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Premier LEague

Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa: Match Preview

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Premier League returns to the fold, and we have an in-form Crystal Palace taking on Aston Villa. Crystal Palace were impressive against Burnley as they drew 3-3 in an end-to-end thriller of a match. Meanwhile, Aston Villa were saved by a rock-solid performance from Emiliano Martinez and late Ollie Watkin’s late heroics to secure the 3 points against Brighton.

Since Patrick Vieira’s appointment as their manager, Crystal Palace have improved leaps and bounds as compared to last season. Currently sitting on 10th, this is exactly what the Eagles’ expected from their new coach.

Aston Villa decided to show the door to their old coach Dean Smith and replaced him by a relatively young but proven coach in Steven Gerrard. Currently, sitting at an unexpected low of 15th position.

WHEN AND WHERE?

Date: 27th November.
Time: 3:00 PM GMT.
Venue: Selhurst Park.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Michael Salisbury.
Assistant Referees: Ian Hussin and Wade Smith.
Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson.
VAR: Paul Tierney.

TEAM NEWS

CRYSTAL PALACE

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Vieira will have to field his team without Nathan Ferguson (calf injury) and James McArthur (hamstring injury). Both players will need time to recover from their respective injuries. Otherwise, the manager has a fully fit squad, and Benteke’s performance along with Edouard’s amazing display against Brighton & Hove Albion could see the duo starting and the latter replacing Ayew in the starting XI.

ASTON VILLA

Aston Villa have several notable absentees but their biggest miss will be their defensive midfielder Douglas Luiz as the Brazilian is recovering from a hamstring strain. Other names include Bernard Traore and Trezeguet due to the thigh and knee injuries respectfully. There seems to be a rising competition for attacking spots in Villa as Leon Bailey makes himself ready, but the Jamaican is expected to retain his place on the bench for this game too. Steven Gerrard’s plan could see the striker duo Ings and Watkins start together.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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Patrick Vieira will look to bag all three points against Aston Villa as a victory for Palace and a potential slip-up from teams above them could result in the Eagles climbing the points table. Crystal Palace are expected to lineup in their usual 4-3-3.

Recent games have witnessed that Vieira has chosen to start Benteke in the center and Odsonne Edouard on the left. This has benefited Palace because the presence of Benteke and Edouard in the front three means Patrick Vieira will have 2 proven goal scorers in the lineup.

Milivojevic has become a crucial part of Palace’s midfield as he offers more on the ball than Kouyate. Milivojevic’s progressive passing is the key reason behind Palace’s ability to shift gears in attacking half. Also, he possesses the ability to break the press of opponents by relying on his long passing skills. While breaking the press it simultaneously stretches the field vertically to the benefits of his attacking peers.

Gallagher has been at the heart of creativity for Palace, and we can expect the same level of quality from the youngster.

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Steven Gerrard has begun his reign at Aston Villa, and he delivered a win against Brighton last week. Just like Crystal Palace, Aston Villa are a bit shaky defensively and it might be due to the absence of Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz. Gerrard has preferred his team to play with a back 4 and everything above them keeps changing with respect to the opposition.

Let us expect Aston Villa to lineup with a back 4. Most suitable formation currently for them is 4-3-3 or a modified version of it which looks like 4-1-2-2-1. Villa use their wide forwards closer to the striker which essentially nullifies the players to be termed as ‘wide forwards’. Last week we observed Danny Ings lineup with Watkins and this worked due to their positioning hypothetically being as a striker only. While Leon Bailey makes a fair shout to be in contention for the starting spot, his decision-making states either way. Buendia suits the role of 3rd forward due to his flair and creativity.

We could see England veteran Young making an appearance from the bench. The defence is expected to be the same.

KEY PLAYERS

CONOR GALLAGHER

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Conor Gallagher has had a breakthrough season on loan at Palace this campaign and the young English lad shows no signs of stopping. His impressive performances on a consistent basis have surely earned the attention of Gareth Southgate. Gallagher has been at the centre of every play that goes in the Crystal Palace and his dynamic positioning in the team makes him Palace’s greatest asset this season.

Primarily a midfielder, Conor Gallagher generally joins the attack as a shadow striker which adds another quantity for Palace’s front 3. Having Gallagher moving forward allows Zaha to stretch the opponents’ defence which in turn allows Edouard to move inside the goalkeeper’s box. It has become routine for Palace and Gallagher and now, they will look to continue their pursuit of climbing up the points table.

EMILIANO MARTINEZ

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It’s rare when a goalkeeper is listed as a key player for a specific club, but this is the case for Martinez and Villa. Martinez’s performance against Brighton helped Villa to earn a clean sheet as any slip-up or error could’ve easily changed the face of the match. Emi Martinez, since his arrival, has been a vocal presence behind the defence, and he really dominates his zone in 1vs1s as well as saving shots.

Martinez’s opponents tomorrow are a free-flowing in-form side that loves to play attacking football and he is expected to have a busy day in the box. Likes of Zaha, Benteke, and Edouard are capable to provide any and all kinds of threat for the Argentine keeper’s net.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Andersen, Guehi, Mitchell; Gallagher, Milivojevic, Kouyate; Zaha, Benteke, Edouard.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba, Ramsey; Buendia, Ings, Watkins.

         












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Premier LEague

Burnley vs Watford: Match Preview

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Burnley will be back in Premier League action for the first time since January 2, hosting Watford at the Turf Moor on Tuesday, January 18.

Just like Burnley, Watford are also struggling upon their return to the Premier League, as they find themselves without a win in their last eight matches across all competitions.

The Hornets held Newcastle to a 1-1 draw over the weekend  Joao Pedro scored late in the game to salvage a point for Claudio Ranieri’s men.

Burnley are rocked-bottom of the league table after taking just 11 points from their opening 17 games in the top-flight. Sean Dyche’s side has won just one game all season, coming against Brentford back in October.

Since then, the Clarets have struggled to find a good run of form as they only managed four draws since that win over Brentford.

A game against Watford could be the opportunity Burnley so much need to pick up their best run of form with interesting fixtures lined up for them.

After the game against Watford, the Clarets face Norwich City, West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion in their next three games.

Watford’s draw over the weekend means they are just a point above the relegation zone and Ranieri would have a lot of work to do if he does not sort out the challenges in his team.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Venue: Turf Moor
Date: Tuesday, January 18
Time: 19:30 GMT

TEAM NEWS

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If Burnley are struggling, it’s quite understandable as Dyche’s team have had some notable injury concerns. Going into the game against Watford, the team could be without Johann Gudmundsson, Nathan Collins, Dwight McNeil, Charlie Taylor, Erik Pieters, Connor Roberts and Matej Vydra. Maxwel Cornet’s absence is due to the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations while Ashley Barnes will also sit out.

Watford on the other hand also have injury concerns in their team. Kwadwo Baah and Ismaila Sarr are out due to injuries while the AFCON has taken the attention of William Troost-Ekong, Adam Masina and Imran Louza.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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Burnley may have won their last three games against Watford across all competitions with the Hornets winning only one (one draw as well), but Tuesday night’s fixture is far from the past games we have seen. Both teams seem to be struggling but Watford have fared better as compared to the Clarets.

Watford have failed to score a goal in the last three games against Burnley but that could be about ending following the likely involvements of Joshua King and Emmanuel Dennis with Pedro supporting them in the attack. The trio have been directly involved in 24 league goals already this campaign and have been the driving force for Watford. Pedro was in sight against Newcastle but the game against Burnley will need all three firing if Ranieri’s side are to walk away with the maximum points.

Burnley losing Chris Wood is a huge blow but it would now be the turn of the defence to help the team considering the departure of a key goalscorer for the rest of the season until a replacement can be brought into the team in time.

POSSIBLE STARTING XIs

Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson; Rodriguez, Lennon

Watford: Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Samir, Kamara; Sissoko, Kayembe, Kucka; Dennis, King, Pedro

MATCH PREDICTION

Burnley 1-2 Watford












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Premier LEague

Aston Villa January Transfer Window 2022: Analysis

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Aston Villa fans are getting their hopes high for all the right reasons, it seems. As the new Villa manager, Steven Gerrard, has gone all guns blazing in the winter transfer window so far.

The Liverpool Legend is slowly making his way back into the Premier League. This time as a manager of an out of confidence Villa side. The early days have not been that telling for Gerrard though. But for sure it is looking a development in progress from Villa’s perspective. The Claret and Blue faithful are pretty much accepting the style of play that their new manager has brought with him.

Although, all of the developments were ongoing. Gerrard was still looking to add some fresh new faces to his squad through this transfer window. And so far as it turns out it has been a saving grace for the Lions. And the Villa fans could be hopeful for some more signings as the team looks to get back on track.

Coutinho returns to the PL

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In the blink of an eye it happened, and it is the dream duo back together! Coutinho and Gerrard reunite, but this time for a new outfit. Gerrard has made his intentions clear, after signing Coutinho on loan from Barca till the end of the season. The deal saw the Villa fans, as well as the Liverpool faithful around the globe appreciate the move. Although, it had been 4 years since the little magician left Premier League for Spain.

Aston Villa faced Manchester United in the Match day 22 of the Premier League. It is the 68th minute, Villa are 2 goals down and you can see some of the fans already leaving the Villa Park. On comes the Brazilian from the bench to mark his return in front of thousands of Villa fans, hoping for a masterclass from their main winter signing. What happened next is just football at its most beautiful.

But you just knew it had to be him. Coutinho returns the backing by an equivalent player of the match performance. Scoring and assisting upon his return to the English top tier football, and that too against Manchester United. You just cannot write such scripts.

If this return is anything to go by, then this is surely the beginning of something very major being about to happen at Villa Park. The Claret and Blue could be in for a treat if the Brazilian performs consistently throughout the rest of the season.

MUST READ: How will Coutinho fit in at Aston Villa

Digne, the answer to defensive woes?

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Digne in French means ‘worthy’. Lucas Digne was surely worthy of being handed his debut, just after getting transferred here to Villa Park. The Frenchman made the most out of the runout, and did not fail to impress his new gaffer. Steven Gerrard could take a big sigh of relief by his sudden signing, in this creative left back from the rivals at Merseyside. As per the recent changes are concerned, the signing of the French full back just increases the competition in the squad. Matt Targett’s position has come under an obvious threat, by the addition of the in-form Digne.

But at the same time it just ensures a healthy competition in the squad for the place in the playing XI. As a manager you want your players to give their best, game in game out. But you also need to make some strong changes to just let them know that their place in the squad is not invincible, even though they have not been performing up to the billing.  Luckily for the Villa fans the Frenchman comes in buffed with experience and a lot of skill-set to offer. Gerrard’s system requires a strong a flank play. That Villa were missing. Now with the addition of Lucas Digne, it looks all sorted. But we will still have to wait and see how this deal turns out in the long term.

In hindsight the transfer market for The Lions  have surely been eventful. Although, they will be watched keenly over the coming months, as to how things are shaping up. But given a good balance, and some terrific new signings, Villa could be a side to beat as we come to the business end of the Premier League season.












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Burkina Faso vs Ethiopia: Match Preview

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Burkina Faso were gifted a lifeline to stand a chance of qualifying from Group A after beating Cape Verde in their second group game in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

The Stallions will now face Ethiopia in the last group game on Monday, January 17 as they looked to cement their place in the knockout stages.

Hassane Bande was the match-winner in the game against the Blue Sharks as Burkina Faso recorded a 1-0 win to earn their first three points.

Ethiopia’s tournament seems all over following a demolishing defeat to host nation, Cameroon in their last game. The Walyas were on the receiving end of the first four-goal scored in the competition as braces from Karl Toko Ekambi and Vincent Aboubakar ensured a 4-1 victory for the Indomitable Lions.

The last group game is crucial for Burkina Faso considering they are levelled on points with Cape Verde, who face Cameroon in their last game.

WHERE AND WHEN?

Venue: Kouekong Stadium.
Date: Monday, January 17.
Time: 16:00 GMT.

TEAM NEWS

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Burkina Faso have a number of injuries to worry about ahead of the important clash against Ethiopia. Captain, Bertrand Traore is yet to recover from testing positive for coronavirus. He missed the win over Cape Verde last week and will see out this game as well. Dango Ouattara, Saidou Simpore and Soumaila Simpore are doubtful for the game but their presence has not been ruled out.
Bande, who came in and scored as the replacement for Traore should keep his place in the team for the game against Wubetu Abate’s side.

The one-time  AFCON champions have no injury concerns for the upcoming game while Yared Baye, who received a red card in the opening game is set to return to the team after serving his game ban. With no chance left, Abate will look to give opportunities to some players who are yet to receive any appearance in the competition.

PRE-MATCH ANALYSIS

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Burkina Faso stands out as favourites in this game but they will have a lot to do to get past Ethiopia with ease. A tactically disciplined side, Ethiopia’s lack of goals has been due to their failure to take their created chances. Abate’s side have put on a good show in their opening two games, creating openings and clear cut opportunities but failing to take them.

Burkina Faso were clinical with their only big chance against Cape Verde, and if that feat will be followed, they could be gaining six points from three games. Traore’s absence may be a worry, but it should Kamou Malo’s team the needed confidence to play collectively on the attack.

PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE

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Aston Villa may not be missing Bertrand Traore after all following their return to Premier League action saw them record a dramatic 2-2 draw with Manchester United. However, on the path of the player, he may not be having a spot tournament. The 26-year-old has just one appearance and will miss the third group game due to testing positive for covid. With regards to goal contribution, Traore has just one assist and a knockout qualification could see him return to action.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Burkina Faso: Koffi; E.Tapsoba, Yago, Dayo, Kabore; Toure, Guira, Sangare; A.Tapsoba, Bayala, Bande.

Ethiopia: Shanko; Yusef, Tamene, Debebe, Hamid; Yohannes, Alemu, Dagnachew; Nesir, Hotessa, Gebremichael.

MATCH PREDICTION

Burkina Faso 2-0 Ethiopia












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