Stats Zone Preview: Does the battle for relegation start today? pt 1

17 Sep

A new feature which will start to use the excellent Four Four Two’s and Opta’s new Stats Zone app to analyse key matches based on statistics and chalk baords.

Hope you enjoy The Counter Attack

With most eye’s on ‘Super’ Sunday’s highly anticipated first battle between Vilas Baos’ Chelsea and Alex Fergusons Manchester United, which
could already be a potential championship decider, and Liverpool vs Tottenham for 4th place is this weekend actually more important in the battle
for survival?

While it is ridiculously early to start talking about who will and won’t go down Saturday’s fixtures will see 9 out of the bottom 10 clubs face each other in what are already 6 pointers.  It hast to be argued that certain clubs will start to feel worried if they don’t get a result this weekend and those around them win, none more so than Swansea who are yet to score after 4 matches and Blackburn who are expecting a fans protest before their game against Arsenal over recent results and management of the club.

Let’s take a look at the key matches

Blackburn vs. Arsenal 12.45pm KO

Since the Venky’s took over at Blackburn and Sam Allardyce being sacked the club have had a nose dive in form. Once considered a Premier
League top half certainty under Mark Hughes and before that Graeme Souness, Blackburn under Steve Keen look a certainty to be flirting with relegation starting the weekend bottom of the league.  This season Blackburn have only picked up 1 point out of 12 having lost the first 3
matches however they have looked competitive with a number of talented young players in their side.  What is interesting is the amount of chances they’ve created, 61 in all however this does show a clear achilles heel of Blackburn averaging a goal every 20 shots which by any teams  standards is poor.  In addition their average passing completion is only 70% some times as low as 63% (vs. Everton).  If this is not improved they may well not see much of the ball for long periods with Arsenal having an 80% passing completion rate in the first 4 games.

While Arsenal are more likely to be involved in the battle for 4th place they have had a number of well documented issues both on and off the pitch and will see this match as a chance to get back on track after a well earned point away to Dorussia Dortmund.   They see the return of likely starters Song and Gervinho who will add extra quality and pace in midfield and up front.

Key clashes

Hoilett vs Sagna

Hoilet is a bright spark for Blackburn down the left but will be up against Sagna who not only defensively will be a more formidable opponent having won 90% of tackles but also is a huge attacking threat making 9 crosses in the 3 games he has played. Depending on how much defending Hoilett is forced to do he could be the key player to spark Blackburn’s attack.

Goodwillie vs. Mertesacker

One of the most important clashes of the day will be between Blackurn’s £2.8m signing David Goodwillie and Aresenal’s new £8m  centre back Per Mertesacker who  was excellent for Germany at the last World Cup.  While Stats Zone doesn’t show pace (yet ha) it is clear the Mertesacker does lack this and if isolated could be vunerable to players such as Hoilett and Rochina where they cut in from the wing.  Goodwillie will be vital to first be strong and hold the ball up and secondly make clever runs to pull the two centre backs apart allowing Blackburns pacey frowards to get at Mertesacker.

Match Prediction 1-2

Arsenal will win this relativeley comfortably with several first team players coming back.

Bolton vs. Norwich 3.00pm KO

While Bolton should have enough to be safe they are not as strong as last season with big question being who will score the goals after Elmander leaving and Sturridge returning to Chelsea after his loan spell and Kevin Davies another year older.

After an excellent opening day victory over QPR, Bolton have since taken a gradually harder hammering by Manchester City, Liverpool and
Manchester United conceding 12 goals in the process.  More of a concern will be the number of chances created with only 39 goal chances  ncluding 22 (check this with Opta) against a marauding United.   A major concern for Bolton will be the areas they are conceding with half the goals being scored inside the box (6), from crosses (6) and down the right (6).  If Bolton are to build on last season they will need to get back to basics of defending crosses and address the obvious frailty of their left hand side.

Norwich, under the management of the highly rated Paul Lambert, have acquitted themselves well taking two well earned points in their opening games against Wigan and Stoke and where unlucky to lose to West Bromwich Albion after a dubious penalty.  One area that has been very impressive is the wing play of Bennett down the right wing and Tierney from left back who between them provided 24 alone crosses which will be
a key weapon against Bolton with Holt who has had a slow start in the Premier League.

Key Clash

Bennett vs. Robinson

As highlighted Norwich like to attack down the wings and get the ball into the area for the likes of Holt to use his aerial presence which is Bolton’s current weakness particularly down their left side.  This makes the clash between Bennett and Robinson a key area with whoever comes on top probably winning the game.   Robinson was constantly exploited against Manchester United often being overloaded 2 v1 with Nani and Jones.  If Norwich can look to replicate this on the right and continue to push Tierney form left back to stretch the Bolton defence then Norwich could be on for a good win.

Match Prediction 2-1

With both teams looking to ;lay football this should be a good game of football.  Bolton with a number of players coming back including Ngog may be alittle too experienced for Norwich eveb with their current flaws.

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