Football News: Premier League Match Previews Saturday 18th November 2017

 

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Premier League Match Previews Saturday 18th November 2017
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Saturday 18th November 2017



Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur 12:30pm kick off

Giroud (knee injury expected return 23rd November) doubt
Holding (thigh strain) out
Ospina (groin strain) late fitness test
Mustafi (thigh strain) late fitness test
Cazorla (plantaris injury) out
Chambers (hip injury) slight doubt
Welbeck (groin injury) slight doubt

At the moment Arsenal have a 100% home record, but they have yet to really be tested, so this will be the first chance to see what the Gunners are made of at home. Are they as good as their home record suggests or as bad as their away form? I suspect the answer is somewhere in the middle, it usually is. Right now though Arsenal have scored 13 and conceded just 4 goals at home, they are not a walkover on their own patch. The big question is whether Arsene Wenger will stick with the back 3 despite it failing so badly against Man City last time out.
Most important player: Granit Xhaka. The Swiss has struggled badly with defensive duties (and passing) so far with Arsenal, there can be no passengers today though.


Winks (ankle injury) slight doubt
Kane (knee injury) slight doubt
Vorm (knee injury) doubt
Alli (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Alderweireld (hamstring injury expected return 31st December) out
Lloris (hip flexor strain) slight doubt
Wanyama (MCL injury) out
Lamela (hip injury) out

Spurs have looked a little disjointed in the last few weeks, even losing away from home against Man Utd, with injuries suddenly affecting performances. The international break has given them time to rest and recuperate, with some of their squad having niggling injuries that kept them at home. This is a chance for a refreshed and revitalised Tottenham side to make a fresh push to close the gap on Man City. Though they will have to manage without key man Toby Alderweireld, which is a huge blow.
Most important player: Jan Vertonghen. With Alderweireld out there is a lot of pressure on the other Belgian centre back. His leadership will be required in the heat of a North London derby.


Defining Battle: control of the midfield is key, both teams like to play through there, both are not at full strength so can be got at via the centre of the pitch. Particularly Arsenal, whose midfield is very open and can be run through, so they need control of the ball to protect themselves from being attacked.


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



Bournemouth v Huddersfield Town 3pm kick off

King (back injury) slight doubt
Stanislas (groin strain) out
Afobe (muscle injury) doubt
B Smith (hip injury) out
Mings (back injury) doubt
Federici (knee injury expected return 16th December) out

The Cherries have finally got themselves out of the drop zone with their win over Newcastle prior to the international break, but they are certainly not out of danger yet and still look like a side destined to fight relegation all season long. Their summer signings have yet to impress, leaving the team looking disjointed and lacking fluidity in their play. Howe will find it difficult to play the kind of fast passing football he favours until he fixes that.
Most important player: Harry Arter. He has been brought in to provide a bit of bite in the midfield area and it was much needed in the previous game.


Malone (knock) doubt
Billing (ankle injury expected return 13th January 2018) out
Hefele (achilles injury expected return 1st January 2018) out
Stankovic (ACL injury expected return 1st January 2018) out
Palmer (match fitness) doubt
Schindler (suspended) out

The Terriers looked to have arrested their slide down the table following 2 wins in their last 3 matches in the Prem has them sat just inside the top half comfortably clear of the relegation battle, for now at least. However their away form is terrible, with just one win and one draw in 5 matches, scoring just 3 and conceding 7, it really has to improve quickly. This match gives them a chance to improve their record and put them in a better place for the rest of the season.
Most important player: Zanka. With his usual partner Christopher Schindler suspended and 2 other centre halves out injured, Huddersfield's resources are stretched. They will want him at his best to lead the defence.


Defining Battle: Bournemouth have to find a way to break the press that Huddersfield will apply, that is the key to victory for them. It might require them looking longer with their passing than they usually do under Howe but they have to find a way through, over or around the press if they are to win.


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



Burnley v Swansea City 3pm kick off

Wood (tight hamstring) late fitness test
Wells (knock) slight doubt
Marney (fitness) major doubt
Walters (knee injury) out
Heaton (dislocated shoulder) out

There have been just 5 goals in total in Clarets' home games, 3 for Burnley and 2 for the opposition, which is sparse entertainment for the fans. What is surprising is that those 3 goals were enough to win 2 of the matches. Which points to this game against the Swans being a game that is not likely to be full of goals. It is probably a safe bet that this game will not be first on Match of the Day tonight.
Most important player: Jeff Hendrick. Someone has to provide some attacking thrust if this game is not to peter out in a 0-0 draw and the Irish midfielder has been Burnley's main attacking threat this season.


Rangel (groin strain) doubt
Sanches (thigh strain) doubt
Bony (hamstring injury) doubt
Bartley (MCL injury expected return 12th December) out

The Swans showed signs of a revival, for a moment, but it has not been enough and they have lost 3 in a row to slump even further towards the bottom of the table since their win over Huddersfield. Unless they quickly sort themselves out they will be too far behind to rescue themselves by the end of the Christmas period.
Most important player: Federico Fernandez. The Argentine centre back has been one of the few players to come out of the season with any credit so far. His form is probably the one bright spot to give Swans' fans hope.


Defining Battle: Burnley are usually a lot more defensive than they were last season, playing an extra man in midfield has improved their control of the ball but reduced the number of chances they create. In this game the key will be to get more forward runs from the midfield when they have control of the ball. Swansea will need to shut off those runs and not give them the space to run into.


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



Crystal Palace v Everton 3pm kick off

Loftus-Cheek (back injury) late fitness test
Mutch (knock) out
van Aanholt (hamstring injury) out
Chung-Yong (muscle injury) out
Benteke (MCL injury) doubt
Wickham (ACL injury expected return 1st January 2018) out
Kaikai (knock) slight doubt

They are really beginning to be cut adrift at the bottom with little sign of things improving under Roy Hodgson. They do look slightly better defensively, but no better going forward. However they have been missing a real centre forward, but now Christian Benteke is nearing full fitness things should improve. Though it is a very low bar they have set to begin with!
Most important player: Luka Milivojevic. The Serbian midfielder gives the team a solid platform to build on.


Davies (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Martina (concussion) doubt
McCarthy (hamstring injury expected return 26th November) major doubt
Barkley (hamstring injury 2nd December) out
Funes Mori (ACL injury expected return 1st April 2018) out
Coleman (broken leg expected return 1st January 2018) out
Bolasie (ACL injury expected return 1st January 2018) out

Now Unsworth has finally picked up a win, will he be able to build a run of good form? The Toffees have yet to pick up an away win in their first 5 attempts and have only scored twice on the road, that will have to change if they are to have any chance of climbing up the table. If Unsworth is to have any chance of a permanent job as manager of Everton he will need to pick up some more wins.
Most important player: Idrissa Gueye. His energy and workrate are excellent, but they can often be misdirected. If they are channelled correctly he can be a real force in midfield.


Defining Battle: this looks, on paper, to be a midfield slog fest, however Palace have pace and skill in the wide areas and they will be key. With Everton possessing little in the way of pace out wide, that could be a real danger area for the Blues. They will have to find a way to negate the Palace advantage.


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


Leicester City v Manchester City 3pm kick off

Iborra (ankle injury) slight doubt
Chilwell (knee injury) doubt
Huth (foot injury expected return 2nd December) out
James (achilles injury expected return 2nd December) out

The Foxes have looked much better since Claude Puel took over, as his attempts to play more attacking football than he did with Southampton has paid off, in the main. They now look a comfortable midtable team, a long way from where they were a couple of seasons ago, but much better than last season. With Puel having a point to prove, following his dismissal from Saints, which was probably unfair, can he show Soton what they are missing, or will he prove them right to have sacked him?
Most important player: Jamie Vardy. The striker has been nowhere near his best this season but has still been their best player and top scorer with 6 goals. It is vital for their chances that he returns to his best quickly.


Sterling (back strain) slight doubt
Delph (calf injury) late fitness test
Mendy (ACL injury expected return 18th April 2018) out
Kompany (calf muscle strain) slight doubt
Otamendi (suspended) out

City have been strolling through the Premier League this season, but they usually find Leicester a difficult proposition. Usually. They could well be boosted by the timely return of captain Vincent Kompany, which is much needed with Otamendi banned. If Kompany is not ready then Pep Guardiola has a real selection problem to sort out, as it is clear he is not enamoured of Elaquim Mangala.
Most important player: Fernandinho. He has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders protecting the defence anyway, but it could be extra pressure this time out.


Defining Battle: Citeh's big weakness has yet to be tested this season, playing against the press. Leicester can use the press well, it is up to Citeh to break that press to create the chances.


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



Liverpool v Southampton 3pm kick off

Mane (hamstring injury) late fitness test
Henderson (thigh injury) doubt
Ward (back injury) out
Lallana (thigh strain) slight doubt
Clyne (back injury expected return 10th February 2018) out
Bogdan (ACL injury) out

At home Liverpool are a difficult team to face, still unbeaten and having scored 9 goals while only conceding 1. With a possibility of having Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana back, they will feel confident going into the game. Jurgen Klopp has now got a difficult selection choice with Coutinho also available to choose. Will he stick with the new system which moves between a back 3 and back 4 or will he go back to his tried and trusted back 4 system?
Most important player: Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has become Liverpool's most important player, as well as the top scorer, already, despite only joining in the summer.


Lemina (ankle injury expected return 26th November) major doubt
Pied (knock) out

Soton are looking like a team that will sit safely in midtable but totally lack any kind of excitement or interest in their play. It is not just that they are unlikely to have anything to play for this season, it is the way they are playing. The word stifled comes to mind when it comes to describing their attacking play.
Most important player: Oriol Romeu.The Spanish midfielder's role in the Pellegrino system is vital, particularly without Lemina alongside him to provide creativity.


Decisive Battle: Liverpool are in excellent form at home, but the Anfield crowd are still uneasy if goals do not flow early. The key for Soton is to keep it tight early, keep that pacey attack from getting in behind them and get the crowd groaning and moaning. That will unsettle the LFC team and increase the likelihood of mistakes from their players.


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



West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea 3pm kick off

Chadli (muscle injury) out
Dawson (knee injury expected return 23rd December) out
Morrison (achilles injury expected return 26th December) out

The Baggies are on a terrible run right now, sliding down the table quickly after 9 games without a win, the last 3 having all been defeats. With the crowd already being unhappy with the style of play, the poor results has seen some booing as the players leave the pitch. Their home record is not the worst, they have lost just once, against Man City, but they have not picked up enough wins either, with just 1 win. It has to change before they drop into the relegation zone and the fans turn on Pulis completely.
Most important player: Jake Livermore. Having been criticised heavily following his performances in the internationals, it will be interesting to see how he responds to being told he is simply not good enough.


Bakayoko (knock) slight doubt
Hazard (knock) slight doubt
Luiz (knee injury) slight doubt
Batshuayi (ankle injury) out
Drinkwater (calf injury) slight doubt
Musonda (knee injury) out
Moses (hamstring injury 25th November) doubt

Despite the constant media talk, which makes it seem like Chelsea are lurching from crisis to crisis, the Blues are on a run of 3 wins in a row and just 1 point behind Man Utd in 2nd. Whether Antonio Conte is happy or unhappy, looking to stay or looking to leave, Chelsea are picking up the results to keep them in contention. Away from home they have been particularly strong with 4 wins in the 5 matches played, oddly their one loss away from home was to bottom placed Crystal Palace. Will Luiz be brought back into the fold after his dropping before the international break?
Most important player: Marcos Alonso. The Spanish wing back has been a huge part of the success Chelsea had last season, he provides the width down the left and gives balance to the side.


Defining Battle: Chelsea have looked a little less solid this season at the back, the key for West Brom is to put that backline under pressure and see if they can take advantage of that minor weakness. With Pulis's style favouring the team bypassing midfield, that allows them to go past N'Golo Kante without having to go head to head against them.


Editor's Predictions:
Ed002 - 0-2
Ed003 - 0-3 (Pulis sacked)
Ed004 - 1-2
Ed007 - 0-2
Ed018 - 1-3
Ed025 - 0-2
Ed033 - 0-2



Manchester United v Newcastle United 5:30pm kick off

Rojo (fitness) doubt
Jones (thigh injury expected return 22nd November) major doubt
Carrick (calf strain expected return 25th November) major doubt
Pogba (hamstring injury) slight doubt
Ibrahimovic (ACL injury) major doubt

Man Utd have a perfect record to protect at home, 5 wins out of 5, 15 goals scored and not one goal conceded. Despite that, United have not been looking as strong as they did at the start of the season, though it is only their away form that has suffered due to it. With an 8 point gap to close on their noisy neighbours, United need to keep the pressure on by picking up the wins at home.
Most important player: Eric Bailly. The Ivorian has not been performing to the same level as he showed last season. The Red Devils' defender has to pick up his form soon or face losing his place in the team.


Lascelles (ankle injury expected return 25th November) major doubt
Atsu (thigh muscle strain expected return 2nd December) out
Merino (back injury expected return 2nd December) out
Dummett (hamstring injury expected return 2nd December) out

Newcastle have struggled away from home this season, losing 3 of 5 games, though their defence has been strong. They have lacked a real attacking threat, one which is even weaker due to the loss of Atsu. With no genuine goalscorers in the squad and now their main pacey wideman out injured, it is difficult to see the Toon getting anything from this game.
Most important player: Jonjo Shelvey. His tendency to angry overreaction will be sorely tested against Man Utd, with Shelvey unlikely to have any time or space to operate in.

Defining Battle: the key to this game is whether the Man Utd defence can stay focused against a team that is likely to sit deep and offer very little threat to them. If they are on their game, there is likely to be little Rafa Benitez can do with the players at his disposal to surprise Jose Mourinho. The lack of quality additions is starting to show as the season wears on.


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



Editor's Predictions Table
1. Ed018 - 66 points
2. Ed033 - 64 points
3. Ed003 - 58 points
4= Ed004 - 55 points
4= Ed002 - 55 points
6. Ed025 - 54 points
7. Ed007 - 53 points


*1 point is awarded for the correct result, 3 points for the correct score.
**updated 17th November 2017

Written by Tris Burke



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