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West Ham vs Leeds United: Preview

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The Cup fever that was at its peak last week has now evaporated with teams back in Premier League action. Gameweek 22 is upon us & it promises to be an exciting one, to say the least! From a mammoth fixture at the Etihad where Manchester City face Chelsea in a top of the table showdown to the relegation 6 pointer between Newcastle & Watford, the gameweek is filled with exciting matchups at both ends of the table. The fixture in focus for today turns our attention to the London Stadium where the Hammers take on Bielsa’s Leeds United. West Ham are flying high in the league & David Moyes seems to have finally turned the club’s fortunes upside down. On the other hand, Leeds are lingering in the bottom half of the table with the pressure rising on Marcelo Bielsa & his men.

West Ham defeated the league’s bottom side Norwich City in their previous fixture that propelled the Hammers into the Top 4. Having already reached the Europa League round of 32, David Moyes’ bandwagon is riding in full swing. In contrast to all the merriment in East London, a cloud of gloom has cast its shadow over Elland Road. After a successful campaign upon returning to the top flight last season, Marcelo Bielsa has struggled to replicate past season’s performances with an injury-ravaged squad. Covid outbreaks & injuries to key players has left the high flyers of Leeds lingering in 16th, locked in a relegation scrap. Let us look at how the teams stack up against each other & what we can possibly expect from this matchup.

When & Where?

Venue: London Stadium.
Date: 16th January, 2022.
Time: 2 pm GMT.

Match Officials:

Referee: Mike Dean.
Assistant Referees: Eddie Smart & Mark Scholes.
Fourth Official: Simon Hooper.
VAR: Craig Pawson.
Assistant VAR: Darren Cann

Team News

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West Ham have managed to avoid losing their major players to Covid or injuries & it has certainly helped them in their quest for European football. The Hammers will be without the services of Said Benrahma who has departed to participate in the African Cup of Nations. Tomas Soucek missed the last league game against Norwich after testing positive for Covid but it seems that the Czech midfield general will be available for selection. Apart from this, notable absentees in the Hammers squad include the likes of Kurt Zouma, Fredericks & Ogbonna who continue to recover from major injuries.

Leeds are a side who have suffered numerous injuries to key players that has derailed their season. Marcelo Bielsa will again have to deal with the unavailability of key players as he prepares to face the mammoth task of going to the London Stadium & stealing points off the Hammers. Leeds will be without Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips, Tyler Roberts, Joe Gelhardt, Jamie Shackleton and Charlie Cresswell as they continue their recovery. However in some rare positive news, Bielsa is hoping that his talisman Patrick Bamford along with Rodrigo Moreno will be available for selection after a spell on the sidelines.

Match Analysis

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West Ham comes into this matchup in fine form having won their previous 3 premier league outings. David Moyes will undoubtedly set up his side to play on the front foot & add to the wave of elation that has engulfed the Hammers faithful. With Soucek expected to come straight into the side, Manuel Lanzini might be pushed up the pitch after starring in the midfield pivot against Norwich. With Leeds expected to play their usual brand of attacking, pressing & flamboyant football, the Hammers midfield will surely have their work cut off. West Ham will be forced to play through Leeds’ intense press but they will most probably be able to exploit the vast spaces left between the lines, especially on the counter-attack.

Leeds on the other hand have shown no signs of changing their expansive approach even after their poor run of form. Bielsa will order his troops to keep the ball & constantly progress it forwards as soon as possible. The midfielders, especially Klich and Foreshaw or Koch will be tasked with breaking the defensive lines & providing balls for the likes of James & Harrison to run onto. If Bamford returns to the starting lineup, then Leeds will finally have a target man in front of the goal & his tenacity in the 18-yard box can be used to good effect. Bamford’s indispensable build-up pay will potentially play a pivotal role in this must-win fixture for Bielsa’s men.

Key Players

Declan Rice:

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The England International has cemented his position in the Hammers setup as a deep-lying, box to box midfielder who can carry the ball forwards & also provide defensive cover for his team. Rice perfectly fits the profile of a David Moyes team which has propelled him to be the captain of his team at such a young age. His leadership & ability to galvanise the squad will be needed to resist the Leeds pressing onslaught. Rice will be tasked with breaking the opposition press & making surging runs up the pitch to join the Front Four in the attack. His defensive abilities will surely be tested with Leeds’ intricate short-passing maneuvers & he will have his work cut out while trying to follow the Leeds midfielders making late runs into the box. But with a player of his ability, Moyes will be expecting his club captain to take the game by the scruff of its neck.

Patrick Bamford:

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In a huge sigh of relief, Leeds are expected to welcome back Patrick Bamford into their squad after he successfully recovered from his injury. More often than not, Leeds have missed a target man upfront who can slot away the chances created by the forward players. Although Tyler Roberts managed to do a decent job in Bamford’s absence, it’s clear that Bamford is an indispensable figure in Bielsa’s squad. With him back, players such as Dan James, Harrison & Klich will be tasked with providing service for the English forward who will be hungry to make an instant impact upon returning to the starting lineup. If he’s at his best then Bielsa & his boys can certainly pull off a major upset in East London.

Predicted Lineups

West Ham United predicted XI: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Lanzini, Fornals, Bowen, Antonio.

Leeds United predicted XI: Meslier, Dallas, Ayling, Koch, Firpo, Forshaw, Klich, Raphinha, James, Harrison, Bamford.

         



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Premier LEague

Cameroon vs Comoros: Match Preview

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A much-anticipated game that sees the hosts and considerable favourites to win this year’s edition of the African Cup of Nations, Cameroon come up against Comoros in the round of 16 in Yaounde. Cameroon emerged victorious over Burkina Faso and Ethiopia and found the back of the net against Cape Verde in a one-all draw to top Group A with seven points.

Skipper Vincent Aboubakar netted five goals to equal a tournament scoring record for the Indomitable Lions.
On the other hand, Comoros handed a huge blow to the black stars’ chances of qualification after an intense 3-2 win which saw Ghanaian Captain Andre Ayew sent off in the first half.

After losing their first two group games to Morocco and Gabon, Comoros’ victory over the black stars saw them progress into the knock out stages as one of the best third-placed teams.

TEAM NEWS

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Cameroon have no major injuries and suspensions moving into this fixture and will look to take full advantage on the pitch with the unfortunate COVID 19 positive cases in the Comoros camp. Africa Cup of Nations giant-killers Comoros face a goalkeeping crisis before the biggest game in the country’s history on Monday.

The tournament debutants face hosts and five-time champions Cameroon in Yaounde on Monday, Unfortunately, 12 positive Covid cases including coach have struck the team. Seven players have been affected, including the two remaining fit keepers in the squad, Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada, with first-choice Salim Ben Boina out through injury. The absence of coach Abdou will be a huge blow to the side after his impressive work on this team since taking charge in 2014 and overhauled the squad. A major key to their successes.

Comoros will hope the injury of Ben Boina will not be considered extreme, considering the fact that the number one goalkeeper had to leave the field after a red-card challenge by Ghana captain Andre Ayew in Tuesday’s Group C tie.

WHEN & WHERE?

Date: 24th January, 2022
Time: 7:00 PM GMT
Venue: Olembw Stadium

PRE-MATCH ANALYSIS

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After completing a 2-1 comeback over Burkina Faso on the opening day, Cameroon went on to beat Ethiopia 4-1 in their next game. The Indomitable Lions ended their last game in a 1-1 draw against Cape Verde in their final group stage clash. With the nation’s support right behind their backs, hosts (Cameroon) look like a very tough side to beat and one of the favourites to win this competition but have many aspects of their game to improve if their hopes to cling onto the title is to be fulfilled.

Skipper Vincent Aboubakar has been absolutely vital to their current position and qualification into the knockout stages. Top scorer of the tournament on five goals and a forward who clearly understands what positioning and movement around the oppositions’ box, Aboubakar seems to be soaring and will look to find the back of the net against Comoros on Monday night. Napoli midfielder Frank Zambo Anguissa has also put in an incredible performance in terms of energy and control of the game in midfield for the hosts. On loan from Fulham, Anguissa looks to stamp his place on this tournament and an impressive performance looks likely when Cameroon takes on Comoros on Monday.

In defence, Michael Ngadeu Ngadui of Genk has found control over the back with Andre Onana in goal. Despite their efforts, the indomitable lions have conceded in every game they’ve played in the competition and this is a major concern for Antonio Concecào. On the left side of defence and attack for the indomitable lions, Nouhou Tolo has been absolutely impressed with his performance in the group stages after he replaced Abroise Oyongo in the team. Driving with enormous pace down the left flank, his overlapping runs and defensive positioning will be key against Comoros on Monday night.

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Facing Comoros seems like the favourable route to the last eight in the competition. Lyon’s Karl Toko Ekambi has also been impressive while Bayern’s Choupo Moting struggles to make his mark on the tournament. With Toko Ekambi, Choupo Moting, and Aboubakar in attack, it will be almost impossible for Comoros to not get behind on Monday night. Comoros have qualified for the knockout stages of the AFCON in their very first appearance in the tournament. They now look to pull more surprises in this tournament and the key to that mission will be upsetting the hosts Despite losing their first two games and failing to score in both encounters, a 3-2 win over Ghana was enough to secure a last 16 slot as one of the best third-placed sides in the group stage.

Comoros are one of the surprise sides to the last 16 of the competition. They have already made a mark in this tournament by knocking four-time winners in the black stars out of the competition. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that they will beat Cameroon considering their number of players out. Without finding the back of the net in any of their opening two games, Comoros scored thrice against the black stars of Ghana which saw them book a place into the next round of the competition.

A major turning point that facilitated their victory was the first-half red card to Ghanaian skipper Andre Ayew which saw them hit on the break as often as possible and eventually find the needed three points with a man as an advantage. Though this tournament has taught us to expect the unexpected it is obvious that Comoros will not get past the Indomitable lions and will crush out of the competition in the round of 16.

Pierre Kunde alongside Andre Zambo Anguissa and Vincent Aboubakar are ones to keep a close eye on in this highly anticipated fixture.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Cameroon Predicted XI (4-3-3): Andre Onana; Collins Fai, Jerome Onguene, Michael Ngadeu, Nouhou Tolo; Samuel Oum Gouet; Nicolas Moumie Ngamaleu, Pierre Kunde, Andre Zambo Anguissa, Karl Toko Ekambi; Vincent Aboubakar

Comoros Predicted XI (4-4-2): Ali Ahamada; Said Bakari, Younn Zahary, Kassim M’Dahoma, Benjaloud Youssouf; Faiz Selemani, Youssouf M’Changama, Fouad Bachirou, Ahmed Mogni; Mohamed M’Changama, El Fardou Ben

MATCH PREDICTION

Cameroon 2-1 Comoros












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Klopp Regards Star Centre Back Van Dijk In the Reds transition to title challengers

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Liverpool News: Liverpool’s January month mostly revolved around the absence of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane. Their competent defense lineup of the club, led by Van Dijk, was also in news. Taking all the fixtures into consideration, only Shrewsbury striker Daniel Udoh has scored against the Anfield club in January till now.

It looks like Liverpool will be able to survive back from the most threatened period in their current campaign. With the help of Diogo Jota, the Reds were able to score two goals against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final. Jurgen Klopp might now claim that he has found out the replacement for Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

However, even Klopp knows that the Reds are now more dependent on the defense of the team and specifically Van Dijk. Liverpool defense has become a strong foundation for the team and will be crucial in the upcoming fixtures. Liverpool is known for the level of aggressiveness they bring on the ground in every match.

Their win over Crystal Palace in December 2020 is still not forgotten. The Reds’ score decimated the opposition with 0-7 and the score would have haunted the hosts for a long time. When it comes to the question of defense, Klopp believes his side is more cautious than kamikaze. “It was 100% clear that we need to be rock solid,” he says. “Maybe you don’t see it all the time, but we are defending first.”

Liverpool News: Klopp Regards Star Centre Back Van Dijk In the Reds transition to title challengers

Van Dijk for the Reds

Van Dijk has turned out to be the most crucial player for the club in recent times. Looking back to 2020, Dijk was not at all present for the team. He suffered a ligament injury in October 2020. Klopp gave him his time to cope with that injury and the player made a good comeback from it.

In the current season at first, he missed two crucial games because of a positive Covid report. However, the Dutchman has played a strong role in all the 19 matches he has been part of. Klopp has shown his belief in Dijk and expressed trust in players’ intelligence and adaptability.

Liverpool is currently at number two in the Premier League point table. They are 12 points below the league leaders Manchester City. To end their league title camping successfully, they will have to win some crucial away games.

Liverpool News: Klopp promises to get Real Madrid Star

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool Boss, has expressed his interest in Real Madrid star Eduardo Camavinga. According to reports, the boss is trying to convince Anfield Management to get the midfielder to the Premier League.

Liverpool News: Van Dijk Has Become Liverpool's Rock
Liverpool News: Van Dijk Has Become Liverpool’s Rock

Camavinga has already been let go of by Real Madrid. The reason was only the less game time for the youngster. On a lot of occasions, the player already expressed frustration with the club. For Madrid, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro are the go-to players in most of the fixtures.

The 19-year-old made the move to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer for a reported fee of £27.9million from Ligue 1 club Rennes. According to reports by journalist Daniel Nielson, the player is the most elite class footballer at the time of his transfer.

Nielson has also claimed that Liverpool is interested in Camavinga and he is available for £50million with Florentino Perez looking to make a profit on the player.



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Guinea vs Gambia: Match Preview

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What an exciting tournament it has been for Gambia in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Gambia came into the tournament as one of two debutants but their performances in the group stage have earned them a spot in the last 16 of the tournament, where they face Guinea.

Guinea finished second in Group B, despite losing their last game in the group stage. Kaba Diawara’s men earned four points in their opening two games against Malawi and Senegal before suffering defeat to Zimbabwe. The Syli Nationals managed just two goals in their games while also conceding two.

Compared to Guinea, Gambia were unbeaten in the group stages of the competition, winning two games and drawing the other. The Scorpions were joined in Group F by Mali, Tunisia and Mauritania – advancing into the knockout stages with the first two.

Gambia are aware the game against Guinea will be quite different compared to the ones they have had to deal with in the group stage. While history has already been made, the Scorpions will love to continue writing a nice fairytale in Cameroon. Tom Saintfiet could forever be in the history books of Gambia should they manage to pull this off.

Guinea are also on a search for their first continental trophy and a win over Gambia could be the beginning of their dreams.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Venue: Kouekong Stadium.
Date: Monday, January 24.
Time: 16:00 GMT.

TEAM NEWS

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Toulouse midfielder, Issiaga Sylla played 88 minutes of action against Zimbabwe before being forced off due to an injury. The 28-year-old is a doubt for the round of 16 tie against Gambia. Diawara made changes to his starting line-up in the final group game. However, his strongest team should be available for selection on Monday, January 24. Mohamed Bayo and Josse Kante should return to the starting line-up to face Gambia.

For Saintfiet, there are no injury concerns for him heading into the fixture. However, he will have some selection headache following the performance of some of his fringe players who got the chance to feature in the final group game. Albie Jallow came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner against Tunisia and could be in line for a starting berth.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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Considering this is the first-ever appearance at the continental showpiece for Gambia, this match – a knockout game means a lot to them than it means for Guinea. The Scorpions have been the surprise package in the competition and it was quite an interesting feat finishing level on points with Mali while also beating Tunisia to the second spot.

Their fluid attack and compact defence has been key to where they have gotten to in this competition and should they keep their heads cool, a place in the quarter-final could be closer than they imagined.

Guinea have been far from convinced in the three games they have played, although the game against Senegal proved to be deciding moments for them. They have not been able to control games as much as they would like like to since the narrow win over Malawi.

PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE

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Premier League fans and Liverpool fans will be keeping an eye on Naby Keita, who has scooped two Man of the Match awards so far in the tournament. The midfield dynamo’s best performance came in the game against his clubmate, Sadio Mane while he also scored his first goal of the tournament in the loss to Zimbabwe. Progressing to the next round means he is not available for Liverpool for at least the next two games.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Guinea: Keita; Cisse, Sow, Conte, Sylla; Moriba, Diawara, Keita; Bayo, Guilavogui.

Gambia: Jobe; Touray, Gomez, Colley, Jagne; Colley, Marreh, Adams, Barrow; Jallow, Ceesay.

MATCH PREDICTION

Guinea 0-1 Gambia












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