EPL Week 8 Predictions: Players Sure to Land in All-EPL Team for Week's Clashes
With two fascinating intra-city battles set to take place this weekend, in addition to an array of other exciting matches, the massive egos and incredible talent of the English Premier League's brightest stars will be on full display.
The London Derby between Tottenham and Chelsea will be the marquee match, but the Tyne-Wear derby between Sunderland and Newcastle will also be an intriguing contests.
Both Manchester clubs will be rooting for Spurs as they try to keep pace with the Blues at the top of the table, while Reading, Norwich and Queens Park Rangers will continue searching for their first win.
Every side will be looking for a fantastic individual performances and these are the players who will deliver this week.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech, Chelsea
Petr Cech's contribution last season in the Champions League and FA Cup was as vital to Chelsea's trophy haul as any other individual player.
This year, the Blues' attack has been grabbing headlines in London, but against a talented Tottenham attack, the veteran goalkeeper will be called upon to bail out his defense.
Spurs' 18.1 shots per game is the third-highest mark in the Premier League, according to Whoscored.com, and Cech will be tested in this match.
The massive Chelsea keeper will need every inch of his 6'5" frame to keep a clean sheet this week, and he will deliver the type of performance that has come to characterize his illustrious career.
Left-Back: Leighton Baines, Everton
Leighton Baines is as good as left-backs come in the Premiership.
He is fundamentally sound on defense and his pace and skill give Everton's attack an added dimension down the left flank. He also reminded Premiership fans last week that he takes a gorgeous penalty.
But the Toffees' result last week was ultimately disappointing as they drew 2-2 with Wigan. This Sunday, the team has a fantastic opportunity to snatch three points on the road as they go up against winless Queens Park Rangers.
Everton is the superior side and simply must execute to earn a victory. Baines has been among the club's most consistent performers over the past several seasons and another fine performance from the veteran defender will lead to a win.
Center-Back: Jonny Evans, Manchester United
Jonny Evans did his best to disprove the notion that white men can't jump by heading in a corner kick from Robin van Persie to open Manchester United's scoring last week.
His goal was the first of three in a convincing victory over Newcastle, and he will need to take to the air with the same force in United's upcoming match against Stoke.
The Potters have been allergic to short passes under Tony Pulis and Evans will see a barrage of long balls. Stoke also makes it extremely difficult for its opponents to score goals, and Evans—who is filling in for an injured Nemanja Vidic—must ensure that his side keeps a clean sheet.
The center-back will remain focused as he fiercely contests all balls played in the air to lead an impressive performance for United.
Center-Back: Fabricio Coloccini, Newcastle
Fabricio Coloccini's signature curls were noticeably absent from the picture on the previous slide which displayed Jonny Evan's aerial dominance.
While the Argentine center-back has had his problems winning balls in the air in the past, his grit and disciplined positioning at the heart of Newcastle's back line was certainly missed against Manchester United. His presence likely would have led to a lower scoring output for the Red Devils.
But Coloccini will be back from injury in time for Magpies' derby with Sunderland. When healthy, he is one of the top center-backs in the Premiership and his presence will ensure that Sunderland's Steven Fletcher has a difficult time adding to his goal total.
Look for the Newcastle back line to be significantly better that last week with Coloccini leading the group.
Right-Back: Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City
Pablo Zabaleta is another consummate outside back who is capable in both defending and attacking.
Few players at the position are as proficient as the Argentine at feeding the forward players with quality passes while still providing a strong contribution in the defensive third of the field.
His 4.3 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per match, as noted by Whoscored.com, are evidence of his stellar efforts on defense. He has not been able to put his name on the score sheet this season, but against a stout West Bromwich Albion defense, City will need to widen the field to unpack the Baggies' back line.
The defending champions will have to throw players forward to get a decisive goal and the right back will provide a significant contribution on both ends of the pitch.
Left Midfielder: Shaun Maloney, Wigan
Wigan will carry momentum into its match after an impressive 2-2 draw against an in-form Everton side.
Shaun Maloney posed a serious threat to the Toffees throughout that match as ran up and down the left side of the pitch. He recorded an assist in the match and was one of the driving forced behind the team's effective attack.
His grit and determination when he possesses the ball allows the players around him to get into threatening parts of the pitch. The crafty Scot has been the Latics' most effective distributor this season.
Going against a Swansea team that has not won a match since the second fixture of the season, Wigan will find success offensively. Maloney will be at the center of many of the goal-scoring opportunity.
Center Midfielder: Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
After the first few matches of the season, Chelsea's Eden Hazard appeared to be the best buy of the summer from any Premiership team. But as each fixture has passed, Santi Cazorla has proved to be increasingly worthy of that title.
The Spanish midfielder has flourished in his first few contests in an Arsenal uniform, notching two goals and two assists. His most recent strike against West Ham was a stunning display of power and accuracy.
But his statistics do not tell the entire story of his contribution to the Gunners' attack. His passing and movement when the ball is not at his feet are indicative of a remarkably intelligent player and he will continue to make Arsenal a dangerous side.
Going against a struggling Norwich team, Cazorla and the Arsenal attack will score early and often.
Center Midfielder: Juan Mata, Chelsea
In the most anticipated match of the week, Chelsea will be looking for a player to spark its attack against Tottenham—Juan Mata will answer that call.
Eden Hazard started the year as the Blues' midfield maestro, but in the last four matches, Mata has four assists and three goals. He had a goal and an assist in the Blues' showdown with Arsenal two weekends ago, proving that he can thrive in an important match.
Now, the 24-year-old has to produce more goals against another difficult London-based opponent. Considering his fantastic recent form, that shouldn't be much of a problem for him.
On a pitch flooded with world-class talent, one of the smallest players will stand tallest after this match as Mata's skill and vision will allow him to rise above his competition.
Right Midfielder: Aaron Lennon, Tottenham
Aaron Lennon's incredible pace has always made him a great talent, but he has struggled to consistently perform at a high level across his career.
That was not evident last week against Aston Villa when he ran wild on the right side of the pitch and put his name on the score sheet for the first time this season.
His performance will give him plenty of confidence going into Spurs' showdown with Chelsea, which will produce several fascinating matchups. Lennon trying to get past Ashley Cole will be as intriguing as any battle on the pitch and this weekend the Tottenham midfielder will be up to the challenge.
Expect several scoring chances to come from Lennon as he continues to build confidence.
Striker: Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
Olivier Giroud is the striker tasked with replacing Robin van Persie and he had been woefully underperforming before finally scoring his first goal of the year against West Ham.
A string of soft defenses is exactly what Giroud needs to get in goal-scoring form. Already standing tall after his impressive performance against the Hammers, the Frenchman will pose plenty of danger against the Norwich back line.
The Canaries have conceded 17 goals in seven matches and the team's defense is simply not up to the challenge of going against Arsenal's attack.
The score will be lopsided in favor of the Gunners and Giroud will have no shortage of quality chances on goal.
Striker: Andy Carroll, West Ham United
The only defense that has allowed more goals than Norwich is Southampton. Until the Saints fix their crippling problems at the back, opposing strikers will continue to have excellent outings against them.
Andy Carroll has been in excellent form while on the pitch for West Ham this season. He has been active and aggressive, causing problems for hesitant defenders.
Southampton's back line struggles with positioning, clearance, marking and every other necessary element of playing quality defense. This will allow Carroll's efforts to pay off in the form of his first goal as a Hammer.
The way the Saints have played at the back, it would not be shocking see Carroll's name on the score sheet multiple times in this match.
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