The English Premier League returns for matchday 12, after the midweek European adventures. It begins with Friday night football with a bottom table clash between Norwich and Watford and wraps up with the Super Sunday clash between Liverpool and Man City.
Here is the Matchday 12 preview
Match 1, 21:00 pm: Norwich (19th) vs Watford (20th), Carrow Road, Norwich
Norwich host fellow strugglers Watford in a must-win game for the Canaries, who have failed to win since their 3-1 victory over Man City in September. Norwich have gone on to lose five of their six premier league matches afterward. Striker Teemu Pukki who hit the ground running earlier in the season has also struggled for form since September. Norwich will be hoping to secure a long-awaited win when they take on Watford who have fared much worse than them.
Watford have struggled to score goals and defend same all season, subsequently finding themselves occupying the last place on the log. Watford remains the only team not to record a win this season, drawing five games and losing six in the process. Manager Quique Flores will be buoyed by the return of striker Troy Deeney from injury since August.
Last time both teams met in the league it ended up in a 4-2 victory for Norwich in 2016.
Match 2, 13:30 pm: Chelsea (4th) vs Crystal Palace (9th), Stamford Bridge, London
Chelsea play host to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon having recorded five successive victories in the Premier League – a run which has taken the club into fourth position in the standings.
Meanwhile, as a result of last weekend’s defeat to Leicester City, Palace makes the trip to Stamford Bridge sitting in ninth place.
While Chelsea remains far from the finished article under Frank Lampard, few of their supporters have reason to complain, with maximum points being recorded in the Premier League since September 28.
Despite the natural positives, however, Chelsea are yet to convince in front of their home supporters – a trend which continued against Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
While a three-match winless streak has left Palace back down in mid-table, Roy Hodgson will still be relatively satisfied with his side’s start to the campaign.
Their biggest priority was to stay clear of the relegation zone, and the Eagles currently find themselves seven points clear of the bottom three.
With just two points separating Palace and fifth-placed Arsenal, Hodgson and his team now have the freedom to attempt to break into the top six at a time when the majority of the clubs around them are producing their best form.
The likes of the Gunners, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur may eventually put together a run of results which catapults them back into the mix further up the table but for now, at least, Palace have the opportunity to make the step up that they have always threatened since Hodgson’s arrival.
Match 3, 16:00 pm: Burnley (14th) vs West Ham (13th), Turf Moor, Burnley
Three wins, three draws, and five defeats that is how Burnley have performed in the Premier League this season, with a total of 12 points leaving them in 14th position in the table. It has not been a terrible start to the campaign for the club, although their recent form will be concerning their fans.
Indeed, since beating Everton 1-0 at the start of October, the Clarets have lost three straight league fixtures to Leicester City, Chelsea and Sheffield United. Granted, losing to Leicester and Chelsea was not much of a surprise, but the 3-0 defeat away to Chris Wilder’s side last weekend came as a shock.
When West Ham beat Man United 2-0 on September 22, there were suggestions that the London club were capable of pushing for a top-six finish during the 2019-20 season.
A 4-0 loss at Oxford United in the EFL Cup quickly followed, though, and it has been a struggle since then. A decent point was secured away to Bournemouth on September 28, but the Hammers have lost three of their last four in the Premier League against Palace, Everton and Newcastle United.
The importance of this weekend’s game is shown by the fact that West Ham will face Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal in their next four. The last thing that the capital outfit need is another loss against an out-of-form side ahead of a very difficult run of fixtures.
Match 4, 16:00 pm: Southampton (18th) vs Everton (17th), St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton
It promises to be a significant weekend at the wrong end of the table as the bottom four all face each other, with this match being preceded by a battle of the basement two when Norwich City host winless Watford on Friday night.
Certainly, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side can have no complaints at sitting in the bottom three at the moment, having picked up only one point from their last six league outings – including the already-infamous 9-0 humiliation at home to Leicester City.
There was a marked improvement last weekend as Southampton came within four minutes of taking points off champions Manchester City at the Etihad, but Saturday’s game is their first at home since the Leicester debacle and the St Mary’s crowd will be demanding another response.
Everton begin the weekend 17th in the standings having been tipped to push for the top six back in August, largely due to a run of five defeats and just one win from their last seven Premier League games.
Last weekend’s stoppage-time equalizer against Tottenham Hotspur was overshadowed by the sickening injury suffered by Andre Gomes earlier in the match, but it could prove to be a valuable point and at least keeps them safe from dropping into the relegation zone this weekend – barring a six-goal Southampton win.
Silva will also no doubt be stressing that a couple of positive results could completely change the outlook of their season – the Toffees may only be one place above the bottom three, but in terms of points they are actually closer to the top half than they are to Saturday’s opponents.
Match 5, 16:00 pm: Tottenham Hotspur (11th) vs Sheffield United (6th), Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Tottenham Hotspur finds themselves sitting 11th in the table after 11 games and in desperate need of a Premier League win against Sheffield United. Conversely, the newly-promoted Blades are up into sixth in the league after a four-game unbeaten run in which they have conceded just once.
Tottenham are in the bottom half of the league standings after a disappointing league run that has yielded no wins in four successive games, including two defeats. Spurs did claim a first away win in any competition since the beginning of May last time out with a 4-0 victory over Red Star Belgrade.
Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United will hope they can take advantage of Spurs’ struggles, having made a fine start to life back in the top flight. The Blades have lost just three league games all season and are currently on a four-game unbeaten run that has propelled them into sixth.
United also boasts the joint-best defensive record in the league this term, shipping a mere eight goals so far. However, with just 12 strikes to their name, they have the fourth-worst attack of any team outside the relegation zone.
Match 6, 18:30 pm: Leicester City (3rd) vs Arsenal (5th), King Power Stadium, Leicester
Leicester City head into their fixture with Arsenal on Saturday evening with the opportunity to move into second place in the Premier League table. Meanwhile, Unai Emery takes his side to the King Power Stadium aware that he must start to deliver more wins if he is to keep his job in the Gunners dugout.
At a time when several of the divisions top six have struggled for consistency, Leicester City have given every indication that they are capable of gatecrashing the top four at the end of the season.
Their only defeats have come on the road to Manchester United and Liverpool, with both North-West giants requiring a penalty to get the better of the Foxes.
There are some who feel that it is only a matter of time before the Arsenal hierarchy chooses to replace Emery, with his squad coming under increasing pressure after letting slip yet another lead on Wednesday night.
However, while a win at Leicester would not completely change the mood at the Gunners, it would at least buy Emery some time to make full use of the upcoming international break.
While Arsenal are still in the fifth position, they have benefitted from the inconsistencies of some of their rivals, and a failure to get over their recent slump will soon leave the north Londoners down in mid-table.
The main positive from last weekend’s draw with Wolves was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ending a three-game streak without a goal in the Premier League. However, Arsenal now only have two clean sheets from 11 top-flight fixtures this season, something which must improve in the coming weeks.