Manchester City v Arsenal; the psychology and form

This year, Arsenal’s form has been erratic.  Having suffered a 5-1 defeat by Liverpool they have been through ups and downs…

01 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Fulham W 4-1
05 Jan 2019 Blackpool v Arsenal FAC W 0-3
12 Jan 2019 West Ham United v Arsenal L 1-0
19 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Chelsea W 2-0
25 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Manchester United FAC L 1-3
29 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Cardiff City W 2-1

The win over Chelsea looked particularly encouraging until Bournemouth went two better, and suggested Chelsea were not all we thought they were.  The win over Cardiff was not emphatic against a team with such a poor away record, and Arsenal were completely beaten by Manchester United.

Manchester City started the new year like a team going for the title but had one little wobble last week.

03 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Liverpool W 2-1
06 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Rotherham United FAC W 7-0
09 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Burton Albion Lge Cup W 9-0
14 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 3-0
20 Jan 2019 Huddersfield Town v Manchester City W 0-3
23 Jan 2019 Burton Albion v Manchester City Lge Cup W 0-1
26 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Burnley FAC W 5-0
29 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester City L 2-1

and as we can see they slipped up against Newcastle, perhaps mistaking the team for another Burton.

Such results can give players extra nerves – a sense of “not letting that happen again” entering their play.

But their home form is probably far too impressive to allow for such nerves and it would need a team who are brilliant away from home to upset them.

The home form league table shows us just how solid Manchester City are at home

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 12 10 2 0 32 7 25 32
3 Arsenal 13 10 2 1 28 11 17 32
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 12 7 4 1 25 16 9 25

11 wins and just one defeat – showing the team scoring almost four goals a game.   Away from home Arsenal don’t have any form remotely like this…

1 Tottenham H 13 11 0 2 30 13 17 33
2 Liverpool 12 9 2 1 23 7 16 29
3 Manchester City 12 7 2 3 23 9 14 23
4 Chelsea 12 7 1 4 19 14 5 22
5 Manchester Utd 12 6 2 4 23 19 4 20
6 Leicester City 13 5 3 5 17 18 -1 18
7 Watford 12 4 4 4 17 16 1 16
8 Arsenal 11 4 3 4 22 22 0 15

Arsenal away have won four, drawn three and lost four and they are equal in goals scored and goals conceded.

Which really places the psychological issues at Arsenal’s door.  What is worse is that the psychological issue of Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat to Liverpool will still be raw, and a couple of early goals for Manchester City could lead to disaster.

Even a recourse to recent history doesn’t help Arsenal much… – results again from Arsenal’s point of view…

08 May 2016 Manchester City v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
18 Dec 2016 Manchester City v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
02 Apr 2017 Arsenal v Manchester City D 2-2 Premier League
23 Apr 2017 Arsenal v Manchester City W 2-1 FA Cup
05 Nov 2017 Manchester City v Arsenal L 3-1 Premier League
25 Feb 2018 Arsenal v Manchester City L 0-3 League Cup
01 Mar 2018 Arsenal v Manchester City L 0-3 Premier League
12 Aug 2018 Arsenal v Manchester City L 0-2 Premier League

Four straight defeats in the last four games, with only one goal scored and 11 conceded, and just one win in the last eight matches.  This will also weigh on Arsenal minds.  I think it will be a win for Manchester City with much difficulty.

 

 

Arsenal v Cardiff; the form, the injuries, the psychology, the predictions

Arsenal at home have remained a very solid team, exactly as they were last season…

Home games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 11 10 1 0 31 6 25 31
3 Arsenal 12 9 2 1 26 10 16 29
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 11 7 3 1 23 14 9 24

Cardiff away look to be in a desparate situation

Away games only

17 Brighton and Hove Albion 12 2 2 8 10 20 -10 8
18 Huddersfield Town 11 1 3 7 8 21 -13 6
19 Cardiff City 11 1 2 8 6 21 -15 5
20 Fulham 12 0 2 10 8 30 -22 2

When we look at recent form however Arsenal in January have two defeats

01 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Fulham W 4-1
05 Jan 2019 Blackpool v Arsenal FAC W 0-3
12 Jan 2019 West Ham United v Arsenal L 1-0
19 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Chelsea W 2-0
25 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Manchester United FAC L 1-3

Cardiff in January however have no wins

01 Jan 2019 Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur L 0-3
05 Jan 2019 Gillingham v Cardiff City FAC L 1-0
12 Jan 2019 Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town D 0-0
19 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Cardiff City L 3-0
The FA Cup defeat of both teams has very different meanings – Arsenal were poor but playing a PL team in form.   Cardiff lost to Gillingham of League One.

Three wins two defeats for Arsenal and no wins three defeats and a drew to Cardiff tell Arsenal that no matter what they might feel about their poor performance against Manchester United they certainly are not in as bad a run of form as Cardiff.

Injuries show that Arsenal are now near the top of the league…

8

Liverpool

7

West Ham United

6

Arsenal

5

Newcastle United

Arsenal’s list of injuries prepared by Physioroom shows

PLAYER CONDITION EXPECTED RETURN NEWS
Sokratis Ankle Injury March 2, 2019 “Left ankle. Expected to return to full training by the end of February.”
L Koscielny Facial Injury No Return Date “Bruising and soft tissue swelling to face and jaw. Being reviewed on a daily basis.”
H Bellerin ACL Knee Injury No Return Date “Hector will undergo surgery to repair this in the coming days. The rehab process is expected to take between 6-9 nine months.”
H Mkhitaryan Metatarsal Fracture January 29, 2019 “Expected to return to full training in the next week.”
R Holding ACL Knee Injury No Return Date “He will undergo surgery to repair this in the coming days. The rehab process is expected to take between six to nine months” from the date of injury
D Welbeck Ankle Injury Out all season

So there is only one of those players possible to be available for the next game.

Cardiff  however have just tree players out but two could be back in the squad.

PLAYER CONDITION EXPECTED RETURN NEWS
S Morrison Appendicitis No Return Date “He had a procedure on Monday. I don’t think [he will play tomorrow], but if there’s any doubt I won’t play him anyway. We can’t gamble on anyone.”
H Arter Groin Strain January 29, 2019 “He tweaked his groin and we’re not sure what it is. It was one of them, although you want to play him, with 10 days until the next game you want to make sure you don’t aggravate anything.”
K Zohore Thigh Muscle Strain January 29, 2019 “He’ll be struggling to get back for next weekend. He might get on the bench.”

The psychology

Cardiff have had the humiliation of losing to a third tier team in the cup and they know they have to play well to get themselves out of trouble.  Arsenal might not be a top four team at the moment, but they are one of the six elite European clubs and even with multiple injuries can put up a fight.

Cardiff will try to deliver an early knock out blow to get the crowd with them.   Failing that it looks like Arsenal all the way.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 23 19 3 1 54 13 41 60
2 Manchester City 23 18 2 3 62 17 45 56
3 Tottenham Hotspur 23 17 0 6 48 23 25 51
4 Chelsea 23 14 5 4 40 19 21 47
5 Arsenal 23 13 5 5 48 32 16 44
6 Manchester United 23 13 5 5 46 33 13 44
7 Watford 23 9 6 8 32 32 0 33
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23 9 5 9 27 31 -4 32
9 Leicester City 23 9 4 10 29 29 0 31
10 West Ham United 23 9 4 10 30 34 -4 31
11 Everton 23 8 6 9 34 33 1 30
12 AFC Bournemouth 23 9 3 11 33 42 -9 30
13 Brighton and Hove Albion 23 7 5 11 25 32 -7 26
14 Crystal Palace 23 6 4 13 23 32 -9 22
15 Southampton 23 5 7 11 25 40 -15 22
16 Burnley 23 6 4 13 23 43 -20 22
17 Newcastle United 23 5 6 12 19 31 -12 21
18 Cardiff City 23 5 4 14 19 44 -25 19
19 Fulham 23 3 5 15 21 51 -30 14
20 Huddersfield Town 23 2 5 16 13 40 -27 11

If Arsenal hold on through the first half they could knock up another of their 4-1 wins.

Newcastle v Watford (FA Cup) Predictions, injuries, psychology

Newcastle are having a tough time of it at home this season…

Pos Club P W D L F A GD
Pts
16 Fulham 11 3 3 5 13 21 -8 12
17 Southampton 11 2 5 4 13 18 -5 11
18 Newcastle United 12 3 1 8 10 17 -7 10
19 Crystal Palace 11 2 3 6 6 11 -5 9
20 Huddersfield Town 12 1 2 9 5 19 -14 5

Just three wins and one draw with eight defeats.  And indeed only 10 goals scored at home in 12 games.

Watford away from home however are a top half team…

3 Manchester City 11 7 2 2 22 7 15 23
4 Chelsea 11 7 1 3 19 10 9 22
5 Manchester United 12 6 2 4 23 19 4 20
6 Leicester City 12 5 2 5 16 17 -1 17
7 Watford 11 4 4 3 16 14 2 16
8 Arsenal 11 4 3 4 22 22 0 15

But even so it is just four wins and four draws.  However they have scored 16 goals away from home – more than Newcastle have managed at home.

After a stream of games without a win Newcastle have come good just recently.

26 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Newcastle United L 4-0
29 Dec 2018 Watford v Newcastle United D 1-1
02 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester United L 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Blackburn Rovers FAC D 1-1
12 Jan 2019 Chelsea v Newcastle United L 2-1
15 Jan 2019 Blackburn Rovers v Newcastle United FAC W 2-4
19 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Cardiff City W 3-0

So two wins in a row, but neither against top ranking teams.   However the away game to Watford on 29 December did suggest there was not much between the two teams.

And when we come to look at it Watford have not been in shining form of late either…

26 Dec 2018 Watford v Chelsea L 1-2
29 Dec 2018 Watford v Newcastle United D 1-1
02 Jan 2019 AFC Bournemouth v Watford D 3-3
06 Jan 2019 Woking v Watford FAC W 0-2
12 Jan 2019 Crystal Palace v Watford W 1-2
19 Jan 2019 Watford v Burnley D 0-0

Yes they beat Palace away and only just lost to Chelsea, but the goalless draw with Burnley was not that brilliant a performance.

Newcastle are showing six injured or unavailable players at the present, but several of them look like they could be ready for return for the match and in the best of circumstances they could be suddenly down to just one player missing.  Data from Physioroom.

PLAYER CONDITION EXPECTED RETURN
 Kenedy Illness January 26, 2019
 F Fernandez Illness January 26, 2019
 K Sung-yeung Hamstring Injury No Return Date
 J Shelvey Thigh January 26, 2019
 M Diame Hip Injury January 26, 2019
 P Dummett Hamstring Injury January 26, 2019

Watford are curiously showing the same sort of situation.

PLAYER CONDITION EXPECTED RETURN
 K Femenia Hamstring Injury No Return Date
 A Doucoure Knee Injury January 26, 2019
 C Cathcart Knee Injury January 26, 2019
 W Hughes Conussion January 26, 2019
 S Prodl Knee Injury January 26, 2019

The psychology

Quite possibly how many players come back for each team will determine who gets through, but I suspect both sides will be nervous and this will remove any gung ho attitude on either side.   Newcastle will probably be happy for a draw as anything other than a defeat is to be welcome.  Watford will accept a draw feeling they could win the replay.

I’m going for 1-1.

Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur: predictions, psychology, injuries

For Crystal Palace, home advantage is hardly any advantage at all in this match given their record thus far to date…

Home matches only

Pos Team P W D L F A GD
Pts
17 Southampton 11 2 5 4 13 18 -5 11
18 Newcastle United 12 3 1 8 10 17 -7 10
19 Crystal Palace 11 2 3 6 6 11 -5 9
20 Huddersfield Town 12 1 2 9 5 19 -14 5

Two wins, three draws, six defeats and just six goals scored at home in the league all season.

Tottenham however are the away team of the season

Away games only

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 13 11 0 2 30 13 17 33
2 Liverpool 12 9 2 1 23 7 16 29
3 Manchester City 11 7 2 2 22 7 15 23
4 Chelsea 11 7 1 3 19 10 9 22

Tottenham have scored five times as many goals away from home as Palace have at home, although they have also conceded two more.

Since the 3rd round of the FA Cup Palace have had two defeats

05 Jan 2019 Crystal Palace v Grimsby Town FAC W 1-0
12 Jan 2019 Crystal Palace v Watford L 1-2
19 Jan 2019 Liverpool v Crystal Palace L 4-3

As for Tottenham, since the third round…

04 Jan 2019 Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur FAC W 0-7
08 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea Lge Cup W 1-0
13 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United L 0-1
20 Jan 2019 Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur W 1-2

Tottenham have beaten Chelsea in the league cup, lost at home to Manchester United and won away to Fulham – although the latter by only 2-1.

But things get interesting when we look at the injuries…

Tottenham’s injury list includes Alli and Kane.  So while Sissoko, Moura and Wanyama all stand a chance of being fit for the game – the two players they probably want most, certainly can’t play.

Palace have three injuries: Guaita, Hannessey, Souare.

The question is will the injuries to Tottenham’s famous pair unbalance the team?  It is possible.

The psychological issues

Palace have been runners up in the FA Cup twice (1990 and 2016) while Tottenham have won it eight times.  But they have not got the trophy since 1991 – a long wait for a club whose main triumphs have been in the cup competitions rather than the league.

Tottenham will expect to knock Palace aside easily, and I suspect they will do just that – but there is that one psychological issue: the lack of their two key players.  If they think on that, and if Palace sneak the first goal, anything could happen.

Arsenal v Manchester United predictions psychology injuries

Arsenal v Manchester United: FA Cup 4th round

For a team which is being heavily criticised, especially for its defence, Arsenal’s home form remains unquestionably good…

Home games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 11 10 1 0 31 6 25 31
3 Arsenal 12 9 2 1 26 10 16 29
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 11 7 3 1 23 14 9 24

Nine wins, two draws and a single defeat at the very start of the season to Manchester City.   Their goals against total at home is 10, exactly the same as Manchester City.

Manchester United’s away form is good, but not quite as good as Arsenal’s.

Away teams only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 13 11 0 2 30 13 17 33
2 Liverpool 12 9 2 1 23 7 16 29
3 Manchester City 11 7 2 2 22 7 15 23
4 Chelsea 11 7 1 3 19 10 9 22
5 Manchester United 12 6 2 4 23 19 4 20

Six wins, two draws, four defeats.

Both teams have very strong FA Cup histories – in fact they are the top two performing FA Cup teams, by some distance…

Results by team
Club Wins Last final won Total final appearances
Arsenal 13 2017 20
Manchester United 12 2016 20
Chelsea 8 2018 13
Tottenham Hotspur 8 1991 9
Liverpool 7 2006 14
Aston Villa 7 1957 11

So trying to separate the teams is hard – although if we look at current form we can see quite a boost for Manchester United

22 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United W 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Huddersfield Town W 3-1
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth W 4-1
02 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester United W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Reading FAC W 2-0
13 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United W 0-1
19 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Brighton and Hove Albion W 2-1

The scoring has eased up recently but the list of victories cannot be denied.  Arsenal by comparison has

22 Dec 2018 Arsenal v Burnley W 3-1
26 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal D 1-1
29 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Arsenal L 5-1
01 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Fulham W 4-1
05 Jan 2019 Blackpool v Arsenal FAC W 0-3
12 Jan 2019 West Ham United v Arsenal L 1-0
19 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Chelsea W 2-0

Arsenal have four wins, two defeats and a draw, compared with seven straight wins for Manchester United.

In the injury charts Manchester United have five men down, Arsenal four.

Fellani, Mojo and Smalling are all out for Manchester United with Shaw and Rashford in doubt.  For Arsenal Bellerin, Welbeck and Holding are all out, and Mkhitaryan is slowly coming back to full fitness.

So on form and team availability it looks like Manchester United will shade it.  And in going further and looking at games between the two sides Arsenal have not won any of the last three.

Thus everything points to Manchester United, although Arsenal are slightly edging it in terms of home vs away fixtures.  But Emery as a manager has for many years been a cup man, while the key issue for Manchester United this season is getting back to the top four for the Champions League.   This final psychological issue might just swing it Arsenal’s way – the FA Cup for Manchester United is less important than the league.  I doubt that it is for Arsenal.

Arsenal v Chelsea: the predictions, the injuries and the psychology

Physioroom is showing Arsenal in the lower reaches of the injury listings, along with Chelsea.  Each has three men out.

Top of the list for injuries is West Ham on nine players down. Only two clubs have fewer injuries than Arsenal and Chelsea.

The three Arsenal men out are Mkhitaryan, Welbeck and Holding.   Mkhitaryan is expected to be back in training next week.  Morata is said to be a slight doubt for Chelsea, while Loftus Cheek and Ginkel are long term injuries

The home and away form

Arsenal’s away form this year has improved slightly but their home form is not quite as solid as it was before – although still very decent.

Home games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21
6 Everton 12 6 3 3 20 16 4 21
7 Tottenham Hotspur 10 6 0 4 18 10 8 18

Just the one home defeat and that at the very start of the season.  Arsenal have played 11 won eight and drawn two with just one defeat.  The club has the third best home scoring record, and the third best defensive record in the league.

However when we look at the away form we can see that Chelsea are doing very well also – so we have the third best home team in the league against the third best away team.

Away games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 12 9 2 1 23 7 16 29
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Manchester United 12 6 2 4 23 19 4 20
6 Leicester City 11 5 2 4 13 13 0 17
7 Watford 11 4 4 3 16 14 2 16
8 Arsenal 11 4 3 4 22 22 0 15

Chelsea have been scoring fractionally under two a game while conceding under one a game.  That will be tough for Arsenal.

Recent results

Arsenal are the team out of form…

16 Dec 2018 Southampton v Arsenal L 3-2
19 Dec 2018 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur LC L 0-2
22 Dec 2018 Arsenal v Burnley W 3-1
26 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal D 1-1
29 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Arsenal L 5-1
01 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Fulham W 4-1
05 Jan 2019 Blackpool v Arsenal FAC W 0-3
12 Jan 2019 West Ham United v Arsenal L 1-0

The recent Arsenal wins have been against very modest opposition, except for Tottenham who themselves are doing very well away from home this season.

Chelsea’s results look like this

22 Dec 2018 Chelsea v Leicester City L 0-1
26 Dec 2018 Watford v Chelsea W 1-2
30 Dec 2018 Crystal Palace v Chelsea W 0-1
02 Jan 2019 Chelsea v Southampton D 0-0
05 Jan 2019 Chelsea v Nottingham Forest FAC W 2-0
08 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea LC L 1-0
12 Jan 2019 Chelsea v Newcastle United W 2-1

There is a consistency of low scoring games, even against more modest opposition, and in addition that defeat in the League Cup to Tottenham.   But away from home of late they have been seen edging past Watford and Palace, each by just a single goal.

That suggests that if Arsenal can take the lead they might be able to hold Chelsea at bay.

But Arsenal have been poor at taking the lead, spending much more time trying to recover in the second half from the sins of the first half.

The psychology

Arsenal seem to be much edgier than Chelsea not least because there is no money it seems, there is the chance of a much heralded senior member of the management team thinking of leaving, and because they are under constant attack in the media.  Plus their current results don’t look too clever.

I think a low scoring game; Chelsea might just sneak this by one goal.

Manchester United v Brighton: predictions, psychology, injuries

The first thing we know about Manchester United is that they are on a terrific run.  Here it is…

22 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United W 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Huddersfield Town W 3-1
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth W 4-1
02 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester United W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Reading FAC W 2-0
13 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United W 0-1

But… only one of those teams was a top six team, and Tottenham are in the curious position of doing far worse at home than away.  So playing Tottenham at Wembley, although not easy, was not as difficult as one might assume.

Just to make that point here is the top of the home matches league table…

Home games only.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21
6 Everton 12 6 3 3 20 16 4 21
7 Tottenham Hotspur 10 6 0 4 18 10 8 18

So Tottenham are modest at home, and Manchester United are better, having three draws and a defeat against Tottenham’s four defeats.  But Man U do score 2.1 goals a game at home letting in 1.3

Brighton are modest away – to say the least…

16 Brighton and Hove 11 2 2 7 9 18 -9 8
17 Burnley 11 2 2 7 9 22 -13 8
18 Huddersfield Town 11 1 3 7 8 21 -13 6
19 Cardiff City 10 1 2 7 6 18 -12 5
20 Fulham 12 0 2 10 8 30 -22 2

Two wins and two draws for Brighton away and seven defeats, scoring under 1 goal a game and letting in nearly two on average.

The fact is that these are the teams that Manchester United’s new manager has been getting his team to eat for breakfast, and it is hard to see how Brighton will hold out.

The psychology

Man U will expect to win because of their recent track record, and Brighton will also expect them to win.  Brighton will play to stop that all important first goal.  The moment Man U get it, the floodgates will open.

The injuries

Manchester United are way down the injury list with just three men down: but two of those (Alexis and Smalling) could play, although given the way in which Man U have been playing they hardly need risk anyone.

Brighton also have three injuries but only one of these – Bissouma – has any chance of making the team.  Fernandes da Silva Junior and Izquierdo  have no chance of playing.

The verdict

It is hard to see anything other than a Manchester United victory – probably by at least three goals.  Manchester United have scored 17 goals in their last six games, and have not let in a goal in their last three games so 3-0 seems about right.

Liverpool v Crystal Palace: the psychology, injuries and predictions

Liverpool have never won the Premier League – something that is easy to forget given the way in which their status is hyped up by the media on a regular basis. But the reality is that their triumphs came before the new format came along, and they are looking to this season to be the break through moment.

Certainly sitting clear at the top of the league in mid January, four points clear of the club in second place and nine points clear of the club in third, is no bad setting for an assault on the first Premier League trophy at Anfield.

Although they only sit second in the league when home form matches are calculated they have games in hand…

Home matches only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester C 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26

Manchester City are above them on home form simply because they have played two more at home than Liverpool, whose record of nine wins, one draw and no defeats, is second to none.

Away from home Crystal Palace don’t look so secure…

9 Wolverhampton 11 4 3 4 11 13 -2 15
10 West Ham 10 4 2 4 13 14 -1 14
11 Crystal Palace 11 4 1 6 14 17 -3 13
12 Newcastle U 11 2 5 4 9 14 -5 11
13 Southampton 12 3 2 7 12 22 -10 11

Just four wins away, and six defeats for Palace with a goal difference of -3; against Liverpool’s home goal difference of +24 with only three goals put in the net against them at Anfield.

Liverpool did have a little slip up of late…

03 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Liverpool L 2-1
07 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton v Liverpool (FAC) L 2-1
12 Jan 2019 Brighton and Hove Albion v Liverpool W 0-1

but prior to that they had eight straight wins, and the modest away victory on the South Coast leads me to think that the cover has been turned.

Unfortunately Palace’s home form doesn’t give one the feeling that they can turn matters around…

26 Dec 2018 Crystal Palace v Cardiff City D 0-0
30 Dec 2018 Crystal Palace v Chelsea L 0-1
02 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton v Crystal Palace W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Crystal Palace v Grimsby Town FAC W 1-0
12 Jan 2019 Crystal Palace v Watford L 1-2

Two wins in the last five and although one was highly commendable there are still the defeats and a draw against lowly Cardiff.

The Psychology

I really can’t see anything here to give Liverpool the worries nor Palace the certainty they can win.

The injuries 

Liverpool have six players out, but Wijnaldum looks like he could return.  The players with real problems are Alexander Arnold, Lovren, Lallana, Gomez, and of course Oxlade Chamberlain.

Palace have three out, Guaita, Hennessey, and Souare.   I doubt that Liverpool’s longer list will bring any worries to Liverpool’s management in preparation for this game.  I take them to win easily.  4-0 I expect.

Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers predictions and psychology

My suspicion is that Manchester City expected to win the league title this season as easily as they did last season, and have been unprepared for the strength of Liverpool’s challenge.   Certainly anyone placing a bet on Liverpool being this far ahead at this point of the season would have got stupendous odds and rather strange looks as the bookie happily took the money.

But we are where we are and Liverpool are out in front.  All Man City can do is win their games.

In terms of home performances they are right out front

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 11 10 0 1 37 10 27 30
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25

and that in itself makes any match on their ground look like a home win.

Wolverhampton’s away record is not so clever…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 12 9 2 1 23 7 16 29
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Manchester United 12 6 2 4 23 19 4 20
6 Leicester City 11 5 2 4 13 13 0 17
7 Watford 11 4 4 3 16 14 2 16
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 4 3 3 11 10 1 15

Four wins, three draws and three defeats scoring just one goal a game and letting in the same.   While Manchester City at home score three or four on average and concede just one.   Which makes it look like a straight 4-1, or at least 3-1, to Manchester City.

All Wolverhampton can look for is a recent dip in form from City but even that is missing…

22 Dec 2018 Manchester City v Crystal Palace L 2-3
26 Dec 2018 Leicester City v Manchester City L 2-1
30 Dec 2018 Southampton v Manchester City W 1-3
03 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Liverpool W 2-1
06 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Rotherham United FAC W 7-0
09 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Burton Albion Lge Cup W 9-0

After the defeats to Palace and Leicester Manchester City have recovered and have knocked in 21 goals in four games, although two were against lower league teams.  But such team still have to be beaten.   There is nothing here to show that they are in any mood to do anything other than score as many goals as possible.

Wolverhampton themselves have had a bit of a boost of late…

05 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea W 2-1
09 Dec 2018 Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 1-2
15 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v AFC Bournemouth W 2-0
21 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool L 0-2
26 Dec 2018 Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers D 1-1
29 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 1-3
02 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crystal Palace L 0-2
07 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool FAC W 2-1

Three straight wins early in December, and a modest defeat to Liverpool which itself was offset by knocking Liverpool out of the Cup – in a season when Liverpool were clearly hoping for a second league and cup double.

That win over Liverpool and earlier against Tottenham at Wembley were both remarkable, and when we add in the Chelsea game it looks as if Wolves have a secret weapon against the big clubs.  But Tottenham are slipping up at Wembley – a ground they seem to hate – and I can’t see Manchester City letting any more points drop away.   They still have hopes of catching Liverpool even though it means waiting for Liverpool to slip.

I’ll stick with my easy win for Man City.

Everton v Bournemouth: the spending, predictions, psychology, injuries

Everton are currently 11th in the Football League, and yet they are the 5th top spending club since 2012/13 according to Transfer Market’s tables

Club Expenditure Men in Income Men out Balance
1 164 163
2 248 236
3 129 134
4 138 140
5 111 120
6 135 128

They are in fact one of the teams who have spent and spent, but to no real gain.

At home they are the 9th best performing team in the league, and yet actually below Bournemouth who are a fraction of Everton’s size and have a fraction of their money.

What’s more if Everton are having to pay for their new stadium, that is going to bring a period of privation and they need to be over-achieving now not under-achieving in order to get through that period.

Here’s the home form…

Home games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 11 10 0 1 37 10 27 30
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21
6 Tottenham Hotspur 9 6 0 3 18 9 9 18
7 Brighton and Hove Albion 11 5 3 3 15 12 3 18
8 AFC Bournemouth 11 5 3 3 19 17 2 18
9 Everton 11 5 3 3 18 16 2 18

Five wins, three draws and three defeats.

But if there is a salvation here it is that Bournemouth away are as poor as Everton away.

Away games only

14 Everton 10 2 3 5 13 15 -2 9
15 AFC Bournemouth 10 3 0 7 12 23 -11 9
16 Brighton and Hove Albion 11 2 2 7 9 18 -9 8
17 Burnley 11 2 2 7 9 22 -13 8
18 Huddersfield Town 11 1 3 7 8 21 -13 6
19 Cardiff City 10 1 2 7 6 18 -12 5
20 Fulham 12 0 2 10 8 30 -22 2

Three wins, seven defeats away for Bournemouth.  Just 12 goals scored away against 18 scored at home by Everton.

Bournemouth’s one hope however comes from the fact that Everton can concede at home – they have let in 16 goals, so Bournemouth might bank on their one goal a game.  It could be enough to get them a draw.

Indeed they might even fancy snatching a victory given how poor Everton’s results have been of late…

02 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Everton L 1-0
05 Dec 2018 Everton v Newcastle United D 1-1
10 Dec 2018 Everton v Watford D 2-2
15 Dec 2018 Manchester City v Everton L 3-1
23 Dec 2018 Everton v Tottenham Hotspur L 2-6
26 Dec 2018 Burnley v Everton W 1-5
29 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Everton L 1-0
01 Jan 2019 Everton v Leicester City L 0-1
05 Jan 2019 Everton v Lincoln City FAC W 2-1

Leaving aside the Lincoln game (and that victory was only by one goal) there is one outstanding win (against Burnley) balanced by a slaughtering by Tottenham – at Goodison.

The only good thing for Everton is that Bournemouth’s bad run has gone on even longer…

03 Nov 2018 Bournemouth v Manchester United L 1-2
10 Nov 2018 Newcastle United v Bournemouth L 2-1
25 Nov 2018 Bournemouth v Arsenal L 1-2
01 Dec 2018 Manchester City v Bournemouth L 3-1
04 Dec 2018 Bournemouth v Huddersfield Town W 2-1
08 Dec 2018  Bournemouth v Liverpool L 0-4
15 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton W v Bournemouth L 2-0
19 Dec 2018 Chelsea v Bournemouth Lge Cup L 1-0
22 Dec 2018 Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove W 2-0
26 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Bournemouth L 5-0
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth L 4-1
02 Jan 2019 Bournemouth v Watford D 3-3
05 Jan 2019  Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove FAC L 1-3

Two wins in 13 games is relegation form, not top 10 and Bournemouth need to get this form sorted out fast or else they will sink.  Indeed it is only the poverty of displays by teams near the bottom that means Bournemouth are in 12th.

Injuries

Physioroom note that Bournemouth have 8 injuries although four are listed as possibly being ok for today after late fitness tests: Fraser King, Wilson and Gosling.   Francis, Solanke, Cook and Smith are out.

Everton seem to have no injuries.

Psychology

This really is a case of who can pick themselves up off the deck and deliver some proper free flowing football.  Whoever does will win.   If both fail to gain some confidence then a draw is the obvious outcome, but if through one means or another Everton can get a goal I think Bournemouth will just crumble mentally.

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