Arsenal vs Everton Premier League Preview

Arsenal vs Everton Preview: Will the Gunners keep an elusive clean sheet?

There was something eerily familiar in the final minutes of what should have been a routine victory over Vorskla. The almost unanimous switching off that causes nervy ends to games and the feeling of gratitude at the two short blasts of the referee’s whistle signaling full time. Unai Emery confirmed the worrying inability for Arsenal to shut out games for the whole 90.

“We need to improve in this. The last minute in Newcastle, the last 20 minutes here. Our challenge is to be competitive for 90 minutes in each match.”

Though the goal against Newcastle came in added time, there was a bit of inevitability to it as Newcastle fashioned chances towards the close of the game. Similarly, the goals against Vorksla were sure to come as the Ukrainian side grew into the game with the Gunners conceding possession and losing sharpness. Arsenal have not yet kept a clean sheet this season.

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West Ham vs Chelsea Premier League Preview

West Ham vs Chelsea Preview: Hammers should fear the ugly sorcerer

West Ham claimed their first win of the season last time out while leaders Chelsea are looking to make it six victories from their first six matches. Sarri is striving for perfection and it brought him limited satisfaction to hear that he has emulated Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Craig Shakespeare by becoming the fourth manager to win his first five EPL games.

“I cannot change my mind because of one match,” Chelsea’s manager said. “My target is to be the best team in England, but not in one month. Maybe one season. Maybe a little more. But at the moment, in my opinion, Liverpool and Manchester City are better than us.”

But how can’t we say that Chelsea are favourites when eight of the top 10 players from both sides according to Twelve’s data are from the Blues? Read More

Liverpool vs Southampton

Liverpool vs Southampton Preview: Ode to the One-Eyed King

Anfield rarely disappoints you on a Champions League night.

It could be argued that the Reds were unfortunate to be put in a strong group with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and even Crvena Zvezda who showed this week that passion can get you places even when all the odds are stacked against you.

In a way, it was the case with Liverpool as well, who pulled off a coup against an expensive PSG side, packed with some of the world’s most expensive players. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were, however, given the taste of a genuine football atmosphere where fans and players breathe like one – holding each other’s back and moving forward hand in hand towards unimaginable heights. Read More

Manchester United vs Wolves Premier League Preview

Manchester United vs Wolves Preview: United on the rise?

Manchester United take on Wolves this weekend on the back of some improved form and results following their rocky start to the season. Having lost 3-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur, United supporters were worried about their chances of picking up all three points away to Watford, considering the Hornets had just beaten Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Yet their fears were eased on the back of a first half performance that saw them deservedly go 2-0 up thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling. United were less impressive in the second half but still managed to hang on to the win, courtesy of some excellent late stops from the ever reliable David de Gea.

This weekend’s fixture against Nuno Espírito Santo’s side should be less of a struggle, even if they are currently just one point worse off than United this season. Still, when you consider they’ve averaged just one goal per game so far, even United’s less than impressive defence should be able to ensure they keep a clean sheet. Read More

Brighton vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

Brighton vs Tottenham: Snuffing out or just stuttering?

Tottenham played their best football of the season for a 30-40 minute stretch on Tuesday night before extending their losses to three in a row (which has never been seen before under Mauricio Pochettino) because sometimes that is just how football is.

The underlying mental weakness which Spurs and Pochettino have worked so hard, for so long to banish from the conversation surrounding the club crept back in, as three points as of 85 minutes became none by full time.

The discourse digs in deeper now. Is Pochettino’s head already elsewhere? Are the players still willing to invest? Has the system been found out? Is the project reaching it’s conclusion?

We can’t mind read but we can point to more tactical explanations and solutions. They are three-fold: Read More

Cardiff City vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

Cardiff City vs Manchester City Preview: Keep the Party Going

It must be one of the scenarios coaches often dream of, when you can pick up players from your bench and know that they are going to deliver. Pep Guardiola is in exactly that position right now. A few days ago, Leroy Sané, one of Manchester City’s standout players of last season, was considered to be in a crisis.

The 22-year-old did not make the cut for Joachim Löw’s German national team at the World Cup, which after all was probably a blessing in disguise, and then had a rough start this season. Read More

Eden Hazard Premier League Team Of The Week

Premier League Team of Week 5: The Duke is Hazard

It won’t surprise anyone to see that Eden Hazard features in the headline, as a hat-trick will always propel a player into our team of the week. Our 3-4-3 formation also contains one of the performances of the season so far, and a TOTW regular earns another cap. But we begin with a goalkeeper who hasn’t had the best time of it over the last few years.

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart. Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Burnley.

Joe Hart was a busy boy on Sunday. He made six saves, including two from clear-cut chances. Most distressingly for Burnley, on our algorithm he was their top player in an attacking sense too. Things are looking bleak for Sean Dyche’s team at present.  Read More

Watford vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Watford vs Manchester United Preview: A tricky test for unsound United

After a poor start to the season, Manchester United redeemed themselves somewhat with a good performance and a result against Burnley before the international break. They will be looking to pick up where they left off when they face Watford at the weekend, although that may well be easier said than done, given how Javi Garcia’s team have played so far this season.

Watford have beaten every team they’ve faced, including Tottenham Hotspur, and will be hoping to keep their 100% record when United travel down to Vicarage Road on Saturday.

United will be without Marcus Rashford, who scored two goals in two games for England against Spain and Switzerland during the break, as he was shown a red card in his last appearance for his club.

Thankfully they will have Romelu Lukaku, who again added to his tally for Belgium this week by scoring three goals in two games. He is now 10 goals clear of any player who has ever represented Belgium before, which is quite a feat when you consider he has only just turned 25. Read More

Newcastle vs Arsenal Premier League Preview

Newcastle vs Arsenal Preview: Can Arsenal breakdown a low block?

Arsenal have won two in a row to climb up to the top half of the table. Newcastle have lost two in a row and fallen into the relegation zone. This match is an important one for both teams coming off the first international break of the season.

Newcastle

Here’s their rankings for different statistics this season:

20th – Possession

18th – Shots

19th – Danger Zone Shots

17th – Big Chances

19th – Expected Goals

13th – Dribbles Attempted

4th – Average Pass Length

Rafa Benítez is a really good coach, but one thing he is not is a coach who will sacrifice defensive solidity to create scoring chances. With a challenging schedule including matches at Chelsea and against Tottenham and Manchester City, it is not surprising to see Newcastle at the bottom of most offensive categories this season.

As a team they have been in control of the ball for just 96 minutes this season, which averages out to 24 minutes a match. For comparison the average team has been in control for 34 minutes per match (this measure takes out all of the time that the ball is not in play and on average there is about 60-70 minutes of ball control per match). Read More

Manchester City vs. Fulham

Manchester City vs Fulham Preview: Time for Sané to start?

There’s no better way to leave the interminable international break behind than with an incredibly exciting Manchester City fixture. As an American, Fulham have always held a place in my heart as the club of Brian McBride, Clint Dempsey, and (to a much lesser extent) Carlos Bocanegra.

But more than that, the current incarnation of Fulham have a genuine buzz about them. Only Arsenal games feature more shots and shots on target, they have exciting young talents like Ryan Sessegnon, and they picked up a genuine star in Jean-Michel Seri in the transfer window. In short, get ready for some fireworks.

As with Wolves, Fulham aren’t your typical newly promoted side. Rather than playing defensively and seeking to counter-attack, they use possession to get their shot attempts and are even averaging a greater share of the ball than Spurs, United, or Arsenal thus far this season (albeit having endured a light schedule to date). Read More