Wednesday, July 17, 2024
HomeOpinion/FeaturesEight talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend

Eight talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend

Each week we preview the Premier League action and discuss some of the division’s major talking points.

Threadbare Tottenham need depth to challenge

Ange Postecoglou’s impact at Tottenham has had his side talked up as potential title challengers, but the Australian now faces a huge challenge with his squad stretched to its limits.

Last Monday’s bonkers game with Chelsea incredibly saw just three outfield players – Heung-min Son, Yves Bissouma and Pedro Porro – start and finish the game for Spurs, with the remaining seven all sent off or substituted.

The nine-man north Londoners capitulated late on to lose 4-1 and Postecoglou must now prepare his team to bounce back – while short of options. Micky van de Ven is facing a long spell out with a hamstring injury and leaves Spurs short at centre-back, particularly given Cristian Romero was shown a red card last week.

Emerson Royal and Eric Dier completed the game in a makeshift centre-back pairing, while Destiny Udogie’s red card means Spurs will be without three of their first-choice back four at Wolves this weekend.

With James Maddison, Richarlison, Manor Solomon, Ryan Sessegnon and Ivan Perisic also all out or doubtful for the weekend, Spurs are short all over the pitch.

Will promoted sides hold their nerve?

A record 14 Premier League managers were sacked during the 2022/23 season, but so far the only exit this time around has been Julen Lopetegui’s walk out on Wolves on the eve of the new campaign.

Despite a gap opening up between the Premier League’s bottom four and the sides above, each have held firm in supporting their current coaches. Three of those teams are the newly-promoted sides, with the managers in charge having banked credit for rising from the second tier. So far, however, each have struggled badly with the adjustment, registering just one win apiece.

Vincent Kompany was praised for transforming Burnley last season, but his team have failed to turn bright moments into Premier League results and have now lost four on the spin.

Similarly, Sheffield United and Luton have discovered the gap in quality between England’s top two divisions, though each recorded positive results last time around. Meanwhile, Bournemouth – the fourth team in the mix at the bottom – took a chance on Andoni Iraola last summer and will be keen to keep faith with the Spaniard.

How long each side can back their current coaches for remains to be seen, should results not improve.

Palace look to end Everton woes

Crystal Palace take on Everton this weekend with history against the Eagles in this fixture. Palace have endured a wretched recent record against the Toffees, with just one win from their last 17 encounters with this weekend’s opponents.

Roy Hodgson will need his side to show more threat at Selhurst Park, with no team in the division having scored less home goals (4) than the South Londoners this season. Palace, however, have conceded just five goals on home soil, the joint-fifth best record in the Premier League.

An improving Everton team can not afford to be as wasteful as recent performances against a Palace defence fortified by the excellent partnership of Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi. Everton have the biggest underperformance in terms of xG this season, having scored just 11 goals from an expected goals figure of 19.01.

Ten Hag’s future on the line against Luton

Erik ten Hag will know this weekend’s clash with Luton is a must-win for Manchester United. Defeat in Copenhagen – even given the circumstances – has placed Ten Hag in an almost untenable position, with the Red Devils on the brink of a Champions League exit after nine defeats in 17 games in all competitions.

The board will not want to begin another rebuilding process, particularly given the investment since Ten Hag’s arrival, but results must improve – and fast. United host Luton this weekend, who despite a spirited draw with Liverpool last time out, will be viewed as an ideal opponent to get back on track.

The Hatters have just one win all season and have the second-highest expected goals against (xGA) figure in the Premier League (27.87). Rasmus Hojlund scored twice in midweek and has a joint-leading five goals in Europe this season, but the Dane is still awaiting his first Premier League goal.

Servicing the striker will be key for the Red Devils, who are aiming to avoid losing three consecutive games at Old Trafford for the first time in 61 years.

Wilson chasing history against old side

Callum Wilson could face former club Bournemouth in a Premier League fixture for the first time since leaving the Cherries this weekend, having missed both games for Newcastle last season.

The 31-year-old has been an excellent addition for the Magpies and has scored 45 goals in 84 league games, including seven in 10 appearances this season. Should Wilson net this weekend, he will move level with Peter Beardsley and behind only Alan Shearer for Premier League goals for the club.

Given the calibre of centre-forwards who have represented Newcastle, it would represent an impressive feat from Wilson, who was this week recalled to the England squad.

Wilson is also the highest-scoring active player yet to reach the Premier League’s ‘100 club’. He has 86 goals in the Premier League for Bournemouth and Newcastle and is closing in on a century of top-flight goals.

Salah chasing home ground greatness

Mohamed Salah has started the season in fine form and remains arguably the most consistent performer in the Premier League.

The Egyptian international has failed to score or assist in just two Premier League games so far this season, while Salah has recorded a goal involvement in 14 straight games at Anfield.

Just two players in the division’s history – Alan Shearer (18 and 17) and Thierry Henry (17) have ever recorded longer runs of consecutive home games with a goal or assist.

Salah will be aiming to extend his streak against Brentford this weekend, who arrive on Merseyside having won three Premier League games on the bounce.

Pressure on for Moyes?

David Moyes might have guided West Ham to a first major trophy in 43 years last season, but the Scot continues to be a decisive figure at the London Stadium. A safe option for the club’s board, there are some sections who would favour a bolder approach from the Hammers, even given the risk – and failures – seen elsewhere in the division.

Moyes is only ever a few bad results from coming under fire and a four-game winless run has threatened to unravel what had been a largely positive start to the campaign. Three defeats on the spin have seen West Ham drop to 12th, four points from the European places.

Nottingham Forest are the visitors to the capital this weekend and Steve Cooper’s side, a point and place behind the Irons, are historically poor travellers. Forest have won just twice in 25 away games since promotion and Moyes can ill-afford another slip up this weekend. Mohammed Kudus should start and has impressed since arriving from Ajax, with five goals in seven starts.

Champions can continue Chelsea dominance

When Chelsea beat Manchester City in the 2021 Champions League final, the west Londoners completed their third win over the Citizens in close succession. It appeared the Blues from the capital had the number on their Mancunian counterparts, but since then it has been dominance from the latter in this fixture.

City have won each of the last six fixtures between the teams and have not conceded a single goal, with Kai Havertz’s winner in the Champions League final the last time Chelsea breached the City goal.

Chelsea remain a team muddled in transition but thrashed nine-man Spurs during a chaotic game last week. Nicolas Jackson showcased the best and worst of his game, missing a glut of chances before scoring the simplest Premier League hat-trick in recent memory.

Cole Palmer could be key for Chelsea, as the 21-year-old faces his former team for the first time. Palmer moved on from Manchester City in search of regular minutes last summer and has been a brilliant addition for Chelsea. He will be keen to prove a point against the side willing to let him go.

Read – The percentage of match time Premier League teams have led for in 2023/24

Read Also – Football Manager 2024: Best signings for under £10m

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