Premier League Predictions: Gameweek 12

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez

The Premier League’s teatime game comes at the Emirates, as Arsenal and Manchester United look to get a morale-boosting win, after some mediocre performances thus far. Leicester could climb out of the bottom 3 with a win over Sunderland, who seem to have recovered from last month’s 8-0 thrashing.

Arsenal v Man Utd

10 years ago, a match between these teams would have been the most highly-anticipated game in the country. It was a clash between 2 of the great heavyweights of English football. Now, however, this fixture is simply a sideshow, more likely to decide who will finish 4th than who will win the title.

Some people say that the only problem for these teams is their defence, but this blog would argue that they have both been awful all-round. Contrary to common opinion, neither side has been particularly good going forward. A lot of the goals these teams have scored have come from sporadic moments of individual quality, rather than the free-flowing football we have seen them play over the years.

Manchester United have only won 1 game by more than 1 goal this season, and that was against a hopeless QPR side. Given the vast sums of money they have spent, that is not good enough. When they signed players like Angel Di Maria, the hope was that this would hide United’s poor defence, and that teams would not strive to expose their poor defence, for fear of being caught out by their attack. However, it seems the opposite has happened. Teams have seen how bad United’s defence was last season, and now, they do not hesitate when they attack against Louis Van Gaal’s side. This, in turn, seems to have had a negative impact on the confidence of the team as a whole.

Arsenal, on the other hand, have drawn more games than they have won this season. And, in the games that they have won, it has often been a case of either comically bad defending from the opposition, or Alexis Sanchez getting the team out of jail. If Sanchez wanted to leave for a better team in January, as a player of his calibre would have every right to, then this Arsenal side would be in a terrible state. They do not work as a team in the way that they used to, and they play with very little confidence. This match will serve only to show that 2 teams who were once great, have now become distinctly average.

Leicester v Sunderland

Leicester have been in very poor form since their 5-3 win over Manchester United back in September, failing to score in 5 of their 6 games since. This blog has discussed the fact that playing against the lesser teams has seen them lose their competitive edge, which saw them do well against the higher-profile teams in the first few weeks. Leandro Ulloa’s form has dropped in conjunction with that of his team. He started the season very well, with 5 goals in 5, but is now without a goal in 6.

Sunderland’s 8-0 defeat to Southampton last month has proved to be an anomaly. Some refer to Sunderland as a side that concede too many goals due to individual errors, yet had the Southampton game not happened, they would have one of the best defensive records in the league. The Black Cats have lost just 3 games this season, only 4 teams in the Premier League have lost fewer. The difference between these teams is that Sunderland have been dreadful only once this season, whereas Leicester have been poor for the last 2 months.

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