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A Bluffer’s Guide To The Top Four’s Fixtures This Weekend

October 31, 2016

When the Premier League’s second most in-form team takes on the top flight’s second-worst team, there’s only going to be one outcome, isn’t there? Not when Arsenal are involved.

The Gunners failed to beat Middlesbrough last weekend and the Teessiders weren’t in any better form than Sunderland with just a solitary point from their last six. Anything is possible and David Moyes will have noticed the defensive set-up of his neighbours, primed to frustrate Arsene Wenger’s men at any opportunity.

Alas for Sunderland, Arsenal have one of the best shot conversion ratios in the Premier League - 41.3% - and the Black Cats concede with 30.77% of shots against, one of the worst in the top flight. If it all points to an away win, then a goalless draw surely beckons?
Manchester City will hope so. Top by just a solitary goal, Pep Guardiola is enduring his worst run of results as a manager since he began with Barcelona. No wins in six for the pre-season title favourites, including three defeats. All this from a team which won their first ten games of the season.
He won’t relish the trip to the Hawthorns where they meet a reinvigorated West Bromwich Albion, whose Monday night defeat was their first in five games. Tony Pulis just signed a one-year contract extension and Albion are beginning to resemble his Stoke City sides: hard to beat and the third highest fouls committed per game ratio in the Premier League – 13.44 per game.

Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace and will be wary of the immutable law of the footballing –ex. Odds on Christian Benteke scoring are quite attractive although against a Liverpool side which is top of the form table, surely you need more than a wing and a prayer?
Unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur take on Leicester City at White Hart Lane and in typical Spurs fashion remain behind Arsenal. Despite not having lost, they still can’t overtake their north London rivals. They’ve come close to defeat though; Dele Alli’s last-gasp equaliser at the Hawthorns gave them a point.
Goals are hard to come by for Spurs, who with Middlesbrough, Southampton and West Brom have drawn four games, the highest total in the Premier League.

Leicester though are reliant upon Claudio Ranieri’s record of never having lost a league match against Spurs. Seven wins and three draws is nothing to be sniffed at, almost getting to Mourinho v Wenger proportions.It’s not much to go on but…
Can you really rely on history repeating itself? Wishful thinking. Even with a goal drought, Spurs ought to be too strong for Ranieri’s men. But then we said that Leicester would fall by the wayside last season and look what happened. Things may not be going to plan but a good side doesn’t become bad over one summer, does it?

Ranieri seems to have some ego problems to deal with if his recent comments about Mahrez and Vardy are anything to go by; he’ll deal with them but whether it will fire the players up for the weekend remains to be seen.

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A Bluffer’s Guide To The Top Four’s Fixtures This Weekend