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Football News: Premier League Match Preview Saturday 14th April 2018

Premier League Match Preview Saturday 14th April 2018
Image from: fudo-pichi.info

Saturday 14th April 2018

 


Southampton v Chelsea 12:30pm kick off

 

Long (ankle injury) slight doubt
Davis (Achilles injury) out
Lemina (illness) slight doubt
McQueen (groin strain) out
Stephens (suspended) out

Saints are on a terrible run of form, 3 defeats in a row and 6 without a win, which has left them 3 points behind safety, though they do have a game in hand over many around them, would anyone have any faith in them to win it the way they are going? There is a complete lack of confidence within the side, heads drop the moment a goal goes against them, even when it is an equaliser, rather than puts them behind. A good result against a Chelsea side that is also out of form would be a huge boost to morale but another defeat feels like it would end the chances of survival. Mark Hughes might or not be the right choice to rescue the side, but he was brought in too late to give him the best chance of doing so.
Most important player: Dusan Tadic. Every time I watch Saints play he is ineffective, at best, a liability, at worst, yet he still seems to be in the team every week. Maybe Hughes can do something similar to the job he did with Shaqiri at Stoke and at least make him effective, even if it is just five seconds where he creates something while he spends the other 89 minutes strutting around doing nothing. At least he would be having an effect on the game then!

 

Zappacosta (muscle injury) slight doubt
Ampadu (broken ankle) out
Luiz (ankle injury injury expected return 21st April) out

Their terrible run of form has dropped them out of second, down to fifth, and almost certainly out of the top four with a ten point deficit to recover. They have not looked quite right all season, but they have looked more and more out of sorts as the season has gone on. Their play has become much more defensive, yet their defence has become more open, they seem disorganised and lacking in any kind of team cohesion at all. If ever there was a case of eleven individuals not working together, this is it. It has become a recurring theme with Chelsea, a new manager comes in, first season all the players get behind him and they play as a team and win the title. The second season it all gradually disintegrates and the egos divide. Perhaps it is time for the Chelsea heirarchy to have a clearout of some of the players that seem to think they are bigger than the club? There is only one player who can truly be said to have performed well enough to hold his head up at the end of the season, the one player whose ego is never a problem, who just gets his head down and puts in work, week in, week out: N'Golo Kante. Perhaps it is time to get a few more of that kind of player, that are just there to work for the team.
Most important player: Thibaut Courtois. It has not been a good season at all for the Belgian, time he started to live up to his billing as one of the world's best keepers. Right now he is nowhere near the level of the top keepers.

 

Defining Battle: Chelsea have been struggling of late down the flanks, Moses has been woeful and Alonso just wanders off into the centre and lacks the pace to get back. Soton's goalscorers thrive on crosses coming in from wide. If Saints can exploit Chelsea's problems there, they can have a lot of joy.

 

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

 


Burnley v Leicester City 3pm kick off

 

N'Koudou (tight hamstring) late fitness test
Mee (shin injury) out
Gudmundsson (calf strain) slight doubt
Walters (fitness) major doubt
Arfield (calf strain) out
Defour (knee injury) out
Brady (knee injury) out

If it was not for their long run of eleven games without a win, Burnley would be battling for fifth, instead of seventh with the slight possibility of sixth. Regardless, the run of four wins in a row has given them a very real chance of qualifying for the Europa League next season, and that is way beyond even the wildest fantasies Clarets' fans went into the season with. It is an achievement to compare with thier opponents' recent title win, when you look at comparative budgets, particularly wages. Maybe people have been too quick to dismiss the Prem as being all about money?
Most important player: Jack Cork. The English midfielder has been key to Burnley's improvement this season. Can he do enough to win a place in the England World Cup squad? He would certainly deserve it.

 

Iborra (hamstring injury) major doubt
James (Achilles injury expected return 1st June) out
Amartey (hamstring injury) major doubt
Ndidi (suspended) out

Unless Arsenal by some miracle win the Europa League, the Foxes chances of a return to European competition have been nigh on ended by a defeat to Newcastle last week, unless they win this game. This is about as close to a 'must win' game as you can get when you are talking about playing for a top 7 place. It is a far cry from their heroics of just a couple of years ago, with egos badly affecting the club ever since and no signs of that being fixed any time soon. Will Claude Puel be allowed to clear out the problem players or will they continue to hold onto primadonnas like Riyad Mahrez?
Most important player: Kasper Schmeichel. He has made a lot of mistakes this season, he needs to improve.

 

Defining Battle: both teams play a similar style, it is just that Burnley have been playing it better, working harder, wanting it more all season. Leicester will need to up their game, to get bodies in the way and look to draw the Clarets on to them so they can spring in behind using the pace of Vardy.

 

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

 


Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion 3pm kick off

 

Benteke (groin injury) late fitness test
Wickham (groin strain) out
Schlupp (ankle injury expected return 28th April) out
Sorloth (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Sako (broken ankle expected return 18th August) out
Dann (ACL injury) out
Puncheon (PCL tear) out
Speroni (knee injury) slight doubt

Conceding late goals has cost Palace really badly in recent weeks and seen them still in relegation trouble that it had looked like they would be well clear of a couple of months ago. Going into this derby match, the Eagles know that the Seagulls will be really up for it and they have to match them for intensity and not let their guard down late in the game. A bad result and they could be back in the bottom three before they play again and that would be devastating for them after all they have done to rescue their terrible start.
Most important player: Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Great on the ball but needs to do more without it or he will cost them.

 

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

Safety is almost achieved already, now they have to make sure they keep going, rather than get out the deck chairs and relax. That is why this game is such a good one for Chris Hughton to have right now, not only will it mean he has something to focus the players minds on, as this is so important to the fans, but he will have a lever to use afterwards regardless of the result. With their run in being so incredibly hard, Man City, Spurs, Burnley, Man Utd and Liverpool their remaining games, this is their best hope of making it over the line.
Most important player: Dale Stephens. With regular midfield partner Davy Propper suspended, Stephens becomes even more important to the Seagulls.

 

Defining Battle: a lot depends on how Hodgson chooses to set up Palace. If he decides to revert back to the lamp post up top, then Brighton have a huge advantage as he offers nothing. If Hodgson sticks with Zaha and Townsend up top, their movement and pace will cause serious problems in a slow backline and keep them pegged back.

 

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

 


Huddersfield Town v Watford 3pm kick off

 

Hogg (knock) slight doubt
Kachunga (ankle injury expected return 1st June) out
Williams (broken ankle) out
Hefele (knee injury expected return 21st April) out

Despite being outside the relegation places currently, the Terriers are anything but safe as their form has been so poor of late they could very easily fail to win another game this season. By the same token, they are perfectly capable of pulling out a shock win or two to survive. You just do not know what you will get with them from week to week. The big failing they have had is from wide areas where the wide players have been a real letdown, in particular Tom Ince, who has been nothing short of catastrophically bad since signing.
Most important player: Alex Pritchard. Not quite lived up to the promise he showed when he joined in January. He needs to do more with the ball.

 

Deulofeu (fractured foot expected return 5th May) out
Kabasele (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Cleverley (hamstring injury) out
Kaboul (fractured metatarsal expected return 5th May) out
Chalobah (knee injury) out
Hoban (ACL injury) out

The Hornets have not won since achieving safety and look like a team on their holidays for the most part. The arrival of Javi Gracia has not yet managed to sort out the disorganisation at the back, leaving them very vulnerable to losing games they should win comfortably. It does not leave Gracia much time to win another go at managing the team for next season!
Most important player: Abdoulaye Doucoure. Offers the energy and drive they sometimes lack in the team.

 

Defining Battle: Huddersfield have to be brave and really take the game to Watford. The defence is shambolic under pressure and Huddersfield will have the vociferous home crowd backing them, they need the three points.

 

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

 


Swansea City v Everton 3pm kick off

 

Clucas (knock) late fitness test
van der Hoorn (shoulder injury) doubt
Olsson (knock) slight doubt
Fer (Achilles injury) out
Bony (ACL injury) out
Rangel (groin injury) slight doubt
Sanches (hamstring injury expected return 28th April) out

Despite all the plaudits coming their way since Carlos Carvalhal took charge, the Swans are still not out of danger yet and are on a run of three games without a win, even though one of those games was against a hapless Baggies side. They can ill afford to relax and let their guard down just yet. It is in their own hands at the moment, as they have two of the current bottom three left to play in the final weeks.
Most important player: Alfie Mawson. Despite numerous errors, somehow Mawson has become established as a first choice and highly rated defender. It is relying on players like him that have put them in this position.

 

Jagielka (knock) slight doubt
Holgate (ankle injury) out
Sigurdsson (knee injury 13th May) out
Mangala (knee injury) out
McCarthy (broken leg) out
Stekelenburg (groin injury) out

Despite the constant negative tactics, or perhaps because of them, Everton are safe from relegation after a terrible start to the season. Though questions must be asked of the board who panicked and appointed someone to save them from a relegation they already looked to be climbing clear of, one thing is for sure the desired result was achieved. Even if the way it was achieved has not met with much approval from the vast majority of Toffees' fans.
Most important player: Leighton Baines. The left back has slowed down in recent years but is still capable of delivering good quality balls into forwards.

 

Defining Battle: Swansea will have to come out and have a go, which gives Everton the chance to sit back and hit them on the break using the pace in wide areas. It is up to the Swans to dominate the ball enough to force Everton's midfield to drop back deep and not allow them to be in position to support the striker.

 

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

 


Liverpool v Bournemouth 5:30pm kick off

 

Clyne (knock) major doubt
Firmino (neck injury) slight doubt
Klavan (muscle injury) out
Lallana (hamstring injury expected return 13th May) out
Matip (thigh injury expected return 1st July) out
Gomez (ankle injury expected return 28th April) out
Can (back injury expected return 13th May) out

Liverpool are unbeaten at home in the Premier League this season, but now they have the distraction of the Champions League semi-final to think about, so there is every chance of the team not being at their best due to the distraction. There is also the after the Lord Mayor's show aspect of coming back down to earth after a memorable victory over Man City. There are also worries over how much that has taken out of the players. All of which could make this one of the most difficult home games of the season for the Reds.
Most important player: Jordan Henderson. The captain will be fresh, after being banned in midweek, and he will want to produce a performance to remind Jurgen Klopp that he should be back in when the Roma game comes along.

 

Mings (fitness expected return 5th May) out
Ibe (illness) slight doubt
Stanislas (knee injury expected return 1st August) out
A Smith (MCL injury expected return 5th May) out

Just two losses in fourteen Premier League matches has secured safety for Bournemouth for another season. This enables them to play with freedom and take the game to the opposition without fear. The big problem is that they are very open at the back and they will be facing a team high on confidence with a very strong attack. The way Eddie Howe plays will mean they will go at Liverpool and take the game to them and try and win, which could see a great game in prospect.
Most important player: Marc Pugh. Pugh has had to fill in for the injured Stanislas but he does not possess the pace or skill of the man he replaces.

 

Defining Battle: the Bournemouth front two are pacey and will rely on movement, rather than looking to hold up the ball, they will want to run the channels and get balls in behind. That is exactly what the Liverpool backline do not like to deal with. The key will be how they cope with that challenge.

 

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

 


Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City 7:45pm kick off

 

Rose (calf strain) slight doubt
Walker-Peters (hamstring injury) major doubt
Winks (ankle injury) out

Spurs are in excellent form, six wins in a row lifting them level on points with Liverpool and they have a game in hand as well. Will they also be able to take advantage of Man City's little wobble as the season comes to an end? They are one of the clubs most able to apply a high press and take advantage of any weakness. They have the intensity and pace to put pressure on City in the midfield and across the backline, rather than dropping off like so many teams have done this season and conceded the game.
Most important player: Hugo Lloris. His form has been poor recently, something that cannot happen against a team with the quality in attack of City.

 

Mendy (fitness) major doubt
Aguero (knee injury expected return 22nd April) doubt
Stones (adductor strain) out
Fernandinho (suspended) out

Though still well clear at the top, they are suddenly looking tired and vulnerable, instead of just rolling over allcomers. They have been caught out in cup competitions by teams that went at them and really struggled to cope, but none of the lesser lights in the Prem have taken their cue from it. Instead they sat back and ceded possession, allowing City to dominate them. Suddenly though, they have had to face teams that take the game to them and they could not handle it at all. Not only did they look defensively shakey, they also looked jaded, lacking the intensity they showed early in the season.
Most important player: Ilkay Gundogan. Without Fernandinho it will be up to Gundogan to protect the defence and make sure Spurs do not overrun them.

 

Defining Battle: Spurs are not going to give City time and space, they will have seen what has happened over the last few games and will use that as the blueprint to beat City. Get in their faces, give them no time to settle and their passing falls apart. If City cannot sort out how to break the press, with longer, accurate passes while under pressure, they will struggle badly.

 

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

 


Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed002 - 214 points
2. Ed018 - 209 points
3. Ed025 - 208 points
4. Ed007 - 207 points
5. Ed033 - 204 points
6. Ed004 - 202 points
7. Ed003 - 186 points

 

*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 13th April 2018 (not including results for that day)

Written by Tris Burke April 14 2018 05:52:55