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Week 9 Preview: Seven Questions

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With the Super Sunday coming, Liverpool, Arsenals and Man Utd's defensive game plans gone missing we head into week 9.

My name is "Kun" and I am Awesome
My name is "Kun" and I am Awesome
Julian Finney

Week 8 is done and dusted so let's not waste any time and lets start looking ahead with the next set of 7 questions.

Question 1 - Should Liverpool start with Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert or both against Hull?

When Liverpool purchased Mario the club and fans knew what they were getting.  A player who on his day is a match winner but lacking the consistency of a true world class player.  At 24 and with the man management skills of Brendan Rodgers the hope was the consistency would become a factor in his game in what may be his final big club chance.  So far though, in his Liverpool career Mario just isn't performing to the standards required of a title chasing club.

Yet to score in the Premier League including a contender for miss of the season this weekend Mario looks a little sorry for himself.  The fact maybe Mario isn't the type of player required suit Liverpool's system and style of play.  The forwards need to provide plenty of movement with the ball and plenty of pressing without it.  Not a topic i'm writing about for the first that being a player failing to show work ethic.   In Pools' system and in fact for any system the players need to work hard and I will never fail to get annoyed at players who appear to not be bothered about that side of the game.  Over the years I have seen many players with world class talent fail in this one essential attribute.  As a working class fan it is the one aspect I can never accept (although I don't mind too much when I see it in Liverpool players I  will admit).

To be fair to Mario he has never been this style of forward.  This leaves the conclusion he was purchased simply because he was priced right.  If I remember correctly £16M was around the amount paid.  Just cheap enough to tempt you to give him one more chance but not too much to make to think about his weaknesses.

So Mario is what he is, which means hot and cold performances then.  He is a little overdue on a hot one so don't be surprised if he puts Real Madrid to the sword from out of nowhere Wednesday night.  Should he do so, will you select him for Hulls game?  Hard not to but you will never know what you will get from him.  Assuming the cold streak continues Rodgers has a challenge ahead of him this weekend.  A fully confident Hull City arrive so does he accept Mario's form and give Rickie Lambert a run?  Hull's results are good but their defending not so.  Maybe this IS the game for Mario to go goal crazy.  What do you all think?

Question 2 - Will Arsenal face a beaten and battered Sunderland this week or a side with everything to prove and the bit between their teeth?

8-0 wow I didn't see that coming did you?  Sunderland had lost just the once all season before their walloping at St Mary's.  The one defeat though may have given you clues as they had lost to QPR.  If you are into you stats then you will know teams do not offer suffer a huge defeat in the manor Sunderland have and then get comfortably beaten the following game.  Normal practice is to spend the week working on defensive drills and secondly dropping the 1st teamers who were so inept the game previous.  Then bring in the in theory hungry player waiting in the wings.  Gus Poyet certainly talked about the players he now knew were not up for the fight, so expect changes on Saturday.

Arsenal have injuries problems, a defense that even when fit cannot keep clean sheets and a midweek Champions League game away from home to get through before then.  Sunderland in the last 2-3 years have been masters of giving the big side a tough game, beating some of them.  City have been beaten by the same group of players back to back and famously they won at Stamford Bridge.  This has banana skin written over it people.

Or maybe that is incorrect.  Perhaps unknown to us there is a dressing room battle between manager and players and the lack of fight shown is a result of this.  There have been no news along these lines and Sunderland were doing just fine prior to the St Mary's massacre but you never know for sure.

Question 3 - Not can but will Manchester United beat Chelsea?

Of course they can, anyone can but the question is will they.  United have looked nervous playing at home and through all 8 fixtures have given teams plenty of chances.  That is not the form line you want facing one of europe's top sides.  News that Diego Costa is out would help but take the shine off any result a little if he is missing.

With Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Robin Van Persie and Radamel Falcao they should have the firepower but behind them the big ask is required.  Van Gaal will have the best part of week to drill them and for the first time this season United be able to play on the counter attack depending on Joses tactics.  Last season Jose openly took his team to Old Trafford for the point.  They were the underdogs then, not now.

Also for the first time this season there is no pressure on the United players.  This is one where they can play with some freedom.  Chelsea though are the powerhouse of the league so far, the best defensive side and the best big match team so should be licking their lips.  The standard of Utds defending has been between average and awful.  Just tonight Phil Jones tried to play defensive midfield when playing at CB, a trait he does far too often.  It seems impossible to see a clean sheet meaning utd will need 2 probably 3/4 to win this one.

So assuming Di Maria is fit it should be a cracker, certainly more entertainment than the City/Chelsea game can be expected.  Any result is possible and on a chilly autumn evening we are likely to have a few questionable referee decisions.

The answer is I think we can but I don't think we will.  Go on lads prove me wrong.

Question 4 - Who is week 9's must have player?

Graziano Pelle or Tadic v Stoke

Mario, Sterling or Lallana v Hull

Costa or Cesc at Utd

Di MAria, RVP, Falcao  v Chelsea

Adebayor hosting Newcastle

Lukaku at Burnley

Bony or Sigurdsson hosting Leicester

Someone else

Question 5 - Who is week 9's dark horse player pick?

Despite all logic or perhaps due to it who is the one that the majority will miss?   Maybe Henderson will outscore his Liverpool teammates once more.  Could the Sunderland keeper swap a -18pts for a +20pts?

Mine? well at the moment I quite like the matchup for Mane v Stoke.  Most of you will have Pelle and Tadic, few of you will go all three so the idea of matching mane against Pelle interests me.

Who do you like?

Question 6 - Can Stoke stop the Saints marching on?

With Man City facing a tricky away tie at West Ham the Saints can go 2nd should city drop points and they win.  You couldnt give them much more confidence and Stoke have yet to look the solid defence they were under Tony Pulis with Mark Hughes as manager.

The leagues traditional spoilers Stoke City are now playing some nice football.  In Victor Moses, Charlie Adam and Peter Crouch they are an attacking threat. They even won at Man City this season suggesting when the pressure is off they are a match for the hot sides away from home.

Southampton are developing a soft spot for many readers.  A very well run club mixing talented youngsters with well scouted overseas talent they probably are overachieving a little.  Their performances have got the results they deserve but  everything is going their way (opening goal week 9 for example).  Bt as they say the table doesn't lie and right now there are only two teams better.

I wonder if this one may be a bit harder for them.  Can't be as easy at Sunderland can it.

Question 7 - Will Burnley win a game this week?

Just Burnleys luck isn't it.  Searching for a win their next opponent Everton have looked far from the team they looked last season until the weekend past.  Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman are back, Lukaku is scoring goals and even the defence got themselves together.

Burnley need the opening goal in a game.  Something to lift their spirits and belief.  This looks an away win on paper but maybe when you look at their performances against City and Utd this is the type of game they can raise their levels.

Stall