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Barclays Premier League Preview – Week 13

Football fans, rejoice! The latest interlull is finally over, and with the next international break only scheduled for March 2016, it’s time for the fans to strap themselves in for four months of the unbridled blood and thunder action that is the Barclays Premier League. TheYellowCap writer Aziz Jacobs takes a look at this weekend’s key fixtures.

Watford v Manchester United (Saturday, 14:45 – Vicarage Road, SS3)

This is going to be a tough one for United. The Red Devils have lost Wayne Rooney and Anthony Marital to injury during the international break, and even Louis van Gaal’s go to guy in situations like this – Marouane Fellaini – is also sitting on the treatment table.

Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are both missing for United's trip to Watford

Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are both missing for United’s trip to Watford

Watford are very hard to beat and play a certain way at home, which you could see when they beat West Ham. United just haven’t been able to find their regular free-flowing rhythm this season, and Watford could frustrate them.

United have the best defensive record in the top seven but have also scored the fewest number of goals. They tend to keep possession, make sure they don’t get beat first and foremost, and then try to kick on from there. But as Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli notes, possession isn’t everything.

It’s easy to set up defensively, but it’s harder to get that balance of setting up defensively and scoring goals freely. That’s what everybody chases, and United just haven’t found it yet this season. I’m going for a draw in this one.

Prediction: Watford 1-1 Manchester United

Chelsea v Norwich City (Saturday, 17:00 – Stamford Bridge, SS3)

Every week we seem to say that the time is now for Chelsea to finally come good; that this is the game to kickstart their season. But it just hasn’t happened, and the defending champions have already lost 7 games this campaign.

mourinho

Norwich at home would usually be a safe 3 points for the Blues, but now, considering the start they’ve made, predicting the result requires a little more contemplation than would ordinarily be the case. This is a must-win game. I know it is only November but if United manage to beat Watford and Chelsea lose to Norwich, they’d be left with a practically insurmountable task to get in the top four.

Diego Costa has got to step up, stop wanting to fight everybody and be the player that the Blues bought initially; the player who fired them to the title last season.

Diego Costa needs to knuckle down and start doing what he does best - scoring goals

Diego Costa needs to knuckle down and start doing what he does best – scoring goals

If they don’t win, I think top four is out of the question and Jose Mourinho will be under so much more pressure. Because of that, I’m backing the Blues to come up with the goods.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Norwich City

West Brom v Arsenal (Saturday, 17:00 – The Hawthorns, SS5)

If you want to win Premier League titles, you have to go to places like the Hawthorns and win. Usually you’d back the high flying Gunners to come through, but the games after the international break are particularly tough for the big sides. The Gunners have so many internationals in their squad who’ve only just returned, and Arsene Wenger will only have had a single day to prepare his side for the match. 

Arsenal welcome back Hector Bellerin from injury for the clash against West Brom

Arsenal welcome back Hector Bellerin from injury for the clash against West Brom

West Brom boss Tony Pulis will set up his team perfectly, play very defensively and hope to catch Arsenal on the break or through a set piece. But the Gunners should have too much quality for them, especially if the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are at their devastating best.

Prediction: West Brom 1-2 Arsenal

Manchester City v Liverpool (Saturday, 19;30 – Etihad Stadium, SS3)

I think it’s a nice game for Liverpool, because nobody expects them to win. They went to Chelsea and won, then lost at home to Palace – it’s obvious there’s a lot of work to be done and Jurgen Klopp knows that.

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

Man City have remained top of the league even without Sergio Aguero and David Silva in recent weeks. Now that they have Aguero back and raring to go, I think they’ll win this game. City have coped quite well without Aguero, even though Wilfried Bony has been relatively quiet. 

Sergio Aguero has been ruled out for a month

Man City have remained top of the league even without Sergio Aguero and David Silva in recent weeks. Now that they have Aguero back and raring to go, I think they’ll win this game. City have coped quite well without Aguero, even though Wilfried Bony has been relatively quiet.

Liverpool have definitely improved under Klopp, with the famous ‘gegenpress’ reaping rewards for the Reds. Emre Can has been the player to benefit most from Klopp’s arrival, with the German relishing his role in the heart of the Liverpool midfield. However, Can is going to have a tough time keeping Yaya Toure and co. at bay. City will be too strong.

Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Liverpool

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