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How Nketiah could be the final piece in Potter’s masterplan

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In the past two seasons, the conversation amongst Brighton faithfuls has been the signing of a new prolific forward, at least a 20-goal-a-season genius that would put an end to Brighton & Hove Albion’s xG hoodoo that has been hunting the club.

This season Brighton have had an encouraging start losing four League matches however, lack of astute finishing has denied the side draw some games (against Leeds, Arsenal, Newcastle, and the likes) which would have been a win if they’ve had a clinical forward.

In fact, Albion are one of the lowest goalscoring teams with 20 goals in 19 games so far this season. Most of their goals have been shouldered by Neal Maupay who has heavily been criticized for his lack of finishing ability.

This season the French forward has found the back of the net (7) with better xG than last season and despite missing glaring goal opportunities, his work rate can never be undermined, and his general hold-up play has been very good thus far. He thrives better when drops deeper to make space for willing runners like Trossard but that hasn’t solved Brighton’s major Achilles heel.

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Though, Ex Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Gary Stevens suggested in an interview that Albion’s struggles in front of goal Albion will improve through Graham Potter’s playing style.

He disclosed to Argus: “Albion are a more potent side this season than they were last season when you look at the chances they create. The opportunities to score goals that they regularly create and consistently produce and Potter knows the current trend will change.

“They might not have scored as many as they should have recently but it will turn and those opportunities that are going wide or being kept out will start going in. In the training ground [Neal] Maupay, [Danny] Welbeck and [Aaron] Connolly need to be working on all sorts of finishing.

“Make it familiar to hit the target with a good strike, be it with the laces or the side of the foot, make it muscle memory. It is the life of a goalscorer in the Premier League, they have times where they find it hard to put the ball in the back of the net.”

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Unfortunately, the fans are becoming impatient with the board and the manager in the search for a permanent solution to the team’s goalscoring woes, and the January transfer window is seen as the perfect time to put an end to that.

Graham Potter was recently asked if there was a need to sign a striker in this window and the manager replied: “It’s something that has come up often in press conferences so I’m used to the question. I’ll always say the job of the football club – myself included – is to always try and improve.

“But just because you identify something, it doesn’t mean a) there’s a person out there that fits the structure of the club, b) is available and c) can make a difference.

“We have Danny Welbeck coming back from injury, Neal has played 80-odd games for us and scored 22 goals. That’s one in four as he’s adapting to the Premier League and he’s getting better with experience.

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“It’s too easy to look for an external solution but I understand when we’re not scoring, that’s the question and that’s what people want. I want to think they [the fans] trust Tony Bloom (chairman), trust the football club, they see the journey the club has been on – ten years ago it was in Division One – so what the club has done in that time is amazing, and they’ve done that by making good, responsible decisions and that will continue in recruitment.

“If we spot a player that can improve us, we’ll do that but at the same time it’s really important to understand the players we have and the journey they’re on – they are still going to make mistakes and get better – so there’s a lot to be happy and excited about. It’s not all doom and gloom.”

Getting an old-fashioned type of center-forward whose sole responsibility is to find the back of the net has become a rare commodity in modern football. Nowadays, teams have resolved in creating chances and scoring goals without focusing solely on their number nine.

Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard haven’t been consistent enough in front of goals. Amassing 20 goals in 19 league matches (1.05 goals per game), Brighton & Hove Albion have found the urgent need to get a striker that could sniff and convert a goalscoring opportunity without missing many chances. That’s where Eddie Nketiah comes in.

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The Arsenal Hale End academy graduate and England Under-21 forward’s future has dominated the headline since his refusal to extend his contract at the club beyond the current expiring date in the summer.

The lack of game time under Mikel Arteta has obviously played a huge role in his decision to seek an escape route in order to have more first-team matches under his belt.

Several clubs like Bayern Leverkusen, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, and most especially Brighton have been pointed out to be after the Englishman this winter.

As quoted by The Metro, Darren Bent opined that Nketiah would “suit” Brighton over Crystal Palace:

“The Palace one surprises me when they have Benteke and Odsonne Edouard. That surprises me a little bit,” Bent said.

“But Brighton, that is all they are crying out for. They play some of the nicest stuff. Danny Welbeck scored the other week, but his fitness has been an issue. Neal Maupay is like a patchy striker. He would have a period of scoring in three games here and then won’t score for a while.

“But Eddie Nketiah, all Brighton need is someone to stay in and around the box, then they will finish them off. Nketiah, for me, is a natural goalscorer, who will pick up them positions. Out of those two clubs, he suits Brighton. Eddie Nketiah, I’ve been a big fan of his. I’ve watched him play for the England Under-21s and he’s hungry, he’s got a point to prove.

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“He’s been offered a contract at Arsenal and he’s turned it down, he wants to play football and he’s not been given many opportunities. But I’m not sure leaving Arsenal at this time is the right thing to do. You look at the situation with Aubameyang and Lacazette is out of contract.

“I actually think he’s better than [Folarin] Balogun, personally. He’s a London boy, he’s been at the club for quite a while. I’d like to see him being given more opportunities at Arsenal. The way he scored his goals, and his movement are exceptional. It reminded me of Ian Wright a little bit. People can say what they want about me saying that, but he was bright, he was too shifty for the defenders.”

Since making his debut for Arsenal in 2017 against BATE, the London boy has made 71 appearances and scored 18 goals for the Gunners despite coming from the bench on most occasions.

As it stands, Arsenal might reluctantly let go of the 22-year-old forward for a minimal fee rather than losing him as a free agent during the summer.

The fight for his signature would definitely go down the wire but a move to Annex Stadium seems the perfect fit for him owing to Potter’s style of play and the team’s seamlessness in creating goalscoring chances.

         












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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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