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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Clinical Chelsea face Spurs, Van Persie perfect for Stoke clash - Opta's Premier League Preview

Clinical Chelsea face Spurs, Van Persie perfect for Stoke clash - Opta's Premier League Preview

CLINICAL CHELSEA MEET IN-FORM SPURS

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea sides have always been characterised by their relentless ability to close a game out when ahead.

Unlike the more flamboyant title-winning team of Carlo Ancelotti, Mourinho’s men are often content with taking an early lead and then defending it ruthlessly to claim the points, which makes it all the more remarkable that they have yet to win a game 1-0 this season.


STANDOUT STATS
Wayne Rooney needs two more goals to become the first player in Premier League history to score 10+ goals in 11 consecutive seasons.
Cesc Fabregas has assisted eight goals in his last eight Premier League games against Tottenham and scored two himself.
Southampton are without a win in 10 Premier League meetings against Arsenal (D4 L6).
Nathan Dyer has scored three goals in his last three league starts against QPR at Loftus Road.
QPR have already won four more points at Loftus Road this season (18) than in the entire 2012/13 campaign (14).
11 of Andy Carroll’s 24 shots (excl. blocked) this season in the Premier League have come via his head.
Everton have conceded 31 goals already this season after only letting in 39 in the whole of 2013-14.
Of the 17 ever-present sides in the Premier League during 2014, Aston Villa scored the fewest goals (32) in the calendar year.
Crystal Palace have won just one of their last 13 Premier League matches (W1 D5 L7).
Mourinho enjoyed 16 single-goal victories across his first two title wins and has seen 30 overall in just 177 games in the English top-flight, but Chelsea have netted at least twice in all 14 league wins so far this campaign.

Chelsea’s opponents in this game, Spurs, are not often lauded for their resoluteness but the north Londoners have started to show some resolve in recent weeks; Mauricio Pochettino’s side’s last six victories have all been by a score of 2-1, and four of them have involved winners in the last 20 minutes.

If they can keep Chelsea down to one goal, they have every chance of inflicting a second defeat of the campaign upon the league leaders.

STOKE EYE MAN UTD SCALP

The first game of 2015 sees Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United travel to in-form Stoke.

The Potters, managed by former Old Trafford favourite Mark Hughes, are one of only three sides with a 100 per cent record over the festive period (alongside Arsenal and Liverpool) and will be buoyed by their recent form against the Premier League’s so-called big guns; Stoke have already beaten four of last season’s top seven this term, despite failing to beat all three newly promoted sides, and will be hoping to add United to that list after their narrow Old Trafford defeat a month ago.

Van Gaal, meanwhile, will be relying on his in-form strikers to start the new year with a bang, and in compatriot Robin van Persie he has the perfect man for this fixture; the Dutchman has scored on his last four trips to the Britannia Stadium; only four players in Premier League history have scored in five consecutive appearances at the same away venue.

MAN CITY TO GET BACK ON TRACK?

Chelsea and Manchester City both finished 2014 with exactly 88 Premier League points, yet Manuel Pellegrini will still be wondering how that was the case following his side’s 2-2 draw against Burnley on Sunday.

City were 2-0 up and cruising against the newly-promoted side but succumbed to two second-half goals, failing to win from two goals up at home for the first time since October 2009.

Pellegrini will be grateful for an early opportunity to make amends for that setback and, although they have recently struggled on Wearside, City have a fantastic home record against Sunderland having won eight and lost none of their last 10 against the Black Cats.

James Milner looks set to continue in a lone striker role for this one with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic still injured; the versatile England man has scored more league goals against Sunderland than any other opponent (5) but has not scored in the Premier League since December 2013.

LIVERPOOL AIM TO CONTINUE STREAK

2014 was a year that promised so much yet ultimately failed to deliver for Liverpool, but the club have the perfect fixture to see in the new year at home to rock-bottom Leicester City.

Brendan Rodgers’ side did end 2014 with a convincing 4-1 victory over Swansea City, the first time they had scored four times in a league game since March, and the Kop faithful will be hoping their side can start 2015 in the same rip-roaring fashion that they managed the previous calendar year.

With a 100% record over their last three games, their best run of victories since the incredible 11 game streak in the spring, things finally look to be on the up for the Merseysiders.

BURNLEY RUNNING THE EXTRA MILE

With a number of high-profile footballers speaking out recently against the traditionally high number of Premier League fixtures played over the festive period, Burnley showed their support to nostalgia lovers by fielding an unchanged team for five consecutive matches between December 6th and December 28th.

Even more remarkably, Sean Dyche did not make a single substitution against Manchester City in the final game of that period (only the second instance of a Premier League side not making one all season), and his faith paid off as the Clarets raced back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at the home of the champions.

With such a small first team squad, you might think Burnley’s players would be flagging, yet Dyche’s men have covered more distance per game than any other top-flight side (116.2km). Winter break? No thanks.

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