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Football News: Premier League Previews 13 April 2019

Premier League Previews 13 April 2019
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Tottenham Hotspur v Huddersfield Town


After their huge win over Manchester City in midweek and a win over Crystal Palace in their last league match, Spurs will be bouncing going into this match as they look to win three straight matches at their new home.


Huddersfield are, of course, already relegated, so this game will have a strange feel really. Spurs do need the win for their top four ambitions, however, as they start today just one point above Arsenal. They simply can't afford a slip-up here.


Spurs have won a superb 13 of their last 16 home matches in all competitions, so they are very strong on home soil, and that will make this even harder for Huddersfield, who have only lost more league games in a season once before than their 25 losses this campaign, suffering 28 defeats in 1987-88. Few would bet against them at least matching that total this season, with five games left to play - the Terriers have only avoided defeat in two of their last 21 matches in all competitions, losing their last five in a row.


It really is hard to find a positive for Huddersfield for this match - they haven't even beaten Spurs since 1956, losing five and drawing three of eight meetings in all competitions since, and it would have to be a huge reversal in form for them to change that today.


But there is one possible silver lining - Huddersfield's opponents Spurs have lost more Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom of the table than any other team in the competition's history (13), including one to West Brom in May last season, so perhaps that will give Huddersfield some reason for optimism as they look to end the campaign on a high.


Key players:


Son Heung-Min - With Kane seemingly out, Son will take the goalscoring mantle as he has done all season for Spurs. In the five games he's started and Kane hasn't featured for Pochettino's side this season, Son has scored six goals. He shines in the spotlight, and he will feel he can again today.


Aaron Mooy - With Huddersfield already relegated, it's hard to pick key players, so I've gone with Mooy as he is their star man. He is the one member of this Huddersfield squad who without a doubt deserves to remain a Premier League player next season, and he also scored against Leicester last week.





Brighton and Hove Albion v Bournemouth


The relegation zone is just beginning to creep up on Brighton. They go into today's match five points clear of Cardiff in 18th, but with the Welsh side visiting the Seagulls in midweek after this match, that deficit could be cut in a matter of days. Chris Hughton will be well aware of that going into this game.


Brighton go into this match having lost each of their last three games in all competitions without so much as scoring a single goal. Whilst they did not disgrace themselves at Wembley versus Man City last time out after going behind very early on, it still hasn't helped their form, and Hughton will want his side to pick up a hugely important three points today to ease the pressure on their midweek match.


However, their visitors today Bournemouth are not on a strong run of form themselves. They've only one won of their last nine league matches, and away from home they have lost 11 of their last 12. Brighton will look to take advantage of that today.


However, the Seagulls are without a win in nine league meetings with Bournemouth, and have lost two of their three Premier League encounters. They did beat them 3-1 in the FA Cup third round a few months ago, but the league is a different kettle of fish, and Brighton need to improve on that record versus the Cherries today.


But this Bournemouth side can be got at. After conceding three at home to Burnley, they became only the second side in Premier League history to concede 60+ goals in four consecutive season in the competition, after Wigan Athletic. They must surely improve on that defence sooner or later, because it will come back to bite them if they don't address the issue.


Key players:


Glenn Murray - Murray played 19 league games for Bournemouth in 2015-16, and although he has just one goal in his last seven league appearances, he will know all about Eddie Howe's side, perhaps enough to cause a shaky Bournemouth defence some problems.


Callum Wilson - Wilson has failed to score in his last three league games having scored in each of the three in a row before this. A return to form for him would help Bournemouth get over this rut of form they are in.





Burnley v Cardiff City


This is a huge game at the foot of the table. After Burnley picked up a massive three points at Bournemouth last week, they will now know that a win here will all but see them safe from relegation for another season. As for Cardiff, this is simply a game they need to win, as they start the day eight points behind Burnley and five points adrift of safety. There will only be 15 points left to play for after today, so a win for Neil Warnock's side is crucial to their hopes so late in the season.


Cardiff have, of course, lost five of their last six league games, although the last two have been against Chelsea and Manchester City. Away from home, they have lost 11 of their last 14 matches in all competitions, only beating Leicester and Southampton in this time. They need to put that away form behind them today, that's for sure.


Concerningly for the Bluebirds, they are without a win in their last 14 league visits to Burnley, although each of their last six have been drawn - a draw would not be enough for them today though, you feel. And Burnley won 2-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium in this season's reverse meeting, although they haven't done the league double over Cardiff since 1999-2000 in the third tier.


Burnley come into this match having won back-to-back games which has seen their position improve dramatically in the league table, which removes a lot of pressure on this match for them. But they know that their visitors will go all out for the win here, and they will have to be on the ball to avoid defeat and therefore make their position in the Premier League seem certain.


Key players:


Ashley Barnes - Barnes has seven league goals to his name in 2019 alone, and with three in his last four league appearances against Cardiff, he will look to get his name on the scoresheet again today.


Aron Gunnarsson - The Iceland international has scored two goals in his last four league appearances against Burnley, and actually made more passes than any of his teammates in their last match versus Man City at the start of the month. Warnock will him to help control what is a huge game for the Bluebirds.





Fulham v Everton


With Fulham already relegated, there's not a great deal to say about this game. Clearly, it is Fulham's defence that has seen them consigned to the Championship once more - they have let in two or more goals in 13 consecutive league matches now, with only two sides in English top-flight history doing so in more games in a row, Man Utd's 16 in 1930 and Newcastle's 14 in 1977.


Everton, meanwhile, are much improved of late, winning three straight league matches. They last won four in a row back in September 2016, so they will see today's game as a big opportunity as they look to finish as high as they can in the top half of the table in Silva's first season in charge.


Indeed, Everton are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League matches against Fulham, including wins in each of the last four, so they will feel confident they can continue that with Fulham already relegated. Having said that, Fulham have won eight home Premier League matches versus Everton; they've only won more against Bolton and Newcastle (both nine).


Perhaps that will give them something to fight for today as they look to earn back some pride in the final stages of the season.


Key players:


Tom Cairney - I'd like to make a point that I find it fairly ridiculous that Cairney has only started 20 of Fulham's 33 league games this season. This is the player who basically dragged Fulham to promotion last season with stellar Championship displays, completing more passes than any other player in that competition last season. And yet Fulham's mass spending spree has meant his position in the line-up has chopped and changed. It's a large reason why they have been relegated already, in my view, as they should have built their side around him, not made him into a squad player.


Gylfi Sigurdsson - He's been directly involved in four goals in his last six league games, scoring three and assisting one, and he has four goals and one assist in five league matches versus Fulham - only against Chelsea and Southampton (both five) has he scored more, so he will be confident he can add to his tally against already-relegated opposition today.





Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers


This is yet another match today which could have big consequences for the relegation battle. Southampton are five points above the relegation zone despite their huge improvements under Ralph Hasenhuttl, and with some of the teams around them playing each other over the next few days - Burnley v Cardiff and Brighton v Cardiff spring to mind - this is a chance for the Saints to gain some ground on some of those clubs should they earn a win today.


Despite defeat to Liverpool last time out, the Saints have won three of their last five league games, including two of their last three at St. Mary's.


Their visitors today are Wolves, who have to get over the bitter disappointment of losing a two-goal lead in the FA Cup semi-final to Watford last week as they look to close out what has been a superb Premier League season for them.


Away from Molineux and including that trip to Wembley last Sunday, Nuno Espirito Santo's side are without a win in five in all competitions, losing their last two, so they've hit a bit of a wall on their travels which will not be easy to break given Southampton's resurgence and need for points here.


However, Wolves have won each of their last four meetings with Southampton in all competitions, and haven't lost away from home to them since November 2006 in the Championship, so they have had the better of recent clashes.


I think it also has to be said that goals look fairly certain in this match. Wolves haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 away league games, but equally, the Saints have lost a league-high 23 points from leading positions in the Premier League this season - including that loss to Liverpool last week. So the result of this match will likely not be certain until the referee blows that final whistle.


Key players:


Danny Ings - Of all Southampton's forwards, Ings has the best shot conversion rate this season at 15%, and as their top scorer, they will need him to be clinical in front of goal going into the latter part of this season.


Raul Jimenez - Wolves' permanent acquisition of Jimenez is a huge boost, with only Chelsea's Eden Hazard (49%) scoring or assisting a higher percentage of his side's goals in the Premier League this season than the Mexican (48%), who has 12 goals and seven assists to his name.





Manchester United v West Ham United


After their midweek defeat to Barcelona, Manchester United will look to instantly bounce back on home soil against West Ham United in the league today.


With the Red Devils trailing 1-0 in their Champions League quarter-final tie, they will now have to win at the Nou Camp to keep their hopes of winning the competition alive - something no side has done for nearly six years in the Champions League, incidentally - so they will surely see finishing in the top four as their best chance of qualifying for next season's tournament.


But Man Utd haven't had it easy immediately after Champions League matches of late. They are winless in their last four league matches directly after playing in Europe, losing to Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal while drawing with Southampton. It remains to be seen whether they can get over their game with Barcelona today.


What will help them is that West Ham have hit a bit of a stumbling block recently, losing four of their last six league outings. In fact, in all competitions away from home, the Hammers have lost seven of their last eight, drawing the other 1-1 at Crystal Palace, a fellow London side where they didn't have too far to travel. Perhaps they're struggling when having lengthier journeys for matches?


And they don't travel well to Old Trafford either, where they are winless in 13 visits to face Man Utd in all competitions since a 1-0 win in May 2007 - which was the last season they achieved a league double over the Red Devils. They won the reverse meeting between these two sides 3-1, so they have a chance of that here if they can get over their poor away form.


But with Man Utd starting today three points adrift of the Champions League places, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side need a result here, else they run the risk of being eliminated from Europe's top club competition as well as seeing their top four chances diminished very quickly.


Key players:


Romelu Lukaku - Lukaku has scored nine league goals versus West Ham; against no other club has he bagged more, and he's netted in five straight home league appearances against them, so the Hammers must be sick of the very sight of the Belgian forward.


Marko Arnautovic - The forward has been heavily linked to Man Utd in the past, but he's all of a sudden gone nine league appearances without scoring, and a return to form for him would be a massive boost for Manuel Pellegrini's side. He does have three league goals to his name against the Red Devils; against no English side does he have more, so he has form against today's opposition too.

Written by Reid the Red April 13 2019 12:52:48

 

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