Friday, October 1, 2021

Premier League Preview Match Week 7: Liverpool Looks to Remain Unbeaten; Gunners Take Aim at Seagulls; Bee Stings versus Hammer Blows; Can Kane Spur Tottenham?; Basement Bowl at Burnley

Undefeated Liverpool tries to remain top of the table when Pep Guardiola leads defending league champion, Manchester City, to Anfield on Sunday. Liverpool currently leads Manchester City and four other clubs by a slender point in a congested early season Premier League table.

Mohamed Salah is joint top of the league in goals scored while Liverpool has scored the most goals in the league so far. Salah has scored four goals, adding two assists in his last five home matches against Manchester City in all competitions. While scoring just three fewer goals than Liverpool this season, Manchester City has been widely criticized for not having a focal point for their attack after a failed pursuit of Harry Kane this summer. Liverpool looks to end a three-match winless run versus the Citizens.

Chelsea, a loser at home to Manchester City last week, looks to get back on track after two consecutive losses in all competitions when winless Southampton visits Stamford Bridge. Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has tested positive for Covid, Reece James has a sprained ankle and Christian Pulisic remains seemingly perpetually injured for the Blues. Chelsea should still have enough to edge by a Southampton side which is sure to try to lock things down much as they did in a goalless draw versus Manchester City two weeks ago. The Saints have failed to notch a goal of their own in three consecutive matches.

Surprising Brighton play host to resurgent Arsenal. The Seagulls grabbed a dramatic point at Crystal Palace in the dying seconds of their match last week and are one of six clubs to have won four of the opening six matches.

Only Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea have conceded fewer goals than the Seagulls this season. Arsenal, meanwhile, have gunned their engines to streak past their last three opponents as the play of youngsters Martin Odegaard, Emil Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka has seemed to energize the moribund club. Recent weeks have also seen the return of previously injured midfielder Thomas Partey and center back Gabriel Magalhaes and the insertion to the starting lineup of newly acquired right back Takehiro Tomiyasu and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Everton manager Rafa Benitez tries to improve his poor record at Old Trafford when his Everton side travel to Manchester United. Benitez has lost seven of the nine matches he has previously managed at the legendary ground. The Spanish manager has the Toffees playing well this season, however, finding success with unheralded players such as Andros Townsend even when playing without currently injured marquee players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. Everton are surprisingly one of the five clubs just a point off league leading Liverpool. Manchester United odds to post a first clean sheet in ten home appearances are damaged by the injured status of center back Harry Maguire. All world striker Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, will be seeking a sixth goal in as many appearances in his return engagement with the Red Devils.

West Ham host Brentford for the first time in a topflight match in what should be an entertaining London derby. A victory by the Hammers would give them their highest point total after seven topflight matches in 37 years. Newly promoted Brentford, meanwhile, comes off an exciting draw with Liverpool and has trailed for only 25 minutes in its six matches so far this season.

Aston Villa will be seeking a third consecutive victory when they visit a Spurs side which has lost its last three matches. Spurs were embarrassed in losing badly in their derby versus Arsenal last week and can only hope Harry Kane’s mid-week hat trick in the Europa Conference League (against overmatched Mura) bodes of better things to come for the north London side. Aston Villa will be looking to win a third consecutive Premier League match for the first time in over a decade.

Leicester hopes to jump start a disappointing season, which has them currently 13th in the table, when the Foxes visit Crystal Palace. The Eagles’ Selhurst Park venue was the site of a gutting last second tying goal by hated rival Brighton last week and it will be informing to see how Patrick Vieira’s young Eagles respond on Sunday. Leicester has already lost four matches this season as the club has generated little in attack beyond the ageless Jamie Vardy and has been crippled by injuries to its back line.

Leeds and Watford face off at Elland Road in a match which could factor large in the relegation race this season. Leeds has scored only half as many goals as it posted in the first six matches of last season as the paling Whites have won but one of their last ten matches across all competitions. Newly promoted Watford, behind exciting striker Ismaila Sarr, has won twice to remains well clear of relegation so far but remain a betting favorite to enter the scrap.

Newcastle, another oddsmaker favorite for relegation, visits Molineux Stadium to face a Wolves side which has won two of three. The 17th place Magpies are likely to again be without injured striker Callum Wilson as they continue to seek their first win of the season. Wolves were encouraged last week by an opening goal of the season by striker Raul Jimenez who is returning from a fractured skull suffered last season.

The two clubs with the fewest points in the league meet in a relegation bowl when Norwich visits Burnley, hoping to avoid becoming the third Premier League team to lose the opening seven matches of a league season. The six Norwich losses to date this season are dwarfed by the club’s 16 match losing run in the Premier League dating to its relegation season two years ago. Norwich has been outscored 40-3 over those 16 matches. Winless Burnley has drawn twice to stay above the Canaries at the bottom of the table. The Clarets’ poor results have shown flashes of competence as the club has dropped a league leading 10 points from winning positions. 

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