A Jot(a) of Difference
Welcome back ladies and gents, to your second TFG preview of the week! We look ahead to GW16 this time, with the events of midweek now amongst the pages of Premier League history. The 15th round of this season saw United and Arsenal share the spoils in a dramatic clash at Old Trafford, Claudio Ranieri face Leicester City, Liverpool fight back from a goal down to win 3-1 at Turf Moor and Wolverhampton Wanderers complete a memorable victory over Chelsea at Molineux.
And if this weekend’s fixture list is anything to go by, then this weekend could well be just as exciting. But before we get into that, it is time to reveal who is the winner of this week’s #PickOfTheWeek! Though technically, the award should go to John Semmer and Jamie McDanielson, who opted for Man City to beat Watford (as that was the least selected correct pick) – there were riots outside TFG HQ last time I gave the award to someone who chose the reigning champions – so instead, it goes to the fantastic five who fancied Brighton to get the better of Crystal Palace: James Casey, Ian Reynolds, Josh Taylor-Rose, Massimo Lo Muto and Tom Dally. Well done, guys!
As we approach the midway point of the season, out TFG league table now looks like this:
5th – Colorado Spurs HW (Henry Winkler)
4th – Blitzkrieg (Adam Hartley)
3rd – Greenbank Flyers (Ken Ades)
2nd – JOEBAKERSDOZENXI (Philip Taylor)
1st – Your Mam’s Athletic (Glen Bowman)
Now for GW16. The standout match is Chelsea vs Man City, which is the later televised kick-off on Saturday. It is hard to see anything other than a City win in this one, given their untouchable league form and Chelsea’s recent dip in form. Their recent history doesn’t bode well for the home team either, as they’ve lost 3 on of the last 4 occasions Pep Guardiola’s side have visited Stamford Bridge. It could be a tough afternoon for Mauricio Sarri.
It could welly be similarly difficult for David Wagner, who is preparing to face Arsenal – a side that Huddersfield have only beaten once since 1955. Though they weren’t at their best at Old Trafford on Wednesday, a home match against a relegation-fighting Terriers side provides a perfect opportunity for Unai Emery to get his side back on track.
Similarly for Jose Mourinho, he will be looking to build on his side’s improved performance in that match, in their home clash with Fulham. Claudio Ranieri certainly seems to have had a positive effect on his new side, so don’t expect them to roll over – Fulham fans will be wanting them to replicate their performance from the last time these two sides met – A 2-2 Old Trafford draw back in February 2014.
Down on the south coast, Eddie Howe is preparing for the arrival of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. A second half romp at Turf Moor saw The Redmen battle to a win midweek, but Bournemouth will provide a far sterner test, make no mistake about that. A win could potentially see the Cherries enter the top six, but them having only won one of their last four home league games does provide some cause for concern.
There is an all-London clash at the aptly-named London Stadium this weekend, as Crystal Palace are the guests this Saturday. Palace were hugely disappointing in their loss to Brighton last time out, whereas West Ham produced yet another strong performance. The Hammers will be without talisman Marco Arnautovic, though Lucas Perez bagged twice against Cardiff, which could potentially ease that blow. West Ham haven’t los to Palace since 2015 – and it would take a lot for that to change in this one.
Keeping a close eye on that match will be Newcastle – who are currently sandwiched in-between those two clubs in 14th. The Magpies have only lost one of their last six matches, with huge thanks to Rafa Benitez, but the visit of Wolves makes for a very intriguing televised clash indeed. Wolverhampton produced a strangely impressive performance in their famous win against Chelsea, after going seven games without a win, so this game could well be decided by the performance of the visitors.
A win for Wolverhampton could see them overtake Watford, the side above them. The Hornets take on Everton in the MNF, which will see Marco Silva take on his former employers. Neither side is in particularly good form, but Everton (albeit marginally) have had the better recent run – which along with home advantage, should seem them able to get the better of a side they’ve only lost to twice since 1987.
Before that, on Sunday night, we are presented with Leicester City vs Tottenham Hotspur. The Foxes were victorious in this fixture last season, but Spurs’ recent away form in the league has been almost perfect, so they’ll be looking to avoid a repeat showing. That loss against Arsenal was the first time they’d failed to win in an away match in their last six attempts, which has been vital in them retaining 3rd place. Leicester have only won once in their last four matches at the King Power, so if form is anything to go by, this one is Tottenham’s.
The Ralph Hassenhüttl era begins in Cardiff this weekend, in a must-win relegation dogfight. A first Southampton win since September could suck Cardiff straight back into the relegation zone, so Neil Warnock will be after his side’s third consecutive home victory in order to prevent that happening. The result of Burnley’s home tie with Brighton will also have a huge effect on these two sides, who will both be hoping that Chris Houghton’s Glenn Murray-inspired Seagulls can replicate their performance from their 3-1 win over Crystal Palace. Burnley’s home form has been awful of recent weeks, though their loss midweek did flatter Liverpool – it really could go either way.