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Football News: Premier League Match Previews Saturday 9th September 2017

Premier League Match Previews Saturday 9th September 2017
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Saturday 9th September 2017


Manchester City v Liverpool 12:30pm kick off

Gundogan (fitness) out
Kompany (calf injury) slight doubt
Sterling (suspended) out

After another huge outlay in the summer, the City team looks to be struggling to gel properly, though Guardiola's constant tactical adjustments throughout the matches are clearly not helping the players at the moment. Despite this, they still have gone unbeaten so far this season, with 2 wins and a draw from the first 3 games of the Premier League season. However the last two results could easily have been different and they will need to play a lot better if they are to maintain their unbeaten record. The big worry is that they still look shambolic defensively without Vincent Kompany, despite hundreds of millions being spent on defenders in the last few years. Pep will be praying that he is fit to face Liverpool.
Most important player: Vincent Kompany. Even now the Belgian defender is still the only defender that can actually defend at Citeh. The whole team is more positive and confident when he is playing.


Lallana (thigh strain) out
Clyne (back injury) out

After the disappointment of being held to a draw in the opening Premier League game versus Watford, by a late equaliser after looking in full control of the game, Jurgen Klopp's men have bounced back to go on a run of 4 wins in a row. 2 in the Champions League qualifiers and 2 in the Premier League. The 4-0 demolition of Arsenal last time out being particularly impressive, as it could easily have been more but for a number of saves by Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal. However, since then there has been an international break and the players were unable to build any momentum due to it. Now they will have to start all over again with one of the toughest games of the season.

Most important player: Roberto Firmino. So far this season the Brazilian has been in scintillating form, creating and scoring goals. However he does so much more than that for the team, with his immense workrate seeing him harry opposition players into mistakes and setting the tone for the press Klopp likes to use. A lot is riding on him being fully fit and ready to go, after his exertions with Brazil over the international break.


Defining Battle: this usually comes down to which team is more clinical on the day, as both teams are likely to create numerous chances. Both teams are built to go forward and are not at their best when being attacked. While Klopp's Liverpool has always been exceptional on the break, this season the addition of Salah's pace has taken that fast break ability up a notch. However, this season City have also shown a capacity to hit teams on the break, not usually a Guardiola style of play, but he is adapting to the English way. Who will be the most successful on the counter will almost certainly get the result.


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


Arsenal v Bournemouth 3pm kick off

Chambers (groin strain) late fitness test
Cazorla (plantaris injury) out
Iwobi (thigh injury) slight doubt
Zelalem (ACL injury) out
Bielik (shoulder injury) out

After their inept and lacklustre performance last time out made it 2 defeats in 3 Premier League matches, Arsenal are already 6 points behind the leaders. While that is not really an issue this early in the season, there are many other concerns for Wenger to deal with if he is to have any hope of returning to the top 4, let alone make any kind of title challenge. While the international break has given him time to rebuild shattered confidences, the transfer deadline shambles at the Gunners has left the whole club in tatters. With Alexis Sanchez clearly desperate to leave, but stuck at the club, Wenger has to find a way to refocus the Chilean on football. Then there is Oezil, who has still not signed a new deal and has not been at his best for a long time now. Wenger's own admittance that he did not know if he was the right man for the job before lifting the FA Cup again last season is hardly inspiring. The long term absence of the team's most important midfielder Cazorla has also not helped, as it has left the midfield unbalanced and mostly consisting of players who simply are not good enough. Make no mistake about it, this Arsenal team are at a crossroads, they are on the verge of a total collapse and it will take all of Wenger's experience and ability to rescue the sinking ship.
Most important player: Granit Xhaka. The Swiss international has at least been consistent, unfortunately for Gooners he has been consistently poor. Despite so many Arsenal fans desperate assertions that Xhaka is a world class superstar, his time in the Premier League has shown him to be a sluggish, lazy, petulant and, quite frankly, terrible player with a good pass. It is time he repaid the baffling faith that has been shown in him, by both Wenger and those fans.


Ake (ankle injury) slight doubt
Francis (hamstring injury) doubt
Stanislas (groin injury) out
Wilson (ACL injury) out
Wiggins (knee injury) doubt

Eddie Howe desperately needs a result after 3 losses in a row have seen his Cherries sitting right in the relegation zone. Admittedly it is way too early to judge, but the evidence of the first 3 matches has not been good for his side. They have the look of a side that is going to struggle and Howe needs to break the duck quickly, before they lose confidence. He will need to look to take advantage of Arsenal's current disarray and go at them with intensity, as the usual Bournemouth gameplan will just play into their hands.
Most important player: Asmir Begovic. Finally Bournemouth have themselves a keeper they can (mostly) rely on between the sticks. After the last couple of years of Boruc being one minute brilliant and the next a clown, it will make a big difference to their defence to have someone consistent behind them.


Defining Battle: if Arsenal, as expected, stick to the back 3, then the battle will be on the flanks. Can Bournemouth's wide players push Arsenal's wing backs deep or, better yet, exploit the gaps in behind them? If they can, then they will have every chance of picking up their first points of the season.

Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 3-1
Ed003 - 5-0
Ed007 - 1-1
Ed018 - 2-1
Ed025 - 2-1
Ed033 - 1-0


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

Sidwell (back injury) out
Hemed (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Saltor (back injury) doubt
Bong (muscle strain) slight doubt
Murray (ankle injury) slight doubt
Brown (hamstring injury) major doubt
Kayal (broken leg) out
Baldock (calf injury) out

This season is already looking like a long, hard slog for Brighton, as early signs suggest Hughton has not learnt his lesson from previous forays into the league and has, once again, moved to an extremely defensive set up for the Prem. With the Seagulls winning promotion playing an attractive, attacking brand of football, it was hoped that this time he would let his players have a real go at the opposition. With just one point so far on the board, this is a game that they will target to pick up more.
Most important player: Matthew Ryan. The Aussie keeper has not had a good start to his Brighton career, but his distribution is a key component of the team's play. If he can improve on the other aspects of his game, especially his command of his area against the Baggies, then Brighton will have a much better chance of survival this season.


McAuley (thigh injury) late fitness test
Krychowiak (fitness) doubt
Robson-Kanu (suspended) out

Unbeaten after the first 3 games, with 2 wins and a draw, the Baggies are in good form going into this game. However, the margins have been fine, with West Brom scoring just once each game and relying on their defence to ensure they get the points. Krychowiak coming in is a huge boost to the chances of keeping those clean sheets, but the lack of a genuine goalscorer may cost them as the season goes on.
Most important player: Jonny Evans. The one player subject to a transfer deadline day frenzy who had made no attempt to force his way out of his current club, it will be interesting to see how the interest in him from elsewhere has affected him, if at all. So far this season, the Northern Ireland defender has not appeared for his club due to injury, but there was a good reason Pulis was so keen to hang on to him.


Defining Battle: setpieces will be the key to victory in this match. Neither team are really set up to take the game to their opponent and play them off the park, so setpieces will make a major difference.

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


Everton v Tottenham Hotspur 3pm kick off

Pickford (muscular injury) slight doubt
Holgate (ankle injury) slight doubt
Klaassen (foot injury) slight doubt
Barkley (hamstring injury) out
McCarthy (knee injury) late fitness test
Funes Mori (meniscus injury) out
Coleman (broken leg) out
Bolasie (ACL injury) out

Having already played 7 games this season, Everton can have no excuses about still trying to get up to match sharpness and fitness this season, so it is worrying that their league performances have, so far, been underwhelming. Particularly since they spent so heavily in the summer, in order to close the gap on the top 6. Most worrying of all is that the sale of striker Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea funded most of the spree, but they have not really replaced his goals in the side. However, more important than performances are results, and results, once you step back and take a look at them, are not so bad, when taken on their own. What is important now is that there is no repeat of the last game, not so much the result, as losing away to Chelsea is something most clubs will do, but the manner of the defeat. One thing fans hate more than losing is to see their side roll over and have their tummy tickled by the opponent. They want to see their team give it 100%, then a defeat can be, just about stomached. The last match needs to be a one off, an aberration, if Everton are to even repeat last season's achievements, let alone progress as they crave.
Most important player: Wayne Rooney. After the drama surrounding him and his infidelities and selfish stupidity over the international break, Rooney needs to get his head focused quickly on the game. Everton will need the Rooney of old to get anything from a match against Spurs.


Trippier (ankle injury) slight doubt
Wanyama (knee injury) out
N'Koudou (foot injury) out
Rose (MCL injury) out
Lamela (hip problem) out
Llorente (broken arm) slight doubt

Spurs will no doubt just be glad to get away from Wembley and the talk of a hoodoo. This is a chance for them to pick up a win and get the confidence up ahead of next weekend's 'home' game back at the national stadium, where have yet to win this season. So far, the talk last season about how it might be their last chance to win the league for a long time, due to the new stadium, might be correct. This Tottenham side has the same spine, look to have strengthened the depth in the squad, yet they currently look a million miles away from winning the league. All because they have no home stadium. Now they need to get themselves back to winning ways and ensure it is the start of a run of victories to get themselves back into title contention, before the hoodoo talk becomes a genuine hoodoo.
Most important player: Eric Dier. His role in the midfield is key to the way Spurs play. Dier's experience as a defender allows him to drop back into defence when needed, which allows the flying fullbacks to be so adventurous.


Defining Battle: how well will Everton's new look defence cope with the Spurs attack? Will the Toffees drop deep and look to deny space to their opposition or will they be brave and take the game to them leaving spaces in behind to exploit?

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


Leicester City v Chelsea 3pm kick off

Huth (foot injury) major doubt
Iborra (groin strain) out
Maguire (knee injury) doubt
Silva (unregistered) out

This has been a difficult start for the Foxes, with Chelsea the third top 6 side from last season that they have had to face in the first 4 matches. The worry is that they lost to the other two without a sign of the fire, fight and workrate we saw in their title winning season. There were all the signs of a team in decline, with players that want to go, such as Mahrez, and players talking up their interest in listening to offers from other clubs, such as Vardy. Is Shakespeare the man to turn it around or is he just the players' friend?
Most important player: Matty James. Having awarded him a lengthy new contract, it is clear Shakespeare sees the midfielder as the centrepiece of his team. The question is whether he is good enough to run a Premier League midfield? He certainly needs to learn to just keep going after a missed interception or challenge, rather than waving his arms around and throwing his head back wasting precious seconds while the rest of the team are left with a huge gaping hole in their defence where he has rushed out of his place.


Cahill (suspended) out

After a poor start at home to Burnley, Conte's man-management skills were needed to get his team going again. The Chelsea juggernaut seems to be back on track, as it beat Spurs and then comfortably rolled over Everton in the last match. The big question for Conte is whether the international break has taken the wind out of his team's sails and he will need to kick start them once more. Questions about his team's strength in depth and ability to cope with the extra European games can be left for another day, today is about getting another win and putting pressure on at the top.
Most important player: Alvaro Morata. With the Foxes' defence looking uncharacteristically shaky, this is a chance for the Spaniard to fire up his career.


Defining Battle: the central midfield is vital, with the battle between former Leicester midfielder Kante and his replacement, Ndidi, being the main feature of this game. Will the original Kante come out on top against the new Kante?

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


Southampton v Watford 3pm kick off

van Dijk (fitness) out

I think the best way to describe the Saints' season so far is unbeaten but uninspiring. They look like a team that lacks goalscorers to back up Gabbiadini, with a midfield full of talent, but a lack of teamwork. The trio of Redmond, Tadic and Boufal are all full of trickery, but none of them seems to understand when to pass and when to shoot. Redmond is particularly guilty of looking to shoot no matter what. However, it is still early in the season, under a new manager, so perhaps the issue is more down to players trying too hard to impress their new boss? Only time will tell on that front, but they will have to hope they do not live to regret not maximising their points haul in these first 3 games, that were on paper a nice easy start to the season.
Most important player: Manolo Gabbiadini. With only Charlie Austin other than himself at the club who looks to have a chance of adding a genuine goal threat to the team, there will be a lot of pressure on Gabbiadini this season. Whether they can give him the service he needs is a big issue.


Prodl (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Cathcart (knee injury) out
Janmaat (groin strain) minor doubt
Pereyra (groin injury) late fitness test
Kaboul (muscular injury) doubt
Hoban (ACL injury) out
Zarate (ACL injury) out
Deeney (groin injury) minor doubt
Britos (suspended) out

Unbeaten so far this season, and looking a lot more exciting and entertaining than last season, Watford have a real chance to push on this season and make a challenge for European football. First they need to ensure they do not get into the habit of drawing too many games, it can be a difficult habit to break. This match with Soton is a chance for them to lay down a marker, to push forward their claims to being the best of the rest in the Premier League.
Most important player: Richarlison. The Brazilian is fast becoming a fans' favourite at Watford with good reason. He has all the qualities needed to succeed in English football, possessing pace, strength and trickery.


Defining Battle: with Watford lacking a genuine goalscoring threat up front, that striker who can be relied upon to net when a chance comes along, the main battle will be down to Watford's defence stopping Southampton creating many chances for Gabbiadini. If they can keep him tightly marked, the Saints' attacking midfield trio's predilection to shoot from range will play into the Hornets' hands.

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


Stoke City v Manchester United 5:30pm kick off

Shawcross (back injury) major doubt
Zouma (ankle injury) slight doubt
Choupo-Moting (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Fletcher (knee injury) slight doubt
Diouf (knee injury) slight doubt
Ngoy (thigh strain) out
Afellay (knee injury) out
Ireland (broken leg) out

This season is an all-important one for Mark Hughes, who has struggled to move the club forward from the Tony Pulis-era. Now he has mostly cleared out the Pulis players and has recruited heavily to replace them, time is fast running out for Hughes to show he can make progress in the Potteries. This season is already showing the same signs of inconsistency as has plagued the team since Hughes took charge of the Potters.
Most important player: Xherdan Shaqiri. With Man Utd's main weakness being at left back, Shaqiri has a chance to expose Blind's lack of pace and get in behind him.


Young (fitness) major doubt
Shaw (fitness) major doubt
Ibrahimovic (ACL injury) out
Rojo (ACL injury) out
Wilson (ACL injury) doubt

Putting aside the UEFA Supercup, when United were dismantled and outplayed by Real Madrid, this season has been just about as good as it gets for Jose Mourinho's Red Devils. Two 4-0 wins were followed by a 2-0 win to leave the Mancunians atop the fledgling Premier league table. The issue for Man Utd now is to keep going at the same level and not to let themselves relax.
Most important player: Nemanja Matic. So far this season he has been sensational and run the midfield for United, playing a huge part in the success the team have had so far. It is important he maintains his form and does not let it dip as he was guilty of at Chelsea.


Defining Battle: with Man Utd looking so dominant in the centre of midfield this season, Stoke will need to gain some control of the flanks in order to drag some of the United players out of there to give them the chance to win the battle in the centre.

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

Written by Tris Burke September 09 2017 04:15:00