The weekend is almost upon us and football fans are bracing themselves for the advent of the Premier League.
Ten high-octane clashes are set to take place, and while there will be plenty of intriguing individual clashes in the English top-flight, which are the ones that are truly worth your while?
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The Statesman has gone through the fixtures and has outlined the five must-watch individual battles from Gameweek 11 below:
Ryan Shawcross vs Jamie Vardy (Stoke City vs Leicester City)
Stoke stunned all and sundry by ending high-fliers Watford last weekend but the Potters have struggled for consistency this season and may find the going tough against a rejuvenated Leicester City side.
Their defence has been a source of concern as they have conceded 20 times in 10 games (worse only than bottom-ranked Crystal Palace).
Centre-back Ryan Shawcross has had a truncated start to the 2017-18 season and the onus will be on the Stoke captain to shackle Leicester’s fleet-footed forward.
Vardy snapped a four-game goal drought in the Foxes’ 2-0 win over Everton, coincidentally manager Claude Puel’s first match in charge. From midfield, Riyad Mahrez and Demarai Gray will be proving him with the ammunition to fire the 2015-16 Premier League champions to their second league win on the bounce.
Shawcross loves a physical battle but the sinewy Vardy is a crafty player and he’ll be making runs behind the 6’3 stopper all game long.
Who wins this battle might just decide the outcome of the first Premier League tie of the weekend.
Oriol Romeu vs Jeff Hendricks (Southampton vs Burnley)
It may be a cliche, but central midfield is and will remain the most important position in football.
Southampton have a decent home record this season and while Burnley are flying high in seventh place, the Saints won’t make life easy for the Clarets on Saturday.
Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu shields their four-man defence (which has kept three clean sheets as of now) and the former Blues man will be up against Jeff Hendricks in the middle of the park.
The 31-year-old Burnley midfielder plays just off the central striker in Burnley’s 4-5-1 system and scored an invaluable winner against Newcastle United in their 1-0 win last time round.
Hendrick’s clash with Romeu will be an interesting one as both teams are seeking to prove they are more than just mid-table clubs and the visitors come to St. Mary’s Stadium on the back of a seriously-impressive away record.
Aaron Cresswell vs Mohamed Salah (West Ham United vs Liverpool)
As West Ham continue to infuriate their fans with a series if wildly inconsistent performances, one of the few players who has been regular with his displays is left-back Aaron Cresswell.
The 27-year-old hasn’t been able to bomb down the flank as much as he would want, although he did bag an assist against Crystal Palace last week, but remains a dangerous attacking outlet.
And while the Hammers fullback remains one of the best left-footed crossers in the Premier League, he may have to curb his attacking instincts on Saturday’s late kick-off as he will be up against Liverpool’s best player this season, Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool, after what seemed like an age, managed to win in the Premier League and while their title aspirations seem to be effectively over, the Reds can still finish in the top-four and will look to their flying Egyptian winger to maintain his searing start to the season against the Hammers.
West Ham have conceded a fair few this season and while keeping a clean sheet against Liverpool is a tall order, if Cresswell can contain Salah, they may have a chance of nabbing three points.
The Hammers left-back will be primarily tasked to keep a close eye on Salah, but there will be moments in the game when he will be given license to go and wreak havoc on a suspect Liverpool defence.
For if Salah is double-teamed too often, Liverpool’s goals may dry up and this encounter will have a telling impact on the result of the clash at the Olympic Stadium.
Gabriel Jesus vs Per Mertesacker (Manchester City vs Arsenal)
If this was a boxing bout, it would be a no-contest but this is football and size doesn’t really matter.
The diminutive Gabriel Jesus is set to start for the Citizens after being rested in midweek and he will have Per Mertesacker for company for majority of the tie.
City have been firing on all cylinders since the start of the season and Jesus’ form has been extremely impressive. The 20-year-old Brazilian continues to score goals on a regular basis and his clash with the 6’6 Mertesacker (in his final professional season) will be a treat.
Considering the imperious form City are in, few would bet on Mertesacker and Co. winning this game, but in football, stranger things have happened. Sure, the Citizens have a plethora of attacking options, but Jesus is their focal point and if the German defender can stop him, he may swing the tide in the Gunners’ favour.
The 33-year-old centre-back will rely on every ounce of his experience to keep the young Brazilian quiet, but who will reign triumphant at the Etihad?
Eden Hazard vs Antonio Valencia (Chelsea vs Manchester United)
A resurgent Manchester United will be seeking revenge for last year’s 4-0 defeat when they visit Chelsea in the highlight tie of the weekend, but their poor record at Stamford Bridge speaks for itself.
Eden Hazard has dominated this fixture in the past and expect him to be in the thick of the action once again come Sunday. The Belgian wizard, like the rest of his teammates, hasn’t quite found hit top gear this season but expect him to be flying out of the blocks against the Red Devils.
Among the finest dribblers in the Premier League, Hazard will lock horns against the ever-consistent Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian, a winger not so long ago, has rarely had a poor game since shifting to right-back.
The stocky Valencia still possess plenty of speed but with United set to defend deep, is unlikely to get a chance to stretch his legs. Hazard loves drifting in from the wing as his mazy dribbling skills see him come out on top in most one-on-one battles but it remains to be seen whether he will be able to best Valencia.
Chelsea are reeling from their midweek loss to Roma and with the Premier League title seemingly disappearing from sight, know they cannot afford to drop points against United and will look to batter the visitors from the moment the game kicks off with Hazard and co leading the charge.