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Burnley vs Leicester: Match Preview

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We enter game week 22, and the table is beginning to take shape, with more than half of the season played out. However, there is still a lot of football action, with the race for the European spots and the relegation battle both heating up. This week sees Leicester City travel to Lancashire to take on Burnley.

Burnley were involved in a shock 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup last weekend against Championship outfit Huddersfield Town. It has been a tough few days for the Claret fans, with the loss followed by the departure of their leading Premier League goal-scorer in Chris Wood to fellow relegation candidate Newcastle United. It will undoubtedly be a huge blow for Burnley, unless they are able to invest the rumored £20 million in a new striker. They now turn their attention to the all-important relegation battle, with the Clarets level on points with Newcastle, although Burnley have played two games less. They are 2 points adrift of safety, and every game will be important from now on. Sean Dyche’s men have won only 1 game so far, and as a result find themselves languishing in the 18th place. Burnley have managed to survive in the Premier League for the last 5 seasons, which is why the fans have faith in Dyche’s ability to get results and survive another season. However, their lack of investment in the squad has proven to be a huge factor, and they are now favourites to be relegated along with Newcastle and Norwich.

Leicester City were last in action against Watford in the FA Cup last weekend, winning 4-1 at the King Power Stadium, thanks to goals from Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton. Thed defending FA Cup champions’ squad has been hit with Covid and injuries, and they managed to put together a starting 11 last weekend. They now go against Burnley, who like them are severely depleted due to illness and injuries. Leicester City are in hot pursuit of the top 6 teams, as a poor start to the season now sees them a few points behind the European spots. The Foxes currently sit in 10th place, 12 points off 4th placed West Ham United, albeit playing two games less. An almighty effort will be needed from Leicester if they want to haul themselves back into the race, and will need to be consistent from here on out. A win against Burnley would be a step in the right direction.

WHEN AND WHERE:

Date: Saturday, 15th January 2022.
Time: 15:00 HRS BST
Venue: Turf Moor, Burnley

MATCH OFFICIALS:

Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Peter Kirkup.
Fourth official: Tony Harrington.
VAR: Lee Mason.
Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn.

TEAM NEWS:

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Burnley have a bit of a selection crisis at the moment, with several players testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of the FA Cup defeat against Huddersfield Town. Charlie Taylor, Matej Vydra, Dwight McNeil, Erik Pieters and Nathan Collins all missed out due to positive tests and will be expected to miss out on Saturday’s game as well. The Clarets are also missing their best player in Maxwel Cornet, with the forward away on international duty with Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations. Johan Berg Gudmundsson is said to be close to a return to the squad, although forward Ashley Barnes is still a few weeks away from his return.

Leicester City have similar problems, with a host of players unavailable for manager Brendan Rodgers. Defenders Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Ryan Bertrand, Ricardo Pereira and Wesley Fofana have been ruled out of the game. Along with them, midfielder Boubakary Soumare and veteran striker Jamie Vardy are also set to miss out on the trip to Lancashire. Central defender Caglar Soyuncu is a doubt, and faces a late fitness test. However, midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and defenders Luke Thomas and James Justin could be in contention to be selected. There are still doubts over striker Patson Daka’s availability, but Rodgers will hope he is able to feature on Saturday. Along with the above-mentioned players, the Foxes will be without Wilfried Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Nampalys Mendy and Daniel Amartey, with the quartet away at the African Cup of Nations.

ANALYSIS:

Lack of goal scorer to seal Burnley’s fate?

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The last few days will have come as a shock to Burnley fans, with the departure of leading goal scorer Chris Wood to relegation rivals Newcastle United. While Burnley got a good price for the striker, they lost one of their best goal scorers, which could be absolutely detrimental in a relegation fight. It is no doubt bizarre that Burnley would sell their striker in the middle of a season, to their relegation rivals, and a lack of presence up top could have essentially sealed the Clarets’ fate. With their star player Maxwel Cornet away on international duty, and a host of players missing, Burnley will have to endure a very tough month ahead now. Goals have been hard to come by for the Clarets and signing Wood could prove to be a masterstroke by Newcastle, killing two birds in one stone.

Now Burnley head into their 18th Premier League game of the season, 2 points away from safety and level on points with Newcastle United. They face a very trick period now, with games against Leicester City, Arsenal, Man United and Liverpool to come in the next weeks. Leicester City have a depleted look themselves, but it will still be a difficult task for Sean Dyche and his men. Every point counts now for the Clarets, and with half a season to go, it remains to see how the Lancashire outfit cope with just one out and out striker available. The lack of presence in the final third was evident against Huddersfield, with only Jay Rodriguez able to offer very little impact, after Wood was taken off at half-time.

Leicester City are stretched in defense, with many players ruled out, but will be hoping their make-shift XI is still enough to take on Burnley. The Foxes have a terrible away record, which could provide some solace for the Clarets in their quest to gain three unlikely points and to get out of the relegation zone. It will be a interesting few weeks ahead, and it remains to see if Burnley are able to invest Chris Wood’s transfer fee into replacing him. As for Saturday, the Clarets know what they have to do, and will be happy to take even a point from the game.

KEY PLAYERS:

Nick Pope:

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The fit-again goalkeeper will be a welcome return to Sean Dyche and all Burnley fans. He has been their standout performer over the past few seasons and has performed on a consistent basis, never letting his team down. One of the challengers to Jordan Pickford for the England No.1 spot, his performances has caught the eye of many top clubs and they will undoubtedly keep an eye on his situation if Burnley were to be relegated. He was powerless against both Huddersfield goals in their FA Cup defeat, but will hope for a better outing on Saturday. The Englishman kept a cleansheet in their last home game in the league against West Ham United, and will be looking to do more of the same against Leicester City.

James Maddison:

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Maddison has had a good couple of months and was the best player for the Foxes in December. He has found himself in and out of the team since the start of the season but has started each of Leicester’s last seven games in all competitions. He has scored 4 goals and assisted 3 in the last 6 Premier League games, and has re-established himself as the first-choice attacking midfielder in the Foxes lineup. Maddison has been in fine form recently, and looked at ease against Watford last weekend in their FA Cup fixture, when he scored in the first half, in the Foxes’ 4-1 win at home. The Englishman has come up with big performances on big occasions in the past months, with brilliant displays against Liverpool and Manchester City. The Burnley defense will no doubt be wary of the threat he possess and will be hoping to keep him quiet.

PREDICTED LINEUPS:

BURNLEY XI: Nick Pope; Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Matthew Lowton; Johan Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork, Ashley Westwood, Josh Brownhill; Aaron Lennon, Jay Rodriguez.

LEICESTER CITY XI: Kasper Schmeichel; Marc Albrighton, Caglar Soyuncu, Jannik Vestergaard, Luke Thomas; Youri Tielemans, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall; Ademola Lookman, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes; Patson Daka.

         












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Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Rangnick left to fail?

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Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Manchester United’s failure to sign their primary targets is known to everyone. The Red Devils are struggling in the Premier League. Yet, they are doing nothing to land the player’s Ralf Rangnick’s wants.

Amadou Haidara is high on Rangnick’s list of things to get. Moreover, United’s interval manager has effectively placed in calls to his old club to arrange the signing.

Rangnick is very eager to reinforce his midfield and sees Haidara, 23, as a fair securing for both the short and long haul.

Leipzig is available to sell the Malian worldwide. He is addressing his country at AFCON and has verbally agreed to a £33million charge with Rangnick right now.

Manchester United Transfer Rumours: United in danger of losing out on Haidara?

Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Rangnick left to fail?

United is yet to make a proper bid to the German club and could miss out on Haidara after all.

Their advantage has gotten the attention of Newcastle’s new owners. They are anxious to show their muscle in the January window.

That could demonstrate United’s weakness, with club bosses delaying over burning through cash while Rangnick is in charge. The United board is hesitant to give Rangnick free reign in the exchange market.

Rangnick is very irritated with United’s inability to move in the market so far, yet the fates of a few United players are yet hanging out there.

Which players want to leave United?

Jesse Lingard is out of the agreement in the next 6 months. Newcastle, Tottenham, and West Ham pursuing his signing this month. However, he could hold on until the late summer to see who is willing to pay him the wages he wants.

Paul Pogba is living in his own world. The midfielder is out injured and showing no signs of signing a new deal with the club. His deal also ends in 6 months’ time and his agent can talk to other clubs.

Donny van de Beek has additionally become baffled with life at the club. However, Rangnick has encouraged the Dutchman to remain until the finish of the season.

The possibility of Lingard or Van de Beek being sold this month isn’t with regards to the inquiry. Still, United bosses are making it difficult for the interim manager. not eager to supply Rangnick with the funds to finish his transfer business.

Is Rangnick having doubts?

All things considered, Rangnick is presently scrutinizing the degree of impact he will have on signings going ahead. His consultancy job will be starting from this summer itself.

He really loves Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria, who will be a free agent in the summer. The Swiss international is available for a meager transfer fee of 6m pounds.

Brighton’s Yves Bissouma is also scouted. However, the decision will be made in the summer window only after the appointment of a new manager.





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Liverpool Transfer News: Barcelona are monitoring Roberto Firmino as they look to replace Sergio Aguero

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Liverpool Transfer News: Roberto Firmino has had a torrid season owing to injuries. But it looks like Barcelona are monitoring the Brazilian as they look to sweep him in the summer. 

FC Barcelona signed Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in the summer. But tragedy struck the Argentine within months of making his debut for the Spanish Giants. 

The striker fell to the pitch in the match against Deportivo Alaves after he complained of chest pain. He was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia following which he announced his retirement in December last year.

Barcelona have since signed another Manchester City striker in Ferran Torres. But now they are looking to add another striker to their roster, for which they are targeting Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. 

Barcelona look to swoop Roberto Firmino in the summer

Liverpool Transfer News: Barcelona are monitoring Roberto Firmino as they look to replace Sergio Aguero

According to Spanish news outlet El Nacional, FC Barcelona are looking to sign a striker in the summer. And as per the report, the Spanish Giants see Roberto Firmino as the perfect replacement for Sergio Aguero. 

The report states that Roberto Firmino would be in the last year of his contract in the summer transfer window. Hence, the Brazilian would cost only around €20m if Barcelona were to sign him. 

Roberto Firmino has had just 4 Premier League starts in the 2021/22 season. The striker has been sidelined for almost half the games owing to injuries. Hence, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has replaced the striker with Diogo Jota in the attack. 

Jota has made the most of Roberto Firmino’s misfortune. The Portuguese forward has scored 10 goals in 19 Premier League games this season. Of which, the Portuguese have started 16. 

Roberto Firmino though has got to play a key role for Liverpool in January. With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane participating in the Africa Cup of Nations, Firmino would be leading the lines for the Reds. 

The 30-year olds resume has also been impressive with Liverpool. Having joined in 2015, Firmino has scored 94 goals in 309 appearances in all competitions for the Reds. He has also played a key part in the club winning the UEFA Champions League and Premier League titles in recent years. 

Should the Reds let Firmino leave?

As stated earlier, Roberto Firmino is in the last 18-months of his contract with the Reds. To add to this, there is still no update of an extension from Liverpool or the forward. 

Though Roberto Firmino has not scored more than 9 Premier League goals in the last three seasons, his gameplay is crucial. The Brazilian is one of the few low-lying center forwards who helps get the winger’s score. Hence Liverpool should surely try to keep Firmino if he wants to extend his stay in Merseyside.



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Algeria vs Equatorial Guinea: Match Preview

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After that disappointing game against a less fancied, Sierra Leonean side, Algeria comes up against Equatorial Guinea for their second round of matches in the group stage.

Equatorial Guinea also lost to Ivory Coast by a lone goal scored by Max Gradel very early in the game. Max Gradel’s 5th-minute opener is the fastest goal so far in the competition.

Thus, both teams come into this game without a win. A win will increase the chances of both teams towards securing qualification to the knockout stages. This match is a chance for the Algerians to get back to winning ways after being given a reality check by 108th ranked Sierra Leone earlier in the First Round of Matches.

Algeria huffed and puffed looking at a momentary lapse of concentration from the Sierra Leoneans but were left disappointed at the end of the game. The Desert Foxes created few chances and were wasteful even with the few chances they created. Bounedjah, Benrahma and Mahrez were the culprits. Algeria are on a quest to become the 4th nation after Egypt, Ghana and Cameroon to win the AFCON title back to back.

For Equatorial Guinea, this is their 3rd AFCON appearance and their 1st without being hosts. They will be seeking to equal their Quarter-final appearance at the 2015 AFCON.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Time: 7 pm.
Date: Sunday, 16 January 2022.
Venue: Japoma Stadium.

TEAM NEWS

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Youcef Belaili took a knock in the first half of the game against Sierra Leone and was therefore sluggish and lethargic.

Record goalscorer for Algeria, Islam Slimani really offered nothing to the Desert Foxes against Sierra Leone and will be replaced in the starting lineup by Baghdad Bounedjah.

PRE-MATCH ANALYSIS

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Even though they lost their opening game, the Equatorial Guinea team gave a good account of themselves and are expected to lineup in the 4-3-3 formation. They have a lot of quick players in attack who also have great shooting abilities and can wreak havoc from long range as they will be offered very limited spaces against Algeria.

The team’s weak spot is in defence as displayed against the Ivory Coast where they succumbed to incessant attacks from their Ivorian opponents. Coach Djamel Belmadi is obviously disappointed with the lacklustre performance of his team in general and how blunt his attack was.

The Desert Foxes will be alternating between the 4-3-3 and the 4-1-4-1 formation with Haris Belkebla acting as the anchorman. In a 4-3-3 formation, the Algerian front three consisting of Mahrez, Bounedjah and Benrahma will be very pacy and will maraud the defence of the National Thunder. Abdelkader Bedrane, centre-back for the Desert Foxes was also very poor, making several defensive errors in the Sierra Leone game and was hauled off.

He should be replaced by the experienced Djamel Benlamri. Bounedjah is expected to start over Islam Slimani.

PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE

RIYAD MAHREZ

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The Manchester City forward was spiritless, and passive in the Sierra Leone game. He was man-marked throughout the game and offered next to nothing to the Desert Foxes. He will need to go the extra mile to be the creative spark in the team so as to make the work of Baghdad Bounedjah very easy.

SAID BENRAHMA

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West Ham forward, Benrahrima was brought with about a quarter of an hour left to play and missed a glorious opportunity to give the defending champions the lead. He made all the needed runs and was always in the right positions to wreak havoc to the opponents. He has been rewarded a starting berth against Equatorial Guinea.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Algeria possible starting lineup: M’Bolhi; Bensebaini, Atal, Mandi, Djamel Benlamri; Belkebla, Brahimi, Boulaya; Mahrez, Bounedjah, Benrahma.

Equatorial Guinea possible starting lineup: Sapunga; Ndong, Coco, Akapo, Obiang; Salvador, Ganet, Buyla, Machin; Nsue, Hanza.

MATCH PREDICTION

Algeria 3- 1 Equatorial Guinea












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