Premier League Predictions: Gameweek 10

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Gylfi Sigurdsson

The highlight of this weekend’s Premier League matches comes in the Manchester Derby, as City look to respond to 3 bad results with a win against a steadily improving Manchester United side. In Saturday’s early game, neutrals will hope Newcastle and Liverpool continue their tradition of epic clashes over the years. This blog covers a match between arguably 2 of the most entertaining teams in the league, Everton and Swansea, and 2 teams in Stoke and West Ham, who have evolved their play in recent times.

Everton v Swansea

Everton have not failed to score in any of their 9 league games, and in 7 of those, they have scored 2 or more goals. The task for Roberto Martinez is to find a system that will maintain the team’s attacking threat, whilst creating a little bit more defensive balance.

The width created by wing-backs Coleman and Banes is crucial to Everton’s play, but their attacking mind-set means that they need flexible players in front of them. Recently, Martinez has started using Steven Naismith and Leon Osman on the right and left side respectively. Naismith will track back when needed, while Osman likes to drop deeper to re-enforce the midfield. This has been a success, as Everton have picked up 6 points from their last 2 games, albeit against relegation strugglers Aston Villa and Burnley.

With a win on Saturday, Everton will go above their opponents, Swansea, who have played some entertaining football so far. Last season, we associated Swansea with possession-based play, and perhaps a slow tempo with not enough width. This time, however, they have been a little bit more audacious going forward. For a start, they have used their wingers more, as Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge have improved, while Jefferson Montero, who impressed at the World Cup, has often made an impact from the bench. Most crucially, Gylfi Sigurdsson signed from Tottenham in the summer, and he has been at the centre of everything, already the 2nd highest-assister in the Premier League. We can expect to see some open, attacking football from both teams in this match, which could be one of the best games this weekend.

Stoke v West Ham

A couple of years ago, this would be your typical ‘hoof ball’ game, but both teams have evolved since then. Stoke have developed a counter-attacking style of play under Mark Hughes, where they exploit the pace out wide, particularly with Victor Moses. However, if Peter Crouch is suspended for this match, after he was sent off in the midweek cup game, it will be interesting to see how Stoke set up without him. As this blog has discussed, Crouch’s height makes him less suited to Stoke’s high-tempo football, and it may be that the team excels with another player leading the line.

West Ham have benefited from the absence of a target man themselves. Andy Carroll’s injury has led to a more dynamic style of play, and the speedy strike partnership of Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho have flourished hugely. However, Sam Allardyce will be concerned about the fitness of Sakho, who was forced off during the 2-1 win over Manchester City. Carlton Cole may play in his absence, and from a defender’s point of view, the prospect of facing him seems much less daunting.

Only Aston Villa and Burnley have scored fewer goals than Stoke, and given that West Ham will be without their key striker, this match may be a low-scoring draw.

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