GameWeek #17 Preview

Hello TFG’ers and welcome to this preview of the 17th installment of this most exhilarating of Premier League seasons. GW17 will have to be jam-packed with excitement if it is to be as thrilling as the last round of fixtures was, which saw big results aplenty have huge effects on the PL table.

But just in case your in-office Liverpool fan hasn’t rammed it down your throat quite enough, it is in fact Jurgen Klopp’s reds who now rest at the summit. N’Golo Kanté became Merseyside’s favourite French midfielder since the iconic David Ngog, after goals from himself and David Luiz lifted Chelsea to a famous victory over Manchester City. There were also important wins for Man United, West Ham, Arsenal, Cardiff, Wolves and Jon Spalding – who after he was alone in predicting Tottenham to beat Leicester away from home, has been awarded this week’s #PickOfTheWeek! Good call, Jon!

However, despite all of last weekend’s drama, there were no changes to our league table. It still reads as follows:

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)

Looking ahead to the approaching footy, you’d be forgiven for thinking that last week’s action would lead to a more mundane set of fixtures – but you couldn’t be more wrong. Liverpool take on Manchester United on Sunday, which will be a true tale of attack vs defence.

Jose Mourinho’s United side seemed to have found a winning formula after last weekend’s 4-1 win over Fulham, only to be dragged back down to Earth in the Mestalla mid-week after a misfiring Valencia side ran them ragged. Liverpool however, will be brimming with confidence: a strong win against Bournemouth was succeeded by them securing a crucial 1-0 victory against Napoli in the Champions League, so to say Anfield expect a victory could be something of an understatement. United have been a shambles defensively over recent weeks, so Mourinho’s bus will have to be parked with extra precision if he is to take anything other than a loss away from this tough away trip.

Also having to travel for their next matches are Chelsea and Arsenal, who face Brighton and Southampton respectively. Chelsea’s performance against City will give them huge confidence, but Mauricio Sarri won’t be forgetting that his side have lost both of their last two Premier League away games. Brighton aren’t a side to roll over against the big sides, so The Blues will have to be at their best to beat a Seagulls side that haven’t lost a home match for almost two months.

For Arsenal however, they will have to overcome Southampton’s new manager bounce, as Ralph Hassenhuttl is welcomed at St Mary’s for the first time. His first match did end in defeat against Cardiff, but the arrival of one of the league’s most in-form sides should provide plenty of motivation for his side. Only on one of the last seven occasions have The Saints managed to beat Arsenal however, so The Gunners still remain strong favourites. For Arsenal’s neighbours, Spurs, they too look likely to win three points this weekend. After a memorable night in the Nou Camp on Tuesday night, the glamour fixtures continue, with the visit of Sean Dyche’s Burnley. The last time Tottenham lost a league home match to The Clarets was in 1974, so it should be an enjoyable afternoon for those wearing white at Wembley this weekend – Burnley fans, perhaps just enjoy the day out.

It is a similar tale for Everton fans, who just as the Hoffenheim faithful did on Wednesday, take the feared trip to the Etihad Stadium. The Toffees have won just one of their last four (which came against Cardiff at home), drawing their last two, so Pep will want his side to emphatically return to winning ways this weekend against a stuttering Everton side who could drop as low as 13th this weekend.

There is also something of a London derby this weekend, when Fulham welcome West Ham to Craven Cottage. Though these two sides haven’t faced each other since 2014, Fulham did win their last two home games against The Hammers. That is about the only scope for optimism for The Cottagers however, as West Ham have scored three goals in each of their last three games, as they finally start to find their feet. With Claudio Ranieri’s side still planted on the bottom of the table, the Italian must start finding solidity quickly, considering they have now conceded 40 goals in 16 matches. It will be quite a test.

The last team to be on the receiving end of a West Ham victory were Crystal Palace. After a rousing win against Burnley three weeks ago, Palace have conceded six goals in two matches against Brighton and The Hammers, losing both. They welcome Leicester to Selhurst Park, which despite what it may seem, could well be a welcomed opponent for Palace. They beat The Foxes by an aggregate score of 8-0 last season, so The Eagles will be praying for a repeat performance.

There is a very intriguing clash taking place at Molineux as well, with a Wolves side who have now won two-in-a-row, after managing to go seven games without a win, welcoming Bournemouth. The Cherries did suffer a tough 4-0 loss to Liverpool last time out, which does not bode well ahead of this difficult trip to the Midlands. The home fans will be right behind their side, as they look to collect the three points which could see them leapfrog their opponents in the league table.

Speaking of going seven games without a win, that unwanted feat could well become a reality for Watford, should they fail to beat Cardiff at home this weekend. Given the Welsh side’s awful away record in the Premier League however, The Hornets do look set to finally collect a much-needed victory, especially after a good performance in the MNF against Everton. Mind you, Cardiff are a now dizzying FIVE points above the drop zone – is there a great escape on the cards?

Finally this week, there is a dreary-looking meet-up between Huddersfield and Newcastle. Both of these sides earned a 1-0 home win from this fixture last season and by the looks of things, this one could be a very similar affair. Newcastle are just about the side in better from, so if I had to choose between the two, I’d opt for the Magpies, but this is probably one to avoid. As always however, whoever your pick may be this weekend, we here at TFG HQ wish you the very best of luck.

Yours footballingly, Team TFG and Dan Wiseman

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