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

The return of the English Premier League comes with some enthusiasm with the kind of matches that is being served. First up is the derby between Arsenal and old foes Tottenham Hotspur.

ARSENAL VS TOTTENHAM

The early kick off the day see Spurs make a short trip to the Emirates to take on an Arsenal who have carved out a fortress at their home ground this season. Pochetino’s men will be looking to hope to things go their way in order to keep up the chase with City but really neither team can afford to lose this game although we are still at the early stages. Kane is hoping to shake off a knee injury while Dele Alli (hamstring), Harry Winks (ankle), Hugo Lloris (groin) and Michel Vorm (knee) will also have to be assessed.

Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama remain out with hamstring and knee problems respectively, while Erik Lamela has only recently recovered from a long-standing hip injury. Arsenal will hand late fitness tests to Shkodran Mustafi and Danny Welbeck. Mustafi has been sidelined since the start of October with a hamstring issue, while a groin injury suffered in the 2-1 defeat at Watford has kept Welbeck out for the past month. Both could be in contention to face Spurs although Olivier Giroud is out after injuring his thigh on international duty with France while Santi Cazorla (ankle) is a long-term absentee.

According to Opta, Arsenal haven’t won any of their last six Premier League meetings with Spurs (D4 L2) – their longest ever winless run against their rivals in league competition. Tottenham have won only two of their last 32 away league visits to face Arsenal (W2 D13 L17), winning 3-1 at Highbury in May 1993 and 3-2 at the Emirates in November 2010.

Meetings between these sides in the Premier League have seen both teams score on 34 occasions – more than any other fixture in the competition. In the last seven Premier League meetings between these sides at the Emirates, the side scoring first has only gone on to win once – with Arsenal securing a 1-0 win in September 2013 thanks to Olivier Giroud’s goal. Indeed, Tottenham have dropped 37 points from leading positions in Premier League games against Arsenal, more than any other side has against another in the competition’s history. Arsenal has won their opening five home games to a Premier League season for the first time since 2009-10. They last won their first six at home in 2007-08.

 

LEICESTER CITY VS MAN CITY

The question on everyone’s lips, is this City team the best we’ve seen in the premier league over a decade? Will they drop points, well this is the EPL and you can be forgiven for believing that they can drop points against Leicester City. The Foxes at home is always a difficult place to visit but as to whether they can shut out this attacking team of City remains to be seen. In the last 6 games across all competitions, City have won 5 and drawn 1 whiles Leicester are equally on a good run of their own, winning 3 and drawing the other 3.  The Citizens have last dropped points in August when they drew 1-1 with Everton at Etihad. Since then, Pep Guardiola’s side has snatched as many as 15 wins in all competitions providing super impressive attacking displays along the way.

They have secured the top of the group in Champions league with four wins in four matches and they are eight points clear at the top of the standings in Premier League, the mentioned 1-1 draw with the Toffees being their lone slip up so far. The Spanish manager has a deadly attacking lineup with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, each of whom bagged at least six goals so far in Premier League.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION VS CHELSEA

After that assured display by Chelsea over fellow title rivals in the form of Manchester United, Chelsea will be looking to go on the road to ensure all three points is secured to put the league leaders under pressure. West Brom is without a win in their last 6 games losing 4 in the process. Lying 16th on the table and just a point above relegation, a loss will surely put them in the mix. Michy Batshuayi’s sole goal secured the Blues’ 28th league win of the campaign in May on the way to a record-breaking season, but their title defence this term has been underwhelming at times.

A win over Manchester United last time out was a much-needed positive note after a string of unimpressive performances both home and in European competition in the weeks preceding.West Brom, meanwhile, have not won since August and serious questions are being asked of Tony Pulis’s job security midway through a campaign for the first time in his managerial career. Saturday’s match will represent the 138th time in which these two teams have squared off in a competitive fixture, with Chelsea winning 60 times in comparison to 42 successes for the Baggies.

Chelsea has won four of the last half-a-dozen meetings, although the biggest margin of victory has been 2-0, and West Brom has previously enjoyed success against the West Londoners at The Hawthorns. Since 2012, the Baggies have claimed three wins and a draw, with Chelsea only ever prevailing by a one-goal margin.

LIVERPOOL VS SOUTHAMPTON

It has been a rollercoaster campaign for Liverpool in the opening 11 rounds of Premier League, but they are still only four points away from the second-placed Manchester United. This is thanks to back-to-back wins over Huddersfield Town and West Ham United. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to see his men snatching the third on the bounce this Saturday when the Reds host Sourthampton at Anfield. Things are looking back in the final third for Jurgen Klopp whose side has notched at least three goals in each of their last three outings in all competitions.

This summer’s acquisition from Roma, Mohamed Salah, has been the catalyst or the rise netting six goals in last five matches for Liverpool. The visitors are in a completely opposite run of form as they’ll head into this on the back of a disappointing 0-1 loss to Burnley at St. Mary’s. They now have only a single win in last six matches in all competitions and they’ve notched only three goals in four away days in this term of Premier League. The Italian forward Manolo Gabbiadini is Mauricio Pellegrino’s key man up front, but be managed to find the back of the net only once in last 16 matches in all competitions. The Saints left Anfield victorious only five times in 41 visits to Liverpool having lost on as many as 25 occasions along the way.

Nonetheless, they have proved out to be a tricky opposition for the Reds in the most recent history of their ties being undefeated in last five encounters with Liverpool. Moreover, the Reds failed to score a single goal in last four meetings with Southampton. The Egyptian winger bagged a brace in the demolishing 1-4 win over the Hammers two weeks ago and he will clearly be the greatest danger to Fraser Forster’s goal this Saturday.

MANCHESTER UNITED VS NEWCASTLE UNITED

Manchester United will resume their title chase following the international break this weekend when they host Newcastle United at Old Trafford in Saturday’s evening kickoff. There certainly has been improvement from the Red Devils – this time last season they sat sixth in the table with 18 points to their name, and they failed to improve on that position in the final standings. After 11 games this time around they are four places and five points better off, although that has been overshadowed by the relentless form of Manchester City, who has still dropped just two points all season. Should results go against them this weekend then United could find themselves 11 points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s side which, while not being an unassailable gap, would be a huge ask for them to recover from even if City’s form dips. All United can do now is simply keep on winning, although they have taken maximum points from just one of their last four Premier League games after winning six of their opening seven.

The goals have dried up too; Romelu Lukaku is currently on a seven-match drought for his club and the team as a whole have only found the back of the net twice in the league since the end of September – a far cry from the 21 goals they scored in their opening seven league outings. Defeat to Chelsea on Mourinho’s latest return to Stamford Bridge before the international break means that United could lose back-to-back games in all competitions for the first time since September 2016, although all of their dropped points so far this season have come on the road.

The Magpies have made a solid start to life back in the big time too, sitting 11th in the table with 14 points from their opening 11 games of the season. That form has dipped in recent weeks, though, with Newcastle having won just one of their last five league games following a spell of three top-flight victories on the bounce. Back-to-back 1-0 defeats at the hands of Burnley and Bournemouth before the international break were particularly disappointing results and another loss on Saturday would make it three consecutive Premier League defeats for the first time since March 2016. Benitez’s side have won just one of their away games so far this season too, and if you go back to their previous spell in the top-flight they have lost 12 and won just one of their last 16 Premier League outings on the road.

Emmanuel Danso Nyante

Email: bigbrain2g@yahoo.co.uk

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