Monday, December 13, 2021

Match Week 17 Preview: Coronavirus Concerns; Gunners and Hammers in Derby; Bottom Battle Between Clarets and Hornets; Fear For Newcastle; Will Anyone Score When Wolves Visit Brighton ?

Uncertainty surrounds several of the Premier League mid-week matches as coronavirus is beginning to wreak havoc as the league enters its busy festive period. Tottenham Hotspur is the most impacted roster and there is a strong possibility of postponing a third consecutive match for the north London club. Spurs are slated to travel to Leicester on Thursday. Manchester United’s Tuesday match with Brentford is in doubt after a breakout of the virus among the Red Devils which forced a closure of their training site this weekend. Aston Villa’s visit to Norwich Tuesday is also a question after positive cases have now spread through Villa’s roster. The matchup in Norwich, if played, would see Norwich City manager Dean Smith face the club which sacked him earlier this year. The Premier League has reinstituted additional protocols to try to control the virus spread but the vaccination status of players, with less than 70% of players being fully vaccinated, has been disappointing for the league.

West Ham faces a key on-field test this week when the Hammers visit Arsenal for a London derby on Wednesday. West Ham’s hold on the final Champions League qualification berth has grown tenuous after just one win in the Hammers’ last five league matches. Arsenal is just two points behind West Ham for fourth position in the table and have been formidable at home with the Gunners having won six of their eight matches at the Emirates.

The other key matchup mid-week is at the other end of the table where Burnley will have opportunity to climb out the relegation zone if the Clarets can take three points at home against Watford. A fifth consecutive loss by the Hornets would see them replace Burnley in the bottom three.

Another relegation zone dweller in Newcastle faces a daunting task after their embarrassing display versus Leicester on the weekend. The hapless Magpie defense will face the league’s highest scoring club when Manager Eddie Howe takes his motley crew to Anfield to face Liverpool.

Chelsea will be a heavy favorite when Everton visits Stamford Bridge. The London club, uncharacteristically shipping multiple goals of late, will look for a return to defensive solidity against an Everton side sorely missing injured striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

First place Manchester City faces a Leeds squad which is surprisingly unbeaten in its last four matches against the Citizens. A loss to the Whites at the Etihad could see both Liverpool and Chelsea sweep by Pep Guardiola’s men in the table. Manchester City, however, has won six consecutive league matches against all comers and is unlikely to falter here. Leeds will struggle for production absent striker Patick Bamford against a Manchester City team which has conceded only three goals at home this season while posting six clean sheets.

The match between Brighton and Wolves on the south coast features two of the league’s lowest scoring teams with 14 and 12 goals, respectively. Despite its low scoring output, Brighton is tough to beat with the Seagulls incurring fewer losses to date than all but the table’s top three teams.

Crystal Palace has lost only once at home this weekend and will hope to build on its home win over Everton last weekend when the Eagles host Southampton at Selhurst Park. The Saints, meanwhile, are praying for an end to their current five match winless run.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment: