GameWeek #23 Preview

Ole, Ole, Ole

Hello, TFG’ers! Welcome back to this, the 23rd preview of the exhilarating 2018/19 Premier League campaign. The last match week was a very detrimental one – it saw the end of David Wagner’s reign as manager of Huddersfield, a first Premier League goal for the ‘basmati Busquets’, the continuation of the Ole Gunnar revolution and yet more controversy surrounding the antics of Mo Salah. 

It, as you would expect, has had its effects on our league standings. They now read as follows:

1st – JOEBAKERSDOZENXI (Philip Taylor)

2nd – Cowboys From Hell (Martyn Fisher)

3rd – Garibaldi FC (James Taylor)

4th – Football In The Groin (Dan Bolderston)

5th – Blitzkrieg (Adam Hartley)

But now, for the time you have all been waiting for – or more specifically, the moment that Rick Taylsforth has been waiting for. Because ever since he saw his pick, Watford, win away against Crystal Palace, he must have known he was in with a shout of being the winner week’s #PickOfTheWeek, which he is! Congratulations, Rick!

So, looking ahead to this weekend’s fixtures, and there is one clear matchup that stands out. A London derby, that will have a huge influence on the top four, is our Saturday tea-time treat, as we see Arsenal take on Chelsea at The Emirates. The Gunners, sat six points behind their opponents, have won just one of their last sixteen matches against The Blues – but it gets worse, unfortunately for Arsenal fans. Only Fulham have less clean sheets than Unai Emery’s men this season, whilst just Liverpool have more than Chelsea do. It’s fair to say that Mauricio Sarri’s men will be favourites going into this one.

Should Arsenal lose in that one, it is highly likely that they could be leapfrogged by Manchester United. After a highly impressive start to life in Old Trafford’s hot seat for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he will be looking to beat Brighton, a side that has never won at the Theatre of Dreams. Not only that, but Brighton have only managed to score one goal in away matches against the top six since they were promoted to the Premier League. Could it really be seven wins in a row for the baby-faced assassin?

Taking place just 33 miles away, is Liverpool vs Crystal Palace. Though this match may seem something of a foregone conclusion, especially when you consider The Reds have beaten this weekend’s opponents three times in a row, they must be wary of a Palace side that is very capable of causing an upset. Not only did they beat Manchester City at The Etihad just a matter of weeks ago, but The Eagles have won on three of their last four visits to Anfield. Liverpool have never managed to collect four consecutive wins against Palace, either…

Manchester City’s win over Wolves on Monday night means they remain four points behind Liverpool, ahead of their trip to woeful Huddersfield. Now without David Wagner after going nine games without a victory, they will have to try and get the better of City – a club that haven’t lost a game to a side in the bottom three since a 2-1 loss to West Brom in 2008. That stat, along with the fact that Huddersfield have now failed to score in 17 of their last 32 games, tells you all you need to know about this contest. 

At the opposite end of the table, there is a crucial battle between Newcastle and Cardiff, a match with history that favours the home team. Newcastle have won 10 of their last 11 clashes with Cardiff, with the other match ending in a draw. Not only that, but Cardiff have lost on 17 of their last 18 visits to St James’ Park. However, putting history to one side, The Magpies’ home form has been woeful this season – no team has lost more home matches than Newcastle have in all of England’s four tiers. But given that the losing team will drop into the relegation zone, this match’s importance cannot be underestimated. 

In a similarly dire position are Fulham, who welcome Harry Kane-less Tottenham to Craven Cottage. For whoever will replace Kane, they will have a strong chance of starting to fill Kane’s boots in good fashion, with Fulham having by far the worst defensive record in the Premier League this season. Spurs have also won nine of their last ten Premier League encounters against The Cottagers. 

Sat just five points above Fulham are Southampton, who face Everton at St Mary’s. This is a fixture that The Saints can look forward to, as they’ve won four of their last five home matches against The Toffees. Though they did lose the reverse fixture 2-1, Everton haven’t completed a league double against Southampton since the 2001/02 season either, which will have Ralph Hassenhuttl’s eyes firmly fixed on increasing the gap between his side and the relegation zone. 

Those at St Mary’s will also have a particular interest in the happenings at Vicarage Road, where Burnley are the visitors. The home side have been in fine form of late, losing just one of their last seven matches, but will be slightly wary of Sean Dyche’s men as Burnley were 2-1 victors in this fixture last season. The Clarets haven’t completed a league double over Watford since the 2002/03 Championship season however, and given their away record this season, I can’t see that changing this weekend. 

There are then two mid-table clashes to round-off the weekend’s action. Wolves take on Leicester, whilst Bournemouth face West Ham. Wolves have lost five of their last seven Premier League home matches, which will be music to the ears of The Foxes, who have a chance to win three consecutive away league games for the first time since 2016. For West ham, a strong result against Arsenal could well be followed up with another win at the Vitality. Bournemouth have collected just seven points from their last possible 36, but with the two teams sharing the spoils in recent history pretty evenly, this game could really go either way.

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

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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