SOCCER

Premier League Preview: Lots Of Goals Predicted In Weekend Full Of Soccer

Dec 18, 2020, 3:44 PM
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Mason Greenwood of Manchester United battles for possession with ...
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Mason Greenwood of Manchester United battles for possession with Enda Stevens of Sheffield United during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Manchester United at Bramall Lane on December 17, 2020 in Sheffield, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Peter Powell - Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Peter Powell - Pool/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – What a great round of fixtures we had midweek. Leeds whalloped Newcastle 5-2. West Brom pulled a rabbit out of the hat and got a 1-1 draw against the relentless Manchester City, and then W.B.A. promptly fired their manager, Slaven Bilic, and appointed survival specialist Sam Allardyce.

Elsewhere the top of the table clash between Liverpool and Spurs was a good match, with the Reds winning 2-1, courtesy of a 90th Bobby Firmino header. Mourinho at his majestic best after the final whistle claiming “the best team lost” much to the amusement of opposite number Jurgen Klopp.

Round 14 has some great ties this weekend, keep an eye out for Everton versus Arsenal on Saturday, you can catch it on KSL 5 TV with a scheduled 10:30 a.m. kick off. Everton has been in fine form of late, beating Chelsea at home and then Leicester away during the week. Arsenal showed some true grit midweek, coming from a goal down against Southampton, and due to a red card finishing the match with 10 men for the last 30 minutes. Again, due to a red card, they had also previously played with 10 men against Burnley. This game is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Tottenham Hotspur v. Leicester City.

This one has all the makings of an absolute cracker. Both teams coming off a loss, and both teams will be desperate to get back to winning ways. Kick off on Sunday at 7:15 a.m. on NBCSN.

Jose Mourinho almost got his tactics perfect against Liverpool midweek. As Spurs showed no desire to dictate play or get much possession, what they chose to do was sit, and wait for Liverpool to try to break them down; and then launch explosive counter attacks. It nearly paid off, as Spurs managed to contain Liverpool’s front three.

The strike partnership was quiet for the most part, even though Son Heung-min scored a superb equalizer, it was a quiet night for the Korean. Harry Kane, isolated for long stretches, had a couple of good chances, but they came and went. For this match with Leicester City, I’m expecting more from Spurs. It doesn’t mean they’ll change from their counter attacking approach, but I think there might more opportunities that will fall to the outstanding front two.

Leicester will be bitterly disappointed with their toothless performance against Everton. With 14 shots and just the two of them on target, there was plenty of movement for the Foxes, but it was a little predictable for Everton, who came off a very organized performance against Chelsea, and this was no different.

Leicester, as I’ve mentioned, are happy to have the ball, but they are also happy to be organized themselves and soak up pressure without it. City will look to have some creativity in the midfield, with Maddison and Tielemans demanding the ball, but will more than likely go up against Sissoko and Hojbjerg, who will snap at the heels of the creators. It ensures for a fantastic duel, as both teams will look to catch each other on the counter.

Prediction: With Spurs’ defensive shape, I’ll give them the nod to get all three points and who would bet against the joint top goalscorer in Son (11), and the man leading the assists in Kane (10)?

Manchester United v. Leeds United

Last up for us will be the match right after Spurs and Leicester City, 9:30 a.m. kickoff on NBCSN. This one potentially shades it for the most entertaining fixture of the weekend. Manchester United, for all the media speculation, could, if they win their games in hand, be just two points off the top of the EPL. Crazy, right? Of course, they are far from the finished article and their performances have been a little erratic, but the points don’t lie.

Paul Pogba has shut a few people up recently (pity he couldn’t get his agent to wind his neck in) and his performances in the heart of midfield have been promising. Some exquisite passing, and in amongst the goals and assists. Bruno Fernandes, whilst not a prominent figure during the last couple of games, is still quietly and effectively pulling the strings. Marcus Rashford has recovered from some minor knocks and looks to be back into his full and explosive stride, a threat pulling wide or getting in behind off the shoulder of the defender. Mason Greenwood has also been playing more with the team.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær had been protecting his young forward by keeping him out of site and out of mind after some slightly misguided decisions in his personal life. Greenwood seems to be edging closer to the potential we all saw last season. The attack is looking tasty for the Red Devils, but again, there are worrying signs at the back. David de Gea was dropped for Sheffield United, and Dean Henderson came in and made an error. Things that I might be nitpicking at, but with a backline that is already prone to the odd mistake or lapse in concentration, it means Solskjær has a big decision come the weekend.

Leeds are probably the most enjoyable team to watch in the EPL right now. Ending a run of two losses on the bounce, they took Newcastle apart with their relentless attacking. With a huge 69% possession and 25 shots, 10 of which were on target. Patrick Bamford sitting on nine EPL goals, will more than likely lead the line again for the Whites. He has been a pleasant surprise for me, after a solid season in the Championship, I honestly didn’t expect him to hit the ground so quickly and effectively. The all action and energy approach from Marcelo Bielsa’s team has been a revelation in the EPL. With both wingbacks playing a vital role in providing width, adding the mixture of deep playmaker, Kalvin Phillips and his partner in front of him Mateusz Klich (three goals, four assists). Then Jack Harrison (if you haven’t seen, check out his goal against Newcastle), the former NYCFC man providing the great energy to the left hand side of the attack, and adding to the stats with two goals and four assists of his own.

The reason I’m excited about this matchup is, they’re both very good attacking teams and suspect in the back….Can only mean goals, right? This has the potential to be a real humdinger. End to end stuff.

Prediction: United for me will just show their physical presence enough to edge out the valiant effort from Leeds.

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Premier League Preview: Lots Of Goals Predicted In Weekend Full Of Soccer