English Premier League Gives Fans Most Anticipated Match Yet
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Week 12 of the English Premier League will provide what we have all been waiting for – the first installment of Liverpool vs. Manchester City.
By late morning on Sunday, there could be a nine-point gap at the top of the EPL. What could be seen as a massive step towards league glory for Liverpool, is in reality, a tiny shuffle to glory.
Whatever the outcome, the title will not be decided on Sunday.
Norwich City v. Watford
Why you ask, do I start the EPL preview with Friday’s match between the basement boys? Well, exactly that reason. Just four points picked up between them over the combined span of 12 games. What’s not to love?
Watford hasn’t won in the league this season, and through the first 11 games, they’ve only scored six goals. A change of manager and the return of Quique Flores hasn’t re-energized the Hornets as much as the fans and ownership might’ve hoped, even if I think he’s the right man for the job.
What has really hurt Watford is the absence of captain Troy Deeney. His surgery in August was a success, and he is purported to be close to a return. His goals and influence will be a welcome return to the pitch.
It does look grim for Watford though, not many players have stood up to the challenge left by Deeney’s absence. Argentine Roberto Pereyra and Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu have plenty of ability and have shown flashes of brilliance, in fact, the squad is more than capable of being in the middle of the pack. It just hasn’t been good enough.
As I said earlier, the lack of Deeney on the pitch has hurt them hugely, but in general, the quality and effort need a major shift if the lads at Vicarage Road want to be plying their trade in the EPL next season.
The same goes for Norwich City. They’ve not won since that wonderful shock result over EPL champions Man City in mid-September.
In a run of six games, they’ve only scored two goals and gained one point.
I’m a huge fan of Argentine attacking midfielder, Emi Buendia, he has four assists to his name this season. Whatever Norwich’s position come the end of the season (if they’re to stave off relegation they’ll need Buendia more than anyone to stay healthy and in form), I fully expect him to be playing in a top division in Europe, preferably in the EPL.
Everyone’s favorite Finnish striker, Teemu Pukki is still their top scorer with six goals and has chipped in with two assists. Then you’re looking at the Canaries latest academy product in Todd Cantwell – two goals and two assists certainly have helped.
So again, you’re still probably wondering why I chose this relegation dog fight match- purely for that. Even after 11 games, every point counts when it comes to next May. This is a real six-point swing. Whilst you don’t want to panic, if there is a gap that starts to open up between the bottom 3 and the 17th placed team you’ll see some desperation creep in.
Sure, this game has 0-0 written all over it. Quality may be wayward throughout the 90 minutes, but heart and desire should be there in abundance.
For this one though, I’m willing to wager that Watford’s quality might just start to shine.
PREDICTION: Watford, 2-1
Leicester City v. Arsenal
The KSL 5 premiere match at 10:30 a.m. is truly worthy of our time. The repercussions from this matchup are huge.
A Leicester win could see them leapfrog Man City into second, and put the Arsenal manager, Unai Emery under immense pressure to keep his job.
Arsenal have been poor of late, and Leicester have been the EPL’s most fun team to watch over the last few weeks.
Recent issues on and off the pitch have harmed Arsenal, especially with Granit Xhaka’s emotional reaction to being booed off by his own fans recently resulted in him being stripped of the Gunners captaincy. No real surprise with that move; but it’s just another off the field issue (see Ozil’s lack of playing time for more evidence) that has compounded with on-field results, or lack of them.
I thought at the start of the season that Arsenal had bought quite well. I still maintain that their crop of youngsters are incredibly exciting and their future is potentially bright. The soccer isn’t as fluid as it should be with the talent they have. The backline still looks like soft touch and concentration is still an issue.
Arsenal are still waiting for the Sevilla version of Unai Emery to show up. His Sevilla teams punched well above their weight. Time is fast running out as fans are turning on the affable Spaniard.
As for Leicester, well they are on fire. Coming off that massive win against Southampton, they went to South London and swept Crystal Palace aside. Jamie Vardy once again on the score sheet taking his tally to 10 goals this season. Brendan Rodgers’ name is being talked about as a replacement for his opposite number. There would be no argument from most fans if that is the decision they go with.
Rebuilding Leicester was never going to be easy, a team that had struggled since shocking the world in winning the EPL back in 2015-16. Yet, Rodgers in a very short space of time has molded this team into one of the sharpest attacking teams in the top five European leagues. The improvements in James Maddison and Harvey Barnes are there for all to see, this is in large part to Rodgers’ influence.
The emergence of Youri Tielemans since his Anderlecht days is hardly surprising, but he is now a must in Rodgers’ system. The one player that is a testament of the great recruitment that goes on at the Foxes is Turkish defender Çağlar Söyüncü, Harry Maguire’s replacement and what a replacement he’s been. This is another feather in Rodgers’ cap.
For me, this has only one winner, whilst Arsenal’s attack is as potent as any in the EPL, Leicester’s defense is one of the stingiest around and the attack? Insert heart eyes emoji right here.
PREDICTION: Leicester City, 3-2
Liverpool v. Manchester City
Sunday’s match between the top two powerhouses is hugely anticipated. As said at the top of the article, the league won’t be decided on Sunday, but it could shape the title race.
Playing wise, Liverpool haven’t hit some of the heights and standards they set last season. Yet they sit six points clear and unbeaten after 11 games.
City are hot on their heels and have shown in recent weeks that they are starting to turn the pressure up.
Manager Pep Guardiola has been talking a lot about his title rivals, where Jurgen Klopp has tried to avoid speaking too much about the reigning champions.
Liverpool took just one point off of City last season when the Citizens were ultimately crowned the worthy champions.
Sergio Aguero has a habit of scoring against the Reds, he has nine goals so far this season. Former Liverpool player Raheem Sterling has seven goals so far. Now throw in Kevin De Bruyne’s nine assists, don’t be fooled – this is still the team to beat.
In full flow, they are largely unstoppable.
Liverpool will have to play better than they have this season. Sounds crazy that the top and unbeaten team in the league have to play better, but it’s true. Anything short of playing to their full potential and I fear City will take full advantage.
Mohammed Salah has been a little off the pace as he feels his way back from injury. Sadio Mane has been the go-to man with six goals so far this season and he will most definitely be in the thick of the action again.
This has all the makings of a real barnstormer. The talent on show, the managers on show, going head to head. It’s time to put the kettle on, put your feet up and enjoy the best two teams in Europe have at it.
I just don’t see a winner.
PREDICTION: Tie, 1-1