Time To Get Back To Basics

With the critics out in force, is it time to place an emphasis on the art of defending?

After the recent English Premier League goal frenzy that resulted in just 18 clean sheets being recorded from the previous 5 game rounds, a semblance of normality resumed as the midweek fixtures produced shutouts for 7 of the participating sides.

This will have been music to the ears of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp, who have come under fire for the quality displayed by both their goalkeepers and defenders in recent weeks.

Klopp got himself entangled in a row, by responding to criticism of Loris Karius from Sky pundit Gary Neville, before making the decision to replace the error-prone shot-stopper with Simon Mignolet for the trip to Middlesbrough. Guardiola, on the other hand, insisted that he would stick with his attacking principals but he did revert to a back four, in the 2-0 victory over Watford, suggesting that he is acutely aware of his side’s current limitations, as highlighted by WhoScored.

Both managers will be looking to build on their respective clean sheets in Gameweek 17 but they face much more testing fixtures.

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Liverpool travel to Goodison Park for the Monday Night Football and we can expect Gary Neville to have both barrels ready and aimed on Mignolet, who registered his first Premier League clean sheet of the season in that 3-0 win at the Riverside, while Manchester City take on Arsenal at the Etihad, in a game that could answer lots of questions about each sides’ title aptitude.

Tottenham Hotspur look to have the pick of the fixtures and will expect to score heavily against a Hull City side that has conceded more goals than any other Premier League team, while Chelsea and West Ham United also look to have a good chance of building on their respective 1-0 midweek victories. The Blues travel to Selhurst Park, while Burnley will be the visitors to the London Stadium.

Manchester United will be looking to maintain their momentum against an in-form West Bromwich Albion team at the Hawthorns in the Saturday evening kick-off but there isn’t too much to choose between the rest of the sides that will be in action, as illustrated by the latest English Premier League betting odds.

Can Liverpool and Manchester City record another clean sheet apiece in Gameweek 17 or will their defensive inefficiencies resurface yet again?