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English Premier League : Match Week 8 talking points from this weekend’s action

It is another weekend of Premier League matches after the International break which some clubs have been affected due to some injuries to certain key players. Let’s go straight into what the weekend has to offer to its numerous followers.

LIVERPOOL VS MAN UNITED.

Without a doubt one of the biggest rivalries in club football, Liverpool are at home to Manchester United in the early kick off in the 8th round of games. Liverpool lie 7th on the league table with 12 pts, 5pts behind 2nd placed United who are on the same points with league leaders Manchester City. United will be looking to continue with their impressive run of form whiles Liverpool will be looking to make a rise from their mixed season so far.

The last time Liverpool were out, they drew 1:1 away at Newcastle United and in the process taking 5pts out of a possible 12 from their last four games which includes that humiliating defeat at the hands of the league leaders. United have been ruthless this season, dispatching Crystal Palace at home by 4:0.

Romelu Lukaku will be looking to prove his mettle for united in the big games and to put to doubt whether he can replicate his goal scoring exploits in the big games.  United are likely to be without Marouane Fellaini, the Belgian being injured during the international break. Liverpool will be without Sadio Mane, who got injured for Senegal during their world cup qualifiers.

The last time the two clubs met, united were able to secure a draw at home thanks to a late equalizer by Ibrahimovic with the first leg also ending in a goalless draw, making it the first time both legs ended in a draw since the 1987/88 season.

This will be the 227th match contested between the sides and, historically, United have a good overall record against the Merseysiders. The Reds have won 87 and drawn 64 of the previous meetings, and have only lost on 75 occasions. Though, in recent meetings, matches have been tightly contested, illustrated by the fact the last three meetings have been draws.

 

BURNLEY VS WEST HAM UNITED

Burnley lie 6th on the league table with 12pts, same as Liverpool but with a superior goal difference and head into this match with a confidence boosting performance away at Everton where they won 1:0. West Ham, meanwhile, have taken just one point away from home, but have lifted themselves out of the danger zone following a tough start with two wins and a draw in their last four games. Burnley have lost five of their previous six Premier League encounters with West Ham, winning the other clash at Turf Moor in February 2010 (2-1).

West Ham have won their last four Premier League matches against Burnley, they’ve only won five consecutive games versus a single opponent once in Premier League history (vs Blackburn between October 2006 and August 2008).

The Clarets are currently enjoying their longest unbeaten run in the Premier League (W2 D3 L0); they last went six top-flight games without defeat back in February 1975 (a seven-game streak).

SWANSEA VS HUDDERSFIELD

Swansea lost to a late winner at West Ham in their last fixture and find themselves in the relegation battle early in the season. At home to a Huddersfield side who surprised many with their performance in their first two games, we wait to see how Swansea Manager, Paul Clement will approach this game having in mind that the Swans have been woeful at home so far having lost all three matches in south Wales this season, scoring just once in the process.

Huddersfield however, have not tasted victory again since their first two wins in all competitions, leaving confidence low ahead of the trip to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. This is the first top-flight meeting between Swansea City and Huddersfield Town, with the two sides having met in each of the other top three tiers of English football. It will be the 92nd fixture in English league football to span the top four tiers, with Swansea having previously faced Watford and Wolves in all four divisions and Huddersfield facing Portsmouth in all four.

The Terriers have failed to score in nine of their last 14 matches in all competitions, including in each of the last three. They last went four competitive games without a goal back in August 2004.Swansea have attempted the fewest shots in the Premier League this season (46) and have also registered just 30 shots in open play, a league-low. Swansea have also fired in just 11 shots on target so far this season, the fewest in the Premier League. There have been three players land more shots on target in the top-flight this season than the Swans have managed (Harry Kane 16, Romelu Lukaku 15, and Mohamed Salah 14).

WATFORD VS ARSENAL

Watford are 8th on the table with same points as Liverpool and Burnley but with an inferior goal difference and are also just a point below Arsenal in 5th. The Motivation for Watford is that a win over Arsenal will see them climb up to 3rd barring results elsewhere. Arsenal are unbeaten in seven games in all competitions and are yet to concede since their 4:0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool earlier on in August. Watford with their impressive start have not won at home in the league this season. Arsene Wenger has won eight of his 10 matches versus Watford in all competitions as Arsenal manager (L2).

Watford have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 10 matches against Arsenal in all competitions – they last kept a shutout vs. the Gunners in April 1988 (1-0) when Tony Coton was in between the sticks for the Hornets.

Watford have made their best start to a Premier League season after seven games (12 points). Indeed, the Hornets have only won more points at this stage of a top-flight season once before, back in 1982-83 under Graham Taylor (15 points).

Watford are winless in their opening three home league games this season (D2 L1) – they’ve only failed to win their first four home games in six previous seasons, most recently in 2011-12 in the Championship. Troy Deeney is without a goal in his last 13 league games, his longest goal-drought ever in the Premier League and his worst in league football since October 2011 (32 in total).

 

 

CRYSTAL PALACE VS. CHELSEA

With each passing week seems to come another new, unwanted, record for Palace, who have made the worst start to a Premier League season of any side in the competition’s 25-year history. The arrival of experienced boss Roy Hodgson, taking over exactly a month ago, has done little to halt this alarming run of form as the Eagles are still without a point and without a goal. To make matters worse for the Eagles, they have conceded 13 goals at the other end – nine of those coming in their last two outings prior to the two-week break – to unsurprisingly leave them slowly being cut off at the foot of the division; five points already the gap on 17th-placed Leicester City.

For Chelsea, defeat to title rivals Man City last time out on home soil, however, has turned what was a positive start on the whole to Conte’s second campaign in charge into more of a mixed bag of results. Chelsea have had little trouble away from home thanks to three wins from three so far in the top flight. While scoring and winning games at home has been difficult, Chelsea have performed better on their travels thanks to six-successive victories stretching back to last season, while it is one defeat and 10 wins in their last 11 in all competitions.

Palace have not beaten Chelsea on home soil since January 1993 when running out 3-1 winners in an EFL Cup tie, while you have to go back to August 1990 to find their last top-flight win here in this fixture. The Eagles did come out on top when the sides last met in April, however, earning a shock 2-1 win to temporarily halt their London rivals’ charge towards another Premier League title success. In 60 previous meetings overall, Chelsea have won 24 and lost 11, prevailing in five of the last six encounters at Selhurst Park in all competitions.

MANCHESTER CITY VS STOKE CITY

Manchester City play host to Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, aiming to continue their impressive start to the season that has seen them remain unbeaten so far. The Citizens have won nine and drawn one of their 10 games in all competitions, keeping them on course for silverware on multiple fronts is Pep Guardiola’s second campaign at the helm. Guardiola had been keen to play down his side’s winning run of form in the days leading up to the international break, stressing that the campaign was just a couple of months old at the time.

The 1-0 victory away to defending champions Chelsea last time out changed all that, though, as City claimed top spot on goal difference to send out a serious message to their rivals

Not only can the Citizens brush aside the lesser lights, they can also get the job done against the sides that are expected to be around them come next May, as witnessed when holding 62% of the possession at Stamford Bridge in a game that they dominated pretty much from start to finish.

That triumph gave Guardiola his first win over Chelsea in nine attempts, excluding a penalty shootout victory when in charge of Bayern Munich, and ensured that the two-time champions would sit top of the pile for the two-week break thanks to a superior goal difference over rivals Manchester United.

Stoke make the trip to the Etihad Stadium on the back of a rather underwhelming run of results, although the difficulty of their fixtures thus far must be factored in. Ex-City boss Mark Hughes saw his side end their five-match run without victory last time out when edging out Southampton 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium, secured thanks to a Peter Crouch goal in the final five minutes – his third of the campaign in just seven outings.

Stoke have fared well against the division’s elite sides, though, becoming the only team so far to take points off Man United in a 2-2 draw last month, while also beating Arsenal 1-0 on home soil to maintain their impressive record against the Gunners.

Chelsea may have thrashed the Potters 4-0 a few weeks back, but Hughes will take confidence from those previous results as his side seeks back-to-back league wins for the first time since early December 2016, seeing their eight victories since then rather spread out.

Man City have won just half of their Premier League meetings against Stoke, prevailing in nine of the previous 18 encounters and drawing six. The most recent fixture finished goalless at the Etihad Stadium in March as the Citizens’ title challenge continued to stutter, dropping more points against a side outside of the top six. Stoke have failed to score in eight of their nine Premier league visits to this ground, meanwhile – only against Aston Villa have Man City kept more clean sheets on home soil (9).

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