There are four games kicking off at 3pm in the Premier League today. We have: Cardiff vs Leicester, Everton vs Brighton, Newcastle vs Watford and West Ham vs Burnley.
Cardiff vs Leicester
How do you go and play this match like it’s important? How do I go and preview this match like it’s important? It’s not often that a result of a football match seems irrelevant, but this is one such time. It’s an extremely hard time for everybody at Leicester after last Saturday’s incidents. You can’t say “just forget about it and play your game”. What can you say? Claude Puel will be instructing his players to go out and make Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha proud. But after that, there isn’t much that can be said.
At the same time, Neil Warnock will be finding it difficult. How does he instruct his team to play this game? He’s an old-fashioned manager, and you may usually expect him to tell his players to make it physical. “Give him a kick early on” may not be exactly what he’d normally say, but he wouldn’t be instructing his players to go easy on the opposition either. He’ll hardly be telling them to make it hard for Leicester today and kick them around the pitch, but, at the same time, he knows his side could do with points.
It may be terrible to say, and he won’t admit it, but he knows today’s game could be an important one when it comes to his team’s survival in the Premier League. He certainly won’t be telling his players to let Leicester win because of what happened. It’ll be interesting to see how this one is played. A slow-paced 0-0 draw may not be a bad thing today.
Everton vs Brighton
Everton are ninth in the Premier League table, while Brighton are 11th. Just one point separates the sides. Everton have finally started playing well under Marco Silva. Last week’s 2-1 loss against Manchester United won’t be seen as the end of the world. Before that, they won three in a row. Ninth isn’t where they’ll have their sights set, but if they keep improving, they’ll climb the table. Brighton have begun the season brilliantly, and will be a real test for the Toffees today. The Seagulls have won their last three in a row, and sit nine points clear of the relegation zone at this early stage. They’ll want to distance themselves from that bottom three early, and they have achieved that so far, but there is a long way to go.
Phil Jagielka and Jonjoe Kenny miss out for Everton. Theo Walcott will do well to keep his place in the starting XI after a very poor performance against Manchester United last week.
Brighton remain without Pascal Gross and Davy Propper. It’s a blow to be without the two of them, because they’re two of their most important players.
Newcastle vs Watford
Ten games into the new Premier League season and Newcastle are still win-less. You don’t need me to tell you that their start has been very poor. The Toon are in the relegation zone, with just three points from their first 10 games. And Rafa Benitez – as good a manager as he is – is getting a bit of a free pass. The majority of the anger is being directed at Mike Ashley, but this team should be doing better. They have lost and drawn games that they should be winning, and have been far too negative and shown little desire on too many occasions. Still, a first win of the season could take them out of the bottom three, so they’re not that far away. They need to sort things out and start playing better.
Watford, on the other hand, are enjoying a great start to the season. They’re seventh in the table after winning six of their first 10 games. A great start was followed by a few poor results, but they’ve won their last two in a row. Things are very positive at Vicarage Road, and they’ll hope they can continue playing this well for the rest of the season. There is absolutely no reason they can’t beat a struggling Newcastle side today.
Ciaran Clark is nearing a return after illness but is unlikely to feature.
Nathaniel Chalobah has a chance of making this one, but Troy Deeney is a doubt. Sebastian Prodl, Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley are all out.
West Ham vs Burnley
This is a game between two teams that will be extremely disappointed with their start to the season. West Ham are 13th and Burnley are 15th. They’re level on eight points, as they have managed just two wins each. Big things were expected of West Ham this season, but they haven’t got going yet. Things looked a lot more positive when they beat Everton and Man United and drew with Chelsea. But now they have dropped off again. Their new signings do need time to adapt to the Premier League, but they should be doing a lot better than they are. A win today is definitely possible against a Burnley team that have really struggled.
The Clarets have had a start as bad as the Irons. They look a shadow of the team that finished seventh last season. Nobody expected them to replicate that, because it would have been extremely difficult, but they should be doing a lot better than they are. They’re leaking goals, which is very poor because they’re famed on their defence. Sean Dyche needs to sort that out and make them tighten up. I don’t think relegation will be an issue for them, but they need to improve quickly or they could be dragged into a battle.
Mark Noble is suspended, while Aaron Cresswell will have a late fitness test. Marko Arnautovic should start, despite his ongoing knee problem. Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini, Carlos Sanchez, Winston Reid, Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko are all out.
Aaron Lennon is fit for Burnley, while Jack Cork faces a late fitness test.
And that’s that for today’s 3pm kick offs. I tried to stick to one paragraph for each, but I had more to say about some teams than others, so they ended up being longer. There will be more previews here throughout the day, so drop back later for more.
Enjoy the football!
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