Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – The Dream Weaver
Unfortunately, TFG’ers, the introduction to this particular preview – which would have looked back on the last match week’s talking points – will open with our tribute to the late Leicester City chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. As you all know, the man who delivered an unforgettable Premier League title to the unlikely city of Leicester, was named amongst those who were tragically killed in a helicopter crash after The Foxes’ last home game against West Ham. All of us here at ThatFootballGame send our prayers and thoughts to the Srivaddhanaprabha family, the fans and staff of Leicester City and anyone who has been affected by this awful occurrence.
Though it is easy to forget amidst this tragedy that there was a full round of Premier League fixtures played last weekend, the results of those matches did lead to some significant changes in our league table. It now reads as follows:
5th – Brilliant City (Steve Anderson )
4th – Your Mam’s Athletic (Glen Bowman)
3rd – Jimmy Floyd’s Piggy Bank (Maddy Camble)
2nd – Cowboys From Hell (Martyn Fisher)
1st – JOEBAKERSDOZENX1 – (Philip Taylor)
It should also be mentioned that our #PickOfTheWeek goes to Isla Shaw and John Middleton, who were correct in predicting Bournemouth’s victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
I must admit that events such as this one do put the significance of football into context – it seems futile when compared to what happened outside the King Power Stadium that night – but as I am sure the man himself would have wanted, both Leicester City and the rest of the footballing world must now look ahead to the coming weekend’s matches, where tributes will be paid to Vichai from all across the globe. May he rest in peace.
Leicester City themselves have confirmed that this Saturday’s visit to Cardiff City will take place, though the club has announced that the squad will be driven (as opposed to flown) to the Welsh capital. Though it will be the first time that these two sides will contest a Premier League fixture, perhaps The Foxes’ faithful can find some solace in the fact that they can cross the border hoping for a victory. Leicester are the only side so far this season to have scored in every league match, and with Cardiff’s defensive woes still being a concern, it seems likely that Claude Puel’s men can provide the East-Midlands outfit with some much-needed positivity.
Also this weekend is a clash that I personally have been very excited to watch. Liverpool vs Arsenal is the evening kick-off on Saturday, which will see two of the Premier League’s best attacking sides go head-to-head in a fixture which surely promises goals. You’d have to go back to 2012 for the last time Arsenal won at Anfield though, and given their clumsy defending at Selhurst Park last week, it seems Liverpool surrendering all three points is unlikely.
Other home teams that will be expecting a victory are also two potential candidates to lift the trophy in May. Champions Manchester City welcome Southampton to the Etihad Stadium in what looks almost guaranteed to be a good day for Pep Guardiola’s attackers, whilst Chelsea will face Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. Though The Eagles put in a resilient display against Arsenal last week, ‘Sarri-ball’ is now operating at a devastating capacity, so Stamford Bridge’s majority should be feeling very confident heading into this one.
Down on the south coast, there is a huge fixture waiting to be played out. Bournemouth, who are currently sat in 6th place, will take on Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. A win for Bournemouth would see them go into the top four – but should United come away with three points, they could well overtake Bournemouth (depending on goal difference) and re-enter the top six. It will be tough for Jose to do so though, because The Cherries haven’t lost at home since April 18th – when of all teams, they lost 2-0 to Manchester United.
A team that could well drive past United on their way down M6 are Brighton, who face the long journey to Everton. The Toffees haven’t lost at home yet this season, and considering Brighton have only won on the road once this calendar year (and that was against Newcastle, which is no great achievement at the moment), Marco Silva should be expecting his side to move up into 8th position.
For Newcastle themselves, their fortunes show little signs of changing, as Watford are their guests at St James’ Park this weekend. The Hornets were very impressive during their 2-0 win at Molineux last time out as they continued their remarkable start to the season, so Rafa Benitez may have to wait at least another week before he sees his side pick up their first win of the season. Also yet to win are Huddersfield – though for The Terriers, that could well be about to change. A home tie with Fulham, who have now conceded 28 goals in just 10 games, provides David Wagner’s men with an opportunity to finally score some much-needed goals and maybe, just maybe, get themselves a win.
Promoted alongside Fulham were Wolves, who are preparing for the kind of fixtures they dreamed about when in the Championship. Tottenham are their opponents this weekend and though they haven’t lost an away match since Mauro Icardi scored a late winner for Inter Milan in mid-Spetember, they have looked less than at their best of late. Potential returns for Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen could boost morale though, so Wolves will have to do well if they’re to replicate their 1-0 home win against Spurs in 2010.
Finally, there is an intriguing battle of claret and blue taking place in London this weekend, with West Ham hosting their clash with Burnley on Saturday. Sean Dyche’s last trip to Olympic Stadium was a hugely successful one, with his side running riot in a 3-0 win back in March, though West Ham’s major re-shuffle over the summer should ensure a repeat performance won’t take place. Burnley have only beaten The Hammers twice since 2011 – though both of those wins have come in away matches.
As always however, whoever your pick may be this weekend, we here at TFG HQ wish you the very best of luck.
Team TFG and Dan Wiseman