Premier League Tactical Preview: West Ham and Everton to bloody rivals' noses

West Ham manager David Moyes
Moyes' West Ham should inflict a damaging defeat on Spurs.

Alex Keble assesses the tactical battles in the weekend's Premier League games, predicting that West Ham will beat Tottenham, while Arsenal will prove a surprisingly difficult challenge for Man City...

"Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is likely to drift out to the left flank, which means he will occupy those spaces between Stones and Dias, offering Arsenal a counter-attacking outlet that may end up defining the game."

Hudson-Odoi can unlock Saints'4-4-2

Southampton v Chelsea
Saturday, 12:30
Live on BT Sport 1

Ralph Hasenhuttl's narrow 4-4-2 formation is perhaps well suited to nullifying Thomas Tuchel's 3-4-2-1. Chelsea have been playing with lots of possession but little bite, making few moves in behind as the new manager begins his tenure with the implementation of a solid defensive structure. That is likely to continue on Saturday.

In a 4-4-2, with the two strikers dropping back to cut off the passing lines into Matteo Kovacic and Jorginho, Southampton have the right system to match the box-shape that Chelsea form in the middle of the park (with their inside forwards). What's more, as Mason Mount peels wider to find space, the narrowness of Saints' wingers should block off the half-spaces.

But Southampton have looked weak down Ryan Bertrand's side recently. His unforced error led to Newcastle's winning goal a fortnight ago and last weekend both Wolves goals came down his side of the pitch. Callum Hudson-Odoi has excelled at right wing-back, seeing plenty of the ball as Chelsea's shape draws the opposition away from his flank. Their head-to-head could make the difference in a tight game.

Calvert-Lewin & Richarlison can inspire Everton

Liverpool v Everton
Saturday, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Liverpool are struggling to find any fluency to their play at the moment while Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are absent from central midfield, and that should allow Carlo Ancelotti to sit his Everton team in a conservative, non-pressing shape and slow this game right down. The visitors are in poor form too, of course, although there is a decent chance Ancelotti will change to a more suitable formation for this game.

A narrow diamond 4-4-2 failed against Fulham because it left too much space out wide, while the 4-2-3-1 looks light on numbers in central areas, and so Ancelotti could bring back the 3-4-3 formation that has proved successful earlier in the campaign. This would allow the wing-backs to get tight to Liverpool's full-backs without losing shape centrally, plus it would allow Everton to field both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison in advanced positions.

Leicester City showed last weekend just how much damage can be done against Liverpool's makeshift centre-backs when utilising long balls forward and a two-man front line. Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes caused panic in the final 20 minutes, something Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are more than capable of doing.

Carlo Ancelotti, Everton manager.jpg

Moyes' midfield solidity the platform to victory

West Ham v Tottenham
Sunday, 12:00
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Tottenham's midweek Europa League win is a hindrance, not a help, despite the fact they scored four goals at Wolfsberger. A continental hangover is the last thing this tired and directionless Spurs side need, and after fielding a full-strength side on Thursday night Jose Mourinho looks set for another ambling, aimless, nothing-y performance from his team.

Voices of dissent in north London are reaching fever pitch, while the players now look like they are waiting for the end. Given that West Ham are confident and combative, are strong in the tackle and distinctly more organised than Tottenham, it should be relatively easy for the hosts to out-battle the visitors and win the three points.

Harry Kane is Spurs' only source of creativity and the excellent partnership of Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice ought to be able to deny Kane space as he drops into the number ten zone. This is West Ham's platform, while their strength at set-pieces and Tottenham's weakness defending them means Michail Antonio running the channels should prove fruitful.

Arteta's direct dribblers to test City's back three

Arsenal v Manchester City
Sunday, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Arsenal's 4-2 victory over Leeds United last weekend showed just how far Mikel Arteta has drifted away from the methods of his mentor Pep Guardiola. The Gunners now focus on verticality, direct dribbling, and incisive counter-attacks built through exciting young attackers who play on the half-turn. This presents a challenge to Manchester City's defence.

Guardiola has been deploying a back three recently with Joao Cancelo joining Rodri in midfield, and despite its strength few have really tested it with breaks of the quality Arsenal will attempt on Sunday. With the back three stretching very wide - John Stones comes out to right-back, leaving Ruben Dias alone in the middle - it is possible that Bukayo Saka, Dani Ceballos, and Nicolas Pepe can evade the press and drive at City's heart.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is likely to drift out to the left flank, which means he will occupy those spaces between Stones and Dias, offering Arsenal a counter-attacking outlet that may end up defining the game. Man City remain favourites, but this won't be comfortable for Guardiola.

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