and still unsafe. While they are hardly teetering on the brink of the relegation trapdoor, the possibility is still there and they need to turn their form around quickly. Playing against the bottom club, on paper at least, should be the perfect game to get back to winning ways, but the Mackems will be scrapping for their lives and Watford do not seem to be up for a battle this season. Other than captain Troy Deeney, the Hornets really seem to lack that character to fight and scrap for every point. There are far too many games that they just seem flat in. Mazzari will be hoping that the international break is just what his players needed to get their heads refocused on the Premier League.
Most important player: Etienne Capoue. Worryingly for the Hornets, Capoue is still their second highest scorer, they really need him to rediscover his goal touch now.

O'Shea (doubt - shin injury)
Kone (doubt - knee injury)
Kirchhoff (out - cartilage knee injury)
Pienaar (doubt - calf strain)
Anichebe (doubt - MCL knee injury)
Watmore (out - ACL knee injury)
McNair (out - ACL knee injury)
Cattermole (doubt - hip injury)

It is beginning to feel like the Black Cats must have run over a few in recent months, as they stumble along propping up the league and the few wins they have picked up are merely keeping them just close enough to maintain hope. While they are not doomed quite yet, with a seven point gap to 17th place and safety, they do have a game in hand, unless they can begin to score more goals their hopes are going to just fade away. Manager David Moyes is not known for producing attacking sides that score bagfulls of goals, but this Sunderland side has taken his usual dour football to a whole new level. They are averaging less than a goal a game, with an almost total reliance on Jermaine Defoe, who has faded badly as the season has gone on, making it even more of a shock he got an England recall. Time is fast running out on Wearside, with each game becoming a bit more desperate, there just seems to be no signs of a miracle revival for the Mackems.
Most important player: Jordan Pickford. With goals so scarce to come by, Sunderland have to rely heavily on keeping a clean sheet if they are to pick up any points. Pickford is a quality young keeper, but he is still young and learning, plus he is returning from a serious injury, so he is likely to make mistakes. In the position the Black Cats are in, those mistakes can be the difference between relegation and survival.

Defining Battle: the tactical battle between the two managers will be key. Neither team has developed a consistent pattern of play or formation that the players have grown into. Both managers have made constant tweaks and changes to try and find a formula for success they can build upon, but have yet to hit on it. Due to that, both sides look disjointed at times, with players unsure of their instructions. Whichever team is able to best understand and follow the instructions they are given is likely to walk away with three points in this game.


Southampton v Bournemouth Premier League 5:30pm

Gabbiadini (out - groin strain)
van Dijk (out - foot injury)
Austin (doubt - shoulder injury)
McCarthy (doubt - hamstring injury)
Targett (out - hamstring injury)
Pied (doubt - ACL knee injury)

With key centre half Virgil van Dijk now expected to be ruled out for the rest of the season, it is important that his team mates use that to drive themselves on. The centre back pairing that has operated following his loss, and Jose Fonte's defection to West Ham, Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida, is not one that would have excited the Saints' fans prior to their run of games together. The duo have shown a real potential as a pair, even though the team have conceded a few too many goals in recent weeks. With so much speculation and rumour surrounding van Dijk's future, it seems Soton still have a lot to look forward to. Speaking of speculation, Dusan Tadic's name is the latest on the Southampton sale list in all the papers, as he positions himself for a move. Will the uncertainty surrounding the squad finally cause the side to lose focus or will it continue to be a driving factor for the rest, as they look to get their big money move in the future?
Most important player: Ryan Bertrand. Fast maturing into arguably the best left back in the Premier League and he is key to Saints' play. Bertrand provides an attacking threat but he is not one who abandons his defensive duties while doing so.

Fraser (late fitness test - hamstring injury)
Arter (late fitness test - calf strain)
Stanislas (doubt - groin strain)
Wilson (out - ACL knee injury)
Federici (out - knee injury)
Mousset (doubt - hamstring strain)
Mings (out - suspended)

The last three games has seen the Cherries completely turn around their season, as they went from four losses in a row to three unbeaten and the last two of those wins. With a difficult run of games to come, Eddie Howe will not feel entirely safe, as, following this South Coast derby, his team has Liverpool, Chelsea and then Spurs in quick succession, followed by two of the teams scrapping for their lives, in Boro and Sunderland. It is certainly going to keep Howe on his toes!
Most important player: Ryan Fraser. Despite spending a comparatively large sum, for Bournemouth, in the summer, Howe has pretty much returned to the players that kept the Cherries in the Premier League last season. The one exception is Fraser, whose arrival into the first team was a breath of fresh air that blew away all the cobwebs with his enthusiasm and hard work.

Defining Battle: It is always more difficult to pick a defining battle in a derby match, as it can be something completely unexpected, a rush of blood or silly error under pressure that decides them. Having said that, I do expect this particular derby to come down to one factor, how well the Bournemouth defence are able to handle Gabbiadini. The Cherries defence is not the most solid in the league at the best of times, Gabbiadini is just the man to exploit any lapses they may have.


Sunday 19th March 2017


Swansea City v Middlesbrough Premier League 1:30pm

Sigurdsson (doubt - knock)
Rangel (out - metatarsal fracture)
Olsson (doubt - ankle injury)
Naughton (doubt - hamstring injury)
Dyer (out - achilles injury)

The battle at the bottom is really heating up now, as time is fast running out for those already in the bottom three to catch and overtake those above them. That is why a match like this is so important, the Swans have the chance to pull themselves clear of Boro with a win, or they could be dragged back under with a defeat. A draw really helps neither side, so they have to go for it. Since their new manager bounce, Swansea have faded a little, losing four of their last six, worse is that they lost their last two and the teams beating them were others involved in the relegation battle. Having got them out of the drop zone initially, Paul Clement will be hoping that this does not presage a fall back into the drop zone. His once excellent reputation has taken a hit in recent years, his chances of getting a big job again in the future could well rest on how well he does here in South Wales over the next few weeks.
Most important player: Fernando Llorente. If Llorente is on form, he is one of those players that no defence can cope with. Swansea desperately need him to be on form against Boro. He is the focal point of their attack, giving them a target for Gylfi Siggurdsson's excellent dead balls.

Ayala (doubt - hamstring injury)
Friend (doubt - calf strain)
Chambers (doubt - foot injury)

The unsurprising sacking of Aitor Karanka has yet to have the desired effect on Boro, though it is still early days. At least there is one thing to look forward to for the neutrals, Middlesbrough could not possibly be any more dour and boring to watch without Karanka than they were with him. For much of this season they have been brain-numbingly defensive, with little in the way of attacking intent. It made for difficult watching, as Boro's main threat was to people in row Z at risk of being smashed in the face by an Adama Traore cross. With games becoming must-win matters for the Teeside club, it is to be hoped that the caretaker manager, Steve Agnew, will at least attempt to get men forward.
Most important player: Alvaro Negredo. Swansea are not the only team here with a veteran Spanish centre forward talisman. Boro have their very own up front, in the shape of former Man City striker Negredo. Like Llorente, Negredo is capable of being a player that no defence can rest against. On his day he is a top class striker, it has always been consistency he has lacked, going through lean spells that can last for months.

Defining Battle: the Swansea right wing/Boro left back battle will be key. In open play, Swans use that flank to create most of their chances, as Sigurdsson on the other side looks to cut in. With Boro missing their first choice left backs, they are relying on third choice Fabio, naturally a right back, to provide the attacking thrust down that flank they are missing. Will the Brazilian full back get the opportunities to get forward, or will he be pegged back by the Swans?


Arsenal v Manchester City Premier League 4pm

Cech (out - calf strain)
Perez (out - thigh strain)
Gibbs (doubt - knock)
Cazorla (out - plantaris injury)
Sanogo (doubt - calf injury)
Debuchy (doubt - hamstring strain)

The uncertainty surrounding Arsene Wenger's future has caused a real slump in fortunes for Arsenal of late. Not content with a humiliating defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, they have also managed to lose four out of five matches in the Premier League and slide out of the top four. Normally the FA Cup would be enough to appease the fans, with the Gooners looking forward to a semi-final against Man City later in the month, but this time around it feels like even that trophy would not be enough for Gunners' fans. There is a real 'end of era' feel about Arsenal this season, with so many players also nearing the end of their contracts. Has Wenger still got the capability of turning things around and putting the club into the Champions League places by the end of the season?
Most important player: Per Mertesacker. Whether he is playing or not, Mertesacker is club captain and he needs to stand up and be counted as such. If there are players needing a boot up the backside or ones needing an arm around the shoulder, he needs to be there doing what he can. In times of need, and the Gunners are most definitely in need, leaders come to the forefront.

Sterling (doubt - back injury)
de Bruyne (doubt - groin injury)
Sagna (doubt - groin strain)
Zabaleta (doubt - knock)
Jesus (out - metatarsal fracture)
Gundogan (out - ACL knee injury)
Kompany (doubt - leg injury)

After all the hype and excitement surrounding Pep Guardiola's arrival in English football, the season itself is fizzling out amid failings on the pitch. A loss to bitter local rivals Man Utd in the EFL Cup and a crushing and demoralising defeat to Monaco in the Champions League saw the Citizens drop out of both competitions with little more than a whimper. While the FA Cup is still a possibility, the league is almost certainly out of reach, with Chelsea streaking away while Citeh are busy picking up too many draws. Two draws in a row has not just ended any realistic hopes of the league title, it has also handed the initiative to Spurs in the battle for second. Worse still, for City fans, it has given the red half of Manchester a sniff of catching them.
Most important player: Yaya Toure. What Yaya will be there for this game? Will it be the sulky faced Yaya sat on the bench? Will it be the sulky faced Yaya strolling through the game barely breaking sweat? Or will it be the Yaya of a few seasons ago, when he felt like he had something to prove and actually made an effort? City need the latter, though it most likely they will get one of the former.

Defining Battle: the wide areas will be key. Both sides are weak defensively in the full back areas, leaving a real avenue for the opponent to attack. The pace of Raheem Sterling up against Nacho Monreal is a particular worry. Monreal will want to have Alexis Sanchez in front of him providing protection or his deficiencies could be fatally exposed.

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