EPL Week 14 - Saturday Preview Part 1

EPL Week 14 - Saturday Preview Part 1

Manchester City (3rd) V Chelsea (1st) @ Etihad Stadium

We get an early blockbuster on Saturday when leaders Chelsea visit third place Manchester City in the Saturday Lunchtime kickoff. Antonio Conte has Chelsea on a stunning run of 7 straight victories which has seen them go from sixth to the top of the Premier League. Last week Chelsea were on the back foot for long periods against Tottenham Hotspur, but managed to grind out a come from behind 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge. Despite the obvious tactical adjustments of going to 3-4-3, the main thing Antonio Conte seems to have achieved in his short time at Stamford Bridge is building a bond with his players, with stars like Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic totally transformed from the listless and lost players they appeared to be in the fraught final days of Jose Mourinho. Pep Guardiola's men appear back to track after forcing back-to-back 2-1 victories away from home against Crystal Palace and Burnley. Of more concern for City has been their home form where they have drawn their previous three matches, which saw them surrender a 5-point lead at the top of the table. This match-up sets up a tantalising tactical battle to see what Guardiola will do to nullify Contes 3-4-3 formation. Chelsea have lost their last two games against Manchester City including a 3-0 drubbing at the Etihad way back in Week 2 of Chelsea disastrous title defence.

Verdict - Manchester City 2 Chelsea 1

Expect this game to be very intense and an intriguing tactical battle. I just feel, with 7 wins in a row, Chelsea are about at the end of their run, and City are ready to pounce back at home. Chelsea were outplayed for long periods by Spurs last week despite grinding out a 2-1 victory. 

Stoke City (11th) v Burnley (13th) @ Britannia Stadium

Stoke will be looking to continue their recent resurgence when they host Burnley on Saturday Afternoon. Stoke have been far more recognisable as the tough and grinding side they staked their reputation on in recent weeks. Stoke have 4 wins and 1 draw from their last 6 games, including a 1-0 win at Watford in their last start. Central to their revival has been their defensive line which has conceded just 4 goals from their past 6 games. Burnley put in another great home performance despite being run down late 2-1 by Manchester City at Turf Moor last week. However, Burnley's away form has been terrible this season registering just the single draw away at Old Trafford from six away games. When the sides last met in the Premier League in November 2014 at the Britannia  Stadium, it was Burnley who scored an upset 2-1 victory. 

Verdict - Stoke 2 Burnley 0

Hard to see anything other than a win for Stoke in this game. The Potters are starting to really gather some moment in their season, particularly at home, and Burley are not the side on the road. A goal in each half for Stoke to seal another win. 

Crystal Palace (17th) v Southampton (6th) @ Selhurst Park

It's desperate times for Alan Pardew as he fights for his job as Palace welcome in Southampton to Selhurst Park on Saturday. Places are equal 17th, with just three victories from the season, and are reeling from a cataclysmic  5-4 loss at Swansea where they conceded 2 goals in injury time. It has been widely reported that Pardew may need a victory to save his job after a wretched run which has seen Palace lose their last six matches. Palace are leaking goals at an alarming rate, having conceded 18 in their 6 losses at an average of 3 goals per game. Southampton will be coming into this match on a high, having defeated Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates in a massive upset. Southampton also managed a last start victory in the Premier League with a hard fought 1-0 win over Everton at St Mary's, elevating them to 10th after 13 weeks. Palace secured a 1-0 victory when the teams last met at Selhurst Park in the Premier League last December. 

Verdict - Palace 2 Southampton 1

Going for an upset here and Palace to salvage Pardew's job with a dramatic victory. Palace have had a shocking run of late, however they have also been unlucky in quite a few games, and perhaps here their fortunes can change when Pardew needs it most. A late win for Palace here.