Football News: Premier League Match Previews Saturday 16th September 2017

 

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Premier League Match Previews Saturday 16th September 2017
Image from: threerowsback.com

Saturday 16th September 2017



Crystal Palace v Southampton 12:30pm kick off

Wickham (ACL injury) out
Sako (calf injury) out
Zaha (knee injury) out
Loftus-Cheek (groin injury) doubt
Tomkins (groin injury) slight doubt
Sakho (fitness) slight doubt
Souare (fitness) major doubt

The pointless (in more ways than one some might say) and goalless Eagles have sacked Frank de Boer and turned to old hand Roy Hodgson to steady the sinking ship. At least Palace fans know what to expect now, rather than the unknown of de Boer. Hodgson will concentrate on organisation and try to bore the opposition to sleep so his team can nick a 1-0 win. It will not be entertaining, it will not be all-action or end to end stuff, but I doubt the Palace fans will care right now so long as they survive.
Most important player: Roy Hodgson. I know he is not actually a player, but he is the most important person at the club right now. How much has he been able to affect the team in training during the week? Can he get them playing his way quickly and stop the club's almost inexorable slide into the Championship?


Hojbjerg (personal reasons) out
van Dijk (fitness) doubt

Despite a 3-2 win over West Ham, there have been worrying signs of toothlessness from the Saints. In fact their attack has been so impotent in other games that those three goals remain their only ones scored this season. Questions surround manager Mauricio Pellegrini's ability to turn things round and the players' ability to perform at a higher level. With an attacking midfield trio that seems intent on trying to win games on their own, Italian striker Manolo Gabbiadini has received no service to try and repeat his scoring exploits of last season.
Most important player: Nathan Redmond. His insistence on shooting from wherever he is on the pitch, rather than passing to a better placed teammate, is severely limiting Soton's attacking game. Until Redmond realises that he is not good enough to do it all on his own and that football is a team game, he is going to continue to blunt the Saints' attack.


Defining Battle: I think the biggest battle in this match will be between the spectators and their eyelids to stay awake. Both managers are not known for their entertaining style of football, neither have a team of players in form and looking to attack.


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



Huddersfield Town v Leicester City 3pm kick off

Cranie (hip injury) late fitness test
Hogg (ankle injury) late fitness test
Mounie (knock) late fitness test
Palmer (hamstring injury) out
Quaner (knee injury) late fitness test
Stankovic (ACL injury) out

Have the wheels come off the Huddersfield wagon? After two wins to start the season off, the Terriers have not scored a goal and got a draw and then a defeat. This is David Wagner's first real test since taking charge, can he ensure that the team do not go on a run with no goals being scored. If they are to have any hope of survival, they will need to score goals.
Most important player: Tom Ince. So far this season Ince has been terrible, particularly in the last couple of games. Right now he looks completely out of his depth in the Premier League and needs to find his feet quickly.


Huth (ankle injury) slight doubt
Iborra (groin injury) doubt
Fuchs (eye injury) out
James (achilles injury) late fitness test
Silva (unregistered) out

Leicester look an absolute shadow of the team they were just a couple of seasons ago, despite the change in manager. So far this season they just do not show any signs of being mainly the team that lifted the Premier League trophy. The effort has dropped, the quality has dipped and Craig Shakespeare does not show the tactical acumen to change things. One thing they have in their favour is that their three losses came against sides from last season's top 6.
Most important player: Riyad Mahrez. They will need his trickery to unlock the Huddersfield defence. So far he has managed to focus on playing for the Foxes, despite wanting out, but how long will that continue?


Defining Battle: both teams like to sit deep and defend then sweep the ball forward quickly and play with a direct attacking thrust. That should mean that there is little space in behind for Jamie Vardy to operate in, so the main battle is likely to be about how well Leicester can block Huddersfield's delivery from the flanks to their danger man, Steve Mounie. If the Terrier's widemen get the better of the Foxes' fullbacks, then the central defence will have a hellish game trying to deal with Mounie's aerial power.


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





Liverpool v Burnley 3pm kick off

Ings (knee injury) slight doubt
Bogdan (ACL injury) out
Clyne (back problem) out
Lallana (thigh injury) out
Mane (suspended) out

This is a big game for Liverpool, not only do they need to respond after a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City, not only do they have to play without the player who has become their most important player, Sadio Mane, but they have to face one of the teams they struggled against most last season. This is a game they really need to win, especially on the back of a Champions League draw with Sevilla in midweek. It is not quite a must win but it is heading that way with the way things are going right now.
Most important player: Mohamed Salah. With the suspension of Mane, Salah's part becomes more important than ever. Can he add to his 2 goals and 2 assists that he already has this season or will Burnley's packed defence be able to deal with his electric pace?


Heaton (dislocated shoulder) out
Wells (ankle injury) out
Hendrick (thigh strain) doubt
Marney (ACL injury) major doubt

It has been an excellent start to the season for the Clarets, who have lost just once so far this season and already beaten Chelsea and drawn with Tottenham Hotspur from last season's top 4. This season they have not even shown any signs of last season's away day struggles, with the results against Spurs and Chelsea coming away from home. This is the chance for Sean Dyche to build himself a reputation that surpasses that of Eddie Howe. All he has to do is for his side to continue to perform throughout the season.
Most important player: Ben Mee. The centre back is a favourite of the Burnley fans, who believe him to have been their key defender all last season. Now he will be having to help Stephen Ward against the pace and movement of Salah, it is a big ask for any defender.


Defining Battle: with Dyche slightly changing the way his team plays, looking to hold onto possession more than last season, rather than sitting back deep and just holding on for dear life against the big boys, this game is likely to be won and lost in central midfield. Will the Burnley midfield be able to cope with the forward running of Liverpool's midfield or will they be overrun and swamped?


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



Newcastle United v Stoke City 3pm kick off

Mbemba (groin strain) out
Darlow (ankle injury) slight doubt
Dummett (hamstring injury) out
Sterry (groin injury) slight doubt
Mitrovic (suspended) out
Haidara (knee injury) out

After a slow start Newcastle are off and running now, the Toon winning their last 2 league games without conceding. With their form improved and the fans fully backing the manager, this team needs to continue to pick up points while things are good, especially at home. This is the kind of game Rafael Benitez would have targeted before the season started, as Stoke have struggled with consistency under Mark Hughes.
Most important player: Joselu. Having left the Potteries to join Newcastle last month, this is a chance for him to put one over on his old club.


Cameron (hamstring injury) out
Shawcross (back injury) late fitness test
Ngoy (thigh strain) out
Afellay (knee injury) doubt
Ireland (broken leg) out

If there is one thing you can say about the Potters it is that they are consistent in their inconsistencies. They can be terrible, as they were against Everton, or excellent, as they were against Arsenal and Manchester United. It feels sometimes like their players think they are too good to put in 100% effort against anyone but the 'big' clubs. That lack of motivation is something Mark Hughes needs to address, quickly.
Most important player: Mame Biram Diouf. The Senegalese striker is now performing service to the club as a right wing back, admirable service. His performances have been surprisingly good, even defensively he has not looked out of place.


Defining Battle: if Stoke stick with the back 3 system Hughes copied from Conte, then they will have to be on their toes to cope with the Newcastle attack, as the sheer numbers could see them in trouble on a break. How well the Stoke side deals with Newcastle's break should be the deciding factor in this match. If Stoke's wing backs get caught upfield and allow the Toon's widemen to run at the centrebacks, they could be in real trouble. Though Christian Atsu's lack of any quality to his end product may well be their saving grace.


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



Watford v Manchester City 3pm kick off

Zarate (fitness) no
Kaboul (hamstring injury) no
Femenia (head injury) doubt
Prodl (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Cathcart (knee injury) out
Pereyra (groin injury) slight doubt
Hoban (ACL injury) out
Deeney (groin injury) doubt
Britos (suspended) out
Dja Djedje (knock) slight doubt

So far Watford are unbeaten this season but they have not faced a test as big as this. Facing a team like City, when they are in their stride and full of confidence is a totally different kettle of fish from a first game of the season match up with Liverpool, while both sides are just trying to get their season going. Though they have not conceded a goal since that opening day fixture, they have not faced a difficult test of their defence since then either. None of the three South Coast teams they have faced since have an attack anywhere near as potent, in fact all three have been struggling badly to score goals. This is when we find out just how good Marco Silva and the Hornets truly are.
Most important player: Andre Gray. The big striker really needs to get his season going and a home match against a Man City defence that struggles to cope with the kind of pace he possesses would be a great time to get off the mark in Watford's colours. His power and pace on the break could cause Citeh all sorts of problems, if he is on his game.


Kompany (calf injury) out

Right now Man City are on a roll, the players are working well and the attack is steamrollering teams. However, something that we have seen throughout Guardiola's managerial career is that it does not last forever. His team has runs were they are simply brilliant, but then it hits the buffers and they struggle for a while, before going on another run. The intensity demanded to play Pep's way is too much for the players to keep up each week, added to that is Pep's rotation meaning that players intensity drops as they do not fear for their place, knowing that they will be out for the next game regardless of how they play. They need to ride the wave of their good form while it lasts.
Most important player: Fernandinho. The one player in the City squad, other than Kompany, who is a solid defender. He provides a lot of protection for the defence that is otherwise floudering without him there.


Defining Battle: a lot rides on Watford's ability to stop City from pegging them back and dominating the game. They will need to be brave and take the game to them or they will just be overrun. The midfield battle is key, City have great technicians, but they can be outfought.


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





West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United 3pm kick off

Burke (tight hamstring) late fitness test
McClean (illness) slight doubt)
Chadli (thigh strain) late fitness test
McAuley (fitness) slight doubt

The Baggies have come off the rails a little after a flying start saw them win their first two league games and an EFL Cup 2nd Round match. Since then they have not won, and last weekend saw a poor, and surprising, loss to Brighton. With 33 more points needed for survival, you can be sure Pulis will not be allowing them to relax just yet and will no doubt have them up for this match.
Most important player: Jay Rodriguez. West Brom always struggle to score goals from open play under Pulis, Rodriguez is one of the few goal threats they possess. Though his threat is not the biggest these days, at least he can offer an option for a shot from range.


Noble (knee injury) doubt
Fernandes (ankle injury) out
Lanzini (knee injury) major doubt
Henry (ACL injury) out

After they started the season with 3 defeats in a row away from home, before picking up their first win of the season at home, they would have liked to stay at home to build on the result. Unfortunately they have to travel once more. Will Bilic stick with the team and formation that brought him his first win or revert back to a 4 man defence?
Most important player: Pedro Obiang. His workrate and desire in midfield is essential to the team's performances, particularly if Noble is out again.


Defining Battle: the set pieces are the key to beating any Pulis team. If you can defend them well then you cut off the main source of their goals.


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



Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City 5:30pm kick off

Wanyama (knee injury) out
N'Koudou (foot injury) late fitness test
Rose (MCL injury) out
Lamela (hip injury) out

It was beginning to look like the Wembley hoodoo was genuine for Spurs, but the midweek win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League could well have put that to bed. A home game with struggling Swansea is a great opportunity to end all talk of a curse.
Most important player: Harry Kane. He needs a good run of goals to make Wembley feel like a home.


Bartley (MCL injury) out
Britton (back injury) doubt
Sung-yeung (knee injury) out
Dyer (achilles injury) out
Blair (broken foot) out
Bia Bi (hamstring strain) out

This has been a difficult start for the season at home for the Swans and Paul Clement. Away they are unbeaten, at home they have yet to do anything but get beat, yet to score and have conceded 5 goals in their 2 home games. The last thing Clement needed was Spurs to have ended their Wembley hoodoo just before facing them. He would have wanted that 'curse' playing on their minds going into this game to give him an edge to use. They really need some kind of result at Wembley to keep the confidence and morale high, as their poor form at home will have hit them badly.
Most important player: Tom Carroll. So far this season he has not been at his best and his delivery has not been to the level expected of him. Against his old club, they really need him to be at his best, as there are likely to be few chances to even deliver good balls into the box.


Defining Battle: the key to beating Spurs, for a possession-based team like the South Wales side, is breaking the press. The ball needs to be moved quickly and accurately around the pitch, with there being times a player may be required to beat a player or two to create space. If Swans cannot manage to do so, then they will get swamped by the Spurs attacking play.


Editors' Predictions:
Ed002 - 3-2
Ed003 - 5-0
Ed004 - 2-0
Ed007 - 2-0
Ed018 - 2-0
Ed025 - 2-1
Ed033 - 2-0



Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed018 - 8 points
2. Ed025 - 7 points
3= Ed002 - 6 points
3= Ed003 - 6 points
5. Ed033 - 4 points
6. Ed007 - 3 points
7. Ed004 - 1 point

*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.

Written by Tris Burke



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