The English Premier League returns this weekend as table-topping Leicester City travel to 3rd-placed Arsenal in a bid to repeat last weekend’s 1-3 feat away to Man City. Struggling Sunderland have a date with an indifferent Manchester United while Swansea have it all to do when they face Southampton at home on Saturday.
SoccerNet Nigeria previews Nigerian players who would play varying degrees of roles in their clubs pursuit of this season’s objectives.
Peter Odemwiengie, Bournemouth vs Stoke City
Stoke City have not had it quite good in the last few weeks, losing both their last two games by the same 0-3 scoreline first to Everton at home, then away to Manchester United. Manager Mark Hughes may look to refresh his options upfront by introducing Nigerian striker Peter Osaze to a front line that has failed to sparkle in recent games.
Bournemouth also lost to Arsenal in their last match at home and will see Stoke City as a hurdle surmountable.
None of the last 12 meetings between Stoke and Bournemouth in all competitions has ended as an away win but Stoke will remember that they earned their first Premier League win of the season in the reverse fixture in September, beating Eddie Howe’s men 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium.
Odion Ighalo, Crystal Palace vs Watford
After a poor run of form that has seen them pull out just four points from their last possible 30, Crystal Palace will be banking on the experience of their new buy, Emmanuel Adebayor, to fly them over the Hornets.
But in Odion Ighalo, Watford have a striker that can outwit any defense on his day. In fact, only Jamie Vardy (8) has scored the opening goal of a Premier League game more often than Odion Ighalo (6) this season.
The Nigerian has 14 goals in 25 games played and would be looking to add to his tally after firing blank against Tottenham Hotspurs last time.
However, history favours Alan Pardew’s men as Crystal Palace have won seven and lost just one of the last 10 meetings with Watford in all competitions.
Victor Anichebe, Everton vs West Bromwich Albion
Nigerian forward, Anichebe returns with Albion to the club where he had his breakthrough as Everton prepares to host West Brom on Saturday.
Anichebe has not found the going easy, falling down the striking order behind Ricky Lambert, Rondon and Berahino. The former Everton schoolboy has made only six appearances for the Baggies in the league.
The reverse tie at the Hawthorns ended 2-3 in favour of the Toffees who scored three goals from just four shots on target on the day.
Emmanuel Emenike & Victor Moses, Norwich vs West Ham United
It’s a great time to be a West Ham United fan as the west London side are flying high in the Premier League and sitting pretty in 6th, a mere two points behind Manchester United in 5th.
Emenike made his league debut against Southampton but couldn’t help Slavic Bilic avoid a 0-1 defeat. But Victor Moses was a second half substitute in West Ham’s extra time win over Liverpool in the FA Cup.
Both Nigerian forwards will be involved when West Ham head up to Carrow Road, where they have won none of their last 16 league visits.
Alex Iwobi, Arsenal vs Leicester City
Alex has emerged as the brightest youngster from the Arsenal academy this season and will look for more chances to impress. However, with the return to fitness of Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, the Nigerian forward may watch proceedings from the bench when giant-killing Leicester arrive at the Emirates.
It’s a battle between third and first but the Gunners will still start the match as the favourite having won 12 and lost none of the last 18 Premier League matches against the Foxes.
Mikel Obi, Chelsea vs Newcastle
Few players are enjoying their football under Guus Hiddink like Mikel Obi as the Super Eagles midfielder has the total backing of the temporary manager. The Blues are currently unbeaten with the Dutchman in charge but they have to be wary of a Newcastle side that has taken more points off them than any other team in the last five seasons.
Only six points separate Newcastle in 17th and Chelsea in 13th and Mikel and co will know this is the chance to pick all three points that can push them to the top half of the table if other results go their way.
Kelechi Iheanacho, Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspurs
It’s City vs. Spurs; 4th vs 2nd; former champions vs. never-champions; and more importantly, one Nigerian kid wonder vs. another who chose England instead.
Kelechi is enjoying a breakthrough season and has already featured 16 times for Pellegrini’s side with 2 goals and one assist registered against his name in the league. Over at Tottenham, Alli – who recently shunned the Super Eagles to play for the Three Lions – has been the surprise star of the season. He has already banged an astonishing seven goals.
Fans are in for a treat however as the last nine games between these two sides have seen 41 goals scored.