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Burnley vs Leicester: Match Preview

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We enter game week 22, and the table is beginning to take shape, with more than half of the season played out. However, there is still a lot of football action, with the race for the European spots and the relegation battle both heating up. This week sees Leicester City travel to Lancashire to take on Burnley.

Burnley were involved in a shock 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup last weekend against Championship outfit Huddersfield Town. It has been a tough few days for the Claret fans, with the loss followed by the departure of their leading Premier League goal-scorer in Chris Wood to fellow relegation candidate Newcastle United. It will undoubtedly be a huge blow for Burnley, unless they are able to invest the rumored £20 million in a new striker. They now turn their attention to the all-important relegation battle, with the Clarets level on points with Newcastle, although Burnley have played two games less. They are 2 points adrift of safety, and every game will be important from now on. Sean Dyche’s men have won only 1 game so far, and as a result find themselves languishing in the 18th place. Burnley have managed to survive in the Premier League for the last 5 seasons, which is why the fans have faith in Dyche’s ability to get results and survive another season. However, their lack of investment in the squad has proven to be a huge factor, and they are now favourites to be relegated along with Newcastle and Norwich.

Leicester City were last in action against Watford in the FA Cup last weekend, winning 4-1 at the King Power Stadium, thanks to goals from Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton. Thed defending FA Cup champions’ squad has been hit with Covid and injuries, and they managed to put together a starting 11 last weekend. They now go against Burnley, who like them are severely depleted due to illness and injuries. Leicester City are in hot pursuit of the top 6 teams, as a poor start to the season now sees them a few points behind the European spots. The Foxes currently sit in 10th place, 12 points off 4th placed West Ham United, albeit playing two games less. An almighty effort will be needed from Leicester if they want to haul themselves back into the race, and will need to be consistent from here on out. A win against Burnley would be a step in the right direction.

WHEN AND WHERE:

Date: Saturday, 15th January 2022.
Time: 15:00 HRS BST
Venue: Turf Moor, Burnley

MATCH OFFICIALS:

Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Peter Kirkup.
Fourth official: Tony Harrington.
VAR: Lee Mason.
Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn.

TEAM NEWS:

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Burnley have a bit of a selection crisis at the moment, with several players testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of the FA Cup defeat against Huddersfield Town. Charlie Taylor, Matej Vydra, Dwight McNeil, Erik Pieters and Nathan Collins all missed out due to positive tests and will be expected to miss out on Saturday’s game as well. The Clarets are also missing their best player in Maxwel Cornet, with the forward away on international duty with Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations. Johan Berg Gudmundsson is said to be close to a return to the squad, although forward Ashley Barnes is still a few weeks away from his return.

Leicester City have similar problems, with a host of players unavailable for manager Brendan Rodgers. Defenders Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Ryan Bertrand, Ricardo Pereira and Wesley Fofana have been ruled out of the game. Along with them, midfielder Boubakary Soumare and veteran striker Jamie Vardy are also set to miss out on the trip to Lancashire. Central defender Caglar Soyuncu is a doubt, and faces a late fitness test. However, midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and defenders Luke Thomas and James Justin could be in contention to be selected. There are still doubts over striker Patson Daka’s availability, but Rodgers will hope he is able to feature on Saturday. Along with the above-mentioned players, the Foxes will be without Wilfried Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Nampalys Mendy and Daniel Amartey, with the quartet away at the African Cup of Nations.

ANALYSIS:

Lack of goal scorer to seal Burnley’s fate?

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The last few days will have come as a shock to Burnley fans, with the departure of leading goal scorer Chris Wood to relegation rivals Newcastle United. While Burnley got a good price for the striker, they lost one of their best goal scorers, which could be absolutely detrimental in a relegation fight. It is no doubt bizarre that Burnley would sell their striker in the middle of a season, to their relegation rivals, and a lack of presence up top could have essentially sealed the Clarets’ fate. With their star player Maxwel Cornet away on international duty, and a host of players missing, Burnley will have to endure a very tough month ahead now. Goals have been hard to come by for the Clarets and signing Wood could prove to be a masterstroke by Newcastle, killing two birds in one stone.

Now Burnley head into their 18th Premier League game of the season, 2 points away from safety and level on points with Newcastle United. They face a very trick period now, with games against Leicester City, Arsenal, Man United and Liverpool to come in the next weeks. Leicester City have a depleted look themselves, but it will still be a difficult task for Sean Dyche and his men. Every point counts now for the Clarets, and with half a season to go, it remains to see how the Lancashire outfit cope with just one out and out striker available. The lack of presence in the final third was evident against Huddersfield, with only Jay Rodriguez able to offer very little impact, after Wood was taken off at half-time.

Leicester City are stretched in defense, with many players ruled out, but will be hoping their make-shift XI is still enough to take on Burnley. The Foxes have a terrible away record, which could provide some solace for the Clarets in their quest to gain three unlikely points and to get out of the relegation zone. It will be a interesting few weeks ahead, and it remains to see if Burnley are able to invest Chris Wood’s transfer fee into replacing him. As for Saturday, the Clarets know what they have to do, and will be happy to take even a point from the game.

KEY PLAYERS:

Nick Pope:

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The fit-again goalkeeper will be a welcome return to Sean Dyche and all Burnley fans. He has been their standout performer over the past few seasons and has performed on a consistent basis, never letting his team down. One of the challengers to Jordan Pickford for the England No.1 spot, his performances has caught the eye of many top clubs and they will undoubtedly keep an eye on his situation if Burnley were to be relegated. He was powerless against both Huddersfield goals in their FA Cup defeat, but will hope for a better outing on Saturday. The Englishman kept a cleansheet in their last home game in the league against West Ham United, and will be looking to do more of the same against Leicester City.

James Maddison:

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Maddison has had a good couple of months and was the best player for the Foxes in December. He has found himself in and out of the team since the start of the season but has started each of Leicester’s last seven games in all competitions. He has scored 4 goals and assisted 3 in the last 6 Premier League games, and has re-established himself as the first-choice attacking midfielder in the Foxes lineup. Maddison has been in fine form recently, and looked at ease against Watford last weekend in their FA Cup fixture, when he scored in the first half, in the Foxes’ 4-1 win at home. The Englishman has come up with big performances on big occasions in the past months, with brilliant displays against Liverpool and Manchester City. The Burnley defense will no doubt be wary of the threat he possess and will be hoping to keep him quiet.

PREDICTED LINEUPS:

BURNLEY XI: Nick Pope; Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Matthew Lowton; Johan Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork, Ashley Westwood, Josh Brownhill; Aaron Lennon, Jay Rodriguez.

LEICESTER CITY XI: Kasper Schmeichel; Marc Albrighton, Caglar Soyuncu, Jannik Vestergaard, Luke Thomas; Youri Tielemans, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall; Ademola Lookman, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes; Patson Daka.

         












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Premier LEague

Conte to bolster attack, as Spurs close in on Adama Traore

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Since the arrival of Antonio Conte, Spurs have looked much more compact and stable in terms of going forward. The balance between the defense and the attack has been on par with the expectations. But, we all know it takes time to bring a team out of their rustiness.

Although, Conte has had a lot to say about Spur’s poor run of form, before his arrival. The Italian has mentioned his concerns regarding the inability of the top players at the club to perform under pressure. The likes of Kane, Moura, Dele Alli, have all run pale. Leaving Son Heung-min as their sole consistent performer. However, Spurs are getting back in the shape. And now that transfer window is in its closing stages, Conte and Spurs feel the need of bringing in a new face in the squad. Just to freshen up the scheme of things.

The Lilywhites are after a Spanish speedster, who has been wreaking havoc in the Premier League since his arrival.

Who is Adama Traore?

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Nowadays, not many talk about Spanish players. And when someone does, then curiosity just take over every other feeling. Likewise, the Premier League has got a few Spanish players to talk about. But the player who has sparked the treat, recently, is really the one from the creams.

During his time in Spain, Adama Traore played in the Barcelona B team. A La Masia product, and was attracting worldwide attention already. After his arrival on the English soil, he spent a short stint at the Villa Park in the 2015/16 season. 20 at the time, Traore started looking for new pastures and found one with Middlesbrough, in the summer of 2016. He starred the show there in his debut season. Winning the Middlesbrough’s Fans’ Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards.

Although, his years prior to his days here at the Wolverhampton Wanderers, are not much talked off. No one can disregard the fact that Traore has developed into what he is now because of his early playing years.

Considered the breakthrough point in his career, Traore joined Wolves in the 18/19 season. He has not looked back since then. He developed as a beast under Nuno Espirito Santo, former Wolves manager. The Portuguese was able to work with the abilities Traore already possessed, and curated his skills accordingly. In the subsequent seasons, Traore started wreaking havoc in the oppositions’ camp. He has hence been regarded as one of the most feared wingers in the Premier League. It is only fair though! Since there are only a few players in the world football right now who can outrun Virgil Van Dijk. And the Spanish “Usain Bolt” is certainly one of them.

How can Spurs benefit from Traore?

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No wonder that, just a couple of months after his return to the Premier League Antonio Conte has been heavily linked with the winger. After the recent rumors taking a serious turn. It has returned a mix reaction from the fans. While it still has not been confirmed, yet many fans and experts alike, are calling it a done deal already.

But, keeping all the “what ifs” and “maybes” aside. If we look into the technical aspect of things, the London club could actually benefit from this deal. Spurs have lacked the presence of a good winger in their squad, lately.

While they have got a decent midfield, and a world class attacker in Harry Kane. They have highly missed a good winger’s presence from the squad. A prime Lamela is certainly being missed. But everyone should be allowed to move on. Where Son Heung-min has literally filled in almost all the positions for Tottenham Hotspurs, Conte is not the manager who can go on with the fact that his team lacks in the wing plays.

At the rate football is progressing, modern day aspect of the games ask you to pace up and be a part of the fast paced games. A level at which Spurs are languishing behind. Although the likes Bergwijn and Moura do step up from time-to-time and deliver. But then the problem of consistency arises.

That is where someone like Adama Traore comes in. He has the ability to drive the plays forward, and take into opposition’s halves. With the constant shimmy up and down the flank, Traore generally ends up troubling his countering defender. It is hard to defend someone, who can outrun you, put crosses in for your teammates, and even score bangers themselves.

Can Traore fit into the Spurs’ squad?

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Primarily, Conte and Spurs will be eyeing to get a bargain for the Spanish winger. Due to his lack of performances lately, Wolves are not in a place to put a higher bid on the table for their “Beast”. Although it still has not been confirmed, from either of the sides. But, if it is to happen then it will be interesting to watch, how the Wolves side cope with his departure. It is a food for thought for another day.

Meanwhile, it looks like Conte is the running away with this deal. If the Italian is able to curate the skills Traore already possess, and work on them. Then we are looking at an Elite winger. And talking about adaptability, well it should not be a matter of concern. Mainly because the system Spurs play in currently, someone like Traore can play a big part in it.

Well, time will tell if Traore will ever make it to London or not. And if he does, will he continue writing his success story or will he succumb to the White Hart curse?! We shall see.

MUST READ: Franck Kessie – Does he fit the bill for Antonio Conte?



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Chelsea’s Defensive Revamp! Who might Leave?

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The Champions of Europe have enjoyed great success under Tuchel and most credits should be given to their defense. They have not been very impressive in the attacking third but the defense has rarely let them down. Since Tuchel’s arrival, in a year, they have just conceded 42 goals in the 67 matches they have played. They made a record of conceding the least goals in a Champions League season, which they eventually ended up winning. All these credits have to be given to their defensive line but things might change come the next season. Many players could be leaving and could be replaced by many names floating. Here we analyze what could happen come the beginning of next season.

Who will LEAVE?

Andreas Christensen

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The Danish center back is one of the most talented center backs in the league and has played really well in patches for the Blues. He had a tournament to remember in the Euros last year as Denmark had a dream run. Since then, he became a crucial player in Chelsea’s back 3 and became a regular starter. Also, he came on as a substitute for Silva in the Champions League final for Chelsea and did well to help maintain the clean sheet.

He is in the last year of his contract and few months back, everything looked very settled with his contract but things took a U-turn quickly as even after a verbal agreement, he has denied the Chelsea offer. He has recently changed his agent but the stand remains the same. The board and the player are not near when the contract is being considered and thus likeliness of him leaving is very high. According to reports, he will not be joining any Premier League club in respect on his stay at Chelsea and Spain looks the likeliest destination with Barcelona being the favorites. Barcelona are looking for players who can join as free agents and need a massive improvement in their defense. Christensen could be a very good addition fitting all the bills.

Likeliness to Leave: 9/10

Cesar Azpilicueta

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Chelsea’s Leader, Legend and Captain has been a great servant for the club since 2012 and since then has been an integral part in all their title triumphs. Since the departure of Cahil, he has taken the captaincy armband and has showed every bit on and off the pitch to prove why he wears it. Last season he lifting the Champions League Trophy made him enter the elite club of captains who have lifted the coveted silverware. Not just as a leader, Azpilicueta has been performing at his absolute best despite entering the 30+ age club. Chelsea fans consider him as one of the most consistent players who rarely has a rough patch of games.

But despite his much important presence in the dressing room, he might be the victim of Chelsea’s strict contract rules. Chelsea board have been reluctant in offering a contract of 2+ years when a player enters the 30-year club. For the same reason, many legends for Chelsea have not ended their playing careers at the club and same situation might happen with Azpilicueta who looks for a 2-year contract with an option to extend one more season. But Blues are just offering one year contract with an option to extend, thus the talks falling short. Recent news, suggest that he has had verbal agreements complete with Barcelona, but Chelsea board are still waiting for his final words.

Likeliness to Leave: 7.5/10

Antonio Rudiger

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Arguably Chelsea’s best player since the Tuchel era, Rudiger has established himself as one of the best center backs in Europe. He has a had a year to remember with him receiving a great share of praise for Chelsea’s success. Rudiger right now is one of the pillars of this team and his presence on the pitch is irreplaceable. He not only is very important as a player but is also a senior member in the squad who is a part of the leadership squad. His ability to play as the left center back despite being a right footed player is just unmatchable and thus finding a replacement for the German is near to impossible for Chelsea.

He too is in the last year of his contract and before January, a move out of the club looked very likely with he and club looking very far from agreement due to the financial demands. Real Madrid looked a possible destination for the German but the Spanish club is now out of the race. Also, the deal between Chelsea and the player’s agent is coming closer to common grounds. This could be the happiest deal for Chelsea fans as they just love everything about the German.

Likeliness to Leave: 3/10

Marcos Alonso

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The Spanish wing-back has been a player who is always around the news for Chelsea. Many times, it has been due to his heroics on the pitch while the rest has been due to his very poor form or a bust up with the manager. Despite all, the Spanish wing-back is a very crucial player for his team and is providing a much important cover for Ben Chilwell who is out for the season. Though he is criticized for his defending, his attacking outputs from the back is very special. His ability on dead balls has also helped Chelsea in many instances. He indeed is one of the best wingbacks in the league and definitely a very good squad player for Chelsea.

The Spaniard though is not happy with the minutes he is receiving and some recent reports state that an exit in the summer is very much possible. He is looking for a move to Spain and to a team where he could start all the matches. This would though add up to Chelsea’s existing wingback problems with Emerson’s future is still uncertain.

Likeliness to Leave: 3/10

MUST READ: Why Sergino Dest can actually flourish at Chelsea?












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Ivory Coast vs Egypt: 4 Key Battles to watch

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Egypt are not so far off their best on the continental tournament but they will need some impressive loads of work when they come up against Ivory Coast in the round of 16 of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

The game will see the Pharaohs’ resilience in defence being tested by one of the prolific attacks in the competition in Cameroon, considering Ivory Coast have scored six goals in three games so far.

Knowing what is at stake for both teams, Premier League News Now takes a look at battles from the game that could help either of the sides end up on the winning side at the end of the contest at the Japoma Stadium.

WILFRIED ZAHA vs OMAR KAMAL

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Wilfried Zaha played his best game of the competition in the draw with Sierra Leone, providing the assist for Sebastien Haller’s first AFCON goal. The Crystal Palace forward has started just one game in the tournament but his cameo against Algeria should be enough to get him a starting spot against Egypt. Zaha’s trickery and nibble footwork will definitely be a problem for Omar Kamal should the winger be in the starting line-up.

Kamal has after not playing a part in the loss to Nigeria has been involved in the last two games. His defensive performances contributed to Egypt’s two clean sheets and the gaffer is likely to keep him in the team especially against a side that have the quality in their attack. The Future FC versatile midfielder averages 4.0 tackles per game and 1.5 interceptions per 90 minutes. He will be important to keeping Egypt’s right side of defenceless busy.

SEBASTIEN HALLER vs AHMED HEGAZI

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Sebastien Haller may now be settling into the fold on the African scene as compared to his exploits with Ajax Amsterdam. The UEFA Champions League top-scorer has been involved in two goals in three games in the AFCON, scoring one and assisting the other. After failing to hit a shot on target in the first game, Haller scored the only shot he took in the game against Sierra Leone. Ivory Coast needs him to be active if they are to overcome Egypt.

Coming up against Haller will be Ahmed Hegazy. A giant for opposition strikers to deal with, the central defender will obviously be a problem for the forward due to the physicality he adds to his game. Hegazy may have struggled outside the national team but he has always been one of Egypt’s top performers when he dons the national team jersey.

BADRA ALI SANGARE vs MOHAMED EL-SHENAWY

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A tale of two strong goalkeepers in the competition will also be on display. Badra Ali Sangare has one clean sheet compared to Mohamed El-Shenawy’s two. Both keepers have made some crucial saves for their sides in the previous games but they come up against each other at the Japoma Stadium.

Never rule out the quality of these two shot-stoppers but a weaker defence could see them fail to cope with the pressure the game could bring.  Sangare makes 2.3 saves per game in the competition which constitutes 70% of the shots he faces but El-Shenawy manages 2.7 (89% of shots faced).

With these numbers coming up in the same game, good luck to all attackers looking to make the headlines.

GHISLAIN KONAN vs MOHAMED SALAH

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Rated by ‘Who Scored’ as one of the top three performing left-backs in the French Ligue 1, Ghislain Konan could be facing his biggest opponent yet in the Africa Cup of Nations. The full-back will come up against Mohamed Salah in Wednesday’s encounter with a place in the last eight up for grabs. The only game Konan failed to impress was against Sierra Leone, as his side were held to a stalemate.

Salah on the other hand have a greater responsibility to lead his team into the quarter-final of the competition. The Liverpool man is struggling to have the same impact he has had for his club over the last three seasons in the Egypt team in Cameroon. He has only found the back of the net on one occasion and has been far from convincing anytime he has not been on the scoresheet. Hopefully, Egypt can get him playing his best football in midweek.












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