17 Mar 2023 / admin
Soccer English Premier League 19 March 2023
Southampton vs Tottenham - Match Preview
Southampton have scrapped hard to collect seven points from their five Premier League (PL) fixtures under interim manager Rubén Sellés despite scoring just two goals, but their increasingly desperate bid to get off the bottom of the table will face some stern tests in the next month when they host top-four clubs Tottenham and Manchester City. Sellés, who told Spanish radio he has been in “almost all kinds of football situations” as an assistant manager, currently boasts a better PL points per game average than Southampton’s last five permanent managers even after losing 2-0 at home to Brentford during the week.
tive upsets such as their 1-0 triumph at Chelsea on Sellés’ PL debut could be key to saving the team from relegation, but delving deeper into their miserable campaign suggests it’s not likely to happen consistently. In fact, against the nine clubs ranked above Chelsea going into this round, Southampton lamented a winless D2, L9 PL record, conceding 3+ goals on six occasions including a 4-1 loss away to Tottenham in the opening round.
Holding on to the fourth spot, Spurs manager Antonio Conte has to continue motivating his squad to maintain their top-four place in what will be yet another trophyless season. Conte has demanded that their 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest last weekend be “just the start” of a successful finish to the season after he called for immediate mental fortitude in the face of their recent UEFA Champions League (UCL) elimination.
Tottenham has so far done enough to keep themselves in the league’s UCL spots through four consecutive home wins, but embarrassing losses to both Wolves (1-0) and Leicester City (4-1) in their last two PL trips have shown that when travelling to clubs with survival as their sole focus, they do have the potential to be overwhelmed.
📋 Players to watch: Southampton ace Carlos Alcaraz will be hoping to serve up what would be a third goalscoring appearance from his last four PL home appearances, whilst Tottenham’s Dejan Kulusevski could be inspired by his goal in the reverse H2H to end his scoring drought of nearly two months.
⚡ Hot stat: Just two of the last 30 PL matches involving either club ended in a draw.
Wolves vs Leeds - Match Preview
Wolves felt aggrieved not to have got more from their Premier League (PL) game against Newcastle (L 2-1) as manager Julen Lopetegui claimed they should have had a penalty and were “unlucky with the referee”. They’ll want their fortunes to change as after winning just one of their last five league games (D1, L3), they’re one of many sides embroiled in a hotly-contested battle for survival.
Goals have often been scarce at Molineux, although with Wolves winning three of their last four PL games here ‘to nil’ (L1), maintaining strong home form could keep them away from the bottom three. Winning three of the last four H2Hs against Leeds on their own turf (L1) should also give them a boost as they look to build on beating Tottenham 1-0 here earlier this month.
vi Gracia won his first match in charge of Leeds but hasn’t backed it up since (D1, L2) leaving the Yorkshire side in the relegation zone, albeit just four points behind their hosts, so win here could lift them clear of the bottom three. They showed fighting qualities in abundance to twice come from behind to draw 2-2 with Brighton time out, so there are signs they have what it takes to survive.
But they‘re without an away league win since beating Liverpool in late October (D2, L5), failing to score in three of the last four of those fixtures, and that Anfield victory remains their only PL road win all season (D3, L9). However, Gracia remains positive, saying after the Brighton draw “In all the games we've played before we've created many chances and today, we scored two. In the next games, I think we'll do it again.”
📋 Players to watch: Wolves’ Daniel Podence has scored five league goals this season, four of them opening the scoring, including in August’s reverse fixture. Leeds’ Jack Harrison secured a point with his 78th-minute strike against Brighton, also netting after the 60th minute in this fixture last term.
⚡ Hot stat: Just two of Wolves’ home PL games this season witnessed both teams scoring - a league-low.
Chelsea vs Everton - Match Preview
Graham Potter was reportedly on the brink of being sacked at the beginning of this month, but he’s since led a mini-revival at Chelsea which has seen the London club win each of their previous three matches in all competitions. Additionally, their tally of five goals from their last two games - as many as they’d managed in their previous 12 outings - hints that they may have finally overcome the attacking woes that have plagued the side.
The hosts will surely be confident of building on that run here given the dominant home record they boast against visitors Everton. The Blues are actually unbeaten in an incredible 27 Premier League (PL) home games against the Toffees dating back to November 1994 (W15, D12), with that sequence marking the longest unbeaten run against any side at Stamford Bridge in their top-flight history!
Yet in terms of an H2H fixture, this one hasn’t been as one-sided as that record suggests. Everton has beaten Chelsea in each of the previous four seasons - admittedly all at home - and will now be bidding to beat them in a fifth straight campaign for the first time since way back in 1936!
Confidence in the away dressing room is growing, too. Everton climbed out of the bottom three with their 1-0 win over Brentford last weekend and, since Sean Dyche’s arrival, only five PL teams have picked up more points than them (ten - W3, D1, L3). None of those wins came on the road though and their away form does remain an Achilles heel, considering that since the start of last season, Everton has earned fewer points on the road (18) than any of the 17 PL sides to feature across both seasons.
📋 Key battle: Kai Havertz has netted in Chelsea’s last two games and is now his team’s top scorer across all competitions (G:8). Trying to stop him here will be Everton keeper Jordan Pickford, who boasts a joint-high five career clean sheets against the Blues.
⚡ Hot stat: Including his three as Everton manager, 40% of Dyche's PL victories (30) have been by a 1-0 scoreline.
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace - Match Preview
Mikel Arteta will be hoping Arsenal can prove their trophy-winning credentials by bouncing back from the “huge blow” of being dumped out of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night. The Gunners suffered a costly defeat to Sporting Libson in the round-of-16, seeing Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba limp off, as well as being taken through an energy-sapping period of extra time before losing on penalties.
Arsenal can now at least focus all their attention on aiming to land their first Premier League (PL) title in nearly two decades, and a 3-0 victory at Fulham last weekend left them five points clear at the top of the table. With closest rivals Manchester City not in league action this weekend, they will now be looking to further open the gap by notching up a sixth successive top-flight win in a single season for the first time since autumn 2018, while also bidding to improve upon their stunning run of just one defeat in their last 16 home league outings (W13, D2).
Arsenal supporters will be confident of extending that run in a London derby against struggling visitors Crystal Palace, who arrive at the Emirates Stadium without a manager after sacking Patrick Vieira on Friday. The Gunners legend was dismissed following a run of 11 league games without a victory (D5, L6), the longest winless run of any club in the top flight this season.
The most recent of those outings was a 1-0 defeat against bitter rivals Brighton on Wednesday when Palace failed to score for the fourth successive fixture (D1, L3). That left the Eagles just three points clear of the relegation zone ahead of the round, and chairman Steve Parish felt he had to take decisive action if Palace are to maintain the PL status they have held since 2013, stating a change in manager would give them the “best chance” of staying up.
📋 Players to watch: Arsenal skipper Martin Ødegaard has a 100% winning record from the eight games in which he has scored this season. Palace forward Wilfried Zaha is also unbeaten when finding the back of the net this season (W3, D2) and will be looking to improve upon a record of just three wins from 15 meetings with the Gunners (D5, L7).
⚡ Hot stat: Crystal Palace’s away matches are averaging 1.92 goals per game this season, the lowest in the PL.