Barclays Premier League – Saturday Fixtures, Team News & Predictions
By Marc Gingell
Fulham (19) v Manchester United (5)
Crystal Palace (14) v West Ham United (12)
Huddersfield (20) v Arsenal (6)
Liverpool (2) v Bournemouth (10)
Southampton (16) v Cardiff (18)
Watford (8) v Everton (9)
Brighton (13) v Burnley (17)
Fulham (19) v Manchester United (5) – Craven Cottage Kick-off 12:30.
In their last home game, Fulham dramatically stormed back from 2-0 down against Brighton to win 4-2. Prior to that Spurs might have considered themselves lucky to snatch three Craven Cottage points with a 90+ 3rd minute rare headed goal from Harry Winks.
Fulham’s home form is good and they’re 14th in the home form league table with four wins and three draws. Serbian forward, 24 year old Aleksandar Mitrovic has ten Premier League goals and is joint 7th in the league’s list of top scorers. He’s also not afraid to try his luck and his 88 shots put him in number one position in that particular table. Mo Salah has 80 and Sergio Agüero 78.
Fulham Injury / Fitness Update
Marcus Bettinelli: Knee. Unknown return date.
Alfie Mawson: Knee. Unknown return date.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah: On loan from Manchester United and can’t play against his parent club.
Håvard Nordtveit: Lack of match fitness. 50% chance of playing.
Lazar Markovic: Lack of match fitness. 50% chance of playing.
Two months ago Jose Mourinho earned a stay of execution as his Manchester United team breezed past Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford. He lost his next Barclays Premier League fixture, 3-1 away to Liverpool, and United pulled the plug on the ‘Special One.’ Paul Pogba sat on the bench for both those games.
Eight league games on from that and 22 points out of a possible 24 are in the bag. United are in 5th place just two points off a Champions League place. This weekend’s fixtures should end with United in 4th place. Ole Gunnar Solskjær would have been pleased with last week’s hard-fought win at Leicester with Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal of the game in the 9th minute. That’s six in eight for Rashford who’s enjoying the freedom of a more central role.
Pogba, with the exception of the game against Spurs when Scott McTominay replaced him in the 90 + 2nd minute, has been off the bench for every second of those eight games. His through pass put Rashford in the clear to score against Leicester and he has six goals during this period. With five other assists.
Whilst Pogba and Rashford are flying Sánchez seems well off the pace and has only managed 116 minutes of game time under Solskjær although he does have a couple of assists. If United, are to seriously challenge Spurs for 3rd place, an inform Sánchez could be an integral part of making that happen.
After this game, United face three big tests. There’re away to PSG in the Champions League, away to Chelsea in the FA Cup, and home to Liverpool in the Premier League. How well United perform in these game could have a big impact on Solskjær’s future.
Manchester Unite Injury / Fitness Update
Marco Rojo: Knock. Unknown return
Away from home United have kept clean sheets in three out of four league games under Solskjær and only conceded one goal. A penalty in the 38th minute against Cardiff scored by Victor Camarasa. To maintain that record United will have to keep a special eye of Mitrovic.
Fulham 0 Manchester United 2
Crystal Palace (14) v West Ham United (12) – Selhurst Park Kick-off 15:00.
On paper, Crystal Palace seem to have a lot of firepower. Wilfried Zaha, Jordon Ayew, Christian Benteke, Connor Wickham, and Michy Batshuayi. But for one reason or another none of them firing. Zaha has four goals this season and went 16 games without finding the net before scoring against Southampton recently. Ayew has one. Benteke and Wickham, both returning from long injuries have yet to score.
Can Batshuayi do the business in the Premier League? Chelsea, so desperately in need of goals recently until hitting Huddersfield for five, obviously didn’t think so and Valencia cut short his season-long loan in January this year. He made 15 Valencia appearances and scored one goal against Celta de Vigo. This made him the first player in the 21st century to score in the top leagues of France, Germany, England, and Spain.
Twenty-five year old Batshuayi, 12 goals in 20 appearances for Belgium, might be the kind of player that needs a bit of love and he’s endeared himself to the Palace fans already. Against Fulham, he came on in the 82nd minute and five minutes later he’d set up a goal for Jeffery Schlupp.
Meanwhile, Benteke is proven in the Premier League. He scored 42 for Aston Villa and helped Sam Allardyce with his ‘Saving Crystal Palace from Relegation Bonus’ in 2017 with seven goals after Big Sam’s arrival. He missed 17 games with a knee injury and made his first full start since September 1st last weekend against Fulham. In the 36th minute of that game, he crashed a stunning overhead kick against the bar. An inch lower and that would have been the perfect confidence booster for Benteke who hasn’t scored an open play Premier League goal since January 30th, 2018.
Crystal Palace Injury / Fitness Update
Pape Souaré: Shoulder. Out until March.
Cheikhou Kouyaté: Ankle. Unknown return.
West Ham United
West Ham have three players who could be challenging for the Premiership new arrivals team of the season. Issa Diop, Felip Anderson, and Declan Rice.
The Toulouse born 22 year old French defender signed from Toulouse for a reported fee of £22M. At 1.94m (6ft 4in) he’s a huge unit at the back for West Ham and making a real impact. Manchester United have shown interest along with Barcelona.
Twenty-five year old midfielder from Santa Maria in Brazil. Anderson signed for a reported fee of £36M from Lazio and has 8 goals and 4 assists to date. He’s a dribbling king and topped the Serie A completed dribble charts in 2016/17 with 117.
Rice is regarded as a defender but he’s playing a midfield holding role. He’s started the last 21 Premier League games and looks like he will be a West Ham fixture for years. They just need to fend off the big boys who could be circling with their cheque books open. At just 20 he showed his composure on the ball with a fine finish in the Hammers 1-0 win against Arsenal. To date that’s his only Premier League goal.
West Ham Injury / Fitness Update
Fabián Balbuena: Knee. Expected back 22nd February
Winston Reid: Knee: Unknown return date.
Andriy Yarmolenko: Achilles. Unknown return date.
Jack Wilshere: Ankle: Unknown return date.
Samir Nasri: Calf: Expected back 22nd February.
Carlos Sánchez: Knee. Unknown return date.
Manuel Lanzini: Lack of fitness. Expected back 22nd February.
If Benteke scores Palace could take this game comfortably but he’s up against Diop who might just have enough in his locker to keep him quiet. With Anderson West Ham have a game changer and potential match-winner.
Crystal Palace 0 West Ham United 1
Huddersfield (20) v Arsenal (6) – Kirklees Stadium Kick-off 15:00
Cut adrift at the bottom Barclays Premier League Huddersfield are now playing for pride and, hopefully, a goal to cheer their home fans! In 13 home games, they’ve only managed five goals and one win. That came on November 6th 1-0 against Fulham. Following that game, they drew 1-1 at home to West Ham and beat Wolves 2-0 away. That meant seven points out of nine and generated some hope for Huddersfield fans. Unfortunately, in the other 21 games, they’ve only managed four points.
Defensively they haven’t done too badly, apart from against Manchester City and Chelsea, who smashed them for six and five. Nine of their 18 losses have been by one goal in low scoring games.
New boss Jan Siewert, 36 from Mayen, Germany, will now be watching games with next season in mind. With Premier League parachute payments Huddersfield should have some cash to splash, on proven championship players, to help them back to the big at the first attempt.
Huddersfield Injury / Fitness Update
Isaac Mbenza: Calf. Expected back 16th March.
Danny Williams: Knee. Expected back 22nd February.
Abdelhamid Sabiri: Fitness. 50% chance of playing.
Arsenal in 6th place will still be thinking about a top-four finish but they struggled to beat their opponents at the Emirates in December. Lucas Torreira scored the game’s only goal in the 83rd minute. At least they kept a clean sheet and that’s only happened three times this season. Those three all came at the Emirates and they’ve not managed to keep out the opposition on their travels.
Arsenal Injury / Fitness Update
Héctor Bellerín: Knee. Return date unknown.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: Ankle. Expected back 02nd March.
Rob Holding: Anterior cruciate ligament. Expected back 05th June
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: Knee. 75% chance of playing.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Illness. 75% chance of playing.
Danny Welbeck: Ankle. Return date unknown.
It’s a game where something has to give and logic suggests that Arsenal will keep an away clean sheet for the first time this season. But new boss Siewert hasn’t seen a goal yet.
Huddersfield 2 Arsenal 1
Liverpool (2) v Bournemouth (10) – Anfield Kick-off 15:00
When teams win titles they normally have some kind of blip where they might lose and draw a few games. Arsenal, during their 2003/4 invincible season, drew 12. They dropped 24 points. Liverpool have dropped 13 with five draws and one defeat. Four of the draws were1-1 with Liverpool in front in three of them. At Stamford Bridge, Daniel Sturridge climbed off the bench in the 86th minute and fired the equaliser in the 89th.
Liverpool are in a blip zone right now. They needed a penalty to win 1-0 at Brighton and late goals to see off Crystal Palace 4-3 who put up a great fight. They followed that with 1-1 draws at home to Leicester and away to West Ham. That’s blip control. Eight points out of twelve.
Salah has 16 goals this season and leads the race for the Golden Boot. He’s not gone three games without scoring a goal. Four times he’s gone two games and he’s just gone another two with blanks against Leicester and West Ham. Salah, who scored a hat trick against Bournemouth at the Liberty Stadium, should at least score one on Saturday.
There is no doubt that Liverpool are missing Gomez. He’s quality and a future Liverpool and England captain. Full back Trent Alexander-Arnold has been another big miss and Jürgen Klopp is under fire for letting Nathaniel Clyne out on loan to today’s opponents. Plus Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren don’t really have enough quality to partner Virgil Van Dijk. Klopp’s aware of his and might even play the versatile Fabinho with Van Dijk again.
Liverpool Injury / Fitness Update
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Knee. Expected to be available.
Joe Gomez: Leg. Return date unknown.
Dejan Lovren: Muscle. 75% chance of being available.
Georginio Wijnaldum: Knee. 75% chance of being available.
Jordan Henderson: Muscle. 75% chance of being available.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Knee. Return date unknown.
Bournemouth have won three games on their travels but the last one came at Fulham on October 27th. They’ve lost their last seven and conceded 27 goals away from home this season. Only Fulham, with 32, have shipped more.
Thirty-nine in a couple of weeks Boruc seems to have taken over from Asmir Begovic as Eddie Howe’s number one keeper. In three games he’s conceded only two goals and started with two clean sheets. He could be busy at Anfield.
Bournemouth Injury / Fitness Update
Simon Francis: Anterior cruciate ligament. Expected back in June.
Nathaniel Clyne: Unable to face his parent club
David Brooks: Ankle. Expected back 09 March
Jefferson Lerma: Ankle 75% chance of playing
Lewis Cook: Anterior cruciate ligament. Expected back in June.
Callum Wilson: Knee. Expected back 09 March
Bournemouth have injuries in key positions. Midfielder David Brooks, who signed from Sheffield United in the summer, must be up there as one of the top Premier League newcomers this season. Plus Wilson will be a bit miss up front. Dominic Solanke, signed from Liverpool last month might be out to prove a point. But Liverpool and Salah should get back on track this weekend.
Liverpool 5 Bournemouth 0
Southampton (16) v Cardiff (18) St. Mary’s Kick-off 15:00
Southampton under new Austrian boss Ralph Hasenhuttl have looked a different team but are still having game management problems and conceding late goals. Burnley equalised in the 90 + 4th minute last week in the 1-1 draw and Everton, created a nervous final eight minutes of added time when pulling one back in the 90 + 1st minute in their 2-1 defeat at St. Mary’s.
Poor Home Form
Overall home form has been poor with only Huddersfield in a worse position. They’ve won two, drawn six, and lost four scoring 14 goals in those 12 games. Both wins, against Arsenal and Everton, came after Mark Hughes departed. Burnley, Brighton, Newcastle, and Crystal Palace have all left St. Mary’s with a point and it’s important that Saints start picking up the maximum when entertaining teams in their end of the table. After today Fulham visit on February 28th and Huddersfield will arrive on May 12th for the final game of the season. Nine points, against the three relegation favourites, should ensure another season in the Premier League.
Under Hasenhuttl Redmond looks a different player and has managed three goals in nine league games. He went 17 consecutive league games without scoring this season and only managed one last season. He’s a confidence player who could be a match winner today.
Southampton Injury / Fitness Update
Mario Lemina: Abdominal injury. Expected back 24 February
Danny Ings: Hamstring injury. Expected back 24 February
Michael Obafemi: Lack of match fitness – 25% chance of playing.
This will be another emotional day for Cardiff with the recent news that the body of new signing Emiliano Sala has just been found. Back in October Cardiff were the 1st team to face Leicester after their tragedy. Both sets of fans are expected to show their respect today.
One Win on the Road
Cardiff picked up three points at Leicester in December thanks to a 90 + 2nd minute goal from Victor Camarasa. If they are still in the game, as the clock ticks towards 90 minutes, there might be a few worried looks on home fans faces at St. Mary’s.
Cardiff Injury / Fitness Update
Sean Morrison: Abdominal injury. Expected back 02 March.
Danny Ings missing for Saints again is a big blow and a lot of pressure will be on Nathan Redmond to calm the home fans nerves. Cardiff have scored seven times on their travels this season, the lowest return in the Premier League, but after beating Bournemouth last week they will be hoping for a south coast double.
Southampton 3 Cardiff 0
Watford (8) v Everton (9) Vicarage Road Kick-off 15:00
Watford are sitting comfortably in 8th place and have only lost twice in the last ten games. Both 2-1 against Chelsea and Spurs. This run started with a 2-2 draw at Everton where they conceded in the 90 + 6th minute.
Everton boss Marco Silva’s, return to the club he previously managed, has sparked some interest this week with Deeney requesting his home fans to lay off Silva. During a fans forum, he went on to say that Watford’s players would extract retribution on their opponents by kicking them off the pitch! Deeney, with only five goals this season, might find a goal, or two, a much better option.
Watford Injury / Fitness Update
Francisco Femenía Far: Hamstring injury – 75% chance of playing
Sebastian Prödl: Knee injury – Unknown return date
Roberto Pereyra: Hamstring injury – 25% chance of playing
Abdoulaye Doucouré: Knee injury – 75% chance of playing
Isaac Success Ajayi: Hamstring injury – Expected back 22 Feb
Everton are poor despite three wins in the last ten games against Burnley, Huddersfield, and Bournemouth. In all competitions, they’ve lost four of the last five which includes their FA Cup defeat at Millwall. Silva is also under pressure and is now the 2nd favourite in the Premier League’s next manager to be sacked sack race. Leicester’s Claude Puel is favourite.
Richarlison also returns to his former club after his £35M, potentially rising to £50M, move in the summer. So far he’s scored ten in the Premier League including one in the 2-2 with Watford back in December. He started the most recent game on the bench so it will be interesting to see what Silva does today and how the home fans react.
Everton Injury / Fitness Update
Yerry Mina: Foot injury – 75% chance of playing
Leighton Baines: Rib Injury – Expected back 26 Feb
Phil Jagielka: Knock – Expected back 26 Feb
On paper, this looks like a close contest but Watford, hopefully playing football as opposed to Deeney’s other option, should have enough against the Toffees who seem to have a soft centre these days.
Watford 3 Everton 1
Brighton (13) v Burnley (17) – Amex Stadium Kick-off 17:30
Brighton, after three losses in a row, steadied the ship with a 0-0 draw with Watford last week and 27 points isn’t that far from safety. But if they lose today, and Cardiff starts picking up points. Manager Chris Houghton might be nervously looking over his shoulder. The FA Cup replay battle with West Brom on Wednesday might mean a few tired legs are on show today.
Glenn Murray has ten Premier League goals this season and, despite his 35 years, he should be quite fresh as he came on in the 101st minute against West Brom. During his 19 minutes of midweek action, he scored two as Brighton ran out 3-1 winners.
Brighton Injury / Fitness Update
José Heriberto Izquierdo Mena: Lack of match fitness – Unknown return date.
Last week, after more than 6,030 hours of Premier League action Burnley were awarded a penalty to save the game against Southampton. But Burnley are on a good run right now having not lost in six since Everton crushed them at home 5-1. Despite that, they remain in 16th place two points above Cardiff.
Ashley Barnes scored the 90+ 4 minute penalty for Burnley last week and should have earned a penalty himself during the first half when Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy took him out. The aggrieved Barnes ended up with a yellow card for simulation which could have turned to a red for his angry rant at an assistant referee who had a perfect view of the incident. Barnes has scored two in two and will be looking to make that three today.
Burnley Injury / Fitness Update
Matthew Lowton: Toe Injury – 75% chance of playing
Kevin Long: Knock – 75% chance of playing
Aaron Lennon: Knee injury – Unknown return date
Steven Defour: Knock – 25% chance of playing
Jonathan Walters: Achilles injury – Expected back 30 Mar
If Burnley win today they will join Brighton on 27 points and that will be a big step in their quest to banish their Europa League hangover.
Brighton 0 Burnley 1
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