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Premier League Tactical Preview: Lukaku v Maguire and other key battles

Jurgen Klopp's team should produce yet another wild and high-scoring game this weekend
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Alex Keble returns for his weekly tactical blog, picking out four key battles ahead of the weekend Premier League action...


"It should be chaos at Anfield. Already this season both Liverpool and Arsenal have shown their defensive frailties and slick attacking football; that a 4-3-3 is facing a 3-4-2-1 only makes it more likely we will see a high-scoring game."

Bournemouth v Manchester City


Howe's expansive formation v Man City's wing-backs

Pep Guardiola has used a 3-5-2 formation in both of Man City's matches this season, with Leroy Sane and Kyle Walker (to be replaced by Danilo on Saturday) acting as wingers in a bid to stretch the opposition. This, in theory, creates more space in central areas for David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne to weave their magic and get the two centre-forwards into the game.

Bournemouth, goalless and with zero points, look bereft of confidence - which comes in waves for Howe's team, because such expansive possession football only works when spirits are high. In a 4-4-1-1 that rarely presses the opposition (they finished in the bottom three for tackles and interceptions last season), Howe's fragile team could easily be pulled apart by City.

Silva in particular should find space against the defensively weak pair of Harry Arter and Andrew Surman. Recognising his team's flaws against the top six, Howe is likely to attempt to correct this by keeping his players narrow and compact - but this will only create extra space for Danilo and Sane. Guardiola's team should score plenty of goals.

Recommended Bet
Back over 3.5 goals at 23/10


Manchester United v Leicester City


Romelu Lukaku-led counters v Harry Maguire

The most impressive aspect of United's game this season has been the speed of their counter-attacks and so Craig Shakespeare will happily sit deep to absorb the home side's pressure. Leicester will sit in two banks of four and refuse to budge, forcing United - whose new use of two free-roaming playmakers in Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan makes them a narrow team - to play through the centre at a slow tempo.

Their best chance of success, then, is hitting Leicester on the counter-counter after the visitors sense an opportunity to break and over commit. This kind of scenario has become more likely now that Harry Maguire has joined the Foxes.

Maguire is excellent defensively, but more vital for Leicester is his ability to storm out from the back with the ball and instigate a counter-attack. Aerially he may be able to control Romelu Lukaku, but if he steps out of defence to help release Jamie Vardy then he may leave a gap that the Belgian striker can exploit. At Old Trafford, you fancy the United forward to come out on top.

Recommended Bet
Back Lukaku to score at 9/5


Chelsea v Evertonh2>


Tiemoue Bakayoko v Gylfi Sigurdsson<

Two new signings settling into their new surroundings - Bakayoko and Sigurdsson - are the most likely players to decide the outcome at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The French midfielder struggled with the pace of the English game at times last weekend, which could allow Sigurdsson to find the space he needs to create for Wayne Rooney, although Everton's attacking pair might simply be too slow to counter successfully.

Both sides will utilise a back three, creating the sort of stodgy and claustrophobic match we have become accustomed to in the past 12 months. Chelsea will be forced to hold more possession than they did in the 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, which surely means Bakayoko will have to cover more ground. Instead of focusing on his defensive duties, the 23-year-old will be all-action - and thus might be the chink in the hosts' armour.

Morgan Schneiderlin's absence (through suspension) should make Bakayoko's job easier, but Sigurdsson and Rooney will still fancy their chances. Much rests on whether these two are quick enough to drag Everton into the game; either way, there will not be enough speed, dynamism, or experience on the pitch for this to be a high-scoring game.

Recommended Bet
Back under 2.5 goals at 39/20


Liverpool v Arsenal


Andrew Robertson v Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

It should be chaos at Anfield. Already this season both Liverpool and Arsenal have shown their defensive frailties and slick attacking football; that a 4-3-3 is facing a 3-4-2-1 only makes it more likely we will see a high-scoring game. These two formations don't match up very well, especially when both sides are look to create goalscoring opportunities at all costs.

Consequently, it is difficult to predict how this match will go, although one key battle will surely be on the hosts' left between Robertson and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Liverpool's new left-back has performed exactly as a Jurgen Klopp full-back should, which is to say he streams forward like a winger and looks vaguely erratic when asked to defend.

His direct opposition this weekend, Oxlade-Chamberlain, has started the campaign brightly, completing an extraordinary 7.5 dribbles per match. Both Robertson and Chamberlain will hurtle forward and struggle to cover their flank defensively, hopefully leading to a fascinating tussle on Liverpool's left. It is one of many hazardous key battles likely to develop in a free-scoring game.

Recommended Bet
Back over 3.5 goals at 131/50


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