Friday, 25 September 2015

PREVIEW: EPL Week 7


Newysports EPL Preview: Week 7 2015/16
Written By: Keegan Pulik

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Tottenham endured a tricky start to the season, but the last few weeks Spurs have found some form, winning against Sunderland, FK Qarabag (Europa) and last week against Palace. New boy Heung-Min Son is starting to show his worth scoring 3 goals in 3 appearances. His goal last week was enough for the Spurs to put one over Palace, in a game that Spurs looked to have had control over.

 A midweek Capital One Cup match against fierce rivals Arsenal, was always going to be a good test. Whilst they are now out of the cup, going down 2-1, they will be slightly concerned that they couldn’t break through the Arsenal defence as Spurs only goal was an Own Goal by Callum Chambers. Spurs should look to capitalise on City’s turn of form this weekend, if Spurs can hit the front early City may struggle in trying to pull the game back.

The undefeated streak is over, it lasted 5 league matches but it all came to an end when West Ham arrived at the Etihad. Going behind in the 6th minute, City were stunned and after very poor defence on a corner led to the Hammers second goal, City almost looked out of answers. A Kevin De Bruyne goal on the stroke of halftime looked to revitalise City but after coming out for the second half, they couldn’t break through a desperate West Ham defence. 

City dominated every element of this match is you look at the stats having 19 shots, 72% possession and 16 corners. Midweek City faced a trip to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland. City were there to prove that last weekend was a one off scoring 4 first half goals to seal the win early on. Despite conceding a late goal, Sunderland were never in this match with any sort of a chance. City will look to make an example of Spurs this week proving that they can run away with the title this season.

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

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The comeback kings from Leicester will host their toughest opponents this week when they welcome Arsenal to the King Power Stadium. Leicester are making a habit of going behind 2-0 over the last couple of weeks, both in which they have brought it back. Last week Stoke looked very impressive in the first half, and I truly did believe that they may have turned their season around. Second half did not go according to the Stoke script with Leicester hitting back with a Mahrez penalty after Arnautovic brought down Drinkwater in what was a smart run by Drinkwater giving Arnautovic no option but to bring him down. 

Leicester were back level by the 69th minute as Jamie Vardy pounced on a loose ball slotting it past Butland. Whilst this was by no means Leicester’s best performance of the season, it was enough to leave the Britannia with a point. Leicester found winning form again in the Cup during the week with a 2-1 extra time win against West Ham. Going up early, West Ham hit back and forced the game into extra time but 4 minutes before penalties Andy King sealed the win for the Foxes.

Arsenal’s trip to Stamford Bridge was by no means short of any drama, with Diego Costa getting Gabriel sent off and then a late second yellow to Santi Carzola meant he also saw red. Whilst the Gunners will feel very hard done by after the refereeing display last weekend, some fans even going as far as starting a donation petition to stop Mike Dean from officiating any Arsenal game again. But regardless of what happened on the pitch in a few weeks’ time everyone will have forgotten the controversy and will look at the score which read 2-0 Chelsea. 

It took a nicely taken header at the back post in the 53rd minute by Kurt Zouma to put the Blues ahead before a 90th minute goal by Eden Hazard, who’s shot took a massive deflection, doubled Chelsea’s lead and sealed the victory. Things didn’t get any easier in the Cup midweek either with the Gunners facing a trip to White Hart Lane to face fierce rivals Tottenham. Arsenal walked away from this match with a 2-1 victory with Flamini scoring a brace. The only notable issue for Arsenal is not one that was on the field but in the away stands where a number of their supporters were arrested for tearing down a sign from the stadium. Going up against Leicester this week will be an interesting encounter for both, Leicester come up against the first major team and Arsenal will be out for a big win after the loss last week.

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

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Round 2 was the last time Liverpool left a ground with 3 points, this week could really be make or break for Brendan Rodgers and his men. Last weekend they hosted a Norwich side who were full of confidence from a 3-1 win the week before, and this confidence carried through. Liverpool again, were nowhere near their best and were far from impressive. Danny Ings scoring 2 minutes after being substituted into the game almost looked as it that could be the goal that could lead to better things and that could possibly save Rodgers his job. But yet again, an error at the back, this time by goalkeeper Mignolet, gave Norwich the only opportunity they needed to get onto the score sheet. With the match ending at 1-1, things were looking very bleak at Anfield.

But look on the bright side, a midweek game against Carlisle will get our confidence up with a good win. Well, we won, ugly, but we won. That was the only positive to take out of Thursday morning's Capital One Cup clash with the League 2 minnows. Rodgers fielded an almost full strength line-up, or very close to with the likes of Firmino, Ings, Skrtel, Clyne, Milner and Lallana all starting before Coutinho, Ibe and Origi were all introduced as subs. 

You look at some of the names there and you would put good money on a big win, well no, a 24th minute goal to Danny Ings was quickly cancelled out in the 35th minute and from that point on it was all about survival for Carlisle. And to their credit they did just that taking the Reds all the way to a penalty shootout, where debutant Adam Bogdan made a few quality saves to hand Liverpool the victory. 

Before I mention the Rodgers saga, from this match Lovren has sustained an injury suspected to be a broken ankle from what I have read, and also this week the Reds will again be without Captain Jordan Henderson, and possibly without Benteke who reportedly had MRI scans on his hamstrings.

I know this is longer than most but as a Liverpool fan this is a way to vent. If Liverpool come away with anything less than a convincing win this weekend, it could very well be the end of the Brendan Rodgers era, with the club reportedly making contact with Carlo Ancelotti and the ever present rumour of Jurgen Klopp being etched into every newspaper. Whilst the club has denied Ancelotti talks, nothing has been said of Klopp. Watch this space.

Villa last week played host to West Brom, and unfortunately for Villa fans they were on the wrong end of a 1-0 score line. A 39th minute goal by Berahino was enough to separate the two teams who were both creating plenty of chances at either end. Despite Villa have more of the possession, 60%, they weren’t able to squeeze West Brom out of the game. 

Midweek saw them face a determined Birmingham City side, who were desperate to put in a good performance to show that they can hold their own with the Premier League sides once again. This proved to be a good hit out for the Villains with a 63rd minute Rudy Gestede goal enough to separate the two sides. This week Villa will have to be on the top of their game going up against a Liverpool side who haven’t tasted league success in a while now.

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

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West Ham are fast becoming the giant killers of the Premier League this season, already having knocked off Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City away from home and in convincing fashion. Last week they travelled to the Etihad to face a City side who were yet to concede a goal in the Premier League this season. This quickly changed as Victor Moses found the back of the net from range early on into the match and Diafro Sakho capitalising on some very poor City defending from a corner the lead was soon doubled and City were in a place that was so very unknown in the league thus far. 

Despite a long range goal from Kevin De Bruyne on the stroke of half time, West Ham came out in the second half and did enough to hold out the table toppers. The amount of confidence West Ham will take out of this result is astounding and they deserve to be full of confidence. Despite all this confidence the Hammers were brought back down off their perch by Leicester in the Capital One Cup midweek, conceding their second 2-1 defeat to the Foxes in a number of weeks. Although West Ham were able to force this match into extra time they weren’t able to get the upper hand.

Coming up against West Ham this week is a newly promoted Norwich side who are sitting in 11th place and coming off the back of some very positive results as of late. This positive run began after beating Bournemouth 3-1 and has continued through last weekend and the Capital One Cup against West Brom. West Brom was always going to be a tricky encounter in the cup but the Canaries were good enough to overcome the challenge running out 3-0 winners. 

Matt Jarvis and Kyle Lafferty both scoring before an own goal sealed the 3-0 win. The trip to Anfield was a positive one for Norwich, despite their dreadful record at the ground, Norwich were able to overcome a 1-0 deficit to capitalise on a mistake from Mignolet falling to Russell Martin who finished with a cheeky chip. This week Norwich will want to push further up the table and further away from the relegation zone, and coming up against a good West Ham side.

Keegan's Tip: 2-2 Draw
Alex's Tip: 3-1 West Ham
Ty's Tip: 2-0 West Ham

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Southampton face a Swansea City side that will be desperate to get back into the winners circle this weekend. Last week Southampton came up against a good Manchester United side and despite a Graziano Pelle brace, they weren’t able to stop United. Whilst they were by no means out of the game still being able to create 13 chances on goal, finishing was the biggest area they struggled with last week. 

Finishing was not an issue in the Cup midweek coming up against Championship side MK Dons. Running out 6-0 winners, with Jay Rodriguez, Shane Long and Saido Mane all scoring braces to seal a confidence boost that they desperately needed coming into this clash with Swansea. The Saints will be wanting to seal all three points this week to further the gap from the relegation zone. Currently sitting in 16th with 6 points only 3 points outside the relegation zone, they will have it firmly in their mind that they are not that far outside of it.

Swansea have looked good for the majority of this season so far. Last week they were held to a 0-0 draw with Everton in what was a game where chances were few and far to come by and the chances that both sides had weren’t able to capitalise on. Midweek they faced a trip to the KC Stadium to face Hull City. This was always going to be a very close match with Hull only being relegated last season, they are desperate to be in the top flight again and this was their chance to prove they can stand up to the level in the Premier League still. And that they did with a 41st minute goal to David Meyler enough to seal the victory for the Tigers and leave Swansea to pick up the pieces heading into this weeks’ game against Southampton. This will be a decent game although there will be plenty of chances made I see the two cancelling each other out.

Keegan's Tip: 1-1 Draw
Alex's Tip: 1-0 Southampton
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Southampton

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Stoke are still yet to win this season and may be starting to become slightly desperate for one. Last week they looked very good in the first half where they were ahead 2-0 within 20 minutes. A calmly finished goal from Bojan opened the scoring in the 13th before Jonathan Walters pounced on a dreadful mistake from Wes Morgan to slot home the second in the 20th minute. Things looked very cruisy for the Potters. 

The second half was never as cruisy though as Leicester came out in search for goals. And a clever run from Drinkwater gave Arnautovic no choice but to bring him down inside the box, whilst the referee took his time to call it, there really was no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was a penalty. By the 69th minute Stoke’s two goal cushion was gone, and to add insult to injury Leicester fans began chanting “Are you Villa in disguise” reference to the week before. 

From this game though Stoke have a lot of positives to look forward from, attacking in the first half was great, and defensively they were sound, it is just holding on to the lead when they have it. Midweek they travelled to London to face Fulham at Craven Cottage where a 33rd minute goal to Peter Crouch was enough to separate the two sides. Whilst Fulham are by no means the team they were a few years ago, it is still a positive result for Stoke one of which they will be take a lot of confidence out of heading into this weeks’ clash with the Cherries from Bournemouth.

If you told Bournemouth fans at the start of the season, that they would have 2 quality wins, playing good football, holding their own and out playing Liverpool at Anfield and that they would be sitting 14th between Liverpool and Chelsea they would’ve thought you’d be having a laugh. But that is now their reality as they head into week 7 of their debut Premier League season. 

Last week they really did have potential to run all over Sunderland going up 2-0 within the first 10 minutes. Callum Wilson continued his scoring ways this season opening the scoring in the 4th before a superbly taken volley from outside the box from Matt Ritchie, if you haven’t seen this goal, do yourself a favour and find it, it has been all over Facebook and was on Fox Sports News all of Sunday. 

It really was a goal of the season contender. Apart from spectacular finishes Bournemouth will take a lot of positives from the game but they will also have in the back of their mind of what could’ve been, we have seen them score plenty of goals this season against West Ham, so they are capable of getting a lot of goals in a match, and they will have realised that they had a big opportunity to do the same last week against an ordinary Sunderland side. 

Wednesday morning saw them travel to lowly rated championship side Preston North End, where they ran out winners but only after a penalty shootout. They will be disappointed having to go all the way to penalties in this match but they will take confidence that they now have two wins in a row heading into a game against a very desperate Stoke side. This match will really be determined on what side we see of Stoke, if they play like the first half last week, we may be looking at their first win, or if we see a Stoke side that compares to their second half last week which we’ve seen most the season, in which case they will probably lose again.

Keegan's Tip: 0-0 Draw
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Stoke City

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United as much as I hate to say it, are serious title contenders. Last week again they were very impressive against a determined Southampton side who were looking to kick start their season. Going behind early on, United didn’t let that faze them with the youngster Anthony Martial continuing his scoring ways with a brace, and Juan Mata scoring with just over 20 minutes remaining the result looked to be in the bag for United. Despite a late surge by Southampton and Pelle scoring his second, United were able to hang on for another good win. 

Midweek United faced Championship side Ipswich which had the potential to be a very even game with Ipswich sitting high up in the Championship table. Wayne Rooney put United ahead in the 23rd and it wasn’t until the 60th when Andreas Pereira doubled the lead. From that point forward the game was done and dusted but to put the final nail in the coffin, substitute Anthony Martial scored in the 90th to finish off a convincing win for the Red Devils. I said a few weeks ago that I believed the fee paid for Martial was ridiculous, and to a certain degree I stand by that, although this kid has proven to be an amazing talent and is holding his own in the Premier League. He has shown that if required he can step into the frontline in the absence of Rooney and Van Gaal will have no issues with what the kid produces. For me, definitely one of the signings of the summer.

Sunderland are still yet to win, and things probably won’t be changing this week when they travel to Old Trafford.  Last week they went up against a Bournemouth side who were full of confidence and that showed as they quickly ran out to a 2-0 lead within 10 minutes. Sunderland have struggled all season in creating chances and it continued last week only creating 8 shooting opportunities. 

Defensively, after the first 10 minutes, they did well to restrict Bournemouth from really making the game a blowout that it probably should’ve been. Although, Pantilimon could do nothing about the second goal by Matt Ritchie, defensively questions will be asked on the marking from the corner. Things only got worse as they faced Manchester City in the Capital One Cup midweek where they were steam-rolled by a rampant City side who were up 4-0 within 36 minutes. If Sunderland don’t win within the next 2 or 3 weeks, they will be relegated, I honestly can’t see anything changing for the Black Cats. They will lose this week and for them it will be more limiting the damage more than anything.

Keegan's Tip: 4-0 United
Alex's Tip: 3-0 United
Ty's Tip: 3-0 United

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Yet to win this season, Newcastle are looking like this could be another ordinary season. Last week they came up against a Watford side who were full of confidence after defeating Swansea in the week prior to the clash in Newcastle. Going down 2-0 within half an hour it took until the 62nd minute for Newcastle to get on the score sheet with Daryl Janmaat scoring to make it 2-1. Despite having more possession, Newcastle never looked as if they were in control. 

The misery continued midweek as Newcastle bowed out of the Capital One Cup against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday. Whilst this takes away any real chance Newcastle had on success this season it now allows them to focus entirely on rebooting their Premier League season. The road to survival kicks off this week against defending champions Chelsea.

Chelsea have been ordinary all season currently sitting 15th but seemed to have turned the corner when they defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv in the UEFA Champions League, backing up with a 2-0 win against a solid Arsenal side. Whilst the game has been marked by controversy, with Diego Costa blatantly trying to get someone sent off, in which he succeeded when Gabriel was sent off. 

Whilst his attempts to get someone sent off were successful he was also successful in receiving a 3 match ban by the FA Match Review Panel, which was rightly done as they were a number of incidents where he could have been sent off. The second half there was less controversy, and Chelsea hit the lead through a header from Kurt Zouma at the back post from a free kick before a last minute goal to Eden Hazard which took a major deflection and wrong footed Petr Cech as it hit the back of the net. 

Capital One Cup saw Chelsea come up against Football League minnows Walsall. This was never going to be a concern for the Blues, and they took the opportunity to play some of the younger players and reserves. Running out 4-1 victors no one can be overly surprised at this result. Heading into this week as they face a pretty bad Newcastle side, they will be confident knowing they should get all three points.

Keegan's Tip: 3-0 Chelsea
Alex's Tip: 2-0 Chelsea
Ty's Tip: 4-0 Chelsea

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Watford have hit some early form, now having two wins on the trot over both Swansea and Newcastle. Last week saw an early 2-0 lead with a brace coming from Odion Ighalo within the opening half an hour. From this point on Watford looked comfortable against a very ordinary Newcastle side. Despite conceding, Watford didn’t look to be out of the match and were always going to run out victors. Watford did not play midweek having already been eliminated from the Capital One Cup, so they will go into this week well rested and completely focused on the task ahead.

After a good start to the season Crystal Palace have been halted the last couple of weeks losing 1-0 to both Manchester City and Tottenham. Last week a 68th minute goal by Spurs new boy Son was enough to put one over on Palace, but despite the losing form, they turned around with a 4-1 win over Charlton Athletic. Dwight Gayle got on the scoresheet with a Hat trick, two of which were penalties but nonetheless a hat trick is a hat trick. The task was also made that bit easier when Charlton had a man sent off. This week Palace will want to get back to their winning ways in the Premier League with a good win over a confident Watford side.

Keegan's Tip: 2-1 Palace
Alex's Tip: 2-2 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-0 Palace

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West Brom have had a decent start to the season sitting in 12th after 6 matches. Last time out they got one over against Aston Villa who have been slightly disappointing so far this season. One goal was enough to seal the victory with a Saido Berahino strike in the 39th minute being the ultimate difference between the two sides. 

Capital One Cup was a different form for the Baggies going down 3-0 to the Canaries of Norwich. Despite the disappointing result, West Brom will have their head held high as they have hit some impressive league form currently picking up 7 points from their last three outings. Attacking is West Brom’s strongest element and is something they will have to do well to get over Everton this week.

2 wins, 3 draws and a loss leaves Everton currently sitting up in 6th position. In my honest opinion I believe that Everton are a dark horse team this season along with Leicester and West Ham and could push to finish in the top five, and they have shown their worthiness of a top 5 spot with some outstanding performances to date. 

Last week though was a match where they was a lot of sparring but there was not a lot of impact blows. Against a good Swansea side, Everton were held to a 0-0. Everton may have a feeling of what could have been with the match’s best chance falling to Romelu Lukaku but was cleared off the line by Swansea’s defenders. Midweek saw a trip to Reading where they went behind in the 37th minute, despite going behind they hit back soon after half time with Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu both finding the back of the net in what will be a confidence building win heading into this weeks’ trip to the Hawthorns. 

This match will be won in the midfield, both midfields’ will have to step up and supply their strikers with good service to get the win. Both midfields have some quality in them and both have plenty of attacking outlets so this game looks like it could be very exciting to watch.

Keegan's Tip: 2-0 Everton
Alex's Tip: 2-1 West Brom
Ty's Tip: 2-0 Everton

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