Week 12 of the 21/22 Premier League season is set to get underway this weekend and looks like it could be one of the best yet. We have huge top six matchups with Liverpool vs Arsenal and Leicester vs Chelsea, as well as some important fixtures for the lower table teams.
Let’s get into the games.
Leicester vs Chelsea
Leicester will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing draw against Leeds last time out with a huge result against Chelsea this weekend.
They were outplayed by a Leeds team that have struggled so far this season, they managed to secure a point via a Harvey Barnes screamer after initially going 1-0 down.
After the game manager Brendan Rodgers spoke on the pride he felt for his team after coming back.
“It’s tough to take,” Rodgers said. “But if you can’t win you make sure you don’t lose, and we showed courage. The guys have given me everything; I’m proud of my team. It’s a valuable point.”
The Foxes suffered a huge blow against Leeds when midfield maestro Youri Tielemans was forced off the field on the 77th minute with a calf and ankle injuries that will keep him out until early December.
Tielemans joins a long list of injuries that will miss the Chelsea game. He joins Ryan Bertrand (knee), Marc Albrighton (muscle), Wesley Fofana (ankle), and James Justin (ACL).
A win for Leicester this weekend will see them climb back into the top ten and help kickstart their season revival.
It will be no easy feat; however, they are playing current league leaders and UCL holders.
Chelsea is another team that will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing result after they threw away the win at home to Burnley last time out.
They started well and bagged an early goal through impromptu-striker Kai Havertz but couldn’t hold onto the lead and secure the win.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel’s reaction after the game was calmed and measured as he reassured fans this was a blip in form and nothing else.
He said, “Normally you would say we lost control after 70 minutes and lost control and the pressure mounted, but it was not like this – it was simply bad luck, a lack of precision, but I don’t see a general thing here”.
Chelsea is another team that have accumulated an extensive injury list with Mason Mount (tooth) doubtful for the game, Marcos Alonso (ankle), Mateo Kovacic (hamstring), Romelu Lukaku (ankle), and Timo Werner (hamstring).
Most of the list is due back before the end of November but will likely miss the trip to the King Power Stadium.
A win for Chelsea could see them extend their lead at the top of the table to six points if Man City, West Ham, and Liverpool all fail to pick up three points.
Aston Villa vs Brighton
Aston Villa fans will have their first opportunity to see their team under new boss Steven Gerrard when they welcome Brighton to Villa Park this weekend.
The newly appointed manager will be hoping to start strong in his first game and turn around the horrible form that has seen Villa lose their last five games.
Upon his appointment, Gerrard stated his delight on returning to the Premier League and the ambition shown by the club.
“Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new Head Coach.
“It was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club, and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.”
Unfortunately, Gerrard will be without a few first-team players for his first game due to various injuries. Danny Ings (hamstring), Douglas Luiz (hamstring), Marvelous Nakamba (groin), Morgan Sanson (illness), and Bertrand Traore (thigh) will all miss the game this weekend.
Meanwhile, Brighton’s great start that put them into the top four has started to slip as they have not managed a win in their last five games.
They will be looking for redemption this weekend after a poor performance against Newcastle last time out saw them only escape with a point.
Post-game, manager Graham Potter commented on why his team struggled to pick up the win.Embed from Getty Images
“So, I thought they played really well until about an hour in, then they scored, and we probably lost our way a little bit which is something to improve on… it’s hard to control things for 90 minutes in a Premier League game.”
The Seagulls have no new injuries to worry about, but they will be without goalkeeper Robert Sanchez after he picked up a red card in their previous game.
Enoch Mwepu, Aaron Connolly, and Dan Burn are all doubtful but could be fit in time while Danny Welbeck (hamstring) and Steven Alzate (ligament) are the only long-term absentees.
Both teams are desperate for a much-needed win this weekend. Villa will want to start well under Gerrard and reignite their season while Brighton needs to start turning their draws into wins if they want to finish top ten.
Burnley vs Crystal Palace
Sean Dyche’s Burnley side will be hoping to continue their improved form from their last game against Chelsea that saw them escape with a hard-fought point.
They managed to frustrate the league leaders for most of the game and capitalised on their limited opportunities when Matej Vydra leveled the scores with their second and final attempt on goal.
Luckily for Dyche the squad returns from the international break with no new injuries, only Dale Stephens will miss the weekend with a long-term ankle injury.
A win for the Clarets is essential for their survival hopes. They currently sit 18th in the league, two points from safety behind Watford who play Man United.
If everything goes their way, they will escape the drop zone this weekend.
Crystal Palace on the other hand is starting to look up the table rather than worry about relegation.Embed from Getty Images
New manager Patrick Vieira has seemingly established his vision and playstyle in mere months and the results are starting to come in.
Last game they put on an impressive all-round display which resulted in a well-deserved 2-0 win over Wolves.
After the game, Vieira commented on the potential of his Palace team and how they can keep the results coming in.
“We know the team has potential and the potential is starting to be seen, but we still need to keep that work ethic and momentum going.
“When you look at all the games we played, today we showed maturity as a team, and we take one step forward”.
There could be a welcomed return for the Palace squad this weekend in midfielder Eberechi Eze, coming off an Achilles injury he sustained during the last game of last season.
Unfortunately for the South London outfit, they could be without starting centre-back Joachim Andersen who picked up a knock while on international duty.
A win for Palace will put them on 18 points and will secure their status in the top ten for another week.
Newcastle vs Brentford
New manager Eddie Howe will be looking to kick his Newcastle debut off with a win over newly-promoted Brentford at St. James Park this weekend.
The former Bournemouth manager joins Newcastle in the middle of a relegation battle as they sit 19th in the league and remain as the only team without a win.
Last time out they managed a draw away at Brighton but were fortunate with the result based on their performance. The Magpies need to vastly improve their defence if they want to survive the season, only Norwich have conceded more.
Luckily for Howe, only two players will miss the game, Ryan Fraser (knock) and Paul Dummett (calf).Embed from Getty Images
Howe is known for his free-flowing, attacking style of play so main men Callum Wilson and Alan Saint-Maximin will be essential to his system.
Brentford suffered an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to bottom of the league Norwich, a loss that marks their fourth in a row as they drop down 14th in the table.
The Bees had the majority of the chances but were not clinical enough, only managing to score on one of their seven shots on target.
In his post-match interview manager Thomas Frank stated that despite the lack of results he is happy with the way his team has played.
“I’d say it’s a poor run of results rather than a poor run of form. We’ve performed very well in three of the last games in which we’ve lost. Against Chelsea, Leicester, and Norwich.
“But we still stayed in the game so when we perform like we’ve done in these games, I see no reason to change system. I would only change things if I felt the need to.”
The West London team have serious injury problems ahead of this matchup. They currently have no return dates for Mads Sorensen (knee), David Raya (knee), Kristoffer Ayer (thigh), Mathias Jorgensen (muscular), Josh Dasilva (hip), and Shandon Baptiste (shoulder).
Yoann Wissa could feature this weekend after a stint out with an ankle injury, a much-needed boost for the Brentford attack.
A win for Brentford will see them jump up to 15 points and could put some much-needed distance between them and the relegation zone.
Norwich vs Southampton
Bottom of the league Norwich picked up a vital and potentially season-changing win last time out with a 2-1 away win at Brentford.
Surprisingly despite the win, the Norwich hierarchy still felt that it was time to part ways with manager Daniel Farke and replace him with former Villa boss, Dean Smith.
Smith’s first game in charge will welcome fellow relegation candidate Southampton to Carrow Road.
Upon his appointment, Smith expressed his delight in taking the role and accepts that it will be a tough season but believes they can survive.
“I’ve seen how progressive this club has been. Yes, it’s been difficult in the Premier League so far. Mine and Craig [Shakespeare’s] job, along with the rest of the staff and Stuart [Webber], is to keep us in the league this season and that’s firmly what we believe we can do.
“We’ve got a great belief that we can get as many points as we can in 27 games to stay in this league and I believe the squad is capable of doing that.”
Unfortunately for Smith, he must deal with injuries to some key players. Todd Cantwell (Achilles), Billy Gilmour (muscle), and Grant Hanley (groin) are all doubtful but could return in time while Andrew Omobamidele (Achilles), Christoph Zimmermann (ankle), and Sam Byram (hamstring) will all miss Smith’s first game in charge.Embed from Getty Images
A win for the Canaries in Smith’s first game could see them jump ahead of Newcastle and level Burnley on points with eight.
The belief the team gained after winning at Brentford and the introduction of a proven Premier League manager could be the winning formula for Norwich in their battle for survival.
Southampton have a rare opportunity this weekend, the Saints could beat the same manager, Dean Smith, in back-to-back weeks on two different teams (Villa and Norwich).
Their 1-0 win against Villa last weekend is their third in their last four games, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has turned their poor form around as the Saints sit 13th in the league.
After the Villa win, Hasenhuttl commented on the team’s early struggles and their turn in form.
“[It is] a very solid platform after a bad start. Last season we conceded so many goals, so the biggest challenge was to get more stable defensively and have shown we have turn things around now.”
The south coast team could welcome back several key players this weekend. Armando Broja (ankle), Valentino Livramento (knock), and James Ward-Prowse (illness) could all make a return but were not confirmed. Whereas Nathan Redmond (COVID-19) and Jack Stephens (knee) are the only two long-term absentees.
A win for Southampton this weekend makes it three in a row for the Saints, putting them on 17 points and potentially into the top ten.
Watford vs Manchester United
Both teams are coming off disappointing losses, but for completely different reasons. Watford narrowly lost 1-0 away at Arsenal with a contentious goal sealing the win for the Gunners while United were embarrassed once again by the hands of a rival in Manchester City.
Watford have shown they are feisty under their new management. Since their horrific 5-0 loss to Liverpool in Ranieri’s first game, they have improved dramatically and have become a problem for teams around the league.
Despite the loss to Arsenal, Ranieri expressed his happiness with the way his team fought back, despite not finding the equaliser.
“In the first half it was a very tactical match and we tried to close all the situations… The second half, after the goal Arsenal had more space but we had the chance to draw the match.”
Watford will be without a few players this weekend due to various injuries and suspensions. Juraj Kucka (red card), Kwadwo Baah (ankle), Ken Sema (knee), Christian Kabasele (hamstring), and Oghenekaro Etebo (thigh) will all miss the weekend.Embed from Getty Images
United on the other hand are on a huge down slide with three of their last four games being losses, losing 4-2 to Leicester, 5-0 to Liverpool and 2-0 to City.
Notwithstanding these results, the Red Devils still find themselves in the top six and only three points off the Champions League spots.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer noted that his team did not play to their usual Manchester United standards.
“We need to get back to what we started to look like for a while… We need to be on the front foot more, I can’t look at myself and say this is the way I want Manchester United to play.”
Paul Pogba (red card), Scott McTominay (virus), Luke Shaw (concussion), Edinson Cavani (tendon), and Raphael Varane (hamstring) will all miss the trip to Vicarage Road.
A win for United is essential at this point. Solskjaer is very much in the hot seat and fighting for his job in the Premier League, a loss to Watford will surely be the end of his reign.
Wolves vs West Ham
Wolves and boss Bruno Lage need a huge bounce-back result this weekend after their disappointing performance that saw them lose 2-0 to Crystal Palace in a dominating fashion.
To get a result this weekend against the high-flying Irons they will need to be far more clinical and creative going forward. They created next to no chances against Palace while their defence started strong but couldn’t hold out for the clean sheet.
Wolves sit 8th in the league with 16 points to their name. A win could take them into the top six with other results going their way.
There have been no new injuries for Lage’s men, meaning they will be able to roll out the same starting eleven that lost to Palace. Only Fernando Marcal (calf), Yerson Mosquera (hamstring), Hugo Bueno (hamstring), and Pedro Neto (knee) will miss the game.
Moving to East London now with the West Ham team that are surely getting nosebleeds due to their high altitude in the league so far this season.
David Moyes’ men currently sit third in the table, one point above Liverpool and only three points off league leaders Chelsea.Embed from Getty Images
In their last game, they showed incredible heart and skill to come from behind to beat Liverpool 3-2 at the London Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Irons and their fans they picked up a huge injury blow during the game, losing centre-back Angelo Ogbonna to a horrific ACL injury.
They could also be without first-team mainstays Pablo Fornals (knock) and Declan Rice (illness) for the trip to the Molineux after picking up problems on international duty.
West Ham can continue their reign in the top four with a win this weekend but even if they do slip up, they will not drop out of the Champions League spots for at least another week.
Liverpool vs Arsenal
By far the biggest game of the weekend falls between second-place Liverpool and fifth-placed Arsenal.
Liverpool is coming off a close loss to West Ham while Arsenal remain unbeaten in their last five and victorious in their last three.
The loss to West Ham is Liverpool’s first of the season, becoming the last team to lose a game in the 21/22 season.
Manager Jurgen Klopp was unhappy with the way the loss came, complaining about the no-foul call given on Allison for the first West Ham goal and Aaron Cresswell’s challenge that could have seriously injured Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
“Those two situations were influential in the game but in the end, West Ham fought for the three points. They are not responsible for the decisions the VAR made.”
For the second season in a row, injury has become a huge problem for Klopp’s team as they face another extensive list of missing players.
Divock Origi (leg), Andy Robertson (muscle), Jordan Henderson (knock), Roberto Firmino (hamstring), Curtis Jones (eye), Joe Gomez (calf), Naby Keita (hamstring), and James Milner (hamstring) will all miss the game.Embed from Getty Images
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have turned their season around, from a horrific start that saw them bottom of the league after three games to now only two points off the top four.
They scraped together a win against Watford last time out thanks to youngster Emile Smith-Rowe’s well-taken winner. They could have won by more but were not clinical enough to put the game to bed.
Arteta reflected on this in his post-match interview, “I am really happy for the result and the performance in the match”. He said, “We should have scored many more goals but today was about being consistent.”
Arsenal look set to be without Granit Xhaka (knee) and Sead Kolasinac (ankle) while midfielder Thomas Partey (groin) has a slight problem that is still to be assessed.
Manchester City vs Everton
City return to the Etihad for the first time since their disappointing home loss to Palace a few weeks ago, a result that will not want to repeat against Everton this weekend.
Pep Guardiola’s men managed to bounce back with a dominant win over city rivals Manchester United, with goals coming from Bernardo Silva and an Eric Bailly own goal.
This win signifies their ninth win at Old Trafford in their last 14 visits, confirming Manchester is blue.
A win for the Citizens will put pressure on Chelsea who are only three points ahead and face a tough challenge going away to Leicester.
Fortunately for Guardiola, there are no new injuries to worry about, just Ferran Torres (foot), Cole Palmer (hamstring), and Liam Delap (ankle) will miss the fixture.Embed from Getty Images
Everton on the other hand is still trying to figure out how to play without key players Abdoulaye Doucoure (muscle) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (thigh). Both have been out for several weeks and will not return in time for the weekend’s game.
The Toffees have not won in any of their last five games. Most recently drawing 0-0 with Spurs in a game where both teams only managed a combined two shots on target.
Rafa Benitez’s team need to dramatically improve in the final third if they have any hope of escaping Manchester with points.
A win takes them back into the top ten, but a loss could see them drop as far as 14th. With the challenging run they have coming up any sort of result would be welcomed.
As well as missing Doucoure and Calvert-Lewin, Everton will be without Mason Holgate (red card), Tom Davis (muscle), Yerry Mina (hamstring), and Andre Gomes (calf).
Spurs vs Leeds
New Spurs boss Antonio Conte’s return to the Premier League did not go how he would have liked. A boring 0-0 draw away at Everton where his side did not register a single shot on goal.
The result leaves them ninth in the table, level on points with Wolves and only one point clear of Crystal Palace, Everton, and Leicester.
In his post-match interview, the Italian manager stated while he was not happy with the draw, he was happy with what he saw from his new team.
“I must be happy. I have seen the right will, the right will to play a game and where the spirit on the pitch was very high… Usually, I’m not happy with a draw but I know this is a big challenge for me and for us.”
Conte will be hoping striker and captain Harry Kane can bring his England form back with him from the international break that saw him bag seven goals in two games.
Someone who will not come back from international duty on good form is centre-back Cristian Romero. The Argentine picked up a hamstring injury that will keep him out for a few weeks.Embed from Getty Images
Spurs could also be without both their starting midfielders from the Everton game as Oliver Skipp is serving a ban and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is a doubt with a muscle injury.
Leeds have not been on great form so far this season and sit just three points off the relegation zone in 15th.
In their last game against Leicester, they only managed to leave with a point despite being the better team throughout.
A win for Leeds this weekend will see them jump up to 13th if other results go their way. It will not be easy though as the Whites are not good at winning coming off an international break.
In fact, they have only managed to win one game in their last six after an international break, beating last season’s relegated side Sheffield United.
Boss Marcelo Bielsa will have to do without several starting players again this weekend. Patrick Bamford (ankle), Luke Ayling (knee), and Robin Koch (groin) are definitely out while Junior Firpo (muscle), Joe Gelhardt (muscle), and Jamie Shackleton (knock) are all doubtful.
This game kicks off a tough run of fixtures for Leeds so any points from this game could end up essential in their fight for survival.