07 Nov 12:45 Bournemouth v Newcastle
07 Nov 15:00 Leicester v Watford
07 Nov 15:00 Man Utd v West Brom
07 Nov 15:00 Norwich v Swansea
07 Nov 15:00 Sunderland v Southampton
07 Nov 15:00 West Ham v Everton
07 Nov 17:30 Stoke v Chelsea
08 Nov 13:30 Aston Villa v Man City
08 Nov 16:00 Arsenal v Spurs
08 Nov 16:00 Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Say you were to go with a six man (including your keeper in this) defence and you split it between three Man United players and three West Brom players, what do you think the chances are of earning full marks – all 36 available points and probably a few bonuses on top? It’s probably not all that far-fetched given the form of the two teams, who meet this weekend at Old Trafford. Three of Man United’s last four games have ended goalless and they’ve kept four clean sheets in their last five league outings. No other team has more clean sheets than them and no other player has more than Chris Smalling, who has become somewhat of a defensive linchpin all of a sudden. He’s the highest scoring defender. His 56 points is made up those seven clean sheets, seven bonus marks and an assist. He’s kept a fairly unblemished disciplinary record too having only picked up one booking.
West Brom’s defensive reliability is just as good. They boast the second best points scoring keeper and two defenders in the top 11. Boaz Myhill, Gareth MacAuley and Craig Dawson have 18 clean sheets between them. United’s home advantage might make them slight favourites to contribute a goal to the affair. The early promise of Anthony Martial has waned in recent weeks with five consecutive blanks. Wayne Rooney’s come in for some criticism this season, but at least it’s only three weeks since he last found the net The good start made by Juan Mata has come to a grinding halt as well. The most in form attacker on the park could be Ander Herrera, if he’s picked, or more likely, the Baggies’ Venezuelan striker, Salomon Rondon, who seems to be finding his feet with two in his last two games. With two teams who are principally set up to defend, you know you’re better off getting your attacking options from somewhere else.
A top against bottom clash should never be ignored for obvious goal potential. Remi Garde could definitely have done without having to face Manchester City for his first game in charge of Aston Villa. City were more convincing brushing aside Seville in midweek than they were defeating Norwich at home last weekend. Their clean sheet reliability seems to have disappeared, but their goalscoring ability has not. They’ve scored in all but one of their games this season (that’ll be the 0-0 with Manchester United – see how it all fits together?). Still no Aguero or Silva means almost guaranteed gametime for Bony, De Bruyne, Sterling and Toure. It’d be a miracle if at least one of them didn’t add significantly to their points total.
Arsenal’s humbling at Bayern in midweek is not good preparation for a North London derby against a Spurs team who are quietly climbing the league. Harry Kane’s season didn’t start as the last one ended, but it’s now five in five games and he’s among the top ten strikers again. He’s higher than any Arsenal striker in fact. The £9.3 million outlay may still seem a little steep, but it’s cheaper than his starting price, and will only continue to rise if he does start banging them in at the same rate as he did from this point in 2014. Mesut Ozil matches Kane’s form and will cost you a just under a million less. Ozil has notched seven assists in five games, and nine in total – way more than anyone else. A few weeks ago there was a rush on Alexis Sanchez after the Chilean scored six in three games. He’s contributed little else since. The money would have been better spent on his German team mate. Could it be worth swapping one Gunner for the other given their contrasting runs of form?