Reasons why footballers are not like the rest of us, in this week’s PL match previews at Joining the Dots

Imagine you walk in your office a random Tuesday morning and after seven minutes you’re told you can just go home – great, isn’t it? Well, footballers don’t like when this happens that much.

One Friday more, welcome to Joining the Dots, where I don’t take the “22 men running after a ball” game too seriously.

BURNLEY V MANCHESTER CITY

Who doesn’t want to watch a classic example of attack vs defence on a Saturday lunchtime? With Burnley’s defensive prowess and City’s attacking verve, this game could well be represented by a visual metaphor of a man using a hammer to smash a square peg into a round hole, until it finally slides inside, misshapen and disappointed. That is Sergio Aguero scoring a last minute penalty at Turf Moor.

City have registered the most shots in the league (447), so it’s not unlikely that Nick Pope will end up misshapen after the latest City barrage.

BOURNEMOUTH V STOKE

Dear fans of the Cherries and the Potters,
My deepest apologies for the fact that you’ll have to endure this game.
Bournemouth only turn up against the top 4 teams, and Arsenal.
Stoke turn up against no-one.
Why not stay at home with a cup of tea and some custard creams?
Best wishes,

Maria

BRIGHTON V WEST HAM

Brighton have a striker in Glenn Murray who has been recently arrested due to possible tax fraud at over a million pounds. West Ham have a representative in Tony Henry who was suspended on Thursday for recommending the club acquire no more African players. Need I say more about these two?

If you think I’m just making excuses not to make a preview about this wonderful game, you’d be quite right.

LEICESTER V SWANSEA

Fresh from victories against Liverpool and Arsenal, Swansea may be picking up form at the right time to climb out the relegation zone. Inexplicably, they are scoring goals. You wouldn’t expect a team with a striker called ‘McBurnie’ to actually be able to score. But they actually have – and against those two teams as well. Let’s just allow Swansea their time in the spotlight and ignore the absolute states these teams are in right now.

Leicester are always strong at the Kingpower, so this could well be a tight affair. Jamie Vardy keeps producing goals no matter what, but with a Mahrez who would prefer to be in Manchester, maybe a slide in the Foxes’ form is imminent?

MANCHESTER UNITED V HUDDERSFIELD

Mourinho’s treatment of Fellaini last Wednesday was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in football recently. What makes it even funnier is that the Belgian’s replacement was Ander Herrera – as if the Spaniard could offer much more than Fellaini. Apart from Herrera, the other “sub of rage” was Mata (which in Spanish translates to “kill”) so yeah, pretty accurate, Man United fans must feel like killing themselves when they remember Juan Mata is the solution to try and make a comeback.

So after Man United proved how much of a shambles they are, it’d be great if Huddersfield did like they did back in October and beat the Red Devils. If Mourinho hadn’t signed a new contract, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him joining his super-best-friend Conte in leaving the PL.
Yet, as I said last week, Man United are very predictable and surely they’ll go back to normal on Saturday. Even though I’m not too sure what normality is to them.

WEST BROM V SOUTHAMPTON

This match takes this gameweek’s bore-fest potential from an 8/10 all the way to a 10/10. I mean, just look at the list! Whoever arranged these games to occur simultaneously is one sadistic fool. It may even reach the heights of that weekend a few months back when things were 0-0 for a crazy amount of time and it trended on Twitter.

Anyway, I should attempt to make some comments on this match. West Brom have found themselves at the bottom of the table, which isn’t surprising since they have only won once between now and August 19th. Their only wins have come against Bournemouth, Burnley and Brighton, and since Southampton doesn’t begin with a ‘B’, I don’t see a good match for them here. With Bristol City, Brentford, Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton and Burton waiting for them, the Championship seems a better place for the Baggies.

ARSENAL V EVERTON

Where to start with these two comically-managed sides? Arsenal are going about their business this season as if the transfer market were a pick ‘n’ mix. “I’ll take some Kolasinac… a bit of Mkhitaryan… now some Lacazette… oh no, I don’t actually like that one, some Aubameyang instead please?”

All the while they’re walking along stuffing their faces with the new sweets, they don’t notice the old ones like Giroud, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain falling out their pockets. And those weren’t actually too bad, better hope the new ones are pretty good, Arsene?
If Aubameyang makes his debut against Everton, at least he’ll get a good look at with whom he’ll likely end up in a few years.
Everton should change their nickname and be called Pigeons as they keep chasing the Top 6 teams and picking up the breadcrumbs they drop (AKA Rooney, Walcott, Mangala…).

CRYSTAL PALACE V NEWCASTLE

There are just so many similarities between these two teams. A shared history of Alan Pardew, Yohan Cabaye, Dwight Gayle, AND Andros Townsend, for example. The fact that they play in very different colours, very different sized stadiums, and very opposite ends of the country is just a ploy to distract us from the fact that they’re both exactly the same mediocre Premier League outfits.

Seriously though, in terms of a ‘preview’, you’re not going to get much here. Sorry. And all those big name journalists who claim to know how this game will go can be ignored. How can anyone possibly predict a game between these two?
Some honourable similarity mentions: Both clubs have strikers who cannot currently score goals in Christian Benteke and Joselu, and both clubs have birds as their nicknames.

LIVERPOOL V SPURS

This one could make for pretty nice viewing. The league’s two top goalscorers in Harry Kane (21) and Mo Salah (19) are on show, and these two teams both feature in the top 5 of the ‘most tackled’ list. So plenty of clumsy turnovers and a few goals might not be too hard to come by. This is a huge game in the race for the top 4, as both sides are teetering on the edge looking at Chelsea and Arsenal around them with fear… well… perhaps just slight concern, rather than fear at the moment.

Anyway, both Liverpool and Spurs will be desperate to complete an underwhelming Champions League campaign next year, losing to Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 or something, and their journey there starts at the weekend.

WATFORD V CHELSEA

With Conte apparently aiming for the sack, Watford might be in with a chance of claiming their first three points since Boxing Day. Granted, it will be a tough test against Chelsea, but rejuvenated by the arrival of Deulofeu and then dis-rejuvenated by the continued poor form of Richarlison, Watford may be able to scrape a win if they play their cards right.

If Hazard and co. turn up though, they could easily leave Watford hoping it was a game of cards instead.

About the Author

Maria Dot
Hi there, I'm Maria. I'll be joining the dots between all the PL fixtures here on Tales from the Top Flight. When I was 13, I used to wake up at 6am, before going to school, just to watch Romelu Lukaku play for Anderlecht. Now that I am 20, and a very critical Man United fan, I realise that he rarely scores a goal which is not a tap in.