Cleveland Cavaliers vs. NY Knicks NBA Preview

The Cleveland Cavaliers (9-7), who are in second-place in the Central Division of the NBA Eastern Conference, visit the New York Knickerbockers (4-15) tonight. The Cavs have won four straight while the Knicks, who are fourth in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and 11 games out of first, have lost five in a row. The Cavaliers are 7.5-point favorites.

Keys for Cleveland

Cleveland comes to Madison Square Garden off a home stand where they won 4 of 5. This is the start of a series of games of which 4 of 5 are on the road. The return of LeBron James (24.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 7.4 APG) to the Cavs after playing with the Heat has put new life into the franchise. James, as he always is, will be a major factor in this contest. Along with being the leading scorer on the team, James is an able defender and creator of turnovers.

Joining James in the frontcourt is center Anderson Varejao (10.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG). Varejao hits 60% of his shots from the field, and is the team’s most consistent shooter. The backcourt includes Cleveland’s most able free throw shooter and 3-point man, point guard Kyrie Irving (21.5 PPG, 82% FT%, .420 3PT%). Along with power forward Kevin Love (17.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG), these players form the potent offensive thrust for the Cavs.

If this quartet, along with shooting guards Dion Walters and Joe Harris, can get the job done, especially in the frontcourt, then expect Cleveland to dominate the paint, grabbing offensive rebounds, and creating ample opportunities for second shots.

Keys for New York

The New York Knicks offer one of the better defenses in the league. They are 11th in points allowed, as teams are averaging 99.1 PPG against them. However, they have a very tough time on the offensive end, averaging 93.4 PPG (27th). They will need to do better than that if they are going to have a chance of winning tonight.

Knick small forward Carmelo Anthony (23.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.3 APG) is the team’s leading point scorer. Anthony can hit from just about anywhere, making him a solid threat. Power forward Amar’e Stoudemire (10.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG), who is second in scoring and first in field goal percentage (.556), brings good rebounding chops, while point guard Jose Calderon (10.7 PPG, 4.3 APG) is tops from the three-point arc, hitting almost 58%. Iman Shumpert (10.8 PPG) can knock it down from deep or drive inside to score.

The Knicks have less chemistry than the Cavs, and their lack of ball movement hurts them. Anthony is a great player, but he’s more likely to shoot than dish it off, and often that means that he’s taking low percentage shots. That hurts the Knicks in many different ways, as everyone else on the court becomes a secondary player.

Key Matchup

The big matchup is between James and Anthony. James gets the edge due to the fact that he makes everyone around him better. He’s able to not only score, but to set up opportunities for his teammates to put points on the board.

Final Thoughts

The Cavs surpass the Knicks on offense, averaging close to 104 PPG, and they are almost even with them on points allowed, as opponents are averaging just 99.9 PPG. To win this one the New York defense will have to play stellar for the entire game. Chances are, however, that Cleveland, with its premiere plays and solid bench, will wear the Knickerbockers down. Look for a fairly easy win tonight by the Cavaliers.

West Brom v Man Utd Preview

West Bromwich Albion hosts Manchester United at their home ground, The Hawthorns on Monday. The Red Devils, as they are known, are coming in fresh after a two back to back victories to claim their position on the top four. Manchester United are looking strong, but the match may not as breezy as expected. The Baggies may put a dent in the fortunes of ManU, it is a faint, but present possibility. This is because just before the International break, they had two victories and lost only to Liverpool by a very small margin; they cannot be written off so easily. It is suggested that they have the potential to slice through the back end of the Manchester defence, which has been a little weak of late. It seems more than likely that both teams will be scoring in the match.

West Brom’s Saido Berahino is having a great season so far, and has scored six goals in the last nine matches and five of them have at home in the Hawthorns. The Red Devils, though have not lost a single match at the hawthorns, in fact the Baggies have lost every single match in the last seven encounters at home except one, which was a draw. United, on the outset is looking weak after their encounter and victory over Everton has left a good portion of their team in the treatment room. There are nine injured players in the Manchester United team as of now.

The list includes important players like- Paddy McNair, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, each with hamstring injuries, Jonny Evans and Michael Carrick with ankle injuries, Jesse Lingard with a hurt knee, Chris Smalling with a thigh issue and Ashley Young with groin damage. Ander Herrera, who was taken in with a rib fracture has declared that the injury is not very severe and can get back on the field with a shot of painkillers. Wayne Rooney will be forced to sit this one out due to the three match ban that he faces.

The greater threat for United are the matches that follow, for which the team needs their top tier players for they will face off against the premier league rivals, Chelsea and Manchester City.

West Brom is facing only two omissions Anichebe, who had a hernia, Yacob who opted out due to personal reasons. The team is playing with most of their tested squad that they have retained, with Berahino leading the attack.

Even though Manchester United is bogged down by injuries, it is highly unlikely that they will lose this match and they have not won any of the last five matches played away from home this season. They have the power to deliver a lot of goals but their defence is a bit weak, and may even concede a few goals to the opposition. West Brom is looking strong, but may just not be strong enough to halt the onslaught of the Red Devils.

Stoke v Swansea Preview

Stoke City and Swansea are to meet at the Britannia on Sunday, home game for Stoke City. This is a team that finished in the top ten last season, but it seems that it accounted to very little as a sense of frustration has set on the camp and their early in the season efforts can be described as nothing but indifferent. Their only high this season was at the Etihad; following this, they lost two of their three home games. Swansea is on a good roll, way ahead of the big guns Liverpool and Chelsea, almost equalling Manchester United. They started on a thumping three game victory, bringing nine points but only made two more in the next four matches after that. Consistency is plaguing this team as well. In the last three Premier league matches in the Britannia, they have managed only one point.

Experts point out that these teams are likely to finish at the bottom of the top half or the top of the bottom half this year, if they continue with the same performance that they are now putting on. Head to head, Stoke has performed better than Swansea at home, and they did not lose the last three matches. Another interesting fact here is that the team playing away has never won a single match in the Premier league between Stoke and Swansea.

Stoke does not have too many changes for the match, with Crouch leading the offence, there are only two players who might not make it to the field- Odemwingie, and Whelan with knee injuries. Peter Crouch is the man of the hour here and continues his stride in the game, the possibilities of a call back to the national side is proof of his quality and endurance in the game. Crouch has also been a fly in Swansea’s ointment as he has scored four times in the previous three matches at the Britannia.

Swansea is going into this match Bony leading the pack on the offence, while the team is the one with the smallest squad this year (18 players), every injury is going to hit them hard. Bony has been good, but again, inconsistent. With four players sitting out, three for injury and one suspension, they have limited space to work with and will have to make the best with what they have. Britton and Amat are both out with knee injuries, an ankle injury will put Donnelly on the bench and Shelvey is suspended.

Other factors that seem to have an outcome on the matches are the days in which they are played. Sundays seem to be a bad day for these teams. The Stokes, in the last six matches played on Sunday, have not won any of them.

Considering the fact that these teams seem to have lost their footing this tournament, this match is critical for both teams. For Swansea, if they want to get their stride back and for Stoke if they want to get out of their downward streak.

QPR v Liverpool Preview

Queen’s Park Rangers is a team that is at the bottom of the board right now and Liverpool has not had a great season so far; this could be an interesting match. QPR is not the strongest of teams and their confidence level throughout this year is seen clearly in the numbers they’ve racked up – five games lost in the seven they’ve played so far and a singular victory. They are facing one of the giants of the game, a wounded one, but a giant nevertheless. If Liverpool wishes to retain its place on the top four of the list, they have got to come strong in the next seven games before meeting Chelsea and Real Madrid at home. The team had a rough September and after the international break, have found momentum, but will have to continue winning.

QPR has barely come out of the bottom three of the table and was also missing for a few years between 1996 and 2011. Liverpool, on the other hand is one of the ‘top four’ and this means these teams have not played too many matches against each other. In fact, in all these years, they have only met four times on the field in the last 14 years! Liverpool won three of these and QPR took one match, but what a match it was! Scoring 3 goals in fourteen minutes, they squashed The Reds in a memorable match.

Liverpool, just fresh back from the international break is operating on near full throttle on Sunday at Loftus road. Most of the squad is fit and Sturridge, Glen Johnson, Joe Allen and Emre Can are all set to return. Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho are now facing fitness tests. The worry among fans will be if the pairing is not available for play next Wednesday against Christiano Ronaldo’s lot. It could be the most important match that the team has faced in a few years. The team will have a difficult decision to make as it will have to prioritise between the Premier league and Champion’s league.

QPR has a team right now that could have stomped anyone in 2008. Predicting a good line-up of them is easy as they have three defensive partnerships that have been used, all to varying degrees of success. Their most used of the three – Ferdinand and Caulker, have played for 462 minutes this season and conceded 11 goals, one for every 42 minutes on the field. This team just may not be fully equipped to handle The Reds.

The clear favourites here is Liverpool, but as the saying goes, there are no easy away matches, so they will be looking to take their much needed points and piling them up while taking their campaign forward. QPR will have to put up a brave fight and even if they manage a draw, it will be well worth it. If Liverpool can manage a four to nought victory, they can rise the ranks once more.

Southampton v Sunderland Preview

Southampton has started of this season on a dream run and are on the top three in the rankings as of now. They are going strong and will be looking to take this match away from the black cats for another few points to add to their already impressive table. Sunderland, on the other hand will be looking to continue their unbeaten streak against the Saints. Head to head, Sunderland have not been defeated by Southampton since last year, and have drawn every match that they faced. This year as well, in spite of winning only one match so far, have also lost only one, they have also not been defeated at home. The team has gained a reputation of being tough to beat. The last time these two met in the Saints’ home, they took the game with a 2-1, but this was way back in 2002.

The two teams have, so far faced each other 50 times in the premier league. Southampton has the statistics on their side with 21 wins and 13 matches drawn. Apart from the EPL, in the last eight times that they have met, they have been unable to decisively beat Sunderland.

Southampton have had a great season so far, with 13 points, they are placed third; the team has not seen that rank since the 1980’s. They are walking into this match after only their second defeat this season, both away. Their fortress, St. Mary’s is yet to be breached this year, in fact they have let only one goal through the year, while scoring six.

Sunderland, on the other hand are coming into this game after their first victory this season. They are at the 13th place, with only eight points.

The International break can work to the advantage of Southampton, there are no new injuries reported with Mayuka and Mane returning from their national teams today. Fletcher and Wickham, who played for the first time together have found a rhythm and have both scored in the last few games. The manager, Gus Poyet is very happy with the pairing, but also reminded the team that they can be organised, but it will account to nothing if they don’t get the ball through the opponent’s nets. Their defence has also been top-notch, the best in this tournament so far.

Sunderland, will look to wound if not maim the Saints as they are running on only one defeat this season. Their star Steven Fletcher will lead the pack, and their defender Billy Jones will sit this one out owing to an injury. The others who will join him in the sidelines are midfielders Emanuele Giaccherini and Ricky Alvarez with ankle ad knee injuries, along with Sebastian Coates, defender, who has a thigh injury.

This match may not be as open shut as it seems – as both teams have a lot hanging on the balance. It is a home advantage for the Saints, so that may be a contributing factor. There are chances of a victory, but again, the black cats have become a team that is increasingly difficult to defeat.

Newcastle v Leicester Preview

Leicester City will be looking forward to continuing its streak in St. James Park on Saturday. The last match slipped away from under them at the death when an injury time free kick from Burnley’s Ross Wallace, levelled the score, and disrupted their third potential victory. Newcastle, on the other side of the field, are yet to put a victory on the board this season and are looking at the relegation zone, not far away. The up coming matches are also not promising as they meet the Hotspurs and Liverpool at home, which will be tight. That being said, Newcastle is listed as the favourite to win this match, the odds at 4/5.

Both teams are not at their performing best though, with the Newcastle coach and manager in the spotlight. The team coaching and management has been called out and Alan Pardew, has got to pull a victory if he hopes to not only drag the team out of relegation, but also keep his place as manager. In a release, Pardew confirmed that Gabriel Obertan will hold his position in the line-up in the match against The Foxes.

As of now, Newcastle is one of the only two sides that have not won any matches this season. The other one is Burnley, they have registered four draws till now. Off the international break, Leicester will look to come out strong, despite the team suffering many injuries. Five of their players are doubtful on Saturday’s game – Davide Santon with a knee injury, Ryan Taylor with ligament damage, Rolando Aaron with a hamstring and Siem De Jong with an injured thigh. Papiss Cisse might return to lead the strike after recovering from his injuries. He is much needed as he has scored in two of his last three games and also because his team is low in confidence on the attack front.

Leicester City, is as of now on a high as, apart from the last 2-2 with Burnley, their previous two matches have put them at the 12th place, just barely behind Hull City. Their highest scorer has been Ulloa, with five goals so far, accounting for two wins, one home and one away. They have no major injuries coming blocking them after the international break. The only doubtful in the squad is England defender Matthew Upson who is still under rest from his foot injury. The other absentee will be the long-time-in-rest Zoumana Bakayogo after his cruciate ligament took a hit.

Even though the odds are against them, Leicester will be looking at taking this match home as well. This is a team that in the beginning of the tournament, boasted of an immense amount of talent and drive, as the season is only seven matches old. It is a team that has the potential and the talent to make a mark this year. As for Newcastle, they need to be wary of the Foxes’ attack and find their drive and manage a win. At this stage, a draw will just not do.

Everton v Aston Villa Preview

Aston Villa steps into a match after three defeats, where it went up against the big players of the Premier league; a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea and Arsenal each, and a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City. While these were no doubt tough matches to win, Villa finds itself in a comfortable position at the center of the score table with a modest ten points. Everton, on the other hand, comes into the match boasting of just one win, 2-0 at Wet Brom. The team is at the bottom end of the score table.

Of the past seven head-to-head matches between the teams, Everton has drawn three and won four of them, with both sides scoring in six of these matches. Last season, Everton grabbed a 2-1 win in Goodison Park, which broke the home team’s poor run. Before the match, Everton had lost against Aston Villa in 7 League matches, which include 4 draws.

The start of the Premier League has been a disappointing one for Everton, although the team is not ready to give up as yet. The side sits at the 17th spot in the League rankings table, a meager two points away from Queens Park Rangers who are at the bottom. Everton has lost five matches on a row, ever since its consecutive wins against Wolfsburg and West Brom. Its most recent loss was to Crystal Palace, as the score board read 2-3 at finish. Ross Barkley, Kevin Miralles and John Stones may miss the next game, although Bryan Oviedo, James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman will be present.

Everton’s has not been in the best of forms when it has locked horns with Aston Villa in the recent few seasons. However, it managed to grab hold of three points last season. There’s a good likeliness that Aston Villa proves to be difficult for Everton, especially with the pace that they maintain in the forward areas. However, we won’t know until Saturday, October 18, if Everton will manage to make a comeback, and win the Goodison Park League match, against Aston Villa, a first since 2004.

While Villa started out strong with a win against Liverpool, the recent few weeks have not been as kind on them, and has made the team drop to the 10th position. They have registered the lowest number of shots, fewest wins over tackles and lowest possession shares in the Premier League. Even among the four goals that have been scored, two weren’t from assists. While the forward players have an impressive speed, they do not have the same level of tactics or composure.

The lack of goals and sufficient defense to opposition goals has been a highlight of a majority of their games. However, the past few matches where Villa played against the big guns – Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, have seasoned the team for the upcoming Premier League matches, as they’ve gained a better insight on their weaknesses.

Crystal Palace v Chelsea Preview

Will league leaders, Chelsea continue to march on their undefeated streak or will Crystal Palace cause another shocking upset in the upcoming match set for October 18? If the Blues snatch another win, it will increase their lead over Manchester City in the second spot, while a draw or loss can put a little pressure on the EPL champions. Meanwhile, losing is not an option for Palace that is just four points away from relegation.

With defenders Scott Dann and Adrian Mariappa still nursing their injuries, Crystal Palace’s backfield looks quite shallow. Factor in the possibility of Stuart O’Keefe missing the match as well (due to injury concerns) and you’ll see that Crystal Palace’s line-up doesn’t seem foreboding enough to take down Chelsea. Crystal Palace team’s frontline has no proven record of goal-scoring capabilities, with only Mile Jedinak and Fraizer Campbell having managed to score a couple of goals for them. The Eagles did not have the the best offense against Hull, when it failed to score 11 times, and Chelsea’s skilled backfield does not make their job any easier. On a positive note, the Eagles have managed to score at least a couple of goals in three of the four Premier League games played recently.

Crystal Palace definitely needs to step up its offensive gameplay, having managed to control the ball only for about 35 percent of the time in the past three matches. Their defense should stay ahead of Chelsea’s extensive attacking tactics from the start. Eagles are preparing for the game with their previous win against Chelsea in mind, a 1-0 win in Selhurst Park last season, which hopefully boosts their morale.

Chelsea has been reigning the goal score table, with Diego Costa scoring 9 shots in 7 games, and Cesc Fabregas assisting goals. Another aspect in which the Blues score high is that it has had nine different players score goals this season. They stand unbeaten in the past 10 matches in the Premium League matches, after clinching the win in 8 matches. However, they’ll be missing midfielders Ramires and Eden Hazard who are injured, while Andre Schurrle may sit out due to a flu.

Despite missing out on some important players, Chelsea’s line-up still appears strong; Casc Fabregas and Diego Costa may be all Chelsea needs to get its three points. Having Branislav Ivanovic in the center-back should be enough to tackle the Palace offense, which did not fare that well against Hull. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has had a few rough games recently, although he bounced back in the matches against Arsenal and Aston Villa, emerging with clean sheets in two consecutive matches.

Of the five matches played between the two teams previously, Chelsea has won four in the Premier League. A win for the Blues to nil is strongly predicted for this one, although Crystal Palace fans do not want to rule out a second shocking win for their side completely.