Football News: Premier League Previews Saturday 28th October 2017

 

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Premier League Previews Saturday 28th October 2017
Image from: heysigmund.com

Saturday 28th October 2017



Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur 12:30pm kick off

Rashford (tight hamstring) slight doubt
Herrera (ankle injury) slight doubt
Fellaini (MCL injury expected return 5th November) major doubt
Bailly (groin strain) slight doubt
Carrick (calf strain no return date yet) out
Pogba (hamstring injury expected return 18th November) out
Ibrahimovic (ACL injury expected return 16th December) out
Rojo (ACL injury expected return 5th November) major doubt

Now we really find out what Man Utd have to offer, in terms of a title challenge after a slight stutter over the last couple of weeks. The draw with Liverpool was not too damaging but it seems to have set the tone for performances since then and a sloppy midweek Champions League win against Benfica was followed up with a shock defeat against Huddersfield Town.

Now the players need to respond and lift themselves out of the funk they are in. What is, right now, a minor blip could turn into much more if they are not careful and see them dropping out of the title race. In normal circumstances a draw with Spurs, home or away, is a decent result with the way they are flying, but this is not normal circumstances. The Red Devils need to get back to the form they were showing early in the season and remind us all why they are one of the title favourites this year.
Most important player: Nemanja Matic. The big Serbian will need to be at his best to win the midfield battle against a very strong Spurs side.


Wanyama (MCL injury expectd return 5th November) out
Lamela (hip injury back in training) doubt
Kane (hamstring injury expected return 5th November) major doubt

Spurs are looking like they are a better team than last season, now they are over the hoodoo at Wembley they were suffering under. Away from home they have a perfect record, having won all 4 games, conceding just 2 goals in the process. It was beginning to seem like the North London side were going to sweep all before them following the hammering they handed out to Liverpool. The midweek cruise in the League Cup against the Hammers changed that as the cruise suddenly turned into a sinking ship with a 2-0 lead ending in a 3-2 defeat. Mauricio Pochettino will expect his players to respond with a good performance and show that it was just a blip.
Most important player: Christian Eriksen. The Danish attacking midfielder is usually at the centre of everything Tottenham do in attack.



Defining Battle: the key battle will be getting the ball to Romelu Lukaku enough to affect the game. If he feels isolated he drifts out of the game and rarely does anything to try and create involvement, unless you count standing around with your hands on your hips as doing something. If Man Utd are to win, they will need the big Belgian to be an influence on the game and to get the ball to him nice and early in dangerous areas.


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



Arsenal v Swansea City 3pm kick off

Ospina (groin strain expected return 2nd November) out
Welbeck (groin strain expected return 18 November) out
Mustafi (thigh strain expected return 18th November) out
Chambers (hip injury expected return 5th November) out
Cazorla (plantaris injury expected return after Christmas back in training) out

The Gunners have a 100% record at home to protect this season, four games, four wins and 11 goals scored for just 3 conceded and are coming off the back of a big win over Everton last weekend. They should be in fine spirits and high in confidence for this match. If Arsenal are to return to the Champions League next season, via the Premier League, then they will need to win games like this. Anything less than 3 points against a struggling team is a disappointment for the top few sides. However, games like this can often expose weaknesses, so they will need to be careful they do not get caught out by being overconfident.
Most important player: Mesut Ozil. Arsenal's best performances come when he plays well.


Olsson (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Sanches (thigh strain expected return 18th November) major doubt
Bony (hamstring injury expected return 4th November) out
Bartley (MCL injury expected return 12th December) out



After the excitement of the win over Huddersfield, Swans were brought back to earth with a bump against Leicester last weekend. The one positive they can take is that they managed to score in both of the last two games, which could be a small step forward. The South Wales side has struggled badly to create any chances, playing very negative football in the main. They were much more forward looking in the last two, so perhaps there is hope of survival for them. They are incredibly solid defensively away from home, conceding just 1 goal on their travels so far, though only managing to score 2. It is hard to see anything other than a backs to the wall performance from Swansea in this match.
Most important player: Sam Clucas. The former Hull City midfielder plays all over the pitch and is always reliable, though he does not seem entirely suited to the Swansea style of play.


Defining Battle: the key to this game is stopping Arsenal's quick moves through the middle of the pitch. Swansea need to keep their defence and midfield very compact and just let them have the ball out wide.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 3-1
Ed003 - 6-0
Ed004 - 3-1
Ed007 - 2-0
Ed018 - 3-1
Ed025 - 3-1
Ed033 - 2-1



Crystal Palace v West Ham United 3pm kick off

Chung-Yong (muscle injury) doubt
McArthur (knock) late fitness test
Benteke (MCL injury expected return 25th November) out
Wickham (ACL injury no return date yet) out

After the euphoria of the first goals and win against the reigning champions, Chelsea, Palace were quickly brought back to earth with a bump last weekend. Roy Hodgson will have to lift a team that sees themselves being cut adrift at the bottom, now 4 points off the 19th placed team and 5 away from safety. Will a return to home comforts be what they need to get back to winning ways?
Most important player: Scott Dann. Not the greatest defender in the world, but he does seem to make the whole team play better when he is in the side.


Antonio (rib injury) doubt
Sakho (back strain no return date yet) major doubt
Collins (ankle injury no return date yet) major doubt

All was doom and gloom at the Hammers until they restored some pride coming back from 2-0 down to beat Spurs 3-2 in the EFL Cup midweek. Now they could do with taking some of that fight into the Premier League against another London side. They have yet to get a win on the road, but this is a good chance to change that with the Eagles so poor this season. Goal difference is the only thing keeping them out of the bottom 3 at the moment, Slaven Bilic's job is hanging by a thread. A very thin thread. His hopes of a long term future with West Ham rest on getting the right result.
Most important player: Manuel Lanzini. If anyone has the key to unlock the door of the packed Palace defence it is likely to be Lanzini.


Defining Battle: even though Palace are at home, it would be very unlikely that Roy Hodgson will attempt to attack West Ham. His style of play is to defend deep and look to counter, home or away makes no difference. The key to the game will be how well the Hammers can deal with counter attacks, making sure they do not over commit trying to break through the massed ranks of the defence.


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



Liverpool v Huddersfield Town 3pm kick off

Coutinho (hip flexor strain) late fitness test
Wijnaldum (knee injury) doubt
Ward (back injury no return date yet) out
Mane (hamstring injury expected return 18th November) out
Lallana (thigh strain expected return 18th November) out
Clyne (back injury no return date yet) out
Bogdan (ACL injury no return date yet) out



Liverpool are still unbeaten at home in the Premier League this season, but their form is not good right now, failing to win any of the last 3 matches they have played. At home their defence has been strong, only conceding 1 in 4 games, unlike the defence on their travels, which has conceded 15! Both are such a small sample size that neither are classed as meaningful in stats, but it is an interesting comparison. The question is which is the truth about the LFC defence or is it somewhere inbetween?
Most important player: Mohamed Salah. Liverpool are in real trouble if they lose top scorer Salah before Mane makes his return from injury next month.


Kachunga (back injury) doubt
Billing (ankle injury expected return 13th January 2018) out
Hefele (achilles injury expected return 18th November) out
Palmer (hamstring injury expected return 18th November) out
Stankovic (ACL injury no return date yet) out
Quaner (calf injury) minor doubt

Bouyed by a surprise win over Man Utd, the Terriers will be as high in confidence as Liverpool are low. After breaking up a poor run of 6 games without a win in such a way, they will feel like they have a genuine chance of putting one over on Jurgen Klopp for their manager and his best friend David Wagner. Will he be able to use his inside knowledge of the Klopp set up, having worked with him at Borussia Dortmund? It certainly can not hurt to have an idea how his opponent is likely to set up against him.
Most important player: Zanka. He has been surprisingly impressive so far this season, looking like an excellent acquisition.


Defining Battle: with Liverpool having a weakness dealing with crosses and Huddersfield having two strikers in Laurent Depoitre and Steve Mounie who are excellent in the air, the key is stopping the crosses coming in from a Liverpool perspective or getting crosses in from a Huddersfield one.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 4-2
Ed003 - 3-0
Ed004 - 3-1
Ed007 - 2-2
Ed018 - 3-0
Ed025 - 4-0
Ed033 - 2-0


Watford v Stoke City 3pm kick off

Pereyra (hamstring injury expected return 5th November) major doubt
Success (knee injury expected return 9th December) out
Chalobah (knee injury no return date yet) out
Kaboul (hamstring injury expected return 19th November) out
Prodl (hamstring injury expected return 19th November) out
Cathcart (knee injury no return date yet) out
Hoban (ACL injury no return date yet) out

Marco Silva has the Hornets performing way above expectations prior to the season, but he now has to pick them up after a stumble against one of the top teams. Last time that happened he got them right back on the winning trail and the hammering at the hands of Man City was quickly out of their system. That is what is required once more, as that 4-2 defeat against Chelsea was a tough one to take and can easily lead to a loss of confidence if a lift is not quick in arriving. One thing Silva does have in his favour, which so many managers often do not get, is the players 100% behind him and trusting in him to get the best from them.
Most important player: Tom Cleverley. For the first time in a long time Cleverley is starting to look like a good Premier League player after years of being a bit of a laughing stock. Now he is at the heart of most of Watford's football.


Crouch (back injury) late fitness test
Shaqiri (ankle injury) doubt
Edwards (ankle injury) doubt
Martins Indi (hamstring injury expected return 4th November) doubt
Ireland (broken leg expected return 20th November) out

Following 4 defeats in the last 5 matches Mark Hughes job is now on the line. Years of his attempts to take the club away from the Pulis style of play have ended up with him constantly turning to Crouch and bombarding the opposition box with long balls when his team fall behind. Hughes has failed completely to take the club forward, if anything it has gone backwards under his reign. Time is running out for Hughes to turn things around before he joins Ronald Koeman on the managerial scrapheap.
Most important player: Jack Butland. Having a top class keeper behind you can make all the difference to a team in trouble.


Defining Battle: Silva likes his team to attack with pace down the flank, the key to beating them is to stop that from happening. The wide players need to be given no space or time to burst free or Stoke are in trouble.


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



West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City 3pm kick off

Evans (groin injury) late fitness test
Dawson (knee injury expected return 23rd December) out
Barry (back injury) slight doubt
Burke (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Robson-Kanu (muscle strain) slight doubt
Morrison (achilles injury no return date yet) out

So far the Baggies are unbeaten at home, though this will be by far their hardest test. However their form can hardly be considered good, either home or away, it has been seven games since they picked up 3 points and they struggle to create any meaningful chances. Still, only another 30 points to get before they can all head off to the beach for the summer....
Most important player: Ahmed Hegazy. The big Egyptian was torn a new one by Jamie Vardy recently, he will need to have learnt his lesson from that performance or this could end up being a cricket score. Both Aguero and Jesus have much better movement than Vardy.



Gundogan (cramp) slight doubt
Mendy (ACL injury expected return 18th April 2018) out
Kompany (calf muscle strain expected return 18th November) out

This season has pretty much been plain sailing all season for Citeh, apart from the one blip against Everton, at least in the Premier League. Obviously the ball is more pleasing to Pep Guardiola in this competition, or perhaps his team just performs a lot of miracles and had run out of them when they faced Wolves in the League Cup? With a 5 point lead in the league, they can afford another blip, but Guardiola will not want it to come just yet.
Most important player: Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian has been playing out of his skin this season and is at the heart of everything City do, even more so than the little magician David Silva.


Defining Battle: the game will depend on if the Baggies can get at City's backline. The only weakness in the blue side of Manchester is defensively. The problem is that Tony Pulis is very unlikely to attack and so will play straight into Pep's hands and just hope to be able to hold out at the back.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 1-4
Ed003 - 1-4
Ed004 - 1-3
Ed007 - 1-2
Ed018 - 0-2
Ed025 - 0-2
Ed033 - 1-2



Bournemouth v Chelsea 5:30pm kick off

King (back injury) late fitness test
Fraser (knock) late fitness test
Defoe (hamstring injury) late fitness test
B Smith (hip injury no return date yet) out
Mings (back injury expected return 18th November) out
Federici (knee injury expected return 16th December) out

Things have picked up a little for Eddie Howe's Cherries after starting the season with 4 defeats on the spin. Since that dreadful start they have managed to win 2 but also lost 2 of the following 5 games. At home they have a strong defence, conceding just 5 goals in 4 games but their attack is woeful, only managing 3 goals, the same number scored as they have managed in 5 away Premier League games. There is a real problem scoring goals for this team. The arrival of Defoe has unsettled the team, with the tactics tweaked in an attempt to get the most from him and be more difficult to beat. It has stopped them leaking goals but it has also stopped them creating chances. Howe has to find the balance between attack and defence if he is to get them out of this relegation battle.
Most important player: Asmir Begovic. Time for his experience to shine through and help the team through the sticky patch.


Moses (hamstring injury no return date yet) out
Kante (hamstring injury expected return 31st October) doubt

After a couple of defeats in a row, Chelsea's season is back on track now with a Premier League win over Watford followed up by a midweek win over Everton in the League Cup. However there is still concerns over the manner of those wins, performances are not at the level we have grown to expect of Conte's Chelsea team. Has the pressure got to him with his reaction in the press conference, or was he just telling the assembled journalists the same thing we all want to say to them? It really depends on your point of view as to how you see that, I know I was glad to see someone call out the media on the lies they spout! However it could backfire on him if it is not plain sailing for his team over the next few weeks. Any dropped points will be pounced upon by those journalists like Eric Cantona's seagulls diving on the scraps thrown from fishing trawlers....
Most important player: Eden Hazard. On his day he is unplayable, unfortunately for Chelsea he has not yet had a day this season. Today could be the day for the real Eden Hazard to stand up.


Defining Battle: following on from the most important player point, the game really does revolve around Hazard. While stopping him is important, if Bournemouth allow too many players to get dragged in to his area, concentrating on stopping him, they will leave spaces elsewhere to exploit. Chelsea are particularly good at exploiting those spaces, it was their use of the gaps left, especially on the flanks, as teams threw everything at keeping Hazard quiet, that saw Chelsea pick up goals from all over the pitch. Bournemouth need to be brave and not get caught up with too many players shadowing his every move.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 0-3
Ed003 - 1-2
Ed004 - 1-3
Ed007 - 1-4
Ed018 - 1-3
Ed025 - 1-1
Ed033 - 0-2



Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed018 - 52 points
2. Ed025 - 46 points
3= Ed003 - 45 points
3= Ed007 - 45 points
3= Ed033 - 45 points
6. Ed002 - 40 points
7. Ed004 - 39 points

*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 27th October 2017

Written by Tris Burke



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