Football News: Premier League Match Preview Tuesday 12th December 2017

 

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Premier League Match Preview Tuesday 12th December 2017
Image from: flintrehab.com

Tuesday 12th December 2017



Burnley v Stoke City 7:45pm kick off


Brady (knee surgery) out
Mee (knee injury) late fitness test
Lowton (knee injury) late fitness test
Marney (fitness) doubt
Walters (knee injury) out
Heaton (dislocated shoulder) out

Burnley's home record has improved of late, after a better start away from home initially they now have a 4 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses record both home and away. At home home they are a much tougher proposition defensively, with just 3 goals conceded in those 8 games, which is something that could be a problem for a Stoke side which struggles to score goals. The Clarets will be hoping to improve their goals scored figures against a leaky defence, as they have only managed 6 goals at home in the 8 games. They do come into this match on the back of a good win against Watford, which has given them a bit of a buffer over the teams below them. That 5 point gap could be crucial at the end of the season for the Lancashire side. They are still less than 3 points off a top 4 place, after 16 games, who would have predicted that at the start of the season?
Most important player: Jack Cork. Burnley have been, unusually for them under Sean Dyche, badly disrupted by injuries to key players. Cork has so far managed to remain a constant and much needed anchor to the midfield.


Johnson (knee injury) late fitness test
Martins Indi (groin strain expected return 31st January 2018) out
Ireland (broken leg) out

Just 3 points clear of the drop zone, with a woeful defensive record to match up with the awful away record, the Potters are really struggling to maintain any kind of form or consistency at all. They have now lost 3 of their last 4, won just once in their last 6 and have shown nothing to suggest their football has moved on at all in quality. On the road they have already lost 5 and won just one, conceding 20 goals in 8 games, while scoring only 9. Mark Hughes has been backed comparatively heavily in the transfer market, but has little to show for it. I am not sure whether to applaud the Stoke board for their patience or to criticise them for sticking with a manager who is clearly failing to achieve the targets set to him.
Most important player: Peter Crouch. Even if he does not start the match, at some point Hughes always seems to turn to Crouch and the long ball game he was brought in to move Stoke away from.


Defining Battle: the key for Burnley will be to clean up the second ball when Stoke go long, which they will at some point, stopping the second ball from breaking to one of the Potters' players when they clear it. Players like Cork will be essential to mop up the loose balls around the edge of the box.


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



Crystal Palace v Watford 8pm kick off


Sakho (calf muscle tear) out
Cabaye (knock) slight doubt
Ward (groin strain expected return 16th December) major doubt
Delaney (minor surgery) out
Chung-Yong (muscle injury) out
Wickham (ACL injury expected return 1st January 2018) out

After their third draw in a row and fourth in five games, Palace have returned to the bottom of the Premier League table, for now at least. Despite that, there has been a clear improvement in performances and the Eagles have the look of a team that is going to move up the table as the season goes on. They are now just two points behind 18th, a carrot that is dangling very tantalisingly in front of them. The only worry is that team togetherness could have been damaged by Christian Benteke's selfish and ridiculous actions over the penalty.
Most important player: Luka Milivojevic. Will he be over his sulk at Benteke? They need him at his best to protect a defence that will be missing Mamadhou Sakho.


Femenia (muscular injury) late fitness test
Hughes (hamstring injury expected return 30th December) out
Britos (knock) late fitness test
Okaka (calf strain) out
Success (knee injury expected return 23rd December) out
Chalobah (knee injury expected return 3rd February 2018) out
Kaboul (hamstring injury expected return 20th January 2018) out
Cathcart (knee injury) out
Hoban (ACL injury) out
Zeegelaar (suspended) out

Suddenly things are not quite as rosey in the Watford garden, it has been 3 games since they won and 2 of those matches were defeats, seeing them slip down the table to 9th. Has the Marco Silva bubble burst for the Hornets? Probably not, it was more likely to be down to the fact they faced 3 teams in the top 7 in a row. Now they have a chance to recover their form with 3 struggling teams in a row to play.
Most important player: Adrian Mariappa. The veteran defender is having a purple patch late in his career.


Defining Battle: the backline of Watford has been heavily disrupted by injuries and so is very much makeshift at times. That gives something for Palace to exploit. The key is for the likes of Wilfried Zaha to attack that shakey back 3 or 4 at pace. If the Hornets can find ways to stop the Palace players getting up a head of steam and running at them, they should win comfortably.


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



Huddersfield Town v Chelsea 8pm kick off


Billing (ankle injury expected return 13th January 2018) out
Hefele (achilles injury expected return 26th December) doubt
Stankovic (ACL injury expected return 23rd December) out

The Terriers finally broke a run of defeats, following 4 losses in a row they picked up a win at the weekend to arrest their slide down the table. At home they are a much stronger side than away, managing to win half of their 8 games but they have scored 8 and conceded 8 in those games. There does seem a real tendency for them to fold if they go behind and concede more, despite being well organised most of the time. Give them something to hold onto though and they are very much terrier-like.
Most important player: Tom Ince. He is becoming a liability for Huddersfield, time for him to step up and offer something. Anything.


Morata (back injury) slight doubt
Drinkwater (illness) slight doubt
Luiz (knee injury) out

Following their surprise defeat against the Hammers, Antonio Conte has been extremely vocal complaining about tiredness for his players, which seems odd as he continues to pretty much pick the same players every game. You would think, if they are so tired, why not rotate more? Or would that not allow him to moan about the lack of quality back ups he has available to push the club into spending in the January window? Maybe I am just cynical, but it does feel like it was just an excuse after his team was outworked by a struggling West Ham side fighting for their life at the bottom of the table. Chelsea were actually on a good run of 7 games without defeat, 6 of them wins, but there was little sign of the attacking fluency they had shown last season, as they move away from a front 3 to add an extra midfielder. It has made the team look more defensively solid, but it has taken away hugely from the attack.
Most important player: N'Golo Kante. If any player should be suffering from tiredness due to the extra games, it would be Kante, who never stops running.


Defining Battle: Chelsea have to get at Huddersfield high up the pitch and not allow this game to be dogged down into a midfield battle. They have struggled to avoid that in recent games, with that extra man in there over last season, it is not really working as Drinkwater struggles for fitness and Bakayoko has struggled to fit in. Perhaps it is time to revert to the previous system and trust in the defence to cope?


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



Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed033 - 93 points
1= Ed018 - 93 points
3. Ed002 - 89 points
4. Ed025 - 88 points
5. Ed004 - 85 points
6. Ed003 - 83 points
7. Ed007 - 79 points


*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 7th December 2017

Written by Tris Burke



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