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[EPL] MatchWeek 32 – All To Play For In Packed Premier League Return

One way to make up for missing a weekend of Premier League action is to cram as many games into the first few days back and MatchWeek 32 of the season delivers with 15 games on the cards thanks to a few rescheduled clashes. There’s 10 games from MW32, a MW27 clash, a MW31 game and three Round 33 matches between now and Thursday morning when we turn the page to MW33, confused yet?

Don’t be! Just enjoy the smorgasbord of football to come!

After an international break and a hugely successful start to England’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, the EPL is finally back this weekend. There are loads of fixtures to sink our teeth into over the next week. Thanks to some rescheduling due to the FA Cup and other fixtures, a number of teams will play twice during this MatchWeek. Manchester United, Spurs, Chelsea, and Manchester City will all have the chance to pick up two wins in quick succession.

The heavyweight clash of the weekend is definitely Liverpool vs Spurs. At the top, Liverpool desperately want a win to aid their battle with Man City for the EPL title, while a loss here would be a big blow to Tottenham’s hopes of a top-four finish. Liverpool still only have one loss against their name and are unbeaten in their last 10, beating Burnley (4-2) at home and Fulham (2-1) away in their last two. Spurs are in a slump, with a 1-1 home draw with Arsenal their only point from their last four games; they were stunned by lowly Southampton in their last game. Tottenham have won only one of their last 13 against Liverpool. The Reds won 2-1 at Wembley in MW5, while Spurs’ last victory at Anfield was way back in 2011.

Liverpool are very short for a match of this calibre, but they have to be favoured to win with Tottenham’s form falling off a cliff of late. Manchester City had MW31 off due to FA Cup action, allowing Liverpool to reclaim top spot. But with a game in hand and a visit to lowly Fulham, the Citizens remain in the box seat to claim the title.

There is a massive game at the bottom of the table on Saturday between 15th-placed Brighton and 16th-placed Southampton too. Brighton are in a much stronger position – three points ahead of Saints, five clear of the bottom three, and with a game or two in hand over the teams around them, owing to their FA Cup run. But their run-in is perilous: Chris Hughton’s side will play Chelsea, Wolves, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City before the season’s end. Southampton have not kicked a ball in earnest in nearly three weeks, and it is crucial for Brighton to capitalise on any rustiness and put some distance between them and the bottom three

While there are loads of games this week, with a number of teams playing their games in hand to catch up with the rest, we cover just the first round of fixtures, although the action goes right the way through to Thursday next week. 

SCHEDULE

Points Table 

 

MatchWeek 31: What we learned
Goalscoring landmarks reached by Sadio Mane and Mark Noble plus all the key facts from the weekend’s action

AFC Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle United
Salomon Rondon scored his fourth Premier League goal v AFC Bournemouth, his joint-best tally against an opponent, level with Swansea
Burnley 1-2 Leicester City
James Maddison is the first Leicester player to score two direct free-kick goals in a single Premier League season
West Ham United 4-3 Huddersfield Town
This was just the third time in PL history West Ham have come from at least two goals down to win (5-4 v Bradford City in February 2000; 3-2 v Everton in March 2016)
Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Sadio Mane scored his 17th Premier League goal of the season, the most by a Senegalese player in the history of the competition, overtaking Demba Ba’s tally of 16 for Newcastle in 2011/12
Everton 2-0 Chelsea
Richarlison has scored 12 PL goals this season. Only three players have more in the competition in their first season at Everton: Andrei Kanchelskis, Yakubu and Romelu Lukaku with 15

MatchWeek 32 Stats: Palace seek home first against Terriers
Crystal Palace aiming to score the first home goal in matches against Huddersfield Town this weekend and all the must-know stats

Fulham vs Man City
Sergio Aguero has been involved in six goals in his last four PL starts against Fulham, with three of his four strikes coming at Craven Cottage
Brighton vs Southampton
James Ward-Prowse could become the first Southampton player to score in four successive PL matches since Jay Rodriguez in March 2014
Burnley vs Wolves
Raul Jimenez, who has been involved in 18 PL goals this term, can be the first to reach 20 for a promoted team in a season since Troy Deeney for Watford in 2015/16
Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield
The home team have never scored a goal in the seven top-flight meetings between these sides, the first of which was in 1970
Leicester vs AFC Bournemouth
Leicester City have faced the Cherries more often without winning than any other PL opponent, as they target their first victory at the eighth attempt
Man Utd vs Watford
The last time Manchester United had three players score 10 goals in a season was in 2012/13, while they last had four players do so in 1995/96. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are only one away from joining Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba in double figures this term
West Ham vs Everton
Manuel Lanzini has scored three goals in three PL home matches for West Ham United against Everton
Cardiff vs Chelsea
All three of Gonzalo Higuain’s PL goals for Chelsea have come against teams in the relegation zone, after a brace against Huddersfield Town and a strike against Fulham
Liverpool vs Spurs
Liverpool have lost only one of their last 24 PL home matches against Tottenham Hotspur, with that defeat coming back in May 2011
Arsenal vs Newcastle
Alexandre Lacazette has scored 73 per cent of his PL goals at home. Tony Adams is the only player with at least 10 PL goals for Arsenal who has struck a higher ratio at home, with 83 per cent   Courtesy – PremierLeague.com

Game Review
Fulham vs Man City
Previous 2018-19 Result: Man City 3 Fulham 0

Given the ominous form of Man City, Raheem Sterling’s form for both club and country, and the poor state Fulham are currently in, this could be any old score at Craven Cottage. While Fulham don’t look quite so terrible under new manager Scott Parker, they shouldn’t and won’t trouble Man City.

Fulham are the real disappointment of the season. While other teams were expected to be where they are around the bottom, there were high hopes for Fulham given their run of form to make and win the Championship playoffs, and their summer spending. One hopes for them that the relegation clauses are solid.

The first of two games against the bottom three for Man City. Top place back on the EPL ladder awaits.

Fact: Fulham have scored at least one goal in their last 11 home games vs Man City. It didn’t help them win mind you, 1 Win, 5 Draws, 5 Losses.

Brighton vs Southampton
Previous 2018-19 Result: Southampton 2 Brighton 2

Without Brighton’s latest brace of wins against Huddersfield and rivals Crystal Palace taking them to 33 points, they could well be in the bottom three below Cardiff on 28 points. Although a loss here to a bottom six rival could drag them back into the relegation scrap again.

Southampton are just three points behind, but the Saints have played one game more. Although Brighton’s spare game is Chelsea away. No matter who Brighton’s spare game is against, Southampton need to win this game to give themselves a chance at creeping away from Cardiff, who have a dreadful double header this week of Chelsea and Man City.

Fact: Brighton have won just two games in 16 home matches vs Southampton going back to 1958.

Burnley vs Wolves
Previous 2018-19 Result: Wolves 1 Burnley 0

Burnley are in some trouble now, having lost four in a row, they are now just two points above Cardiff in 18th. In the process they have now conceded the second highest amount of goals. Cardiff have a game in hand too, but their two fixtures look like a realistic return of zero points – Chelsea & Man City.

Wolves are ticking along nicely, easily the best promoted team since the mighty Ipswich Town shocked everyone back in the early 2000’s. There’s a lot more money behind Wolves’ tilt though, and one wonders how long winning the Everton Cup will be acceptable.

Fact: Burnley have only beaten Wolves three times at home since 2000. Six losses and some draws were in that run.

Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield
Previous 2018-19 Result: Huddersfield 0 Crystal Palace 1

Crystal Palace will be as close to safe in the Premier League with a win this weekend, and at home to Huddersfield looks an easy task. But Palace’s home form this season for the most part has been terrible, currently the second last for amount of points. But Wilfried Zaha is starting to look great again, perhaps the introduction of Michy Batshuayi has seen Zaha get a few less kicks than usual as teams have to focus on another attacking player.

Huddersfield could be officially relegated within the next two games.

Fact: Both teams have scored 11 goals in 15 matches home / away respectively.

Leicester vs Bournemouth
Previous 2018-19 Result: Bournemouth 4 Leicester 2

A battle of two midfield teams who have been one of the more disappointing home teams and away teams respectively recently. Leicester’s two recent wins under new manager Brendan Rodgers stopped a run of four straight home losses, which caused Puel to get Puel-led. Bournemouth’s away form has been even worse, more than doubly so, as their recent win against Huddersfield stopped a run on nine away losses.

Fact: Leicester are the sixth best team for away form this season, Bournemouth are the eighth best at home.

Man Utd vs Watford
Previous 2018-19 Result: Watford 1 Man Utd 2

All of a sudden Man Utd are beatable, having now lost two games in a row – Arsenal in the League and Wolves in the FA Cup. The loss handed advantage back to Arsenal for the race for fourth place and Champions League, but United wouldn’t have got anywhere near this had they kept a hold of Jose.

Watford aren’t completely hopeless on the road, in fact they’ve scored almost as many points away than home. They recently flogged Cardiff in Wales too. But that record doesn’t extend to Old Trafford. And a win is hard to win for Watford. Although we are hoping Troy Deeney is fit and ready to go, to see how he tries to boss the Utd defence.

Fact: Man Utd have won seven straight games at home to Watford.

West Ham vs Everton
Previous 2018-19 Result: Everton 1 West Ham 3

After a truly entertaining game against Huddersfield, West Ham welcome one of the Premier League’s hardest teams to tip, aside from themselves.

West Ham are unbeaten at home in their last six games (4W 2D) while Everton have gone LWLWL in their last five away games. So that pattern means an Everton win then. They did beat Chelsea at home last match.

Fact: Prior to last season’s 3-1 win over Everton at home, West Ham hadn’t beaten Everton at home since 2007, spanning 11 matches.

Cardiff vs Chelsea
Previous 2018-19 Result: Chelsea 4 Cardiff 1

For many reasons you expect Cardiff to be tonked by Chelsea – Chelsea have more expensive and arguably better players – and just a few others would argue a better manager. But both sides are playing for something that is worth a lot of money to their respective clubs, so it won’t be easy.

A win for Cardiff would certainly have a few other managers very worried, and it will certainly worry Chelsea in the bid for top four European glory. They are just four points behind third placed Spurs. Although, Chelsea (or Arsenal) could win the Europa League which would make the race for fourth place obsolete for Chelsea.

Fact: Chelsea have the equal worst goal difference for last six away games.

Liverpool vs Spurs
Previous 2018-19 Result: Spurs 1 Liverpool 2

This is probably the hardest game left for Liverpool, given Chelsea’s currently terrible away form, so a win here is a must. Man City play two games this MatchWeek – against Fulham and Cardiff – so a loss could potentially see Liverpool four points behind City with six to play. Even a draw will see them more than a game behind as the three point gap is extended due to City’s goal difference, which will no doubt get boosted in the next week.

Spurs do have a shiny new stadium to get excited about if they lose.

Fact: Spurs have only beaten Liverpool at home twice in the Premier League era. In 2011 and 1993.

Arsenal vs Newcastle
Previous 2018-19 Result: Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2

A must win game for Arsenal to maintain fourth place, and they should do it relatively easy against a Newcastle side who they have only been beaten by at home twice since 2000. And looking across the sides you can barely even compare the sides for quality.

That should highlight the job that Benitez has done at Newcastle, with a side that is largely a Championship side who have done very well. Salomon Rondon is fast becoming a reliable source of goals, and in Miguel Almiron they have a star for the future.

Still won’t mean that Newcastle will beat Arsenal. But they have been competitive against the big six sides at times this season.

Perhaps the biggest news going into MW32 is than Manchester United have appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their permanent manager on a three-year contract, the Premier League club said on Thursday. The 46-year-old Norwegian has guided United to 14 wins in 19 matches in all competitions as caretaker boss since replacing the sacked Jose Mourinho in December.

United have won 10 of their 13 Premier League games under Solskjaer and reached the Champions League quarterfinals with a dramatic victory at French champions Paris St Germain.

Fifth-placed United, who are locked in a battle for Champions League qualification spots with Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, host Watford in the league on Saturday.

Packed week coming up and a lot can change at both ends of the table.

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