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Premier LEague

Newcastle United vs Watford: Preview

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Newcastle United are set for Premier League action for the first time over the weekend since December 27, as they play host to Watford at the St James’ Park.

The Magpies held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw at home in the last league game. But an FA Cup loss to Cambridge United last weekend has raised concerns for Eddie Howe as the resume league action. Watford, on the other hand, since beating the Red Devils, has also failed to win or draw any of their last seven games – ending on the losing side on all occasions, the latest being a 4-1 loss to Leicester City in FA Cup.

Both teams have struggled largely this season, having to sack their managers in the early part of the season. While Watford has managed four wins in the top-flight since their return, they have also lost 13 times with just one draw.

Their results leave them two points above the relegation zone, where Newcastle currently find themselves. The Magpies have just one win all season in the league while recording eight draws and 10 losses.

While teams are struggling currently, there is still a long way to go until the last game of the Premier League season, and the two teams all could stand a chance of surviving.

Eddie Howe’s side has already done some bit of business in the winter transfer market with the arrival of Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood. The former Bournemouth manager has a tough job to do with Newcastle and hopeful against the Hornets, the serious business begins.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Venue: St James’ Park
Date: Saturday, January 15
Time: 15:00 GMT

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Neil Davies
Fourth official: Dean Whitestone
VAR: Kevin Friend
Assistant VAR: Simon Beck

TEAM NEWS

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Newcastle may have made additions to their squad but Howe’s men are still yet to overcome their injury woes. Federico Fernandez, Isaac Hayden, Jamal Lewis, Matt Longstaff and Callum Wilson are all out with respective injuries and will miss the game against Watford. Trippier and Wood could make their league debut for Newcastle over the weekend.

Ciaran Clark is a huge doubt for the game as well.

Just like Newcastle, Claudio Ranieri also has a lot of players on the treatment table. Kwadwo Baah, Nicolas N’Koulou,  and Oghenekaro Etebo are all injured while Ismaila Sarr, Imran Louza, Adam Masina and William Troost-Ekong are on national team duties in the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

However, the coach can count on Emmanuel Dennis once again after the player returned to training earlier this week after an injury.

MATCH ANALYSIS

DEFENSIVE CRISIS

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Newcastle United have done very little to push themselves up the league table. Howe’s side have a huge problem with their defends as they have conceded the second-most goals in the top-flight this season. Only Norwich City have conceded more than the Magpies and that is the problem Howe needs to solve.

In Watford, they play a side that have struggled a bit in front of a goal, scoring the third least goals in the competition (19). The return of Emmanuel Dennis should be a worry for the Magpies. The Nigeria international couldn’t join his national team for the AFCON and his stay with the team will be crucial to their chances on Saturday.

Both teams stand a chance and with a little rise in efficiency in front of the goal, Newcastle or Watford could carry the day.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Newcastle: Dubravka; Trippier, Clark, Lascelles, Ritchie; Fraser, S Longstaff, Shelvey, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin; Wood.

Watford: Bachmann; Femenia, Sierralta, Cathcart, Kamara; Kucka; Dennis, Tufan, Sissoko, Sema; King.

MATCH PREDICTION

Newcastle United 1-1 Watford

         












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Premier LEague

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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Premier LEague

Mali vs Equatorial Guinea: Match Preview

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An entertaining knock out stage is what we have witnessed across the first few games that have been played with many heavyweights crushing out of this edition of the Africa Cup of Nations.

On Wednesday, Mali take on Equatorial Guinea. A battle for a spot in the last eight in the competition and the last round-of-16 fixtures of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Mali emerged as leaders of Group F and had very impressive performances after earning seven valuable points having come across Mauritania, Gambia and Tunisia.

Despite being drawn into group E with African heavyweights Algeria and Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea managed to finished in second place in the group standings with two victories against Algeria and 10-men Sierra Leone.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Date: 26th January, 2022
Time: 19:00 HRS GMT
Venue: Limbe Stadium

TEAM NEWS

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There are no major injuries nor suspensions for Mali. Consistent Kone will look to lead Mali to Victory in attack.

Moussa Djenepo is back available for selection after missing the game against Mauritania through suspension for picking up a second consecutive yellow card in the game against Gambia. He is expected to team up with Adama traore and Brighton’s Yves Bissouma in midfield.

However, Equatorial Guinea’s 22-year-old Dorian Hanza is a doubt for this fixture after picking up an injury against Sierra Leone in the 75th minute in the last group game. Jesus Owono also maintains his spot in goal. The solid Malian backline is likely to remain unchanged.

PRE-MATCH ANALYSIS

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A quarter-final spot against either Senegal or Cape Verde awaits the winner of this tie. Mali have managed more than 15 shots in every group game they played in the group stages and will look to continue to find the back of the net against Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday and threaten their goal as often as they can. The malians will look to move one step closer in the quarter final and conquer Africa for the first time in their history.

Mali have failed to win a knock out stage game since 2013 and will look to end this disappointed run of results in terms of knock out games. Relentless Ibrahim Kone scored in all group games for the Malians. He will look to extend his goal tally to four or more when Mali face Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday night. He is key alongside Moussa Djenepo and Adama Traore in attack for Mali.

With Bissouma in midfield, Mali will look to find Djenepo and Adama Traore in the wide areas and the positioning of Ibrahim Kone will be absolutely vital to the triumph and involvement of Djenepo and Adama in attack. Forcing the backline to keep a close eye on him and allowing wingers to run in behind the opposition’s defense. Mali have the quality to urge past Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.

With seven points from three games and considering the fact that some heavyweights like Algeria and Nigeria have exited the competition, Mali do stand a chance and are a team to watch. They pursue a difficult yet achievable goal in becoming champions of the continent for the first time.

Equatorial Guinea look to cause a major upset and stun favorites Mali over this tie. They head into Wednesday’s game unbeaten in all but one of their last eight outings in all competitions, winning five and drawing twice. They will look to keep their fairytale run at the tournament alive and kicking.

The National Thunder are capable of causing a major upset. Pablo Ganet’s winner was enough to secure a place in the next round of the competition. Good progressors of the ball and their ability to create chances and spaces in attack will be taken highly into consideration by their opponents Mali.

They head into Wednesday’s game unbeaten in all but one of their last eight matches in all competitions, winning five and drawing twice and will look to keep their fairytale run at the tournament alive and kicking.

PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE

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Yves Bissouma

Brighton midfielder is one to keep a close eye on in this highly anticipated fixture. The Mali midfielder has been pursued by many elite English clubs including Arsenal and Liverpool over the past year and his presence in midfield will be absolutely vital for Mali when they face the Nzalang nacional on Wednesday.

Despite providing an assist only once in 14 appearances this season, Bissouma looks to revive his form in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations and his control in midfield has been obvious in the tournament.

Moussa Djenepo

The Southampton winger has not had the best beginning to the 2021/2022 premier league season after just 8 appearances and no goal involvement. Well known for his skill and pace Djenepo looks to make his mark in this tournament against The thunders on Wednesday night.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

Mali Predicted XI (4-3-3): Ibrahim Mounkoro; Massadio Haidara, Boubakar Kouyate, Falaye Sacko, Hamari Traore; Amadou Haidara, Mohamed Camara, Yves Bissouma; Moussa Djenepo, Adama Traore, Ibrahima Kone

Equatorial Guinea Predicted XI (4-4-2): Manuel Sapunga Mbara; Javier Akapo, Saul Coco, Esteban Obiang, Basilio Ndong; Iván Salvador, Pablo Ganet, Jose Machin, Jannick Buyla; Oscar Siafa, Emilio Nsue

MATCH PREDICTION

Mali 2-1 Equatorial Guinea












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