SOCCER

English Premier League Heads Into Action Before International Break

Mar 18, 2022, 2:39 PM

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13: Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa in action with Craig Dawson and Lukasz Fabi...

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13: Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa in action with Craig Dawson and Lukasz Fabianski of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Aston Villa at London Stadium on March 13, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With English Premier League and the FA Cup in full swing this weekend, we are seeing a split schedule between both competitions. This is also the last weekend of EPL action before the international break.

So, let’s crack on with what the EPL has to offer.

Aston Villa v. Arsenal

Because the clocks have not changed in the U.K. yet, it is the early kick-off on Saturday for this fixture, but it is a 6:30 a.m. start (instead of the usual 5:30 a.m.) on USA/Universo.

Anytime we get to see Villa Park, I am always going to tune in. One of the last truly old-fashioned stadiums, and it is still beautiful. Steven Gerrard’s men sit in 9th, and since his arrival to the club, Villa has been on a general upward rise. Whilst they are far from the finished article, they have made some good additions to the squad and are now one of the better attacking teams in the league.

The arrival of Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona has certainly added much-needed creativity, with his four goals and three assists. These goals have helped them to help overcome their poor start to the season, which saw them change managers. Now they have a mixture of experience in Coutinho, the future, in Jacob Ramsey who is full of youthful exuberance. Ramsey’s six goals and an assist have not hurt his arrival on the big stage.

One player to watch out for, if he starts, is one of my favorite Villa players, Ollie Watkins, the center forward who has adapted to the EPL very well. Coming up from the lower leagues, you can see his desire and mindset of always trying to impress as if he is trying to prove he belongs (he does) at the top level of the English game. His seven goals and an assist this season might not be pulling up any trees statistically, but his ability to play across the front three areas, along with the selfless work he does, demonstrates his value.

Arsenal has been in fine form, and are, as of now, in my list of favorites to get a top-four finish. Arteta has not been short of criticism in the past, but let’s give credit where it is due. They have been solid as of late. They have tightened up at the back, and the wide attacking areas are going to something that is the envy of the league. Gabriel Martinelli’s five goals and three assists and Bukayo Saka’s eight goals and five assists are probably and potentially one of the best attacks in Europe. There is more to come as well from these two, with speed, direct running, and then trickery, making them difficult to overcome. Arsenal is a patient team, they love to build from the back and will move the ball around the back and are comfortable doing it, when they attack, they can do it using their ball carriers and creators in Martin Ødegaard or Emile Smith-Rowe and then bringing in Saka and Martinelli into play, either wide or in behind on the counterattack. Arsenal is a defensive midfielder and a center forward away from being a true and consistent top-four contender.

Prediction: It is a really intriguing match, with both teams particularly good going forward. They are both energetic and full of excellent creation. Villa is a defender or two away from moving to the level that Arsenal are at right now, but I genuinely think both teams are headed in the right direction.

They will entertain in the early kickoff. Probably the best soccer you will see in the EPL this weekend. I just fancy the Gunners to bounce back from their midweek loss to Liverpool and get all three points.

This will do it for this week, although make sure you tune in for Sunday’s London derby between Tottenham Hotspur Vs West Ham United on Telemundo/USA at 10:30 a.m.

There will then be a break for the international games. These international matches will include some friendlies and some World Cup qualifying fixtures. We will be back the first weekend of April, as we truly hit the business end of the season.

Until then, be well.

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English Premier League Heads Into Action Before International Break