Friday, November 5, 2021

Premier League Preview Match Week 11: Manchester Derby; Liverpool and Hammers in Top Four Battle; Conte Returns; Wolves Enter Eagles’ Nest; Saints and Villans; Gunners Set Sights on Hornets

The Manchester derby is full of storylines this weekend. Cristiano Ronaldo has been almost single handedly trying to save the job of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, leading the win over dysfunctional Spurs last week and salvaging a draw with a late goal versus Atalanta in Champions League mid-week. City failed to score in last week’s loss to Crystal Palace and pundits and supporters are again bemoaning the absence of a true striker in Pep Guardiola’s line-up. Meanwhile, the futures of two highly priced wingers are being questioned as Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho are fringe players this season for City and United, respectively. The Red Devils have won three and drawn one in their last four meetings against the defending league champion Citizens.

Undefeated Liverpool head to West Ham for a Top Four clash. The fourth ranked Hammers have won three in a row and four of five but have lost their last four matchups against the Reds. Liverpool remains unbeaten but have drawn three of their last five league matches to, accounting for their runner up status to Chelsea. Mohamed Salah leads the league with ten goals. Linemate Bobby Firmino is expected to miss up to four weeks for Liverpool after suffering a hamstring injury in Champions League action. West Ham’s Michail Antonio has six Premier League goals and three assists to trail only Salah in goal involvements this season.

Antonio Conte returns to the Premier League when Spurs visit Everton.

Conte will be trying to unlock the attack of a Spurs side which has only scored nine goals in ten matches despite possessing some of the league’s best offensive weapons in Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Everton will be trying to avoid a fourth consecutive league defeat as the absence of injured striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been compounded in recent weeks by defensive lapses. Conte was undefeated versus the Toffees while managing Chelsea in his first turn as a Premier League manager.

Crystal Palace looks to build on its massive win over Manchester City last week when an in-form Wolves side visits Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace fans, long accustomed to uninspiring, albeit moderately successful football, were over the moon with both the result and the style with which the Eagles played in the win over City. Wolves, however, have won four of five matches and sit seventh in the table. Forwards Raul Jimenez and Hwang Hee-chan have developed chemistry up front for the improved Wolves attack.

Aston Villa is the latest squad of players in danger of unseating their manager. The pressure is building on Aston Villa manager Dean Smith after four consecutive defeats as the Villans travel to Southampton this weekend. Monies spent to retool after the loss of Jack Grealish have not shown a return and the manager’s technical decisions, such as playing three in the back, are being questioned. Winless in their first seven matches of the season, Southampton is on a positive run of late, winning two matches in a current undefeated three match run.

High flying Arsenal welcomes Watford to the Emirates as the Gunners look to win a third straight match. Manager Mike Arteta has seen his club go undefeated in its last seven matches as the Gunners have risen to sixth in the table and returned to contention for the European places. Watford, meanwhile, is only three points removed from the relegation zone after losing two of three matches under new manager Claudio Ranieri who has won just once in 18 career tries versus Arsenal, the sole victory coming in a Champions League match while managing Chelsea.

Chelsea are home to a Burnley squad which surprised everyone with a three-goal outburst versus Brentford last week. This London trip should be less joyful for the Clarets as they face a league leading squad that has only allowed three goals the entire season. Chelsea has posted a clean sheet in its last three meetings with Burnley. Burnley’s chances to score this weekend may rest with striker Maxwel Cornet who has found the net four times in his five Premier League appearances. Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner remain out for a Chelsea side which still boasts a plethora of other scoring options.

Brighton seeks a first win in six matches when Newcastle visits the Seagulls. Graham Potter’s side has the joint fourth best league defense based on goals conceded but, despite an attractive offensive approach, always seems to struggle to convert chances. Newcastle is in serious danger of relegation as its four points from ten matches exceed only those of Norwich. Former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has been rumored this week for the Magpie manager job.

Leicester travels to Leeds where they have won four of their last five league matches at Elland Road. The Foxes are often a good watch with their attacking players led by Jamie Vardy, but the defense remains suspect as Leicester has failed to keep a clean sheet since opening weekend. Leeds have scored but ten goals on the season as they have sorely missed injured striker Patrick Bamford. Rafinha has been one of the few bright lights for the Whites who have won only versus promoted sides Watford and Norwich.

The trail of tears which is Norwich’s season continues as the Canaries fly next to Brentford for the first topflight meeting between the former Championship division opponents. The two promoted clubs reflect differing levels of success so far in the Premier League table. Brentford is 12th while winless Norwich is bottom. The Bees though have had their own recent problems in losing three consecutive league matches and have dropped three of their four home matches. Brentford should have opportunity to cheer their home fans though against a Canary squad which has not scored in a road match this season.

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