Matchweek #11 Preview

Eric Toth & TJ Lovenduski

West Ham v. Stoke City

We begin Gameweek 11 with two underperforming sides facing off. West Ham and Stoke have both disappointed and underachieved so far, while Stoke look to be getting back to winning ways, West Ham continue to struggle.

Matchup to Watch:  Wilfried Bony v. West Ham’s Back Three

Bilic has recently switched to a back three in hopes that the switch would bring with it results for West Ham. With any switch in systems, especially as major as switching to three at the back, there’s going to be a bedding in period. West Ham need this process to happen quickly as they are struggling at the moment. The Hammers’ usual pairing, Reid and Ogbonna, are joined by Kouyate, who’s favored position is defensive mid. These three have the tools to form a decent defense, but need to gain some chemistry in order to make it work. They’ll have to gel quickly as they face Wilfried Bony who just last week got off the mark for Stoke with a brace.

Eric: West Ham 2-2 Stoke

West Ham didn’t show much promise against Everton last weekend and it seems Stoke is getting back to good. With West Ham’s struggles at the Olympic Stadium, I think it’ll take some brilliance from Payet to steal a point against Stoke.

TJ: West Ham 1-2 Stoke

Stoke has looked better and West Ham has just looked bad. Stoke gets three points.

Bournemouth v. Sunderland

Bournemouth currently sit 10th while Sunderland are rock bottom with just 2 points. The Black Cats will be without their manager on the touchline this week as he sits out a one match ban for swearing at the 4th official. The Black Cats are known for their great escapes in the last few weeks of the season, but if they want to have any hope of staying up, they’ll need to start getting results sooner than later.

Matchup to Watch: Artur Boruc v. Jermaine Defoe v. Lack of Opportunities

If Sunderland are to pull out a win at the Vitality Stadium, Defoe will have to be as clinical as ever. Bournemouth have shown that they can play with the best of them in recent weeks. Defoe will likely not get many chances to score, but when he is through on net, Artur Boruc will have to come up big against the English striker. Defoe may not be a complete forward, but the man can find the back of the net and with Boruc never really looking convincing, he’ll have to be at his best against Sunderland.

Eric: Bournemouth 2-1 Sunderland

Bournemouth have looked decent, despite their loss away at ‘Boro last weekend. Sunderland still haven’t registered their first victory this year and I think the wait will continue.

TJ: Bournemouth 1-0 Sunderland

Bournemouth will score an early goal and Sunderland will still be looking for that first victory.

Burnley v. Crystal Palace

Burnely have earned themselves a few surprise results, drawing Manchester United and beating Everton. Crystal Palace currently sit one place about Burnley in 13th place. The London side have a bunch of great pieces, but Pardew hasn’t been able to figure out the puzzle yet this season. It will be interesting to see how Burnley deal with Christian Benteke’s size and power and the pace of Palace’s wingers when they host them this weekend.

Matchup to Watch: Steven Defour v. Yohan Cabaye

These two midfielders are the heart of their team. Cabaye’s talent is well-known after displaying what he can do for France and Paris Saint-Germain alike. Defour, a Belgian international, may not be as well-known. The Belgian midfielder was a hot prospect in his younger years, but untimely injuries hindered his development. However, Defour has been great for Burnley since joining Sean Dyche’s side. He’s added creativity and intelligence to the squad. It will be a battle between the two to see who can create and spur their club on to victory.

Eric: Burnley 1-1 Palace

Burnley have been impressive lately, defeating Everton and drawing United in successive weeks. They’ll have their work cut out for them against this Palace attack on Saturday. Organization and precise counter-attacking will be crucial to their success.

TJ: Burnley 2-1 Palace

This Burnley side has impressed this season, and should be heading into this week with some confidence. I think they’ll be able to steal three points from Palace.

Manchester City v. Middlesbrough

City come into this weekend on a high note after defeating Barcelona in the Champions’ League on Tuesday. ‘Boro are coming off a solid win themselves, managing to down Bournemouth 2-0. ‘Boro will sit back and look to score a scrappy goal through ex-Citizen Alvaro Negredo. Middlesbrough can set up very well defensively and be tough to breakdown as they have shown on many occasions, but those occasions haven’t been against squads led by Pep Guardiola that boast the attacking threats that this City side does.

Matchup to Watch: City v. Themselves

If City are to lose or even draw against Middlesbrough, they’ll only have themselves to blame. The Citizens defeated Barcelona on Tuesday by a score of 3-1. Despite the impressive result, they need to ensure they’re focused on the game at the weekend and not still hungover from a great upset!

Eric: City 4-0 Boro

City at home against ‘Boro. There’s only one way I can see this going.

TJ: City 4-0 Boro

Eric, summed this one up pretty well.

Chelsea v. Everton

After switching to a 3-man defense, Conte has his Chelsea side flying. The Blues currently sit fourth and have some serious momentum behind them. Everton beat West Ham last week after slipping up against Burnley the week before. Chelsea have made some interesting selections with their team, namely the likes of Moses starting at RWB. It seems Conte has found a team that he likes and one that fits his system well, Chelsea will be tough to stop if they keep up their current form.

Matchup to Watch: Ramiro Funes-Mori v. Diego Costa

If Funes-Mori gets the nod from his boss to start this game, these two fiery players should clash and provide neutrals with some entartainment. Everyone knows that Diego Costa can get a bit worked up on the pitch, but the same goes for Everton’s Argentinian center back. Costa surprisingly has never received a red card in the Premier League, but has 20 yellows in the past three years. Meanwhile Funes-Mori has racked up 4 yellows and a red in his 27 appearences for Everton in the league. The two will undoubtedly get locked and I think whoever keeps a cooler head will come out on top in this battle.

Eric: Chelsea 2-1 Everton

It’s hard to bet against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, especially in the form they’ve been in.

TJ: Chelsea 2-0 Everton

Chelsea has been in good form and Eden Hazard has been playing well. Everton doens’t have a player that can stop him.

Arsenal v. Tottenham

This is the game to watch this week, one of the best rivalries in football. Both sides are strong, but Spurs are definitely feeling the loss of Harry Kane. They’ve been struggling to net goals. In fact, they haven’t scored from open play in five games. Arsenal, however, has been getting it done in all aspects of the game. They have the second best goal differential in the league. More importantly, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has been in great form recently. One of the world’s best players, he’ll be tough for Spurs to stop. You’re not going to want to miss this game.

Matchup to Watch: Tottenham Attack v. Themselves

Basically, if Spurs can’t figure out their offense nothing else matters. They’re a team with some promising talent. Kane may be back this week, but still other guys need to step up. Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen need to do more. That will be vital if they hope to have any chance against this Arsenal side.

Eric: Arsenal 2-2 Spurs

The North London Derby is always a great matchup. Spurs remain unbeaten, but have struggled to score lately. Kane is likely due back, but they may be missing Alderweireld. Without Toby, Spurs will struggle to contain Arsenal’s attack. Both clubs will obviously be up for this one. Expect a hard fought score draw.

TJ: Arsenal 2-0 Spurs

I see Arsenal coming out on top against Spurs. You know, the usual.

Hull City v. Southampton

Hull City started off the season looking pretty good. They weren’t setting the league on fire, but they looked like they would be able to stay out of the relegation zone. Now, I’m not so sure. They currently sit in 18th and are running into a strong Southampton squad. Soton is coming off a loss to Chelsea, but they should rebound this week. They still have on of the better defenses in the league. Hull City will have to take advantage of any chance they get, because there won’t be many of them.

Matchup to Watch: Michael Dawson v. Nathan Redmond

Nathan Redmond has turned out to be a great transfer for Southampton. He’s a dangerous threat going forward, and has made a successful transition from a wide player to a striker. Michael Dawson will have to be mindful of Redmond. It’ll be fun to watch the experience of Dawson against the youthful Redmond.

Eric: Hull 0-2 Southampton

The Chelsea match aside, Southampton have been good as of late. With Boufal getting fit and the weapons the Saints have going forward, I don’t think Hull can handle them.

TJ: Hull 0-3 Southampton

Hull has just struggled too much recently to convince that they’ll be able to mount any real threat against Southampton.

Liverpool v. Watford

This game is going to have some offense. Both Liverpool and Watford rely on their offense to win games. Liverpool can score out of a nowhere, moving from defense to offense in the blink of an eye. Watford has a powerful attack force, that could prove to be a nightmare for Liverpool’s shaky defense.

Matchup to Watch: Philippe Coutinho v. Watford’s Defense

Coutinho has finally shown the consistency to be considered one of the best players in the Premier League. He’s a threat to shoot from distance, but he is also a talented playmaker. He’s a player that gives other teams headaches. Watford is going to have to subdue Coutinho. They need to disrupt him and keep him from playing his game.

Eric: Liverpool 4-3 Watford

Neither team can defend, but both can surely attack. Liverpool’s simply more talented and I expect them to have another big day in front of the net.

TJ: Liverpool 3-2 Watford

Both sides will score their goals this week, but I think Liverpool just has too strong of an attack for Watford to deal with.

Swansea v. Manchester United

Swansea has looked…well, terrible, this season. They only have five points in nine games. Now, Bradley has to figure out how to get his team on the right track, after they’ve seemingly given up already. But they play a United side that has looked anything but strong this season. They sit 8th in the table, and their transfers that looked promising early on have failed to meet expectations. It’s possible that this is a win that the Swans could steal, helping the squad regain some confidence.

Matchup to Watch: Bob Bradley v. His Team

Bradley has to figure out a way to reach his team. He needs to boost morale and get his players some confidence back. A confident team is a strong team. It won’t be easy, but if the Swans want to stay in the Prem, they’re going to need to figure it out.

Eric: Swansea 1-1 United

Both teams desperately need to get back to winning, but I think Swansea will do enough to hold on to a point against United.

TJ: Swansea 2-1 United

This is my bold prediction of the week. But I think that Swansea could pull out an upset here, or I hope that they do.

Leicester City v. West Bromwich Albion

This is going to be an interesting game of contrasting styles. Leicester’s counter against a defensive side like West Brom. I’m not exactly sure what this will look, but maybe it will be exciting. I’m not holding my breath though.

Matchup to Watch: Riyad Mahrez v. Allan Nyom

If there’s a player on the Leicester squad that has the ability to break through a defensive wall, it’s Riyad Mahrez. He’s a skilled, technical player that can take guys on. Nyom will have to win those one-on-one battles to keep Leicester from scoring.

Eric: Leicester 2-1 West Brom

Leicester has been much better at home than they’ve been away. They should squeak by West Brom at the KP Stadium.

TJ: Leicester 0-0 West Brom

This is going to be a boring game.