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Premier LEague

Man United vs Wolves: Match Preview

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Manchester United host Wolverhampton Wanderers in either sides’ first league game of the new calendar year as they both look to improve their standings over the remainder of the campaign. An impressive outing against Burnley saw the Red Devils display a promising performance, while a nil-all draw against Chelsea contributed to Wolves’ ambitions of qualifying for Europe next season.

Six league games unbeaten heading into the fixture on Monday, United will be keen on improving their performances and gaining consistent results over the coming weeks. Ralf Rangnick’s side have shown signs of promise vis-à-vis to a refreshing approach, however, with the team in need of results heading into a pivotal part of the season, the game against Wolves serves as a crucial juncture in United’s ambitions over the coming weeks.

Having secured only one victory in their last five league fixtures, Wolves will be keen on witnessing an upturn in results over the coming weeks. Although Bruno Lage’s side have remained consistent in their approach, a lack of favourable results could potentially impede their ambitions for Europe heading into the final months of the campaign. Facing a promising United side, Wolves will be hopeful of causing an upset at Old Trafford later this evening.

WHEN & WHERE?

Venue: Old Trafford.
Date: Monday, 3rd of January 2022.
Time: Kick-off at 17:30 BST.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Mike Dean.
Assistants: Darren Cann, Eddie Smart.
Fourth official: Robert Jones.
VAR: Andre Marriner.
Assistant VAR: Gary Beswick.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester United

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Bruno Fernandes is likely to return to the starting line-up after serving a one-game ban against Burnley last week. Although Eric Bailly allayed fears of a potential injury, the centre-back is unlikely to find himself in contention against Wolves given his involvement in the AFCON starting this weekend. Paul Pogba remains the only name sidelined with injury, with the fellow international, Anthony Martial, too, expected to remain out of contention given his desire to move elsewhere during the January transfer window.

With Harry Maguire unspotted amongst the match-squad, United could potentially line up with Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof later this evening. Having displayed a promising performance against Burnley, Rangnick is expected to make minimal changes amidst a need for consistent improvement over the coming weeks.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

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Having been impacted with a cluster of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, Wolves will be hoping to display a comeback performance later this evening. Pedro Neto and Jonny continue recovering from long-term injuries, with the likes of Willy Boly, Hwang Hee-Chan, and Yerson Mosquera, too, out of contention for the game against United.

Rayan Ait-Nouri remains an additional name on the sidelines as the youngster continues recovering from a groin injury. With the team lacking depth in personnel, Bruno Lage is expected to retain the same XI that saw them earn a point against Chelsea, though the game at Old Trafford could prove comparatively challenging later this evening.

MATCH ANALYSIS

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With both teams in desperate need of results and consistency, Monday’s encounter could provide a palatable match-up for all viewers. While the Red Devils are yet to stumble under the new manager, the team have struggled to display convincing performances as they look to improve on their approach and execution over the coming weeks. Wolves, on the other hand, have repeatedly failed in emerging clinical in front of goal, having netted only 13 times in the ongoing campaign as they look towards finding positive results over the remainder of the season.

Having shown gradual improvement in their defensive shape under Rangnick, United will be keen on building upon the recent positives under their new manager. Facing a Wolves side proactive in possession and capable of playing through United’s compact defensive system, the Red Devils will be keen on nullifying the visitors’ midfield transitions and the impact of their attacking wing-backs later this evening. With United in desperate need of adopting a refreshing approach despite positive results, Rangnick will be keen on avoiding any hiccups over the coming fixtures.

Meanwhile, having taken only five points from their last five league games, Wolves will be keen on improving their results heading into the final months of the campaign. Facing a United side struggling for cohesion, the visitors will be keen on capitalizing on the home side’s weaknesses across the backline and midfield; hoping to impede their progression up the pitch whilst pinning their full-back backs within their own half for most of the ninety minutes. However, with the team having missed out on boxing day given a postponement, Wolves will be wary of delivering an unpalatable display later this evening.

KEY PLAYERS

MANCHESTER UNITED – SCOTT MCTOMINAY

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Amongst United’s most consistent players in recent weeks, McTominay will be expected to deliver a dominating performance on Monday. Given Wolves’ comparatively experienced and ingenious midfield partnership, the Scotsman’s tenacity combined with his physicality will be vital to United’s ball retention and build-up play later this evening.

Having been deployed in a relatively advanced role against Burnley, McTominay will be hoping to improve his output from a potentially similar role later this evening. However, with the visitors keen on a result amidst comprising a comparatively cohesive midfield, McTominay’s weaknesses and attributes are likely to be tested later this evening.

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS – ADAMA TRAORE

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Wolves’ most threatening presence in the attacking third, Traore’s pace combined with his physicality is likely to cause problems for United’s backline later this evening. Provided the visitor’s sense with an opportunity on the counter-attack, given United’s passive defending, and look to attack the space down the flanks, Traore is likely to emerge as a significant presence across the attacking front.

Although the winger is yet to find consistency in his finishing, given his ability in delivering crosses and United’s susceptibility in defending them, Wolves could potentially hurt the home side on numerous fronts. Nevertheless, provided he finds himself ahead of space on the flanks, Traore is likely to cause issues to United’s backline this evening.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Manchester United (4-2-2-2)  David De Gea; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Fred; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes; Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-4-3) – Jose Sa; Max  Kilman, Conor Coady, Romain Saiss; Ki-Jana Hoever, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Fernando Marcal; Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez, Daniel Podence.

MUST READ:

– Hwang Hee-Chan: Unconventional yet Exciting – A unique addition to Wolves’ ranks

– Adama Traore is Unique – Here’s why!

– Francisco Trincão: The Latest Addition to Wolves’ Terrifying Forward Line

         












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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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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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