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Five key EPL questions - Week six

Thursday 22 Sep 2016 9:11 a.m.

Watford (Getty file)

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Who will be relegated this season?
While its a foolish errand to predict this early, there are worrying portents for a few
sides languishing near the bottom.
Its obvious where Stokes problems lie, having conceded 14 goals in five games
the 4-1 humiliation at Palace last weekend was predictably galling. The injury to
England goalkeeper Jack Butland cannot be underestimated, but with WBA and
Sunderland at home in the next three weeks, Mark Hughes will know a couple of wins
could change everything.
I think Stoke will survive and surely David Moyes has enough about him to keep
Sunderland afloat, or does he? Again, he will be looking at upcoming games as
Palace and WBA come to the Stadium of Light, with trips to Stoke and West Ham just
as crucial.
For me, you can perm three from Burnley, Bournemouth, Sunderland and Swansea.

Can anyone catch Manchester City?

You cant win a league after five games, but I dont think in the history of EPL that
any team has set down as convincing a marker this early on as Pep Guardiolas boys.
Its not just the perfect record, but the way theyve got results in different ways.

Manchester City celebrate yet another goal (Getty file)

Scratchy against Sunderland first up (2-1), they improved massively at Stoke (4-1).
There was an air of inevitability about the West Ham win (3-1), while they held on
against a second half onslaught from their Manchester rivals (2-1). Bournemouth
were convincingly despatched (4-0) and Swansea must be dreading this weekend.
Interestingly, Pep has already used six defenders, but in midfield hes much more
settled, with Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho starting every
Nolito is suspended and Sergio Aguero had a bit of a calf injury before his threematch ban, but there dont appear to be many chinks of light for the chasing pack.
Have Watford lost the yo-yo tag?
Watford dont have a glittering history in the EPL.
Promoted to play with the big boys in 1999, they went straight back down the
following season, having won just six games.
Their record was even worse in 2007. Arriving off the back of a play-off triumph, they
won just five matches and returned to the dirty old Championship.
But after last years heroics it seems very unlikely theyre taking the yo-yo path this
time around.
You would think that boss Quique Sanchez Flores would have been given keys to the
city after breaking the curse and leading them to mid-table and an FA Cup semi-final
last year. Oh no, he was let go and Walter Mazzarri was drafted in.
But Watford are handling the transition well. Wins against West Ham and a lesson in
passion and speed for Manchester United have pushed them into the top 10.
You just get the feeling that experienced pros such as Etienne Capoue and Troy
Deeney are the real heartbeat of this club right now, whoevers steering the ship up
Why are clean sheets such a rarity?
Remarkably, there have only been seven clean sheets in the last two game-weeks just 35 per cent of fixtures.
Theres an average of 2.84 goals per game, and the only team with consecutive
clean sheets is Spurs.
Its proving to be brilliant entertainment, but the art of defending appears to be a
dying one in the EPL.
Perhaps the only Premier League player who would be rated in the top 10 world-best
list is Vincent Kompany and hes been blighted by injury for the past 18 months.
Formation changes could certainly be a factor.

No longer the home of the traditional 4-4-2, many teams adopt a 4-2-3-1 in the fastpaced EPL, with a huge emphasis on fullbacks getting higher up the pitch.
As an interesting comparison, there were seven clean sheets in the Spanish La Liga
last week and 11 in week two. I know which competition Id rather be watching.
Do we need so many TV pundits?
Okay, perhaps that question should be rephrased - should we have better pundits?
Lets be honest, some of them are dreadful.
Hes a top, top, top player! That finish is simply world class. Hes done him
thereand thats a great finish.
The likes of Gary Neville and his technical wizardry at Sky TV have shown everyone
how its done. We want to know why a player has the space to make that finish. Has
the defender got himself in the wrong position? Should the fullback or the midfielder
be tracking there? Have the opposition targeted a specific player as a weak link?
We all know theyre top, top finishes Id just like some top, top analysis!