Saturday, March 02, 2013

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW by David Obasogie


The London Derby between Tottenham and Arsenal is definitely the match of the match day 28 round of matches as we zero in on all matches to come this weekend in the Barclays Premier League.

Here, we preview this week-end matches in the EPL with table-toppers Manchester United looking to go 15 points ahead of rivals Manchester City, who plays away at the Villa Park on Monday, when they entertain Norwich City at Old Trafford. Join us

>>Southampton vs QPR:
It's going to be a relegation battle as both teams will be looking forward for a good result that will enhance their quest for survival in the top flight.

Southampton have won only five of their last 17 league games against QPR. The Saints have also scored
more own goals than any other side this season, helping their opponents to five goals.

Individually, Jos Hooiveld has equalled an all-time Barclays Premier League record by scoring three own goals in a single campaign this season. Scott Dann (2011/12), John Pantsil (2010/11) and Andreas Jakobsson (2004/05) are the others.

Only one of the three previous teams to win two or fewer of their opening 27 games in the top-light have avoided relegation (West Brom in 2004-05) and only two of the last 11 sides to win three or fewer have ultimately survived.

QPR though have scored only four goals in their last 10 Premier League games. The Saints have thrown away 27 points from leading positions this season, more than any other side.
Rickie Lambert is the top scoring Englishman in the Premier League this season with 12 goals.

>>Stoke City vs West Ham United:

West Ham will look to shake Monday's night narrow defeat to Tottenham when they travel to the Brittana to play Stoke City who also lost away to Fulham.

Premier League games between Stoke and West Ham have averaged only 2.1 goals per game.
Jussi Jaaskleainen has made more saves in the Premier League than any other goalkeeper this season with 109 saves.

West Ham have scored with each of their last nine Premier League penalties.

The Hammers have also allowed more opposition shots on target from outside the box than any other PL team this season.

Just one of Stoke's 26 league goals this season have been scored from outside the area; a low for the Premier League.

West Ham have won only one of their last nine Premier League games in March.
Stoke have fired in fewer shots with 203, excluding blocked ones than any other side in the Premier League.
Kevin Nolan has scored four winning goals for West Ham in the Premier League this season. Only Gareth Bale (6) and Robin van Persie (5) have netted more.

Sam Allardyce's team have lost their last five Premier League matches on the road. The club haven't lost six in a row since December 2006.

>>Sunderland vs Fulham:

Sunderland have won only one of their last seven Barclays Premier League games against Fulham but that came earlier this season at Craven Cottage winning 3-1.

The Black Cats have failed to score in six of their last nine Premier League games against Fulham and also scored just two headed goals this season, fewer than any other side in the top flight.

Fulham though are yet to lose this season in the Premier League when Dimitar Berbatov has scored winning 4 and drawing 3.

The Stadium of Light has seen just 27 Premier League goals scored at it this season, fewer than any other ground. Sunderland have lost their last three games in a row, they have not lost four in a row since April 2011.

Of the players to score 10 goals in the Premier League, Steven Fletcher has the joint-best shooting accuracy managing 62.5%. While Stephane Sessegnon have been fouled 71 times, more than any other player in the top flight.

46% of Fulham's goals this season, 17 of 37, have been scored in the final 30 minutes of matches. Steve Sidwell has made 92 tackles this season. Only Mark Noble (95) and Morgan Schneiderlein (105) have made more.

>>Swansea City vs Newcastle:

Still basking in the euphoria of the FA Cup triumph over Bradford City last week, Swansea entertain Newcastle at the Liberty Stadium.

Swansea won three of their four Premier League games in March last season and boast the best winning record in March of any Premier League side with 75%.The Swans have lost just two points from leading positions this season, the best record in the top division. The last two teams to win the League Cup
(Liverpool and Birmingham) lost their first league games after lifting the trophy.

Newcastle have conceded exactly two goals in each of their last three games but have won two of those matches. The Magpies have also taken nine points from their last four matches after taking only seven from the previous 13. Moussa Sissoko has scored three goals in four Premier League appearances.

The Swans have won none of the 14 games they have fallen behind in this season. However, they have managed to avoid defeat in six.

No team have used more players in the Premier League this season than Newcastle United with 29 players.
Promises to be an exciting game.

Chelsea vs West Bromwich Albion:

Chelsea's last two managers have been sacked after defeats to West Brom. Andre Villas-Boas was axed after a 1-0 defeat at the Hawthorns in March 2012 and his replacement Roberto Di Matteo departed the club after a 2-1 defeat in November of the same year. The under-fire Blues boss will be desperately looking for a return to winning ways in the Premier League to boost the club’s Champions League qualification hopes.

Rafa Benitez's win ratio of 51.9% makes him the Blues' ninth most successful manager in the Premier League area. He is lower than the likes of Avram Grant (66.7%), Luiz Felipe Scolari (55.6%) and Claudio Ranieri 53.3%.

Blues midfielder Frank Lampard is now just three goals shy of equaling the club's all-time scoring record of 202, which was set by striker Bobby Tambling in the 1960s and 70s.

West Brom though have conceded 32% of their goals on the road after the 80th minute this season and will be hoping for improvement. In seven of their last eight Premier League wins the Baggies have scored exactly two goals.

The Black Country side also have a win ratio of less than 25% for the month of March. They have four wins in 20 games.

Romelu Lukaku is the top scoring teenager in the top five European leagues with 12 goals but is ineligible for this game as it is against his parent club. Shane Long though is the man to watch out for having scored a goal on each of his last two league starts against Chelsea. The Irish forward has netted 19 Premier League goals in total.

>>Everton vs Reading:
Both teams will be looking to return to winning ways having lost their last matches 1-2 to Norwich City and 0-3 to Wigan respectively.

Everton have won only two of their five Barclays Premier League encounters with Reading. Four of the five Premier League meetings between these two sides have gone under 2.5 goals.

Reading are the only side in the Premier League to concede a goal in each of their away games this season. Nine of Reading's goals this season have come from substitutes, a league-high.

Adam Le Fondre has bagged five Premier League goals in 2013; only Gareth Bale, Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku have more (6 each). One of Adam Le Fondre's three braces this season came in the reverse fixture between the two teams.

Everton have used fewer players than any other Premier League side this season with 22.

Only Southampton (27) and Reading (20) have dropped more points from leading positions this season than Everton (19).

Reading have won eight points thanks to goals scored after the 80th minute this season. Only league leaders Manchester United (9) have won more. Tottenham Hotspur (8) are the only side to drop more points thanks to goals conceded after the 80th minute than Everton (7).

Only Man Utd (20.5%), Chelsea (18.0%) and Arsenal (16.7%) have better shot conversion rates this season than Reading (14.6%).

Everton have won just one of their last six, drawing 3 and losing 2, but have tasted defeat at home just once in 13 home games this season winning 6 and drawing 6.

>>Manchester United vs Norwich City:

Red Devils look to continue rampant run against Hughton's side and will hope to extend their 15-match unbeaten streak against a Canaries team with just two wins in their last 11 in Saturday's game at Old Trafford. Nevertheless, Sir Alex will no doubt cast one eye over next Tuesday's momentous Champions League clash with Real Madrid and may look to rest some of his big-name stars as a result.

Chris Hughton, meanwhile, should stick with a similar side to the one that conquered Everton at Carrow Road last weekend, Sir Alex Ferguson will be without defender Phil Jones (ankle), but Robin van Persie has been passed fit after overcoming a hip injury.

Norwich City are unbeaten in their last four league games but have won just two of their last 11. However, Chris Hughton's side will be buoyed by the knowledge that they beat Manchester United 1-0 in November's reverse fixture thanks to an Anthony Pilkington header (United's last defeat in the Premier League).

The Canaries' away form has been nothing short of dire this term, they have won just once in 13 games on the road, having drawn six and lost six. Norwich's Kei Kamara has already scored against Manchester United this campaign, in a pre-season friendly for Sporting Kansas City.

He also scored the equaliser for the Canaries in their 2-1 win against Everton last week. Hughton's side have three points less than Norwich did this time last season under Paul Lambert, though a win this Saturday could lift them to 10th place.

Manchester United are now undefeated in 17 games in all competitions and an impressive 15 in the Premier League. United have taken 89 per cent of the league points available to them recently, having won five and drawn one of their last six matches. In the same period, title rivals Manchester City have taken just 61% of their potential points.

The Red Devils have also won every single one of their home league games this season bar one, a 3-2 defeat to Tottenham in late September. Sir Alex's side are still on course for a Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble, having already achieved that feat once in 1999.

United have also completed a league and FA Cup double on three occasions, and won a league and European double in 2008.

>>Wigan vs Liverpool:

The Reds are looking for their first DW Stadium win since 2007. Roberto Martinez's side will hope to build on their win over Reading last week by overcoming the Merseyside outfit, who thrashed Swansea in their last league outing.

Liverpool have not won at the DW Stadium since 2007, when a Yossi Benayoun goal handed them a 1-0 win. Luis Suarez is just four short of 50 goals in his Liverpool career.

Steven Gerrard has already laid on nine assists so far this season, the most in the Premier League. Wigan 's 2-1 win at Anfield last term was just their second over the Reds in Premier League history. If selected, Arouna Kone will make his 25th appearance for the Latics.

He has already scored 10 times since moving from Levante. Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi is just two appearances shy of 125 for Wigan. A six-goal game will take the number scored in Wigan, Liverpool contests to the half-century mark.

Wigan have lost only one of their last six Barclays Premier League games against Liverpool after losing seven of the opening nine against them.

>>Tottenham vs Arsenal:

All eyes will be set on brilliant Bale for north London derby.

The Wales winger has been in sensational form for Spurs and could dent the Gunners' hopes of Champions League qualification with another great display at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Tottenham have lost only one of their last seven Premier League home games against bitter rivals Arsenal. Spurs have been in a winning position in both of their last two games against the Gunners, but have gone on to lose each game 5-2.

Gareth Bale is only the eighth different Tottenham player to score over 15 Premier League goals in a season. Andre Villas-Boas' side have scored 11 goals from outside the area, more than any other top flight side this season.

Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale are the only players from Europe's big five leagues to score six league goals from outside the box this campaign.

Spurs had 13 shots on target against West Ham on Monday - only Chelsea (15 vs AstonVilla) have had more in a league game this season. Arsenal have 13 points from the past five Premier League games, a total only equalled by league leaders Manchester United.

Olivier Giroud has had 26 headed attempts at goal this season, more than any other player in the Premier League. No side in the top five European Leagues has averaged fewer fouls per game than Spurs (9.7) or Arsenal (9. this season.

>>Aston Villa vs Manchester City:

Mancini's men aiming to keep title hopes alive by defeating struggling Aston Villa at the Villa Park and hope Man United drop points against Norwich.

The Premier League champions will look to shorten the gap at the top of the table when they take on Paul Lambert's struggling side at Villa Park on Monday evening.

Aston Villa have scored just 26 league goals all season, which is less than the return of 29 goals scored by Manchester City trio Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez.

Villa have conceded 52 goals in the top flight all campaign, which is the worst defensive record in the league. Aston Villa have conceded at least two goals in eight of their last 10 games in the Premier League.

Paul Lambert's side have lost all eight league encounters where they have been behind at half-time. Manchester City boast the best defensive record in the league this season with 12 clean sheets and 24 goals conceded overall.

City have won 14 of the 16 games where strike duo Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez have started together.

Roberto Mancini's side have failed to score in just four of their 27 games in the Premier League. Their previous meeting this season ended 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium following David Silva's strike, and two goals each from Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez.

Swansea vs Newcastle for me has got to be the game of the week-end, not forgeting the London Derby between Tottenham and Arsenal at White Hart Lane. Let's enjoy this round of matches...


Read David Obasogie's preview of the English Premier League every week on Premium Sports Center. Also listen to his indept analysis and great presentation of Sport Digest on NOUN Radio 105.9FFM..

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