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Premier LEague

Man City vs Chelsea: Match Preview

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As the weeks pass, our favorite league is becoming more exciting to watch as the Premier League clubs and their managers face the mammoth task of managing their teams without key players who are serving national duties in AFCON and making sure that the available players get ample of rest between cup games and the league. Premier League has many sub-races in the title race and one of them is the top 4. Things are getting exciting here, as what looked like an easy berth for Chelsea, the top-4 spot is now being challenged by multiple clubs.

A big task on Thomas Tuchel will be to cement his club’s position on 2nd when they face table-toppers Manchester City in their on oil -*cough* backyard. Although the German manager has an upper hand against Guardiola in terms of their history against each other, last time they locked horns, Guardiola made sure that people still find his name as a synonym to ‘the best’ as his side outclassed Chelsea in the 3-0 encounter.

The result of this match will be crucial for all the clubs present in the top 5 as a Manchester City win would open up opportunities for the likes of West Ham and Arsenal to climb up the table by closing on the points gap. Whereas Chelsea’s win may not change much in terms of the top 4 race but, stealing points from City means giving audiences hope of an exciting title race.

WHEN & WHERE?

Date: January 15, 2022.
Kick-Off: 12:30 pm (UK)
Venue: City Of Manchester ‘Etihad’ Stadium, Manchester.

OFFICIALS:

Referee: Craig Pawson.
Assistant Referees: Lee Betts and Richard West.
4th Official: Jon Moss.
VAR: Darren England.
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.

TEAM NEWS:

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Manchester City got hit by a COVID-19 outbreak and had to isolate 7 first team members as well as Guardiola and Lillo. It remains to be seen the number of players recovered in the mean time.

John Stones is returning from a knock while his fellow Englishman Phil Foden along with Zinchenko are believed to be isolating. Riyadh Mahrez has flown to Africa to fulfill his commitments in AFCON. Ederson was spotted in training means he will likely be 1st choice going into the game while Nathan Ake could make way for Spaniard Aymeric Laporte in the backline.

Tuchel will have some regular players miss out this fixture as Chilwell, Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah miss due to injuries and knocks. Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy will be an absentee due to AFCON tournament. Kante and Thiago Silva could start the fixture as both recovered from Covid-19 last week. This game asks for experience and hence, Alonso could be handed the starting place ahead of Malang Sarr.

Rest assured, Kai Havertz will be recalled in the starting lineup ahead of Timo Werner.

ANALYSIS:

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Last time around we saw Guardiola field a good quality lineup against Swindon despite many first team players not included in the squad. But, this time he is not facing any normal English side, it’s Tuchel’s Chelsea who snapped away Guardiola and City’s dream of winning Champions League from them. Guardiola is expected to field his best available XI and we may see some players from the squad against Swindon Town keep their place in the starting lineup.

Guardiola, as he has did for almost all the matches will play a strikerless 4-3-3 formation. As Chelsea are a team who are also comfortable in winning the ball back, Guardiola will likely field a lineup of players comfortable in keeping the possession. Likes of Jesus, Bernardo Silva and Gundogan will have big responsibility on their shoulders to keep the ball in their feet and let Kevin De Bruyne travel to important positions of the play.

Absence of Algerian wizard Riyadh Mahrez may affect Guardiola’s natural game plan and hence, we could see him making some minor yet crucial changes in regular tactics for the game.

Chelsea has enjoyed a disappointing run of form in last 5 Premier League games. Tuchel’s side has won just once and drew the rest in those weeks. This sudden dip in form has resulted in Manchester City extending their lead to sit comfortable at the top of the table. Tuchel will look to reinstall his dominance against Guardiola amid all the odds.

Looking at high defensive line of Manchester City, Tuchel will likely field Mount and Havertz on the wings / inside forward roles as the duo can exchange quick passes while simultaneously moving forward on the pitch. To add more intensity to the press, Lukaku can be recalled in the lineup as the Belgian has put everyone’s sorrows behind now.

Handling the mobility of Manchester City’s midfield will be a big task for Jorginho and Kante or Kovacic but, the Italian star knows how to work against such midfield and hence this is going to be an exciting match for a normal football spectator.

KEY PLAYERS

Kevin De Bruyne

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Manchester City’s ever present star Kevin De Bruyne has started to make his performances matter in the end results of the match. Belgian maestro has a good record against Chelsea and he loves to score against his first English club. City fans will be expecting him to find the back of the net as many times as this modern day rivalry is one of the most important fixtures in calendar year. De Bruyne will probably have a mixed role, as he has the license to roam free inside the box but, his favorite position has been to be on the flanks and just behind the edge of the box. With quick forwards like Foden and Jesus in the team, De Bruyne is the ideal player to initiate the move for Manchester City.

He will likely come up against Jorginho and Kovacic and hence, fellow midfielders Rodri, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan will be expected to keep the Chelsea duo busy.

Thiago Silva 

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Problem with Chelsea currently is that they are leaking goals in games where they are expected to keep the clean sheets. Absentees of Rudiger and Reece James has caused them problem to protect themselves from the edge and hence, it will be down to Thiago Silva to take Chelsea out of any danger. Despite the age, Thiago Silva has been a top class player for Chelsea this season and the blues will be expecting him to defend with high intensity when he goes up against Manchester City’s attack.

As City are not providing any physical threat, Thiago Silva specializes in handling technical players well, Tuchel will expect him to take charge of defence and dig them out of any potential Manchester City attack.

PREDICTED LINE UP:

MANCHESTER CITY: 4-3-3: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Sterling.

CHELSEA: 3-4-2-1: Kepa, Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Havertz; Lukaku.

         












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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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Premier LEague

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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