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Man United vs Southampton: Match Preview

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As the days tick down, the race for the top 4 spot and the relegation battle keeps heating up. It is matchday 25 of 38, and it brings us some blockbuster clashes over the weekend. One of the fixture sees South Coast based outfit Southampton travel up north to take on 13-time Premier League winners Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Manchester United have been playing some really good football over the past few games, but the results have not backed them up. They were hard done by some controversial refereeing in the last couple of games, and have been let down by some poor finishing from their attackers. However, Man United fans will be pleased to see their side play some enterprising and inspiring football, and they will hope that the team can carry out playing such type of football consistently. The Red Devils last played in the league against Burnley at Turf Moor in the midweek, sharing the spoils as the game ended 1-1. The visitors had a plethora of chances, and had the ball in the net twice before both goals were ruled out. They now go up against a Southampton, who have had their confidence boosted by recent results, and will be up to make it very difficult for the Red Devils at home. Arsenal and West Ham’s wins in the midweek meant that United slipped down to 6th, and are in need of a win to get back into the 4th spot. They have Spurs hot on their heels and any slip-up now will be ill-afforded in the race for UCL qualification.

Southampton put up an excellent show in their 3-2 win against Tottenham Hotspurs away from home. Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl tactically outwitted Antonio Conte, and the Italian coach had no answer. Saints were unlucky to not get more goals, thanks to some outstanding goalkeeping by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The win in London meant that the Saints now have four wins from their last six games, and boast a better form than their opponents on Saturday. Thursday’s win meant the Saints climbed into 10th spot in the league table, as they look for their first finish in the top half of the table under Ralph Hasenhuttl and their first since the 2016/17 season. This week, Saints return to the ground where they were humiliated and destroyed by United last season, with the Red Devils putting 9 goals past a hapless Southampton team who were down to 9 men by the final whistle. Over a year after that fixture, Hasenhuttl and his boys will be baying for revenge against a United team that has been prone to a shock result this season. Southampton have a very poor record at Old Trafford, winning just two of 22 PL games there, and will be hoping to improve on it this time round.

WHEN AND WHERE:

Date: Saturday ,12th February 2022.
Time: 12.30 pm BST
Venue: Old Trafford, Greater Manchester.

MATCH OFFICIALS:

Referee: Stuart Attwell.
Assistants: Adam Nunn, Nick Hopton.
Fourth official: David Coote.
VAR: Jarred Gillett.
Assistant VAR: Neil Davies.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester United welcomed back midfielder Paul Pogba back into the squad last week, and he started the league game against Burnley in the midweek as well. It remains to see if he starts in a third consecutive game in the space of a week, or manager Ralf Rangnick gives him a rest in a bid to ease him back after his injury. The Red Devils will continue to be without central defender Eric Bailly as he recovers from an ankle injury sustained on international duty. Brazilian left-back Alex Telles was seen back in training after recovering from his COVID-19 positive test, however his compatriot Fred was not seen and it seems he is still isolating, and will be unavailable for the game on Saturday. After a poor performance from captain Harry Maguire in the midweek, the Englishman could make way for Swedish defender Victor Lindelof and it remains to see who Rangnick goes with.

Southampton will travel to Manchester without their defender Lyanco who faces upto 12 weeks on the sidelines as a result of a hamstring injury. Winger Nathan Redmond, goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and midfielder Nathan Tella are also set to miss out on the visit to Old Trafford. Striker Armando Broja suffered a head injury in the Saints’ midweek win over Spurs, but he was able to continue and will be expected to lineup in attack again on Saturday. Tino Livramento is a huge doubt for the game, having suffered a knee problem earlier, and faces a fitness test as he looks to return to the squad again.

ANALYSIS

BATTLE BETWEEN STUDENT AND TEACHER – WHO WILL COME OUT ON TOP?

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Ralf Rangnick has been long considered one of the greatest coaches in German football, ushering in a new era with his philosophy. He revolutionized the landscape of German football, and subsequently football across Europe with his style of play and tactics. He is credited with inspiring a whole new generation of football coaches, some of whom are now among the most successful coaches. Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp, Julian Nagelsmann, Marco Rose – the list goes on. One name among the list is that of his next opposition’s manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The Southampton coach has long been one of the proponents of Rangnick’s philosophy of Gegenpressing or counter pressing. When he first came to England with Southampton, he outlined his desires as a manager, and how his team should be playing. Not surprisingly, it was based on Rangnick’s style of play, wanting his team to play with high intensity pressing and quick transition plays. Hasenhuttl’s belief in his philosophy has never wavered, even when faced with the lowest of lows with the Saints (two 9-0s in consecutive seasons).

Against Spurs in the midweek, it was this philosophy that helped the Saints in being dominant and imprinting their stamp on the game. The 3-2 win was largely down to the way the Austrian set his team up against Antonio Conte’s side and how his players carried out their instructions to a T. Hasenhuttl set his team up in the 4-2-2-2 formation (Rangnick’s preferred formation) against Conte’s 3-4-2-1, and played a high press which saw Spurs pinned down inside their own half and unable to get out for large periods of play. The Saints overloaded Spurs’ wing-backs with 2v1s in wide area with the 4-2-2-2.

Ralf Rangnick tried to impress the 4-2-2-2 on the Man United team in his first few weeks, but found the 4-3-3 to suit his players better. Since then, the veteran German coach has slightly altered his playing style and with that the football has flowed and United are seeming more fluid as the weeks go by. On Saturday, the two come face-to-face, with the teacher facing his student in what is a must win game for the Red Devils. Saints have had some good results in the past couple of weeks and their confidence must be sky high following a huge win over Spurs. Hasenhuttl will hope to get one up over his old guru, and there is no doubt that it will be a battle of two very good tactical minds on Saturday. Man United vs Saints has provided some entertainment in recent times, and it seems set to be another terrific clash between the two. 

KEY PLAYERS:

Jadon Sancho:

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The English winger took some time to get used to the rough and tough of Premier League, but now seems set and up to pace. He has been the standout performer in the United team, and is undoubtedly their man in form right now. The £73 million summer signing, has been instrumental in attack since the January international break. He was brilliant in the FA Cup defeat against Middlesbrough, scoring his first Old Trafford goal, and then followed it up with another accomplished display against Burnley. He seems to be effective from either wing, and has linked up well with Bruno Fernandes in the midfield. He will be the one to watch out again if he starts on Saturday, and the Southampton full-backs will be wary of letting him have too much time and space on the ball.

MUST READ: Jadon Sancho – Has he finally turned a corner at United?

James Ward-Prowse:

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The Southampton captain has been in fine form, and has been one of the consistent performers in the Saints team over the past few seasons. He has especially hit form in since the FA Cup third round win over Swansea City. He has 4 assists and 1 goal in six games since that game, and has proven his threat from set-pieces time and again. Already an established free-kick taker, his deliveries from corners are also very dangerous and always find a man in a threatening position. He was brilliant in the win against Spurs in the midweek, providing two assists and putting in an amazing shift in the midfield. Spurs were cut through regularly with his passes, and he has the ability to hurt United as well on Saturday.

PREDICTED LINEUPS:

MANCHESTER UNITED XI: David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Elanga; Cristiano Ronaldo.

SOUTHAMPTON FC XI: Fraser Forster; Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Mohammed Salisu, Romain Perraud; Stuart Armstrong, James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Mohamed Elyounoussi; Che Adams, Armando Broja.












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Premier LEague

Norwich City vs Tottenham: Preview

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Norwich City host a raring Tottenham Hotspur side this weekend as the Premier League 2021/22 season draws to a close this Sunday. Having offered up an intriguing fight for the title, a place in the top-four, and a mouth-watering clash to avoid relegation going into the final weekend, gameweek 38 is expected to emerge as a major determinant for various clubs’ prospects heading into the summer transfer window.

Currently bottom of the table, having already been relegated, Norwich City will be looking to dampen Spurs’ hopes of securing top-four on Sunday. Although having secured only a point from their last five league outings, the Canaries will be hopeful of delivering a cheerful performance; remaining keen on gaining promotion back to England’s top-tier league next season.

With only two points separating them and North-London rivals Arsenal, Antonio Conte’s side will be desperate to avoid dropped points on Sunday. Having not lost a game in their five league outings heading into the weekend, Spurs remain the outstanding favourites for top-four, however, remaining wary of their tendency to succumb under pressure during pivotal moments in the club’s recent history.

WHEN & WHERE?

Venue: Carrow Road.
Date: Sunday, 22nd of March 2022.
Time: Kick-off at 16:00 BST.

TEAM NEWS

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Dean Smith will be without the services of Ozan Kabak, Mathias Normann, Josh Sargent, Kenny McLean, and Christoph Zimmermann on Sunday. Additionally, the likes of Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah are ruled out of the tie against Spurs.

Smith is expected to field the same line-up that succeeded in gaining a point against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. Teemu Pukki remains the frontrunner to lead the line on Sunday, with Brandon Williams and Milot Rashica the two players likely to push for a starting spot against Spurs.

Antonio Conte is expected to field his strongest XI in hopes of avoiding any hiccups on Sunday. Japhet Tanganga, Oliver Skipp, Matt Doherty, and Sergio Reguilon remain out of contention for the season finale while Cristian Romero will be hoping to recover in time from a hip injury in hopes of retaining his spot in the starting line-up this weekend.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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With an opportunity to improve their standings in the league table on the cards for both sides, Sunday’s mouth-watering encounter is likely to produce an intriguing watch for the neutral. Keen on salvaging a result and with nothing to lose, Norwich will be unafraid to take the game to the visitors on Sunday, while Spurs are expected to retain control of possession and dictate the game this weekend.

Having evidently lacked in quality as a result of the board’s failure to invest in the squad following their promotion, Norwich City remain the underdogs going into the tie. With Arsenal likely to pin all their hopes on the Canaries securing three points in hopes of moving into fourth place in the league table, Norwich will be looking to secure a prosperous result amidst playing with liberty and pressuring the opposition on Sunday. Although plagued with injuries, Dean Smith’s side will be looking to showcase their best in breaking Spurs’ formidable mid-block defensive system whilst finding hope in physically imposing themselves on the visitors this Sunday.

On the other hand, having secured crucial points since Conte’s appointment, Spurs will be desperate to secure Champions League football next season. Amidst the likeliness of the Italian manager’s preference to seek a different job in the summer, Spurs will be keen on cementing their place in Europe’s elite competition in a bid to retain Conte’s services ahead of next season. Having grown increasingly convincing and consistent in executing the manager’s ideas on the pitch, Spurs will be looking to keep a clean sheet whilst seeking three points on Sunday. With the Canaries having conceded a goal in each of their last seven league outings, Spurs will be hoping to avoid dropped points as they look to build a trophy-challenging squad for Conte to preside over in the summer.

KEY PLAYERS

TEEMU PUKKI – NORWICH CITY

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Having netted a crucial goal that sealed a point for the Canaries last weekend, Pukki’s tendency to find space between the centre-halves is likely to trouble Spurs this weekend. Although in the driving seat heading into the fixture, the visitors will be wary of the Finnish international’s ability to find goals at crucial junctures, although having kept consecutive clean sheets ahead of the game on Sunday.

HEUNG-MIN SON – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

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Only a goal behind current-top scorer Mohamed Salah (22) in the race for the golden boot, Son will be looking to improve his tally of goals on Sunday. Having been vital to the team’s results since Conte’s appointment, the South Korean’s overall ability in providing goal contributions amidst being an omnipresent threat on the pitch remains a potent weapon to be utilized by the visitors on Sunday. Additionally, having registered six-goal contributions in his last five league outings, Heung-min Son is likely to play a pivotal role in determining the result this weekend.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

Norwich City (3-4-2-1) – Tim Krul; Sam Byram, Grant Hanley, Ben Gibson; Max Aarons, Billy Gilmour, Mathias Normann, Brandon Williams; Jonathan Rowe, Milot Rashica; Teemu Pukki.

Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-2-1) – Hugo Lloris; Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Ben Davies; Emerson Royal, Rodrigo Bentancur, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Ryan Sessegnon; Dejan Kulusevski, Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane.



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Brighton vs West Ham: Match Preview

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It’s the last matchday in the Premier League with still a lot to play for with the title race, UCL places, UEL places, Conference League places and the relegation places yet to be decided. As the league heads into its final fixture, West Ham travels to the South coast to take on Graham Potter’s Brighton & Hove Albion.

Brighton are having a blistering end to their season with the Seagulls losing only once in their last 8 games having defeated Arsenal, Tottenham and Man United in this unbeaten streak. They are on course for a 10th placed finish this season and a win or a draw against David Moyes’ Europe chasing Hammers will do the job for them. West Ham United on the other hand are 2 points behind Manchester United in 6th and will look to take all 3 points from Brighton to clinch a Europa League berth sending the Red Devils to next season’s Conference League.

The clash at the Amex Stadium has really all the ingredients to be an interesting watch with both the home team looking to finish the campaign with a win in front of their supporters while the visiting team looking to play in the Europa League once again next season.

When and Where?

Date: 22nd May 2022.
Time: 3:00 PM (GMT).
Venue: Amex Stadium, Brighton.

Team News

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Graham Potter will be without Jeremy Sarmiento and Jakub Moder who are out with injuries. Tariq Lamptey, Adam Lallana and Adam Webster made a cameo in the last match off the bench and could be in contention to start for the Seagulls. Enock Mwepu is expected to return from injury and also be in contention to start on Sunday.

Michail Antonio was subbed off in West Ham’s last game against Manchester City and is set to remain on the sidelines for the game at Brighton. Benrahma is expected to be back in the starting XI having missed the game against Man City due to an injury. Moyes is expected to field a strong XI to do the job and hopefully secure a Europa League spot for next season.

Match Analysis

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Brighton have deployed a 3 at the back system for the majority of the season with yet another impressive season in the top flight. Graham Potter has played an integral role in his team’s improvement this season with the Seagulls set to finish 10th  (depending on Brentford and Newcastle’s result )or 11th, their highest finish since their promotion to the top flight in the 2019/20 season. Unexpected wins against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United have proved that the Seagulls are capable of defeating the big boys in the league. The rampant 4-0 win against Manchester United was certainly the best performance under Graham Potter. Ralf Rangnick’s men had no answers to the problems Brighton caused them which saw the Red Devils put their Europa League qualification into further jeopardy. Potter’s men haven’t been at their best at home with only 1 win in their last 9 games.

David Moyes certainly will have to go all guns blazing for this fixture with the chance to once again compete in the Europa League next season. This season’s campaign in the competition saw the Hammers bow out of the semi-finals against Eintracht Frankfurt who went on to win the trophy. The visit to Brighton will not be easy with both the teams sharing the spoils in the reverse fixture in December.

Key Players

Jarrod Bowen

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The Englishman is having his best season in the Premier League with 12 goals and 12 assists this season. The winger has been key to his team’s attack and stepped up remarkably when Michael Antonio was injured for a lengthy period mid season. Bowen has certainly drawn attention from England manager Gareth Southgate and with the World Cup just around the corner, a potential call up for the 25 year old could be on the cards.

Marc Cucurella

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The 23-year-old has been sensational under Graham Potter with the Spaniard winning the club player of the season and players’ player of the season. He has hit the ground running in the Premier League after his move from Getafe in the summer. His versatility has been put to good use by Potter with the 23-year-old playing as a Left Wing Back and Left Center Back for the Seagulls this season. Jarrod Bowen vs Cucurella on the wings would be a fierce battle on the wings and it would be interesting to see who manages to come out on top.

Predicted XIs

Brighton(3-4-3): Sanchez, Cucurella, Dunk, Veltman, Trossard, Lallana, Bissouma, Lamptey, Trossard, Allister, Welbeck.

West Ham(4-2-3-1): Fabianski, Coufal, Zouma, Dawson, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen, Lanzini, Benrahma, Yarmolenko.












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Twist in the tale for Liverpool’s bid for Fabio Vieira

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The Reds face a major blow in their chase to sign Vieira, as the Portuguese outfit has reported that ‘Liverpool’s first right of refusal with Porto‘ doesn’t exist.

The Porto attacking midfielder has been in sublime form, scoring 6 goals while assisting another 14 goals in the Primeira Liga this season. Vieira was one of the key players in his team’s title winning campaign, this term. So much so, that the 21-year-old Portuguese midfielder caught eyes of the several big European teams.

While Arsenal had been monitoring the player’s development for some time, Liverpool were said to have been in the driving position to land the player at Anfield.  According to the several reports from the Daily Mirror, The Reds reached to an agreement with Porto that allowed them to have the “first refusal” on Vieira.

But, it seems that there is a twist in the tale, as a Portuguese news outfit namely: O Jogo, has provided further more clarity into the whole situation.

According to these reports, Porto FC are not looking to sell either Vitinha or Vieira, in the coming summer transfer market. Moreover, no side have made forward offers for any of the players. This means that, Liverpool have not reached the agreement with the Portuguese side regarding the First refusal of Vieira.

NEW VIEIRA CLAUSE

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Meanwhile, on the contrary to the Daily Mirror claims, O Jogo confirmed Vieira’s actual release clause to be £42.3m and not £12.7million. This could a huge report coming in from Portugal, as the release clause does not look in the budget of Liverpool’s scheme of things.

Having already spent an initial fee of £37m for the purchase of Diaz, it does not look sensible from the Reds point of view to pay more way more than that for a player who has not played outside of Portugal.

VERDICT

Given the recent developments in the saga, I don’t think Liverpool are going to pay this huge sum for the midfielder. And rightly so! Vieira is good, don’t get me wrong, but we do not need to pay a crazy amount like that given there are other players in the same position, of same age group, who will be costing much less.

The Reds have already reached an agreement with Fulham, that would see Fabio Carvalho at Anfield before the start of the next season. Adding to this, the Red Merseysiders are heavily linked to another wonderkid in Calvin Ramsay. So with all of these moves, I think we should not go for any more players, and look to focus on the contract renewal of the players like Keita, Mane, Firmino and Salah- who are into their last year of the contract with the Reds.












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