Friday, September 29, 2023

Premier League Week 7 Preview

Liverpool visits Tottenham Hotspur for a clash of undefeated top four sides on Saturday as  second place Liverpool begins play two points above a rejuvenated Spurs side. Tottenham Hotspur Manager Ange Postecoglou has brought a sense of excitement to long suffering Spurs supporters despite the club saying goodbye to Harry Kane this last transfer window. The Australian manager’s high pressing philosophy will be put to the test, however, against the deadly forward line of Liverpool. The Reds are also vulnerable in defense so an entertaining shootout could well unfold. Mohamed Salah and James Maddison have orchestrated the attacks for their clubs, each registering a joint Premier League high four assists this season. Spurs’ Son Heung-min is second in the league with five goals, two more than the Reds’ Salah. Only three clubs have scored more than the 15 goals posted by both Spurs and the Reds this season.

The next best game of the weekend sees third place Brighton visiting sixth place Aston Villa. The Seagulls lead the Premier League in goals scored and have lost but once, a surprising 3-1 defeat at the hands of West Ham. Evan Ferguson’s four goals lead five Brighton players with two or more goals for the Seagulls. Aston Villa, meanwhile, has beaten four clubs in the bottom half of the table while looking vulnerable against better opponents in losses to Newcastle and Liverpool. The league performance of both Aston Villa and Brighton has been better than their cup adventures to date. Both lost their opening European matches and were bounced in the third round of the Carabao Cup this week. A victory on Saturday would put Villa, which has won its last nine home matches, level on points with Brighton.

League leading Manchester City travels to Wolverhampton on Saturday looking to remain perfect with a seventh victory of the season. The chances of that happening are quite good because Wolverhampton struggles to score goals. In fact, Manchester City striker Erling Haaland has scored two more goals than the entire Wolves team. It will be difficult for Manager Gary O’Neil’s side to close that scoring gap against a Manchester City defense which has conceded a league low three goals this season.

At least O’Neil has won a game this season, which is more than can be said for the man who replaced him at Bournemouth, Andoni Iraola. Bournemouth is unlikely to deliver that first win when Arsenal visits on Saturday. The Cherries have won but once in 14 meetings with Arsenal over the years and the Gunners are currently unbeaten in seven Premier League matches dating to last season. Bournemouth, meanwhile, is in the company of the three clubs in the relegation places as the only winless wonders this season. A lengthy injury list for Arsenal - which includes Declan Rice, Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Martinelli among others - provides a puncher’s chance for the Cherries.

West Ham will look to get back on track when it hosts Sheffield United at London Stadium, The Hammers have dropped back-to-back matches to fall from fourth to seventh in the table. This week, however, they face winless Sheffield United which was shellacked 8-0 by Newcastle last week and are bottom of the table by virtue of goal differential under embattled manager Paul Heckingbottom. Only Sheffield United has conceded more goals than Burnley and Saturday the Clarets must visit the executioners who put the Blades to the sword last week.

Newcastle returns home to face Burnley riding the high of last week’s destruction of Sheffield United and a midweek Carabao Cup win over Manchester City, a third consecutive win across all competitions.

Manchester United, in a scheduling oddity, will face Crystal Palace for a second time in the past week at Old Trafford. The Red Devils downed the Eagles  3-0 in a Tuesday Carabao Cup match. Sofyan Amrabat made an impressive first start for Manchester United in an unaccustomed left back role. The defensive midfielder is covering for injuries in the Red Devils' back line. Tenth place Crystal Palace are just a point behind the Red Devils in the table but will again struggle to find the net without injured striker Odsonne Edouard.

Fulham is currently level on points with Crystal Palace as they host a London derby versus Chelsea. Fourteenth place Chelsea will hope to build some momentum from Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win over Brighton but won’t be helped by the absence of Wednesday’s goal scorer Nicolas Jackson who is suspended for Monday’s league match due to accumulated yellow cards. Fulham have only beaten Chelsea twice in 32 Premier League meetings between the clubs but this is not the same Chelsea which tormented the Cottagers over the years.

Everton is on a two-match win streak after the Toffees followed up last week’s first win in the league with a mid-week Carabao Cup victory over Aston Villa. The Toffees should have a great chance of extending that run when bottom of the table Luton Town visits Goodison Park. The return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin has had an immediate impact for Everton with the striker scoring in each of the two recent Toffee wins. Luton Town, meanwhile, has scored a league low three goals while only Wolverhampton has conceded more than the 11 goals allowed by the Hatters. Nottingham Forest is home to Brentford in a matchup of two mid-table clubs. The Tricky Trees are normally formidable at the City Ground, unbeaten in six home matches dating to last season, though a draw with newly promoted Burnley in their last home match was a disappointment. Meanwhile, Brentford’s midweek loss to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup marked a fifth consecutive winless outing for the Bees. 

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