Southampton vs Manchester City

Southampton vs Manchester City Preview – A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of teams. It was the worst of teams. At least as far as the Premier League table was concerned.

It was Matchweek 16. Southampton had just lost 1-0 to Cardiff City and found themselves in 19th place – level on points with Fulham who were sat just below them.

At the other end of the table, Manchester City had fallen to Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, having been unbeaten in the league before that. Liverpool had managed to sneak ahead but, as everyone was saying, every team has to lose at some point and Chelsea seemed as likely a team as any to inflict first blood on Pep Guardiola’s team. City were still the overwhelming favourites to take home the Premier League trophy at the end of the season.

Since then, the tables have turned: recently-appointed Ralph Hasenhüttl has reversed Southampton’s fortunes, seeing them victorious against Arsenal and Huddersfield in his first four games in charge. Read More

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea Preview: Frontmen form makes it hard to predict

Chelsea are aiming to keep hold of fourth place in the table as they head to south London to face Crystal Palace on Sunday. Eden Hazard’s brace sank Watford on Boxing Day to send Maurizio Sarri’s Blues above Arsenal into the Champions League qualification places with half the season gone.

As for Palace, Roy Hodgson’s Eagles have climbed to 14th with seven points from their last three games, and a 3-2 win at champions Manchester City will serve as a warning for this London derby. This lad likes surprises.

Looking at Twelve’s leader board between both sides, we have a top five of Chelsea players. Of course Hazard is the leader, but after him, it’s a little bit surprising – at least to me – that defensive players are leading the Blues’ best performances. Read More

Premier League team of week 19

Premier League Team of Week 19: Pogba Boxes Clever

Boxing Day often provides a feast of football; if you haven’t seen that image of the scores from 1963, where have you been? Enjoying your Christmas as you should be, nice one. Here’s our Premier League team of week 19.

Goalkeeper: Neil Etheridge. Crystal Palace 0-0 Cardiff City.

Cardiff are unlikely to pick up many points on the road – this was just their second in nine games this season – so Etheridge’s contribution to this one shouldn’t be underestimated. Read More

liverpool vs arsenal

Liverpool vs Arsenal Preview: Expect(ed) Goals At Anfield

When it comes to this fixture, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal never really recovered from a remarkable match in February 2014. Liverpool were four goals up inside 20 minutes, and the visitors were fortunate to ‘only’ lose 5-1.

The Gunners have picked up just two points from their four visits to Anfield since, conceding a total of 12 goals across those games. But since Unai Emery took charge, Arsenal have generally shown far greater levels of fortitude. Liverpool vs Arsenal certainly won’t be a walkover for the home side as it has been in the past two seasons.

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Premier League Team of Week 18

Premier League Team of Week 18: Jesse’s Full House

There were loads of goals this weekend – with 34, only the second week of the season can top it. We’ve got some goalscorers who would you expect, but which defenders emerged relatively unscathed from this goal fest? Here’s our Premier League team of week 18.

Goalkeeper: Ben Foster. West Ham United 0-2 Watford.

Foster was vital to the Hornets’ win in east London – he made seven saves, including two from clear-cut chances. Read More

Tottenham Hotspur vs Bournemouth

Tottenham Hotspur vs Bournemouth Preview: No Showing Off Day

After crushing Everton 6-2 at Goodison Park, Tottenham Hotspur brought up a new sensation to the race. Now Mauricio Pochettino admits the title is a possibility, something he recently denied. Now he denies going to Manchester United, something he may admit within the next six months. But let’s enjoy the present.

No doubt Pochettino prefers his team with no burden on their shoulders – pretty much what we saw on Sunday, when Spurs’ fluidity outclassed Everton even in the face of a momentous disadvantage.

Spurs are no Manchester United, nor City. Nobody expects them to conquer the Premier League or the Champions League, since their expenditures in the last transfer window were not comparable to their rivals. Romantic as it may sound, Tottenham is a well-known tale about developing a way of play, instead of buying it out.

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Leicester vs Manchester City

Leicester vs Manchester City Preview: Can City Outfox Leicester?

With a sublime bit of skill to create space and a vicious rasp into the corner, Kevin De Bruyne announced his return to the City lineup in style last Tuesday against Leicester City in the Carabao Cup. Just over a week later, City face the same opponent in the league and their talisman should again prove the difference. City have generally weathered his spell on the sidelines well, but his presence is surely an early Christmas present to all City fans.

The issues of De Bruyne’s absence were laid bare all too quickly in the subsequent defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday. With Palace’s narrow 4-5-1 forcing the issue and City’s entirely second-choice midfield of Gundogan, Bernardo and Stones unable to pass through the center, most of the attack was sent to Sterling and Sane on their respective wings.

Unfortunately, fullback is an area where Crystal Palace have strength and they rode strong performances from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Patrick Van Aanholt, with excellent help in defending provided by Townsend (Twelve’s top-rated Palace player in the game), to limit City’s attack. Sane and Sterling combined to lose possession 13 times and had just three successful dribbles out of 15 attempted. Read More

Manchester United vs Huddersfield

Manchester United vs Huddersfield Preview: Ole brings back the joy

Manchester United scored five goals in a Premier League game for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement on Saturday evening as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s interim reign got off to a perfect start with victory over Cardiff City in south Wales.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not do too much in his few days on the Manchester United bench, but he certainly managed to bring back a smile to the players’ faces. And above all – he let them play simple, but very efficient football. In short, the Norwegian liberated United’s attacking potential which was locked and hidden deep in Mourinho’s dark basement of negative football ideas. Read More

Liverpool vs Newcastle

Liverpool vs Newcastle Preview: Can Rafa spoil the Reds’ festivities?

On November 3rd, when Newcastle United hosted Watford, the situation for Rafael Benitez’s men could hardly have been more precarious. Had they lost at St James’ Park that day, it would have been the first time the Magpies had ever failed to win in their first eleven Premier League games. Victory kick-started their season, and they haven’t looked back since.

Fast forward to Boxing Day, and Newcastle head to Premier League leaders Liverpool in a very favourable position. Avoiding relegation is still the primary target, but 14 points from their last eight games have eased their fears. Benitez is incredibly popular with both sets of fans after six successful years at Anfield, but he will be focussed completely on getting a result and nothing else. Key to the visitors’ chances, in more ways than one, is striker Salomon Rondon. Read More

Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur

Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Winning Badly

The last couple of weeks have been quite emotional for Spurs fans. Squeezing through the Champions League group stage via an impressive 1-1 draw at Camp Nou. A last minute 1-0 victory against a time-wasting Burnley (Twelve measured the ball to be in play for only 61 minutes). Mauricio Pochettino being very strongly linked with the newly vacated Man United job. And finally, north London derby-redemption in the League Cup.

That last twist in the rollercoaster was fairly indicative of the season gone. Pochettino’s model of play is based primarily upon a control of the midfield that has, for personnel reasons, been largely missing this season – something that we’ve talked about at length at Twelve. Yet Tottenham have, for the most part, found their way to results despite this lack of control. With Spurs enjoying only 45.6% share of possession at the Emirates, Wednesday’s game was no exception.

Sunday’s kick-off against Everton will present similar obstacles. The Toffees, under Marco Silva, are – forgive us Everton fans – not entirely different to their Merseyside neighbours in that they look to create their attacks via the way they behave out of possession. Read More