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    Joe Jones
    Another busy period in the Premier League as last weekend's fixtures are quickly put in the archives and preparations for the midweek matchday begin.
    What can we expect from the first set of Matchday 17 fixtures, which take place on Tuesday night? Football Manics takes a closer look.
    Burnley vs. Stoke City (7:45pm)
    Burnley's impressive form shows no signs of abating. They bounced back from the unlucky defeat at Arsenal with victory over Bournemouth, then bounced back from losing to Leicester City with a solid win over Watford to keep them fifth in the form table.
    Stoke, meanwhile, were hammered 5-1 by a Tottenham Hotspur side that effectively took their frustrations out on the Potters in the weekend game, and a trip to Turf Moor is not an ideal fixture to try and bounce back.
    Sean Dyche's side have kept five league clean sheets at Turf Moor this campaign and conceded just three goals, although they have only scored six goals at home, the fewest of any club bar bottom-of-the-table Swansea.
    Mark Hughes's side, meanwhile, have only managed two wins and 10 points from their last 16 away games, while overall, their tally of 16 points after 16 matches is their lowest at this stage of a Premier League season.
    Can Stoke do it on a cold Tuesday night in Burnley? My opinion is no, they cannot.
    Score prediction: 3-1
    Crystal Palace vs. Watford (8pm)
    Good job Roy Hodgson's side can set about trying to rectify the weekend's result - which saw a greedy Christian Benteke take an unauthorised injury-time penalty against Bournemouth and duly failed, costing the Premier League strugglers three points and a chance to keep off the bottom of the table - right away.
    The Eagles are 12th in the form table at present, with one win, four draws and a loss from their last six - it's amazing that they're still bottom, but such was the harm done earlier in the season that it's a miracle they're within reach of safety.
    In fact, Palace could equal their Premier League club record of six consecutive home fixtures unbeaten on Tuesday night - and both of their league wins and all 10 of their goals this season have come at Selhurst Park.
    Watford, meanwhile, have seen their impressive form tail off in the last three games, due in no small part to tricky fixtures against Manchester United, Spurs and Burnley, but Palace away, while not the banker it used to be, is still very much a winnable fixture.
    Marco Silva's side have won only one of their past five away games but have still amassed 13 points on the road in 2017-18, which is one more than they managed across the whole of last season.
    Score prediction: 2-2
    Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea (8pm)
    Huddersfield have won three of their last four home games in the Premier League, with the only defeat in this run coming against first-placed Manchester City. However, their win against Brighton at the weekend was their first in six league games.
    Credit to David Wagner for having turned his newly-promoted side - which at the start of the season were seen as dead-certs for the drop - into a well-drilled outfit which has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.
    Chelsea, meanwhile, are reeling from their shock defeat to West Ham United last time out, which saw Antonio Conte effectively throw in the towel in the title race - and at 14 points behind Man City, it's no real surprise.
    The Blues have already dropped 16 points in their 16 Premier League games this season - they only dropped 21 in the whole of 2016-17. And they could also fail to score in consecutive league games for the first time under Conte.
    Relations between manager and club seem to be worsening, with the Italian unhappy with his team's summer transfer window recruitment and not seeming too optimistic for January, and his mention of the players being tired at West Ham (ie we couldn't replace them) is very much a case of playing a broken record.
    With that said, a Huddersfield side well up for it against a depleted Chelsea side which continues to toil with their second game in four days but should be more focused than against the Hammers, I think the points will be split.
    Score prediction: 1-1
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    Joe Jones
    Bayern Munich have threatened to take legal action against a German newspaper after the Bundesliga club was linked with a January move for Bernd Leno.
    The Bavarian giants currently have both first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and back-up Sven Ulreich on the sidelines at present.
    A date for Neuer's return remains unclear with some reports suggesting he may not feature until March due to a foot injury, while Ulreich pulled his thigh muscle ahead of Saturday's 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
    That meant Ulreich was forced to leave the pre-match warm-up and hand Tom Starke his 100th league appearance – the 36-year-old having come out of retirement when Neuer got injured in September.
    German outlet Bild had reported that Bayer Leverkusen keeper Leno was set to switch to the Allianz Arena, but Bayern have responded to the allegations.
    "The Bild newspaper claims in its current issue that Bayern Munich want to sign Bernd Leno from Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen 'in the winter break'," a Bayern statement read.
    "This reporting is without foundation. Bayern Munich will take legal action."
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    Joe Jones
    Chelsea have been drawn against five-time European champions Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.
    Although arguably the toughest draw, the Blues managed to beat Barca in the 2011-12 semi-finals before lifting the trophy at the end of the season.
    Tottenham Hotspur will face Serie A title-holders Juventus, Liverpool will take on Portuguese side Porto, Manchester City are up against Basel, and Manchester United will meet Sevilla.
    Defending champions Real Madrid have drawn Paris Saint-Germain in arguably the most illustrious tie of the round of 16.
    A record five English teams progressed from the group stage this season.
    Chelsea were the only English team to make it through as runners-up, with the other four sides all topping their respective groups.
    The group winners will be away in the round of 16 first legs on 13/14 and 20/21 February, and at home in the return matches on 6/7 and 13/14 March.
    The final will take place in Kiev on 26 May.
    Meanwhile, in the Europa League, Celtic have been drawn against Zenit St Petersburg in the last 32 of the Europa League.
    Arsenal, who won their Europa League group and were one of the seeded teams, will face Swedish side Ostersunds FK.
    The first legs will be played on 15 February and the second legs will be played on 22 February.
    The final will take place in Stockholm on 24 May.
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    Joe Jones
    Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho reportedly had water and milk thrown at him in a row following Manchester City's derby win at Old Trafford.
    It is understood the Portuguese clashed with the away players because he objected to their exuberant post-match celebrations near the changing rooms.
    The City camp supposedly reacted, with Brazil goalkeeper Ederson and Mourinho exchanging words angrily in Portuguese.
    The Red Devils boss subsequently carried out his post-match media engagements as normal and made no mention of it.
    Several national newspaper reports also claimed that Man City coach Mikel Arteta was left bleeding from his face from the melee.
    The Citizens extended their lead at the top to 11 points with the win thanks to goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi, setting a record of 14 successive Premier League victories in a single season.
    The fracas will prompt comparisons with the infamous 'Battle of the Buffet' at the same ground when former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was hit by pizza after his side beat Arsenal 2-0 in 2004.
    Cesc Fabregas recently confessed he was the guilty party on that occasion, as tempers boiled over in the title race.
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    Joe Jones
    Jurgen Klopp has clashed with a reporter after Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Everton, suggesting that the post-match interviewer had little understanding of the game of football.
    The Reds dominated proceedings in Sunday's Merseyside derby at Anfield and led through a superb first-half strike from Mohamed Salah.
    However, the hosts failed to capitalise on a string of chances to add to their lead and were pegged back when Dejan Lovren appeared to push over Dominic Calvert-Lewin for a penalty.
    Wayne Rooney duly converted from the spot for his first Mersey derby goal as the Toffees left Anfield with a point.
    Speaking on Sky Sports, Klopp said: "I saw only one team today to be honest, only one playing to win for sure, I thought we have to make more...I can't believe with all the challenges, we gave no fouls, again there's (Gylfi) Sigurdsson with a foul that should be a red card. Always there is one really nasty challenge.
    "But there is only one team playing and you give such a penalty, unbelievable. Yes. Calvert-Lewin makes a step in this direction and even then there is nothing. You give the penalty then one team can celebrate and we can't.
    "I told the referee I didn't understand this, I didn't use one swearing word, but I can't believe in a game like this, with one team trying for 95 minutes, everything to win and the other team are not even in our box, I don't know if they had a shot aside from the penalty. Then you open the door for them like this. In my understanding it is not okay."
    When the interviewer suggested the decision might have been 'soft' but correct, Klopp said:  "Lovren doesn't make a challenge. Calvert-Lewin makes a step. The hand is on the back. If you think it is a penalty say so. Does my opinion change anything?
    "I only want to speak to people with a little bit of understanding about football. I am sorry, I am wrong and you are right. Obviously I am not in the mood to answer questions."
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    Joe Jones
    Ki Sung-yueng has put contract talks on hold in order to focus on Swansea City's fight against relegation from the Premier League.
    The South Korea international, who sees his Swans deal expire next summer, was an influential figure as the Welsh outfit ended a two-month wait for a victory with a 1-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion.
    Wilfried Bony's late strike on Saturday took Swansea off the bottom of the table, and Ki insists that focusing fully on clinching survival is more important than sorting his own future out.
    "We have not talked with the club, we just want to focus on these games," said Ki is quoted by Sky Sports as saying.
    "If we are out of the relegation trouble then maybe it will be a better time to talk.
    "In the club the concentration has to be on these games and it is the same for me. I am relaxed about my situation and I will work as hard as I can to help this team."
    Ki, who has made 140 appearances in five years at Swansea, is able to talk to potential suitors from next month.
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    Joe Jones
    Borussia Dortmund have confirmed the sacking of head coach Peter Bosz after less than six months in charge.
    The 54-year-old was dismissed on Sunday in the wake of Dortmund's shock 2-1 defeat to Werder Bremen, which left the Schwarzgelben 13 points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.
    Former Ajax boss Bosz, who replaced Thomas Tuchel in the summer, departs the Westfalenstadion with the team seventh in the table after a run of nine games without a win which stretches back to October 24.
    Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke in a statement: "Last night, in a conversation with Peter Bosz, we decided that we would release him with immediate effect. It was very emotional, but also respectful.
    "On behalf of all at Borussia, I would like to thank Peter Bosz. We still consider him a great coach and person."
    At the same time, Peter Stoger has been appointed as his replacement until the end of the season, despite being sacked by FC Koiln earlier this month with the club bottom of the Bundesliga.
    "I'm really happy to be coach of this team and to be in this stadium," Stoger, whose first match will be away at Mainz on Tuesday, said at a press conference after his appointment.
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    Joe Jones
    How many times have we heard the words "Super Sunday" applied to any old set of games that take place on the seventh day?
    This weekend, however, I reckon the moniker is justified, given that two of the biggest derbies in the Premier League take place this Sunday.
    And one of these will go a long way towards determining the trajectory of the title race - will it be a procession or will it open up?
    Here are Sunday's Premier League games, as previewed by Football Manics.
    Southampton vs. Arsenal (12pm)
    The Gunners were humbled in the league against Manchester United last time out, losing despite dominating in the kind of manner reminiscent of, say Germany against Gibraltar.
    However, they did claim a morale-boosting 6-0 win over BATE Borisov in midweek, with the first-team players rested and the various fringe players giving Arsene Wenger a nice selection headache.
    On Sunday they will face a Southampton side boasting an in-form Charlie Austin but suffering a poor run of form as a collective, having won just one of their last six league matches.
    Although the Gunners have only won two of their seven away league matches this season, I can't imagine Saints will be able to withstand their powerful attacks.
    Score prediction: 1-4
    Liverpool vs. Everton (2:15pm)
    Had this game taken place just a few weeks ago, it may well have been a foregone conclusion, but Everton have won their last three games and are now being managed by Sam Allardyce, hard-to-beat extraordinaire.
    Liverpool, however, have one of the most powerful attacks in world football at present and are scoring goals for fun - 40 in their last 11 matches, to be precise, and are unbeaten in six league matches, winning five and scoring 19.
    And then there's that old adage of the form book going out of the window in derby games, but even then, Liverpool have dominated on that front - Liverpool could equal their longest unbeaten run in all competitions against Everton of 15 games.
    In addition, Everton are without a win in 17 Premier League matches at Anfield, and have won just one of their 21 top-flight games against the Reds.
    It'll be a proper blood and thunder clash - the fixture has had 21 red cards in the 50 PL meetings so far - and there will probably be flashpoints, and I reckon Everton could do just enough to leave with a point. It won't be pretty though.
    Score prediction: 1-1
    Manchester United vs. Manchester City (4:30pm)
    It is testament to Man City's sheer dominance this season that, with the exception of one, all the managers of the other traditional Premier League title challengers have thrown in the towel.
    That exception, Jose Mourinho, is arguably the only man who can stop this season's title race from effectively being a done deal before the Christmas shopping is even complete, with Man United "only" eight points behind the Citizens.
    City are unbeaten in the league this season but did lose their first game of the campaign in midweek when they were beaten 2-1 by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
    United, meanwhile, are on the longest current unbeaten home run in the Premier League (24 games). But to whom did their last defeat come? That's right, Man City.
    Will we see a repeat of the Arsenal v United game, where the hosts dominated proceedings but still fell to defeat? I think Mourinho's men can do it - defend for their lives and strike a lone killer blow.
    Score prediction: 1-0
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    Joe Jones
    Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed that his latest Ballon d'Or award confirms his status as "the best player in history".
    The Portugal international was crowned the world's best player for a fifth time on Thursday evening, taking him level with Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
    Ronaldo added another Champions League and La Liga crown to his collection last season and was also named the best male player at the 2017 Best FIFA Football Awards.
    As such, the 32-year-old believes that he should now be considered the greatest of all time.
    "I'm the best player in history, in the good moments and the bad ones," he told France Football.
    "I respect everyone's preferences, but I've never seen anyone better than me. I have always thought that. No footballer can do the things I can. There's no player more complete than me.
    "I play well with both feet, I'm quick, powerful, good with the head, I score goals, I make assists. There are guys who prefer Neymar or Messi. But I tell you: there's no one more complete than me.
    "No one has won as many individual trophies as me. And I'm not speaking just of the Ballon d'Or. That says something, doesn't it? It's not just a result of the work I do in the gym, like some people think. It's the sum of many things.
    "Legends like Floyd Mayweather and LeBron James don't get to their perfect level by chance. Many factors coincide. To be at the top and to stay there, you have to have more talent than the others."
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    Joe Jones
    Thibaut Courtois has revealed that he plans to return to Spain in the future for family reasons.
    The Chelsea goalkeeper spent three years at Atletico Madrid, winning four trophies, including La Liga and the Europa League.
    Courtois' two children are being raised in the Spanish capital, and he has suggested that he could look to move closer to them.
    Speaking to television station La Sexta, he said: "Everybody knows that due to my personal situation, Spain attracts me. If it is not now, it will be in some years."
    With 18 months left on his Chelsea contract, Courtois has emerged as a transfer target for Real Madrid.
    However, the 25-year-old insisted that he is not paying attention to the transfer speculation surrounding him.
    He added: "No, I am calm. I am happy at Chelsea. I just want to wait because now there are many games and I prefer to have my head focused on that."
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    Sebastian Sternik
    It’s time for yet another Bundesliga Preview with crucial games taking place both at the top and the bottom of the table.
    Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Schalke 04 (Saturday)
    We kick off with a huge game at the top of the league between 3rd placed Schalke and 4th placed Gladbach. Having failed to qualify for a European cup competition last season, both teams enjoyed a quiet mid-week period. Both are also quite evenly matched having enjoyed good recent spells.
    Schalke failed to beat bottom of the table Köln last week however, the 2-2 draw extended their unbeaten run to 8 games. Gladbach, on the other hand, suffered a 3-0 loss to Wolfsburg last weekend; only their 4th defeat all season.
    Prediction: Schalke 04
    Borussia Dortmund vs. Werder Bremen (Saturday)
    Bremen might be second to bottom in the table but don’t be surprised to see many bookmakers offering short odds on Die Werderaner to win; after all, they are the ones coming into this game in better form.
    Florian Kohfeldt’s side have won two of their last three and they’re beginning to chase down their closest rivals in the relegation fight.
    Dortmund meanwhile, are still in a rot. Peter Bosz’ side are without a win in 7 and their Champions League run came to an end this Wednesday having won just 2 points from 6 group games.
    The only thing going for them here is history with Werder losing all of their last 10 visits to the Signal Iduna Park.
    Prediction: Borussia Dortmund
    FC Koln vs. Freiburg (Sunday)
    Speaking of the relegation fight, FC Koln take on Freiburg in a must win game this Sunday. Stefan Ruthenbeck will be taking charge of his first league game as the Koln manager and there is a growing feeling among fans that anything but the three points will do against fellow strugglers Freiburg.
    In head to head meetings it’s the visitors who hold a slight advantage with 4 wins from 5 however, they have lost eight of their last nine away league games.
    Prediction: FC Koln

    Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayern Munich (Saturday)
    The league leaders recovered from their defeat to Gladbach a fortnight ago with 3-1 victories over PSG and Hannover 96.
    Frankfurt meanwhile come into this tough encounter with some mixed results under their belt. Niko Kovac’s side have won two, drawn two and lost one of their last five Bundesliga games. What’s more they’re taking on a team which has had their number over the years.
    Since the turn of the millennium, Frankfurt have only recorded 3 wins over Munich. Will we see a fourth this Saturday?
    Prediction: Bayern Munich
    Hamburger SV vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Saturday)
    We are guaranteed goals in this fixture. How do I know? Here’s an amazing stat. In all the years that these two sides have played each other, there has never been a goalless draw. And with both teams hitting form, we’re looking at a potential game of the week contender.
    Hamburg’s two wins in four has taken them within touching distance of 11th placed Wolfsburg. The visitors though are also looking good with two wins from three.
    Prediction: Draw (But obviously not a 0-0)
    RB Leipzig vs. FSV Mainz (Saturday)
    Leipzig seem to have hit a road bump this week having lost two consecutive games; first a 4-0 loss to Hoffenheim followed by a 1-2 defeat to Besiktas.
    They will be desperate to get back on track in this game and expectations are high having picked up 16 points from an available 18 at the Red Bull Arena.
    Mainz have also lost 2 on the bounce but with them in a precarious position in the league, they cannot afford too many slip ups.
    Prediction: RB Leipzig
    Hannover 96 vs. Hoffenheim (Sunday)
    A stroke of tactical genius from Julian Nagelsmann saw his side thrash Leipzig 4-0 last week. However, that was only their second league victory in six; a record the team will be looking to improve.
    Hannover have also won 2 league games from 6 but overall, their fans have been happy with the way their side has marked their return to the top flight. Part of their success has been their home form having lost just one of their six home games.
    Prediction: Hoffenheim
    Augsburg vs. Hertha Berlin (Sunday)
    Augsburg will be looking for their third straight league victory when they take on Hertha Berlin this Sunday. However, Manuel Baum’s side have struggled against the Old Lady in recent times, failing to net in all five previous meetings.
    Despite that, they are the team in form and are odds-on to break that run.
    Predictions: Augsburg
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    Joe Jones
    Matchday 16 of the Premier League gets underway on Saturday lunchtime with a tasty derby between West Ham United and Chelsea, and finishes on Sunday with the Merseyside derby and the Manchester derby.
    What can we expect from Saturday's fixtures? Football Manics takes a closer look.
    West Ham United vs. Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30pm)
    Although West Ham remain winless under David Moyes, who is set to keep Adrian in goal in place of Joe Hart, there were signs of improvement during last Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.
    However, they still have plenty of injury concerns, not to mention low morale from their poor position in the table, and Chelsea is hardly the ideal opponent to follow up with.
    Antonio Conte's side are unbeaten in their last seven league games, winning six of them, and have regularly gotten the better of the Hammers, losing just twice in the last 22 encounters.
    Score prediction: 1-3
    Swansea City vs. West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 3pm)
    Swansea are bottom of the table for the first time this campaign with just two wins and goals continue to be at a premium, with just eight in 15 league games.
    West Brom start the day four points and two places clear of bottom-club Swansea, a gap they will be keen to build on as new manager Alan Pardew goes in search of his first victory.
    A crucial match for both sides, Paul Clement's side could either find themselves seven points from safety or leapfrog the Baggies to safety depending on other results, but I reckon the visitors will come good and strike a severe blow to Swansea's survival hopes.
    Score prediction: 0-2
    Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City (Saturday, 3pm)
    Spurs are looking to end a run of four games without a win in the Premier League as they welcome Stoke to Wembley, but will have to do so without the suspended Davinson Sanchez.
    Mark Hughes's side recently put an end to a four-match winless streak of their own by coming from behind to see off Swansea, although they were made to work hard by one of the division's most underwhelming teams.
    With the hosts' attention shifting off the title due to their stuttering form, plus playing at home and boasting a talented squad eager to get back to form and show what they're capable of, I see Spurs overpowering their opponents and claiming all three points.
    Score prediction: 3-0
    Crystal Palace vs. Bournemouth (3pm)
    Palace are boosted by the return to fitness of Yohan Cabaye, Scott Dann, James McArthur and Wayne Hennessey as they have a chance to climb out of the drop zone - something seemingly impossible when they were pointless and goalless not long ago.
    As fixtures go, playing at home against Bournemouth is a fairly kind one, given their inconsistent form, although they are unbeaten in their last three away league matches an have kept back-to-back clean sheets on the road.
    The Eagles, meanwhile, are unbeaten in four league games, and are four unbeaten on their own turf, scoring twice in each game. It's a hard one to call but I fancy Roy Hodgson to mastermind a crucial win.
    Score prediction: 2-1
    Burnley vs. Watford (Saturday, 3pm)
    A clash between two of the season's surprise packages, Burnley and Watford sit seventh and eighth in the standings.
    The Hornets have been good away from home, while the Clarets' home record isn't the best, so that would suggest a win for the visitors, but as we've seen all season, it's hard to call any game involving these two teams.
    I expect both teams to be really solid with a moment of magic to separate this game - will it be Chris Wood or Andre Gray - a former Hornet - for the hosts, or Richarlison for the away side? I'm going to give the home side the edge here.
    Score prediction: 1-0
    Huddersfield Town vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (Saturday, 3pm)
    Huddersfield go in search of back-to-back wins against their newly-promoted rivals when Brighton travel to the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday.
    The Gulls suffered a heavy 3-1 defeat on their last trip to the to Huddersfield and are without a win in four, but are two points and four places above their opponents ahead of kickoff.
    Another game with little between both sides and thus being hard to call, I'm going to go for a draw (watch one side thrash the other now).
    Score prediction: 1-1
    Newcastle United vs. Leicester City (Saturday, 5:30pm)
    Newcastle will look to put an end to a woeful six-game winless streak when a resurgent Leicester travel to St James' Park on Saturday.
    Rafael Benitez's side began the campaign brightly but have lost five of their last six to slip to 15th in the table, while the Foxes are looking for a third win in a row.
    In addition, Newcastle could fail to score in three consecutive Premier League home matches for the first time since February 2014, while Leicester have gone five away league games without a defeat.
    I expect the hosts to put in a good performance but not good enough to get a result against a side currently rediscovering the form of the 2015-16 season.
    Score prediction: 1-3
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    Joe Jones
    We're edging ever closer to the halfway point of the season and into the festive period, which means a feast of football that will make your eventual turkey indulgence seem tame in comparison.
    Matchday 21 of the Championship is nearly upon us, so let's have a quick glance at this weekend's fixtures and have a go at predicting the results (kickoffs Saturday 3pm unless otherwise stated).
    Sheffield United vs. Bristol City (Friday, 7:45pm)
    First up is a very tasty Friday night clash between fourth-placed Sheffield United and third-placed Bristol City. Both sides exceeding early-season expectations, both like to attack - although City's recent form has been better than United's - so I'm going for a score draw.
    Score prediction: 2-2
    Hull City vs. Brentford
    Nigel Adkins' first match in charge of Hull, he needs to get an immediate reaction from his demoralised players against a team doing well for themselves and having rebounded from their collapse at QPR with victory over Fulham. Dean Smith's side to edge it.
    Score prediction: 1-2
    Fulham vs. Birmingham City
    Both sides are in the middle of an injury crisis and not having the best time in the league at present, but with Birmingham playing away, languishing in the drop zone and potentially in need of drafting in the under-23s, it should be straightforward for Fulham.
    Score prediction: 2-0
    Barnsley vs. Derby County
    Barnsley have lost their last four on the bounce and haven't won in five, plus captain Angus MacDonald is still ill and unlikely to feature. Derby have no fresh injury concerns and should have too much for the beleaguered Tykes.
    Score prediction: 1-3
    Nottingham Forest vs. Bolton Wanderers
    Forest come into this game on the back of two league defeats, conceding four at Ipswich, while Bolton claimed three very valuable points against Barnsley last time out. That said, I see the Reds edging this with Kieran Dowell to play a key role.
    Score prediction: 1-0
    Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Sunderland
    A team flush with cash, quality players and a top manager who bagged the MOTM award for November against a side bereft of money, quality and morale. Chris Coleman may be overseeing some shoots of recovery but away at Molineux, I can't see them getting anything.
    Score prediction: 3-0
    Burton Albion vs. Preston North End
    As if things weren't difficult enough for bottom-placed Burton already, their injury woes show no sign of letting up, with Lloyd Dyer, Sean Scannell, Matty Lund and Joe Mason all doubts, while Jamie Allen has been given time off due to a family bereavement. Preston, meanwhile, are welcoming players back - should be a routine win for them.
    Score prediction: 0-2
    Middlesbrough vs. Ipswich Town
    Despite the quality in their squad, Boro's form has taken a downturn and they're off the playoff pace, having lost three of their last four, with Ipswich above them in the table. The Blues have won their last two so they'll be fancying this, but I think they'll cancel each other out.
    Score prediction: 0-0
    Aston Villa vs. Milwall
    Villa's automatic promotion hopes are in danger of slipping away, with Wolves and Cardiff now well ahead in the top two, despite Steve Bruce's side still very much in good form. They're desperate to keep chasing and a game against Millwall, yet to win on the road this season, is very much a home banker, despite Villa's injury issues.
    Score prediction: 2-0
    Queens Park Rangers vs. Leeds United
    QPR have only picked up one point from their last five games - and that from two goals down against Brentford - and are in danger of slipping further towards the drop zone, while Leeds will be eager to bounce back from their failure to beat Aston Villa, and I reckon they'll pile more misery on Ian Holloway and co.
    Score prediction: 2-3
    Norwich City vs. Sheffield Wednesday (Saturday 5:30pm)
    Norwich's form is one of the worst in the division, having been in playoff contention at the end of October but are now closer to the bottom three than the top six. Wednesday are in the middle of an unbeaten run but four draws have also seen them slip downwards. More of the same for both sides I reckon.
    Score prediction: 1-1
    Reading vs. Cardiff City (Monday 8pm)
    The final fixture of gameweek 21, Neil Warnock's side will be hoping to keep up the pressure on Wolves away at Reading. Both sides are unbeaten in their last four and the Bluebirds are hoping to extend their winning run to five. Warnock's experience plus a team in brilliant form means Cardiff should be able to get the better of Jaap Stam's side.
    Score prediction: 1-2
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    CJ
    This week in League Two, top of the table Luton Town play hosts to 2nd placed Notts County at Kenilworth Road.
    Both teams come in form with neither losing in their last three games, whilst the Magpies will be hoping to retake top spot.
    3rd placed Accrington Stanley could narrow the gap between the top three with a win themselves, provided that they can see of play-off chasing Swindon Town.
    The fixtures could largely refine the shape of the league’s standings as the gruelling festive period begins.
    Accrington Stanley vs. Swindon Town (3:00pm)
    Neither side's form has been what it should be coming into this game, although Accrington slightly edge it in terms of their last six games.
    Visitors Swindon will be hoping to rectify this, and a win could see them reclaim a place back in the play-offs.
    Score prediction: 1-2
    Cheltenham Town vs. Crewe Alexandra (3:00pm)
    A win for Crewe Alexandra could see them gain ground from the bottom four, a result which would naturally give them breathing space from strugglers Barnet and Chesterfield who sit a mere 3 points away.
    Cheltenham, meanwhile, could move two places higher themselves with a win on Saturday.
    Score prediction: 1-0
    Chesterfield vs. Barnet (3:00pm)
    Either team that wins could find themselves out of the relegation zone, as the League Two strugglers battle head-to-head on Saturday.
    Barnet would slightly consider themselves favourites, although the home advantage could finally see Chesterfield lift themselves off the foot of the table.
    Score prediction: 0-2
    Colchester United vs. Exeter City (3:00pm)
    Colchester United had started the season quite brightly, however a string of poor results has seen them dip to the mid-table.
    Visitors Exeter City could find themselves in the automatic promotion slots provided other results go their way.
    Score prediction: 0-1
    Crawley Town vs. Mansfield Town (3:00pm)
    Visiting boss Steve Evans will be hoping that his nomination for the League Two manager of the month award will not burden his players focus, as they have a chance themselves to claim as high as fifth.
    Crawley Town's form has dipped of late but are presented with a chance to gain ground on safety if they win.
    Score prediction: 2-2
    Grimsby Town vs. Forest Green Rovers (3:00pm)
    This fixture a few seasons ago would have been played out within the National League, the two former non-league teams will most likely make the fixture difficult.
    However, I fully expect Grimsby Town to have enough quality on the day to narrowly edge out a good result for themselves.
    Score prediction: 2-1
    Luton Town vs. Notts County (3:00pm)
    A difficult tie for both teams, Luton Town will naturally be on high after their impressive performances of late which has seen them take the top place.
    Visitors Notts, meanwhile, will be hoping re-take the position themselves.
    The game, however. will most likely be quite tense and I feel they will cancel each other out.
    Score prediction: 1-1
    Morecambe vs. Coventry City (3:00pm)
    Coventry City have been suffering a fairly dry patch as of late.
    The promotion favourites have struggled within games you would class a typical ‘League Two fixtures’ and Morecambe are about as average as they get within the league.
    However, a solid performance by the visitors is likely to be on the cards which could see them fight for a place in the play-offs.
    Score prediction: 1-4
    Newport County vs. Carlisle United (3:00pm)
    A stubborn fixture sees Carlisle United take on Newport County, both sides will not underestimate the importance of controlling the game from within midfield and the Rodney Parade stadium can be a difficult place for an attacking minded team to visit.
    Score prediction: 2-3
    Port Vale vs. Cambridge United (3:00pm)
    Struggling Port Vale play hosts to 13th placed Cambridge United, with 11 points between them.
    Vale haven’t quite adapted to life back within League Two after suffering from relegation, whilst Shaun Derry’s United have been finding this term harder themselves.
    Score prediction: 2-0
    Stevenage vs. Wycombe Wanderers (3:00pm)
    Promotion favourites Wycombe will be hoping to cast aside a difficult Stevenage who are quite physical within possession.
    A win for either side will naturally aid their promotion hopes but I see the visitors claiming a straightforward victory.
    Score prediction: 1-3
    Yeovil Town vs. Lincoln City (3:00pm)
    Lincoln City have adjusted quite well to League Two football, although Yeovil Town are a tricky outfit within the lower tier and they’ll be hoping to climb three points on Saturday which would see their highest league position of this campaign.
    Score prediction: 1-0
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    Joe Jones
    Arsene Wenger has admitted that the Premier League title is "not realistic" for Arsenal at present and is just happy to take it one game at a time.
    The Gunners are fifth in the table, 15 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, and were handed an embarrassing 3-1 defeat by Manchester United last weekend despite dominating the game.
    With other managers having all but given in any hope of catching the Citizens, such as Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur, now Wenger has shifted focus to "different worries".
    Despite the Premier League title race very much a procession at present - and if Manchester United do not win the derby, even more so - Arsenal are still in the EFL Cup and Europa League and will get their FA Cup campaign underway against Nottingham Forest next month.
    "At the moment we have different worries than the title," Wenger told reporters. "After such disappointment, you have to think about winning the next game.
    "We are too far from the title at the moment to speak about the title. It's not realistic. Let's try to win our next game and over a longer distance see if we can come back."
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    Aneesh
    Another exciting weekend of Spanish football is here. Some big games are coming up this weekend including Real Madrid v Sevilla and Villarreal v Barcelona.
    Let us now go through the 10 fixtures this weekend.
    ALAVES v LAS PALMAS
    Gameweek 15 will begin with the Friday night game between 2 teams in the relegation zone.
    19th placed Alaves welcome 18th placed Las Palmas. A win for either side can take them above the relegation zone depending on other results.
    Both teams won their respective fixture in gw 14 and this will be a massive showdown. Hat-trick hero for Alaves last weekend Ibai Gomez will be up for it. Jonathan Calleri is the top scorer for Las Palmas this season with 5 goals.
    Prediction - Score Draw
    GETAFE v EIBAR
    8th placed Getafe host 13th placed Eibar at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
    Getafe became the first team to beat Valencia this season and Eibar as well come into this game in some form winning their last 3 fixtures in the La Liga.
    Getafe have been hot and cold at home this season winning 4 and losing 3 while Eibar away from home have just faced defeats in 2 out of 7 games.
    Prediction - The narrowest of home wins
    REAL MADRID v SEVILLA
    The first massive clash of the gameweek is the 2nd game on Saturday evening at Santiago Bernabeu between Real Madrid and Sevilla who sit at 4th and 5th spot in the table respectively.
    Sevilla come into this game after winning their last 3 matches whereas the Madrid giants have drawn 2 of their last 3. Surprisingly both draws were goalless which is not what we expect from Zinedine Zidane's men.
    Marco Asensio and Isco are top scorers for Real so far with 4 strikes. Surely the now 5 time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo has to increase his goal tally which is stuck at 2 right now.
    Prediction - Real Madrid cannot afford to drop points now so expect them to beat Sevilla
    DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA v LEGANES
    17th placed Deportivo welcome surprised package Leganes who sit at 7th spot in the table at the Estadio Riazor.
    Cristobal Parralo's side are just 2 points above the relegation zone and badly need a couple of good results to release some pressure.
    Lucas Perez, the Arsenal man on loan at Deportivo, is their top scorer with 4 goals and has to take responsibility for this game as well.
    Prediction - Draw
    VALENCIA - CELTA VIGO
    High flying Valencia, who have just suffered their first defeat of the season last weekend at Getafe, face 10th placed Celta Vigo at Estadio Mestalla on Saturday night.
    This game can turn out to be a goal fest as Valencia are 2nd top scorers in the league with 33 goals while Celta are 4th best with 28 goals.
    Simone Zaza has been sensational and has already scored 9 goals for Valencia this season. Iago Aspas is also flying high this season and has scored 8 already for Celta Vigo.
    Prediction - Home victory for Valencia
    REAL SOCIEDAD - MALAGA
    9th placed Real Sociedad welcome basement dwellers Malaga at Anoeta Stadium.
    The visitors have suffered defeat in all of their 7 away games this season whereas La Real have won just 2 of their 7 home games.
    Willian Jose is the top scorer for La Real with 7 strikes while the goals not coming frequently for Malaga, Uruguayan Diego Rolan has struck 3 times.
    Prediction - Home win for Real Sociedad
    REAL BETIS v ATLETICO MADRID
    11th placed Real Betis host 3rd placed Atletico Madrid at Estadio Benito Villamarin.
    Atleti are not having a great season but are still unbeaten in the league and have the joint best defence conceding just 7 goals in 14 games while Betis have conceded 4 times more - 28 goals.
    Great chance for Diego Simeone's men to win this game and hope to close the gap on Barcelona and Valencia. Antoine Griezmann is expected to increase his goal tally which is at 5 right now.
    Prediction - Away win for Atletico Madrid
    LEVANTE v ATHLETIC BILBAO
    14th placed Levante welcome 16th placed Athletic Bilbao at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia. Athletic Club held Real Madrid to a goalless draw last week but their last win came in gameweek 8 when they beat Sevilla at home. Levante and Bilbao both have won just 3 of their 14 games so far and have scored 14 goals each. This is really a game between out of form and short of confidence sides.
    Prediction - Goalless draw
    VILLARREAL v BARCELONA
    Sunday night's game promises to be a cracker as 6th placed Yellow Submarines welcome the league leaders to Estadio de la Ceramica.
    Villarreal are without a win in 3 games but can be expected to give Barca a tough fight.
    Barcelona were surprisingly held at home by Celta Vigo last weekend but are still unbeaten.
    Cedric Bakambu tops the scoring charts for the home side with 9 goals and no prizes for guessing the top scorer for Barca. Hint - he's the best in the world.
    Prediction - Barcelona win
    ESPANYOL v GIRONA
    The last game of this weekend is the Monday night fixture between 15th placed Espanyol and 12th placed Girona at the RCDE Stadium.
    Quique Sanches Florez' team is not doing really well which is bit of a surprise. They have just scored 11 goals in 14 games and 8 of those came from Gerard Moreno (5) and Leo Baptistao (3).
    Uruguayan Cristian Stuani is the top scorer for Girona. The ex-Boro man has scored 8 times so far.
    Prediction - Home win for Espanyol
    The La Liga Santander action resumes tonight and we expect some very interesting games which can have a massive impact on the league standings. Adiós.
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    Joe Jones
    Rangers have confirmed that Graeme Murty will remain in temporary charge until the New Year following Derek McInnes's decision to stay at Aberdeen.
    McInnes was expected to seal a move to Ibrox after missing training for the last two days for reported talks with Dons chairman Stewart Milne.
    However, the 46-year-old chose not to join Gers and, in a statement, Aberdeen wrote: "Following weeks of speculation, Aberdeen Football Club can confirm that the management team of Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty will be remaining at Pittodrie."
    McInnes added: "I've had a lot to consider over the last couple of days and I appreciate it's been a testing time for everyone, including my family, and I'm pleased to be now totally focusing on purely on-the-field matters."
    In response, the Light Blues put out a statement of their own which read: "The position of Rangers manager requires an ability to win football matches and the mentality to cope with the demanding off-pitch environment that goes with being the Rangers manager. This is a critical aspect of our assessment of any candidate during the interview process.
    "We endorse (McInnes's) position because moving to a massive club like Rangers is a big step with concomitant risk. We continue to consider candidates but will only appoint someone in whom we have full confidence and who feels he is ready for the job.
    "In the meantime, we have great confidence in Graeme Murty, who will continue as interim manager at least until the end of the year. The manner in which he has approached this task is a credit to himself and the club."
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    KennethNordgard
    As the holiday season is approaching yet again, what better tip for a gift than a footballing video game for us football fanatics?
    We’ve been spending time with both EA's FIFA and their Asian competitors in Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer. Looks like this is the year to consider buffing the budget when it comes to investment in pixelated joy on the pitch, because this race is closer than ever.
    While being nowhere near close in some aspects, continue reading to find at what we enjoyed and not with each game.
    You might want to try something new, or just haven’t got around to making the right priorities regarding your spare time, but you never know, Santa might think you’ve been good this year, and indulging in a plethora of modes and magic might just make your Christmas better than ever.
    License to thrill
    There’s no way around it, even in late 2017, the licensing is horrible in Pro Evolution Soccer. That is, if you’re not a die hard Borussia Dortmund, FC Barcelona or Liverpool fan. These teams have an official partnership with the PES franchise, and thus are represented in menus and fully kitted throughout the game.
    Other than that, names such as Middlebrook, Man Red and East London ruin the experience. But fear not, you can still download a neat little option file on PC and PS4, to have all the squads fully kitted and with the correct names.
    FIFA has no problems here, there’s a wide array of licences, far larger number of players, and to top that off, you needn’t worry about those annoying made up teams coming to crash the Champions League party. Oh wait, Champions League is where Pro Evo 2018 shines, yet again. The anthem playing loudly is almost reason enough to invest in it.
    When it comes down to making a choice, the choice is made for you if you own an Xbox One, because without names, badges and kits the game is ruined. If you have a PS4 or PC, the gap is somewhat smaller, but FIFA comes out the clear winner in the representation of diverse clubs and leagues across the world. Pro Evo has an ace up its sleeve with the UEFA licenses, but this year that’s not enough to compete.
    Visuals
    Merely a detail for hardcore gamers, but nevertheless important for the casual gamer, graphics.
    Pro Evolution still sticks with the FOX engine, while FIFA has refined their usage of the Frostbite engine first seen in the series with last years iteration. Both provide detail and depth, and it might be a matter of perception or what you prefer.
    We however have to dig deeper to find the real winner. Both games look stunning, but also stunningly different. The attention to detail has been given an overhaul on both fronts, and the stadiums look wonderful, too bad for Pro Evo that it is vastly outnumbered in real stadium appearances. The crowd also has seen some changes, more notably so in FIFA, where they actually feel more alive than ever, it feels like there are people watching the game, not cardboard cutouts. PES has some ground to cover there.
    On the pitch it's a different story though, FIFA’s cutscenes are perfected to the point of, well, perfection. But during gameplay the frame rate and detail level drops to worrying points. It seems the Frostbite engine is implemented where there’s a linear and predictable scene playing out, but diminishes both in detail, color and clarity while playing matches. PES has a more fluid look, and the difference between cutscenes and gameplay is not as harsh.
    It comes down to what your eyes like, but the pitch is where it matters to me, and PES has the edge there.
    Gameplay and user interface
    This is where the magic happens, this is where what you do affect what goes down on-screen. Make no mistake about it, this year is so close the two competitors can feel one another’s breath down their spine.
    PES for me has been far superior in the last couple of years, nothing specific, but it feels like football, it feels like what you are doing and thinking is implemented, it feels like your intuition and tactics matter. FIFA has struggled with players being bound to invisible rails, and not feeling dynamic enough.
    This year PES hasn’t changed much, it still feels good, with a few tweaks to the physical impacts and dribbling with more ease. FIFA has however taken one giant step towards doing something similar. There’s a fluidity I’ve missed in previous years, and the passing system has been vastly improved to make the pace of the game more realistic and entertaining.
    This one also comes down to what you prefer, but for me PES still has a slight advantage on the pitch. Especially considering FIFA still for some reason is scripted to death, meaning that you can play the match of your life and still lose because you’re meant to, or play blindfolded and win big because the game says so.
    The menus are a completely different story,  there’s really not much to say. EA have created a set of menus that are screaming for attention and clearly there’s some top dollar invested in polishing and refining them. Pro Evolution studio Konami are recycling an already dated user interface, it feels old, outdated, and frankly, a bit uninspiring.
    In short, PES wins on the pitch, FIFA demolishes the opponent off it.
    Modes
    FIFA also has the upper hand when it comes to modes, with Ultimate Team still proving to be top class entertainment. MyClub in Pro Evo is also good, but a bleak imitation compared to FUT.
    The twist here is though, that building a FUT squad worthy of your godlike playing skills is both time consuming, and an inevitable investment of real life cash through micro transactions. In MyClub you’ll still be able to build a decent squad without divorcing your wife and leaving your friends to deal with the outside world; for a casual gamer that’s a plus, but for the core demography of football fans with time on their hands FUT wins big time.
    We also have to mention the Journey, where Alex Hunter continues his, erm, journey towards greatness. The story is far from captivating, but there is at least a story, and you have some influence as to how and where it plays out. It’s a one off, much like the campaign in FPS games, where you play it just to get online as soon as you’re finished.
    Online is where FIFA climbs atop a mountain gazing down to see Pro Evo stuck in the mud miles down, there’s hardly ever a problem finding matches, whereas Pro Evo has apparent issues in matchmaking and stability. That is however natural, considering the 2017 versions sales show FIFA selling 40 times more copies worldwide. That gives them a fruitful community, and also shows in the FUT app available for your smartphone, I’m not even going to mention that when it comes to Pro Evo…
    Career is something most players indulge themselves in at some point, and based on what you prefer both games can be great entertainment. The attention to detail in FIFA outclasses PES somewhat, and the menus are much better, but playing for actual Champions League qualification has a ring to it which cannot be replaced by “Champions Cup”.
    FIFA has come up with a negotiation system where there’s a real-time interaction between the clubs managers, negotiation price and clauses, this is a breath of fresh air, but in time you’ll leave it up to the assistant stating your maximum price, or minimum if you’re selling. PES handles all this for you, and it feels like you never have any say in whether negotiations are successful, as you just get the sum quoted and say yes, no, or renegotiate terms. Bummer…
    In addition to that, you’ll find good players not registered due to licenses floating around signed for West Brom or Hull, imagine Arturo Vidal signing for Ipswich with Manuel Neuer playing for Brimingham? Bummer again, takes away some realism in an otherwise entertaining mode. So FIFA is a clear winner here, no doubt about it.
    When it goes to the wire though, you’ll spend most your time on the pitch playing matches, and for me that’s an area PES still has the edge.
    So the question remains, what’s more important to you, licensing, polished menus and modes, or what happens on the pitch?
    Either way, I’m sure the two games will find their way under many Christmas trees this Holiday, and both are thoroughly enjoyable!
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    Joe Jones
    Wembley Stadium will now host a total of seven games at Euro 2020 after UEFA dropped Brussels as a venue because of stadium problems.
    The capital of Belgium has lost the right to be a host for the tournament because of delays in the construction of the 60,000-capacity Eurostadium project on the site of Heysel.
    Wembley had originally been selected to host the semi-finals and final of the competition in 2014 and will now host an additional three group games and one last-16 fixture.
    England's national stadium is one of 12 venues across Europe hosting Euro 2020 games.
    Both the Principality Stadium of Wales and Sweden's Stockholm Friend's Arena had been hoping to replace Brussels, but UEFA opted against the venues for last season's Champions League and Europa League finals.
    In response, the Football Association of Wales said in a statement: "The concept of taking UEFA EURO 2020 to 13 different countries was devised to allow smaller countries, like Wales, to have a unique opportunity of being involved in staging a major tournament. Wales has never staged a EURO or World Cup Final and this was its one and only chance of doing so.
    "The FAW complied with all of the bid requirements and has written to UEFA to request feedback on the decision so that it can understand the reasons behind the vote for future reference. The FAW wishes the FA and Wembley Stadium the very best for UEFA EURO 2020, which is sure to be a fantastic tournament."
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    Joe Jones
    Morgan Schneiderlin has admitted that he is eager to make a fresh start under new Everton manager Sam Allardyce and feels he has a point to prove.
    The former Manchester United man, who has been named in an experimental squad for the Europa League meeting against Apollon Limassol, is focused on re-establishing himself as a regular starter for the Toffees.
    Schneiderlin is targeting the dead rubber to Cyprus as a chance to impress new boss Allardyce - who has not travelled due to a long-standing medical appointment - and the rest of his coaching staff ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby.
    "Since I (started to) play football, in every game you have something to prove," Schneiderlin told Sky Sports at the pre-match press conference.
    "That is part of being a football player. Every game you have to show what you can do and there is not going to be any difference (against Limassol). We are going to do our maximum to win the game.
    "It is a game for everyone to show themselves and prove they can play. Afterwards it is going to be the manager's decision.
    "It's going to be a chance to get game time, the rhythm of playing, enjoy yourself and finish the campaign on a good note. You just have to give your maximum - that is all that you can control."
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