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    Three Fixtures to Watch for Barclays Premier League Round #22

    "Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates a goal against Swansea during his team's 4-0 win." (Credit to Arsenal.com.)

    The Barclays Premier League 2016-17 campaign continues this weekend with Round #22 in England's top-flight. Several teams will want to get a good result this weekend, with F.A. Cup fourth-round fixtures taking place the following weekend.

    With ten fixtures taking place between Saturday and Sunday, I take a closer look at the three fixtures to watch this weekend.

    Stoke City (9th) vs. Manchester United (6th) -- Saturday 14:00 G.M.T.
    The first top-half battle of the weekend sees Mark Hughes' Potters hosting Jose Mourinho's Red Devils at the Bet365. Stoke have won two-in-a-row in league play and will look to take the scalps of a top-six team for the first time this season. In their last contest at Sunderland, Stoke were up 3-1 at halftime, which would hold for the final score. Winger Marko Arnautovic was outstanding, rifling home two solo efforts inside the box. Peter Crouch headed home a third, after an error from Vito Mannone. For Stoke to hold Manchester United, their wide players need to be huge threat offensively. Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri provide the spark and flare out-wide, and will need to attack United's wing backs constantly. Joe Allen has been Stoke's best player in midfield, leading the team with five goals. Lee Grant has been a nice signing from Derby County, filling the void in-goal. Defensively, Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi will have their hands full with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to deal with.

    Manchester United drew vs. Liverpool 1-1 on Sunday and will look to get back to winning ways. Prior to that draw, they had won nine matches in-a-row in all competitions. Zlatan Ibrahimovic leads the team with 14 goals, including a game-tying header on Sunday. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been improving under Mourinho, and always provides a spark in midfield. Juan Mata (four goals, two assists) and Paul Pogba (four goals) are expected to start and provide distribution in midfield. Wayne Rooney needs one more goal to break Sir Bobby Charlton's record of goals scored for Manchester United (251). Defensively, Manchester United have gotten great success from Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, and Eric Bially this season, and look for that trend to continue. Goalkeeper David de Gea has been one of the league's best again, making some key saves for United. 
      


    "Everton striker Romelu Lukaku battles with Manchester City's John Stones during a 4-0 win for the hosts." (Credit to Manchester Evening News.)


    Manchester City (5th) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (2nd) -- Saturday 17:30 G.M.T. 


    A top-five clash sees both sides needing wins for different reasons. Manchester City are coming off a 4-0 drubbing at Everton, where defensively they looked pitiful. Pep Guardiola's side are in fifth, but now sit 10 points off from league-leaders Chelsea. In these sides previous meeting this season, Tottenham won 2-0 at White Hart Lane. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi need a stronger showing in the back-line for City to keep Spurs off the scoreboard. Attacking players like Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, and David Silva need to control the ball on Saturday and provide good distribution for the team. Sergio Aguero needs to be ready to go as he faces one of the best defences in the league. We could also see Brazilian wonder kid Gabriel Jesus feature in his Man City debut on Saturday, after joining from Palmeiras.

    For Tottenham, they are the hottest team right now, winning six in a row in league play. Mauricio Pochettino's side defeated West Bromwich Albion last weekend, thanks to a Harry Kane hat-trick. The weekend injury to Jan Vertonghen hurts, but we should see Eric Dier partnering with Toby Alderweireld as the center back's. Danny Rose and Kyle Walker have been phenomenal as the wing backs this season, and provide great pace and good service for the team. Dele Alli (10 goals) and Christian Eriksen (five goals, eight assists) have been great in chipping in consistent stats for the team as well. Kane (13 goals) has been Tottenham's best player despite missing five matches due to injury. The more often he scores, the better off Tottenham will be in this Premier League title race.     



    Arsenal (4th) vs. Burnley (10th) -- Sunday 14:15 G.M.T.

    Arsenal are unbeaten in their last five fixtures in all comps. They are coming off a 4-0 thrashing off Swansea last weekend, where two own-goals helped them to victory. Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi have formed a solid partnership in defence, and continue to get better with each game. Arsene Wenger's real strength in the squad is his amount of attacking players. Alex Iwobi (two goals, three assists) is getting better with more minutes, while Mesut Ozil provides the build-up play in midfield. Three forwards have combined for 29 league goals and 12 assists, but two have been playing a lot recently. Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez both netted last weekend, and both will be expected to play this Saturday against one of the league's biggest surprises.

    Burnley sit 10th under Sean Dyche in their return campaign to England's top-flight. Their main problem however is picking up points on the road. They have earned 25 of their 26 league points at Turf Moor, but are currently last in road points earned. Tom Heaton is a England National Team regular and has made some important saves this season. Defensively, Ben Mee, Michael Keane, Stephen Ward, and Matthew Lowton are an experienced group that continues to be Dyche's #1 back-line partnership. Dean Marney and Jeff Hendrick are two leaders in the midfield, while George Boyd provides some good pace down the wings. The return of Joey Barton to the club, provides some valuable determination and aggressiveness to the line-up. Sam Vokes (four goals) and Andre Gray (five goals) have led the attacking line for Burnley this season, but will be counted on heavily if Burnley want to continue their rise up the table.

    Be sure to tune into these three matches this weekend, and check back on Premier League Preview for all the updates regarding the English Premier League. Hope you enjoyed, and please follow @lhenry019 and @PremPreviewMag on Twitter!

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    Item Reviewed: Three Fixtures to Watch for Barclays Premier League Round #22 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Larry Henry Jr
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