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Football News: Premier League Matches Preview 12 August 2018

Premier League Matches Preview 12 August 2018
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Liverpool v West Ham United

Expect goals. Klopp v Pellegrini is a match up made for that. In Klopp's first 100 Premier League games in charge of Liverpool, there were a combined 325 goals (208 for, 117 against). The only manager to see more in his first 100 in charge in the competition? Pellegrini of course (329).

Add to that the fact that Klopp's two Premier League openers in charge of Liverpool have seen a huge 13 goals (4-3 win v Arsenal in 2016, 3-3 draw v Watford in 2017), and we have a recipe for goals.

Klopp won both of his previous Premier League clashes with Pellegrini's Man City side in the 2015-16 season, 4-1 at the Etihad and 3-0 at Anfield, albeit the Citizens did come out on top via a penalty shootout in the League Cup final that season. However, the Chilean manager has lost more Premier League games against Liverpool (4) than he has against any other side, losing all three of his visits to Anfield.

To add to the prospect of goals, at least one side has scored 2+ goals in each of the last 10 Premier League encounters between these two teams since a goalless draw in April 2013.
Last season, Liverpool didn't lose a single league match at Anfield, and Klopp will be looking to maintain good home form as they look to finish as high up the table as possible.

Key players:
Sadio Mane - Liverpool have lots of new faces to get the fans excited this season, and in Mo Salah have one of the top goal scorers in world football from 17-18. But Sadio Mane came into his own at the end of the last campaign for Liverpool, including a goal in the Champions League final after the Egyptian had gone off injured. In addition, Mane has one goal and three assists in his three appearances in the league against the Hammers for the Reds, and he has scored in both of his games in the opening weekend under Klopp. He will be looking to take advantage of the opposition paying more attention to Salah and Firmino than they do to him.

Marko Arnautovic - Like the hosts, West Ham have a plethora of new players who will make their debut in this game, but it's their top scorer from last season who they will look to bring the side together. Arnautovic's 11 goals last season was his joint-best return in a single Premier League campaign, and he will look to build on that with what is a much reinforced midfield and attack to support him.


Southampton v Burnley

Burnley are going to have to get used to playing on a Sunday should they qualify for the Europa League. This season will be a larger test of their squad; they made just 34 line-up changes in the Premier League last season, by far the fewest in the competition, and with European group stage games to negotiate at the very least, they will struggle to keep that up.

Last season, they beat a 9-man Chelsea side 3-2 on the opening day, their first ever opening day win in the Premier League having lost each of the three prior to that. The Saints, meanwhile, have won just one of their last 11 Premier League games on MD1, 1-0 over West Brom in 2013.

Whilst Burnley surprised everyone by cruising their way into European football in 2017-18, Mark Hughes managed to get Southampton to survive by the skin of their teeth. The Welshman has only won one of his six previous Premier League meetings with Burnley, losing each of the last two by a 1-0 score line as Stoke City boss.

Hughes has invested in the likes of Stuart Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi to bolster their squad, whilst Burnley will be looking to stick with a tried and tested formula which worked for them so well last season. They won as many league games on their travels (7) as they did at Turf Moor last season, actually picking up more points away from home than they did at home, so perhaps an away game to open their season isn't such a bad thing!

Key players:
Charlie Austin - The injury-prone striker has netted four goals in his three starts against Burnley in the top-flight; against no other side has he scored more. He was Southampton's top scorer in the Premier League last season with 7 goals, despite only making 10 starts out of his 24 total appearances. If he stays fit, his goals could prove crucial.

Sam Vokes - Although he has largely been used a substitute by Sean Dyche (23 of his 30 Premier League appearances in 2017-18 were from the bench), Vokes has scored both of Burnley's two Premier League goals at St Mary's Stadium, including the winner in a 1-0 win last season after he came on from the bench. They say things come in threes...


Arsenal v Manchester City

Of all the opening weekend matches in 2018-19, this is the one with the most intrigue. Unai Emery's first league game as Arsenal boss will be against the defending champions.
But perhaps that's a blessing in disguise. Chelsea lost as defending champions in their opener against Burnley last season and Leicester lost against Hull the season before. Should Man City lose here, it would be the first time in English top-flight history that the defending champions have lost their opening game three seasons in a row.
But Arsenal have been poor against Manchester City of late, losing all three of their games against them in all competitions in 2017-18, conceding three goals in each, including the League Cup final. And in the Premier League alone, the Gunners are winless in five against Man City, losing three.

Somewhat surprisingly, Arsenal have only won two of their last eight opening league games, and the last two have produced 4-3 scores (loss to Liverpool in 2016, win over Leicester last season). By contrast, Man City have won a superb seven season openers in a row, the best ongoing run in the Premier League.
Under Guardiola, they romped their way to record after record in the Premier League last season, and will take some stopping this year too as they look to be the first team to win back-to-back Premier League titles since Manchester United in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Emery doesn't like playing him either - he's winless in 10 previous meetings in all competitions against the former Barcelona boss.

Key players:
Lucas Torreira - Arsenal's new defensive midfielder will be key to stopping Man City from dominating with their passing game. He ranked second of all midfielders in Serie A for both interceptions and tackles won in 2017-18, and he will be so important in the holding midfield role for Arsenal against the Premier League's pass masters.

David Silva - It was a disappointing World Cup for Spain and David Silva, but with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling arriving back from the World Cup late for Man City, David Silva will be key, as he always has been for them. Only against Newcastle United (nine) has he been directly involved in more goals in the Premier League than he has against Arsenal (eight - four goals, four assists), and he has either scored or assisted in each of his last four league games against them.

Written by Reid the Red August 12 2018 10:01:37


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