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Football News: Premier League Preview Saturday 4th November 2017

Premier League Preview Saturday 4th November 2017
Image from: marchingusa.com

Saturday 4th November 2017

 


Stoke City v Leicester City 12:30pm kick off

Cameron (concussion) slight doubt
Crouch (back injury) slight doubt
Martins Indi (hamstring injury) doubt
Ireland (broken leg back in training) out
Shawcross (thigh injury) slight doubt

Finally Stoke have shown some signs of life and some fight about them, though i was not the pretty watch Mark Hughes was meant to be bringing to the Potteries, at least there was effort. Most importantly of all, it has moved the team clear of the drop zone, before a relegation battle became the order of the day. There were still problems defensively and another team would not have missed some of the good chances the Potters presented to them. By the same token they still lack finishing prowess themselves. In fact the whole thing is very reminiscent of the old Stoke, lots of effort, fight and workrate but little real quality. It should be enough to keep them in the Prem, but not enough to challenge at the top end.
Most important player: Ryan Shawcross. The big defender looked a shadow of the player he once was, which was not exactly world class at his best anyway. A team in Stoke's position can ill afford to be carrying a centre back struggling to get up to speed.

 

Chilwell (knee injury) late fitness test
Huth (foot injury expected return 16th December) out
James (achilles injury expected 18th November) out

Once again the Foxes sack the manager and leap up the table in the short term, but is it just another short term bounce as the players try to impress a new manager or is this a long term return? Claude Puel has certainly got himself a decent enough squad on paper, but their attitude has stank since winning the league, so he has his work cut out to build anything for the long term. The question is whether or not he will be given long enough to build, as Puel is known for working first on building a solid defence, then improving the attacking side of the play. At Southampton he was sacked before he could do anything more than get them tightened up defensively.
Most important player: Riyad Mahrez. If Puel intends to stick with the way he set up in the victory over Everton, there is a lot of pressure on Mahrez's shoulders in this system. He is the key to the way they are looking to play and needs to get himself a lot more involved than he managed last time.

 

Defining Battle: unusually for Leicester, this game is likely to be a midfield battle, with both teams looking to play the ball through midfield, rather than just the long balls to Vardy that brought the Foxes so much success. If Stoke can cut out the supply from wide areas they will have a very good chance of victory.

 

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

 


Huddersfield Town v West Bromwich Albion 3pm kick off

Van La Parra (groin strain) slight doubt
Billing (ankle injury expected return 13th January 2018) out
Hefele (achilles injury expected return 18th November) out
Palmer (hamstring injury 18th November) out
Stankovic (ACL injury no return date yet) out

The Terriers have been gradually slipping down the table as the season goes on, despite the surprise victory over Manchester United. Despite that, 13th, their current position, is as low a place as they have been in all season. Wagner will have to find a way to reverse the slide quickly or they will return to the Championship immediately. Just one win in their last 8 has left them in a worrying position.
Most important player: Chris Lowe. The left back provides most of their width on that side, it is important that he provides good delivery when he gets the opportunity.

 

Dawson (knee injury expected return 23rd December) out
Morrison (achilled injury no return date yet) out

It has now been 8 matches since West Brom picked up a win. After spending a decent amount of money in the summer, Pulis is starting to look a little lost and unable to change things. Worse for him is the fans are turning on him, due to the poor results and poor quality of the football on offer. It will be difficult for anyone to support him if this losing run should continue much longer.
Most important player: Gareth Barry. When a team is struggling, experience can be vital to get through it. There is no one in the English league that has more experience.

 

Defining Battle: the wide areas are key. Huddersfield rely on good delivery from wide areas and, usually, so do Pulis' teams. It is likely that whoever manages to dominate out wide will win.

 

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

 


Newcastle United v Bournemouth 3pm kick off

Merino (back strain no return date yet) doubt
Dummett (hamstring injury expected return 25th November) out

Newcastle have been much stronger in front of the Toon Army at home than they have been away from home. 3 wins out of 5 games has put them in a strong position heading towards the next international break and another good result before it would set them up nicely heading towards the crucial Christmas period.
Most important player: Jamaal Lascelles. The captain's contribution has been crucial this season.

 

Stanislas (groin strain no return date yet) out
Afobe (muscle injury expected return 18th November) out
King (back injury) late fitness test
Fraser (knock) slight doubt
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

This season has been little short of disastrous for the Cherries, with 7 defeats in 10 matches, 4 losses in 5 away from home. Eddie Howe's transfer business has once again failed to have the desired effect, to put it kindly. Bournemouth have not been totally destroyed in many, if any, games, but have also never looked like ripping anyone apart. In fact they fail to really inspire any emotion with their play. They have become utterly insipid.
Most important player: Lewis Cook. The youngster has been the only player to show any signs of genuine quality on a consistent basis this season.

 

Defining Battle: the centre of midfield is key in this game as the main play will come from there for both teams. While Bournemouth look to play the ball around a lot more through midfield, Newcastle look to Shelvey in there to get on the ball and ping out to a wideman. Both teams needs to ensure there is no space there for their opponent to get on the ball there.

 

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


Southampton v Burnley 3pm kick off

Austin (knock) slight doubt
Lemina (ankle injury expected return 18th November) out
Pied (knock) doubt

Midtable mediocrity almost seems fitting for Saints right now. They have so little in the way of outstanding attacking play over the course of 90 minutes, while having such a solid strong defence that midtable seems right. Is this the way Pellegrini is looking to play, or is this just the first step towards his style? That is the big question. If he is doing what previous manager Claude Puel normally does, solidifies the defence, then moves on to work on the attacking play, then the fans will need to show patience with him. If this is it, then it will be difficult to see the fans putting up with this lack of attacking intent in the long term.
Most important player: Wesley Hoedt. The Dutch defender has looked cultured on the ball but a bit on the slow side. That requires him to be at his best if Burnley use Wilson.

 

Defour (groin injury) slight doubt
Wood (tight hamstring) late fitness test
Marney (fitness) doubt
Walters (knee injury no return date yet) out
Heaton (dislocated shoulder no return date yet) out

So far this season has been beyond Clarets' fans wildest expectations, especially away from home. They already have more wins away from home than they managed in the entirety of last season. Will the speculation surrounding Dyche, and the very strong likelihood that Everton will make an official approach for him in the next few days, affect the team? It could derail their whole season.
Most important player: Robbie Brady. When he is on form his delivery from set pieces and wide areas are vital.

 

Defining Battle: if their last matches are anything to by, it will be a game played between two teams employing a similar formation in very different ways. Both revolve around a central attacking midfielder that is the focal point for both attacks. The way to stop both is to cut the supply line to that player and stop them playing through him.

 

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

 


Swansea City v Brighton & Hove Albion 3pm kick off

Olsson (hamstring injury expected return 18th November) out
Rangel (groin strain expected return 18th November) out
Sanches (thigh strain) late fitness test
Britton (groin strain expected return 18th November) out
Bony (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Bartley (MCL injury expected return 12th December) out

The Swans record at home this season has been nothing short of appalling, 4 losses in 5 games is not the record of a team that survives, yet, somehow, they are just above the relegation places as it stands. With just 4 goals scored at home, and only 7 in total this season, it is clear where the problem lies at the club. It is not just that they lack goals, it is that they lack any sense of danger to their play. Slow and laboured is the best description that comes to mind for the way they go about attacking.
Most important player: Sam Clucas. With no fit left back available to Paul Clement, admittedly he only had one to begin with, Clucas will be the only left-footed option available for that side. It will say a lot about how much width Clement will be looking to play with whether he goes with him or Kyle Naughton on the left.

 

Sidwell (back injury no return date yet) out

This match up of avian nicknamed Premier League sides is a chance for Brighton to build on their first away win of the season in their last away match. The Seagulls are currently on an unbeaten run of 3 matches, though just one of those was a win, and looking much more at home in the Premier League over the last few games. With Swansea struggling badly, it is a good chance for Chris Hughton's team to solidify their place in midtable.
Most important player: Glenn Murray. After a couple of previous attempts did not go so well for him, this time around he looks a genuine Premier League player. His experience has been vital to Brighton so far this season.

 

Defining Battle: Swansea only have one proper left back in their squad and he is out injured, so that leaves a real weak spot there to be protected/attacked. The question is, who will do the better job? Will Swansea be able to protect their left flank properly or will Brighton be able to expose that weakness and attack it?

 

Editors' Predictions
ED002 - 0-1
Ed003 - 2-2
Ed004 - 2-1
Ed007 - 2-1
Ed018 - 1-1
Ed025 - 2-0
Ed033 - 1-0

 


West Ham United v Liverpool 5:30pm kick off

Byram (thigh strain expected return 3rd December) out
Fonte (foot injury) major doubt
Cresswell (dead leg) slight doubt
Antonio (rib injury) major doubt
Reid (calf strain) slight doubt
Collins (ankle injury expected return 19th November) out
Zabaleta (suspended) out

This has been a difficult season for Slaven Bilic, there was a tough start with a run of away games to open the season due to athletics being held at the stadium. After those 3 away games were defeats, the Hammers were left playing catch up, while Bilic has been left to deal with fans' discontent. With problems keeping the defence fit, the big problem Bilic has is putting out a settled defence, which has left their defensive record looking terrible. Tactically Bilic has always struggled and this is enhancing the problem. With the owners clearly on the search for a replacement, it is unlikely he will get time to fix the issues.
Most important player: Mark Noble. Once a crowd favourite, but he has been struggling to keep up with the pace of the game in recent years, which has led to numerous calls to drop him. If he is to win back the crowd, he needs to alter his game to protect his deficiencies, rather than making them more and more obvious by the week.

 

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

This has been an odd season for Liverpool, one week they look imperious and capable of playing some breathtaking football, the following week Roy Keane is stealing a quote off Bill Shankly to suggest he would not watch them if they were playing in his garden. Of all the insults that can be levelled at Liverpool, being boring is clearly not one of them! A team that can be as comedic to watch defensively as they can be breathtaking in attack, is interesting at the very least. This is a team that has conceded 15 goals away from home in 5 games, they certainly give good value for money and entertainment to opposing fans. They are not a team that gets a couple up and kills the game, it is beyond their capabilities away from home. It is just left to see if West Ham are capable of taking advantage of their weakness.
Most important player: Joe Gomez. Having a right back who is naturally a centre back has opened up a range of tactical options to Jurgen Klopp, options that he began to explore against Huddersfield last time out. It has created a real unpredictability to their play, as you can not tell whether it is a back 3, back 4 or mix of the 2 simply by looking at the team sheet. If Klopp uses it correctly, then it becomes a genuine, if slight, advantage that can be moved between as the game is played, if he needs to.

 

Defining Battle: most of the battle here is between Liverpool players and themselves. The Liverpool defensive line is incredibly inconsistent and error prone, particularly Mignolet and the 2 centre backs. West Ham have the choice of just waiting for an error and looking to pounce on it or pressuring them to try to force errors. Either way, this game could easily be decided by whether the defence is as solid as they have been at Anfield or whether they go to pieces like they so often do on the road.

 

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

 


Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed018 - 62 points
2. Ed033 - 57 points
3. Ed003 - 52 points
4. Ed025 - 51 points
5= Ed007 - 50 points
5= Ed004 - 50 points
7. Ed002 - 46 points

*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 3rd November 2017

Written by Tris Burke November 04 2017 04:33:26