November 21st, 2019

Premier League Gameweek 13

By Jonny Houghton

There are moments in football that make Twitter the best place for the latest news. Brendan Rodgers’ sacking from Liverpool, the emergence of the Colleen Rooney Detective Agency all provided an afternoon’s worth of scrolling for top shelf memes. Tottenham’s shock announcement of sacking Mauricio Pochettino did not disappoint either going into the Premier League Gameweek 13.

Spurs sack Poch!

Despite Spurs’ troubles in the last few months, I genuinely didn’t expect the trigger to be pulled on this, especially given that we’re just days away from a crunch Premier League tie against North London rivals West Ham. What shocked me more was who they brought in to replace him. It’s……. Jose Mourinho.

Sure, the 56 year-old is a quality manager with a proven track record of delivering trophies, but you could argue that his powers have faded somewhat in recent years. His recent spell at Manchester United ended with a Europa League, EFL Cup and Charity Shield but there were some that weren’t happy with the style of football and an apparent lack of backing in the transfer market, led to league finishes that were below expectations.

Mourinho takes charge of a Spurs side who are 14th in the table and 11 points off a top 4 spot. No team with this many points at this stage of the season has gone on to finish in the top four, so Jose’s got a job on his hands. It’s an interesting, if not slightly ruthless move from Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. Across the way at the Emirates Stadium, Unai Emery is probably feeling very nervous though given that a manager of the quality of Pochettino has suddenly become available.

In other news, the international break is over and like the feeling you get when you shift a particularly bad cold, you feel a sense of relief, knowing it’s another four months before going through it all over again.

England secured qualification with wins over Montenegro, Kosovo and a select XI from Ikea! While the Republic and Northern Ireland will have to navigate the play-offs in March to secure their Euro 2020 place. Raheem Sterling made headlines for the wrong reasons and Harry Kane got his 12th goal in the qualifiers, making him the highest scoring England captain in history. As we return to club football, we’re creeping ever closer to the busy Christmas period and with approximately 4375 matches between now and the end of the year, there’s plenty to sink our teeth into.

West Ham v Tottenham

The league table paints a curious picture when looking at these two, both teams are clearly much better than their current positions would suggest. Tottenham find themselves struggling in 14th and are without a win in their last 5 games.

The sacking of Mauricio Pochettino and immediate appointment of Jose Mourinho turned heads on Tuesday night and made half of what I’d written about this match to be absolutely useless….

Harry Kane scored his 12th international goal of 2019 during the break but is drifting away from the pack domestically with just 5 goals so far this season. Fortunately, he’s up against a West Ham side who haven’t kept a clean sheet since September and he’s 3/1 to score first in Saturday’s lunchtime kick off.

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag in terms of results between these two teams, Tottenham have won three of the last six meetings in all competitions, with just one draw in that time too. Just two clean sheets in that period suggests to me that both teams to score (1/2) might be a sensible choice in the other North London Derby.

West Ham are an attractive 3/1 to take all the points here, but they haven’t won on their own patch since dispatching Manchester United back in September. Spurs haven’t won on their travels at all this season. New manager bounce could be a factor here but with only 3 days to work with his new squad, it’s not clear yet what affect the Portuguese veteran will have at Tottenham.

Arsenal v Southampton

Just one win between these two sides in 10 games makes this a must win for both managers. Unai Emery’s men have been blunt in front of goal, to put it mildly, scoring just four goals in the last five games and dropped points from winning positions in two of those (they lost the other two).

Fans are clearly unhappy and former captain Granit Xhaka has been the managers scapegoat in recent weeks, but with him out of the line up for the foreseeable future the spotlight is well and truly on the manager now. If he was to hand pick opponents to start the comeback trail, Southampton would probably be top of the list. They can only really be described as abject in recent months, winless in eight league games including that defeat to Leicester.

If results go against them, they could find themselves at the foot of the table. Mesut Ozil has been underwhelming since his return to the squad, but is 5/2 to score anytime here and become just the second midfielder in the Arsenal side to get on the scoresheet this season.

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is the obvious choice for first goalscorer but at 8/11 there’s not a lot of value there. I’m not really giving Southampton much of a chance here, perhaps unfairly so, but they are 5/1 for a much needed win here and pile more misery on Unai Emery.

Bournemouth v Wolves

I almost don’t want Bournemouth to play this match, for the second time this season they have the wonderfully symmetrical record of played four, won four, drew four, scored 15 and conceded 15.

They face a Wolves side who are unbeaten in their last five league games and might just have one eye on their midweek clash with Braga, where they could wrap up qualification for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

The Cherries have managed just one win in that time scoring only twice and Eddie Howe will be looking to change that if he wants to maintain their impressive league position. Given the way the league is at the moment, a swing of results the wrong way could see any club be suddenly cast into the bottom half of the table.

Wolves have scored in every league game since their opening day draw with Leicester and Raul Jimenez leads their scoring charts with 5 for the season so far, the Mexican is 5/1 to score first here. Calum Wilson was a spectator for England’s European qualifiers so should be well rested and he’s a very tempting 13/8 to score anytime. At 17/10, Wolves to win seems quite generously priced given Bournemouth’s recent form and lack of goals, but Bournemouth are a team that can pull a result out of the bag when needed so I wouldn’t count them out either, especially at 13/8.

Brighton v Leicester

Remember that Leicester were evens to beat Arsenal? Hopefully if you’re reading this you backed them. Jamie Vardy produced a man of the match performance with a goal and with his de-facto retirement from international football, the 32 year-old striker should be fresh and ready to go again.

Surprisingly, he’s 3/1 to score first here which seems overpriced considering his form so far. He’s racking up the fantasy football points too and you can read my thoughts on that by clicking here!

Life under Graham Potter has been good for Brighton so far. They find themselves right in mid-table, where they probably belong and haven’t really been beaten by anyone they wouldn’t expect to lose to save for a 2-1 defeat by Aston Villa last month. Brighton’s top scorer Neal Maupay has 4 for the season so far and is 15/8 to score anytime, to do that though he’s got to get past the back four with the best defensive record in the league.

The Foxes have conceded just 8 goals so far this term thanks to their organisation at the back and the emergence of Caglar Soyuncu who’s filling the Harry Maguire void admirably. Again Leicester seem like they’re overpriced and they’re 21/20 to beat this Brighton side. I’d be getting on that as soon as possible before it’s cut right down. They’ve barely put a foot wrong, unbeaten and conceding just once, since losing to Liverpool before the last international break.

While they’re unlikely to repeat their heroic efforts in winning the title, they look certain to break into the top 4, especially when other traditional top 4 sides have fallen off a cliff *cough*Tottenham*cough*.

Crystal Palace v Liverpool

In what was their toughest test of the season so far on paper, Liverpool swept aside their nearest rivals and while there were some controversial moments, the Reds proved their potential title winning credentials. They’re still unbeaten, eight points clear of second and have already some of their toughest fixtures out of the way. Sound familiar?

Liverpool fans will be acutely aware that nothing is won in November and there’s still plenty of football to play, but you can’t help but get excited about this team. There was a time where a visit to Selhurst Park would have been called a banana skin but you actually have to go back to 2014 to find the last time Palace won at home against Liverpool.

A win over a rudderless West Ham side was the last time Palace took three points away from a league fixture, though they did manage to claw back a two goal deficit against Arsenal on Matchday 10.

6/1 for Crystal Palace to win is probably indicative of what way this game will go, conceding nine goals in five games and coming up against a team that score goals for fun will make for grim reading for Roy Hodgson.

Mohamed Salah is an injury doubt for this game, a recurrence of an ankle injury meant he was forced off against City. Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino have 10 goals between them and they should see plenty of chances against a Palace defense that have conceded nine in their last five games. They’re 23/20 and 6/4 respectively to score anytime, so take your pick between them.

Everton v Norwich

Everton will be looking for back to back wins for the first time this season against a Norwich side who quite frankly, are struggling with the Premier League. The Canaries are bottom of the league and four points off safety, one point from the last fifteen available to them doesn’t suggest to me that that’s going to change anytime soon either. The goals have dried up and the holes in their defense have opened.

Teemu Pukki ensured qualification to Euro 2020 for his native Finland and he’ll be looking to take the form he had in qualifying back to the Premier League for Norwich. He’s 21/10 to score anytime against an Everton side that haven’t kept a clean sheet in three matches. At 4/11 to win, Everton don’t present much value in the 90 minute market and let’s face it, you can never be sure which Everton is going to turn up.

I’d steer clear of a result in this game and look elsewhere for value. Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin lead the scoring charts for the Toffees with three each and they’re 6/5 each to score anytime. Tom Davies got their last minute winner against Southampton and the 21 year old academy graduate is 16/1 to repeat that feat and be last goalscorer here.

Everton to win both halves at 9/4 presents a little bit of value as Norwich haven’t managed to win even a half of a match in their last five games, they haven’t even taken the lead in that period. Time is running out for Daniel Farke’s men and the longer the season goes on, the more likely it is that they’ll be returning to the Championship next season.

Watford v Burnley

SOUND THE ALARM!! WATFORD WON A GAME OF FOOTBALL!! I told you it was coming, didn’t I? The Hornets managed to get themselves off the bottom of the league table for the first time this season after beating Norwich on match day 12. Javi Gracia’s men will be looking to make it back to back league wins for the first time since December 2018.

They’ll be in front of their own fans and Burnley haven’t won away from home yet this season after six attempts. Watford are 5/4 to win and that’s possibly the first time they’re coming in to a game as favorite. Troy Deeney returned to the bench after a long absence and his presence could be enough to galvanize Watford and take some of the pressure of Gerard Deulofeu and Andre Gray.

Deeney is 2/1 to score anytime and given that Javi Gracia is unlikely to rush his talisman into the starting line up, a goal off the bench looks more likely than him starting.

Burnley are no mugs, despite their troubles on the road and are a rather tempting 9/4 to get their first away win of the season. Chris Wood has 5 goals so far this season and is 2/1 to add to that anytime. Aside from a 0-0 draw between these two sides last season, results are flip-flopping between them and both teams have scored in three of the last five meetings. Yes on the Win Galore coupon is a nice 13/8, if you don’t want to commit to a result but fancy both teams to score and there to be a winner.

Manchester City v Chelsea

Last season Manchester City lost a grand total of four games out of thirty eight, so far this season they’ve lost three out of twelve. So what’s different this season I hear you ask? Well not much actually, but Pep Guardiola’s side have been extremely unlucky with injuries in recent weeks, particularly in defensive areas.

They went in to the international break 4th in the league which is their lowest league position in quite some time. A win here takes them back up to third, but there’s no guarantee they can get that here. Frank Lampard’s men have quietly put together a six match unbeaten run in the league where their last loss came in September to Liverpool.

Remarkably, it’s just the second time this season that City have faced a team from last season’s top six and this is the start of a particularly difficult run where they face great rivals Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester between now and Christmas.

City won the corresponding fixture 6-0 last year in a match which went a long way towards Maurizio Sarri losing his job last season, a repeat of that scenario seems unlikely but City have a combined score of 10-0 in the games coming after losses in the league this season.

Tammy Abraham has 10 goals in his last 12 league games and given that City are conceding roughly a goal a game, he’ll definitely fancy his chances here. He’s 6/1 to open the scoring here as he has done in three of his last five starts.

Sergio Aguero is never far away from the score-sheet either and Chelsea have the lowest goal difference of any of the current top four so 7/10 for Aguero to score anytime seems like a license to print money, unless he falls victim to Pep Guardiola’s seemingly random rotation policy.

Gabriel Jesus is a slightly bigger 10/11 to score anytime but he’s only played 90 minutes once in the league so far this season. Chelsea are flying at the moment and their pre-match odds of 6/1 to win seem like the bookie giving too much respect to a City side that have shown defensive frailties in recent weeks. That said, they are the reigning champions and arguably one of the best sides that’s ever played in the Premier League so who knows?

Sheffield United v Manchester United

Twelve games in and Sheffield United are fifth in the table, have the second best defensive record in the league and are unbeaten in their last five fixtures. What a time to be a Blades fan eh? They’ll welcome Man United to Bramall Lane for the first time since 2006 and will be hoping for a slightly different result than where the Red Devils won 2-1.

Fortunately for the Blades, this current crop is a much different prospect than the 2006 side which was star studded to say the least. Interestingly, Phil Jagielka if he comes on will be the only player on the pitch who was there in 2006 as well. I’ve been banging on about John Lundstram for weeks now and if you haven’t got him in your fantasy team yet, do it!

He’s one of the highest scoring players in the game and still quite cheap. He’s 11/2 to score anytime here and add to his three goals this season, he’s joint top scorer for the Blades with Lys Mousset who’s found the net in two of his last four appearances for the Sunday’s hosts and is 5/2 to make it three in five.

Manchester United scored more than once for just the third time this season last time out against Brighton, but just can’t seem to get a run of results together. But a win here will mean back to back wins for the first time this season. Marcus Rashford has 6 goals in his last 6 matches for club and country, scoring in both of England’s qualifiers and looking like Gareth Southgate’s preferred option along with Kane and Sterling, he’s 21/5 to score first here and make it 7 goals for the season.

Man Utd are 6/5 to get the win here but they’ve been poor on the road, winning just once in the league so far. You’re looking at 12/5 for Sheffield United to win here and continue their dream start to Premier League life.

Aston Villa v Newcastle

In what could be described as the Steve Bruce Derby, Aston Villa will be looking to put an end to their three match losing streak by ending Newcastle’s current three match unbeaten run. Newcastle have actually only lost one of their last five games, and that was narrowly to Chelsea where they managed to hold off the Londoners for most of the game before conceding in the 73rd minute.

Newcastle’s biggest problem has been scoring goals, indeed only Watford have scored less than them and that says a lot. Both teams are averaging over 1.5 total goals in their games but looking at head to head results between the two sides, Villa will be desperate for a win here.

John McGinn got two goals and an assist for Scotland during the international break and will be looking to translate that to league form and add to his three goals for Villa so far. He’s 5/2 to score anytime here.

Newcastle come into this at 13/5 and despite their poor away form, could prove value as they won their last away fixture and are starting to score goals finally. Jonjo Shelvey is their top scorer with 2 so far this season and he’s 11/2 to score anytime. In the last five meetings between those have produced under 2.5 goals and that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. At 5/6 it looks like the betting agrees with me, a 1-1 draw can be got at 11/2.

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