Football News: Premier League Match Preview Saturday 13th January 2018

 

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Premier League Match Preview Saturday 13th January 2018
Image from: footy4kids.co.uk

Saturday 13th January 2018



Chelsea v Leicester City 3pm kick off


Barkley (fitness) major doubt

January has not been the best month for Antonio Conte, even if you ignore the nasty little public spat with Jose Mourinho. His Chelsea team has not been playing particularly well and have drawn all 3 matches they have played in the month. After finally moving up into 2nd place in the Premier League, that one league draw has dropped them back into 3rd place. They are looking like a team in need of freshening up, with a number of key players struggling for form and little option for manager Antonio Conte to replace them with.
Most important player: Victor Moses. Chelsea have badly missed, surprisingly, Moses at right wing back. His attacking intent provides a good balance to the side.


Silva (ankle injury) slight doubt
Fuchs (illness) slight doubt
Huth (fitness) doubt
Morgan (hamstring injury expected return 27th January) out
Iborra (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Vardy (groin injury) doubt
Simpson (hamstring injury expected return 27th January) out

The Claude Puel revolution has been slowed of late, just 2 wins in the last 5 matches (last 6 if you count the FA Cup draw with Fleetwood Town) and 3 of those games finished in defeat. Despite that poor run, the Foxes still sit 8th, just 4 points behind Burnley above them. Leicester have the look of a team in transition, it looks like the right time to move away from the title-winning players as injuries are becoming more frequent amongst them, particularly the defensive players.
Most important player: Harry Maguire. Despite receiving obscene amounts of plaudits this season, Maguire still struggles to do the basics of defending. Leicester's title was built on a team doing the basics of defending well and then springing forward to catch teams on the break. The England centre back needs to concentrate on learning those basics or Leicester will always be open at the back.



Defining Battle: the key for Leicester will be to shut off the supply line from Azpilicueta to Morata, which has already led to 6 goals this season. Azpilicueta's delivery has been first class, but difficult to stop with him being the spare man in a back 3. The Foxes need to find a way to deny him the time and space to put those balls in.


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


Crystal Palace v Burnley 3pm kick off


Schlupp (ankle injury) out
Townsend (ankle injury) out
Dann (ACL knee injury) out
Puncheon (PCL tear) out
Loftus-Cheek (knock) doubt
M Sakho (calf strain expected return 4th February) out
Ward (groin strain) doubt
Wickham (ACL injury expected return 30th January) out

Palace's impressive Premier League form has continued unabated under Roy Hodgson, gradually moving themselves away from the drop zone to sit in a fairly safe mid-table position of 14th. They have just one loss in their last 10 matches in the Premier League and they are now out of both cup competitions, so can concentrate all their attention upon the league.
Most important player: Wilfried Zaha. The forward has become the key figure in the Palace side. Without him the Eagles lack any kind of attacking threat, with him they pick up plenty of penalties. His driving runs at the heart of defences has seen him become the player with the most penalties awarded in his favour in the Premier League this season.



Mee (knock) slight doubt
Long (knock) late fitness test
Tarkowski (knock) slight doubt
Arfield (tight hamstring) late fitness test
Wood (knee injury expected return 20th January) major doubt
Ward (knee injury expected return 20th January) major doubt
Brady (knee injury) out
Heaton (dislocated shoulder expected return 31st January) out

Results have dropped off badly recently, as well as the defeat in the FA Cup at the weekend, there have been 5 Premier League games played since they last picked up a win. As they had clearly been overperforming in the early part of the season, a dip was bound to happen at some point. There is only so long a team heavily reliant on defenders bodies being thrown in front of shots can continue to pick up wins when they score less than a goal per game average across the season. 19 goals in 22 matches has to be a genuine worry for manager Sean Dyche, as it is holding the team back.
Most important player: James Tarkowski. If fit to play, Tarkowski is the player who has given away the most penalties in the Premier League this season, which is the last thing you need when facing the player who has been awarded the most.


Defining Battle: Palace's team is built around getting the ball to Zaha and letting him run at defences and see what happens. The Clarets are built around a defensive system of packed bodies to deflect shots away. Will they be able to deal with an unpredictable player running at them with pace and the ball at his feet. Having a packed defence could be as much of a hindrance as a help, as it only takes one foot to be poked out to bring Zaha down. Burnley have to stop him getting up a head of steam, breaking up his runs before he gets into the box.


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





Huddersfield Town v West Ham United 3pm kick off


Quaner (hamstring injury expected return 20th January) major doubt
Cranie (ankle injury expected return 20th January) major doubt
Lowe (foot injury expected return 20th January) major doubt
Kachunga (MCL injury expected return 10th March) out
Stankovic (ACL injury expected return 3rd February) out

The Terriers are not losing as often as they were, but they have gone 4 Premier League games without a win. So far they have maintained a safe midtable 11th position, but they will begin to slide once more if they fail to turn their form around. With the arrival of Alex Pritchard from Norwich City to join loanee Terence Kongolo from AS Monaco in this window, Huddersfield have decided to invest in order to secure their place at the top table.
Most important player: Christopher Schindler. The German centre back is the key figure at the back.


Reid (groin injury) doubt
Arnautovic (tight hamstring) slight doubt
Cresswell (back injury) slight doubt
Oxford (ankle injury) slight doubt
Sakho (knee injury) out
Collins (muscle injury) out
Fernandes (ankle injury) out
Byram (thigh strain) doubt
Fonte (ankle injury expected return 20th January) out
Antonio (calf injury) doubt
Lanzini (knock) slight doubt
Carroll (knock) major doubt

The arrival of David Moyes has revived the Hammers and given them fresh hope, but they are not out of the woods yet. Just two points separate them from the drop zone, so it is not time for the fans to relax just yet. This transfer window is a huge one for the East London side, as they need to invest wisely in the right players, for a change, if they are to maintain their place in the Premier League. One thing that will not be lacking is workrate, as Moyes has made sure to instil work ethic and improved the fitness to allow the players to see a match through.
Most important player: Arthur Masuaku. The left back's emergence as a quality wing back has been a revelation and given the team pace and width.


Defining Battle: at home Huddersfield usually like to return to the high press David Wagner employed so successfully last season. Moyes tends to employ the long ball to a forward anyway, which can often be the best way to break a press. So the game is likely to be decided on how well they can employ the long balls and whether the forward they have up top is capable of holding up the ball. If Carroll is fit, for once, then he gives the Hammers a player fully capable of performing that role, however if, as usual, he is out, then someone needs to be shoehorned into the role once more.


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





Newcastle United v Swansea City 3pm kick off


Lascelles (groin injury) slight doubt
Mbemba (knee injury) slight doubt
Lejeune (foot injury) major doubt
Mitrovic (back injury) major doubt
Gamez (ankle injury) out
Elliot (thigh injury) minor doubt

Rafael Benitez will be praying that Jamaal Lascelles is fit for this game, as the Toon's results with him missing are much poorer than they are when the captain plays. With Newcastle perilously close to the drop zone on points, despite being in 13th position in the table, this is a game that they can ill afford to lose. A win is needed to put a bit of distance between the two sides and put the North East side into a position where they can look to attract a better calibre of players.
Most important player: Paul Dummett. His return to fitness has finally given Benitez some left footed options to use at left back.


Sanches (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Rangel (calf strain expected return 22nd January) out
Abraham (hip injury) late fitness test
Sung-yeung (calf strain) doubt
Britton (calf strain) doubt
Naughton (suspended) out

This disastrous season, which has been most notable for the 'big' signing of Renato Sanches, who has been more valuable in comedic terms than anything else, sees the Swans still rooted to the bottom of the table, despite the change of manager. While Carlos Carvalhal has managed to pull off a win, he has not yet been able to fix all the problems creating chances, let alone scoring goals, that he has inherited. At least the midtable places are still well within reach if he can improve the team's form and begin to get some positive results.
Most important player: Martin Olsson. The Swede is Swansea's sole left back and so there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders to perform.


Defining Battle: neither side boast a clinical striker to feed, neither are particularly strong going forward and both are struggling to defend because of it. This will leave the match to be won and lost (or drawn) in a midfield battle by midfielders who break forward successfully to support attacks. Just having an extra player in the box when a cross is delivered can create the uncertainty needed to score a goal.


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



Watford v Southampton 3pm kick off


Femenia (hamstring injury) out
Hughes (hamstring injury expected return 20th January) out
Britos (bruised foot expected return 20th January) out
Kaboul (fractured metatarsal expected return 20th January) out
Success (knee injury expected return 31st January) out
Chalobah (knee injury expected return 3rd February) out
Cathcart (knee injury expected return 20th January) out
Hoban (ACL injury) out

Despite all the summer changes and a run of 7 defeats in the last 9 Premier League games, Watford are still sat just inside the top half of the table in 10th. However they are now very close to sliding down the table and are only 5 points ahead of the drop zone. Unless Marco Silva arrests the damaging run, which has seen his reputation take a huge hit, the Hornets could well find their season ending in a difficult relegation battle.
Most important player: Richarlison. The Brazilian's form has dipped recently. If Watford are to begin to look up the table once more, they will require him to be at his sparkling best.


Pied (knock) late fitness test
Hoedt (concussion) late fitness test
Austin (hamstring injury expected return 3rd March) out
Soares (ankle injury) late fitness test

Saints' form has fallen off a cliff in recent times and it has now been 9 league games since they won a game and they have lost 5 of those 9. That has left them teetering just above the drop zone, a long way from where they expected to be at the start of the season. A real lack of team coherence has cost the South Coast side badly, leaving them struggling to do anything other than rely on some solo magic from the attacking trio who play behind the striker, none of whom are performing well this season.
Most important player: Ryan Bertrand. The left back has not been attacking with his customary gusto this season and it has been badly missed by Southampton.


Defining Battle: Watford's disorganisation at the back could leave them wide open to attack, but Soton's attack is just as poorly organised and extremely insipid. Unless Boufal or Tadic do something special, Saints offer little threat in the final third and the game will mostly come down to whether or not Watford have the ability to break down their defence without getting caught on the counter.


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



West Bromwich Albion v Brighton & Hove Albion 3pm kick off


Gibbs (muscular injury) major doubt
Evans (foot injury) slight doubt
Phillips (hamstring injury) major doubt
Dawson (fatigue) slight doubt
Chadli (thigh muscle strain expected return 24th February) out
Morrison (achilles injury expected return 20th January) out

Worryingly for the Baggies, even the new manager bounce has not improved their form and they are still without a win since the opening 2 games of the season. They are now only ahead of bottom club Swansea on goal difference, with little (or no) sign of any improvement in their play since Tony Pulis was sacked. Normally you would expect Alan Pardew to produce good form initially which fades later on, but this time around Pardew has done nothing but watch his team struggle and slide further down the table. They have the look and feel of a club in the depths of a crisis that will see them relegated.
Most important player: Chris Brunt. His delivery from set pieces is probably West Brom's best chance to score.


Brown (ACL injury) out
Sidwell (back injury) out

Brighton are another of the team's that look deceptively safe in midtable but are only a few points clear of relegation and struggling for form. Just one win in 10 Prem games, 5 of which they lost, has been enough to keep them in 12th place, barely. Unless they turn around their form quickly relegation will be a genuine possibility, particularly their away form, which has been poor. Eleven away games has seen them score just 5 goals as they lost 7 of those matches. With little sign of a goalscorer emerging from the ranks and even less of one arriving in the transfer window, it is difficult to see how the Seagulls can hope to survive.
Most important player: Glenn Murray. The closest they have to an out-and-out goalscorer, Murray does a decent job but just lacks the requisite attributes to be a top class player. However, he does have more goals in him than the rest of the team and they need goals.


Defining Battle: two teams that lack pace at the back, leading to them both defending deep, leaving little space for the opposition to get in behind. The likelihood is that this will come down to who best exploits the setpieces they get. Both are strong in the air at the back so it might well take a cleverly worked setpiece to create good chances.


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



Tottenham Hotspur v Everton 5:30pm kick off


Winks (ankle injury expected return 21st January) major doubt
Rose (knee injury expected return 31st January) out
Alderweireld (hamstring injury expected return 10th February) out

At the start of the season Spurs were seen as title challengers, but the season has turned out to be a very challenging one for the North London club as they have found themselves outside the top 4. A couple of poor spells has seen them drop down to 5th as they struggled to adapt after Alderweireld suffered a long term injury. With the Belgian defender on his way back to fitness and form having picked up, Spurs can continue to look up the table and aim high.
Most important player: Dele Alli. If ever a player needs to refind form quickly it is Alli. Last season he was a key piece of the team, this season he is more of an anchor holding them back. Like all young players he is suffering a serious loss of form following his emergence and Spurs will have to be patient with him until he gets back to his best.


Keane (foot injury expected return 20th January) major doubt
Baines (calf strain) out
Stekelenburg (groin injury expected return 20th January) major doubt
Funes Mori (ACL injury expected return 1st April) out
Coleman (broken leg) out

With Everton looking safe from relegation regardless of the arrival of Sam Allardyce, it now looks a questionable decision to appoint a man to save the club from a relegation fight they were not actually in. Now it looks like a panic move by the board of the Toffees to choose a man very few of the fans actually wanted. That is especially a problem when performances and results are as dire as they have been over the last few weeks. The arrival of Cenk Tosun might well improve matters, but it is not going to fix Allardyce's incredibly defensive way of playing, which is totally unlike the Everton 'School of Science' that the fans want to see. Allardyce will have to change or lose the fans. Lose the fans and there is only one way this will end and it will not be in a long term job for Allardyce. This was his last chance with a big club and it is all in his hands whether or not he makes a success of it.
Most important player: Jordan Pickford. For a while he looked like the only success from the summer transfer window for the Blues, but now even he is beginning to look uncertain. They will be in real trouble if his performances do not return to the level he showed at the start of the season.


Defining Battle: this should be all about Spurs breaking down the Everton defence, as the Toffees sit deep and look to catch them on the break. Will the Toffees backline be able to cope with the pace and movement of the Spurs attack and be able to keep Harry Kane quiet? Will Kane's nous be too much for the Everton centre backs, or will the Tottenham striker have to wait a bit longer for his first goal of 2018?


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



Editor's Predictions Table
1= Ed002 - 137 points
1= Ed025 - 137 points
3. Ed033 - 136 points
4= Ed003 - 135 points
4= Ed004 - 135 points
6. Ed018 - 133 points
7. Ed007 - 121 points


*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 11th January 2018 (not including results for that day)

Written by Tris Burke



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