Thursday, December 21, 2023

Premier League Preview Match Week 18: Arsenal At Liverpool Dominates Weekend Schedule

Week 18 in the Premier League begins early when Brighton visits Crystal Palace on Thursday. The Seagulls should expect the usual rude welcome at Selhurst Park as the two improbable rivals renew their geographically incompatible “M23 derby.” Brighton has moved to a new level in recent years with the Seagulls now competing in Europe while Crystal Palace continues to muck about in midtable as Brighton once did. The Eagles can still surprise on occasion, however, as evidenced by last weekend’s draw with Manchester City.

Friday’s schedule sees Aston Villa looking to extend its record 15 match home winning run when Sheffield United visits. Sheffield United remains the only Premier League club not to have won an away match this season.

The match of the weekend, of course, occurs Saturday at Anfield with top of the table Arsenal looking to inflict the first home loss of the season upon second place Liverpool. Arsenal will be the better rested side after Liverpool’s Wednesday defeat of West Ham in EFL Cup play. The Gunners, however, have not won a Premier League match at Anfield since 2012. Snapping that ignominious streak could not come at a better time with its potential to bolster Arsenal’s title bid. Manchester United, while failing to win, demonstrated that Liverpool’s fearsome attack can be blunted by holding the Reds scoreless at Anfield last weekend. Unlike the Red Devils, Arsenal brings an impressive attack of its own to Anfield on Saturday and the match holds the promise of a rollicking affair.

Manchester United is on the undercard Saturday when Manager Eric ten Hag and his club are on the road again, this week at London Stadium to face West Ham. The Hammers could be fighting fatigue as the club plays a second match in four days after Wednesday’s EFL Cup loss to Liverpool. In truth, however, West Ham did not seem to exert itself much in Wednesday’s drubbing. Manchester United will have Bruno Fernandes available after his one match suspension was served last weekend.

Saturday’s action includes another interesting matchup between streaking Everton and resurgent Tottenham Hotspur. The Toffees have won four straight Premier League matches while Tottenham Hotspur has patched together back-to-back wins to revive its hope of a top four finish. Richarlison has been key to Spurs’ recent success with three goals over the two victories.

Former Tottenham Hotspur Manager Nuno Espirito Santo makes his debut in charge of Nottingham Forest when the Tricky Trees host Bournemouth. Santo’s mission is to move Forest away from the relegation scrap. The Trees have drawn alarmingly close to the drop line by virtue of the recent poor run which put an end to former manager Steve Cooper’s employment. Bournemouth can serve as a model as to how to separate from the bottom stragglers. The Cherries were mired in the relegation zone before winning five of their last seven matches under Manager Andoni Iraola.

Luton Town will take to the pitch for the first time since the frightening cardiac arrest incident suffered by captain Tom Lockyer. Newcastle visits Kenilworth Road where the atmosphere of the Hatters’ intimate little stadium could play into the match against a Newcastle side which has proven vulnerable on the road. The Magpies have won just one of their eight Premier League away matches. Injuries and increased weariness from a midweek EFL Cup loss will be working against Newcastle and its superior roster against the 18th place Hatters.

Chelsea will be buzzing after its EFL Cup victory over the Magpies. There’s little time to celebrate, however, as the Blues head to Wolverhampton on Sunday. The match will prove yet another litmus test for the London side. The late equalizer by the much-maligned Mykhailo Mudryk and Chelsea’s subsequent penalty shootout conquest was exciting for supporters. Newcastle’s Keiran Trippier singlehandedly presented that victory to the Blues, however, with his giveaway for the Mudryk goal and subsequent missed shootout kick. A win over well-organized Wolverhampton would point to Chelsea truly having turned a corner.

Fulham were also EFL quarterfinal winners this week, dispensing with Everton at Goodison Park in penalty kicks. The Cottagers are back home at Craven Cottage on Saturday to face Burnley. Fulham has won its last two league home matches by identical 5-0 scores as it prepares to face the relegation bound Clarets who have conceded the second highest number of goals in the Premier League.

Manchester City’s originally scheduled home match versus Brighton has been postponed due to The Citizens’ Club World Cup victory during the week in Saudi Arabia.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment: