Now that we’ve feasted on some American football, what do you say we get stoked for some Premier League football? Full disclosure – I am penning this missive while attempting to digest my Thanksgiving meal (which may have included some libations). On top of that, I sat through two relatively dreadful NFL games. While the matinee offering of Houston v. Detroit was mildly entertaining as a neutral, the nightcap only had one redeeming quality.
The duel between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team accomplished nothing other than giving this Giants fan hope that his team may actually win the NFC East – by FAR the worst division in football. As that reality (or semi-fantasy, who knows) set in, I was reminded that Matchweek 10 of the Premier League is kicking off. That gave me a second wind – a reason to get truly excited about entertaining sport at an elite level. Not only that, but this week’s matchups feature several matchups between teams our staff support, which always provides plenty of entertainment in our Slack channel. So let’s get down to brass tacks.
Friday, November 27th:
Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United
Our fearless leader, Justin Colombo, is a relative newcomer to the Premier League. After a painstaking process and quite a bit of research, he chose Crystal Palace as “his team”, since he didn’t want to hop on a bandwagon or adopt a team any of the rest of us already supported.
Early in the season, Justin was VERY active in our workplace Slack, bragging about the results “his Eagles” were putting up, and how at any given point they were “TOP OF THE TABLE”. Well, it goes without saying that Justin’s presence has been less noticeable of late. After all, his Eagles are not even in the top half of the table, let alone in the top spot. Their recent run of form has been up and down, handily defeating an exciting Leeds squad two weeks ago, only to fall to an injury ravaged Burnley side who hadn’t won a game in the league yet. This week’s game against Newcastle will prove a challenge without their talisman, Wilfred Zaha, who is still making his way back from a COVID-19 diagnosis.
The Magpies are in a very similar situation to their opponents. Inconsistency has marked their campaign thus far. They’ve not been much of a threat offensively, though the possible return of Callum Wilson may boost their prospects on that end of the pitch. Still, they’ll need to be more aggressive going forward if they want to get all three points in this matchup. They’ve been shut out in each of their last two league matches, and have the fewest shots in the league so far this season.
This has all the makings of a draw. Let’s just hope that it’s at least an entertaining one, and for the sake of our writer’s room, I’m personally rooting for Palace to come up short to spare us all the pain of Justin swooping in to gloat all weekend.
Saturday, November 28th:
Brighton v. Liverpool
The defending champions have had a rough go so far this season in many ways. They’ve been bitten by the injury bug in a BIG way, and have also had to manage an absolutely brutal run of fixture congestion across several competitions. Top it off with many of their stalwarts playing for their home countries while on the international “break” and you can understand Jurgen Klopp’s (and several other managers’) frustrations. Still – despite all the obstacles, the Reds find themselves sitting second in the table. They’re level on points with Tottenham, but behind based on goal differential.
They travel to the Amex Stadium to face a Brighton side that are coming off of a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa last week. They’ve had some decent performances so far this season, but haven’t been able to convert those into wins on a regular basis (though some of those have been the result of some tough breaks along the way). This week’s challenge will be even more difficult without the services of Tariq Lamptey, who is serving a suspension after getting sent off for a second yellow card offense last week.
Liverpool will be looking to bounce back from a 2-0 loss to Atalanta in the Champions League in the week, and a shorthanded Brighton may be the victim. I see a fairly comfortable victory for Liverpool in this one.
Manchester City v. Burnley
The Etihad will play host to a visiting Burnley squad that secured their first league win against Crystal Palace last week.
City have struggled domestically, currently sitting in 13th after a loss at the hands of league leaders Tottenham. When they take the field in Europe, however, they’re a very different side. Their mid-week 1-0 victory over Olympiacos in the Champions League has guaranteed their advancement in that tournament, having won all four of their matches with a goal tally of 10 for, 1 against. They will want to bring some of their European magic back home with them in hopes of righting the ship and climbing the table.
Burnley will be riding high after securing all three points the last time out, though it’ll be no easy task to take down a City side that they don’t have a great record against. They’ll need to improve upon their goal scoring record if they hope to get anything from this match. I suspect that, even if they do manage to find the back of the net, they’ll still come up short, and City will secure the points.
Everton v. Leeds United
Dominic Calvert-Lewin found his form again against Fulham last week, netting two goals in the first half hour of play. His brace helped get Everton back in the win column after they’d dropped three in a row. They’ll need to find a way to plug holes at the back, having given up 16 goals against the 19 they’ve scored. That task will be even more challenging without the services of Lucas Digne, who is set to undergo surgery after picking up an ankle injury in training during the week.
Leeds will visit Goodison hoping to break a 13 game winless streak when visiting in the top-flight. Their open style of play, showing no fear of going forward no matter the opponent, should make for an exciting game of football in this one. It’ll be interesting to see if Leeds can convert some of their shots into goals. They’ve struggled with that of late, netting only 5 goals from 85 shots in their last 5 matches.
Both of these clubs are leaky at the back. I suspect that Everton will find a bit more joy, especially given the form of Dominic Calvert Lewin, Richarlison, and James Rodriguez. I think the Toffees will come out on top in what should be a back and forth, high octane fixture.
West Bromwich Albion v. Sheffield United
This game is an early-season relegation battle, pitting 19th place West Brom against a Blades side that sit bottom of the table. Both teams will be looking for their first victory of the season.
West Brom have lost their last three matchups, failing to find the net in any of those games. It’s possible that manager Slaven Bilic will put a more offensive minded side on the pitch for this must-win game, after setting up defensively against the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United. The Baggies will have to push the envelope if they want to finally put one in the win column in their return to the top flight.
Sheffield have gotten off to a dismal start this campaign. After a highly successful return to the Premiership last season, they’ve lost their way. While West Brom have lost their last three encounters, Sheffield have done them one better, losing 4 straight. Granted, those losses came against Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, and West Ham. But still, they need to find some of last season’s magic before they fall too far adrift. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this one finish in a low-scoring draw, if not a 0-0 result.
Sunday, November 29th:
This is a HUGE day for the staff here at The Turf. We have vested interest in all of the day’s games. The opener pits my Red Devils against Ryan Kelly’s Saints. That will be followed by Kevin’s Tottenham side visiting Stamford Bridge to take on Katie and Wilhelm’s Chelsea side. The day will finish as we all unite to cheer against Arsenal as they take on Wolves.
Southampton v. Manchester United
The best thing about this matchup is that we don’t have to wake up TOO early to watch it.
United are once again teasing the faithful, making us think they’ve finally gotten on track. They’ve won their last two league matches (albeit not easy victories, or without controversy). They also managed a comfortable 4-1 victory in the week in the Champions League. The question, as it has always been this season, is whether or not they’ll keep it up. I’ll be curious to see how the mid-week fixture will impact their fitness as they visit St. Mary’s to take on Southampton.
The Saints have rounded into form of late and had won three straight before last week’s draw with Wolves. They’ve been great on their home pitch so far, posting the second best home record in the division this year. Offensively, they’ll be without Danny Ings, which will no doubt make things a bit harder. Still – they’ve managed to take 4 points from the games he’s missed thus far.
An entertaining game should be on tap regardless, as Southampton have shown themselves to be a tough matchup for any and all opponents. Depending on which United side show up, the result could go either way. Needless to say, I’m pulling for a Red Devil victory so I can have a reprieve from my colleagues and their constant needling.
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
For me (and likely most other Premier League fans) this is the match of the weekend. It’s a battle for the top spot, as well as bragging rights among Kevin, Katie and Wilhelm.
Spurs have looked unstoppable of late, winning four straight in the league. They haven’t lost since opening day, and show no signs of slowing down. The duo of Son and Kane has been prolific and will want to continue their torrid pace. It could prove difficult when they take the pitch at Stamford Bridge, however.
Chelsea have kept pace with Tottenham, having also only seen defeat once in this campaign. With each week, the pieces available to Frank Lampard seem to find themselves more and more, which should scare the rest of the top flight. There was a bit of shakiness early on as they were learning to play as a unit, but they’re most certainly trending in the right direction. The change between the sticks has only hastened that improvement, as they’ve enjoyed a run of clean sheets recently.
I expect this match to live up to the hype as two of the best squads in the league face off. No matter the outcome, I’ll have to hear about it in the writer’s room, so at the very least I want an entertaining game. If I could have my way, I’d ask for a draw.
Arsenal v. Wolves
The day caps off with all of our writer’s coming together to root against the Gunners.
The sides do figure to be pretty evenly matched in this one, with each having ups and downs so far. Arsenal have only been victorious once in their last 5 league matches, defeating Manchester United 1-0. In the other 4 games they failed to find the net, resulting in three losses and one draw. They’ll need their front line to find their scoring boots if they hope to climb the ladder. Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have only managed 5 goals between them thus far.
Knowing that Arsenal’s strikers are struggling will fill Wolves with hope as they head to the Emirates. Like Arsenal, they’ve been a back and forth club thus far, having only won consecutive games once. The middle of the table is quite congested, and both squads will want to try and separate themselves by taking all three points in this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if they play each other to a draw when all is said and done.
Monday, November 30th:
Leicester City v. Fulham
The final day of the matchweek kicks off with teams at opposite ends of the table.
The Foxes return to the King Power licking their wounds after suffering defeat to Liverpool by a score of 3-0. That snapped a three game win streak, but they’ll be hungry to start a new one at the expense of Fulham. Jamie Vardy will want to get back on the scoresheet to keep pace with the league leaders in the Golden Boot race. He currently has 8 goals to his credit, two behind league leader Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Fulham travel to Leicester just hoping to find some glimmer of hope in a season that has gone terribly for them thus far. The Cottagers have looked a squad that isn’t up for the competition since returning to the Premier League. Their lone win has come against fellow promoted side West Brom. If they don’t want to return to the Championship at the end of the campaign, they’ll need to start producing some results against, well, anyone.
Unfortunately for Fulham, I don’t see a good result in this one. Leicester should win comfortably at home.
West Ham United v. Aston Villa
Aston Villa will close out the week’s fixtures with a trip to the London Stadium to take on the Hammers.
The Hammers are off to a solid start. In fact, it’s their best start in five years. David Moyes’ men will look to win a third straight match, which could move them as high as 5th in the table depending on how the rest of the matches play out. They’ll get a boost offensively as Michail Antonio is expected to return from injury, having missed the last three games. It remains to be seen whether he’ll feature, given the recent form of teammate Sebastian Haller.
Villa have been a much improved team from last season, and they’ll want to continue proving that it’s not a fluke. After getting off to a hot start, the squad have cooled down considerably, dropping three of their last four. It may be hard to turn things around, though, since the team will likely be without Ross Barkley, who injured his hamstring early in last week’s game.
Given recent form, I expect West Ham to notch a third straight win in this one.
I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the weekend’s fixtures as we rapidly approach the Festive Period! See you next week!
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