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Barclays Premier League Preview – Week 12

It’s that time of the week once again! The Barclays Premier League rolls around once again, and as ever there is an action packed weekend in store. TheYellowCap writer Aziz Jacobs takes a look at the key fixtures.

Manchester United v West Brom (Saturday, 17:00 – Old Trafford, SS3)

You always know what you’re going to get from a Tony Pulis team, especially so when his side comes up against one of the big boys of the league. The Baggies manager will have his side set up to be very difficult to beat, and all the onus will be on United to break down the massed defensive ranks.

West Brom manager Tony Pulis

West Brom manager Tony Pulis

Easy enough for a team boasting the firepower and muscle of United? Not quite. The Red Devils are somewhat out of sorts at the moment, and their manager Louis van Gaal has been coming under fire for his ‘negative possession’ philosophy.

Louis van Gaal is under fire for his style of play

Louis van Gaal is under fire for his style of play

They broke a run of three consecutive goalless draws with victory over CSKA Moscow in the week, but if they don’t come out firing and score early against West Brom, the Old Trafford crowd could soon be getting on their backs. I don’t think it will be pretty, but they’ll probably just about make it over the line.

Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 West Brom

Stoke City v Chelsea (Saturday, 19:30 – Brittania Stadium, SS3)

It’s never an easy fixture at the Brittania, whether you are the defending league champions or not. Add in the fact that Chelsea have made the worst start to a title defence in history, and that Jose Mourinho will be banned from the stadium following his outburst towards the referee during the West Ham defeat, and it looks almost like mission impossible for the Blues.

Philippe Coutinho fires home for Liverpool in a 3-1 win over Chelsea

Philippe Coutinho fires home for Liverpool in a 3-1 win over Chelsea

Every man and his dog will be able to tell you what Stoke will bring to the party. Their combination of athleticism, skill, pace and power is a handful for even the best of sides, let alone one struggling to get their season started.

stoke-city-victor-moses

But what happens if Chelsea win 5-0 without Mourinho in the stadium? That would raise some interesting questions. I think I’ll pick them for the win just to see what would happen as a result.

Prediction: Stoke 1-2 Chelsea

Aston Villa v Manchester City (Sunday, 15:30 – Villa Park, SS3)

Time to test the old adage about a new broom sweeping clean. Remi Garde’s first match in charge of Villa couldn’t be any more difficult, as the table topping City come to Villa Park. You can bet that the grand old stadium will be rocking with the optimism that a change in manager can bring about, but it’s difficult to see Villa getting anything out of this.

The man tasked with saving Villa, Remi Garde

The man tasked with saving Villa, Remi Garde

Villa might probably keep it tight for a while but City just have too much quality and will invariably break them down in the end. City also head into the game on the back of an unbelievable result against Sevilla. Nothing other than a convincing City win, for me.

Prediction: Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester City

Liverpool v Crystal Palace (Sunday, 18:00 – Anfield, SS5)

After a blistering start, Palace seem to have gone off the boil. They ripped Liverpool to shreds last year but I don’t see it happening again, as Alan Pardew’s men seem to be struggling and Liverpool’s players are on the up.

Six games into the Jurgen Klopp era, and it’s already clear to see that the German is capable of building something special at Anfield. The problem is that Liverpool have a number of very average players. Sure, Philippe Coutinho could probably merit a start at Arsenal, Chelsea or the Manchester clubs, but other than the Brazilian, they don’t really have anyone those clubs would be jealous or wary of.

Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players after the 3-1 win over Chelsea

Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players after the 3-1 win over Chelsea

Give Klopp a transfer window and things could change though. The German will put the systems and structures in place, but for Liverpool to really challenge, they need to upgrade the bulk of their squad. But I’m backing the former Dortmund man to turn Liverpool around, and they should continue their upward curve this weekend.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Crystal Palace

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 18:00 – Emirates Stadium, SS3)

This is a massive game for Arsenal after the embarrassment against Bayern. The Gunners need a response to appease the fans after the massacre in Munich, and what better way to do so than at home against their fiercest rivals.

A dejected Per Mertesacker after Arsenal were thrashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich

A dejected Per Mertesacker after Arsenal were thrashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich

When you consider the manner in which they lost in Munich, if Arsenal were to lose against Spurs you could say Arsene Wenger would come under pressure again. Many have been bigging up the Gunners chances of claiming silverware this season following five successive BPL wins, but that mauling in Germany could really have knocked the confidence of their players.

Harry Kane hit a hatrick against Bournemouth

Harry Kane hit a hatrick against Bournemouth

Spurs are flying. They haven’t lost since the opening day of the season, and Harry Kane is back on the goal train with 5 goals in his last 3 games. They’ll be looking to play on any mental fragility from Arsenal, and I expect them to capitalise. I’m going for a draw in this one.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham

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