Premier League Asia Trophy Preview : Some Premier League action of sorts!
Event Venue: Hong Kong Stadium Action live on Sky Sports.See Stats
In these summer months when the sun is shining and you're spending evenings in the beer gardens, the only thing missing is the good old Premier League. Well luckily enough there is action of some description this week as four sides are out in Hong Kong for a nice little pre-season tournament. It's not going to be the most competitive of affairs but with four top-flight sides in action and plenty of betting markets available, who are we to argue? Our preview looks ahead to the two games on Wednesday before the final and third place play-off at the weekend.
Leicester v West Brom
The 2015/16 Premier League champions will begin their pre-season with a fixture against fellow Midlands side West Brom. The Foxes have jetted out to the far-east with a squad of 24 including want-away Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian has signalled his intentions to leave the club this summer and although Roma have showed interest he remains put for now. New signings Harry Maguire and Vincent Iborra are in the travelling party and could feature for the first time whilst Elden Jakupovic could also join up with the squad later this week although it's unlikely he will arrive in time.
West Brom meanwhile have already started their pre-season and played Slavia Prague during their pre-season camp in Austria. Much like the Foxes they are at virtually full strength, with just Gareth McAuley and James Morrison sitting out. Jay Rodriguez is the shiny new addition after his arrival from Southampton and he will be eager to get off to a flying start in his Baggies career as he looks to re-build his career after serious injury.
The weather conditions out in Hong Kong are surely to be very testing for the four sides with it being hot and humid and heavy rain coming down. The extra level of fitness West Brom will have picked up in their tour of Austria should put them in good stead and whilst this one could easily be a low-scoring affair given the conditions, we think the Baggies look the value option here.
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Jurgen Klopp is well renowned for his high-octane style of football, so it will be interesting to see how finely tuned his players are at this stage of pre-season. The Reds have played a couple of game so far, beating Tranmere 4-0 before a 1-1 draw at Wigan. The game with the Latics saw pretty much all of Liverpool's biggest names involved with Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana all starting. New boy Mohamed Salah was also in action from the start and he was the scorer of Liverpool's goal in his first appearance for the club. It's likely to be more of the same in this game with Klopp picking another strong line-up to take on Palace so it's perhaps not too much of a surprise to see Liverpool as the favourites here.
Palace are under new management after Frank de Boer's appointment this summer and the Dutchman will not only want the club to achieve a more comfortable finish this season but also start to play more of a technical brand of football. As a previous Ajax player and manager, De Boer will look to bring that 4-3-3 possession style of football to South London. After beating Maidstone 3-1 at the weekend, he will now see a much tougher task for his players in the form of Liverpool. In truth this will really be his first proper game in charge, given the Palace XI that featured against the Kent side featured only Jordan Mutch with previous Premier League experience.
With De Boer still getting used to his squad, Liverpool are perhaps the better option to back here. Friendlies are of course hard to judge but quite simply the Reds have more talented players and one would think they can get the job done.
Given we're going for victories for West Brom and Liverpool respectively, it's a toss up between that pair for our overall tournament winner. It's not exactly revolutionary but we'd back Liverpool to come out on top. They are the strongest on paper of the four sides taking part and having already played two pre-season games, they should be that little bit sharper than the other sides involved.
- This is the 8th edition of the Premier League Asia Trophy
- Of the four sides involved, only Liverpool have previously featured
- This is the first time that each of the competitors have all been Premier League sides, after Shanghai SIPG pulled out
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