Weekend Preview on Thursday (Week 5) Part 1 of 2

Disclaimer: This series is examining the games days prior to matchday, there is always the possibility for injuries, coach selections, etc. They may be updated to reflect most accurate starting lineup.
Tottenham v. Liverpool
Location: Wembley Stadium, London
Liverpool come into this match as slight favorites even though they are the away sides. Predictions are currently sitting at about 3 goals to be scored.
Tottenham comes into this match off the heels of a loss to Watford right before the international break. They had a number of players feature for England in Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Dann Rose, and Eric Dier although none of them had a huge impact in the game. Tottenham will continue to play their “home” games in Wembley, with which they have a rather unfortunate past in terms of form. However, I think that Tottenham will come out with a vengeance wanting to avenge their loss to Watford and hopefully, for Tottenham fans, put a dent in Liverpool’s chances of winning the league.
As we talked about in this week’s edition of the Darkhorse Chronicles, Liverpool has a season defining stretch starting right here with Tottenham. Liverpool comes in on a brilliant run of form with 4 straight wins putting them right up at the top of the table. This is their first real chance to showcase that form against a Big 6 opponent knowing that there’s a midweek fixture against PSG on the horizon. I don’t expect there to be any surprise omissions from this Tottenham game, I think it’s clear that with the amount of investment put into the transfer window the expectation is to win the League. Here’s where Champions are made, I expect a good work rate and focus on this match and ultimately an entertaining match.
AFC Bournemouth v. Leicester
Location: Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
Bournemouth come into this match as favorites at home against the Foxes. Current goal projections are at about 3 goals, with 2 expected to go the way of the Cherries.
Bournemouth ahead of Manchester United, Arsenal, and Everton at this moment. Granted, both Manchester  United and Arsenal have had slips in form, and Everton has — well… Everton form. Bournemouth has really had Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson step up this season with exceptional form, although they do need to provide a little more defensive consistency where they are lacking with the exception of Steve Cook. Begovic has also had a mixed bag of form, letting in some he probably shouldn’t but making killer saves on others. They need to fight hard at home to get points and I expect them to come out swinging.
Leicester comes into this match having yet to win a game against full strength opponents, winning each game where their opponents had a man sent off (and only once coming from a tie to win the match). They have lost their other two matches, now, before you write them off, both losses were to Big 6 sides. They played Manchester United (pre-meltdown) at Old Trafford and Liverpool at home. Regardless, they need to get their feet settled and figure out what kind of side they will be away from home. Are they going to be aggressive or defensive?I think this match will give an indication of their intentions.
Chelsea vs. Cardiff
Location: Stamford Bridge, London
Chelsea are massive favorites in a home match against relegation-favorite Cardiff. Goal projections currently favor Chelsea by 3 to 4 goals against Cardiff’s 0.
Chelsea is one of 3 remaining sides that have been able to get the most of their starting four games. I think Chelsea have the ability in the side to overcome Cardiff, but Kepa has had some shaky moments in goal already this season. Goalscoring has been no concern for Chelsea so far, keeping them out of their own net has been a bigger issue. I think that Cardiff is going to have to play very defensive to get even a point out of this match and Chelsea will need to prove they can beat teams who park the bus defensively.
So far surefire-relegation candidate Cardiff are out of the relegation zone with those spots being filled by expected mid-table finishers at the moment.  Much like the Leicester discussion above, Cardiff have only been able to secure points from sides playing a man down. The other matches have been heavy defeats, and I don’t really expect this week to be any different. However, if Cardiff is serious about wanting to stay up, this is an opportunity to make a huge statement by securing any points at all.
Huddersfield and Crystal Palace
Location: John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield
Crystal Palace come in as a favorite, even as the way side in the match at Huddersfield. Current projections have Crystal Palace scoring at least one goal and Huddersfield projected to score once.
Huddersfield Town have managed only 2 points out of a possible 12 thus far in the season. They made a number of acquisitions to strengthen the side for this year in the Premier League, but so far it’s not been helpful. In the first 10% of the season they have conceded 10 goals and in the entirety of last season then conceded 58. They have play Manchester City (who is responsible for 6 of those goals) and Chelsea (who are responsible for 3 more) so I’m not ready to sign their death certificate yet, but dramatic improvement is needed if they want to stay up for another season.
Crystal Palace will enter this game on the backs of a humbling defeat to a Southampton team that has been very poor so far this season. They also have yet to get Christian Benteke involved in much of anything, which as we noted in the Crystal Palace Transfer Review would be something important going forward. It is also important to relay that despite Wilfred Zaha signing a monster extension, he’s already been dropped by the manager for “attitude problems”. Crystal Palace need to sort it out, they have too much talent for this poor of results.
Manchester City v. Fulham
Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
This is the only match on the slate that has a side as bigger favorites than Chelsea, and the Citizens are expected to pile misery on the Wanderers. Goal projections have Manchester City scoring at least 4 goals and don’t expect the wanderers to score.
In our City Transfer Review we talked about the historical fall off in terms of points after winning the Premier League, noting that only one team has repeated and they still were nearly 10 points lower than the season before. City have started the season off well being just below maximum points for each matchup to date with the exception of their frankly shocking draw with a midtable Wolves side (that we and many others project to finish much closer to the bottom of the table).That said, they’ve also secured 2 wins in 2 tries over Big 6 opponents, if they can keep up that record alone, they’ll be in a fantastic spot when the curtain falls. I think this match will really just be a chance to further consolidate their hold on a top-4 finish along with the league leading goalscoring record.
Fulham come into this match having earned 4 of a possible 12 points, although this match is likely to be an entirely new level of competition for them except for perhaps their Tottenham game. However, they were well-beaten in the Tottenham game, and I think there’s definitely an argument to made for the defending champions still being a step ahead. Fulham have conceded way too many goals. If they continue to leak goals at the same rate, they are looking at nearly 90 goals conceded and they’ve only played 1 game to date against a big 6 opponent.
Last Updated: September 13, 2018
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