EPL preview: Iheanacho set to lift Man City from slump
After a run of six straight wins to start the premier league season, Pep Guardiola seems to have come unstuck as two points from a possible nine have been the recent return for the brooding Catalan and the rot has to stop quickly for the Citizens. A lot of people have had their say on the travails of Pep. To some people, he has never been a fantastic tactician, just a lucky manager who had the opportunity of managing clubs that possessed and had the clout to attract some of the best footballing talents on the planet, while some others have said that he isn’t flexible with his tactics and cannot improvise when his trusted way doesn’t work for him. For me, I would agree a bit with the latter as the man himself has come out on several occasions to talk about how he only knows one way to play football and will not change it.
Flexibility and versatility are two important traits that successful coaches who plan to keep being successful for long periods and in different eras must possess. Pep Guardiola will always be successful if he has the right personnel to fit into his footballing philosophy, but in the event that he doesn’t have the personality, he will always struggle. World class talent, dedication and lots of discipline are some of the traits needed in players that will be able to fit into the Catalan’s football philosophy and with this current Manchester City side, he doesn’t seem to have that in abundance so he will have to make do with what is available to him right now, until the players fully buy into his way of playing football and commit themselves fully to it.
For the first time in Pep’s coaching career, he has gone six games without a win and that just shows the kind of stress that the 45 year old must be going through as he goes into this afternoon’s match against West Brom at the Hawthorns. The Citizens know that anything less than a victory for them in this game will be seen as a failure as they would almost certainly relinquish their lead at the top of the table. Kelechi Iheanacho started and played all ninety minutes on Wednesday against Manchester United in the league cup and also scored their only goal against Southampton last weekend after coming off the bench. The Super Eagles striker will hope to get another chance from the start today to help his coach and his team slip out of this funk.
West Brom have been winless in their last 4 games and have generally been in poor form so far this season managing only 2 wins. They have a full squad with no injury concerns and will hope for a win to remain off the drop zone. The Baggies will be hoping to get at least a point against a floundering Manchester City side.
Alex Iwobi and his Arsenal team will be guests of Sunderland at the Stadium of light in today’s early kickoff with plans to leave with all three points. The Gunners are in tantalizing form right now and will look to pile further misery on David Moyes and his struggling black cats, who desperately need some sort of reprieve right now. Another incentive for Arsene Wenger’s men will be the fact that they can leapfrog Manchester City and perch on top of the table with a healthy goals return in this fixture. Sunderland are yet to win a game this season and have lost seven of the nine Premier league games they have played this season. It doesn’t get any easier for David Moyes as he will be without seven of his first team players for this game. Sebastian Larsson, Fabio Borini, Jan Kirchhoff, Vito Mannone, Adnan Januzaj, Jason Denayer and Lee Cattermole are all injured.
Odion Ighalo must be wondering what he needs to do to get back into goal scoring form for his Watford side that will be aiming to continue their unbeaten run when they welcome Hull City to Vicarage road this afternoon. The Hornets have only lost once in their last six league games with three wins and two draws. They are in 9th position and a win in this game could take them up to 6th spot depending on results elsewhere. Hull City are currently on a four game losing streak in the league, but were able to get an away victory over Championship side Bristol Rovers and progress into the quarter finals of the league cup. That result might give them the boost they need to change their fortunes in the league.
Southampton are in very good form right now and will look to halt Antonio Conte‘s in-form Chelsea side when they host them at St Mary’s tomorrow. The home team are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games and are very well organised, making them hard to break down. They have done quite well at home as they are undefeated there this season with two wins and two draws. They also have a decent recent record against the London giants with one win, one loss and two draws from their last four games and will fancy their chances here. Chelsea were ruthless last weekend as they demolished Manchester United 4-0 at the bridge, but the euphoria from that victory didn’t last long as they were knocked out of the league cup midweek by West Ham.
Victor Moses will have to wait and see if his run as a starter in the team will continue or if he would be consigned to the bench with the return of Oscar and Willian. As for Mikel Obi, his status is unknown as he hasn’t been named on any matchday team in the league this season and didn’t even make the team for the EFL Cup.
Ahmed Musa scored his first league goal for the reigning champions in last week’s 3-1 win over Crystal Palace and would want to continue with that form when Leicester travel to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham this afternoon. The Champions are on a two game winning streak in all competitions and that should be a confidence booster for them. The foxes won this fixture last season and will be hoping for an encore today. They have lost only once in their last five visits to White Hart Lane, winning two and drawing two. Tottenham are unbeaten in this Premier League season so far, amassing five wins and four draws. They are in fifth spot with 19 points, just a point off the teams at the top of the table and would need to win to make sure that they remain close to the top and not get left behind. They have failed to win their last four games in all competitions and will look to bounce back from the disappointing midweek defeat to Liverpool in the EFL Cup. Harry Kane is back in training and is inching closer to a return, while Vincent Janssen scored for thr lilywhites and would be hoping to start today.
In other fixtures in the league this weekend, Liverpool will travel to the capital where they will be guests of Crystal Palace, knowing that a handsome win might put them top of the table, while the Eagles will go into the game with the aim to turn their form around after suffering back to back defaets in the league.
Manchester United haven’t won a league match this month and will hope to do so in their final league match of the month when they host Burnley at the theatre of dreams. The Red devils are desperate for a win as they have been only to get just onw win in their last six league matches, while Burnley will hope to build on their last weekend home win against Everton, with a positive result at old trafford. Middlesbrough are still searching for their first home win of the season and will try to find it when they host a Bournemouth side that have only lost one of their last seven league matches.
Tomorrow, two teams will totally contrasting forms will meet at Goodison Park when Everton face West Ham. The Hammers are unbeaten in their last three league games, while the Toffees are winless in their last four and this one looks like it will end in a stalemate. We will just sit back, relax and enjoy the weekend.
There are very good odds on www.nairabet.com for the different possible outcomes of these games.