Premier League Storms Back After International Break
Nov 19, 2021, 10:55 AM
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY – As the World Cup qualifying ends for the rest of 2021, English Premier League teams eagerly await news of their players that have been on international duty. As the EPL comes back with a full slate of fixtures this weekend the returning star players are sure to have been inflicted with bumps and bruises, the hope is that there are no serious injuries in the treatment room.
Whilst international players were away it didn’t stop clubs from appointing new managers. Eddie Howe is finally appointed Head Coach of Newcastle United, the former Bournemouth man making his return after almost 18 months away from the game. Dean Smith was let go by Aston Villa and was announced as the new manager of Norwich City and his replacement at Villa was Former Liverpool player and now ex Glasgow Rangers Manager, Steven Gerrard.
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 19, 2021
Leicester City v. Chelsea
It’s an early start Saturday, as EPL action kicks off at 5:30 a.m. on NBCSN. This has the makings of a cracking encounter, as Chelsea comes into King Power Stadium. Chelsea head coach, Thomas Tuchel is looking to get any kind of increased lead at the top of the table.
Chelsea has been fantastic so far this season. But with the injury to Romelu Lukaku (one he’s almost back from), they’ve had to find other solutions and Kai Havertz has played a role through the central attacking areas to help the Blues, something he did expertly back in his Bayer Leverkusen days, but not something you’d want long term.
Havertz is one of the best players Chelsea possesses, with an eye for goal and exceptional vision to open teams at any given moment he is fast becoming one of the most important players at Tuchel’s disposal. Mason Mount is another creative player that Leicester will need to keep an eye on. He had to pull out of England duty with a minor issue. Chelsea gets things right defensively, is extremely well-drilled and disciplined (Reece James has been very good on the right of a defensive 3). But the core is solid and consistent and that allows the attackers to have a platform to perform.
Week's work. ✅ pic.twitter.com/n7ZxdPFzfr
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 19, 2021
With 27 goals scored, second-most in the EPL, but that’s not the most impressive stat. Just four goals were conceded through the first 11 games. That’s more than good for number one in the league but should help them continue to propel them to a title charge.
Leicester has had to deal with their fair share of injuries, but the one that continues to hamper them is the absence of Wesley Fofana. The outstanding young central defender allows Leicester to switch between a back four and a back three so effortlessly.
The knock-on effect of that is that Leicester has looked at times, shaky defensively this season. However, Harvey Barnes at the opposite end of the pitch is starting to find the form that tipped him to possibly get a move to a ‘bigger club’ and talk of a possible call-up for England. His speed and direct running approach immediately put defenders in their heels, feeling unease.
Of course, he’s not the only piece to this attack. The veteran Jamie Vardy is as smart as ever, especially with how he’s adapted his game the older he gets, relying less on his pace, but continued good movement to find space which allows him still to be one of the most dangerous number 9’s in EPL history. Then throw in his long-term replacement, Patson Daka and suddenly you see the immense quality at Brendan Rodgers’s fingertips.
Prediction: Leicester are one of the more entertaining teams in the league when they’re on song. They adapt well to any type of tactical tweak or shape. They haven’t quite got going yet, but I expect them to be a stern test on their own turf. Chelsea though will be favorites. Their powerful demeanor and approach will ensure they are in the top 3 come May time. And quite possibly champions. They will in my opinion have too much for the foxes to handle early Saturday morning. Chelsea win.
Liverpool v. Arsenal
It’s a proper KSL 5 EPL Premiere match-up at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday as the Reds come off their first league loss of the season and look to get back to winning ways against a rejuvenated Gunners. It’s 4th against 5th, as just two points separate the teams.
Liverpool had to take their medicine against West Ham before the international break. The Reds haven’t quite been the defensive unit we have come to expect since Klopp got his claws into them. Last season was ravaged by injuries, and although the defense is at full strength again, the midfield options have now been hit by the injury bug (happens to all teams) and it means that the fluid unit on both sides of the ball haven’t looked as cohesive, that said they’ll be annoyed at no longer being the only unbeaten team in the English topflight. Mohamed Salah will once again be the focal point in the Reds attack, as he arguably continues to prove that he’s the best player in world soccer right now. The Egyptian winger is scoring all types of goals, and creating chances like we’ve never seen before, and the likes of Firmino (out injured) Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota have taken full advantage of. Keep an eye on Trent Alexander-Arnold as well. The fullback is starting to go to another level with his creation of goals and chances.
International break complete ✅
Next destination: Anfield 📍 pic.twitter.com/pTQKIIuyAX
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 19, 2021
Arsenal has a really wonderful crop of players coming through. Emile Smith Rowe (recently called up by England) is one of the most exciting prospects the Gunners have had in many a year…. Right along with their other exciting prospect in Bukayo Saka. However it’s Smith Rowe that has caught the eye of late, as he starts to grab games by the scruff of the neck and dictate the attacking threat that Arsenal possesses, it’s even reignited Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Back to Smith Rowe….The reason he believes he’s improved drastically is a change in his approach to his diet and nutrition, and the proof is in the stats so far this season, just 11 games in he’s already doubled his goal output from last season with four goals so far. As for assists, he’s on two, and he got four in total last season. One of the more impressive things about him this season is that he looks stronger and competes for longer. Mikel Arteta has made him a focal point, even on the left side of the attack. His intelligence with the ball is one thing that Arsenal will need to rely on in this match-up, an intriguing battle with Alexander-Arnold awaits.
Prediction: Liverpool have had their way with Arsenal at Anfield quite often over recent seasons. And whilst I think the Reds will come out winners, Arsenal are a different team. Much more organized defensively, and a lot tougher in the midfield. Can they be disciplined enough to ride the wave-like West Ham did? Yes, but I just think the Reds, with some players coming back and more options in midfield will just have enough to get back to winning ways.
That’ll do it for this round, and we’ll be back right after Thanksgiving to break down Round 13. Eat well!