EPL gears up for Round 16 as COVID wreaks havoc on some teams


SALT LAKE CITY – As we enter round 16, we are again faced with an outbreak of COVID-19. After what seems like an age, we may be guilty of letting our guard down as we face the disruptive nature of this disease as Spurs’ midweek Europa League game against Rennes has been postponed because eight Tottenham players and five staff members have tested positive. And with their Sunday fixture at Brighton likely to be postponed as well (definitely one of my weekend fixtures), that makes a fixture-cluttered festive period a little more hectic.

KSL 5’s first game will be Norwich City at home against Manchester United, as we see Ralf Rangnick’s second English Premier League game in charge of the Red Devils and the 4-2-2-2 squad. It’s worth listening to as they try to adapt to one of the pioneers of the Gegenpressing philosophy in Rangnick. You can watch this game at 10:30 am on Saturday.

Brentford vs. Watford

The shock of two of the three teams promoted this season as the 13th-ranked bees welcome the 17th-ranked hornets. You can watch the Friday kick-off at 1 p.m. on NBCSN.

Brentford were grieved to have surrendered a 95th-minute equalizer to Leeds on Sunday and will be looking to return to the winning streak against a tough opponent at Watford, who despite recent results are starting to play attractive football.

Brentford is a breath of fresh air in the EPL, the organized and disciplined approach has taken a few teams by surprise, and with the local crowd providing a hostile and exciting atmosphere, it’s one to settle with the volume. Unfortunately for the Bees, top man Ivan Toney will be out due to COVID-19 and solid winger Sergi Canós will be out after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season, leaving Brentford somewhat shorthanded.

Coach Thomas Frank won’t use this as an excuse. This means that the 3-5-2 formation they use will, if they start, build on different players with Frenchman Bryan Mbeumo having scored two goals and one assist so far this season. He usually plays in and around Toney, and Mbeumo also works in the great outdoors. This could mean that he and Yoane Wissa will play together, and even though they are less traditional type attackers, they put on a real worker change as they constantly harass the full backs for making mistakes and looking to win kicks. offensive orders. The platform that will allow them to gain momentum and add protection to the bottom three will be Denmark international Christian Norgaard. The starting midfielder wins a ton of his defensive duels in midfield and quickly recycles the ball to more attacking teammates. He has become an essential player for Brentford.

Watford, despite his form and position, is well placed. Claudio Ranieri has already conveyed his ideas, and we see flashes of cohesion between the players, and the form is good for the most part. The attack still has talent, even if a big part is missing from Ismaïla Sarr who is injured. Emmanuel Dennis will once again provide breadth of attack because he has adapted with the strengthening of the Belgian standard. His pace, power and relentless effort have led him to not only be one of Watford’s best forwards, but the EPL in general. Also keep an eye out for Joshua King, who after Bournemouth has found a home where he appears to be part of the squad and used it accordingly. King is an underrated attacker who can fill several roles.

I think it could go two ways, a match chore or a back-and-forth affair. Both teams have performed well this season.

Prediction: It’s really hard to call, but I’m excited and hoping these teams hit the magic 40 point mark (which usually means EPL safety) as quickly as possible. With big parts of both attacks missing, that doesn’t mean there won’t be goals, but I think it will end at the end of the 90 minutes.

Liverpool v Aston Villa

Saturday’s 8:00 a.m. kickoff in the US is where Liverpool fans are likely to feel some excitement. Their legendary talisman, Steven Gerrard returns for the first time in the opposition canoe. Villa has been formidable since being appointed from Rangers on November 11e, and a return of nine out of 12 possible points, almost doubling their point total and seeing them move to 10th place in the table.

After Jack Grealish was sold to Man City, I felt like Villa had spent the money well, and I still think over time they’ll look back and agree, but it’s the players proven who keep this talented team at Villa running. . Ollie Watkins will likely be at the front of the line again, and while he’s not a prolific goalscorer, he certainly could be. His heist game and his speed to get behind or shoot in the canals make him a very good threat at all levels. Scotland international John McGinn has played a little more forward under Gerrard, and he’s usually in the engine in the center of the park, but his ability to get on the scoresheet has become an important part of his game with three goals and two assists this season. Slightly deeper Brazilian Douglas Luiz is a deep playmaker and helps dictate play, and his ability to provide chances coincides with his three assists so far.

The one to watch is young Jacob Ramsey, the latest in a long line of academy products that have appeared at Villa. Ransey is far from the finished product which is scary considering his blatant talent. His fearless demeanor and relentless approach in wide areas will only improve and he helps the counterattacking side of the game.

Liverpool are in great shape, with Mo Salah leading the scorers (13) and assists (9) rankings. Salah has 20 goals in all competitions making him the obvious man to watch. One player who has impressed this season is the return to form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Ox struggled mightily to get back to where he was before the ACL injury he suffered a few years ago. He has shown flashes of what he does, however. He is a ball carrier, spins and advances at a steady pace and can shoot from a distance. It’s fun to see him start to gain a foothold and add something different from the usual three midfielders of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago.

This week Firmino and Naby Keïta have returned to training, and it may be too early to start, but it could mean different options for the Reds as the festive games pile up.

Prediction: I think it will be a close game. Villa is good, although a little open at the back, which could make Liverpool play the game. I think Liverpool take the win on Gerrard’s comeback, but don’t think Villa is just going to lie down, they’re a solid working man as an outfit, and with Ollie Watkins having four career goals against Liverpool at the before, they have a man who loves to face the best.

It’s going to do that this week and we’ll be back early next week to bring you another midweek spin.


Comments are closed.