EPL Week 12 - Saturday Preview Part 1

EPL Week 12 - Saturday Preview Part 1

Manchester United v Arsenal @ Old Trafford

Arsenal visit Old Trafford in another blockbuster encounter between bitter rivals Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho on Saturday. United will be desperate for their first big scalp of the season having already lost to Chelsea, Manchester City and drawn with Liverpool. Arsenal lie 6 points ahead of United and just 2 points off pace setters Liverpool in 4th place coming into the clash. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, Eric Bailly out injured and doubts over Wayne Rooney, Arsene Wenger may never get a better chance to end his awful record against Jose Mourinho. Mourinho has never lost to Arsenal in the Premier League, winning 5 and drawing 6 times during his time at Chelsea. United has an excellent recent record against the Gunners, losing just 1 of their 10 games including 6 victories. When the sides met last year at Old Trafford in February, Arsenal suffered a big blow in their title quest with a  3-2 loss to an under strength United side. 

Verdict - United 2 Arsenal 2

I feel both sides are vulnerable here. United have looked a bit of a mess against the big sides this year and with a few injuries their problems appear far from over. However, keep in mind Wenger has never beaten Mourinho in the Premier League, and Arsenal have a very poor recent record at Old Trafford. I expect this game to be entertaining and high scoring. 

Crystal Palace v Manchester City @ Selhurst Park

Manchester City are back to full strength as they face a tricky test at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace on Saturday. City suffered a hugely frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Middlesbrough before the International break, with a stoppage time goal to the visitors allowing Liverpool and Chelsea to leapfrog them in the standings. Palace are on an awful run of form, having dropped to 16th after 4 consecutive losses. Alan Pardew's men have conceded an alarming 11 goals in those 4 matches, and the visit of a high powered City side could hardly come at a worse time for a side short on confidence. Palace have a wretched record of recent ties against City in the Premier League having lost 7 from their previous 8 encounters. When the sides clashed last year at Selhurst Park, City ran out narrow 1-0 winners. 

Verdict - Manchester City 3 Crystal Palace 1

Palace are well out of sorts at the minute and I can't see them turning the tide against a powerful City side. For City, it has been all about taking their opportunities as they have been very wasteful in recent games, costing them points. I expect City, at full strength, to pull away with this game in the second half. 

Everton v Swansea City @ Goodison Park 

Both Everton and Swansea will be looking to rebound from nightmare last outings when they clash at Goodison Park on Saturday. Everton suffered by far their worst loss of the season, with a 5-0 thumping at Chelsea keeping them in 7th place on the table. Everton get a couple of timely injections with Leighton Baines and James McCarthy expected to return from injury. New Swansea coach, Bob Bradley, has failed to improve the Swans' fortunes having won just a single point from his first four games in charge. Swansea are in equal last place and already 6 points from safety with Bradley desperately requiring an upswing in fortunes before Christmas if he is to hold on to his job. Everton are winless in their last 4 games against Swansea in a sequence which includes 3 draws. Back in January, when the sides last played at Goodison, Swansea claimed a memorable 2-1 victory. 

Verdict - Everton 3 Swansea 0

Swansea appear a mess right now and have made no noticeable improvement under Bob Bradley. Everton will be stinging from their ordinary performance at Chelsea and, with a great record at home this season, I expect them to pile on the misery for the Swans. 

Southampton v Liverpool @ St Mary's Stadium

High flying Liverpool get a stern test of their Title credentials when they visit St Mary's to play Southampton on Saturday. The Reds have won their last 3 matches, smashing in 12 goals in the process, as Jurgen Klopp's men continue to play swashbuckling football which has carried them to the summit of the table. With 30 goals from 11 games, Liverpool are averaging close to 3 goals a game, despite having just the 9th best defence in the Premier League with 14 goals conceded. Southampton have slipped to 10th, having lost their last two games, including a hugely disappointing 2-1 loss at Hull before the International break. The Saints ended a run of 4 straight defeats against Liverpool in March when they were victorious 3-2 in a highly entertaining encounter. 

Verdict - Southampton 2 Liverpool 2

I think the Saints might be able to  nick a point at home here against this all action Liverpool side. The Reds have scored goals for fun this year, and I expect them to get a couple here. However their defensive frailties are never too far away. A draw would not be a terrible result for the Reds here, although the way they are playing they will expect all 3 points.