- Everton seek to take advantage of unstable Arsenal
- Titans clash as the Citizens welcome the Foxes at the Etihad
Everton and Arsenal kick-off this weekend’s English Premier League action. Both teams are in transition and will be looking for a win to ease their incoming managers into difficult jobs. The 5pm (CAT) matches see mid-table clubs battle for 3-points, while Wolves look to bounce back against Norwich. It ends with a blockbuster match when Man City take on Leicester in a battle for the second-best team in England.
Everton vs Arsenal
- Everton form: LLLWD
- Arsenal form: DDLWL
After a spirited performance against Leicester that saw them knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties, the Toffees will be looking to repeat those efforts when Arsenal come to Goodison Park. Ferguson will continue his tactics of dogged defending and counters, which will make Arsenal attackers work hard for goals. Top boy Richarlison could cause problems for the Gunners.
Meanwhile Arsenal are recovering from a Kevin De Bruyne masterclass that proved why they shouldn’t be in the top-6. Their fans will be happy this is Ljungberg’s final game as caretaker- he looks as clueless as Steve Kean at Blackburn. He will be looking to Martinelli’s energy, and Aubameyang to help him finish on a high. Despite their poor form, the Gunners know how to handle Everton, with 4 wins in the last 5 meetings.
Both clubs cannot keep a cleansheet so there should be goals in this one- Everton players will be tired from the midweeek action. Arsenal on the other hand just can’t defend. So the game will be a matter of who can cut out unforced errors.
Aston Villa vs Southampton
Villans showed no mercy in the 5-0 demolition of Liverpool’s kids on Tuesday. They will carry the momentum when playing a Southampton side that really should be in the Championship. With their incredible home form and return of Jack Grealish to the starting line-up, they should put in a confident performance this Saturday.
Southampton can’t seem to catch a break anywhere. To add to their Away woes, last week they lost 1-0 to West Ham at Home- which sapped their morale. However, they have Danny Ings to call upon in times like these. He has an incredible 9 goals already and can score against a substandard Villa defence. Expect a proper relegation fight.
Bournemouth vs Burnley
Bournemouth shocked everyone with a win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge despite their injury crisis. They are without a recognised back four, Harry Wilson, Callum Wilson and Josh King are also doubts. So they might struggle in front of goal against Burnley.
Meanwhile the Clarets rarely score goals, as they are so focused on defending. Meaning this match should have few goals in it. Burnley might edge the game out simply because they have a fit squad, not because they are better. This will be a scrappy contest.
Brighton vs Sheffield United
Brighton is a team that doesn’t make too much noise. They play good football, and have taken big scalps such as Tottenham, this season. The only thing left is to be pragmatic- and that is exactly what they need to be against Sheffield Utd to earn 3 points. Neil Maupay and co have the tools to break down a dogged Sheffield Utd’s defence.
The Blades on the other hand are the most defensive newly-promoted side ever. No one has figured our Chris Wilder’s tactics of overlapping center-backs and shifting formations. Hence why they haven’t conceded more than 1 goal Away in the past 5 games. Lundstrum and Fleck are in fine form and can come up with goals when Mousset can’t. This should be an even contest.
Newcastle vs Crystal Palace
Newcastle are unbeaten in the last 7 Home games, so will go into this game confident of avoiding defeat. However, without maverick Allan Saint-Maximin (who tried to rainbow flick a 6ft 4 Sebastian Haller) they must rely on Almiron, Shelvey, and Joelinton. Crystal Palace have a simple strategy of collecting 3-points here and there to avoid relegation- park the bus. Zaha and co can cause problems for Newcastle, but there will be few goals.
Norwich vs Wolves
In 19th position, Norwich will most likely be relegated. They have shipped in 14 goals in the last 5 Home games. Their bravery in attack is a breath of fresh air, but they remind everyone of Blackpool in the 2010-11 season. Wolves on the other hand are hurt by a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham, and will unleash their anger on Norwich. It should be an easy win for Wolves who have too much in their arsenal to hurt Norwich up-front, and avoid conceding chances at the back.
Manchester City vs Leicester
- Man City form: WDWLW
- Leicester form: WWWWD
The champions have largely disappointed this season- owing to injuries and defensive vulnerabilities. They have lost 3 games at Home, the most in Guardiola’s career. So the news that Aguero and Stones have returned to training couldn’t come at a better time for the Citizens. They need to win to close the gap with 2nd-place Leicester. De Bruyne and Sterling will have to step up to down the Foxes- they are the ones to watch for City.
Leicester, like City are celebrating progress to the Semis of Carabao Cup, as they chase silverware this season. However, after an unwise decision to play their strongest side in midweek, it will be interesting to see how they fare against the Sky Blues.
The same cannot be said for City whose squad is so deep, Mourinho once claimed the B-team are title contenders. Yes Leicester will rely on Vardy, but the truth is the midfield core (Maddison, Tielemans and Ndidi) need to put in a season defining performance for the Foxes to take any point.
City do score a lot of goals and trust Guardiola to stick with his system of trying to overload the Foxes with wave after wave of attacks. However, this is one of Man City’s toughest fixtures. Last seasons game proves it. Club legend Kompany had to produce a strike from the gods to beat Leicester and secure the title. So this game should be a cracker for the neutrals.
Kenny (Twitter: @chigiviews)