It’s Friday folks and that means it is EPL time once again! Last week saw a string of shock results in the EPL with Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton all losing games they were expected to win, but that is why we all love the EPL, it is so competitive and you never know which way a game will go.
This week should prove just as compelling, as we have the small matters of the Merseyside and north London derbies to settle. So sit back and enjoy as GotSoccer takes you through some of the news, predictions and previews for week 6 of the EPL.
FIFA to ban third party ownership
FIFA is make an announcement on “third party ownership” (TPO) this Friday, with a ban on companies taking a stake in the economic rights of soccer players believed to be under consideration.
TPO is currently banned in the EPL, but is still commonplace in other leagues in both Europe and South America, with investors seeking to make profits on their stakes.
English clubs who wish to purchase a player co-owned by third parties are required to buy out the contact rights of all such parties.
FIFA is believed to have discussed the issue on Thursday, the first day of its autumn executive committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, and is believed to be in favor of banning TPO.
The move by FIFA appears to have followed pressure made by UEFA, who plan to introduce new rules to clamp down on TPO next season.
While any new ruling will not directly EPL clubs, it will have consequences for many leagues and clubs around the world who depend on TPO to assist them in purchasing players.
No talks to extend Lampard’s Man City stay
Frank Lampard says there have been no discussions to extend his loan spell with Manchester City.
The former Chelsea midfielder left the Blues earlier this after his contract expired joining Major League Soccer side New York City. He then promptly joined Man City on a loan deal—a move that Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger questioned as a ploy by City to evade the Financial Fair Play rules—however, after scoring three goals in his last two games, including one against his former club Chelsea, City boss Manuel Pellegrini said that he could stay longer.
Lampard’s current loan deal is set to expire in January, but with the MLS not due to start until March, it has been suggested he may extend his stay as he will not need a pre-season in the States.
But the midfielder insists there have been no discussion. “That argument’s come up since I scored at the weekend,” said Lampard
“The important thing for me is to play well if I can, train well and then we’ll see what happens.
“I wouldn’t want to get too ahead of myself; it’s not my place to do that. That will obviously be a club decision first and foremost.
“I was in very much of a comfort zone at Chelsea. It’s good to test yourself in life. All I can say is I am enjoying it.”
|QPR v Stoke||2-2||1-0|
|Aston Villa v Arsenal||0-3||1-2|
|Burnley v Sunderland||0-0||1-1|
|Newcastle v Hull||2-2||2-1|
|Swansea v Southampton||0-1||2-2|
|West Ham v Liverpool||3-1||1-2|
|Leicester v Man Utd||5-3||1-3|
|Tottenham v West Brom||0-1||2-0|
|Everton v Crystal Palace||2-3||3-0|
|Man City v Chelsea||1-1||1-2|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.
Last week I got TWO correct results, with ZERO perfect scores to give me a meager total of just TWO-points—an all-time record low score!
|Liverpool v Everton||2-1|
|Chelsea v Aston Villa||3-0|
|Crystal Palace v Leicester||2-1|
|Hull v Man City||1-2|
|Man Utd v West Ham||4-2|
|Southampton v QPR||3-0|
|Sunderland v Swansea||1-1|
|Arsenal v Tottenham||3-1|
|West Brom v Burnley||0-0|
|Stoke v Newcastle||1-0|
Liverpool v Everton
Both these sides suffered shock defeats last weekend and are not playing particularly well, but derby game rarely follow the formbook so who knows how this match will go.
Liverpool were remarkably poor in their defeat away to West Ham, leading manager Brendan Rogers to describe his team as “a little bit broken”. The Reds just cannot seem to create any chances at the moment, and are really struggling to fill the void left by Luis Suarez. The absence of Daniel Sturridge has not helped their cause either, as his movement and runs off the ball help to stretch the opposing defense, which isn’t happening at the moment.
Everton have also been hit and miss so far this season, looking good in spells and poor in others. The Toffees lost 2-3 at home to Crystal Palace and were then taken apart by Swansea midweek in the cup losing 3-0. The Toffees are really struggling defensively at the moment and currently have the worst defense in the EPL with 13 goals conceded in just 5 games.
Liverpool will assess the fitness of Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho who are both struggling with respective hip and groin problems. The Reds’ poor form means they may also put Daniel Sturridge on the bench despite lacking fitness after a thigh injury, but Joe Allen, Emre Can, Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan remain out.
Everton’s injury problems continue with right-back Seamus Coleman doubtful with a head injury, while Steven Pienaar’s has a hamstring problem. Arouna Kone and Ross Barkley have returned from injury to training but lack fitness.
Midfielder Darron Gibson and fullback Bryan Oviedo could return to the starting line up having proved their fitness midweek at Swansea.
Liverpool have an excellent record against Everton—The Reds have lost just one of their last 15 Premier League games against Everton (home and away)—so Everton will have to up their game if they want to get a result on Saturday.
But derby games rarely follow logic and are usually frenetic and passionate affairs. Indeed, passions seem to run higher at the Merseyside derby—this derby has produced 20 red cards in the Premier League, five more than any other fixture in the division. However, the last six derbies in league and cup have not featured a sending off.
Neither of these sides is playing well and would probably settle for a solid performance and draw from this game. But I feel the Anfield crowd will spur their side on and help Liverpool just edge this one.
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Chelsea lost their 100% record drawing 1-1 away to champions Manchester City, but remain unbeaten in the EPL.
The Blues put on a tactical master class, frustrating their opponents and hitting them on the counter, and with a bit more luck would have left Manchester with all three-points.
Aston Villa lost 0-3 at home to Arsenal last week, as they struggled with a virus that hit their squad and led to the closure of their training ground. However, they probably would have lost anyway, as the gunners were on top form.
Chelsea look set to be without midfielder Ramires who picked up a groin injury against Man City, with Oscar or Andre Shurrle the most likely candidates to replace him.
Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke remain unavailable as they continue their rehabilitation after injuries, but Ashley Westwood, Nathan Baker, Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann all return after shaking off a bug that afflicted them last week.
Chelsea has a good record against Villa losing only one of their last 12 home games against the Villains (W8, D3, L1). Their 8-0 victory in December 2012 is Villa’s record defeat. However, Villa has been playing well this season and did win their last encounter with the blues with a 1-0 victory at Villa park in March.
Nevertheless, I expect this to be a comfortable win for Chelsea.
Hull v Man City
Hull drew 2-2 with Newcastle last week and were then knocked out of the League Cup midweek, going down 3-2 to West Brom to leave them without a win in their last four games in all competitions. The Tigers made a few good signings on transfer deadline day and will take time to gel as a team.
Champions Man City drew 1-1 last week to EPL leaders Chelsea to leave them in 6th place and five-points behind top spot. The EPL champions still look like they are suffering a hangover from last season’s title triumph and many of their players have yet to hit form, with Yaya Toure in particular looking a shadow of his former self.
Hull are waiting on results from a scan of midfielder David Meyler’s to see if he is able to face City on Saturday, while forward Gaston Ramirez looks likely to miss out with a groin problem.
Manchester City can recall fullback Pablo Zabaleta after he served a one-match suspension midweek, while Sergio Aguero and David Silva have both shaken off the knocks picked up against Chelsea. However, Stevan Jovetic, Fernando, and Samir Nasri are all sidelined with injuries.
Hull lost this fixture 2-0 last season, which was their first loss to City at home since 1909. However, that has more to do with the fact that the clubs had not played each other too many time during the intervening years, and in fact Hull have only beaten City once in the EPL (D2 L3).
City are without a win in their last three games—their worst run in 19-months—and not playing too well at the moment. However, they have a lot of class players and I expect them to edge this one.
Manchester United v West Ham
Manchester United suffered a shocking 5-3 loss away to Leicester City last weekend and desperately need a big performance and result to get their season going.
A loss to Leicester City would have been a shock on its own, but the manner in which United capitulated after leading the game 3-1 was amazing to see. Their defensive frailties were laid bare for all to see, as Leicester carved them open with simple soccer. However, there were some positives for the Red Devils to take away and those were the performances of Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria, who both look like they will cause headaches for defenses in the EPL.
West Ham got a fine 3-1 win over Liverpool last week and seem to have changed their style a play. West Ham fans were calling for manager Sam Allardyce to be fired last season, complaining he favored negative and long ball soccer. However, this season the Hammers have been more adventurous and it seems to have paid off, with West Ham scoring five goals in their last two games.
Manchester United’s defensive problems look set to continue with Marcos Rojo their only available senior center back—Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans are all injured, while Tyler Blackett is suspended. That could mean a debut for youth team players Tom Thorpe or Paddy McNair, along with summer signing Luke Shaw making his EPL debut at left-back.
West Ham are without midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, who has a groin injury. While Saturday’s game has come a bit too early for fellow midfielders Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis, who are not quite ready to return.
Manchester United have made their worst start to an EPL season, picking up just five points from five games. A defeat to West Ham on Saturday would make it their worst start to a season since 1986-87, when they had four points after six games.
However, United have an excellent record against West Ham—the Red Devils have taken 31 points from their last 11 Premier League games against West Ham. In fact, the Hammers have won just two matches in their last 21 visits to Old Trafford in the top flight – the other 19 were defeats.
But Old Trafford is not the fortress it once was and West Ham will fancy their chances of getting a goal or two against the inexperienced United backline. Nevertheless, the Red Devils need a result badly and I expect them to get it.
Arsenal v Tottenham
Saturday comes to a close with a blockbuster of a game, as North London neighbors Arsenal and Tottenham battle it out for bragging rights.
What a difference a result can make in soccer. Just over a week ago everyone was questioning the quality and form of Arsenal players Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck, but their performance last week against Aston Villa has got everyone purring all of a sudden.
The Gunners easily dispatched of Villa winning 3-0, with all three of their goals scored in blistering four-minute period in the first-half. Mesut Ozil looked back to his best playing in his favored No. 10 position, while Danny Welbeck looked lively getting his first goal for Arsenal.
Tottenham are struggling a bit at the moment and are without a win in their last three EPL games. Spurs started the season well with two wins, but they then lost at home to Liverpool and do not seem to have recovered. The north Londoners play some neat and tidy stuff, but still look a bit short up front.
Arsenal are expected to welcome back midfielder Mathieu Flamini and defenders Kieran Gibbs and Per Mertesacker, who have all shaken off injuries.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has almost a whole squad to choose from, with defender Kyle Walker the only injured player.
They say you can never predict which way a derby match will go, but in this case I think most people would predict an Arsenal win—Spurs have only won once at Arsenal in 25 matches in all competitions since May 1993, a 3-2 comeback win in November 2010 (D8, L16).