Football Sports

Premier League preview: What will and won’t happen

Leicester vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 12.30pm)

The big talking point: Claude Puel’s Leicester are good. Not just better than they were, but a highly dangerous football team full of players reaching their apex.

What will happen: Well, if Palace start this game the way they did against Watford on Tuesday, they will be put to the sword. Roy Hodgson’s side may have snatched three points at the death, but they were rotten for 88 minutes and must be greatly improved.

What won’t happen: Time may have run out for former Fox Jeff Schlupp, who surely won’t be subjected to facing an in-form Riyad Mahrez after his performance in midweek. Expect Patrick van Aanholt to come into the side.

Arsenal vs Newcastle (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Crisis at Newcastle. That good start was a false dawn and the lack of investment over the summer has greatly inhibited Rafael Benitez.

What will happen: There’s a battering in the air. Arsenal were dreadful at the London Stadium on Wednesday night and weren’t really much better at St Mary’s. Now in seventh place, Arsene Wenger needs the catharsis of an easy home win.

What won’t happen: No Jonjo Shelvey, obviously, as he collected another senseless red card against Everton. Jack Wilshere will presumably drop to the bench, too, after failing to impress against West Ham.

Brighton vs Burnley (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Look at Burnley! Sixth in the table, having only scored 16 goals in 17 games.

What will happen: They ultimately lost, but Brighton were greatly improved against Tottenham on Wednesday night. The defensive standard – which dropped so sharply for the games with Huddersfield and Liverpool – was raised sharply and, for a team like Burnley who don’t score freely, they’ll prove tough nuts to crack.

What won’t happen: It shoudn’t be as dull as it look on paper: each side has only registered two clean sheets at home and away respectively this season. That said, don’t expect major thrills.

Chelsea vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: It’s a good time for Southampton to be playing away: the home fans didn’t enjoy their 4-1 loss to Leicester this week – less so because Claude Puel masterminded it. The bad news? Chelsea reacted extremely well to that loss at West Ham, showing their form in a dominant win over Huddersfield Town.

What will happen: Southampton will come face to face with some troubling trends – and probably extend them: Mauricio Pellegrino hasn’t won any of his last five away games and Chelsea have won their last four on the bounce at Stamford Bridge.

What won’t happen: It’s probably a week too soon for Alvaro Morata, who has battled illness and a back strain over the past week and likely won’t be risked.

Stoke vs West Ham (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Mark Hughes is dangling by a thread. Stoke have been just as poor as expected this week and supporter unrest is growing with every defeat. Lose here and Peter Coates might be on the phone.

What will happen: And they will lose. David Moyes is obviously known for his pragmatism – and that’s generally intended as a backhanded criticism – but he’s had a definite effect on West Ham’s defending. Two clean sheets against Arsenal and Chelsea is not to dismissed as coincidence and, let’s face it, that Stoke team just isn’t capable of keeping goals out at the moment.

What won’t happen: A few key players are already ruled out. Winston Reid is suspended and Jose Fonte is injured for West Ham, while Hughes will be without Kurt Zouma and Bruno Martins Indi.

Watford vs Huddersfield (Saturday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Watford’s collapse at Selhurst Park. Marco Silva was not happy with his side’s inability to convert chances to goals that night and, quite understandably, was particularly dissatisfied with the sloppiness which gifted Palace two late goals. The prelude to this game will presumably have involved a few ‘honest’ discussions at training.

What will happen: Home win. Are Huddersfield any good, or are they just a nice story? They’re certainly not in Watford’s class and, this week’s hiccup aside, you’d expect a swift return to the swift, imaginative attacking football seen previously (which, in fairness, was in evidence for much of Tuesday night).

What won’t happen: No Tom Cleverley. Silva was quick to point the finger of blame elsewhere for that last defeat, but the midfielder’s sending off was still pivotal and he’ll be suspended for this game.

Manchester City vs Tottenham (Saturday, 5.30pm)

The big talking point: Can anybody derail Pep Guardiola’s stylish juggernaut of a team? Next to try: Tottenham.

What will happen: In a word: no. Spurs are actually fairly well equipped to cause City problems, but without Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez, and no Victor Wanyama nor Eric Dier in midfield, it’s hard to see how they’ll balance their counter-attacking threat with any proper resilience.

What won’t happen: City will be without John Stones and now Vincent Kompany after he limped off at Old Trafford, so there’s certainly the suggestion of instability. Will Mauricio Pochettino be instructed by Jose Mourinho’s failure to challenge that fragility? Given the threat down the other end, that would take a big leap of faith.

West Brom vs Manchester United (Sunday, 1.30pm)

The big talking point: Really, it’s still Romelu Lukaku. He scored against Bournemouth on Wednesday night, which went some way to repairing the damage done in the derby, but he must start finding the net in tight games under trying conditions – which, obviously, West Brom at home after their good result at Anfield is likely to be.

What will happen: Jose Mourinho’s manufactured feud with Henrikh Mkhitaryan will grind on, with the Armenian likely to be left out again. Juan Mata could start ahead of Anthony Martial, another who disappointed during the derby.

What won’t happen: Alan Pardew has a host of doubts to overcome: Nacer Chadli and Craig Dawson are long-term absentees, but Gareth Barry is also listed as highly doubtful for Sunday. Manchester United are still without Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly, while Marouane Fellaini and Marcos Rojo are both unlikely to feature.

Bournemouth vs Liverpool (Sunday, 4pm)

The big talking point: The Fab Four, as we’re being told to call them, have disappointed over the last week and Liverpool have managed just a single goal against two very limited opponents. Time to justify the hype.

What will happen: Nothing silly from Klopp: Coutinho, Mane, Firmino and Salah will all start.

What won’t happen: A repeat of last-season’s 4-3. Bournemouth have grown over the past year and Eddie Howe has certainly evolved as a manager, shown in his team’s increasingly responsible football. Expect something altogether more sensible this time around.

Everton vs Swansea (Monday, 8pm)

The big talking point: Everton are unbeaten in three now and Sam Allardyce is, again, smirking with self-satisfaction.

What will happen: Well, we won’t read too much into Swansea’s 4-0 home loss against Manchester City, but we should be concerned by the four away goals they’ve managed all season. Even this Everton defence won’t be kept awake by that statistic.

What won’t happen: Change. Allardyce likes continuity so will likely persist with the starting XI which began the game at Newcastle. Aaron Lennon will keep his place, so too Dominic Calvert Lewin.

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