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The Premier League: Matchweek 8 – Distract me, please!

The Etihad by Dom Fellowes is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Premier League: Matchweek 8 – Distract me, please!

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

I don’t know if you’re aware, but there are some pretty big goings-on this weekend.

That’s right! It’s Matchweek 8 in the Premier League!!! What, you thought I was talking about something else? Ummmm, no. I know “We Cover Everything” is our tagline, but there’s already PLENTY of people talking about THAT – so I’m going to stick to my usual fare. Let’s get to it!

Friday, November 6th:

Brighton and Hove Albion v. Burnley

The kickoff to the weekend sees two teams looking to change their fortunes. In the last five weeks, neither team has seen victory. Brighton have drawn twice and lost three times, while Burnley managed one draw against four losses.

The Seagulls will need to win more than moral victories, and this clash with Burnley should prove a good opportunity to do just that. Both squads have injury concerns, and their history as opponents is even. Each side have won 4, while the other 7 have been draws. Burnley will be thankful to welcome this Brighton team after having begun the season against the likes of Tottenham, Leicester, Manchester City, and Chelsea. Even so, they’ll have to shore up a defense that has proven porous of late if they want to take the points from this matchup.

Southampton v. Newcastle United

Unlike the Burnley v. Brighton fixture, this match features two sides in fine form of late. Between them, they’ve only seen one loss in the last five matchweeks.

The Saints come into this game without their talisman, Danny Ings, who will be sidelined for several weeks thanks to a knee injury suffered in the match against Aston Villa last week. The team has proven, however, that they have other weapons to pick up the slack. James Ward-Prowse scored two stellar goals from free kicks last week, and guys like Che Adams, Nathan Redmond, and Shane Long will likely factor in as well. They’ve been in the ascendancy lately – beating the teams they’re supposed to beat while also handling the tougher competition.

The Magpies were not to be outdone, having beaten a flagging Everton side by a score of 2-1 last weekend. They will need to continue performing at the top of their game if they hope to slow down a very confident Southampton side.

Saturday, November 7th:

Everton v. Manchester United

On its face, this matchup seems pretty appealing. But when you dig deeper into it, there’s potential here for disappointment.

Everton have cooled off considerably of late, dropping their last two matches to Newcastle and Southampton. The goals have slowed down, and not having Richarlison, James Rodriguez, and Lucas Digne on the pitch has been huge for the Toffees. Digne will return from his suspension while Richarlison will still be serving his. James’ status is still in flux, and could prove crucial to how this team fare.

Remember when I said I was sounding like a broken record when I talk about Brighton? Well – you can add some more damaged vinyl to the list in the form of Manchester United. This team has proven to be a true Jekyll & Hyde so far. Their most recent match saw them lose to Istanbul Basaksehir. No – that’s not a typo. They LOST to a Turkish team who notched their first ever Champions League goal AND first ever Champions League victory. Needless to say, Ole’s men will need to rediscover the form that saw them defeat the likes of PSG and RB Leipzig. Not only do they need to find it, they’ll need to hold onto it for more than a game here and there, or they’ll continue to find themselves in unfamiliar territory in the table.

Crystal Palace v. Leeds United

Are we starting to see who the Eagles really are? After coming out of the gates flying, they’ve fallen back to earth a bit. The glory of their 3-1 victory over Manchester United has become a distant memory as they’ve struggled to match that result. Wilfred Zaha has continued to impress, but apart from his prowess, Palace have had a hard time finding the back of the net. That will need to change if they want to stop the skid.

Leeds come into this match licking their wounds after being thrashed 4-1 at the hands of Leicester City. The result was a bit of a shock, given that expectations were for a more competitively balanced offensive onslaught. Unfortunately for the Whites, they failed to hold up their end of the bargain. Patrick Bamford and company will want to turn things around quickly.

Chelsea v. Sheffield United

When the season began, the biggest issues facing Frank Lampard were lineup construction and goalkeeping questions. Given the sheer number of players brought to Stamford Bridge, it took Lampard some time and tinkering to determine the best combinations to yield maximum points. Given their recent form, he seems to have figured it out, which could be bad news for the rest of the league. Additionally, they’ve found a backstop who will put nerves at ease among the faithful.

The Blades are continuing to struggle as they look to recapture even a fraction of their form from last season. Their last victory in any competition was against Chelsea in July. Since then, their record has continued to disappoint despite some encouraging performances of late. Getting points from this match will be a tall task to say the least.

West Ham United v. Fulham

London Stadium will play host to the Cottagers, who will enter the match fresh off the heels of their first victory of the campaign. They dispatched West Brom by a score of 2-0 to secure the points, and will hope to build on that success in this match. It will be a tall order for sure.

The Hammers had a rough opening to their season, but have rounded into solid form of late. They posted impressive victories against Wolves and Leicester, then followed that up with draws against Tottenham and Man City. They came up short against Liverpool last week, losing 2-1, but the performances leave the team feeling confident. They may have to play this game without Michail Antonio, but should still be able to take care of business in this one.

Sunday, November 8th:

West Bromwich Albion v. Tottenham Hotspur

This one could get ugly. West Brom are still in search of their maiden victory, while Spurs haven’t lost since week 1 of the season. I don’t really have much more to say about this, other than I hope Son and Kane continue their prolific partnership for the sake of my fantasy roster.

Leicester City v. Wolves

The Foxes have started the season by taking care of business. They claimed maximum points from their first three matches before losing to West Ham and Aston Villa in weeks 4 and 5. They’ve rebounded by defeating Arsenal and dominating Leeds United in the last two weeks. As a result, they sit second in the table, one point behind Liverpool.

They’ll play host to a Wolves team who are only 2 points behind them, currently 6th. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have gone undefeated in their last four. It should prove to be a tightly contested match between two similar teams and could very well end in a draw. Regardless, it has the ingredients necessary for an entertaining watch.

Manchester City v. Liverpool

The match of the weekend. The two clubs who’ve dominated the league of late will lock horns on Sunday afternoon. Given that we’re still early in the season the stakes aren’t quite as high as recent clashes. Nonetheless, when two of the best teams in the league face off, fireworks and exciting football are likely in store.

Both of these squads have proven that they’re able to adapt and overcome throughout recent years. Whether its injury or fixture congestion, both teams will no doubt put a quality product on the pitch. It could prove to be a statement game for either side but for those of us watching, it will no doubt be a thrilling affair.

Arsenal v. Aston Villa

Closing out the weekend is a battle between 8th and 9th in the table. Arsenal have been on a 1-0 run of late. They were on the short end of those scorelines against Manchester City and Leicester, but found themselves victorious by that score last week against Manchester United. It was their first victory at Old Trafford in 14 years, and the Gunners will look to build momentum as they welcome Villa to the Emirates.

Villa have been stumbling a bit of late. Their last few results have seen them lose to Leeds and Southampton, and Arsenal will prove a challenge as well. Will they be able to right the ship and get back to their winning ways, or will Arsenal leave them wanting for a third week in a row?

This weekend’s action will take us to the next international break, so enjoy the action!

Joe is an actor who grew up eating, living and breathing sports. He spent many an afternoon on the soccer or baseball field in his youth (and even gave several other sports a shot) before a series of events put him on the path to pursuing a performing career. Subsequently, he's worked almost every other type of job you could imagine while trying to support that endeavor. Whenever he's not working any of those jobs, he can often be found watching, playing or discussing sports in some way. Most of that banter revolves around the Mets, Giants, Rangers or Manchester United. His short term goal is to fully convert his fiance into a rabid sports fan, not someone who leaves the room whenever he turns a game on.

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