Arsenal vs Leicester Premier League Preview

Arsenal vs Leicester: Can the Gunners hit ten in a row?

When the Premier League season began, Unai Emery’s rebuilding process had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the line for Arsenal. There was a fair bit of chop and change with Alexandre Lacazette getting regular cameos, however it took the fourth game of the season against Cardiff City for the Frenchman to lead the line.

For large parts of the games he started without Lacazette, Aubameyang was isolated. In the game against West Ham, the lanky striker was limited to 20 touches with none in the opposition box.

After Lacazette’s inclusion, Aubameyang was more effective with more touches in the box and more shots at goal, though he had less touches in total because he was shifted to the left side of attack. Emery persisted with the Gabonese for the first three games until he moved him to the left side of attack to accommodate Lacazette in the starting line-up. Read More

Manchester City vs Burnley Premier League Preview

Manchester City vs Burnley Preview: The ultimate clash of styles

In my seemingly never-ending series of “City playing a team they should dominate” previews, the Blues take on Burnley at the weekend. While last week’s good, if ultimately unsatisfying, result at Anfield kept City on course for a repeat title, Burnley by contrast have been decidedly off their pace from last season.

Part of this was likely inevitable, as Burnley over-performed their expected goals (xG) a lot over the last few years. But the fact that it was continued over multiple seasons certainly made it seem as if they were doing it differently, to steal Mark Thompson’s line.

Over the past few years Burnley have been the soccer equivalent of the NBA’s “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies: zigging into old-school, physical play while everyone else zagged into technical play, while still being good enough with their approach to put a mild scare into top teams. While their method of play still appears basically the same, the results have flat-lined. Read More

Chelsea vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Chelsea vs Manchester United Preview: Can outcasts make a difference?

Manchester United went in to the international break on the back of a dramatic win against Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle. Despite finding themselves 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez sealed the three points.

Jose Mourinho could be pleased that his squad went in to the break on a high, rather than allowing any bad feelings to fester. This is especially important with the tough run they have ahead of them, starting with Chelsea on Saturday.

Mourinho has beaten Chelsea in both of the games he’s played against them at Old Trafford, but has lost every time he has faced them at Stamford Bridge with his current side.

The manager shouldn’t beat himself up too badly about this though, as United’s record away to Chelsea has been atrocious for years. Going back to 2002, United have won just one of the 16 league encounters between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge, and that came against nine men. They lost 10 of the remaining clashes, drawing five, which all in all spells an awful return, whether it was Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes or Louis van Gaal in the dugout. Read More

West Ham vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

West Ham vs Tottenham Preview: Will Spurs’ injuries cost them?

Tottenham became the first club in the Premier League not to sign a player since the introduction of the summer transfer window in 2003. They are now beginning to rue the missed opportunity to acquire new talent, with their growing injury list.

The first major worry for Tottenham Hotspur is Christian Eriksen. The Dane has been out of action for a number of weeks due to a stomach injury, which his agent has now informed the media could be a chronic injury. He has not confirmed how long he will be out for but it could be weeks or months, which will be a huge blow for Spurs who are lacking a creative spark in the middle.

Furthermore, Jan Vertonghen is expected to be out until December after picking up a hamstring injury in Spurs’ 2-0 win over Huddersfield. Vertonghen had been one of Spurs best performing players this season and his replacement Davinson Sanchez has had a shaky start. Read More

Huddersfield vs Liverpool Premier League Preview

Huddersfield vs Liverpool Preview: Will the Reds’ front three finally fire?

Liverpool’s season is at something of an interesting crossroads. On the one hand, they’ve had their hardest start to a campaign in 25 years. The Reds have got through it largely unscathed, all things considered, and have 20 points after eight league matches for only the third time in the Premier League era.

But the goals and great results have also dried up recently. Liverpool haven’t won any of their last four games in all competitions, scoring just twice along the way. When the opposition reads Chelsea (twice), Napoli and Manchester City, the sky isn’t exactly falling in. What is concerning Kopites, though, is the lack of goals from their fabled front three.

Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah have nine league goals between them. This is the same tally as they had after eight games of 2017/18, so it’s far too soon to be overly worried. However, Mané hasn’t scored in his last seven starts, and Salah only has one goal in his. The Reds’ four game win-less run is comprised of their only matches this season where none of their first choice front trio has found the net.

Will they find their feet now their fixture list softens over the next few weeks? Or are they genuinely out of form? Read More

Chelsea

The changing impact of the Chelsea midfield under Sarri

We always talk about changing ways in which a team play their game when there is a switch in manager. This was not really the case when Chelsea replaced Jose Mourinho with Antonio Conte. The Italian was akin to the Portuguese in a way that defence-first was the order of the day for both. It rather agitated the Blues’ fans as teams began to work that tactic out, and the football became boring.

So making a progress in the style of play was in need before the start of this season. The board responded by hiring ex-Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri. A banker by trade, Sarri did not play football professionally. He took part in amateur games as a central defender and coached a few youth teams while performing his day job.

From Empoli to Naples, the 59-year-old created his reputation as an attack-minded coach. It was contrasting to what we generally hear about Italian born coaches, who put emphasis on being defensively solid.

Sarri’s philosophy mirrors high-intensity football with passing patterns and pressing of the highest order. A high-line defence and a narrow front-line to create space for fullbacks are the key denotations. The midfield is something which should be closely looked at, especially when we compare his system to that of Conte at Chelsea. Read More

Premier League Fantasy Football Picks: Week Nine

Premier League Fantasy Football Picks: Week Nine

After our winning effort in week seven, we came crashing down to earth last time out. Callum Wilson may have picked up 20.5 points on Draft Kings’ game, but Joe Hart and Harry Maguire scored zilch, zip, zero. With four other players posting single figure points scores, our team fell well short of the cash prizes.

There’s always next week, though, and these are the matches in the selection pool for week nine.

Premier League Fantasy Football Picks: Week Nine

We’ve run the numbers on these 14 teams, resulting in this leader board. Our first piece of advice? Ignore the player at the top of the tree. Read More

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City

View From The Press Box: City Used Napoli’s Sky-Blueprint To Tame Reds

Liverpool versus Manchester City was one of the most entertaining battles witnessed last season, both in terms of tactics and as a spectacle.

Jürgen Klopp’s side were the team which ended the eventual Premier League champions’ unbeaten run in January, and also knocked them out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

Pep Guardiola has had plenty of time to apply his meticulous research and preparation methods to this particular opposition, and even though Liverpool aren’t firing on all cylinders at the moment, he was able to make noticeable progress at Anfield, where Manchester City haven’t won since 2003.

When the lineups were released the unexpected change came in the Liverpool side. Dejan Lovren replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold meaning Joe Gomez would be shifted across to right back.

This suggested that Klopp might be going with a shape similar to the one they faced at Napoli in midweek, when Carlo Ancelotti used Nikola Maksimović as the right centre-back of a three when attacking and as a right-back in a four when defending. Read More

Liverpool vs Manchester City Preview: Is Salah vs Laporte the key clash?

Mohamed Salah was the scourge of Manchester City last season. Sadly for the champions, if they were savouring reports of his decline, those may have been exaggerated.

Jürgen Klopp has substituted last season’s 44-goal top scorer when Liverpool required a goal against both Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea and admitted the obvious, that the Egyptian is not at the peak of his form. Yet Twelve Football’s leader board still shows Salah as the sixth most effective player in the Premier League so far this season.

Liverpool vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

The numbers are, in part, a sign of prominence and persistence. Salah has the highest expected goals total in the Premier League (5.14) and the third most shots this season, behind only Aleksandr Mitrovic and Sergio Aguero. Read More