Friday, September 16, 2022

Match Week 8 Preview

The Premier League returns with 7 of 10 originally scheduled matches moving forward this weekend. Chelsea’s home match versus Liverpool and Manchester United’s scheduled contest against Leeds United are postponed due to concerns surrounding adequate police presence. Brighton’s home match versus Crystal Palace had been previously postponed over concerns surrounding a now cancelled rail strike.

Arsenal’s match at Brentford on Sunday was given a green light despite the unusual circumstances in London as crowds pour into the nation’s capital in advance of Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral on Monday. The always swarming Bees could provide a stern test for Arsenal which looked vulnerable in a loss to Manchester United before the unexpected break from both league and European action for the Gunners. Youthful Arsenal makes for an exciting watch under Manager Mikel Arteta but there remains concern with squad depth, particularly as the schedule becomes more congested after the recent postponements. A potential boost for the Gunners came with the announcement that midfielder Thomas Partey may be fit for a return to action versus the Bees.

Brentford have lost but once this season to situate themselves in the top half of the table. Forward Ivan Toney has five goals this season for the Bees, earning him a place on the England team for the upcoming Nations League matches.

Manchester City travels to Wolverhampton Saturday hoping to overcome its one-point deficit to Arsenal in the table. Diego Costa, who once terrorized Premier League defenders for Chelsea, has signed as a free agent for Wolves and could possibly make his return to the league this weekend.

London based Tottenham Hotspur is approved to play its home match Saturday versus Leicester amid some scratching of heads as to how a major London fixture proceeds while a match in Manchester (United v. Leeds) is cancelled due to the Queen’s funeral. Spurs will be pleased to avoid further rescheduling issues and to take advantage of facing a Leicester squad that is reeling right now. The Foxes have lost five straight matches to take up residency in the league’s basement.

West Ham will try to claw out of the relegation places when the Hammers visit Everton on Sunday. Everton have drawn four straight matches. The Toffees are level on points with the Hammers, each with four points, but Everton currently enjoys the superior goal differential between the two sides.

Nottingham Forest is the third member of the current relegation club, along with Leicester and West Ham. Forest is home Friday to fellow promoted club Fulham. The Cottagers have had a more successful league campaign to date and are 10th in the table after capturing two wins and two draws in their first six matches. Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has powered the club’s league performance with six goals to his credit.

Newly promoted Bournemouth sits just a point behind Fulham and has a win and draw in two matches since the sacking of Manager Scott Parker. The Cherries travel to Newcastle this weekend with both clubs having accumulated seven points to date even though Newcastle owns a staggering 14 goal advantage over the Cherries in goal differential. Bournemouth’s goal differential was irreparably damaged in a 9-0 defeat to Liverpool in Parker’s last match with the club. Newcastle has managed to stay midtable despite numerous injuries to key players such as Bruno Guimaraes, Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin. The Magpies could make a move up once some of those stars return to duty. Guimaraes and Saint-Maximin could make an appearance this weekend against the Cherries.

Aston Villa will hope to retain some of the positive feeling from their draw with Manchester City in the club’s last action before last week’s slate of matches was lost to the Queen’s passing. Manager Steven Gerrard and his Villans host Southampton Friday. The Saints disappointingly lost to Wolves in their last outing which quickly eliminated the good feeling from Southampton’s triumph over Chelsea in their preceding match. 

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