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Premier LEague

Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa: Match Preview

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Premier League returns to the fold, and we have an in-form Crystal Palace taking on Aston Villa. Crystal Palace were impressive against Burnley as they drew 3-3 in an end-to-end thriller of a match. Meanwhile, Aston Villa were saved by a rock-solid performance from Emiliano Martinez and late Ollie Watkin’s late heroics to secure the 3 points against Brighton.

Since Patrick Vieira’s appointment as their manager, Crystal Palace have improved leaps and bounds as compared to last season. Currently sitting on 10th, this is exactly what the Eagles’ expected from their new coach.

Aston Villa decided to show the door to their old coach Dean Smith and replaced him by a relatively young but proven coach in Steven Gerrard. Currently, sitting at an unexpected low of 15th position.

WHEN AND WHERE?

Date: 27th November.
Time: 3:00 PM GMT.
Venue: Selhurst Park.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Michael Salisbury.
Assistant Referees: Ian Hussin and Wade Smith.
Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson.
VAR: Paul Tierney.

TEAM NEWS

CRYSTAL PALACE

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Vieira will have to field his team without Nathan Ferguson (calf injury) and James McArthur (hamstring injury). Both players will need time to recover from their respective injuries. Otherwise, the manager has a fully fit squad, and Benteke’s performance along with Edouard’s amazing display against Brighton & Hove Albion could see the duo starting and the latter replacing Ayew in the starting XI.

ASTON VILLA

Aston Villa have several notable absentees but their biggest miss will be their defensive midfielder Douglas Luiz as the Brazilian is recovering from a hamstring strain. Other names include Bernard Traore and Trezeguet due to the thigh and knee injuries respectfully. There seems to be a rising competition for attacking spots in Villa as Leon Bailey makes himself ready, but the Jamaican is expected to retain his place on the bench for this game too. Steven Gerrard’s plan could see the striker duo Ings and Watkins start together.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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Patrick Vieira will look to bag all three points against Aston Villa as a victory for Palace and a potential slip-up from teams above them could result in the Eagles climbing the points table. Crystal Palace are expected to lineup in their usual 4-3-3.

Recent games have witnessed that Vieira has chosen to start Benteke in the center and Odsonne Edouard on the left. This has benefited Palace because the presence of Benteke and Edouard in the front three means Patrick Vieira will have 2 proven goal scorers in the lineup.

Milivojevic has become a crucial part of Palace’s midfield as he offers more on the ball than Kouyate. Milivojevic’s progressive passing is the key reason behind Palace’s ability to shift gears in attacking half. Also, he possesses the ability to break the press of opponents by relying on his long passing skills. While breaking the press it simultaneously stretches the field vertically to the benefits of his attacking peers.

Gallagher has been at the heart of creativity for Palace, and we can expect the same level of quality from the youngster.

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Steven Gerrard has begun his reign at Aston Villa, and he delivered a win against Brighton last week. Just like Crystal Palace, Aston Villa are a bit shaky defensively and it might be due to the absence of Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz. Gerrard has preferred his team to play with a back 4 and everything above them keeps changing with respect to the opposition.

Let us expect Aston Villa to lineup with a back 4. Most suitable formation currently for them is 4-3-3 or a modified version of it which looks like 4-1-2-2-1. Villa use their wide forwards closer to the striker which essentially nullifies the players to be termed as ‘wide forwards’. Last week we observed Danny Ings lineup with Watkins and this worked due to their positioning hypothetically being as a striker only. While Leon Bailey makes a fair shout to be in contention for the starting spot, his decision-making states either way. Buendia suits the role of 3rd forward due to his flair and creativity.

We could see England veteran Young making an appearance from the bench. The defence is expected to be the same.

KEY PLAYERS

CONOR GALLAGHER

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Conor Gallagher has had a breakthrough season on loan at Palace this campaign and the young English lad shows no signs of stopping. His impressive performances on a consistent basis have surely earned the attention of Gareth Southgate. Gallagher has been at the centre of every play that goes in the Crystal Palace and his dynamic positioning in the team makes him Palace’s greatest asset this season.

Primarily a midfielder, Conor Gallagher generally joins the attack as a shadow striker which adds another quantity for Palace’s front 3. Having Gallagher moving forward allows Zaha to stretch the opponents’ defence which in turn allows Edouard to move inside the goalkeeper’s box. It has become routine for Palace and Gallagher and now, they will look to continue their pursuit of climbing up the points table.

EMILIANO MARTINEZ

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It’s rare when a goalkeeper is listed as a key player for a specific club, but this is the case for Martinez and Villa. Martinez’s performance against Brighton helped Villa to earn a clean sheet as any slip-up or error could’ve easily changed the face of the match. Emi Martinez, since his arrival, has been a vocal presence behind the defence, and he really dominates his zone in 1vs1s as well as saving shots.

Martinez’s opponents tomorrow are a free-flowing in-form side that loves to play attacking football and he is expected to have a busy day in the box. Likes of Zaha, Benteke, and Edouard are capable to provide any and all kinds of threat for the Argentine keeper’s net.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Milivojevic, Kouyate; Zaha, Benteke, Edouard.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba, Ramsey; Buendia, Ings, Watkins.

         












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Premier LEague

Norwich City vs Tottenham: Preview

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Norwich City host a raring Tottenham Hotspur side this weekend as the Premier League 2021/22 season draws to a close this Sunday. Having offered up an intriguing fight for the title, a place in the top-four, and a mouth-watering clash to avoid relegation going into the final weekend, gameweek 38 is expected to emerge as a major determinant for various clubs’ prospects heading into the summer transfer window.

Currently bottom of the table, having already been relegated, Norwich City will be looking to dampen Spurs’ hopes of securing top-four on Sunday. Although having secured only a point from their last five league outings, the Canaries will be hopeful of delivering a cheerful performance; remaining keen on gaining promotion back to England’s top-tier league next season.

With only two points separating them and North-London rivals Arsenal, Antonio Conte’s side will be desperate to avoid dropped points on Sunday. Having not lost a game in their five league outings heading into the weekend, Spurs remain the outstanding favourites for top-four, however, remaining wary of their tendency to succumb under pressure during pivotal moments in the club’s recent history.

WHEN & WHERE?

Venue: Carrow Road.
Date: Sunday, 22nd of March 2022.
Time: Kick-off at 16:00 BST.

TEAM NEWS

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Dean Smith will be without the services of Ozan Kabak, Mathias Normann, Josh Sargent, Kenny McLean, and Christoph Zimmermann on Sunday. Additionally, the likes of Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah are ruled out of the tie against Spurs.

Smith is expected to field the same line-up that succeeded in gaining a point against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. Teemu Pukki remains the frontrunner to lead the line on Sunday, with Brandon Williams and Milot Rashica the two players likely to push for a starting spot against Spurs.

Antonio Conte is expected to field his strongest XI in hopes of avoiding any hiccups on Sunday. Japhet Tanganga, Oliver Skipp, Matt Doherty, and Sergio Reguilon remain out of contention for the season finale while Cristian Romero will be hoping to recover in time from a hip injury in hopes of retaining his spot in the starting line-up this weekend.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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With an opportunity to improve their standings in the league table on the cards for both sides, Sunday’s mouth-watering encounter is likely to produce an intriguing watch for the neutral. Keen on salvaging a result and with nothing to lose, Norwich will be unafraid to take the game to the visitors on Sunday, while Spurs are expected to retain control of possession and dictate the game this weekend.

Having evidently lacked in quality as a result of the board’s failure to invest in the squad following their promotion, Norwich City remain the underdogs going into the tie. With Arsenal likely to pin all their hopes on the Canaries securing three points in hopes of moving into fourth place in the league table, Norwich will be looking to secure a prosperous result amidst playing with liberty and pressuring the opposition on Sunday. Although plagued with injuries, Dean Smith’s side will be looking to showcase their best in breaking Spurs’ formidable mid-block defensive system whilst finding hope in physically imposing themselves on the visitors this Sunday.

On the other hand, having secured crucial points since Conte’s appointment, Spurs will be desperate to secure Champions League football next season. Amidst the likeliness of the Italian manager’s preference to seek a different job in the summer, Spurs will be keen on cementing their place in Europe’s elite competition in a bid to retain Conte’s services ahead of next season. Having grown increasingly convincing and consistent in executing the manager’s ideas on the pitch, Spurs will be looking to keep a clean sheet whilst seeking three points on Sunday. With the Canaries having conceded a goal in each of their last seven league outings, Spurs will be hoping to avoid dropped points as they look to build a trophy-challenging squad for Conte to preside over in the summer.

KEY PLAYERS

TEEMU PUKKI – NORWICH CITY

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Having netted a crucial goal that sealed a point for the Canaries last weekend, Pukki’s tendency to find space between the centre-halves is likely to trouble Spurs this weekend. Although in the driving seat heading into the fixture, the visitors will be wary of the Finnish international’s ability to find goals at crucial junctures, although having kept consecutive clean sheets ahead of the game on Sunday.

HEUNG-MIN SON – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

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Only a goal behind current-top scorer Mohamed Salah (22) in the race for the golden boot, Son will be looking to improve his tally of goals on Sunday. Having been vital to the team’s results since Conte’s appointment, the South Korean’s overall ability in providing goal contributions amidst being an omnipresent threat on the pitch remains a potent weapon to be utilized by the visitors on Sunday. Additionally, having registered six-goal contributions in his last five league outings, Heung-min Son is likely to play a pivotal role in determining the result this weekend.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

Norwich City (3-4-2-1) – Tim Krul; Sam Byram, Grant Hanley, Ben Gibson; Max Aarons, Billy Gilmour, Mathias Normann, Brandon Williams; Jonathan Rowe, Milot Rashica; Teemu Pukki.

Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-2-1) – Hugo Lloris; Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Ben Davies; Emerson Royal, Rodrigo Bentancur, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Ryan Sessegnon; Dejan Kulusevski, Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane.



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Brighton vs West Ham: Match Preview

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It’s the last matchday in the Premier League with still a lot to play for with the title race, UCL places, UEL places, Conference League places and the relegation places yet to be decided. As the league heads into its final fixture, West Ham travels to the South coast to take on Graham Potter’s Brighton & Hove Albion.

Brighton are having a blistering end to their season with the Seagulls losing only once in their last 8 games having defeated Arsenal, Tottenham and Man United in this unbeaten streak. They are on course for a 10th placed finish this season and a win or a draw against David Moyes’ Europe chasing Hammers will do the job for them. West Ham United on the other hand are 2 points behind Manchester United in 6th and will look to take all 3 points from Brighton to clinch a Europa League berth sending the Red Devils to next season’s Conference League.

The clash at the Amex Stadium has really all the ingredients to be an interesting watch with both the home team looking to finish the campaign with a win in front of their supporters while the visiting team looking to play in the Europa League once again next season.

When and Where?

Date: 22nd May 2022.
Time: 3:00 PM (GMT).
Venue: Amex Stadium, Brighton.

Team News

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Graham Potter will be without Jeremy Sarmiento and Jakub Moder who are out with injuries. Tariq Lamptey, Adam Lallana and Adam Webster made a cameo in the last match off the bench and could be in contention to start for the Seagulls. Enock Mwepu is expected to return from injury and also be in contention to start on Sunday.

Michail Antonio was subbed off in West Ham’s last game against Manchester City and is set to remain on the sidelines for the game at Brighton. Benrahma is expected to be back in the starting XI having missed the game against Man City due to an injury. Moyes is expected to field a strong XI to do the job and hopefully secure a Europa League spot for next season.

Match Analysis

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Brighton have deployed a 3 at the back system for the majority of the season with yet another impressive season in the top flight. Graham Potter has played an integral role in his team’s improvement this season with the Seagulls set to finish 10th  (depending on Brentford and Newcastle’s result )or 11th, their highest finish since their promotion to the top flight in the 2019/20 season. Unexpected wins against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United have proved that the Seagulls are capable of defeating the big boys in the league. The rampant 4-0 win against Manchester United was certainly the best performance under Graham Potter. Ralf Rangnick’s men had no answers to the problems Brighton caused them which saw the Red Devils put their Europa League qualification into further jeopardy. Potter’s men haven’t been at their best at home with only 1 win in their last 9 games.

David Moyes certainly will have to go all guns blazing for this fixture with the chance to once again compete in the Europa League next season. This season’s campaign in the competition saw the Hammers bow out of the semi-finals against Eintracht Frankfurt who went on to win the trophy. The visit to Brighton will not be easy with both the teams sharing the spoils in the reverse fixture in December.

Key Players

Jarrod Bowen

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The Englishman is having his best season in the Premier League with 12 goals and 12 assists this season. The winger has been key to his team’s attack and stepped up remarkably when Michael Antonio was injured for a lengthy period mid season. Bowen has certainly drawn attention from England manager Gareth Southgate and with the World Cup just around the corner, a potential call up for the 25 year old could be on the cards.

Marc Cucurella

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The 23-year-old has been sensational under Graham Potter with the Spaniard winning the club player of the season and players’ player of the season. He has hit the ground running in the Premier League after his move from Getafe in the summer. His versatility has been put to good use by Potter with the 23-year-old playing as a Left Wing Back and Left Center Back for the Seagulls this season. Jarrod Bowen vs Cucurella on the wings would be a fierce battle on the wings and it would be interesting to see who manages to come out on top.

Predicted XIs

Brighton(3-4-3): Sanchez, Cucurella, Dunk, Veltman, Trossard, Lallana, Bissouma, Lamptey, Trossard, Allister, Welbeck.

West Ham(4-2-3-1): Fabianski, Coufal, Zouma, Dawson, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen, Lanzini, Benrahma, Yarmolenko.












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Twist in the tale for Liverpool’s bid for Fabio Vieira

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The Reds face a major blow in their chase to sign Vieira, as the Portuguese outfit has reported that ‘Liverpool’s first right of refusal with Porto‘ doesn’t exist.

The Porto attacking midfielder has been in sublime form, scoring 6 goals while assisting another 14 goals in the Primeira Liga this season. Vieira was one of the key players in his team’s title winning campaign, this term. So much so, that the 21-year-old Portuguese midfielder caught eyes of the several big European teams.

While Arsenal had been monitoring the player’s development for some time, Liverpool were said to have been in the driving position to land the player at Anfield.  According to the several reports from the Daily Mirror, The Reds reached to an agreement with Porto that allowed them to have the “first refusal” on Vieira.

But, it seems that there is a twist in the tale, as a Portuguese news outfit namely: O Jogo, has provided further more clarity into the whole situation.

According to these reports, Porto FC are not looking to sell either Vitinha or Vieira, in the coming summer transfer market. Moreover, no side have made forward offers for any of the players. This means that, Liverpool have not reached the agreement with the Portuguese side regarding the First refusal of Vieira.

NEW VIEIRA CLAUSE

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Meanwhile, on the contrary to the Daily Mirror claims, O Jogo confirmed Vieira’s actual release clause to be £42.3m and not £12.7million. This could a huge report coming in from Portugal, as the release clause does not look in the budget of Liverpool’s scheme of things.

Having already spent an initial fee of £37m for the purchase of Diaz, it does not look sensible from the Reds point of view to pay more way more than that for a player who has not played outside of Portugal.

VERDICT

Given the recent developments in the saga, I don’t think Liverpool are going to pay this huge sum for the midfielder. And rightly so! Vieira is good, don’t get me wrong, but we do not need to pay a crazy amount like that given there are other players in the same position, of same age group, who will be costing much less.

The Reds have already reached an agreement with Fulham, that would see Fabio Carvalho at Anfield before the start of the next season. Adding to this, the Red Merseysiders are heavily linked to another wonderkid in Calvin Ramsay. So with all of these moves, I think we should not go for any more players, and look to focus on the contract renewal of the players like Keita, Mane, Firmino and Salah- who are into their last year of the contract with the Reds.












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