BPL Weekend: Arsenal, Man United limp into match, Swansea in good form ahead of Man City tussle

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Any time Arsenal meet Manchester United, it’s one of the more intriguing fixtures in any season.

The first time these two sides meet will be known for who isn’t available than who is. Both sides have been bit hard by the injury bug. Manchester United will see players such as Radamel FalcaoDaley Blind and Luke Shaw. The Gunners could see Danny WelbeckAlexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott out. Also Mesut OzilLaurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy are still out for the long term.

Arsenal have struggled recently and dropped points in their most recent fixture against Swansea. The biggest loss could be Sanchez if he’s unable to play. His fire and goal-scoring has led the charge for the Gunners.

Both sides will have to test their depth in this game, but there will still be plenty of talent to go around. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie will lead the Red Devils attack while Olivier Giroud could return in some capacity and Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey could patrol the Gunners midfield.

Both sides need to start finding more consistent form and whoever steps on the pitch should be hungry to impress. With a chance to solidify more playing time for non-regulars, it could very well end up a very entertaining affair at the Emirates Stadium.

What To Look For

1. Swansea back to form before Man City clash– Swansea City started the season brightly, but soon trended the other way. However, they’ve began to find their form once more.

In their most recent fixture, they came back to defeat Arsenal in South Wales.

They will need to keep their upward trend with a tough away trip to Manchester City. Gylfi Sigurdsson continues to play well in the midfield for the Swans scoring a fine goal against the Gunners from a set-piece. Wilfried Bony should be the focal point up top once more. One promising sign for Swansea is Bafetimbi Gomis scored his first goal at the club against Arsenal and if he can get going, the Swans attack will be that much potent for it.

However, Swansea will need to be wary of Sergio Aguero at the other end. With 12 goals to his name so far, he leads the league. With City’s ability on the wings as well, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Swansea manager Garry Monk employ a more conservative style.

2. Austin powers QPR– Harry Redknapp took Queens Park Rangers back into the Premier League, but the club hasn’t looked like one remaining there this season. There has been a bright spot for the R’s in the form of Charlie Austin.

Playing in 10 games so far, the striker has been productive. He has found the back of the net six times. It hasn’t been just his goals, but his movement has caused havoc at times against opposing defenses. The full breadth of what Austin can bring to QPR was on display in a 2-2 draw against Manchester City.

If Austin can continue that form and QPR gets more consistent all around, they may just find themselves climbing out of the relegation tussle sooner than later.

3. Which Liverpool will show up?– Charting just which Liverpool will show up on any given weekend has become one difficult task. After winning against West Brom and Queens Park Rangers, Liverpool have looked lackluster in a scoreless draw with Hull and loss to Newcastle. However, they looked a bit brighter in a loss to Chelsea before the international break and a game they may have felt they should have gotten something out of.

Facing Crystal Palace, it begs the question which side will show up? The unevenness of their play have them in an uncomfortable mid-table position with any dropped points sure to see them slide down further. However, a win moves them firmly right back into the mix of the Top Four.

Liverpool will need to avoid playing down to their opponent in Palace and continue to tighten up their backline. If they can do that, they should leave Selhurst Park with three points.

4. Top goal scorers square off– When Chelsea host West Brom, it will feature two teams at opposite ends of the table. The Blues are currently the pace setters atop the Premier League while the Baggie rest in 13th.

However, they do have one common thread. They both will feature one of the best goal scorers in the league so far. Diego Costa has found the back of the net 10 times to date in his debut season while Saido Berahino has tallied a total of seven. While hamstring and groin issues have slowed Costa in recent weeks, he still has shown his deadly finishing ability. He will be lurking in dangerous areas and the West Brom defense will need to be aware at all times.

Berahino has been a pleasant surprise. One thought to have loads of potential, the 21-year-old is showing the talent right now. While it hasn’t necessarily yielded wins for the Baggies, his goals have certainly earned crucial points at times, which should ultimately help West Brom avoid a relegation scrap.

While the Blues are the overwhelming favorites to take all three points at Stamford Bridge this weekend, Berahino could just provide another pivotal moment. Just don’t rule out Costa scoring the dagger in the win either.