Saturday, 19 September 2015

PREVIEW: EPL Week 5


Editor's Note:

A big thanks to Keegan Pulik for sending me through these previews at short-notice after Alex had some tech problems prevent him from doing them. I wrote my first EPL previews of the season with a look at Southampton v Manchester United and an accidental look at Liverpool v Norwich.

I misread Keegan's inbox and thought he wanted me to do both of these games. After I wrote it I found his Liverpool write-up. Still; it doesn't hurt to have two previews written up.

Also, you'll notice the match graphics are a bit more streamlined. Squarer, less info, straight to the point. These graphics will be used for the upcoming A-League season which I'd appreciate any sort of help for...especially if you're a diehard who watches every game.

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Chelsea continued their poor start to the league season last week going down 3-1 to a determined Everton side. Chelsea now sit in very foreign territory, just outside the relegation zone in 17th place. Against Everton there were very few positive points to take out of the game, apart from the wonder strike from Matic. Despite the poor league form Chelsea opened their Champions League account with a dominant 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv. 4-0 is never a result to be snubbed at, especially in the Champions League, I can’t help but think that this result really is not the start of a new beginning for the Blues. 

Obviously Tel Aviv are in Champions League because they are decent but they really aren’t that strong of an outfit, if it hadn’t been 4-0 I would be very concerned for the Chelsea club. Things are only made more difficult as the late omission of Thibaut Courtois last week, and having been ruled out for 3 to 4 months only makes their season that little bit harder. This week Chelsea really will have to sort out their defensive woes against an Arsenal side who have looked decent attacking wise in the Premier League so far.

Arsenal went out last week in pursuit of closing the gap on Manchester City, and were successful in doing so, with a 2-0 win over an ordinary Stoke side. Arsenal took the lead in the 31st minute through calmly taken strike from Theo Walcott, with the second coming from scrutinised French striker Olivier Giroud. Arsenal really did dominate this game right from the word go having a total 69% possession and 24 shots throughout the entire match. 

This attacking dominance from the Stoke match unfortunately didn’t carry through to the Champions League first match day against Dinamo Zagreb. It took only 24 minutes for Zagreb to hit the front and soon after Oliver Giroud was seeing red for his second bookable offence. For the next 50 minutes Arsenal were made to play a man down. 13 minutes after half time Zagreb had put their second past David Ospina making the already uphill task for Arsenal that much harder. 

Unfortunately for the Gunners, a 79th minute consolation goal from Theo Walcott was not enough to spark a late comeback. Going into this weekend against Chelsea, Arsenal will be quietly confident after their dominant performances as of late in the Premier League and I predict that their fast paced free flowing attacking football will continue.

This match is so important for both teams, for Chelsea to kick start their season, the longer they go without a win the further they will fall behind and out of to four contention. For Arsenal they will be gunning for the win to keep in touch with high Flyers City.

Keegan's Tip: 2-1 Arsenal
Alex's Tip: 1-0 Arsenal
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Arsenal

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Swansea City will be going into this week’s match determined not to have a repeat of last week’s performance at Watford. Going behind in the 59th minute to an Odion Ighalo goal, the task proved to be out of reach, despite Watford having a player sent off in the 64th minute. 

For the first time this season, Bafetimbi Gomis was unsuccessful in breaking on to the score sheet, which is a great credit to the defence of Watford, but asks the question to whether Swansea are as prolific if Gomis isn't firing. This week Swansea will need both their attack and defence on top of their game otherwise it could get messy.

Everton bounced back from the loss and draw they had two weeks prior to last week with an excellent 3-1 win over a struggling Chelsea side. 9 minutes in when Muhamed Besic was substituted it began to seem as if it could’ve been a long day at the office for the Toffees. But the replacement Steven Naismith was outstanding. 

Having scored 2 goals within 15 minutes of coming on to the field, Everton looked as if they had the game wrapped up, before a Matic stunner flew past Tim Howard. But come the 83rd minute Naismith had found the net once again sealing his hat trick and the 3 points for Everton. Despite having only 39% possession, Everton were still able to shut out and frustrate a desperate Chelsea side, which they will take a lot of confidence out of.

Going into this week, two teams that have had decent starts to the season, both will be looking to push on and break away from the mid table.

Keegan's Tip: 3-2 Everton
Alex's Tip: 2-2 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Everton

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Aston Villa seemed to have been home and hosed last weekend against Leicester, being up 2-0 with 20 minutes to go. Unfortunately for Villa, complacency set in and within the last 18 minutes of play Leicester had taken the lead. This will be a great concern for Villa this weekend and trying to get to the bottom of how they could let such a lead slip. Although there are positives to take away from the match, one of which is being that they were able to break through a Leicester side who has been impressive this season. If Villa are able to sharpen up at the back and not leak late goals this week they could very well push on and get a win.

West Brom currently sitting 14th, one place and one point above Villa, were held to a 0-0 draw last weekend against Southampton. West Brom struggled in terms of keeping the ball only having 35% possessions but despite that, they managed to have 6 shots, 5 of which were off target, but still more shots than Southampton managed to get off, which is a great testament to the defence of the West Brom. This week they are going to have to make use of their attacking options with Rondon, Lambert and Berahino always lurking in the attacking third.

Keegan's Tip: 1-1 Draw
Alex's Tip: 1-0 West Brom
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Aston Villa

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Stoke, currently sitting 18th are one of three clubs that are yet to post their first win of the season. Last week they were beaten 2-0 by a strong Arsenal outfit. Stoke will be desperate to get something out of this match, to try get some sort of confidence to push forward and break out of the rut that they are currently situated in. Having very little possession last week and only producing 4 shots, 3 of which were on target, Stoke will be looking for any positives at all. 

Unfortunately for the Potters, there aren’t many, if any. This week I cannot see their poor start getting any better. They will have to push early and unsettle Leicester, the longer they can keep Leicester out of the game, the better it will be, although keeping the inform Foxes out is a lot easier said than done.

Leicester continued their dream start to the season, coming from 2 goals down to win 3-2. The 18 minute period saw Leicester score 3 goals with Ritchie De Laet, Jamie Vardy and Nathan Dyer all getting on the score sheet. Whilst inform winger Riyad Mahrez didn’t find the net, he managed to set up 2 of the 3 goals, and made his mark on the match. 

Leicester go into this week with a ridiculous amount of confidence, and let’s be honest no one can blame them for it. Not only are they getting the results but they are playing an appealing brand of football, which makes it all the more satisfying there fans. This week I see them continuing their impressive form and pushing on, quite possibly humiliating Stoke.

Keegan's Tip: 4-1 Leicester
Alex's Tip: 1-1 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Stoke City

(Editor's Note: Interesting tips in this one!)

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Bournemouth last week were brought back down to Earth with a 3-1 defeat at Norwich City. In the weeks prior Bournemouth had come away with 4 out of a possible 6 points and were playing good football. Last week, for sure wasn’t there best performance being down 3-0 within the first 67 minutes. 

An 81st minute consolation goal scored by Steve Cook was nothing but that, a consolation. This week they will have to rectify their defence, tighten up and not let Sunderland use attacking outlets of Defoe, Borini and Wickham. If they can contain these three, Sunderland’s midfield will not be able to function as well as the potentially can.

Sunderland join their North East rivals Newcastle at the foot of the ladder. Last time out they were defeated 1-0 in a tightly contested match with Tottenham Hotspurs. Sunderland will see this week as an opportunity to seal their first victory before they play both Manchester sides in the coming fortnight. 

Sunderland are becoming accustomed to being at the bottom of the ladder, so this week they will look to capitalise on the inexperience of Bournemouth who are yet to win at home in the Premier League. Creating chances has been their biggest struggle this season, which I think I may have outlined last week, but if they are not able to create chances against Bournemouth, I will be very concerned about their Premier League aspirations for next season.

Keegan's Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth

(Editor's Note: Play it safe when the others tip the same score!)

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Newcastle are sitting in a very familiar position, last. Newcastle’s season is getting worse and worse by the week, last time out going down 2-0 to a West Ham side that is flying high at the moment. Going behind early on, Newcastle had their backs against the wall early, and despite dominating possession with 61% possession, they just couldn’t drag themselves out of the current form that they are in. This week will be a tricky encounter with a Watford side that will be full of confidence after last week.

Watford are back in the winner’s circle after their 1-0 victory against Swansea. This was their first victory back in the top flight of English football and coming in front of the Watford faithful made the victory all the more sweeter. The 59th minute goal was enough to seal the victory for Watford, although I must compliment their defence for the containing of Bafetimbi Gomis. For the first time this season he was unsuccessful in finding the back of the net which is a credit to the defensive structure and work load of the Watford back line. 

Sitting only 4 points out of the relegation zone, Watford will want to use this confidence and push on get the victory which will keep them further out of the red zone.

Keegan's Tip: 1-1  Draw
Alex's Tip: 3-2 Newcastle
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Newcastle

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Manchester City are yet to concede in the Premier League this season, maintaining their perfect start to the season last week against Crystal Palace. Last week they were pushed the full 90 before they scored a last minute winner coming from youngster Iheanacho. 

Midweek saw the beginning of their Champions League campaign saw them blowing a 1-0 lead to Italian giants Juventus to lose 2-1. Whilst that result is not anything to be overly concerned about in regards to form heading into this week. Manchester City showed last week that they have youngsters who are more than able to rise up to the challenge when required and the quality they possess is just remarkable. This week may see the starting debut of Kevin De Bruyne which I will watch with interest after his contribution last weekend.

West Ham got up 2-0 last week against a bottomed place Newcastle. A brace to Dimitri Payet was enough to seal the win against what must be said as a very ordinary Newcastle side. Despite winning comfortably they will be concerned that they only managed to keep 39% possession. Going into this weekend against City, West Ham will be quietly confident that they can knock off City as they have already beaten the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool. Unfortunately for West Ham I have serious doubts that they will be get the win, it never hurts to believe.

Keegan's Tip: 2-1 City
Alex's Tip: 2-0 City
Ty's Tip: 3-0 City

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Last time out Tottenham got away with a 1-0 win against a lowly ranked Sunderland side. A late goal from Ryan Mason was enough to take all three points away from Sunderland. This was Tottenham’s first win of the Premier League this season and continued their winning ways this week in the Europa League against Qarabag FK. 

Spurs did look good in this match despite conceding an early penalty given away by Kieran Trippier, they were able to push on and score 3 of their own. New boy Son hit the ground running scoring a brace in what was his second appearance, capped off with a cheeky chip from Erik Lamela. 

Unfortunately for Spurs, Harry Kane is still searching for the form that made him the star of last season. Despite that, this past week Spurs have looked a lot more confident going forward which is never a bad thing in football.

Palace have been on an impressive run in the opening 5 weeks. Despite losing to Manchester City last weekend, Palace are sitting in 6th place only 2 points behind second place. Palace were impressive by holding out City for 90 minutes, and almost we the first side to take any points off of Manchester City, until a good save from Alex McCarthy was followed up by Kelechi Iheanacho sealing all three points for City. 

Palace will have a lot of positives to take out of the match and will look to get back into winning ways when they travel to White Hart Lane.

This match will likely be a free flowing attacking match with both sides out to prove that they can be in the top half of the table.

Keegan's Tip: 2-2 Draw
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Palace
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Tottenham

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Written By Keegan Pulik

Liverpool were very poor last week losing 3-1 to Manchester United. This was one of the poorest performances I have seen from a Liverpool side in a while. And the most concerning thing for us Reds fans, it has been getting worse as the season progresses. For many Liverpool fans last week’s performance was the last straw for Brendan Rodgers, many calling for his head. I was included after I heard the comments saying that the result was better than last years at Old Trafford. Yes in terms of the score it was, but playing wise it was embarrassing. 

The one highlight Liverpool had last week was Christian Benteke’s wonder bicycle but this was quickly cancelled out by terrible Liverpool defence and brilliant run from Anthony Martial. This morning in Europa, Liverpool settled for a 1-1 draw with Bordeaux. Adam Lallana’s goal put the reds in front before Bordeaux hit back in the last 10 minutes of play to make it 1-1. Liverpool will really have to step up their game this week. Whilst it is Norwich they come up against at the rate Liverpool is going lately they could make a meal of it.

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Written By Ty Stedman

After opening their 2015/16 campaign with two straight 1-0 victories, Liverpool are now without a win in their last four outings, including a 1-1 draw with French side Bordeaux in the UEFA Europa League. The Reds last Premier League outing saw them produce an early candidate for goal of the season through new man Christian Benteke but ultimately it wasn't enough as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at the home of their bitter rivals Manchester United.

Benteke and a couple of other certain starters were rested for the Europa League tie and will no doubt feature in the squad on Monday at 1am AEST time. Their opponents Norwich City have started the season in decent form and last week's 3-1 win over fellow newcomers AFC Bournemouth was an important result for the Canaries. Goals to Cameron Jerome, Wes Hoolahan and Matt Jarvis gave the Carrow Road faithful a lot to cheer about.

Norwich City have not beaten Liverpool in their last ten or so attempts; in fact, the Canaries last victory over the Reds came nine days after I was born, all the way back in the 1993/94 Premiership season. You'd be safe to say that it's been a long time between drinks and in my opinion it's going to continue.

Liverpool need to win this match and start putting some form together. Pressure on Brendan Rodgers is building and a shock loss to Norwich could give the Reds' manager a lot more to worry about. Liverpool by a couple for my money.

Keegan's Tip: 3-1 Liverpool
Ty's Tip: 3-0 Liverpool
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Liverpool

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Written By Ty Stedman

Southampton will be looking to kickstart their stuttering 2015/16 campaign with a big win over the in-form Red Devils in the other 1am fixture on Monday. The Saints were big 3-0 winners over Norwich in their second-to-last Premier League outing but a scoreless draw at The Hawthorns to West Brom brought them crashing back to Earth last weekend. It's definitely a key match for Ronald Koeman's team this weekend.

Manchester United seem to be gelling as a team a lot better this year than last. LVG has brought in some key additions and the gamble is starting to pay off. A 2-1 away loss to Swansea City had doubters starting to ask questions but a fairly comfortable 3-1 victory over rivals Liverpool took United into the top four last weekend. New recruit, the 19-year old Anthony Martial took the league by storm with his amazing goal against the Reds and could be rewarded with a start against the Saints.

During the week, United had a horror show in their return to European football; going down 2-1 to Dutch powerhouse PSV Eindhoven and losing Luke Shaw to a shattering double leg break, meaning the former Saint will miss out on a chance to play his old club and most likely the rest of the campaign as well. The Red Devils return to England boosted by the return of main man Wayne Rooney which will no doubt boost their chances.

I see this as a real danger game for United but if they're serious about their aspirations in Season 2015/16, they'll come through with a victory at St Mary's.

Keegan's Tip: 3-2 United
Alex's Tip: 3-1 United
Ty's Tip: 3-1 United



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