BPL This Weekend: Newcastle look to keep momentum, strong Southampton defense targets Aguero, more

IMAGE, STOKE SENTINAL

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

The Premier League season was a few games old and the calls for Alan Pardew to be axed from his managerial job were vociferous. However, those calls have faded into the shadows as the Magpies are up to fifth place in the table.

With five wins on the trot, they will look to keep things rolling along against West Ham. Ayoze Perez has been vital in Newcastle’s recent run and against the Hammers it should be no different. Whether it’s on from the start or from the bench, he is sure to give Newcastle a spark.

For Newcastle, they’ve been grinding out results in tight games. At the moment it’s worked to great effect, but they will need to start finding the back of the net a bit more regularly to sustain their good form throughout the season.

The Hammers were in fine form, but have cooled down a bit recently. They will look to rekindle their form that saw them up to fourth earlier in the season. Diafra Sakho has made the Hammers tick with his sig goals so far this season and will need to put in another strong performance. His combination with Enner Valencia will be key if West Ham are to break down the Magpies backline.

What To Look For

1. Can Saints stop Aguero?– Seemingly no one has been able to slow down Sergio Aguero. He currently sits atop the scoring charts in the Premier League and is coming off a hat trick in the Champions League against Bayern Munich.

However, his next opponent will be Southampton, who boast the stingiest defense in the league to date. They’ve allowed a mere six goals in 12 games so far.

The Saints may have been a surprise as they climbed the table to begin the season, but they aren’t surprising anyone anymore. They will look to continue what has worked out so well to this point, but Man City is sure to give them a real test.

Aguero will look to pounce on any chances, but he will flanked with some of the best attacking players in the league, resulting in one of the best attacks.

If the Saints can keep Aguero quiet as well as the Man City attack they should find plenty of success. The more confidence grows in the backline, they will then be able to give more freedom to the creative players like Graziano Pelle or Dusan Tadic, who both will cause Man City’s backline some problems.

2.  Everton, Spurs looking for more– Two sides that more was expected of will meet this weekend. Everton and Tottenham typically finish around the top four to six clubs in recent times. Currently, they are both mid-table with eyes on achieving more.

With the table the way it stands, a win could potentially push either side into the Top Four. On the flip side a loss pushes a loser closer to the bottom than they’d like to be.

The Toffees are carrying the better form of the two and are unbeaten in their last five. While Tim Howard hasn’t had the strongest of years to date, he will be crucial in lifting Everton to all three points. Spurs have been a bit uneven in their results of late, but coming from behind last weekend could have given them the boost they need. Winning games when you don’t play your best is always crucial and provides a platform for Spurs to build off of.   

3. Bottom of the table tussles– With a third of the season over, the relegation battlers are certainly showing themselves. However, there are a few crucial games at the wrong end of the table.

Any chance to earn points and drag another club in the mire in their stead is an opportunity that can’t be missed, even with plenty of games still left to play. Queens Park Rangers will host Leicester City as Burnley host Aston Villa.

Both QPR and Leicester could use a result to catapult themselves out of the bottom three for now. The Foxes had lost four straight before a draw against Sunderland. QPR has lost two of their last three. However, QPR boasts one of the in-form strikers at the moment in Charlie Austin and he could prove to be the difference.

Burnley are also looking to climb out of the bottom three and a win would see them leapfrog Aston Villa. Burnley is buoyed by back-to-back victories as Villa continues to struggle with four losses and two draws in their last six games. The home side is playing with renewed confidence and could use that recent boost to secure more points against a Villa side whose confidence is trending the other way.

4. Needing a win– As the aforementioned clubs at the bottom of the table needing a win, they aren’t the only ones. Liverpool have lost their last three Premier League games and losing a lead late against Ludogorets in the Champions League isn’t inspiring confidence. They will look to get back on track against an always tricky Stoke side that is currently above them in the table. It isn’t time to totally panic just yet, but at the moment the Reds are heading in the wrong direction. A win could certainly east that this weekend.

Hull has also lost three in a row and will face Manchester United, who have worked their way into the Top Four. The Tigers have played some of the expected top teams very tight. They played to a draw with Arsenal and Liverpool as well as nearly getting a point against Tottenham a weekend ago. Had Gaston Ramirez not been sent off, it may have been a game the Tigers won. Heading into Old Trafford will be no easy task, but it hasn’t been a fortress as it once was for the Red Devils. If they bring the same attitude as they have against other bigger sides, they could get a least a point in a tough away trip.

Another club needing a win is Arsenal. The Gunners were on top of Manchester United a weekend ago, but couldn’t find the end product for all of their good possession and ultimately lost. The return of Olivier Giroud – scored the lone goal against the Red Devils – should offer a boost in the goal-scoring department where the Gunners, not named Alexis Sanchez, have lagged.