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Premier LEague

West Ham vs Arsenal: Match Preview

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An intriguing and captivating battle will commence at the London Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon as Europa League semi-finalists West Ham United host Arsenal.

David Moyes’s side lost 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final in midweek, while the Gunners saw off Manchester United in an impressive 3-1 victory last time out.

It was certainly a game of fine margins in East London on Thursday as but the biggest European night in West Ham’s recent history started in the worst possible fashion as Ansgar Knauff finished a delicious cross at the back post with less than a minute on the clock.

While the Hammers did manage to find a response soon after before the half-time whistle via Michail Antonio’s outstretched leg, Frankfurt ensured they would take a one-goal advantage back on home soil through Daichi Kamada before Jarrod Bowen’s outstanding bicycle kick cannoned back off the crossbar and away from danger.

Amid their quest for Europa League glory, West Ham’s domestic fortunes have suffered a setback in recent weeks with two defeats and a draw from their last three outings in the Premier League, with last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea leaving them seventh in the table and three points adrift of Manchester United.

Wolverhampton Wanderers are also breathing down their necks in the table, and their best shot of securing a Champions League berth for 2022-23 undoubtedly lies in the Europa League, but Moyes will not want to relinquish the backup of a top-seven finish in the top flight in order to return to any form of continental competition.

Furthermore, West Ham welcome Arsenal to the London Stadium having scored in every one of their Premier League home matches this season, and they have taken 14 points from the last 18 on offer on home soil, but the in-form Gunners certainly know a thing or two about grabbing three points on the capital.

The past ten days could hardly have been more enjoyable for Mikel Arteta, who have seemingly recovered from their minor blip at the beginning of the month while Tottenham Hotspur have ceded control of their Champions League destiny to their North London rivals due to recent blips.

After their goal-laden showing at Stamford Bridge, Nuno Tavares, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka all netted in a 3-1 success to virtually kill off Man United’s top-four hopes, although the Gunners certainly rode their luck as Bruno Fernandes’s penalty struck the post and United missing glaring chances to draw themselves back in the contest.

Nonetheless, Arsenal are surely in the driving seat for the coveted top-four berth as they sit two points clear of Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth spot.

Spurs could temporarily rise back into the top four should they get the better of Leicester City before Arsenal take to the field against the Hammers, but the Gunners have now won six of their last eight away games in the top flight and will also be aware that West Ham have a keen eye on their crucial second-leg European battle in Germany next Thursday.

Arteta’s side came back from 3-0 down to rescue a 3-3 draw versus West Ham in this fixture last season, but their meeting at the Emirates back in December ended in a straightforward 2-0 success, and Arsenal’s 13 away victories against the Hammers represents their most against a single side in the Premier League.

A foregone conclusion?

WHERE AND WHEN?

Venue: London Stadium.
Date: Sunday, 1st May 2022.
Time: 16:30 (BST).

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Mike Dean.
Assistant referee: Ian Hussin, Darren Cann.
Fourth official: Simon Hooper.
VAR: Darren England.
Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes.

LEAGUE FORM (LAST SIX):

West Ham United: W-L-W-L-D-L

Arsenal: W-L-L-L-W-W

TEAM NEWS

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Craig Dawson’s suspension, Angelo Ogbonna’s lengthy recovery and Issa Diop’s ankle issue have severely depleted Moyes’ options in the heart of their defence, but Kurt Zouma made a quicker-than-expected recovery to play a full 90 minutes against Frankfurt in midweek.

The Frenchman needed treatment towards the end of the contest but is unlikely to be rested given Moyes’s lack of options in that area, and Dawson’s suspension could see Ben Johnson move next to Zouma as Vladimir Coufal returns at right-back.

As for the Gunners, Arteta is reportedly expecting Bukayo Saka to be fit and well for the London derby, with the 20-year-old back in training alongside his teammates after being taken off against Man United.

Saka’s return would leave Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey as the Gunners’ only two absentees, with Takehiro Tomiyasu coming back as a late substitute against the Red Devils, but Arteta may be reluctant to throw the Japanese international back into the first-team fold from the start just yet.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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Nikola Vlasic and Andriy Yarmolenko could be considered for starting roles in the XI on Sunday as Moyes prioritises the second leg in Frankfurt, it will be a big chance for both players to impress the former Everton boss, while ex-Gunner Lukasz Fabianski will replace Alphonse Areola in goal.

It is uncertain how David Moyes could line up his defence in the game against the Gunners. Does he revert to a three at the back system with Ben Johnson and Aaron Cresswell on either side of the only-available centre-back Kurt Zouma? Or does he even throw Declan Rice back into a centre-back role alongside the Frenchman?

The latter could be a plausible option but it may stifle the Hammers’ ability to progress the ball into more attacking areas if Rice is not deployed in his usual deep-lying and destructive midfield role alongside Tomas Soucek.

Or could we see Mark Noble given a run-out seeing as these are his last few weeks in a West Ham shirt as the former England international hangs up his boots at the end of the season. Deploying Noble or even summer signing Alex Kral who’s barely featured for the club this season could allow Moyes to rest either Rice or Soucek ahead of their second-leg clash with Frankfurt next Thursday.

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For Arteta, Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny has filled in admirably in the absence of Thomas Partey putting in unstoppable performances against both Chelsea and Manchester United leading to crucial wins in their top four surge. Because of form, there are talks that the former Basel man could extend his stay at the Emirates beyond the summer as his contract runs out at the end of June.

The Egyptian has quickly formed a reliable partnership with the rejuvenated Granit Xhaka at the base of Arsenal’s midfield and it could be Arteta’s go-to partnership in the closing weeks of the season as Partey may or may not feature at all.

The former Manchester City coach could opt to deploy Gabriel Martinelli on Sunday instead of Emile Smith Rowe as the Brazilian’s pace, directness and unpredictability in the final third could effectively disrupt a weakened Hammers back-line.

Secondly, Eddie Nketiah has certainly impressed the Gunners faithful and Arteta since his re-introduction into the starting line-up and could well have grabbed two more goals against Manchester United had he found the clinical edge he expertly showcased in the win at Stamford Bridge. The former Leeds United loanee should feature from the start again ahead of Lacazette whose poor form and unnecessary comments regarding his future will have certainly annoyed his manager.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

SAID BENRAHMA

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If a possibly weakened West Ham will have any chance of overcoming the Gunners on Sunday, then the player could well look to Said Benrahma. The Algerian forward made a huge difference when he came on in the second-half. His well-struck effort from about 25-yards nearly pulled the Hammers’ level on the night, and his tireless energy, enthusiasm and off-the-ball runs certainly caused Oliver Glasner’s side problems in the closing stages of the tie.

It’s safe to say the former Brentford winger hasn’t enjoyed the best of campaigns in his first season in East London, but the 26-year-old has certainly shown glimpses of what he’s about, but its time he performs consistently if he is to go on and become a key figure in future for David Moyes.

Nine goals and six assists in 43 games for the club in all competitions really isn’t a bad return for the forward, considering he’s most been deployed from the bench all season. However, if he is to claim a starting berth in the starting XI in the near future, then a good impactful and influential showing against Arsenal on Sunday could take him a long way to finally showing David Moyes that he can be relied upon to be a key and pivotal figure for the club next season.

GRANIT XHAKA

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It is certainly a surprise to count Granit Xhaka as a key man to watch ahead of this fixture, especially considering the star and youthful quality ahead of him in the Arsenal team. But their two big wins over Chelsea and Manchester United may not have been so comfortable had it not been for the Switzerland international.

The former Borussia Monchengladbach man, who’s been a much-maligned figure throughout his Emirates career showcased his undeniable qualities against the Red Devils last weekend, killing off the tie with a superb long-range effort but also proving a dominant and reliable figure in the middle of the park alongside Mohamed Elneny.

According to SofaScore, he successfully completed 94% of his passes, had 82 touches, won two of his three aerial duels and registered two interceptions, and picked up an impressive average rating of 7.6, the joint-highest out of both teams alongside Bukayo Saka and Cristiano Ronaldo. If Arsenal are to indeed finish in a top-four spot come the end of the campaign, they would need Xhaka in top fettle, especially in the absence of Thomas Partey. Long may these huge performances continue.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Fabianski (GK); Coufal, Johnson, Zouma, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Yarmolenko, Vlasic, Benrahma; Antonio.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale (GK); Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Xhaka, Elneny; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah.

SCORE PREDICTION

West Ham vs Arsenal: 1-3












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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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