Another International break has been and gone, focus once again turns to the Premier League with some top games to watch on TV this weekend
There are 4 live games this weekend starting with one of the games of the season as Manchester United take on Arsenal and ends with Monday night football as West Brom play Burnley.
Manchester United vs Arsenal- Saturday 19th November 2016 12:30- Sky Sports 1
It doesn’t get much bigger in the Premier League than Manchester United vs Arsenal. It’s an explosive rivalry that has produced some of the most famous games in the Premiership, as well as one of the most famous managerial rivalries in history, Ferguson vs Wenger. For Arsene Wenger he comes up against one of his other fierce managerial rivals in Jose Mourinho, with the unwanted record of never having beaten Mourinho in any competitive game. With United still in disarray, and Mourinho facing selection issues, and yet to triumph in a “top 4” game for United this season, Wenger may not have a better time to get that monkey off his back.
When it comes to the league it seems as if Mourinho is taking it one game at a time at Old Trafford. Before the international break United triumphed 3-1 against Swansea, but this came off the back of a 2-1 loss to Fenerbahce, and a 0-0 draw with Burley. The problem being for United, so far this season, is a lack of consistency. This is coupled by the fact that Mourinho still doesn’t seem to know his best XI.
What makes it an even more inopportune time for Mourinho to be taking on In-form Arsenal, is the selection issues facing him. Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Marouane Fellaini, are all out. While Luke Shaw and Wayne Rooney are doubts, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended. However with adversary comes opportunity, especially for Marcus Rashford and Michael Carrick.
Rashford announced himself to the world with a brace against Arsenal in February, in a central role. However he has found himself playing out wide for the majority of this season. Rashford is a penalty box predator who scored with his first shots on his Europa League, Premier League and international debuts. But since moving to the flanks he is shooting less and spending less time in the areas where he is most effective. But with Ibrahimovic suspension, he should find himself up top for United.
Michael Carrick’s inclusion should bring the best out of other players, as it did against Swansea with Paul Pogba. This is down to the control he brings, the composure, the experience, the defensive and positional play that some people don’t always spot because it’s not a sliding tackle or aggressive header. His experience from previous encounters with Arsenal will benefit a makeshift XI for United.
Arsenal are one of the in-form teams in the league, currently undefeated in all competitions since the opening day of the season. One of the key reasons for this, has been the form of wide player turned striker Alexis Sanchez. Since the switch up top, Sanchez has been in scintillating form, with 8 goals and 5 assists in all competitions. He was an injury doubt for Arsenal, however Wenger confirmed in his post-match press conference that he had received a text from Sanchez who confirmed he was ok for Saturday.
But Wenger still has injury issues to deal with, as he confirmed that influential full-back Hector Bellerin would miss the United game, and could potentially be out until Christmas. Bellerin joins Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker, and Danny Welbeck in missing the United game.
This is a must win for both teams. Wenger, in his press conference, downplayed the rivalry with Mourinho and instead focused on the match itself. It’s a match he’ll be desperate to win, as Arsenal haven’t won at United since 2006 and Wenger will want to beat Mourinho at a time when United aren’t showing any type of consistency. For Mourinho a loss will leave the Reds 9 points behind Arsenal and off the pace for the top 4 spot, let alone the title. Wenger refused to rule United out of the title race, though that could hinge heavily on Saturday’s result.
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham – Saturday 19th November 2016 17.30 – BT Sport 1
Saturdays late kick off is a London Derby, as Spurs take on West Ham Utd. Tottenham remain the only team who are yet to taste defeat in the Premier league this season, largely down to their defence who have only conceded 6 league goals so far, the lowest in the league. The problem Tottenham have had is at the other end where they have only scored 15 goals in 11 games so far, exactly half the amount of goals league leaders Liverpool have scored.
At the same stage last season Tottenham had scored 19 goals 4 more than they currently have. This can be highlighted by attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen who hasn’t scored with any of his last 61 shots in the Premier League since scoring against Bournemouth in March last season! Although to be fair to Eriksen, he is Tottenham’s top assister in the league so far this season.
Due to the lack of teeth up top, Tottenham have failed to win in the league in the last 4 games drawing all 4.
In fact this is Spurs’ longest winless run in all competitions (D5 L2) since May 2004, in which they went eight without a victory.
For West Ham, they have their heads above relegation waters…..Just.
Hull City’s win before the international break, has brought them within 1 point of West Ham who only have 11 points so far, one place above the relegation zone. After 5 defeats in the first 6 games, West Ham have had a an upturn in results of late taking 8 points from the last 15 on offer, although they have lost and drawn their last 2 games.
West Ham’s major problem has their defence conceding 20 goals in the league so far. Only the 3 teams, coincidentally all in the relegation zone, have conceded more. Alongside this, they have also been wasteful in front of goal. Dimitri Payet has created 40 goal scoring chances this season in the league, more than any other player in the big five European leagues in 2016-17. Yet West Ham have only scored 11 goals so far, only 4 teams have scored fewer.
This will need to change if they are to get anything out of this game especially when considering they have won just once in their last 14 Premier League visits to Spurs (L8 D5).
With Tottenham’s rock solid defence and West Hams limp attacking display this season, I can only see this going one way with all 3 points ending up in North London.
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea- Sunday 20th November 16:00- Sky Sports 1
Sunday’s only game in the Premiership sees 2nd place Chelsea visit the Riverside stadium to take on Middlesbrough. Middlesbrough haven’t beaten Chelsea in all competitions since a 2-1 win at the Riverside in August 2006. Aitor Karanka faces a tough test of his tactical nous, as the Blues have hit a red hot streak since switching to a new 3-4-3 system that has left the pundits purring.
Chelsea are in outstanding form right now having won all of their last 5 games in the Premier League. They have not conceded a goal in the league since their 3-0 loss to Arsenal, which also coincided with the switch to 3-4-3
Currently Boro are sitting 15th in the league and have only won 2 league games all season, but they are undefeated in their last 3 games, including respectable draws with Arsenal and Manchester City, so it seems likely that Karanka will look to deploy a similar shape to that used at Arsenal and Manchester City.
Chelsea’s midfield two, and especially the linchpin N’Golo Kante, need to be out-fought, out-worked and isolated by an energetic and well drilled three in the middle of the park for Boro.
The Chelsea wing-backs can be vulnerable too, especially as they tire later on. Victor Moses, not a natural defender, is just getting to grips with that role on the right and that can be exploited. Gaston Ramirez and Adama Traore have the engines and attacking intent to hurt teams if they can be sent free into those areas. Middlesbrough also have the luxury of having a fully fit squad to choose from, following the international break.
Central to Chelsea’s good run of form, other than the switch to 3-4-3, has been the form of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Both picked up knocks while on international duty while neither injury is serious enough that it should keep out either player for a significant amount of time, both could potential miss on the trip to Riverside. But in their absence Willian, and Michy Batshuayi should be able to deputise in their absence.
Despite the knocks suffered to Hazard and Costa, Chelsea have far too much quality for Middlesbrough, and despite their excellent draws against City and Arsenal, having no beaten Chelsea in 10 years, or scored a goal against them in that time, it would be hard to see beyond anything other than a Chelsea victory.
West Brom v Burnley – Monday 21st November 2016 20.00 – Sky Sports 1
The Premier Leagues final game of match round 12 is a surprising mid table clash on Monday night. West Brom are currently 11th in the league and Burnley are 9th. Whilst on the surface, it appears that this is a mid-table clash, as the league is poised so tightly a defeat to either team could drag them straight back into the relegation zone with only 3 points separating 9th and 18th.
Both teams have tasted 2 defeats in their last 6 games although Burnley have been in better form taking 10 points from the last 18 available. West Brom have only taken 6 points from the same period.
However the Clarets have taken just one point from 12 available away from home, compared to 13 from 21 at Turf Moor. This poor away form, will give West Brom some confidence.
But this is a very evenly matched contest and very hard to call.
West Brom have scored 1 goal more than Burnley and both teams have conceded 15, with only 1 point separating both clubs.
Burnley will be looking to Welsh striker Sam Vokes, their top goal scorer who has scored in three of Burnley’s last four league games. Burnley also have the inform Steven Defour who tops their assist chart with 3 assists this season in the league. He also has the highest pass accuracy and highest shot accuracy of any player at the club this season. If Burnley are to be successful, they will be looking to these 2 men to make the difference.
For West Brom, their key man is Nacer Chadli who is their top goal scorer and assister in the league this season being involved in 50% of all West Brom league goals. Chadli has been out with a knee injury but will face a late fitness test to see if he can make the game, Tony Pulis will be crossing his fingers until the news is confirmed.
Of all games over weekend, this could possibly be the toughest one to call with both teams in very similar positions at this stage of the season. This looks like one of those games that has a draw written all over it.
Other games this weekend:
Crystal Palace v Man City
Everton v Swansea
Southampton v Liverpool
Stoke v Bournemouth
Sunderland v Hull
Watford v Leicester
Next Bet Wins TV Accumulator
Remember these prices come from Bet365
- Man United vs Arsenal over 5.5 cards 5/6
- Tottenham vs West Ham over 2.5 goals 7/10
- Middlesbrough vs Chelsea under 3.5 team corners for Middlesbrough 6/5
- West Brom vs Burnley over 1.5 goals 2/5
This is a decent looking accumulator, and in total comes up to 7.5/1, certainly worth a punt. Check out their website Nexbetwins.co.uk for all their latest bets and tips.
By Michael Thatcher and Rich Lee @RichLee2202