Soccer English Premier League 26 February 2023
Crystal Palace vs Liverpool - Match Preview
The turn of the year hasn’t brought good fortune to Crystal Palace, who were seconds away from a first win of 2023 only to concede a heartbreaking equaliser in the dying seconds to draw 1-1 with Brentford last time out. That’s eight successive games without a victory now for Patrick Vieira’s men (D4, L4), making them the only winless Premier League (PL) club in all competitions this year.
The Eagles have therefore regressed in the PL standings, and even though they reign six points above those in the bottom three prior to the weekend, their form offers no certainty they’ll stay out of relegation trouble for long. They return to Selhurst Park having secured three successive home draws against top-half opposition, although securing a first home win since October (D3, L3) would serve as the ultimate pressure release here.
Liverpool fans might be feeling a sense of ‘one step forward, two steps back’, as securing back-to-back 2-0 wins in league play before going 2-0 up in their midweek UEFA Champions League tie with Real Madrid might have had them thinking they turned the corner. Madrid then came storming back to hand them a 5-2 thumping, marking the first time Liverpool has conceded five goals at Anfield in the competition and reigniting the frustration that’s been apparent all season long.
Many therefore believe the best the Reds can hope for is a top-four finish and given they’re currently seven points off Tottenham in fourth place with two games in hand, a sustainable uptick in form could make that a reality. Under-fire manager Jürgen Klopp will be hoping for yet another fruitful visit to Selhurst Park then, having won all seven of his managerial visits there with his team and amassing 22 goals in the process.
📋 Players to watch: Eberechi Eze might serve as Palace’s good luck charm to break their torrid streak against Liverpool, as he’s only lost once in his career when getting on the scoresheet (W25, D5). For the visitors, Mohamed Salah has tormented Palace down the years, racking up 13 goal contributions (G7, A6) in his last eight meetings.
⚡ Hot stat: There have only been two scoreless first-halves in Liverpool’s last 14 matches.
Tottenham vs Chelsea - Match Preview
The main event of the Premier League (PL) weekend takes place in North London, as Tottenham welcomes Chelsea. This is a fixture that has haunted Spurs down the years, winning just seven of 61 H2Hs in the PL era (D21, L33), only suffering more defeats in the competition’s history to Manchester United (39). It’s not a record that’s on an upswing either, with Spurs winning just one of the last 12 H2Hs in all competitions (D2, L9).
Tottenham can at least boast an 11-point lead over Chelsea in the PL, although they remain without ex-Blues boss Antonio Conte on the touchline as he recovers from surgery in Italy. That may not be disastrous news though, with assistant manager Cristian Stellini winning all three of his games as the main man in the dugout this term. Spurs may need that pristine record to continue, as with Newcastle not in PL action this weekend, they can open up a four-point gap to the Magpies inside the top four.
There has hardly been a better time to face Chelsea since the turn of the century, with confidence at an all-time low and manager Graham Potter’s position under scrutiny following reports of a crisis meeting at Stamford Bridge. It’s clear to see why, with their 1-0 defeat at Southampton making it one win from eight PL outings (D4, L3), and leaving Potter with the lowest win rate of any Blues manager in the PL era (29.4%).
Finding the net remains Chelsea’s biggest issue, with their last ten games in all competitions seeing them score just four times. The Blues have scored an average of two goals per game from their last three PL visits to Tottenham though (W3), a record that may provide inspiration to end an ongoing seven-match winless run on the road in the PL - failing to win an eighth would be their worst such streak since going 16 without victory between April 2000 and March 2001.
📋 Key battle: Tottenham talisman Harry Kane has nine goal contributions (G7, A2) against Chelsea across 21 H2H meetings (W6, D4, L11) while picking up a career-high eight yellow cards against the Blues. He’ll likely be shepherded by Thiago Silva, who has lost just one of eight clashes with Spurs (W4, D3), also getting on the scoresheet twice.
⚡ Hot streak: Tottenham are the only PL side yet to draw a home game this season (W8, L4).
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