GameWeek #14 Preview

Son of a Poacher Man

Good day ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the final TFG preview of November 2018. The penultimate month of the year has been full of signature Premier League entertainment, which was rather beautifully brought to a close by GW13, with each match awash with all the usual twists and turns.

There were plenty of surprises last weekend, which meant a LOT of incorrect picks. Ninety-nine of you took part last time out, and somehow you managed to only opt for eight different teams between you. So, the least-chosen winning team (which is the detailed selection process used here at TFG HQ to decide the #PickOfTheWeek) was Manchester City, who were only chosen by three of you: Karen Watson, Brian Watson and Rick Taylforth. So, congratulations guys, you’ve won this week’s #PickOfTheWeek!

As you would expect however, such an unpredictable round of fixtures has taken its toll on our league table. It now reads:

5th – Greenbank Flyers (Ken Ades)

4th – Only The Lonely (Craig Ritchie)

3rd – JOEBAKERSDOZENXI (Philip Taylor)

2nd – Sad Ken (Stephen Cowell)

1st – Your Mam’s Athletic (Glen Bowman)

Looking ahead to the first weekend of December and the official arrival of Christmas 2018, which can be celebrated with another sumptuous round of fixtures. It is derby week in the Premier League, which is headlined by Arsenal vs Tottenham. This promises to be a tight affair, as Arsenal haven’t lost a league match since the second week of the season and Spurs have won each of their last four domestic games, but it is the away side who will draw confidence from recent results. Spurs have only lost in one of the last six North London derbies, though it is Unai Emery’s first – could he bring about a shift in the dominance?

That match is the first of two London derbies this weekend, with the other being contested by Chelsea and Fulham. Despite The Cottagers winning in Claudio Ranieri’s first match in charge, their defensive issues were still evident – they conceded two against Mark Hughes’ normally-toothless Southampton at home. Chelsea’s defence (well, David Luiz) was also at fault for their 3-1 defeat to Spurs last weekend, but at Stamford Bridge, you’d like to think they can redeem themselves.

The third and final derby is up on Merseyside, between Liverpool and Everton. This has been one of the more one-sided rivalries in England of recent years, with Everton only managing to win one of the last eighteen matchups. Seeing as Liverpool as the home team, you’d have to fancy Jurgen Klopp’s men to get the better of The Toffees yet again. An away defeat looks likely for Everton, just as it does for Bournemouth, who face the  universally-dreaded trip to the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City are next up for Eddie Howe, who will be more than aware of the mountain his side must climb if they are to get anything from this match. City have scored 15 times in their last three league matches, conceding two – so expect them to make an example of The Cherries this weekend.

For their cross-city rivals, Manchester United, Jose ‘pantomime villain’ Mourinho takes centre-stage at Southampton on Saturday. By the time the game rolls around, it will have been two months since Southampton last picked up a win, but perhaps Manchester United (even given their recent form) won’t be the team to let them change that. United are far from consistent at the moment however, so perhaps avoiding them for the time being is the logical decision.

The events of that match will be closely followed by Crystal Palace and Burnley, who face-off on Saturday. Those two sides fill the two spots above Southampton, who are currently sat at the top of the relegation zone. Don’t expect a goal-fest at Selhurst Park, as in both side’s last four matches, they have scored a measly four goals between them. Palace ended a run of three consecutive losses to Burnley with a 1-0 home win last season, and I can see a similar result being played out this time round.

There is an intriguing Friday night battle for much-needed points, as Cardiff welcome Wolves to the Welsh capital. Neil Warnock’s side have produced a win in each of their last two home games, and with Wolves’ poor recent form, perhaps The Bluebirds will be quietly confident ahead of this tie. The same can be said of Newcastle, who have finally managed to get their season off and running with two successive victories themselves. They welcome West Ham to St James’ – a side who have only won away from home once in the league this season. Could both home teams drag themselves away from the relegation zone with a win?

Meanwhile, Watford’s dream start to the season is well and truly over, as The Hornets have now only won one of their last nine league games. They face a tough away trip to Leicester, who are often impressive at home, considering they’ve only lost one of their last five at the King Power. Leicester will be without James Maddison, though you would still fancy them to get the job done.

There is something rather remarkable about Huddersfield vs Brighton, the final match this weekend, as this exact fixture was played out in League One less than a decade ago. in 2011, this match ended as a 3-2 Huddersfield win – a result the Terriers would be more than happy with at the moment. A good performance at Molineux last weekend surprised a few, and David Wagner will be desperately wanting to extend their confidence, so perhaps they could act as a somewhat ‘cheeky’ pick.

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