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Premier LEague

Man City vs Brighton: Preview

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This Premier League gameweek brings to us a game that could have huge repercussions in the Premier League title race. Manchester City host in-form Brighton & Hove Albion at the Etihad on Wednesday night.

Man City return to Premier League action after their FA Cup defeat to Liverpool on Saturday afternoon. It was a thrilling game that ended in a 3-2 loss for the Manchester Blues, with second-half goals from Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva getting City back into the game after they had a disastrous first half, conceding 3 goals to the rampant Reds. Grealish scored very early in the second half, and City kept plugging away all half but only got a second in the 90th minute to set up a very nervy final five minutes of injury-time. They will turn their attention back to the all-important league, as they chase a 7th PL title, with Liverpool hot on their heels in second place. Manchester City were knocked out of the FA Cup semi-finals for the third year running, and Pep Guardiola will undoubtedly return next year with a vengeance. For now, they will have to deal with high-flying Seagulls who have claimed two big fish in the last two games and will certainly be up for a fight.

Brighton & Hove Albion have seen an upturn in form in the past two weeks, winning two games in a row after going on a 7-game winless run which saw them lose 6 and draw one against bottom-placed Norwich City. However, Graham Potter’s men produced two inspired displays in the last two games, as they defeated two London clubs in a row. The Seagulls visited Arsenal at the Emirates and left with all three points after they produced a stout defensive showing to win 2-1. They then travelled to London again, as a brilliant display saw them be the dominant side against Tottenham Hotspurs. A late Leandro Trossard goal saw the Seagulls leave with three deserved points, as they restricted Spurs to zero shots on target. They now travel away from home yet again, as they go up against the league leaders. Graham Potter will be hoping for a similar display as last time, with the Seagulls certain to have the hopes and prayers of the Liverpool fans with them.

WHEN AND WHERE?

Date: Wednesday, 20th April 2022.
Time: 7.00 pm BST
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Mike Dean.
Assistants: Darren Cann, Eddie Smart.
Fourth official: Robert Jones.
VAR: Chris Kavanagh.
Assistant VAR: Neil Davies.

TEAM NEWS

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Manchester City fielded a rotated side on Saturday afternoon against Liverpool, with goalkeeper Ederson, defenders Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte, midfielders Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin de Bruyne and Rodri all rested after their grueling Champions League tie in the midweek. Some of them are expected to return to the starting 11 on Wednesday night, with Ederson a guaranteed starter after back-up goalkeeper Zack Steffen’s calamitous performance at Wembley. Kyle Walker missed out on the FA Cup semi-final with an ankle injury, and he is a huge doubt for Brighton’s visit. However, Pep Guardiola’s side have no more injury concerns for now as they head into the final run of games.

Brighton & Hove Albion could be without Tariq Lamptey who was subbed off against Spurs with an injury, and remains a slight concern ahead of the game against City. He will face a late fitness test in a bid to get into the starting 11. Jakub Moder and Shane Duffy are the only two players definitely ruled out for Graham Potter’s side, with both nursing long-term injuries. Steven Alzate is a huge doubt after coming down with an illness, and it remains to see if he can recover in time to be selected in the travelling squad to Manchester.

MATCH ANALYSIS

CAN THE SEAGULLS SHOCK THE CHAMPIONS?

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Brighton & Hove Albion shocked North London in the last two weeks, winning both times as they dented Arsenal and Tottenham’s top 4 hopes. Both clubs are in a very tight battle with Man United and West Ham United for the 4th league spot, and any slip up could be detrimental at the end of the season. Brighton were expected to roll over for the vastly superior teams, with world-class players all over the pitch, and the Seagulls surprised both clubs with some outstanding football.

The pressure is high at Man City right now, with any points dropped could potentially mean handing over the title to Liverpool. City squandered a 14-point lead midway through the season, and the title race is now set to go down to the wire. Brighton & Hove Albion could play a very unexpected role in the title race, especially after their wins in the capital.

While Man City are still the overall favourites heading into the tie, Pep Guardiola and co. will be wary of the threat that the Seagulls pose. Brighton have a very good away record, losing only 3 out of 16 games so far this season. They have improved defensively over the past few weeks, and the likes of Tariq Lamptey, Marc Cucurella and Lewis Dunk have been exceptional. There is a huge gulf between the quality of both squads, with City also having a superior squad depth. It is a battle of David vs Goliath, but Brighton have nothing to lose and City have everything to lose, meaning that the pressure is more on the hosts than the visitors. It will be a fairytale for the Seagulls if they manage to add City to their list of high-profile victims, and only time will tell who will come out on top in this intriguing battle.

KEY PLAYERS

Kevin de Bruyne

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The Belgian playmaker has not been at his very best as we have seen over the past few seasons, with injuries and coronavirus hampering his start to the Premier League season. However, de Bruyne has performed when it matters for City, scoring in big games against the top six clubs. KDB has scored twice against Liverpool, twice against United and once against Chelsea. He has been Pep Guardiola’s most reliable player in recent years, and with 11 goals and 3 assists, this season has proved he can be there for the team even when he’s not in his best form. He will be needed to break down the stout Brighton defence on Wednesday night.

Marc Cucurella

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Talking about signings, one cannot just ignore the business by Brighton as they landed one of the finest full-backs in form of Cucurella. The Spaniard has been fairly impressive for his squad and was in the headlines after the game against Arsenal. While the Brighton fans were full of praises as Cucurella was fairly well against Saka and made some impressive defensive contributions which included 13 ball recoveries, Arsenal fans still are ranting about him playing Martinelli onside. Cucurella’s versatility has helped Potter a lot as the Spaniard has put in a shift as the third center back in Webster’s absence and now might be moving to his favoured left side where he will have the freedom to attack. Holding on to Kulusevski will be key to stopping Spurs from hitting on counters, and Cucrella’s presence will be key to stop Tottenham from outrunning the Brighton defence

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Manchester City predicted XI: Ederson; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo; Kevin de Bruyne, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan; Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish.

Brighton & Hove Albion predicted XI: Robert Sanchez; Joel Veltman, Lewis Dunk, Marc Cucurella; Tariq Lamptey, Pascal Gross, Yves Bissouma, Moises Caicedo, Leandro Trossard; Alexis Mac Allister, Enock Mwepu.












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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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