SPORTS

Next Round Of Premier League Ignites New Rivalry

Oct 3, 2019, 10:57 AM
Caglar Soyuncu of Leicester City shakes hands with Brendan Rodgers, Manager of Leicester City durin...
Caglar Soyuncu of Leicester City shakes hands with Brendan Rodgers, Manager of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Liverpool (1st) host Leicester City (3rd) and former Reds boss Brendan Rodgers will make his first visit back to Anfield since being fired this weekend.

It’s the four year and one day anniversary since he left Liverpool under a cloud of failure, bringing a little extra drama to an already entertaining game.

Liverpool vs. Leicester City

This is by far the biggest matchups of the weekend. Liverpool are the only side with a 100% record in the EPL. They sit on top with 21 points so far this season.

In comparison, the Foxes have 14 points.

Liverpool, despite all their points, haven’t played particularly well this season; which is frightening because if they do hit their stride, they might be able to keep their noses in front of Pep Guardiola’s City machine.

Once again, Liverpool’s front three will have all eyes on them. They stuttered against a well-drilled Sheffield United last weekend and only a goalkeeping mistake handed LFC all three points.

Leicester dismantled 10-man Newcastle United with relative ease last weekend. The style the Foxes have shown so far this season will have plenty of the “Big 6” worried.

Rodgers has managed to tighten LCFC up at the back and continue to attack superbly. James Maddison missed last week, and they’ll be desperate for him to recover from an ankle knock suffered against Spurs the week before last.

Jamie Vardy will be the point of the attack once again. He has five goals already this season and a knack of scoring against Liverpool with an impressive record of seven goals in the nine matches he’s played against LFC.

With Liverpool showing signs of getting back to a stingy backline, they’ll look to stifle the Leicester attack and claim all three points.

Title contenders Liverpool have their work cut out against a team that will finish top six this season, but a more mature Liverpool will get their front three firing again. I expect them to win all three points.

Prediction: 2-1, Liverpool

West Ham United vs. Crystal Palace

This is the KSL 5 Premiere Showcase match. You can catch it Saturday with a 10:30 am kick-off.

One point and four places separate the teams. West Ham sit in fifth position with 12 points after a fantastic start to the season. It looked like it might be a long season for the Hammers after they were demolished 5-0 on opening day by Manchester City. Since then they are unbeaten. They were dealt a massive blow on Saturday in the 2-2 draw with AFC Bournemouth, with Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski forced off with a torn hip muscle in the 34th minute.

The club signed experienced Spaniard, Roberto as their back up for 2019. He looked solid in his first EPL minutes but conceded a goal at his near post.

Once again if they start, Andriy Yarmolenko, Anderson and Haller will be the danger men in the attack. Ukrainian Yarmolenko was on the score sheet and is now level with Haller on three goals.

Palace are probably a little further up the table than expected. Roy Hodgson doesn’t play the most exciting brand of football over at Selhurst Park, but they are a tough and physical opponent. They do however have some pieces that will trouble the best teams in the league, namely Wilfried Zaha. The central midfield three of McArthur, Milivojevic and former Hammer Cheikhou Kouyaté not only protect the back four but allow the wingers (Zaha being one of them) and the center forward, to push a little further ahead and try to counterattack.

Zaha hasn’t scored this season but does have one assist. However, his speed and trickery are still evident, lending credibility to last summer’s rumors of a transfer away from Palace. He was vocal about his disappointment in not getting an opportunity to move, but he’s buckled down. The fact CPFC are where they are provides hope that either he has a successful season at Palace, or he gets to move in the January transfer window.

Not for the faint of heart, there will likely be more grit and thunderous tackling than slick attacking play, but under former Man City boss, Manuel Pellegrini, the team has finally adapted to their new home after leaving Upton Park for the former Olympic Stadium (London Stadium).

West Ham have all the makings to challenge for a top-six spot. Ultimately, I think they will miss out. That said, West Ham are likely too much for Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Prediction: 3-1, West Ham

Arsenal vs. AFC Bournemouth

This is the Sunday matchup that interests me the most.

After Sunday’s matches, the domestic leagues will once again shut down as international football will take over as European nations will continue the qualifying process for the Euro 2020 championships. Plenty of players from both teams will be representing their national sides.

Arsenal are coming off a hard fought 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Monday night. Unai Emery is under pressure as the football hasn’t been particularly attractive, and the defensive frailties are still on show from last season.

Thankfully, they currently sit in 4th position, so it’s not all doom and gloom. The fact Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has banged in nine goals in all competitions has helped Arsenal this season. The team is suffering due to Alexandre Lacazette’s injury, Mesut Ozil is out of form and out of favor, and new man Nicolas Pepe is not living up to expectations.

They have turned to their impressive youth system. Successfully using the likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson. Their gained minutes this season is only a testament to the academy in preparing them for the first team. This is one of the true positives for the Gunners.

Unai Emery and Arsenal may improve as the season goes on but it’s the backline that still has question marks.

Bournemouth are coming off the back of a 2-2 draw with West Ham. Unbeaten in their last three league games they sit in eighth, just a point behind Arsenal.

The Cherries have a poor record at the Emirates Stadium; played four, lost four. Records are meant to be broken, right? If Bournemouth hopes to break this record, they’ll need a much better defensive performance than in seasons past.

Arsenal, at home, has had their way far too easily against the Bournemouth defense. If Bournemouth can stifle the attack, and that’s a big if, then they do have players that can trouble the unstable Arsenal back four.

Callum Wilson was on the scoresheet again taking his tally to five goals this season. He’s been supported, as always, by his strike partner Joshua King. Throw in the attacking midfielders and they’ll have a chance to sneak goal at Arsenal.

History is on Arsenal’s side; I think if they match the battle in the center of the park, they’ll have too much firepower for Bournemouth.

Prediction: 3-2, Arsenal

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