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.
Fulham v. Watford
Location: Craven Cottage, Fulham
So far this season there has been a significant difference in the home and away splits for Fulham, they’ve averaged basically double the shots at home, and averaged an additional 0.5 goals scored per game. The same is also true with goals conceded, averaging 2.5 goals against on the road and only 2 at home. Ironically though, Watford has actually scored more goals away from home than at home (almost a full goal difference) and goal concessions has remained relatively the same (0.25 more goals against away from home). Fulham so far this season is averaging almost 3 times as many crosses at home as Watford is putting in away and on average Watford have allowed almost double the number of crosses that Fulham is putting in at home while they are away.
Watford comes off of a loss last week, however when they had possession they put in a great performance at “the Vic” last week against Manchester United and nearly stole a draw, perhaps more. After the 2-1 defeat they slid only down to 4th place. Watford comes into this match scoring most of their goals from set pieces and standard attacking play, which is where Fulham have conceded the majority of their goals this season. Watford have a huge advantage coming in to this match with crosses and long balls per game and again, this has been something Fulham have been regularly conceding from. Both sides have managed to keep most of the action in the middle third, which Fulham only conceding slightly more time in their defensive third, which Watford should be able to use to their advantage.
Manchester United v. Wolves
Location: Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United has really struggled to convert goals at home, they score almost twice as many goals on the road. (See last weeks game against Watford, they scored 2 in the opening half and looked in a good spot to tack on a few more). They have also conceded less on the road, which is rather strange, though Manchester United has played very poorly in general at home this season. Lucky for them though, Wolves have been impotent away from home averaging only 0.5 goals a game, so this should be an opportunity to turn Old Trafford into the fortress it was (and should still be) from last season. While the media is having a heyday talking about Mourinho on the verge of being sacked and team cohesion at a terrible level, the news coming out of the locker room seems to indicate otherwise. United will be hoping to show off a “first choice” centerback pairing so they can start working and accumulating minutes together.
Wolves come into this match having not done a whole lot this season, they secured a win against a West Ham side that’s been lucky to find the pitch at all and have drawn or lost to everyone else (even when their opponents have gone a man down). Perhaps the one good result Wolves can hang their hat on so far this season is the draw against City which has to be considered an upset, because City were monstrous favorites for that game and Wolves stole a point. If I had to make a wager on this game, I’d put it on Wolves playing with a borrowed Manchester bus in front of the goal and try to exploit the vulnerable Man United defense on the counter.
Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United
Location: Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace has a terrible goal differential (-3) and have definitely had trouble scoring both away from home and at home. Although they match Newcastle’s goal differential, goals allowed, and goals scored they’ve managed to at least accrue 0.75 points per game which would keep them close to the relegation line. However, they should manage to beat Newcastle which should help their chances. Our preseason rankings indicated that we thought this could be a much better year for Palace, but they’ve not been able to turn the side from one that looks good on paper, to one that is performing to the same level of expectation.
Newcastle has been really disappointing this season, they have a managed basically 0.25 pts/game, which would put them on track for a whopping 10 points (and a certain relegation) on the season. They also aren’t even averaging a goal per game, while conceding 1.5 goals per game. Many pundits are wondering about the future of Rafa Benitez, especially after selling Mitrovic to Fulham where he has done quite well, a win here would go a long was to assuage those rumors. But the short of it, is that Newcastle needs to do a lot better if they want to stay in the Premier League.
Leicester City v. Huddersfield Town
Location: King Power Stadium, Leicester
Leicester has had reasonable form, I don’t anticipate they’ll be able to resurrect their title challenge from a few years ago but they aren’t going down either. It’s really been thanks to Leicester’s defense and midfield they hold a spot where they do, at 10th . They have been fantastic and the strikers have been substantially less effective — not to mention there have been some instances of strikers losing their discipline (not pointing any fingers Mr. Vardy… ). While his current performances aren’t anything to write home about, he’s also the only one of the forwards to score, which isn’t likely to help Leicester’s chances.
Huddersfield have really struggled to score goals having only scored 2 in the opening 5 matches, perhaps even more concerning is that they rank lowest in the Premier League in shots. I think their goal differential is somewhat unfair considering that 6 of their 11 goals allowed came in one day of absolute annihilation. Undoubtedly, they need to improve if they want to remain in the Premier League, but their most recent showing against Crystal Palace was good, despite the loss they came very close to scoring an equalizer that instead cannoned off the crossbar.
Cardiff City v. Manchester City
Location: Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
Surprisingly despite being a bottomdweller at the moment (and heavy favorites for relegation) the side actually rank in the top 10 in shots per game. They also are relatively consistent in the number of shots regardless of home or away, however, they averaging nearly 5 saves per game more at home. This game is starting to resemble the Wolves game where they were able to hold Manchester City to a draw, could it happen twice in one season?
Manchester City almost looks Jekyl and Hyde in terms of home and away, for example they have 8 goals scored at home in 3 games, and 6 scored away in 2. Ironically, Cardiff averages the same number of goals scored at home as Manchester City averages away from home. Undoubtedly the massive win over Huddersfield plays into this some, but it will be interesting to see if the trend continues throughout the year.
Last Updated: September 17, 2018
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