Friday, October 15, 2021

Premier League Preview Match Week 8: London Derbies; Ranieri Returns; Party For Vardy?; Wolves Pack For Trip To Villa; Hope For Saints?; Déjà vu for Burnley; Bruce Hangs On; Canaries Likely Victims of Seagull Fly By

An uncommon London derby heads the Premier League slate as table leading Chelsea takes the short trip to Brentford Community Stadium to face the Bees in a league match for the first time since 1947. Chelsea is atop the league by a single point over Liverpool, four points above seventh place Brentford, as it looks to establish a record for the top four divisions of English football with a seventh consecutive “road” derby victory. Surprising Brentford is unbeaten in three previous London derbies this season.

Another London derby this weekend features a mid-table clash between Crystal Palace and Arsenal. A remodeled Crystal Palace team has taken seven points from seven matches as manager Patrick Vieira has so far avoided danger in the early stages of remaking the Eagles. Arsenal started the season disastrously before a three-match win streak ended with a draw to Brighton before international break.

Disappointing Leicester attempts to improve its 13th place standing in the table when the Foxes host Cristiano Ronaldo and fourth place Manchester United. Ronaldo will want to close the gap in the league’s scoring race as his three goals are currently half those of league leading goal getters Mohamed Salah and Jamie Vardy. Leicester’s Vardy may have opportunity to add to his total on Saturday as United is expected to be without center backs Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane.

David Moyes returns to the grounds he once patrolled for 11 years when West Ham visits Goodison Park to face fifth place Everton. Moyes’ charges have won only one of their last five league matches as they have struggled after punching their ticket for Europe last season. Everton, under new manager Rafa Benitez, has accumulated as many points as third place Manchester City. The Toffees’ success has come recently without injured forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, both of whom are expected out again for Sunday’s match.

Manager Claudio Ranieri returns to the Premier League as he takes the helm of Watford when the Hornets face second in the table Liverpool at Vicarage Road. Ranieri is managing his fifth club since winning an improbable Premier League title with Leicester in 2016. Liverpool will be without goalkeeper Alisson and midfielder Fabinho who have gone directly to Madrid for Tuesday’s Champions League match with Atletico Madrid after their international duty for Brazil.

An improving Wolves squad will look for a third consecutive victory and fourth in five matches when manager Bruno Lage brings his club to Aston Villa. Hwang Hee-Chan has three goals in his past four matches for the resurgent Wolves. Tenth place Villa are a point above Wolves in the standings and are looking to rebound from a loss to Spurs before the break. Striker Danny Ings is scoreless in his past five league matches for the Villans.

Saints’ striker Adam Armstong has not scored since opening weekend for Southampton but should have opportunities against a leaky Leeds defense on Saturday. Only relegation bound Norwich and Newcastle have conceded more goals than Leeds this season. Winless Southampton can overtake 16th place Leeds with a victory at St. Mary’s.

Burnley have been a model of consistently in losing by an identical 0-5 margin in each of their last four tries versus Manchester City at Etihad Stadium. Saturday’s match provides another opportunity for Burnley to win its first league match at Manchester City since 1963. City, currently third in the table, will be shorthanded Saturday with goalkeeper Ederson and forward Gabriel Jesus quarantining after international duty for Brazil and forward Ferran Torres having sustained a broken foot for Spain.

Manager Steve Bruce will get the opportunity to manage his 1,000th match when Newcastle hosts Spurs on Sunday. Bruce has been rumored for the sack by the Magpies’ new Saudi owners but remains in place for this weekend’s match. Spurs striker Harry Kane will look to collect his first league goal of the season against a Newcastle side which has conceded the joint highest number of goals in the league this season. The only club to have conceded as many goals as Newcastle is

Norwich which plays host to Brighton on Saturday. The cellar dwelling Canaries are unlikely to take wing in their battle against the Seagulls. Brighton is sixth in the table, having lost just once this season. 


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