Friday, October 28, 2022

Match Week 14 Preview: Potter Returns To Brighton; Spurs Look to Rebound; Hammers Look For Breakthrough at Old Trafford; Things Get Worse For Leeds’s Marsch; Gunner Firepower Will Test Forest

Graham Potter is undefeated as Chelsea’s manager. Roberto De Zerbi, Potter’s replacement as Brighton manager, has yet to win with the Seagulls after five attempts. The two managers meet Saturday in Potter’s first visit back to Brighton. Potter’s record at Chelsea has been helped by a friendly schedule as he continues to instill his principles. The Seagulls, meanwhile, continue to play entertaining football but have difficulty finishing, a problem that Potter will remember from his own time at the club.

Leeds Manager Jesse Marsch has not won since August and the Leeds fans are not happy. The winless run, which has seen Leeds settle into the relegation places, is unlikely to end Sunday when the Whites play Liverpool at Anfield. Liverpool, which advanced to the Champions League final sixteen during the week, will be keen to avoid a second consecutive league defeat to a club in the drop zone after the Reds’ stunning loss to Nottingham Forest last week.

Forest visits league leading Arsenal this weekend for another major challenge. The Gunners trail only Manchester City in goals scored this season and will face a Forest defense which has conceded the most goals in the league.

Work permit issues will prevent former Arsenal manager Unai Emery from manning the touchline when his new club, Aston Villa, faces Newcastle this weekend. Emery supposedly rejected overtures from Newcastle before the Magpies hired Eddie Howe last season. Emery can only hope to be as successful at Villa as Howe has been at Newcastle. The Magpies are flying under Howe and have climbed into the Championship League qualification places. Villa responded to the sacking of former manager Steven Gerrard with their best performance of the season last week in a win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs, facing Bournemouth Saturday, have lost back-to-back matches in the league and were frustrated in a Champions League draw during the week. Bournemouth has also dropped two consecutive league matches after impressing during a six-match unbeaten run under interim manager Gary O’Neil.

Leicester has climbed out of the relegation zone with two consecutive wins, but the Foxes’ momentum likely ends Saturday when they host Manchester City. The Citizens have scored an eye popping 25 more goals than their opponents this season, an 11-goal advantage over the next most dominant club, Arsenal, despite the Gunners topping the table by two points over City. Pep Guardiola’s side leads the league in goals scored while only Bournemouth has conceded more goals than the Foxes.

Wolverhampton, meanwhile, has scored 31 fewer goals in the league than Manchester City. The toothless Wolves travel to Brentford Saturday to face a Bees’ side which was pummeled by Aston Villa last week. Brentford has been far better at home this season with only five clubs having accumulated more home points than the Bees. Wolverhampton has captured only one point on the road during their trying season to date.

Cheick Doucoure thankfully returns for Crystal Place when Southampton visits Selhurst Park Saturday. The young defensive midfielder missed last weekend’s match for the Eagles due to accumulated yellow cards and his absence was a factor in a 3-0 defeat to Everton. Crystal Palace and Southampton have each shown a propensity for comebacks this season.

The Eagles lead the league with nine points captured from losing positions with Southampton capturing just a point less in similar circumstances. While the grittiness of the two young rosters is to be admired, the comeback statistic also points to a certain inconsistency and tendency to dig a hole through early goal concessions. Both clubs are trying to swim clear of the relegation battle. Southampton is three points removed from the drop zone with Crystal Palace a point better than the Saints.

Only five points separates 10th place West Ham from the drop zone in the tightly congested Premier League table. West Ham has recovered from early season residency in the relegation places to now climb into the top half of the table. The Hammers are at Old Trafford on Sunday. Sixth place Manchester United is unbeaten in its last four home matches, winning three, after a season opening loss to Brighton. Raphael Varane is injured for the Red Devils and much maligned center back Harry Maguire could get a first league start since September. West Ham is seeking its first Premier League win at Old Trafford since 2007.

Fulham trails Manchester United by only two points in the table as the Cottagers’ look to further build on their surprising success when they host Everton Saturday. Fulham manager Marco Silva will be facing his old club for the first time since his 2019 sacking by the Toffees. Fulham and Everton have differing styles. Fulham can be lethal in attack but leaves itself open on the counter. Only Manchester City, Arsenal and Spurs have scored more goals than the Cottagers this season. Defensively, however, only Bournemouth, Leicester and Nottingham Forest have shipped more goals than Fulham. Everton, conversely, has been one of the league’s best defensive clubs, but goals have been difficult to come by. The Toffees shocked Crystal Palace 3-0 last weekend, only the second time this season the Toffees have scored two or more goals. Everton sits 12th in the table, five points below their Saturday opponent.

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