Friday, February 26, 2021

Matchweek 26 Preview: Citizens Look To Drop Hammers; Red Devils Head To Stamford Bridge; Vardy Doesn’t Shy From Gunners; Chance For Fulham; Little Prayer For Saints

Matches featuring the Premier League’s two Manchester clubs headline this weekend’s action.  League leader Manchester City plays host to fourth place West Ham at the Etihad. The Citizens will extend their win streak across all competitions to 20 matches if they can put down the Hammers. Manchester City is 8 wins short of the Guinness world record for consecutive victories set by the Welsh club, The New Saints, in 2016. West Ham trail only Manchester City in points won in the league since the beginning of the year, winning 7 of their 9 matches in 2021. The Hammers are in the top four after 25 matches for the first time since 1986.  West Ham manager David Moyes has never defeated Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.


Second place Manchester United travels to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea team which remains undefeated since Thomas Tuchel took command. Fifth place Chelsea has conceded just two goals under Tuchel but has struggled in attack. Manchester United is unbeaten in 19 away league fixtures and have won 3 consecutive matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions.  

Third place Leicester hosts Arsenal at King Power Stadium where the Gunners have lost on their last 3 league visits. Leicester striker Jamie Vardy is particularly looking forward to the match as he has scored more goals against Arsenal than any Premier League player not named Wayne Rooney. The Foxes will be without injured defenders Wesley Fofana and James Justin against a Gunner squad which has failed to score in 3 of their last 5 matches.  

Liverpool, losers in their last 4 matches, travel to Brammall Lane hoping to sharpen their game against the bottom dwelling Blades. The Reds incurred yet another injury blow last week as captain Jordan Henderson sustained a groin injury which will have him out for an extended period. Injuries to key defensive performers has led to Liverpool allowing 34 goals in their 25 matches this season, exceeding their goals conceded in the entirety of last year’s championship season. No Premier League team has achieved 20 losses in a season more quickly than Sheffield United this season.  

Seventh place Everton looks to keep its European hopes alive when the Toffees welcome struggling Southampton to Goodison Park on Monday. Everton are unbeaten in their last 15 home matches against Southampton and manager Carlo Ancelotti has indicated both striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin and midfielder Allan should be fit and available for Monday’s match. Southampton has lost 7 of their last 8 matches and the team was accused by manager Ralph Hasenhuttl of giving up in last week’s loss to Leeds. The Saints would seem to have little prayer on Monday as injuries to Oriel Romeu and Takumi Minamino compound their woes.  

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith indicates the Villans will travel to Leeds without injured captain Jack Grealish. Leeds will be missing Kalvin Philips and Rodrigo as they attempt to earn their first home win against a team currently in the top half of the table when they face eighth place Villa. Leeds trails Aston Villa by a single point in the table. The match features two in-form strong goalkeepers. Villa’s Emiliano Martinez’ 12 clean sheets are 2nd in the league behind the 15 of Manchester City’s Ederson. Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier is seeking to become the first Premier League goalkeeper to achieve 9 clean sheets before the age of 21.  

Tottenham Hotspur, level on points with Aston Villa, have lost 5 of their last 6 matches as they welcome Burnley to north London.  The only league victories for Spurs in their last 8 league games were against the bottom two in the table, Sheffield United and West Brom. Burnley are on a four-game unbeaten run but have drawn 3 of those matches and are but 6 points clear of relegation. The last topflight win for Burnley at Spurs was in 1974.  

Wolves have won 3 times in a 4-match unbeaten run as they travel to face struggling Newcastle at St James Park. Newcastle has lost 10 of their last 14 matches and are but 3 points from relegation. Both teams struggle for goals. Newcastle has scored more than a goal in only 2 of their last 13 matches. Wolves are level on goals with Newcastle for the season, the 26 goals for each team exceeding only the total scored by Burnley for teams not in the relegation zone.  

Fulham will reach safety with a victory in their London Derby at Crystal Palace and a Newcastle loss to Wolves.  The Cottagers have lost just once in their last 7 Premier League games and are seeking a third consecutive win. Crystal Palace looks to win a second consecutive match without top goal scorer Wilfried Zaha. While Fulham’s recent race toward safety has been noteworthy, Crystal Palace has accumulated a point more than the Cottagers in the prior 5 matches for each club. 

Brighton, just 4 points clear of relegation after the Seagulls’ gut-wrenching loss to Crystal Palace last week, will travel to West Brom. The Seagulls should have Tariq Lamptey back for the game. West Brom have lost their last 7 league home matches while Brighton have lost just once in their last 6 league away matches.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment: