Sunderland V Liverpool

Another match on the rotation of christmas football, the fixtures certainly do come thick and fast round this winter period. Tonight sees Sunderland Vs Liverpool  team who have both made managerial changes this year.

Sunderland defender John O’Shea is struggling with a calf problem and could be replaced by Wes Brown, who has only made one appearance this season. Younes Kaboul remains sidelined by a hamstring injury that will keep him out for a number of weeks. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he won’t play Daniel Sturridge until he is sure the striker is fit.  Divick Origi is doubtful through injury and James Milner is still out, but Jordon Ibe has recovered from illness.

Both sides have had a bit of an up and down year. Sunderland pulled arguable the greatest escape of the year when manger Dick Advocate  managed to get them out of the relaxation zone and kept them in the premier league. But he wasn’t to last as manager after only a few months into the season he admitted defeat and left the club. In came Big Sam to try and steady the ship. Sunderland aren’t arguable the great side and they have a lot of problems such as not being abel to keep a clean sheet for one, but also not being able to score goals. Sam Allardyce changed half his team last week but Sunderland still manage to conceded three goals in 10 minutes, which ended 4-1 to Manchester City and was  a fourth successive Premier League loss for them. What ever the result improvements in the squad are needed but the other question is  who can be brought in during the January window that will improve this struggling team.

For Liverpool they have continued to be inconstant arguable last season the loss of Louis Suarez took its tole on the side. But also notable long term absence of Sturridge also meant they struggled to score.  This season things haven’t improved which meant the club had no other options but to remove Brendon Rogers from his position, now Jurgen Klopp  is sat in the dug out.  Evidence suggest that improvements have been made, but had the draw with West Brom and the defeat to Watford been wins instead, Liverpool would have started this week on the same points as Tottenham.

Liverpool have scored Fourteen goals in there last four away matches  thats an average of 3.5 goals per game. They face a Sunderland side who have conceded a league-high 37 goals in 18 matches this season. So this match defiantly promises some goals.  Liverpool are also unbeaten in there last six premier league matches winning four and drawing two. Sunderland have also lost six of there last eight matches. Based on that I think this could be a high scoring win for Liverpool, which may take them into the new year on a bit of a high.  But they will have to be prepared for a tough match,as big Sam likes to play Klopps much hated long ball football, something Liverpool succumbed to against West Brom.

Anyway till next time…

Leicester City V Manchester City

What an incredible year Leicester have had they first off saved themselves from regulation when they were sat in the relegation zone.  Now they have been league leaders for most of the new season and a victory to night will see them start the new year on top of the league.They are only the third team in top-flight history to be bottom at Christmas one season and top at the same time the following campaign. City will be looking to once again build on the  victory from the boxing day games and cerement there title chase, they seem with Arsenal the main title contenders for this season.

Line Ups

Leicester City ; Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Inler, Drinkwater, Kante, Mahrez, Vardy, Albrighton.

Manchester City; Hart, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov, Silva, Fernandinho, Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Aguero.

First Half NIL- NIL

The first half drew level with neither team haven gotten anything from the match. Both sides had a clear chance, Vardy had a great quick ball played through the Man City defenders to only sky the ball after taking the chance to quickly, due to a  charging Hart. For city both Sterling and De Bruyne had good chances but was unable to covert them from good keeping and goalkeeping from Scmeichel. Towards the end it started to get a bit fiery as the referee missed a clear free kick for a bad tackle fro behind on Mahrez. This was questioned by most of the Leicester players including Scmeichel as he walked off for the first half. The biggest problem that Leicester faced was get the ball to Vardy and Marhrez, this may be due to them sitting back and not pressing on the ball, it was also due to bad passing in the build up. If City keep getting the ball to Sterling and De Bruyne that will be a big threat for them if they can convert them.

Full Time 

So it ended level with no goals scored. Manchester City came out very strong much like in the first half and in the first few moments could have got themselves an early lead.  Leicester continued to sit back into and allow City to attack, Inler and Fuchs key to this plans as they kept breaking down the city play and then moving up to the front free to quickly counter attack.  The big call was, a penalty on Aguero, as Simpson slides in on Sergio Aguero close to the penalty spot and took him down. There was a lot of contact from Inler but on the replays it looked like the ball was touched first and it was on follow through that took him down, the possible reason for it not being given was the dramatics from Aguero. It was a quick paced match as both sides were all about the counter attack and getting the ball down the channels very quickly. For City the changes that were made didn’t really help them in anyway, and showed that bench was not as great quality as the starting eleven.  For Leicester they did help as Ulloa came on it allowed the team to be a bit more stronger in attack. It finished Nil Nil but it was a good game none the less.

Anyway till next time…

More Footballs

So more football in the busy winter matches, these are the late kick offs…

Arsenal V Bournemouth

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could make changes following the crushing defeat at Southampton. Substitutes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Calum Chambers and Alex Iwobi all impressed Wenger during that game. Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe will make a late decision on whether to include Harry Arter, who was brought off at half-time on Boxing Day in order to nurse him back from injury. Lee Tomlin could return from a groin injury but Josh King remains sidelined.  Arsenal will be wanting a big bounce back after the very poor performance against Southampton. They held the ball but didn’t create anything with it. They face a very strong opposition as Bournemouth are  unbeaten in six matches with the scalps of Chelsea and Manchester United on the way.  They also have won five of their last six league trips to London. The only times these sides have met was in 1987 which Arsenal won 3 Nil. Arsenal are a side likely to bounce back after a defeat, but Bournemouth certainly won’t go out with a fight.

Manchester United V Chelsea

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney could be recalled after he was only named as a substitute against Stoke.  Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger returns from suspension and defender Matteo Darmian could be available following a hamstring injury. Chelsea will be without striker Diego Costa, who is suspended for accumulating five bookings this season. Eden Hazard could return to the starting line-up after making his comeback from the bench on Saturday. Both these side are not except lighting up the league like they used to. United have been poor, they play boring football that was working and getting results but recently it hasn’t done that either.  Chelsea are aiming to go three league games without defeat for the first time this season. Five points from the last 27 available away from home. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight league and cup games against Manchester United, but based on what has happened so far in this season those stats go out the window. Chelsea have everything go for them in this match even without there striker Costa.

West Ham United V Southampton

West Ham pair Aaron Cresswell and James Tomkins were both substituted because of injuries against Aston Villa and now face fitness tests.  Andy Carroll could return, but Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses, Dimitri Payet, Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho are likely to miss out again. Southampton will again be without Graziano Pelle and Cedric Soares. Pelle will be absent for a few weeks with a knee problem, while Soares has a groin injury.  West Ham will be somewhat disappointed to not get anything from Villa, but Bilic wasn’t that unhappy not to get anything. It’s five draws in a row for the Hammers as they continue to tread water while several key players recover from injury. Southampton were unbeaten in their first six Premier League away games this season but have lost their last two on the road. They will be in positives spirits after winning against Arsenal in the fashion that they did.  Southampton are aiming to win successive league away games at West Ham for the first time since 1992. With the boost from the win against Arsenal, Southampton are more than likely to get something against a struggling West Ham side.

Anyway till next time..

More Football

More Football in the Football of feast of the Christmas period!! It was an interesting boxing day games, ending with a  very disappoint result in term of Arsenal league campaign. These are the 3 O’clock games

Crystal Palace V Swansea City

Crystal Palace forwards Yannick Bolasie and Connor Wickham have been ruled out for at least the next month with respective hip/thigh and calf injuries. Patrick Bamford could return from injury but Lee Chung-yong is missing after becoming a father.  Swansea caretaker manager Alan Curtis is expected to make changes due to a “couple of aches and strains”. Angel Rangel and Leon Britton could be rested, with Kyle Naughton and Jonjo Shelvey their potential replacements. Swansea did well to get a first win in over eight matches, but they still in search of a new manager. Palace will be disappointed in the fact they could only get a nil nil draw. Palace currently have won two leagues in a row,  they haven’t won three league fixtures in a row at Selhurst Park since February 2014. The most recent meeting between the sides at Selhurst Park was on the final day of last season, which Palace won. It is unlikely that one win will change Swansea season, and Palace are a harder team to beat, so I see this going the way of Palace.

Everton V Stoke

Everton quintet Phil Jagielka, Steven Pienaar, James McCarthy, Steven Naismith and Bryan Oviedo are all in contention to return after injury. Gerard Deulofeu could come into the side, having only been used as a substitute on Boxing Day. Stoke forward Xherdan Shaqiri is expected to be fit despite suffering a minor injury against Manchester United. Geoff Cameron and Glenn Whelan suffered respective calf and hamstring problems in that game but should be available. Everton were very lucky to get that win over Newcastle with a  late header. Stoke were on fire against United, the second top flight side that they have turned over.  They have also only lost one of their last six Premier League away games. Stoke have won the last two encounters, including a 1-0 win at Goodison Park on Boxing Day last year. With there current form and the fact Everton amy be worn out from the Newcastle game, Stoke are likely to take home the points.

Norwich City V Aston Villa

Norwich pair Wes Hoolahan and Gary O’Neil are both in contention to start against Aston Villa, having been rested for the Boxing Day defeat by Tottenham. Andre Wisdom is hoping to overcome a hamstring strain but Matt Jarvis will not be rushed back from a knee injury. Aston Villa midfielder Carlos Sanchez is out with the hamstring injury he sustained against West Ham. Captain Micah Richards is close to a return from a knee injury and could be involved after a four-match absence. Villa have gone a club record 17 league matches without a win since beating Bournemouth on the opening day of the season. They need to boost the squad with January singings, but they are unlikely to get to spend. Norwich have had an up and down season so far, having only managed one win in six games, drawing two and losing three. Aston Villa have won their last four meetings with Norwich, a win would be Garde first victory as manger, but based on the Villains difficulties i can see the go the way of Norwich.

Watford V Tottenham Hotspur

Watford’s Nathan Ake is available after being ineligible to face his parent club Chelsea on Boxing Day.  Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores has no new injury worries to contend with. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino will make a late decision on Mousa Dembele’s fitness after he suffered an ankle injury on Boxing Day. Ryan Mason could be back on the bench after an ankle problem of his own, but Clinton Njie remains out.  Watford have really settled into the league a lot of talk has been made about Leicester but they two have done well.Five-match unbeaten run has taken them to within 11 points of the 40-point barrier Tottenham have also been a good side and Pochettino method seem to be taking effect. Tottenham have not lost away from home in the Premier League since the opening day of the season. Watford have won three of their last four home matches, but they haven’t beaten Tottenham in the last four attempts. With a scoring Harry Kane Tottenham have all the credentials to win the match.

West Brom V Newcastle United

West Brom pair Salomon Rondon and James McClean continue to serve three-match suspensions. West Brom head coach Tony Pulis said he will rotate his squad and he could bring in striker Saido Berahino for his first start since October. Newcastle defender Jamaal Lascelles is back in training but is unlikely to be involved against the Baggies.  Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is expected to continue up front in the absence of Papiss Cisse, who has a groin injury.  West Brom have gone five league games without a win for the first time under Tony Pulis, but fans won’t be worried as he has his good reputation behind him.  Newcastle have won two of their last three Premier League away games, having won just one of their previous 18. They are starting to build form and were unfortunate to not to get something from the match against Everton. West Brom have won just one of their last four home games against Newcastle, could this be a chance for Pulis to build momentum again.

Anyway till next time..

Southampton V Arsenal

A now important late matches comes onto the boxing day schedule! Arsenal in terrific form face a poor Southampton side who have lost four of their last five Premier League games. If this game goes Arsenals way then they will sit top of the table, by one point.  Arsenal have lost just one of their last 11 meetings with Southampton.That defeat came in the most recent clash, which Saints won 2-0 at St Mary’s on New Year’s Day, the game that also saw the smoking in the showers incident, and two howlers from Szczesny fortunately Petr Cech isn’t in the habit of doing that.

Line ups

Southampton: Stekelenburg, Martina, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama, Clasie, Ward-Prowse, S Davis, Mané, Long.

Subs:Gazzaniga, Yoshida, Caulker, Romeu, Ramírez, Tadić, Juanmi.

Arsenal: Cech, Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Bellerin, Ramsey, Flamini, Campbell, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud.

Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Gabriel, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi.

First Half 1- Nil

A bitty fighty half, for Arsenal, Southampton continuously pressed the This created an interesting battle between both Mertesacker, Koscielny, and Long. Some good chances for Arsenal came form the combinations of Ramsey and Monreal but they were either smothered or were miss hit. The best chance was a great Walcott header, but he it wide into the side netting. The teams are separated really by and absolute worldie of a gaol from Martina outside of the box into the corner of the net. Shane Long caused a lot of problems for Arsenal, he needs to be contained better. The rest of Southampton knew what they needed to do, the have kept Özil quiet and they have also stopped any arial threat from Giroud.  To improve in the next half they need to move the ball faster and not dwell on it in order to push Southampton a bit back and get more control of the game.

Second Half/ Full Time  4- Nil

So the game went from bad to worse, an absolute shambles of a game and performance. Southampton absolutely outplayed Arsenal. It one of those performances that Arsenal just do. Koeman got his counter attacking tactcis spot-on, as Watford and Leicester have done so well this season. Mertesacker and  Koscielny, were complete off the pace they couldn’t deal with Long at all he just played off both of them. Wanyama kept Özil silent for the whole game which in turn then meant that Giroud had no service and just looked pathetic as he walked across the pitch. Players like Campbell and Ramsey did something but they never really got that final ball in or got a good shot off. This game really showed the lack of attacking options of the bench Chamberlin came off but the fact is he hasn’t been a great scoring threat for Arsenal.   Injuries have caused a lot of problems in terms of rotation for Arsenal and hopefully players might start coming back soon, and maybe a player is picked up in the soon to open transfer market.

As Ian Wright said on BT Sport it shows the mentality of the Arsenal side that they can’t pick themselves up from heavy gaols to conceded. Yes decisions went against but really to have title credentials you need to fight against those sort of things.  A bounce back is now needed but also results need to go the way of Arsenal the season isn’t finished but this is a massive hammer blow to going for the title.

Anyway till next time…

Christmas Football! 2

MERRY CHIRSTMAS

So this is when the English league gets good it is of course the Christmas fixture list! A time when a lot came happen the games come thick and fast and there isn’t a moment to breath! These are the games on the TV

Stoke City V Manchester United

Stoke’s Geoff Cameron is still out with a hamstring injury, while Peter Crouch is not fit despite returning to training following a similar injury. Marc Muniesa and Stephen Ireland are long-term absentees, but Ireland could return in the New Year. Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger serves the final game of a ban. Matteo Darmian is still recovering from a hamstring injury but is likely to be fit to face Chelsea on 28 December. Stoke are a tough side to face any day of the week but they are in good form and they also will pose a tough ask for a non-scoring United.  The Potters have lost four Premier League home games this season, they have also failed to keep a clean sheet more than just two clean sheets in their last nine home league. United are winless in six league and cup games, if they lose this match it will be the longest losing steak since the 1989/90 season. Stoke’s only win in the last 15 league meetings against Manchester United came in 2014, but based on the current form they may be in line for another win.

Newcastle V Everton

Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse is a major doubt after limping off with a groin problem against Aston Villa last weekend. Jamaal Lascelles is back in training after a hamstring injury but Saturday’s game could come too soon for him. Everton’s James McCarthy, Bryan Oviedo, Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar will not be fit for Boxing Day but could feature over the festive period. Steven Naismith has overcome an ankle injury and is available for selection. Newcastle have suddenly turned a bit of corner and started winning matches. Wins over Liverpool and Tottenham were great results but they did come crashing back to reality with last week’s draw at home to hapless Aston Villa. Everton are a bit patchy when it comes to form, they have drawn a lot of winnable games this season. Bu they do have a great scoring talisman in the form of Lukaku who has scored in eight successive matches. Newcastle have lost four of the last five meetings, but they did win the last match. I think Everton could win this if Lukaku gets an early goal as Newcastle heads may drop again.

Southampton V Arsenal

Southampton keeper Maarten Stekelenburg hopes to be fit after a toe injury. Manager Ronald Koeman is yet to decide whether to restore the Dutchman to the starting line-up or stick with his deputy, Paulo Gazzaniga. Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez could be out until mid-January after a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury. The Gunners have no new injury worries but remain without the likes of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Danny Welbeck. Southampton isn’t performing like they used and are struggling this season they are only 6 points of the regulation zone. They’ve scored only twice in their last five league games and taken only one point. Arsenal on the other hand have a 100% record so far this December, with three Premier League wins and a victory in the Champions League, as well as only conceding 14 goals in this season’s Premier League. The most recent clash, which Saints won 2-0 at St Mary’s on New Year’s Day, spelt a bout of tumble for Arsenal. But based on the current form of the sides this could be an easy win for Arsenal.

 

Anyway till next time…

 

Christmas Footballs!

So this is when the English league gets good it is of course the Christmas fixture list! A time when a lot came happen the games come thick and fast and there isn’t a moment to breath! These are the non televised games

Aston Villa V West Ham

Aston Villa captain Micah Richards is expected to miss a fourth consecutive game because of a knee injury. Fullbacks Joe Bennett and Aly Cissokho have both been recalled from loan spells but will not be eligible to play until January. West Ham’s Andy Carroll could return from a thigh problem but the game comes too soon for Manuel Lanzini, who is recovering from a similar injury. Diafra Sakho, Victor Moses, Winston Reid and Dimitri Payet are still out. The struggle continues for Villa, they did put up a bit of a good fight against Newcastle getting the draw, but they are firmly on the foot of the table. West ham haven’t got the same worries they are in 8th but have drawn the last three games Nil-Nil in a row and are winless in the last two months. They are defensively sound but are struggling with goals due to the absences up front. Villa have kept just two Premier League clean sheets this season – only Norwich, with one, have a worse record. They also have a pretty bad Boxing Day record winning one of the last 14. West Ham have won just one of their last eight games at Villa Park, Villa have also managed to keep a clean sheet in 5 of them. This could be a chance to start to build momentum and get out of this struggle. But based on current form this could end up being a draw.

Bournemouth V Crystal Palace

Bournemouth pair Junior Stanislas and Josh King will miss Saturday’s game because of hamstring injuries. Lee Tomlin has been nursing groin and pelvis injuries but could be fit. Alan Pardew says Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye is 50-50 but skipper Mile Jedinak is fit to return. Dwight Gayle and Bakary Sako are definitely out, while Pardew also has other “additional injuries” that he wants to keep private while the players are assessed. Bournemouth have picked it up and are in really good form back to back wins against Chelsea and United as well as West brom at the weekend, they will fancy there chances. On the road Palace are a good side, they have collected 35 points on the road in 2015. Palace have also have taken 13 points from their last six matches, only Leicester have more. This is the first time that the sides have met in the league, it could be a good match but I am going to go with the home side.

Chelsea V Watford

Eden Hazard could return from a hip injury against Watford in Chelsea’s first outing under new interim manager Guus Hiddink. The Blues midfielder missed last weekend’s 3-1 win over Sunderland. Watford’s Chelsea loanee Nathan Ake is ineligible against his parent club so Ikechi Anya could return to the side. The Hornets will be without fellow defenders Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand, who have groin and knee injuries respectively. Chelsea turned in a bit of performance last weekend, sort of showing that they didn’t want to play for Jose.  Watford have been a good side this year, they have been winning and recently they have been scoring. They have won and kept a clean sheet in three of their last four home league games. This could be an interesting match it may be a high scoring game, some bookies are predicting Watford winning 7-1. I don’t think that this will happen but I think Watford could win this; the Sunderland may have been a fluke.

Liverpool V Leicester City

Liverpool are without defender Martin Skrtel for the first time this season in the league as he faces a six-week absence because of a torn hamstring. Dejan Lovren has recovered from a knee injury but goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (hamstring) could miss out again.  Leicester defender Robert Huth is back after suspension and is likely to replace Marcin Wasilewski. Danny Drinkwater will not be rushed back from a hamstring injury and Jeff Schlupp is out with a similar problem. This could be a bit of a thigh rubber and it is a massive shame that it isn’t on TV.  Liverpool and Klopp want to play on Leicester, high pressing and attack on the counter. Liverpool needs to win this match in order to say in contention of a top four spot. They have 12 points from nine league matches under Jurgen Klopp, the same as they managed in eight games with Brendan Rodgers in charge earlier in the season. Leicester are unbeaten in 10 games and have won 18 of their last 26 league fixtures, losing just twice. There is a likelihood that either side won’t get a clean sheet, but I think based on the form Leicester will win a struggling Liverpool.

Manchester City V Sunderland

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is expected to return against Sunderland after eight games out with a calf injury. Pablo Zabaleta and Fernando are also available after lay-offs, leaving Samir Nasri as the only major absentee. Sunderland defender Younes Kaboul is likely to be sidelined for several weeks because of a hamstring problem. Adam Matthews is out with damaged ankle ligaments and Jack Rodwell is suspended but Jeremain Lens returns to the squad. Without Kompany City have really struggled, losing 5 out of the 9. Sunderland have improved under Big Sam, and they were unlucky to face Chelsea at the moment that they did.  Manchester City are unbeaten at home against Sunderland in the top flight for 13 matches spanning 34 years, winning 10, drawing three and scoring 36 goals, this is something that is likely to continue.

Swansea V West Bromwich Albion

Swansea winger Wayne Routledge has overcome the minor knee problem that sidelined him last week. Defender Angel Rangel sprained his ankle against West Ham but is fit to play on Saturday. West Brom will be without suspended pair James McClean and Salomon Rondon, who both begin three-match bans. Saido Berahino is pushing for a recall after six games on the substitutes’ bench, while Claudio Yacob is available following compassionate leave. Swansea have struggled this season, causing the manager to lose his job and a replacement still hasn’t been sourced. A win or lose could really shape the season for Swansea.  West Brim will also be searching for a win in order to move themselves away from the bottom of the league, as they are winless in four matches. The other side haven’t got a much better record the Swans have gone seven home matches without a victory. This could be an interesting game with two struggling sides facing off, but I think the advantage may go to West Brom whose manager will be able to get the ready to fight for these points.

Tottenham Hotspur V Norwich City

Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason is available to face Norwich after a four-week absence with an ankle injury. Danny Rose has overcome the illness that ruled him out last week but Clinton N’Jie will be sidelined for up to three months following knee surgery. Norwich defender Andre Wisdom remains a doubt because of the hamstring strain that caused him to miss the win at Manchester United.  Matt Jarvis is not yet ready to return from a knee injury. Spurs have been in good form they bounced back from the loss to Newcastle with a flowing win against Southampton. But the question is which side will turn up. Norwich will be flying high after that super win over United, which wasn’t lucky; it was because they out played them. It will be insetting to see how Norwich handle Kane, if they keep him quiet they could draw this, get lucky not eh break they could win.  Tottenham have lost just one of their last 16 Premier League matches, but they have drawn 8 of them.

Anyway till next time…