Friday, February 10, 2023

Premier League Preview: Matchweek 23

An intriguing Merseyside derby appears fascinating despite the troubled state of both participants. Sean Dyche leads 18th place Everton into Anfield after upsetting league leading Arsenal in his managerial debut for the Toffees last week. Can Dyche keep up the energy that permeated last week’s win? A match against Everton’s historic rival should help in that regard. A win against their hated rival would make Dyche a hero to tortured Toffee fans. Liverpool again looked moribund in a 3-0 defeat to Wolverhampton, the third time in the last four matches that the Reds have conceded three goals to an opponent. Liverpool is still seeking its first win of the new year.

Another derby match between underachieving clubs takes place at London Stadium where West Ham hosts Chelsea. The Hammers are in a relegation fight in the Premier League despite having qualified for Europe last season with the fourth lowest goal total in the league chiefly accounting for the Hammers’ problems. Chelsea has its own scoring problems, having found the net just four more times than the Hammers. The expensively put together Blues have failed to score in three of their last five matches while scoring just one goal in two others. Chelsea are ten points outside the top four. The Hammers are just a point above the drop zone.

A London derby featuring clubs further up the table will take place at the Emirates where league leading Arsenal will try to rebound from consecutive losses in the FA Cup and Premier League, respectively, when it faces a Brentford side which hasn’t lost in nine consecutive matches. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta needs to figure out how to reignite a Gunner attack which, though trailing only Manchester City in league goals for the season, has suffered back-to-back clean sheets. The Bees are led by striker Ivan Toney whose 13 league goals are third best in the league behind only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane. Brentford’s last and only win away at Arsenal in any competition came in 1938.

Manchester City, reeling from this week’s news that an expanded probe of its financial dealings is in process, will try to pull things together on the pitch when the Citizens host Aston Villa. Manchester City has lost two of its last four league matches and remains five points behind Arsenal while having played an additional league match than the Gunners. Aston Villa, meanwhile, suffered an inexplicable implosion in an error filled defeat to Leicester in its last match. The Villans should be better this week but face a tall task at the Etihad where City has lost just once this season.

Manchester United is two points behind Manchester City in the table after the Red Devils recovered from a two-goal deficit to salvage a point versus Leeds during the week. In a scheduling quirk, United and Leeds will again play this weekend with the action shifting to Elland Road. Jadon Sancho returned from a lengthy and somewhat quizzical absence to join Marcus Rashford on the scoresheet in Wednesday’s draw. Contributions from Sancho would be helpful to complement the career season being experienced by Rashford whose 11 goals are joint fourth in the Premier League. Leeds remains without a permanent manager after Jesse Marsch’s sacking on Monday with Steven Gerrard’s name now being tossed in the candidate hat by some pundits.

Newcastle will take the longest trip in the Premier League when it travels to Bournemouth this weekend. The two cities are the farthest removed geographically of any two league clubs. There is also a great distance between the clubs in the league standings. Newcastle remains in contention to qualify for the Champions League. Bournemouth hopes just to survive this season. The match represents a homecoming for Newcastle manager Eddie Howe who once was a long term fixture at the south coast club. 

Selhurst Park will be the site for the latest iteration of the “M23 Derby” between Crystal Palace and Brighton. The geographically incongruous rivalry currently appears a mismatch on paper. The sixth place Seagulls are in the hunt for European qualification. Crystal Palace has yet to win in 2023, losing four of its sixth matches. The Eagles are also without the injured Wilfried Zaha. This avian matchup, however, has hatched surprises in the past.

Tottenham Hotspur is five points ahead of Brighton in the table but has played two additional matches than the Seagulls. Spurs will be seeking a third consecutive league win when the club visits Leicester Saturday. The Foxes delivered one of their best performances of the season when they ended a five-match winless run with a 4-2 defeat of Aston Villa last weekend.

Fulham has fallen out of the European places after a three-match winless streak for the Cottagers. Visiting Craven Cottage on Saturday will be a Nottingham Forest side which is climbing the table with a five-match unbeaten run which has seen manager Steve Cooper’s club win three of their last four Premier League contests.

Wolverhampton has won two of its last three matches and will try to put more distance between Wolves and the relegation zone when traveling to bottom of the table Southampton Saturday. Saints manager Nathan Jones is under increasing pressure from supporters after losing six of his seven matches as manager and recently placing blame for the lack of success on players and fans. Wolves, meanwhile, are quite pleased with their new manager. Julen Lopetegui has won three matches and drawn twice in his seven Premier League matches to lead his club out of the relegation zone. Lopetegui’s two losses were to Manchester United and Manchester City, respectively.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment: