Arsenal v Everton – Robin Van Persie v Phil Jagielka
We all know how best to deal with a prolific traditional number nine: unless he is lightning quick retain a high back-line, keep touch-tight on set-pieces, cut off his supply line by doubling up on widemen, and cross your fingers and pray.
No-one has yet discovered how best to negate the multifaceted potency of Van Persie however but it usually involves just the praying part.
This week the onerous task falls upon Jagielka to somehow prevent the flying Dutchman from continuing his sensational goal spree.
‘Jags’ is one of the best stoppers around at curtailing the danger in and around the box – it’s incredible how many nicks and blocks he contributes – but should the Gunners’ array of attacking talent find any sort of space (particularly on a counter) we can only see one winner here in this fascinating duel.
Liverpool v QPR – Jordan Henderson v Joey Barton
With Lucas out for the foreseeable future and Spearing suspended the duty of shackling a hard-working Hoops midfield containing Derry and Barton will fall upon the youngster from Sunderland who has been measurably improving of late. He’ll have his work cut out here though as Barton always has a point to prove on native soil and will look to run the show. It will be an interesting test of Henderson’s mettle who will need to impose more than his usual neat passing game onto the proceedings. You’ve had your settling-in period Jordan, now it’s time to boss things and who better to announce yourself against than the tweet and tender hooligan himself.
Chelsea v Man City – David Luiz v Himself
Against Valencia in mid-week the individualistic Brazilian noticeably restrained himself to staying back within the back-four and Chelsea looked all the stronger for it running out comfortable winners. Can he show similar restraint in the Premier League however? All the evidence thus far says not and if Luiz goes wandering forward like Sideshow Bob on Red Bull you can bet your last peso that Sergio Aguero will amble across into the gap and hope the ball breaks in his vicinity. If it does that leaves him one-on-one with an aging Terry who turns like a broken tugboat.
With the Argentine’s blistering pace however it is highly doubtful Chelsea will employ a high back-line which will, by default, give Luiz less opportunity to break free and live out his midfielder dreams. Shame.