Football News: Premier League Match Previews Saturday 30th September 2017

 

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Premier League Match Previews Saturday 30th September 2017
Image from: csoonline.com

Saturday 30th September 2017



Huddersfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur 12:30pm kick off

Quaner (calf strain expected return 14th October) out
Williams (fractured foot expected return 21st October) out
Mounie (heel injury expected return 14th October) out
Palmer (hamstring injury expected return 18th November) out
Stankovic (ACL injury no return date yet) out

The fast start is now over and it has been 4 matches since the Terriers picked up a win. However, they have shown the tenacity of a terrier, with just one league defeat this season so far. With goals being hard to come by, just 5 in the 6 games so far and 3 of those were on the opening day, Wagner's Yorkshiremen have been very reliant on keeping the opposition out at the other end. So far their defensive record has been excellent, with just 3 league goals conceded. What they need to do now is get back to winning ways quickly, before they slip too far down the table. With the visit of a Spurs side that is looking so imperious away from home, Wagner would happily settle for yet another draw to add to the two in a row they already have.
Most important player: Laurent Depoitre. With a couple of their forwards out injured the goalscoring mantle has fallen to the Belgian forward. They need goals desperately if they are to have any chance as, good as their defence has been so far this season, they are unlikely to be able to keep out Spurs.


Eriksen (illness) slight doubt
Dembele (ankle injury expected return 14th October) out
Wanyama (knee injury expected return 14th October) out
Rose (MCL injury expected return 22nd October) out
Lamela (hip injury expected return 5th November) out
Aurier (suspended) out

Away from home in the Premier League Spurs are in excellent form with a 100% record, though they have yet to pick up a league win at home this season. With 8 goals in 3 games and just 2 conceded, they are devastating on their travels. Having such a poor home record is heaping pressure on them to continue to win their away games if they are going to have any hope of travelling. Pochettino's main job right now is to manage that pressure and ensure the players do not freeze under the weight of expectation.
Most important player: Harry Kane. The England forward already has 4 league goals in September and has an enviable record of goalscoring in the calendar year so far. Spurs are, despite the addition of Fernando Llorente, becoming more reliant on Kane if anything, as his midweek hattrick showed.


Defining Battle: both teams are going to try and press high and knock the opposition out of their stride high up the pitch. The key is in central midfield, where Spurs are almost makeshift, due to missing key players in Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele. If Huddersfield can get at them, I doubt there is anyone who has faith in Moussa Sissoko's ability to muck in and help out. However, if Spurs get the upper hand, then Sissoko can be a danger.



Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 1-1
Ed003 - 1-3
Ed004 - 0-2
Ed007 - 1-3
Ed018 - 0-3
Ed025 - 0-2
Ed033 - 0-1



Bournemouth v Leicester City 3pm kick off

Mings (back injury expected return 28th October) out
Federici (knee injury 16th December) out
Wilson (ACL injury 18th November)
Wiggins (knee injury) doubt
Arter (achilles injury) slight doubt

The terrible start goes on for the Cherries, despite the short lift given by finally getting something other than a defeat, with a hard fought win over Brighton & Hove Albion, things returned to normal with a loss against Everton. Despite, on paper at least, the club once more looking like they recruited well in the summer, Eddie Howe seems unable to integrate the new players into the team quickly or effectively. Last season he ended up returning to the stalwarts that won the club promotion, but they are not going to be around forever, so he needs to find a way to finally gel a team that includes some of the new boys before it is too late.
Most important player: Joshua King. Last season King was on fire, he just could not stop scoring. This season he has been having to play second fiddle to Jermaine Defoe and it has not worked as a partnership yet. If it does not gel soon, they are going to be in major trouble, if they are not already.


Vardy (hip injury) slight doubt
Huth (foot injury no return date yet) out
James (achilles injury expected return 29th October) out

Like Bournemouth, the Foxes look in real danger of relegation again this season, with many questioning manager Craig Shakespeare's ability to lead the team in the long term. Conceding two goals a game, on average, is not what this side was built on, and they seem incapable of tightening things up defensively. Morgan looks lost without Huth to guide him through games, Maguire looks like he did at Hull City, defensively unaware, positionally inept but always ready to charge forward at a moments notice to leave a gaping hole behind him. This is no longer just about the loss of N'Golo Kante, this is about a team that has bought poorly and is being managed just as badly. Shakespeare needs to sort it out quickly or he will be following Claudio Ranieri out of the exit door.
Most important player: Riyad Mahrez. The enigmatic winger has not been at his best so far this season, after going public with his desire to leave Leicester. Now that the wantaway Algerian knows he is going nowhere until January, at least, he needs to concentrate on performing well enough to earn some interest from elsewhere once more.


Defining Battle: both teams employ a similar set up, a variant of 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1 if you prefer), with hard work used to cover up gaps in midfield, but they play it in completely different ways. While Howe likes his team to pass the ball out, playing quick, short passes to get forward, Shakespeare's side are more intent on the quick long ball over the top or into the corners for players to chase. Neither defence seems capable of keeping clean sheets on a consistent basis, so this will come down to who is the more clinical team in front of goal, with both keepers likely to be tested repeatedly.



Editors' Predictions
Ed002 - 0-1
Ed003 - 1-1
Ed004 - 3-2
Ed007 - 0-2
Ed018 - 2-2
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 1-2



Manchester United v Crystal Palace 3pm kick off

Martial (knock) slight doubt
Carrick (knock expected return 14th October) major doubt
Fellaini (ankle injury no return date yet) out
Jones (knock) major doubt
Pogba (hamstring injury expected return December) out
Ibrahimovic (ACL injury expected return 1st January 2018) out
Rojo (ACL injury expected return 26th December) out
Wilson (ACL injury back in training) out

Unbeaten, 5 wins out of 6 and only conceded goals in one match, the draw with Stoke City, it has been an excellent start to the season for the Red Devils. 17 goals scored shows they have learnt from last season's struggles to turn draws into wins, they are no longer going to get caught out by missing multiple chances a game and that is enough to turn the side into a title challenger.
Most important player: Ander Herrera. With Pogba out injured, Herrera has to fill his shoes and provide energy and drive in the midfield alongside Matic's defensive solidity.


Tomkins (illness) out
Loftus-Cheek (thigh strain no return date yet) doubt
Benteke (knee injury expected return 18th November) out
Zaha (knee injury 14th October) out
Wickham (ACL injury no return date yet) out
Fosu-Mensah (cannot play against parent club) out

Disastrous, that is about all you can say about Palace's season so far. So far it is difficult to see the change in management as anything other than another disaster. While Hodgson will make them more difficult to beat, it is hardly a progressive move to appoint an elderly man who is incredibly stuck in ways and methods that have been out of date for 20 years.
Most important player: Yahan Cabaye. If Palace are to have any chance of finally picking up a result, they need to do more than sit back and protect the defence. Cabaye's long range passing from deep will be their main hope of creating a chance or two.


Defining Battle: with Palace yet to score this season, the battle is going to be between them and the goalnet! The shock of them scoring could turn the whole game on its head, if they can score first. Just lifting that weight off their shoulders could lift them and enable them to play out of their skin, like a lower league team in the cup. However, if they do not get an early goal, the pressure will be enormous and they could collapse again, like they did versus the blue half of Manchester.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 3-0
Ed003 - 6-0
Ed004 - 3-0
Ed007 - 4-0
Ed018 - 2-0
Ed025 - 3-0
Ed033 - 2-0



Stoke City v Southampton 3pm kick off

Martins Indi (groin injury expected return 21st October) out
Wimmer (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Cameron (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Shawcross (back injury expected return 14th October) doubt
Ngoy (thigh strain no return date yet) out
Ireland (broken leg expected return 28th October) out

Another team that looks to buy well on paper but the manager seems utterly unable to integrate the new players into a successful team. This is not a team that should be struggling near the bottom of the league, as they should never have been last season. There seems to be real problems with motivation, as the players only put in 100% effort in big games, though even that was not enough against Chelsea last time out. Goal scoring is still a major issue, with just 5 goals scored in the Premier League this season, while they have conceded twice that amount. It is difficult to see any progress being made at the Potters.
Most important player: Darren Fletcher. Stoke captain Fletcher gifted Chelsea a goal last time out, he needs to get that out of his system with a good performance this weekend.


Targett (ankle injury expected return 15th October) out

This has been a mixed season so far for Saints, with 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses on their record. Like many others outside of the top few sides, they are struggling for goals, with just 4 scored, but they are also keeping it tight defensively, only letting in 5, enabling them to stay in matches and never allowing the opposition to be entirely comfortable. So far this season, though it is still too early to really draw comparisons with this only being their 3rd away fixture, they have been better away from home, so they will feel like they have a genuine chance of the victory today.
Most important player: Nathan Redmond. Can the winger learn to pass when there are players in a better position or will he continue to waste good opportunities by blazing it wide whenever he gets a sight of goal?


Defining Battle: this is not exactly a match to excite the purists, with neither side playing particularly exciting, high quality football at this stage of the season. With no genuine goal scoring threat from either team, it looks likely that the defining battle in this game will be in the midfield area, with Soton having a midfield that could easily dominate if Stoke are not careful.



Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 0-0
Ed003 - 1-1
Ed004 - 2-1
Ed007 - 0-2
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 2-1
Ed033 - 1-2



West Bromwich Albion v Watford 3pm kick off

Burke (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Chadli (knock) minor doubt

It has been 4 games since the Baggies last picked up a win, Pulis will be keen to get them out of this poor run before it affects the morale of his team. A good result against a Watford side that are playing well away from him in particular would do wonders for confidence. Another team that lacks a cutting edge, with just four goals scored, they will need their defence to be on song against the Hornets.
Most important player: Kieran Gibbs. Usually by now the left back, signed from Arsenal in the summer, has picked up a knock, or two, forcing him to miss games. With no genuine left back to replace him, Pulis will be keen to ensure Gibbs stays fit and healthy.


Chalobah (knee injury no return date yet) out
Zarate (recovering fitness after ACL injury) out
Kaboul (hamstring injury no return date yet) out
Prodl (hamstring injury expected return 14th October) out
Cathcart (knee injury no return date yet) out
Hoban (ACL injury no return date yet) out

Unable to win at home but unable to stop winning away, it is almost the exact opposite of last season for Marco Silva. It is bizarre that they can have a 100% record away from home, conceding just 1 goal in 3 matches while scoring 6, yet, at home, they have lost 1 and drawn 2, conceding 9 goals and only scoring 3 in the process. Will they be able to keep the away run going for another weekend?
Most important player: Andre Carrillo. With Richarlison playing so well at the moment, teams will be concentrating on stopping him, that should leave more space for Carrillo to exploit. He needs to make the most of it while it lasts.


Defining Battle: the flanks are the key in this game. WBA are solid in the centre, so Watford need to get in behind them down the flanks and drag some of the defence out of the centre to create a bit of space for themselves in there.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 2-2
Ed003 - 0-0
Ed004 - 1-1
Ed007 - 2-0
Ed018 - 2-2
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 1-0



West Ham United v Swansea City 3pm kick off

Antonio (groin strain) slight doubt
Collins (ankle injury) late fitness test
Obiang (muscular injury expected return 14th October) out
Fernandes (ankle injury) late fitness test
Lanzini (knee injury) slight doubt
Henry (ACL injury no expected return yet) out

Prior to playing Tottenham Hotspur last weekend the Hammers were showing signs of a much needed revival, though they did show sign of having a fighting spirit by pushing Spurs close. That revival is not before time, as Bilic's hold on his job is precarious. The Spurs game was pretty much a free hit for him, with no oen expecting much against them, however facing the Swans is a different matter. West Ham will be expected to get a result at home against a struggling South Wales side. they will need to tighten up their defence, which is shipping goals at an alarming rate, 13 in 6 games.
Most important player: Joe Hart. They really can not afford to have a keeper playing so poorly when they are struggling, some way to pick Hart up out of his lull is needed before he takes them down.

Bartley (MCL injury expected return 18th November) out
Sung-Yeung (knee injury) doubt
Blair (broken foot expected return mid-October) out
Bia Bi (hamstring injury expected return November) out
Dyer (back in training after achilles injury lacking fitness) major doubt

I can honestly say that I have not seen a less enjoyable team to watch this season than the Swans, I was shocked they had managed to score as many as 3 goals, as they are just so dire to watch. It is hard to recall them even crossing the halfway line 3 times in the games I watched, let alone get into a position to score. While that makes them look certain to spend the season in a relegation battle, their negative approach also looks likely to help them to grind out just enough points to survive and bore us all again next season. It just does not feel right for Swansea, as I had always associated them with good, entertaining football in my mind. You have to feel for the fans who have seen their team lose all 3 home games, score just one goal and make very little effort to attack opponents. About all they have to hang onto is the return of Wifriend Bony.
Most important player: Alfie Mawson. So far this season he is having an absolute stinker and looked extremely weak in the challenge, surprisingly weak in fact. With their style of play being so defensive, the Swans need their defence on top of its game.


Defining Battle: with Swansea having a genuine weakness down the flanks, the key to this game is how well West ham can exploit that weakness, especially if Antonio is missing. If the Hammers go with proper widemen who attack those flank areas, then they can create plenty of chances for the ball to be delivered into the box.



Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 2-1
Ed003 - 2-1
Ed004 - 3-1
Ed007 - 1-1
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 0-1



Chelsea v Manchester City 5:30pm kick off

Drinkwater (calf strain expected return 14th October) out
Luiz (suspended) out

After the shock opening day defeat to Burnley, things have returned to normal for the reigning Premier League champions. 4 wins out of 5 games since opening day has put them right back in hunt for the title and they have looked impressive at times. Right now Chelsea have the look of a well oiled machine, with Hazard returning and starting to play well just when they need him.
Most important player: N'Golo Kante. With City's movement in the midfield seeing many teams overrun there, Chelsea will need Kante to be at his best to ensure the same does not happen to them.


Aguero (fractured ribs no return date yet) out
Mendy (ACL injury expected return 18th April 2018) out
Kompany (calf muscle strain expected return 14th October) out

With no Kompany and now Mendy and Aguero being ruled out for lengthy spells, things are beginning to unravel for Citeh, after a sensational start with the blue half joining the red half of Manchester in ripping teams to shreds. If anything the Citizens have been more impressive than Manchester United, slightly, but they started in the same way last season before they fell to pieces about this time after a couple of injuries hit and results stopped going their way. Are they made of sterner stuff this time around?
Most important player: Danilo. The Brazilian has to fill the hole left by the loss of Mendy and he has big shoes to fill there. He is not going to be able to provide the attacking impetus and crossing that Mendy does, even on his natural side he does not offer the same quality in attack.


Defining Battle: with no Mendy to attack that left side for Citeh, no Aguero to get on the end of chances and no Kompany to keep the Pensioners out, Man City look a much weakened team, on paper. It is up to Chelsea to exploit the gaps, particularly down their right, where the loss of Mendy should free up Moses to get forward, though Pep might look to play Sane there to provide some attacking threat on that flank to make up for the loss of Mendy. That area of the pitch should define the match, with Chelsea given a very definite weak point to attack, Man City will need to find a way to protect that weakness against them.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 3-0
Ed003 - 2-2
Ed004 - 3-2
Ed007 - 2-1
Ed018 - 1-0
Ed025 - 0-0
Ed033 - 1-2




Editor's Predictions Table
1= Ed002 - 31 points
1= Ed003 - 31 points
3. Ed018 - 30 points
4. Ed007 - 29 points
5. Ed033 - 26 points
6. Ed004 - 22 points
7. Ed025 - 21 points

*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 29th September 2017

Written by Tris Burke



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