Friday, October 30, 2020

Week 7 Preview: Villans and Saints; Chess Match at Leeds; Devilish Match for Arsenal

Top of the Table

Everton looks to get back on the winning track when they travel to Newcastle. Depth will be tested again as key absences and players carrying injuries has slowed Everton's opening season run. Richarlison will again be missed as the Toffees try to penetrate an expected Newcastle low block. Left back Lucas Digne joins Richarlison as a red card suspension. The fitness of James, visibly fighting through an injury last week, could factor in this week's result.

Liverpool faces an in-form West Ham team as the Reds try to make it 63 games without a home defeat at Fortress Anfield. Defensive worries increased during the week as Fabinho, filling the injured van Dijk's center back slot, was injured in the Champions League win over Midtjylland. Rhys Williams could make his first Premier League start for the Reds.

Aston Villa plays Southampton in a game matching two teams outperforming their pre-season expectations. Despite the three-goal loss at Leeds, Aston Villa's defense remains the stingiest in the Premier League with only five goals allowed in their five matches. It will be interesting to see how they respond to last week's stumble versus Leeds after their fab first four games. 

Fourth place Leicester now faces Leeds in a chess match between Fox Manager Brendan Rodgers and Leeds’s Marco Bielsa.  Expect the Foxes to sit deep and launch counter attacks against the energetic Whites.  A fifth win from their opening seven matches would be a best ever league start for the Foxes who should have a fully fit Jamie Vardy on Monday. 

Spurs, having not lost in the league since their season opening match versus Everton, take on Brighton. The north London club boasts both the Premier League's leading goal scorer (Son Heung-min) and the leading assists man (Harry Kane) in Europe's top five leagues. Jose Mourinho's squad also posted their first clean sheet of the season last week at Burnley.

Leeds travel to Leicester riding a wave of confidence after defeating Villa last week. The newly promoted club has played consistently well with an aggressive style that tends to keep opponents on their heels. Leicester will be challenged in dampening a Leeds attack that has scored at least three in half their games this season.

Mid Table

Southampton are winners of three of their last four matches as they travel to Aston Villa. The high pressing club is looking more dangerous on attack with Che Adams stepping up to complement Danny Ings up front.

A win on Saturday would vault the Saints above the Villans in the table. A Saints win would be heavenly for manager Ralph Hasenhuttl who would tie Ronald Koeman for most away victories (14) by a Southampton manager.

Crystal Palace will sit deep as always and hope to catch out Wolves at Molineux this weekend with a counterattacking moment of magic. Michy Batshuayi provides some additional threat alongside Wilfried Zaha on top but manager Roy Hodgson may have a decision to make with the healthy return of Jordan Ayew. Wolves will try to improve on their one goal per game scoring average against a stubborn Crystal Palace defense. Despite lackluster scoring to date, Wolves have taken 10 points from their first six matches, their highest accumulation in topflight competition to this point in a season in 41 years. 

It would not be at all surprising to see Chelsea score four goals when they visit Burnley. The Blues have scored four goals in each of their last two visits to Turf Moor and scored four goals earlier this week in their Champions League win at Krasnodar. Christian Pulisic went for the hat trick in last year's game in Burnley.

Arsenal will be gunning for their first goal in three weeks when they visit Manchester United. Recent visits have been devilish for the Gunners as they have lost their last 13 at Old Trafford.  A defeat this weekend would be the fourth league loss in five games for Arsenal. 

West Ham manager David Moyes, with his team on a four-game unbeaten streak, looks for his first Premier League victory against Liverpool The Hammers were dealt a blow this week when learning striker Michail Antonio will be unavailable due to a hamstring injury. Antonio had scored in 11 of his last 13 Premier League matches.

Manchester City seeks its first away victory of the young season when it visits Sheffield United. City's attack has lacked pep of late. Their curent streak of three games failing to score more than a goal is the longest such stretch since Guardiola's first season in 2016. An improved defense has helped the Citizens to remain unbeaten during those three matches. Expect the unbeaten streak to continue after the duel with the Blades.

Newcastle hopes to extend a rude welcome to Everton at St. James Park. The Magpies have been erratic from week to week, doing well last week to snatch a late point from Wolves after the prior week's collapse against Manchester United. Steve Bruce's side has launched fewer shots on goal than any other team this season but stays in games with its low block defense.

Bottom of the Table

Manchester United looks for its first home win of the season when they welcome Arsenal to Old Trafford. A win over Arsenal would force many fans to give the Red Devils their due. United has been impressive in Champions League competition and needs to begin leveraging its talented roster in Premier League competition. Edinson Cavani could potentially get his first start for the suspended Anthony Martial.

Brighton could struggle containing a high-octane Spurs attack, particularly in the absence of suspended defender Lewis Dunk. Seagull management also cannot be happy with diminishing goal production in recent weeks.

Weekend opponents West Brom and Fulham have drawn the last four times they have played each other in league competitons. There is not much to choose from here as two struggling clubs look for a spark. Newly acquired West Brom forward Karlan Grant scored the tying goal last week for the Baggies versus Brighton. Perhaps loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek can add something for Fulham.

Burnley, hosting Chelsea this weekend, played well in their 1-0 loss to Spurs last weekend.  The Clarets though have won just one of their twelve Premier League matches with the Blues.  They would do well to keep an eye on Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic in this weekend’s matchup.  To be quite blunt, the Blades are dull.  That opinion is unlikely to change when Sheffield United hosts Manchester City.

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