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  1. Brighton & Hove Albion have completed the signing of goalkeeper Jason Steele from Sunderland. The 27-year-old, who has previously represented England at under-21 level, joins the Premier League side on a three-year deal. Steele played 18 times last season as the Black Cats finished bottom of the Championship to suffer back-to-back relegations. He becomes manager Chris Hughton's third signing of the summer, joining Romania striker Florin Andone and Nigeria international Leon Balogun. Hughton told the club's website: "We're delighted to secure the services of Jason, a goalkeeper that brings a wealth of experience, having played almost 300 games at senior level. "Mat Ryan performed exceptionally well for us in the Premier League last season and Jason's arrival will, following Niki Maenpaa's departure, restore the options we have in this position. "Jason will work with Ben Roberts (goalkeeping coach) and our other goalkeepers and I'm looking forward to welcoming him to the squad when we return for pre-season training." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  2. Chris Hughton has agreed a new contract with Brighton & Hove Albion after steering the club to a second season in the Premier League. Hughton first joined the Seagulls in 2014 and, following promotion into the top flight last year and surviving relegation this season, has now committed his future to the club until June 2021. "I'm delighted to have extended my time with the club, and I would like to thank the chairman, the board, my staff and everyone at the club, including our fans, for the support we've had in achieving our aims," said Hughton. "The set-up in terms of the training ground and excellent facilities, and the professionalism of all the staff across the club gives us a platform and creates an excellent environment for us to work on a daily basis - and I would like to thank everyone at the club for their efforts this season. "Our second season will be tougher, and we will need that spirit of togetherness to help us continue to progress - but once we've had a well-earned break and reflected on the season just gone, we will begin planning for 2018-19." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton has expressed his disappointment with the outcome of allegations of racial abuse by West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez not being proven by an independent commission. Rodriguez was accused of using "abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race" towards Brighton defender Gaetan Bong during January's Premier League match at the Hawthorns. The Baggies man denied what he described as a "false allegation" and the case was found not proven. The Football Association stressed there had been "no suggestion by any party involved in this case that this was a malicious or fabricated complaint", and said it was "completely satisfied that this was a complaint made in absolute good faith". Hughton said: "I'm disappointed with the outcome. The process by the FA and communication from the FA was excellent, so I certainly have no problem with that. "The wording in both statements, from the FA and the committee, says the right things. Some of the wording, in effect, says he (Bong) was right to make the complaint. It says it was not proven. How he has dealt with it, his own reply, shows what kind of person he is. "Everybody is going to write it how they want to write. There are particular words from both statements that suggest it wasn't improper for him to make the accusation and from both parties it's not a question of not believing what he said. "He's a very strong individual, very disciplined. You could see that by the words in his own reply. He'll look to put this behind him and concentrate on what will be a very tough end to the season." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. West Bromwich Albion striker Jay Rodriguez has been cleared over his charge of racial abuse after an independent panel ruled that Gaetan Bong's allegations were not proven. Alan Pardew, sacked as West Brom manager less than two weeks ago, defended Rodriguez in front of a three-man independent tribunal at Wembley against an allegation that the forward racially abused Brighton defender Bong in a match at The Hawthorns on January 13. Rodriguez was accused of telling Bong 'you're black and you stink' during a row in the match, but the former maintained that he said 'your breath stinks' - he had pinched his nose and wafted his hand across his face to suggest a bad smell. Rodriguez faced a five-match ban if found guilty of breaching FA rule E3, which concerns player behaviour and cites 'ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality' as aggravating factors. But after deliberating for two days an independent regulatory commission 'determined that on the balance of probabilities the allegation was not proven'. The 28-year-old had strenuously denied any wrongdoing, calling the allegation of a racial element '100 per cent false' and appointed leading lawyers and lip readers in a bid to clear his name. The three-person commission panel said: "A charge of discriminatory misconduct against West Bromwich Albion's Jay Rodriguez has been found not proven following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing. "It was alleged that during the game against Brighton & Hove Albion on 13 January 2018, the player used abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race. "Rodriguez denied the charge and requested a personal hearing which took place at Wembley Stadium. "Having considered all the evidence, the Independent Regulatory Commission determined that on the balance of probabilities the allegation was not proven." The FA said: "The FA wishes to stress that there has been no suggestion by any party involved in this case that this was a malicious or fabricated complaint. The FA is completely satisfied that this was a complaint made in absolute good faith. "The FA takes all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and continues to encourage all participants who believe that they have been the subject of or witness to discriminatory abuse to report this through the appropriate channels. "The FA would like to express its full thanks to all parties for their full cooperation during the disciplinary process." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. The Premier League season continues to edge closer to its conclusion and, indeed, this weekend we could have our champions crowd amid two of the biggest derbies in the country. How will the action pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Everton vs. Liverpool The weekend's Premier League action kicks off with a tasty Merseyside derby as an Everton side sitting nicely in the top half of the table face a rampant Liverpool team that taught Manchester City a football lesson last time out. Although they say form goes out the window in derbies, the Toffees have a poor record against their neighbours (one win in 22 league meetings) and are a worse team on paper, while the Reds are in rampant form, so I expect them to win even if Mohamed Salah is absent. Score prediction: Everton 1-4 Liverpool Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace Bournemouth have accrued 21 points in 2018, a tally only bettered by the current top four Premier League sides, and their never-say-die attitude has helped them pull clear of the bottom three, with safety very likely now. Palace remain in deep trouble, having lost five of their last six fixtures, and have won just one of their last nine league matches, plus their injury woes continue with a striker crisis, so I back the Cherries to victory. Score prediction: Bournemouth 1-0 Palace Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Huddersfield Town Brighton have lost three successive games in all competitions, all by a 2-0 scoreline, having previously been unbeaten in seven matches, but are better at home, having won three of their last four home games and scoring nine goals in the process. Huddersfield are woeful at present - five defeats in six away fixtures, eight PL defeats in 2018, seven goals scored in the league this calendar year, and 12 away games over the course of the season where they haven't scored. That said, I think there will be little between these two and I'm going for a draw. Score prediction: Brighton 1-1 Huddersfield Leicester City vs. Newcastle United Leicester are unbeaten in six Premier League home games, though their last three have ended in a draw, but their record against this season's promoted sides is good - 13 points from a possible 15 so far. Newcastle have pulled clear from the bottom three in recent weeks as Rafael Benitez looks to mastermind a great escape but despite a good defence, I think the Foxes - with Jamie Vardy back to his best - will be able to batter through. Score prediction: Leicester 2-0 Newcastle Stoke City vs. Tottenham Hotspur It looks pretty bleak for Stoke at present - 61 goals conceded this term, three defeats in a row and just one win in nine for Paul Lambert, who is running out of time to mastermind a great escape for the Potters. As for Spurs, they are on the longest current unbeaten run in the Premier League (13 games, including 10 wins), and they are the only side yet to lose a top-flight match in 2018, plus they have won five consecutive Premier League matches for the first time this season - so I can't see past an away win. Score prediction: Stoke 0-3 Spurs Watford vs. Burnley The Hornets boast a decent home form, with 11 points from their last five games at Vicarage Road, but they are winless in three games in which they have conceded 10 goals. Burnley, meanwhile, will be desperate for one final push to try and secure a heroic European place, and given they're on the brink of a fourth consecutive top-flight win, I reckon they'll play out of their skins and secure victory. Score prediction: Watford 1-2 Burnley West Bromwich Albion vs. Swansea City West Brom are absolutely done for this season, the stats speaking for themselves - eight consecutive league defeats and three wins all season are the very definition of "hopeless". In contrast, Swansea retain hope, with Carlos Carvalhal close to delivering one of the most unexpected PL miracle jobs in recent history, and even though the Swans are winless in their last five league away games, I nonetheless fancy them to defeat a side that has all but given up the ghost. Score prediction: West Brom 0-2 Swansea Manchester City vs. Manchester United Now this is one made for the script. Man City have dominated the PL this season and, whilst United will not have to deliver a guard of honour as was previously feared, they still will not want their big rivals to celebrate in their faces. Liverpool have thrown a spanner in the works though, with Man City potentially fielding a weakened team in order to focus on the Champions League return leg, which will see them needing to overturn a 3-0 deficit, so it could end up rather anticlimactic. Besides, Jose Mourinho is known for being somewhat of a "realpolitik" manager and has been known to park the bus, and so this could end up being a grind should he wish to deny City the title at all costs. I'll go with the more negative scenario and call this a stalemate. Score prediction: Man City 0-0 Man United Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  6. The FA Cup quarter-finals take place this weekend and the action is hotting up, with just eight teams left to duke it out for the grand prize of the famous, historic silverware. Two games on each day, so we at Football Manics will start with the fixtures that take place on Saturday. Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (12:15pm) Swansea are in the last eight of the competition for the first time in more than 50 years and have been in great form under Carlos Carvalhal, but will be hamstrung going into this game given Jordan Ayew, the club's top scorer, is suspended after being sent off at Huddersfield last weekend. That said, Spurs talisman Harry Kane will also be on the sidelines as he suffered ankle ligament damage during last weekend's 4-1 win at Bournemouth, while Dele Alli and Danny Rose will face late fitness tests for a side which has won its last four Premier League games in a row. Amazing though Swansea's run may have been, and even though there might be a little more focus on the FA Cup now they're in the last eight, I still think Spurs will take it more seriously, due to it being their last chance of a trophy this term, and will boast more quality than the hosts, who remain mired in the relegation fight. Score prediction: Swansea 0-2 Spurs Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (7:45pm) Man United were surprisingly knocked out of the Champions League in midweek at the hands of Sevilla but will be hoping to redeem themselves by progressing in the FA Cup, their last realistic chance of silverware this season, with Jose Mourinho confirming that he'll have the same players at his disposal that he had against the La Liga side in midweek. Brighton are still nervously looking over their shoulders in the Premier League relegation battle but they're not in massive peril so they'll be able to take this game a little more seriously than if they were in serious danger, and their only new injury concerns are Gaetan Bong and Dale Stephens, who face late fitness tests. That said, I still think United will boast more quality and desire - obviously the team is better on paper, but also the players will feel they have something to prove, plus Mourinho will have drilled the importance of this game into this players, and add to that the home advantage and it looks as though the Red Devils should come out on top. Score prediction: Man United 3-1 Brighton Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  7. An exciting weekend of Premier League action is upon us and it begins with arguably the most exciting fixture in English football. How will Saturday's games pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Manchester United vs. Liverpool The two biggest, best known and most successful sides in English football lock horns at Old Trafford and the 200th meeting between these two promises to be a fiery affair even if the title is all but gone for either side. Starting with United, they are currently second and have lost only once at home this season in all competitions, with that defeat coming against Manchester City. Liverpool, a place and two points behind, are the Premier League's form team with 25 points gained from 10 games and have lost just once in their last 20 league matches. With little to separate these two sides many are going for a 1-1 draw but I'm going to stick my neck out and fancy Liverpool's illustrious attack to punch holes in the Red Devils' defence. Score prediction: Man United 1-3 Liverpool Newcastle United vs. Southampton Newcastle, 16th in the table, have the third worst home form in the Premier League this season but they are yet to lose at St James’ Park thus far in 2018. They face Southampton, a team who are a single point and position below them in the table but are also unbeaten away from home in their last four matches. One of many relegation six-pointers to take place this campaign in a super-tight survival battle royale, I see little between them and am expecting a draw. Score prediction: Newcastle 0-0 Southampton Everton vs. Brighton & Hove Albion Everton's pendulum season continues to swing from danger to safety and back again, with two wins from 11 top-flight matches seeing Sam Allardyce's stock tumble somewhat, but they welcome Brighton to Goodison Park having lost just one of their last nine at home. Brighton's victory over Arsenal stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven games but they haven't won away from home in the Premier League since a 1-0 win over Swansea at the start of November, a run of eight games, so for me, Everton will edge this. Score prediction: Everton 2-0 Brighton Huddersfield Town vs. Swansea City Swansea head into this game on the back of a 4-1 win over West Ham last weekend and boast a record of just one loss in their last 13 matches in all competitions. Huddersfield, meanwhile, have only picked up two wins in eight Premier League matches this calendar year, and six defeats in that time have seen them remain too near the danger zone. Carlos Carvalhal should get the manager of the year award should he keep the Swans up, and I think another positive result against a Terriers side that has done well in the first half of the season but is now running on fumes will help the Welsh side further in their endeavours. Score prediction: Huddersfield 0-1 Swansea West Bromwich Albion vs. Leicester City Eight points from safety with nine matches remaining and having lost their last five league games, West Brom are as good as gone from the top flight this season, barring a miraculous recovery. Leicester, though 10 points clear of the drop zone - a chasm by this season's standards - are winless in five league matches, losing two of them and drawing on the other three occasions, and also without a win in their last five away league fixtures, losing four of those matches. Can the Baggies make the most of their opposition's poor form to sneak a good result? I don't think they can - Leicester are much stronger on paper and much more with it both on and off the pitch, so it's an away win for me. Score prediction: West Brom 0-2 Leicester West Ham United vs. Burnley Successive 4-1 away defeats have got West Ham looking nervously over their shoulders again, and they have won just one of their last six league games, but on the plus side they have lost only one of their eight home league matches under David Moyes. Burnley, meanwhile, are seeking back-to-back wins for the first time since December, having claimed their first victory in 12 league matches against against Everton last weekend, but are winless in their last seven Premier League away games, failing to score in five of those matches. For me, this is a dead set draw. Score prediction: West Ham 1-1 Burnley Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace Chelsea are desperate to return to winning ways after four defeats in their last five Premier League matches, which have left them five points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. Palace, meanwhile, have lost four and drawn two of their last six games, and will be reeling from their collapse from 2-0 up against Manchester United on Monday to eventually lose 3-2. Under-fire Blues boss Antonio Conte is however also needing to cast an eye to the midweek Champions League trip to Barcelona and may possibly rest some players, but given that Palace remain so depleted in terms of personnel, I fancy Chelsea to get all three points from this game, though it won't be easy. Score prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Palace Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. Two big games on Sunday as the two sides that contested last week's EFL Cup final and subsequently fulfilled the relevant Premier League fixture on the Thursday get up to speed with the rest of the division. Can Arsenal put their consecutive humblings at Manchester City behind them at Brighton & Hove Albion, and can Manchester City embarrass reigning-but-not-for-long champions Chelsea? Football Manics previews the Sunday action in this exclusive preview. Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal (1:30pm GMT) All is not well as Arsenal at present, with Arsene Wenger's side having lost four of their past six Premier League games, back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Manchester City highlighting how far behind they are from a bona fide title challenger, not to mention going 10 matches without a clean sheet and having lost three away league games on the bounce. The misfiring Gunners will head to the Amex Stadium to face Brighton & Hove Albion, who could equal their longest Premier League unbeaten run of five matches and could also match their top-flight record of three consecutive home victories. In addition, Brighton have scored eight goals in their last three league matches - as many as they managed in their previous 15 - and Glenn Murray has bagged for goals in his last four games, but on the flip side, they have lost all seven Premier League matches against teams currently in the top six, by an aggregate score of 18-1. Recent - as recent as it can get anyway - history actually favours Brighton, who have won their last two home league meetings with Arsenal (going back to the 1980s here) but despite the Gunners' recent failings, I think they will have just about enough to get through this game with all three points. Score prediction: 2-1 away win Manchester City vs. Chelsea (4pm GMT) Manchester City require just 15 points from their remaining 10 games to claim their third Premier League title and first under Pep Guardiola, and following their double destruction of Arsenal, they can showcase just how far they've come this season against the reigning champions, who have had a difficult season. Indeed, the Citizens are unbeaten in their last 26 Premier League home games since 3-1 defeat against Chelsea in 2016, and on the whole their campaign has been all but flawless - their 75 points after 28 matches is a top-flight record, while their 82 goals is the most since Tottenham Hotspur in 1962-63. In stark contrast, Chelsea have lost three of their last four Premier League games - as many as in their previous 23 - and Antonio Conte could lose three straight league away fixtures for the first time as a manager, while the Blues could sustain a fourth straight away loss in all competitions for the first time in 14 years. Antonio Conte has been on thin ice for a number of months now and it looks increasingly more obvious that his reign at Stamford Bridge is nearing its natural end - managers don't last very long at Chelsea - and I predict a defining, comprehensive win for the hosts which will get tongues wagging at just how far they've come and how much Chelsea have stumbled. Score prediction: 3-0 home win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  9. We now know the identity of two of this season's FA Cup quarter-finalists as Leicester City and Chelsea made it through their respective ties against Sheffield United and Hull City. Four fixtures take place on Saturday - are there any upsets on the cards or will the big boys make it through unscathed as happened on Friday? Football Manics takes a closer look in this preview. Sheffield Wednesday vs. Swansea City When Carlos Carvalhal was dismissed by Sheffield Wednesday before Christmas, few thought his stock in English football would rise again as quickly as it did, but the Portuguese returns to Hillsborough in charge of a Swansea City side which has been truly revitalised and galvanised. Carvalhal has won six of his 11 games with the Swans and lifted them out of the Premier League relegation zone, as well as having propelled them to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a pulsating 8-1 win over Notts County in their fourth-round replay. The Owls, however, go into this game on the back of a superb win over high-flying Derby County last time out, which will give them confidence, but I still reckon the Swans will be eager to avenge their manager and go on to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1964. Score prediction: 1-3 away win Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Coventry City Brighton have returned to form since losing consecutive games to West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea, boasting a four-game unbeaten run, and their FA Cup home form is also impressive, having only lost two of their past 15 such games - both times to Arsenal. They face Coventry, a team which often features in the FA Cup annals for their victory in 1987, but that has slumped into the bottom tier of the Football League and is slipping out of playoff contention having lost their last three in a row (although they won the two games before that). However, if any fixture is liable for a giant-killing this weekend, I would say this is the one - a side which has bigger things to worry about, ie Premier League survival, against a side that has had a bad time of things over the last few years hoping to generate more money and headlines by reaching the quarter-finals. I'm going to stick my neck out and go for Coventry to win. Score prediction: 0-1 away win West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton Just two weeks after these two sides contested a five-goal thriller in the Premier League, West Brom and Southampton meet again in the FA Cup with both fancying their chances of a quarter-final berth as a welcome (or unnecessary depending on your point of view) distraction from their league troubles. Unfortunately for the Baggies, not only do they have their on-pitch woes to worry about, but what was supposed to be a reinvigorating warm-weather training camp trip in Spain ended up with four senior players - Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill - allegedly getting up to naughty "lads abroad" shenanigans. In addition to that, chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman were sacked the day after the 3-0 defeat by Chelsea, making it a rather turbulent week for the club. In comparison, things aren't quite so bad with Southampton, who go into this game on the back of a defeat to Liverpool but had been unbeaten in the previous four, and given all the troubles experienced by the Baggies this week - and the disgruntlement likely to be made clear by the home fans - I can see Saints winning this. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Huddersfield Town vs. Manchester United Huddersfield are targeting a first FA Cup quarter-final since 1972 as they look to beat Manchester United on home soil for the second time this season, and go into this game on the back of two consecutive 4-1 wins, at Birmingham City in the cup and over Bournemouth in the league, although their relegation troubles persist, sitting one point above the drop zone. As for the Red Devils, they're currently embroiled in a 'mini-crisis' of their own, having lost two of their last three league games, and Jose Mourinho was forced to fend off accusations of club record signing Paul Pogba having fallen out with his manager, but on the plus side, Eric Bailly is expected to return after a three-month absence. What began as a fairytale for Huddersfield in their maiden Premier League season has now turned to cold, harsh reality and, even though it would be nice to see them enjoy a good cup run, I expect Mourinho to have made the FA Cup one of his top priorities and as such will make sure his side's well drilled to claim victory at the John Smith's Stadium. Score prediction: 0-3 away win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  10. Another weekend is upon us which means another Premier League matchday and another Football Manics preview! Let's begin with Saturday's games, featuring the North London derby plus the "Riyad Mahrez derby" as Manchester City face Leicester City. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal The Premier League weekend action kicks off with a huge North London derby which sees Arsenal head to Wembley Stadium sixth in the table, four points and one place adrift of bitter rivals Spurs. Tottenham are unbeaten in eight league games, drawing three of the last five, and have gone 12 home matches without defeat in the Premier League, winning eight of the past 10. Also, talismanic striker Harry Kane has scored six goals in six league games against Arsenal. The Gunners, meanwhile, could suffer three straight away defeats in the Premier League for the first time since a run of four losses ended last April, and are winless in 15 top-flight away games against the current top five clubs since a 2-0 victory at Manchester City in January 2015. On the plus side for Arsenal, their record at Wembley is superb - winning each of their previous nine visits - and in derbies the form book always goes out the window, so I'm tipping this game to finish as a draw - let's call it a high-scoring one. Score prediction: 3-3 Everton vs. Crystal Palace Everton have won just one of their last eight league games, earning six points from a possible 24, and have conceded 15 goals in their last six league matches. Palace, meanwhile, have lost only twice in their last 15 league fixtures, both against Arsenal, and are also impressive on the road, but they have gone three games without a win - drawing 1-1 in each of their last two games. The Eagles' injury list continues to mount, however with Wilfried Zaha, Julian Speroni and Martin Kelly now sidelined, and I think this will have a big bearing in the game, not to mention Sam Allardyce wanting to bounce back from a "pathetic" defeat by Arsenal. Score prediction: 2-0 Stoke City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion Stoke have lost seven of their last 11 games and taken only eight points from a possible 33 during this period, which leaves them just inside the relegation zone, but they have been beaten in only one of their last four home games, winning twice and drawing the other match. As for Brighton, they are unbeaten in three games in all competitions, winning twice and drawing once, but are without an away league win in seven games since November's 1-0 victory at Swansea City, with a miserly tally of six away goals. Paul Lambert has overseen a slight upturn in form at Stoke, with two clean sheets in his first two home games, so I think they'll do well against a Brighton side which isn't too hot on the road. Score prediction: 3-1 Swansea City vs. Burnley Carlos Carvalhal has turned a Swansea side tumbling out of the league into one unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, including wins over Liverpool and Arsenal, plus an 8-1 destruction of Notts County in the FA Cup last time out. In contrast, Burnley are without a Premier League win in nine games, the longest current winless run in the division, and could remain winless in their opening six league matches of a calendar year for the first time since 2007. It's a stark contract from the Proudsville form in the first half of the season but they're still a strong side and I fancy them to get a draw at the Liberty Stadium against a side that was busy in midweek. Score prediction: 1-1 West Ham United vs. Watford West Ham's current form is lukewarm, with wins over struggling West Brom and Huddersfield plus a draw at Tottenham this calendar year, though defeats to Brighton and Bournemouth show there's still work to be done. Watford, meanwhile, are looking to win back-to-back league games for the first time since November, following their 4-1 win against Chelsea on Monday, although they were their first three points since December 26. The Hornets also boast a lengthy injury list and, taking on a side in good form at home, I see them slumping to defeat at the London Stadium. Score prediction: 2-0 Manchester City vs. Leicester City This season's champions-elect against the title winners from two years ago, the narrative around this game will revolve around Riyad Mahrez, who did not train since the end of January following interest from Man City but is expected to play for Leicester this weekend. The Citizens dropped two points against Burnley last time out but with the players rested following several days off, they should be well rested and fully focused once again - not to mention their home form is absolutely superb, unbeaten in 25 league games at the Etihad and gunning for a 13th straight league win there. As for the Foxes, they are much improved under Claude Puel but their last two league victories in nine attempts came at home to Huddersfield and Watford, and they have taken just one point from their last four league games on the road. Leicester are more than capable of springing a shock from time to time but with how superb Man City have been this season, I can see them back to form and claiming victory. Score prediction: 3-0 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  11. The Premier League returns to action for the second time this week following the Tuesday and Wednesday games. So without further ado, let Football Manics guide you through Saturday's fixtures. Burnley vs. Manchester City First up in the league this weekend is the surprise package of the first half of the season against the all-conquering runaway leaders - and Burnley, who are winless in eight league games, have a difficult task ahead to avoid losing a fourth consecutive home match. Man City have stuttered away from home in the league, however, dropping points in their last two away games when they won their previous 10 this season. In reality though, that will just make them even more determined to come away with all three points now, so I'm expecting Pep Guardiola to stamp out all complacency and guide them to victory at Turf Moor. Score prediction: 0-3 Bournemouth vs. Stoke City Bournemouth will go into this game buzzing with confidence after a superb 3-0 win away at reigning champions Chelsea in midweek, and are seeking a seventh game without defeat. Stoke appear to have turned a corner too, picking up another point against Watford in midweek, making it four points in two games for new manager Paul Lambert. With both sides on good form but at the same time looking over their shoulders given this season's Royal Rumble of a relegation battle, I expect a conservative game and a share of the spoils. Score prediction: 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion vs. West Ham United This is an absolute must-win game for Brighton, who have won only one of their last 14 league fixtures, but with captain Bruno back from a back injury and on-loan Leonardo Ulloa ready to be slotted back in, there is cause for optimism. West Ham, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last six Premier League matches and could remain unbeaten in their opening six top-flight games of the calendar year for the first time since 1974. Hard to call, this one, but I think it'll be more of the same - Brighton winless, West Ham unbeaten - at full time. Score prediction: 1-1 Leicester City vs. Swansea City A fleeting glance at the table would suggest an easy win for the Foxes but their camp is unsettled at present, with Riyad Mahrez - who did not report for training on Thursday and Friday - not available for the game, and Wes Morgan is also still recovering from a thigh injury. That said, they are unbeaten at the King Power Stadium since mid-December and could win their opening three top-flight home fixtures of a calendar year for the first time since 1977. But Swansea have been on the up since Carlos Carvalhal took charge, picking up 10 from a possible 15 points and beating both Arsenal and Liverpool, so I fancy them to continue this form and beat a Leicester missing one of their star men. Score prediction: 1-2 Manchester United vs. Huddersfield Town The Red Devils' title race is now surely all but over, given their loss at Tottenham in midweek, so Jose Mourinho will likely be refocusing his attentions simply on keeping the chasing pack of Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs at bay. The midweek defeat at Wembley ended United's eight-game unbeaten league run and also brought to an end a sequence of four successive league clean sheets, while the matchday opponent has already beaten them once in the top flight this season, winning 2-1 at the John Smith's Stadium. Huddersfield were a different beast earlier in the season though, with the wear and tear of the campaign now starting to show on the promoted side, who have lost their last four league matches and conceded 12 goals in the process - so it's an easy United win for me. Score prediction: 0-4 West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton With just eight points separating 10th from 20th, it seems like every gameweek will have two or three "relegation six-pointers", but the Hawthorns sees two of the bottom three face off this weekend. The Baggies have lost just one of their last six Premier League home games, but four of those have ended in a draws, and a tally of eight points in 11 league matches since Alan Pardew took the reins points to a side unlikely to survive this season. Southampton, meanwhile, are without a win in 12 Premier League games since beating Everton in November, but have made a name for themselves as draw merchants, which is how I see this game ending. Score prediction: 0-0 Arsenal vs. Everton Arsenal have had an impressive January transfer window and will be up against a side who purchased one of their previous stalwarts, who in turn has been sensational so far for his new side. The Gunners are in desperate need of a return to form, having won only three of their last 11 league matches and losing at Swansea last time out, but may not even be able to call on record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he is a doubt with illness. Everton's topsy-turvy season is currently on the up again as victory over Leicester in midweek ended a seven-match winless run, and former Gunner Theo Walcott was instrumental with his brace. It's on the cards isn't it? Arsenal to take the lead, Everton to draw level and Walcott to score an injury-time winner which will not be celebrated by the player who spent over a decade at the Emirates Stadium. Score prediction: 1-2 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  12. The January 2018 transfer window is now officially shut, and what a frantic, breathless affair it's been at times. From the striker merry-go-round involving Chelsea, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund to the swap deal involving Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Philippe Coutinho's departure to Barcelona, it's really been a whirlwind month. In fact, the whole Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool story, making the Dutchman the most expensive defender in history, feels like ancient news, so manic has the window been. Indeed, from a Premier League perspective it's been not only the January window with the highest outlay, but transfer deadline day also saw the most money spent, both trumping the records set by the 2011 window. So, where does each Premier League team stand in terms of incomings and outgoings? Here is a comprehensive list. ARSENAL In Konstantinos Mavropanos - PAS Giannina, £1.8m Henrikh Mkhitaryan - Manchester United, swap deal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - Borussia Dortmund, £60m Out Olivier Giroud - Chelsea, £15.3m plus £2.2m add-ons Alexis Sanchez - Manchester United, swap deal Theo Walcott - Everton, £20m Francis Coquelin - Valencia, undisclosed Tafari Moore - Wycombe Wanderers, loan Ben Sheaf - Stevenage, loan Jeff Reine-Adelaide - Angers, loan Mathieu Debuchy - St Etienne, undisclosed Stephy Mavididi - Charlton, loan Marcus McGuane - Barcelona, undisclosed Chuba Akpom - Sint-Truidense, loan Krystian Bielik - Walsall, loan Julio Pleguezuelo - Gimnastic, loan BOURNEMOUTH In None Out Connor Mahoney - Barnsley, loan Mihai Dobre - Rochdale, loan Lewis Grabban - Aston Villa, loan Benik Afobe - Wolves, loan Aaron Ramsdale - Chesterfield, loan Shaun Hobson - Chester, loan Ryan Allsop - Lincoln, loan BRIGHTON In Leonardo Ulloa - Leicester, loan Warren O'Hara - Bohemians, undisclosed fee Jurgen Locadia - PSV, £14.1m Viktor Gyokeres - Brommapojkarna, undisclosed Out Jamie Murphy - Rangers, loan Kazenga LuaLua - Sunderland, free Ben Hall - Notts County, loan Jordan Maguire-Drew - Coventry, loan BURNLEY In Georges-Kevin N'Koudou - Tottenham, loan Aaron Lennon - Everton, undisclosed Out Dan Agyei - Blackpool, loan Alex Whitmore - Chesterfield, free Tom Anderson - Doncaster, loan Jimmy Dunne - Accrington, loan Luke Hendrie - Shrewsbury, undisclosed CHELSEA In Olivier Giroud - Arsenal, £15.3m plus £2.2m add-ons Ross Barkley - Everton, £15m plus add-ons Emerson Palmieri - Roma, £17.6m Out Michy Batshuayi - Dortmund, loan Jake Clarke-Salter - Sunderland, loan Kenedy - Newcastle, loan Baba Rahman - Schalke, loan Charly Musonda - Celtic, loan Todd Kane - Oxford, loan Kasey Palmer - Derby, loan Ike Ugbo - MK Dons, loan CRYSTAL PALACE In Alexander Sorloth - FC Midtjylland, undisclosed Jaroslaw Jach - Zagłebie Lubin, undisclosed Erdal Rakip - Benfica, loan Out Noor Husin - Notts County, undisclosed fee Keshi Anderson - Swindon, undisclosed Sully Kaikai - Charlton, loan Freddie Ladapo - Southend, undisclosed Andre Coker - Maidstone, loan EVERTON In Cenk Tosun - Besiktas, £27m Theo Walcott - Everton, £20m Eliaquim Mangala - Manchester City, loan Out Ross Barkley - Chelsea, £15m plus add-ons Liam Walsh - Bristol City, undisclosed Kevin Mirallas - Olympiakos, loan Harry Charsley - Bolton, loan Aaron Lennon - Burnley, undisclosed Sandro Ramirez - Sevilla, loan Ademola Lookman - RB Leipzig, loan Mo Besic - Middlesbrough, loan Gethin Jones - Fleetwood, free Boris Mathis - Northampton, loan Louis Gray - Carlisle, loan HUDDERSFIELD In Terence Kongolo - Monaco, loan Alex Pritchard - Norwich, £11m Out Jack Payne - Blackburn, loan Joe Lolley - Nottingham Forest, undisclosed Martin Crainie - Middlesbrough, undisclosed Jack Boyle - Clyde, loan Dylan Cogill - Clyde, loan Cedwyn Scott - Dundee, undisclosed LEICESTER CITY In Adrien Silva - Sporting Lisbon, £22m Fousseni Diabate - Gazelec Ajaccio, undisclosed Callum Wright - Blackburn, undisclosed Out Raul Uche - Real Betis, loan Leonardo Ulloa - Brighton, loan Ahmed Musa - CSKA Moscow, loan Islam Slimani - Newcastle, loan Andy King - Swansea, loan LIVERPOOL In Virgil van Dijk - Southampton, £75m Tony Gallagher - Falkirk, £200,000 Out Philippe Coutinho - Barcelona, £146m Daniel Sturridge - West Brom, loan Cameron Brannagan - Oxford United, undisclosed Ryan Kent - Bristol City, loan Marko Grujic - Cardiff, loan Lloyd Jones - Luton, undisclosed Ovie Ejaria - Sunderland, loan Harry Wilson - Hull, loan Lazar Markovic - Anderlecht, loan Jon Flanagan - Bolton, loan Corey Whelan - Yeovil, loan Matty Virtue - Notts County, loan MANCHESTER CITY In Aymeric Laporte - Athletic Bilbao, £57m Jack Harrison - New York City, undisclosed Out Eliaquim Mangala - Everton, loan Isaac Buckley-Ricketts - Oxford United, loan Kean Bryan - Oldham, loan Marlos Moreno - Flamengo, loan Ashley Smith-Brown - Oxford, loan Jack Harrison - Middlesbrough, loan Jacob Davenport - Burton, loan Charlie Oliver - Fleetwood, loan Shay Facey - Northampton, undisclosed Chidi Nwakali - Aberdeen, loan MANCHESTER UNITED In Alexis Sanchez - Arsenal, swap deal Matej Kovar - FC Slovacko, undisclosed Out Henrikh Mkhitaryan - Arsenal, swap deal James Wilson - Sheffield United, loan Demetri Mitchell - Hearts, loan Axel Tuanzebe - Aston Villa, loan Charlie Scott- Hamilton, loan Matty Willock - St Johnstone, loan NEWCASTLE UNITED In Kenedy - Chelsea, loan Islam Slimani - Leicester, loan Martin Dubravka - Sparta Prague, loan Out Adam Armstrong - Blackburn, loan Dan Barlaser - Crewe, loan Jamie Sterry - Crewe, loan Henri Saviet - Sivasspor, loan Rolando Aarons - Hellas Verona, loan Freddie Woodman - Aberdeen, loan Jack Colback - Nottingham Forest, loan Aleksandar Mitrovic - Fulham, loan Ivan Toney - Scunthorpe, loan SOUTHAMPTON In Guido Carrillo - Monaco, £19.1m Out Virgil van Dijk - Liverpool, £75m Marcus Barnes - Yeovil, loan Ryan Seager - Yeovil, loan Matt Targett - Fulham, loan STOKE CITY In Badou Ndiaye - Galatasaray, undisclosed Moussa Niakete - Paris FC, free Moritz Bauer - Rubin Kazan, undisclosed fee Kostas Stafylidis - Augsburg, loan Out Harry Souttar - Ross County, loan Josh Tymon - MK Dons, loan Julien Ngoy - Walsall, loan SWANSEA CITY In Andre Ayew - West Ham, £18m Andy King - Leicester, loan Jack Withers - Boston United, undisclosed Out Adam King - Mansfield, loan Jay Fulton, Wigan, loan Joe Rodon - Cheltenham, loan Oli McBurnie - Barnsley, loan Josh Sheehan - Newport, free Roque Mesa - Sevilla, loan TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR In Lucas Moura - PSG, £25m Out Georges-Kevin N'Koudou - Burnley, loan Marcus Edwards - Norwich, loan Anton Walkes - Portsmouth, loan Luke Amos - Stevenage, loan Ryan Loft - Exeter, loan Cameron Carter-Vickers - Ipswich, loan Shayon Harrison - Southend, loan WATFORD In Pontus Dahlberg - IFK Gothenburg, undisclosed Gerard Deulofeu - Barcelona, loan Dodi Lukebakio - Anderlecht, undisclosed Didier Ndong - Sunderland, loan Out Alex Jakubiak - Falkirk, loan Michael Folivi - Boreham Wood, loan Charlie Rowan - Accrington Stanley, loan Brice Dja Djedje - Lens, loan Randell Williams - Wycombe, loan Isaac Success - Malaga, loan Costel Pantilimon - Nottingham Forest, loan Pontus Dahlberg - IFK Gothenburg, loan WEST BROMWICH ALBION In Ahmed Hegazi - Al Ahly, undisclosed Ali Gabr - Zamalek FC, loan Daniel Sturridge - Liverpool, loan Out Kane Wilson - Exeter, loan Shaun Donnellan - Yeovil, freee Tahvon Campbell - Forest Green, loan Kyle Edwards - Exeter, loan Tyler Roberts - Leeds United, £2.5m Kyle Howkins - Port Vale, loan Max Melbourne - Ross County, loan WEST HAM UNITED In Jordan Hugill - Preston, undisclosed Joao Mario - Inter Milan, loan Out Andre Ayew - Swansea, £18m Martin Samuelsen - Burton, loan Diafra Sakho - Rennes, undisclosed Reece Burke - Bolton, loan Reece Oxford - Borussia Monchengladbach, loan Moses Makasi - Plymouth, loan Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  13. Seven Premier League fixtures AND transfer deadline day - who says a popular Danish beer company doesn't do football days? Here is Football Manics' preview of Wednesday's top-flight games - see how they will pan out. Chelsea vs. Bournemouth Chelsea, who will be boosted by the return of Thibaut Courtois in goal, will be hoping to keep up the pressure on second-placed Manchester United and, given their good form and clean sheet streak at home, will fancy their chances against Bournemouth. The Cherries, however, are also boasting good form, with three draws and two wins in their last five league games, and Ryan Fraser has scored three goals in his last three league appearances. Bournemouth are also more than capable of beating the reigning champions on their own turf, having done so against Chelsea in 2015-16 and Leicester in 16-17, but on this occasion I think Antonio Conte's side will be fully focused and capable of victory. Score prediction: 3-1 Everton vs. Leicester City Everton have been boosted by Seamus Coleman's inclusion in the squad after recovering from a broken leg, but the truth is that the Toffees are in poor form once again, with four defeats in the last five. They'll be up against a side which, if not back to their 2015-16 best, are certainly the closest thing to it in the wobbly days since then, with Claude Puel - they are unbeaten in six league and cup games since the turn of the year and have only conceded one goal during that period. That said, Everton are more than capable of getting a result on their day, while Leicester are being distracted by the future of Riyad Mahrez, so I think this will end as a draw. Score prediction: 1-1 Newcastle United vs. Burnley Newcastle are winless in seven Premier League home games, losing five of them, have scored just three times during this run, and failed to score on five occasions. Needless to say, it's not going well on Tyneside. Burnley's early-season heroics have been tempered by a meek second-half of the campaign - indeed, they could lose their opening five competitive matches of a calendar year for the first time since 1932 and equal their Premier League club record of four consecutive defeats should they fail to prevail at St James' Park. With both sides down in the dumps, I would say that this has draw written all over it, but I have a sneaking feeling that the hosts, boasting Chelsea star Kenedy on loan, might just edge it. Score prediction: 1-0 Southampton vs. Brighton & Hove Albion Another game between two out-of-form teams, Southampton and Brighton both need an improvement in their Premier League form to move away from the danger zone. Mauricio Pellegrino's charges are without a league victory since the end of November, whilst the Seagulls have won only one league game since they took three points at Swansea in early November. That said, both teams won their respective FA Cup ties at the weekend, providing a little bit of a psychological boost, but I think this one will end as a draw. Score prediction: 0-0 Manchester City vs. West Bromwich Albion Sitting pretty 12 points clear at the top of the table and reinforced by the £57m signing of Aymeric Laporte, this would seem like a routine victory type of fixture for Man City. At the same time, West Brom not only beat the team that last beat the Citizens - Liverpool - in the FA Cup at the weekend, but they have also pulled off a coup with the loan signing of Daniel Sturridge, one of the best English strikers out there when fit. Top versus bottom, a seemingly foregone conclusion as a result, but how often have we seen David topple Goliath? I'll probably regret this come 10pm when City have won 5-0, but I'm going to call this a draw. Score prediction: 2-2 Stoke City vs. Watford It's a funny old Premier League season, this - more than half of the teams are either in the drop zone or nervously looking over their shoulder. You'd think the league's 11th-placed side would be fairly safe against 18th, but Watford are just three points off the bottom three. The Hornets have been in freefall for a while now and were not able to follow up their win over Leicester with a good run of form - indeed, they have lost three and drawn one in the league since. Despite sitting in the relegation zone, Stoke won their last league game, against Huddersfield, and have won a league-high 74% of their points in home games this season, so I think they'll come up trumps in this clash. Score prediction: 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United A side desperate to climb back into the top four against the last hope of catching up to Man City, this is the standout fixture of the matchday. Spurs are on an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions, but the Red Devils have kept six successive clean sheets and five wins on the spin. On the flipside for the hosts, they have earned just three points in five games this season against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, which is fewer than any other current top-six side in these fixtures. Jose Mourinho has a great record against Tottenham, having won 12 matches against them in all competitions, and I have the sneaking feeling that the Special One will make it 13. Score prediction: 0-2 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  14. Brighton & Hove Albion have confirmed the club-record signing of PSV Eindhoven forward Jurgen Locadia for an undisclosed fee. The 24-year-old, who has scored nine goals in 15 games for the Eredivisie side this season, has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal at the Amex Stadium. Brighton's previous transfer record was £13.5m, which they paid Belgian club Club Brugge to sign Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo last August. Manager Chris Hughton told the officlal Seagulls site: "We are delighted to have signed Jurgen and pleased to welcome him to the club. "He is a player we have been aware of for sometime and it's been no secret we have wanted to add a striker of his type. "He is a strong, powerful and quick centre-forward with a real eye for goal, and will increase our attacking options in the second half of the season." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  15. We're back in action this weekend and the bulk of the Premier League action takes place on Saturday, with eight games for us all to enjoy. How will these fixtures pan out? Football Manics takes a look with our dedicated preview. Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Chelsea Brighton are in a poor vein of form at the minute, having won just one of their last 10 league games, and boast a poor record against Chelsea, losing their last seven in all competitions and failing to score in six of those. Chelsea have drawn three of their last five and could go three league away games without a win - and winless in the league this calendar year - should they fail to win at the Amex. That said, I reckon the Blues will have too much quality for the Seagulls and make relatively light work of the hosts. Score prediction: 0-2 West Ham United vs. Bournemouth The reverse fixture took place just a few weeks ago, a 3-3 draw which proved controversial due to Callum Wilson's contentious 'handball' goal in injury time. Since then, both sides have given themselves a little breathing room from the drop zone, with West Ham unbeaten in their last six in all competitions and Bournemouth unbeaten in four league games since Christmas. This fixture has brought goals aplenty - 23 in the last five meetings - and I expect to see a high-scoring game, with the goals evenly shared between these two fairly evenly matches sides. Score prediction: 2-2 Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion A special occasion for Sam Allardyce, who takes care of the 1,000th match of his career, but despite Everton being in the top half and West Brom near the bottom, it's important to consider their respective form. The Toffees have picked up no points, scored no goals and not managed a single shot on target in their two league games so far this year, plus they were knocked out to Merseyside rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup. West Brom, meanwhile, finally ended their club record winless run of 20 league matches by beating Brighton last time out, a big weight off their shoulders, and I fancy them to get another positive result at Goodison Park, albeit not a win. Score prediction: 0-0 Burnley vs. Manchester United The first half of Burnley's season has been nothing short of sensational but the wear and tear on the small squad is now starting to show, with the Lancastrians winless in their last seven fixtures in all competitions, including six in the league. United, meanwhile, are on a seven-game unbeaten run, winning four and drawing three, and have claimed 13 points from five away matches and scored 13 goals in the process. With Jose Mourinho's side also firing on all cylinders in terms of goals scored and David de Gea keeping clean sheets on a regular basis, I can't see Sean Dyche's side getting anything from this game. Score prediction: 0-3 Leicester City vs. Watford Leicester have won only once in six Premier League outings, but their home record against sides outside the top four is good - just one defeat, against Palace in December - plus they come into this game on the back of consecutive clean sheets in the league. In comparison, Watford have won just once in their last 10 league games - although this was against Leicester - and have failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 league fixtures since beating Newcastle 3-0 in November. Claude Puel will be very mindful of ensuring his side don't succumb to the same outcome as last time out against the Hornets and I tip them to put in a much better performance at the King Power and with a better result for then. Score prediction: 3-1 Stoke City vs. Huddersfield Town Paul Lambert takes charge of his first game as Stoke boss and as opponents go, he's got a relatively soft start against a Huddersfield side slipping down the table. Admittedly, Stoke have been poor this season and as such they are 18th in the table, winless in four, having lost their last three and conceded nine goals in the process - and 50 league goals conceded is the worst record in any of Europe's big five premier leagues. However, Huddersfield are winless in five league games, losing each of the last two, and have won just one and lost seven of their last 10 away games, while their defence has also been poor in recent weeks. With two out-of-form sides coming up, the more conservative would probably opt for a goalless draw, but I reckon there will be a winner - and I fancy David Wagner to be that. Score prediction: 1-2 Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace Arsenal have dominated the transfer news over the last few days but in terms of the actual football, things aren't going so great - they are winless in five games in all competitions since they beat Palace in December's reverse fixture, and have taken only 11 points from the last 27 available to them. Palace, meanwhile, have only lost once in their last 12 league games (the aforementioned loss against Arsenal) and could win their opening three league fixtures of a calendar year for the first time since 2002, as well as equalling their top-flight club record of six successive away games without defeat. Arsenal's scalp is there for the taking and I believe Palace can do a job on their opponents in front of an Emirates Stadium crowd that could very quickly turn on their side. Score prediction: 0-1 Manchester City vs. Newcastle United So then, Man City have finally succumbed to defeat in the league this season, losing at Liverpool last weekend. But beware - this can often reinvigorate a team, making them go back to the drawing board, stamping out complacency, and lifting the statistical burden off their shoulders. Let's not forget, the Citizens have done superbly well to reach 30 games unbeaten, not to mention their winning run earlier in the campaign, and of course, they're still unbeaten at home in 23 league games. Newcastle have enjoyed a decent run of form, taking eight points from their last six games, and are unbeaten in their first three games of the calendar year - but I expect a rejuvenated, refocused Man City to see off the Magpies. Score prediction: 3-1 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  16. It feels like an eternity since we last had Premier League action, due to the FA Cup last week, plus a whole week of no football following the festive period, but here we are, able to look forward to the return of the English top flight! How will Saturday's fixtures pan out? Football Manics takes a look. Chelsea vs. Leicester City Chelsea are aiming to make it eight home Premier League wins on the bounce when Leicester City visit on Saturday afternoon, having won the last three league encounters against the Foxes. After a run of four straight wins before Christmas, Claude Puel's men have lost three of their last five matches and drew 0-0 with Fleetwood in the FA Cup third round last weekend. Leicester's recent away record against the league's traditional big six is poor, yielding no wins, three draws and nine defeats from their last 12, and I expect Chelsea to make it an unlucky 13. Score prediction: 2-0 Crystal Palace vs. Burnley Despite having turned Palace's fortunes around since joining the club, Roy Hodgson has been left with a lengthy injury list ahead of their meeting with Burnley which could spell trouble in the coming weeks. However, they boast a good run of form, losing just one of their last 11 games, while Sean Dyche's men are without a win in five league games and have only scored more than one goal in just one of their last eight fixtures. That said, the Clarets have won the last three meetings between these two, including the reverse fixture earlier this season, and I think they will emerge triumphant once again. Score prediction: 1-2 Huddersfield Town vs. West Ham United Despite sitting 11th in the table, Huddersfield are just four points clear of the bottom three and will want to avoid being sucked into the mire when they face fellow strugglers West Ham. David Wagner's team have picked up 16 of their 24 points this season at home, but have not won in their last three games, while the Hammers have taken 12 points from their last seven games. West Ham are hard to beat, but Huddersfield are also a tough proposition at home - for me, this has draw written all over it. Score prediction: 0-0 Newcastle United vs. Swansea City Newcastle are showing signs of revival, with two wins and a draw from their last three, plus they come into this game on the back of progress in the FA Cup after coming through their banana skin against Luton Town, but they have lost five of their last six league home games. Meanwhile, Swansea's win at Watford in their last league away game ended a run of seven straight defeats on the road - they last won back-to-back away games in the competition in January 2017 against Crystal Palace and Liverpool. Another difficult game to call, I'm going to go with the more ambitious option and suggest that Swansea will take all three points at St James' Park. Score prediction: 1-2 Watford vs. Southampton Two out-of-form sides clash at Vicarage Road as Watford only have one win from their last nine league games, and have lost six of their last seven, while Southampton are winless in their last nine. The Hornets are still missing Younes Kaboul, Craig Cathcart, Isaac Success, Miguel Britos, Kiko Femenia, Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah, although Troy Deeney is back from a ban. Meanwhile Wesley Hoedt, Cedric Soares and Jeremy Pied are back in training for Saints but Charlie Austin remains out with a hamstring injury. Yet another hard one to call, I fancy Watford to have just enough to get the better of their opponents. Score prediction: 1-0 West Bromwich Albion vs. Brighton & Hove Albion Another matchday, another attempt for Alan Pardew to try and find his first win as West Brom boss - but the rot has been going on long before his arrival, with the club not having won in their last 20 top-flight games. Brighton tasted their first PL win against the Baggies - and scored their first PL goals - back in September, but they're also in a bad run of form, having won just one of their last 11 and failing to score in eight away matches. Interestingly, each of the last three games between these two has been won 3-1 by the home side, and as this is yet another difficult one to call, I'm going to tip West Brom to finally break their winless duck. Score prediction: 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton (5:30pm) Spurs are on a 10-match unbeaten run at Wembley in the Premier League and their run of 16 points from the last seven league fixtures is second only to leaders Manchester City. In addition, their record against Everton is good - unbeaten in 10 league meetings, while the Toffees have gone nine league and cup games without a win away to Spurs since November 2008, drawing three times and losing six. Sam Allardyce's side are winless in five matches and have lost three games in a row in all competitions, and a trip to Spurs is probably one of the worst propositions - I expect the visitors to lose. Score prediction: 3-1 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  17. While most people in the country will be making a clear distinction between the end of one calendar year and another, for the football scene it's pedal to the metal and one matchday immediately follows another as per the festive season. New Year's Day brings forth five Premier League fixtures. How will they pan out? Football Manics takes a look. Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Bournemouth (12:30pm) The New Year begins with a South Coast derby between Brighton and Bournemouth, with both teams nervously looking over their shoulders. Both sides are missing key men as Brighton pair Lewis Dunk and Anthony Knockaert must serve a one-match ban, while Josh King suffered a hamstring injury at the weekend and Adam Smith and Nathan Ake face late fitness tests. Brighton have lost only one of their last nine home league games, while Bournemouth's victory against Everton on Saturday ended a club record-equalling run of eight Premier League matches without a win, which included four defeats. This will be a close game but I tip the hosts to win as I feel they will be able to break their opponents down and, without Josh King, the visitors' attack is further blunted. Score prediction: 2-0 Burnley vs. Liverpool (3pm) Are the wheels coming off the Burnley train? Sean Dyche's side could go five league games without a win for the first time since a seven-match streak between February and April 2017. In contrast, the Reds have gone 15 games without defeat in all competitions, their joint-longest unbeaten run under Jurgen Klopp. Even with the possibility of Mohamed Salah being absent, I fancy Liverpool to win to nil, given their impressive attack and Burnley's relatively blunt attack. Score prediction: 0-2 Leicester City vs. Huddersfield Town (3pm) Since claiming victory four times in a row in the Premier League, Leicester have taken only one point from the four games that have followed, so a win against an opponent like Huddersfield is essential. The Terriers, however, are unbeaten in their last four Premier League games, their longest streak in the competition, but on the flip side, they have failed to score in seven of their 10 away fixtures this season. Despite their poor form, I think Leicester will have fine-tuned their game and will have too much for the opposition. Score prediction: 3-1 Stoke City vs. Newcastle United (3pm) The Potters were hammered against Chelsea last time out but, with several of their key players in line to be recalled, they will be a tougher proposition against fellow strugglers Newcastle. Stoke are looking to secure back-to-back home league wins for the first time since March, while the Magpies have won only two of their 10 away league games this season and have failed to score in four of their last five matches. It's likely to be a fierce, hotly contested game, and I think the points will be shared. Score prediction: 1-1 Everton vs. Manchester United (5:30pm) Had this fixture taken place just a month or two ago, the prediction would have been a lot different, but as things stand, Everton stand a good chance against Manchester United. The Toffees are unbeaten in their last five Premier League home games, winning four of those fixtures, while the Red Devils have seen their form take a tumble, with three successive draws. In addition, United are short of strikers, with Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both injured, plus if you include the fact that Wayne Rooney is lining up against them, you just know he's going to get a goal against his former club. I'm going to stick my neck out and say home win. Score prediction: 2-1 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  18. In true English tradition, what better way to follow up a day of presents, excess, quality family time and sleeping it all off in front of an old-time movie on the telly with the spectacle of Boxing Day football? Football Manics has previewed the games taking place on 26 December - here is how we think they will pan out. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton (12:30pm) The Boxing Day action starts with Spurs hosting Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino's former club, at Wembley Stadium, with the home side eager to make it four wins in five and climb back into the top four. After a shaky start at Wembley, Spurs are now unbeaten in their last eight home Premier League games, winning five of those, and Harry Kane will be hoping to get a goal to set a new PL-era scoring record for a single year. Southampton, meanwhile, are on a downward slide. They're without a win in six, lost five of their last 10, and haven't kept a clean sheet in 10 either. And with Charlie Austin sidelined and want-away Virgil van Dijk unlikely to be involved, I can only see one side winning this. Score prediction: 3-0 Bournemouth vs. West Ham United A relegation six-pointer will be played out at the Vitality Stadium as the Cherries, 18th in the table, host the 17th-placed Hammers with just one point between them. Bournemouth lost 4-0 at Manchester City on Saturday - not a surprising result but it was their seventh game without a win, not to mention they've claimed just eight points at home this season, winning just one of their last six home games. West Ham appeared to have turned a corner with wins over Chelsea and Stoke City, plus a draw with Arsenal, but the 3-2 defeat to Newcastle was a step back in the wrong direction. That said, I think they'll edge this game. Score prediction: 1-2 Chelsea vs. Brighton & Hove Albion The Blues continue to blow hot and cold, having drawn one and lost one of their last four, but they can end matchday 20 level on points with second-placed Manchester United should they beat a modest Brighton side. Chelsea couldn't find a way past Everton on Saturday but, with Alvaro Morata back in the squad following suspension, I expect them to be more incisive and create more chances in this game. Although Brighton boast a good defence, having shipped a relatively low 23 goals in 19 fixtures, they have struggled in front of goal, scoring just twice in their last six, so I see Chelsea winning this to nil. Score prediction: 2-0 Huddersfield Town vs. Stoke City Huddersfield could leapfrog Watford into the top half of the Premier League table with a positive result against Stoke on Boxing Day. The Terriers have returned to form over the last few weeks, winning two and drawing one of their last four, but their form at home has been patchy lately, losing two of their last three at the John Smith's Stadium. Stoke, meanwhile, have endured a difficult campaign and Mark Hughes's tenure in the Potters dugout continues to be under scrutiny, but they beat West Brom last time out and I expect them to continue their revival and get the better of the Terriers. Score prediction: 0-2 Manchester United vs. Burnley Jose Mourinho's mighty but inconsistent Man U face a Burnley side punching above their weight and boasting a watertight defence (before coming up against Harry Kane anyway). The Red Devils are impervious at Old Trafford, their loss to Man City earlier this month their first one in 42 games, and Boxing Day is generally a good time for them, winning 19 of their 23 PL games on the day. Burnley have kept nine Premier League clean sheets this season and, last time they visited OT, they left with a clean sheet and a point, and I can see more of the same this time out. Score prediction: 0-0 Watford vs. Leicester City Watford will be looking for their first win in over a month when they host Leicester on Boxing Day, having lost their last four in a row and five of their last six. Leicester, meanwhile, are on the up under Claude Puel, winning four of their last six and claiming a late 2-2 draw with Man United last time out. Marco Silva's side have the fourth worst home record in the division, with only two wins and nine points from nine matches, while the Foxes are unbeaten in seven successive away matches, so I fancy the visitors to get the spoils at Vicarage Road. Score prediction: 0-1 West Bromwich Albion vs. Everton A team in disarray versus a team back on track, West Brom are winless in 17 Premier League games and have picked up just two points from a possible 15 since Alan Pardew became head coach. Contrast that to Everton, whose early-season woes appear a distant memory, with three wins and two draws - not to mention three clean sheets - under new manager Sam Allardyce. West Brom are also the only club not to have won a league point from a losing position this season, whereas opponents Everton have won an unrivalled 12. I see more of the same. Score prediction: 1-3 Liverpool vs. Swansea City (5:30pm) This one looks like a real "lamb-to-the-slaughter" type of game, as Liverpool's swashbuckling side takes on a meek Swansea rabble at Anfield. The Reds have scored 41 goals in the league, level with Man United and behind only the freaks of Man City, and the attacking quartet of Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino is one of the best in the world at the minute. In comparison, Swansea have lost eight of their last 11 Premier League matches and, although their defence is not that bad, their attack is a major problem - 11 goals scored in 19 games is testament to that. That said, this is the kind of "home banker" which you just know is going to deliver a coupon-busting result. I see Swansea defending tightly and frustrating their opponents before striking on the break, or via a set piece, aided by a defensive mistake. Score prediction: 0-1 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  19. The Premier League is edging closer to its halfway point - this weekend is matchday 18 and, with loads to play for all across the board, it promises to bring a lot of excitement. How will Saturday's fixtures play out? Football Manics previews the action. Kickoffs 3pm unless otherwise stated. Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace (12:30pm) Two sides that have enjoyed a renaissance in recent weeks collide at the King Power as Leicester go looking for a fifth straight victory against Palace. Roy Hodgson's appointment is proving a good call, with the Eagles unbeaten in their last six games and sitting a point off safety when they looked more likely to keep breaking bad records just two months ago. Although Palace are a different proposition nowadays, Leicester are effectively back to the kind of form that saw them win the title in 2015-16 so I tip them for the win. Score prediction: 3-1 Arsenal vs. Newcastle United In contrast to the above game, the Emirates Stadium fixtures sees two teams whose seasons have taken a turn for the worse. Arsenal are winless in three PL games and are closer to the bottom of the table than to the top, but if ever there was an opponent to come up against, it would be Newcastle, who have picked up just one point in their last eight league matches, conceding 18 goals during that period. On their day, Arsenal are rampant and once they hit their stride - which I expect them to against the beleaguered Magpies - they should record a routine victory. Score prediction: 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Burnley Brighton's good early-season form has all but petered out, the South Coast side taking just two points from their last six games, and are in danger of losing four successive league games for the first time since December 2011. Burnley, meanwhile, have won six of their last eight league matches and have conceded just 12 goals all season, making a name for themselves as this season's success story - so far - by poking their noses into the top four in midweek. The Seagulls are however likely to sit back and let the Clarets come at them, so I don't think it'll necessarily be a straightforward afternoon for Sean Dyche's side. A draw for me. Score prediction: 1-1 Chelsea vs. Southampton The Blues haven't exactly had a bad time this season, but with Manchester City being as rampant as they are, losing four of the first 17 games is not a good recipe for a successful title defence. However, Antonio Conte's side have won seven of their last nine, including their last four at Stamford Bridge, so they're going to be a tough proposition for stuttering Southampton. Saints' tally of 18 points after 17 games is their lowest at this stage since their first season back in the Premier League in 2012-13, but they do have a superb on-form striker in Charlie Austin. Score prediction: 3-2 Stoke City vs. West Ham United Mark Hughes is currently a manager under pressure, with Stoke losing four of their last five league matches and their only win in seven fixtures coming at home to bottom-of-the-table Swansea. The Potters have 16 points after 17 matches, their lowest tally at this stage of a Premier League season, and they'll be up against a resurgent Hammers side that gave Manchester City a good game, beat Chelsea and drew with Arsenal. However, will the players take a trip to Stoke as seriously as the league's giants? After all they have only managed one victory in 10 league matches and have failed to win any of their nine away games in the division this season, losing the last three. Score prediction: 1-1 Watford vs. Huddersfield Town Watford's great start has petered out somewhat in the last few games and, although defeat to Manchester United is not shameful and a draw against Spurs is a good result, losing to Burnley (a team on their level) and Palace (a team they should have beaten) is more of a red flag. The Hornets are winless in their last four league games, losing three of them, and only nine of their 22 league points have been claimed at Vicarage Road. However, a home game against Huddersfield in the form they're in could prove a timely tonic. The Terriers have lost five and won only one of their last six Premier League games, as well as suffering five successive away defeats in the division and not even scoring for seven away games. Score prediction: 2-1 Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (5:30pm) Is anyone going to half the runaway Man City train? Pep Guardiola's side have just broken the Premier League record for consecutive wins, a staggering 15. And it's not even the Spaniard's best streak - he won 16 in a row with Barcelona in 2010-11 and 19 with Bayern Munich in 2013-14. Spurs, meanwhile, have not won a Premier League away game since beating Huddersfield in September, claiming just one point from four matches, and under Mauricio Pochettino, they have won just one of 17 league games away to the "big six". On the bright side for Tottenham, they have returned to form with two wins from their last two, and they have a good record against Man City over the years. Although it all points to the Citizens claiming another win, I have the sneaking feeling that this could be a coupon-buster, so I'm going to stick my neck out and say Spurs will win. Score prediction: 1-2 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  20. Due to three Premier League games played on the Sunday (plus one Saturday late kickoff), we have seven fixtures this Wednesday. How will the teams involved get on? Here is Football Manics' preview of all the games taking place on Wednesday. Southampton vs. Leicester City (7:45pm) Claude Puel returns to St Mary's for the first time since his dismissal as a resurgent Leicester go in search of a fourth Premier League win on the spin against Southampton. The Frenchman, who was sacked by Saints at the end of last season, has worked wonders at the King Power Stadium, guiding the Foxes out of their early-season struggles and up to eighth in the table. Mauricio Pellegrino, meanwhile, has failed to have a similar impact as the Saints have won just four of their 16 league games this season to see them sit in 11th place. That said, they did hold Arsenal to a draw on Sunday and as such will be hoping to go one further against Leicester - I can see them getting a point. Score prediction: 1-1 Newcastle United vs. Everton (7:45pm) Amazing how quickly things change - had this fixture taken place a month or two ago, Newcastle would have been heavy favourites as they began the season brightly, while Everton were down in the dumps. As of mid-december, Newcastle's season continues to go from bad to worse, now just two points above the drop zone and with the worst form in the division at present. Everton, meanwhile, are six points clear of the bottom three, with relegation firefighter Sam Allardyce having broken his football hiatus to link up with the Toffees, and will be buoyed from their draw against Liverpool (even though they were comprehensively outplayed). I see more of the same - Newcastle continuing their slump, Everton continuing their revival. Score prediction: 1-3 Swansea City vs. Manchester City (7:45pm) Swansea managed to stabilise the ship somewhat with a 1-0 win over West Brom at the weekend but they've still got a long way to go and a lot more hard work to do if they are to claw themselves out of the bottom three given how poor they've been for most of the season. Coming up against the unstoppable force that is Manchester City, who have quite literally swept all before them this season (bar the draw against Everton earlier in the campaign and the dead rubber defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk), I can't see them getting anything from this game. With Jose Mourinho throwing the towel in the title race, that makes every other top six club in the division having done so - and two weeks before Christmas, which is testament to just how dominant Man City have been. Although Pep Guardiola's side will undoubtedly drop points and suffer a defeat or two between now and the end of the season, I really can't see the Swans doing so. Score prediction: 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (8pm) Spurs, like every other title contender, have picked the wrong season to drop more points than expected but got back on track with an impressive 5-1 win over Stoke City at the weekend and will be eager to claw their way back into the top four when they host Brighton. The Seagulls have had a promising start to the season following promotion but a couple of cracks now seem to be appearing, with only one goal scored and a single point collected in the last four matches. Although they won away at West Ham and Swansea, they've not scored a single goal in five games on the road against teams above them in the table, so I fancy Tottenham to record a routine victory on Wednesday. Score prediction: 3-0 Manchester United vs. Bournemouth (8pm) Jose Mourinho was the final of the non-Man City big six to concede defeat in the title race given Man United's derby defeat left them 11 points behind their city rivals, but with 22 games still to go, they must not give an inch in their bid to keep up the pressure on Pep Guardiola's side. The Cherries have drawn three of their past four games to inch further away from the danger zone and have lost just once in six, but have also gone four league matches without a victory. Even though United will be rattled, I still expect them to have too much for Eddie Howe's side as the Red Devils bid to at least try to make it up to their fans at Old Trafford, Score prediction: 2-1 Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion (8pm) With yet another point dropped at the weekend, Liverpool must now work hard to try and keep a place in the top four, especially given how strong their attack is and how an absence of Champions League football could easily see Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah considering their options. West Brom is an ideal opponent to get to grips with after the frustrations of the Merseyside derby as Alan Pardew continues to search for his first win as Baggies boss and try to edge away from the bottom three. Jurgen Klopp's side are unbeaten in seven league matches, winning five, and have gone 14 games without defeat at Anfield in all competitions. Plus, only three of the 20 league goals they have conceded this season have come at Anfield, whilst scoring 63 in 25 competitive games this season. West Brom, meanwhile, are winless in 14 league games since August, failing to score in half of those matches, and their only away win in 17 attempts this calendar year came at Burnley in August. As bankers go, I'd say this is a home win (watch it be a draw). Score prediction: 3-0 West Ham United vs. Arsenal (8pm) West Ham are slowly improving under David Moyes, culminating in the great 1-0 win over Chelsea at the weekend, so if ever there was a time to face an opponent like Arsenal, I would say now is as good as ever. The Hammers' three Premier League wins this season have all come at home, having also beaten Huddersfield and Swansea, giving them hope against a Gunners side blowing hot and cold. Arsenal have won just two of their eight top-flight away matches this season and have conceded 32 Premier League away goals in 2017, while nine of their 11 defeats this calendar year have come from home. That said, despite a resurgent West Ham, I can see Arsene Wenger well aware of how they did against Chelsea and lining up his team accordingly, so I reckon Arsenal will have too much for their opponents. Score prediction: 0-2 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  21. Matchday 15 of the Premier League is nearly upon us and there are some tasty fixtures this weekend, most notably Arsenal against Manchester United. Here is Football Manics's preview of Saturday's games. Chelsea vs. Newcastle United (12:30pm) Antonio Conte's side are back on track after a rocky start to the season, reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League and in the top three of the Premier League. In stark contrast, Newcastle's promising early-season form has collapsed, their last five games yielding four defeats and a draw (against struggling West Brom, in which they had to come back from two goals down). With Chelsea at home and finding their swagger again, against a side in awful form, whose manager is unhappy with the running of the club, and off-the-field uncertainty, this should only go one way. Score prediction: 3-0 Stoke City vs. Swansea City (3pm) After the game between Everton and West Ham in midweek, this is another crucial game in the relegation battle. Stoke have claimed just two points from a possible 12 and hover just three points above the bottom three, even if they were somewhat unfortunate against Crystal Palace and Liverpool. Swansea, meanwhile, are three points from safety, having claimed just one point from their last six outings, and went through the whole of November without scoring a single goal. This is just the fixture that Stoke would have wanted in their current state and I expect them to get a good result on board. Score prediction: 2-0 Brighton vs. Liverpool (3pm) Brighton have stumbled a little in the last few weeks, drawing against Stoke and Crystal Palace, although losing against Manchester United by one goal is by no means shameful. Chris Hughton's side have not lost at home since the opening day of the Premier League season, but will have a task on their hands against an in-form Liverpool side. Since losing heavily to Tottenham Hotspur in mid-October, Jurgen Klopp's charges have taken 13 points from a possible 15, with their attack on top of their game, although their recent defensive mishaps against Sevilla in the CL and Chelsea show there's still work to be done at the back. Although I think Brighton will be a tough nut to crack, I can't see them getting a result against the Reds. Score prediction: 1-3 Watford vs. Tottenham Hotspur (3pm) With Everton's job vacancy now filled by Sam Allardyce, Watford's fans can breathe again in terms of Marco Silva's future at the club, but on the pitch, the Hornets have been inconsistent of late. Emphatic wins over Newcastle and West Ham have been sandwiched by losses to Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton and Stoke, and although Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has refocused his side's goal for the season to a top-four challenge due to their own recent poor form, the reduction in pressure may work in their favour. Tottenham won 4-1 last time they played at Vicarage Road, at the start of this year, but with Silva having improved his side and with arguably the most promising young player in the league (Richarlison) in their ranks, this could be a tight contest. Score prediction: 2-2 West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace (3pm) The Baggies remain perilously close to the drop zone but, with two consecutive draws stopping the rot and a new manager in place, Alan Pardew's side seem to have turned a corner. However, so have Palace. Their start to the campaign went down in history as being the worst in the top flight but, credit to Roy Hodgson, he has slowly but surely reinvigorated the Eagles, their last three games yielding a creditable five points. I think it will be a cagey game and neither side will come out on top, cue a share of the spoils. Score prediction: 0-0 Everton vs. Huddersfield Town (3pm) Another struggling team that may just have turned a corner, Everton bounced back from heavy defeats to Atalanta and Southampton with a thrashing of West Ham as Wayne Rooney bagged a superb hat-trick against former Toffees boss David Moyes. With Everton now boasting dogfight expert "Fireman" Sam Allardyce in the dugout, they'll be a lot grittier and more focused, and a Huddersfield side which shipped 14 goals and scored none in their last four away games, the Toffees couldn't have asked for a better fixture for the former England boss to make his debut. David Wagner has done a great job so far with the Terriers, and had they faced Everton a week ago I would have tipped them to win, but now I think the hosts will build on their win over the Hammers and do enough to break down their opponents for a narrow win. Score prediction: 1-0 Leicester City vs. Burnley (3pm) Once again I find myself using the term "turning a corner", seems to be a running theme at the moment in the Premier League, as that's what Leicester have done since appointing Claude Puel, whose last five games have yielded two wins - including against Spurs - and two draws (a defeat to Manchester City is effectively part of the order of things at present). Burnley, meanwhile, are having a sensational season, sitting above Tottenham and within touching distance of the top four. They've got four wins from their last five (and the defeat to Arsenal was unlucky and perhaps contentious to say the least), with Chris Wood a revelation up front since his move from Leeds United. Another hard game to call, I fancy Burnley to edge this, with Wood bagging a goal or two against his former club. Score prediction: 1-2 Arsenal vs. Manchester United (5:30pm) The standout fixture from this weekend's top-flight programme, these two teams effectively maintained a duopoly over the Premier League title for the best part of 12 years - between 1992/93 and 2003/04, all but one of the trophies went to either Arsenal or United (and in 1994/95, the Red Devils finished just one point behind Blackburn Rovers). Fixtures between these two weren't just games, they were battles - who can forget the titanic tussles between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, or Martin Keown's confrontation with Ruud van Nistelrooy, or the infamous "Battle of the Buffet"? Fastforward a decade and the Premier League is now a much more open shop, with the Gunners' failure to win a title since their Invincible season of 03/04 and United's own downturn in fortunes since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure in 2013 taking some of the intensity away from this fixture. However, the Gunners are on top form at the minute, winning their last three in the league without shipping a goal and on the brink of a 13th consecutive home win since November 2005, with the defence watertight and the attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette having clicked together wonderfully. Jose Mourinho's side are also in great shape at the minute, but aside from having a strong strikeforce of their own, they also know how to shut up shop and, knowing their manager, he will probably try to squeeze all life from this game as he will be well aware of the opposition's attacking prowess. In my opinion, Arsenal will do just enough to get the win, but it will be a tense, nervous and probably unexciting game, with a good few cautions and maybe even a late red thrown in the mix. Score prediction: 1-0 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  22. It's not even been 24 hours since matchday 13 of the Premier League was wrapped up with Manchester City's flukey win over Huddersfield Town that we're gearing up for matchday 14, a rare midweek programme. Four fixtures will take place on Tuesday night and six on Wednesday night - in this article, Football Manics previews the first set of games. Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Crystal Palace (7:45pm) The M23 derby returns to the top flight for the first time in 36 years and will take place for the first time ever in the Premier League, with Brighton and Palace embroiled in an intense rivalry. The Seagulls were unlucky to leave Manchester United on the back of a 1-0 defeat at the weekend, so what better way to bounce back than by defeating their bitter rivals? The Eagles, meanwhile, claimed just their second win of the season on Saturday by beating Stoke City and could really kickstart the campaign with victory at the Amex. As we all know, derby games see the form book go out the window and, with Brighton taking to the top flight like a duck to water and Palace on an upward trajectory, I think it will be a fiercely contested game with little between them. Score prediction: 2-2 (and possibly a red card) Leicester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (7:45pm) Spurs and Leicester were the last two horses in the exhilarating, dramatic, scarcely believable Premier League title race of 2015/16, which went the way of the Foxes. Fast-forward one-and-a-half seasons and Tottenham remain equipped for a title challenge, while Leicester have somewhat gone off the boil since their triumph. Mauricio Pochettino's side, however, have stumbled in the league recently, losing at Arsenal and drawing with West Brom, but Claude Puel's charges haven't won any of their last three. Spurs won 6-1 when they last visited the King Power in the penultimate game of last season but neither side had anything to play for so I expect a tighter encounter this time round. I think the visitors will edge it. Score prediction: 1-2 Watford vs. Manchester United (8pm) Watford have had a great season of late, sitting eighth in the table and boasting one of the Premier League's best young new arrivals in Richarlison, who was instrumental as the Hornets thrashed Newcastle United 3-0 at St James' Park at the weekend. United were largely unimpressive during Saturday's 1-0 Premier League victory over Brighton, but will be boosted by the availability of Romelu Lukaku, who was fearing a ban for an apparent kick on Gaetan Bong at the weekend but ultimately a panel decided no action would be taken. Marco Silva has found himself batting away speculation on his future amid reports linking him to Everton and the feeling is that he just wants to get on with his job at Vicarage Road, which is something that he is doing very well. Although I can see Watford performing well against United, I expect the visitors to put in a much more effective performance at the back than Newcastle and do enough up front to nick a goal. Score prediction: 0-1 West Bromwich Albion vs. Newcastle United (8pm) Two teams woefully out of form will be meeting at The Hawthorns - West Brom have just two wins out of their 13 Premier League games this season, while Newcastle have lost their last four in the league. Rafael Benitez, who today has publicly complained about the lack of funds available to him once again, is likely to draft Mikel Merino back in, while Isaac Hayden is available after suspension. West Brom have yet to appoint a new manager following the sacking of Tony Pulis but put in a much-improved performance against Spurs at the weekend so momentum is with them and I think they will get the better of the beleagured Magpies. Score prediction: 2-0 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  23. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has stated that neither Zlatan Ibrahimovic nor Paul Pogba will play the full 90 minutes against Brighton on Saturday. Last weekend, the two players both made their long-awaited return to action against Newcastle United, and continued their comebacks against Basel in the Champions League. However, Mourinho has said that Pogba requires more time to fully recover from a hamstring injury, while Ibrahimovic will not be rushed having been on the sidelines since April with a serious knee injury. The 54-year-old told a press conference: "We managed to give Zlatan 15-20 minutes in both matches, he needs more of that, so hopefully tomorrow we play him again. "Paul is still on this process where he cannot reach the fatigue limit, he cannot go more than 65/70 minutes and, with so many games consecutively, we need to protect such an important player for us." About Ibrahimovic, Mourinho continued: "He's not a player that you play only if the team is losing or only if the team is winning. "He's a player that's easy to bring in to the game, so normally he's going to have these periods of 15 to 20 minutes and, one day, we will feel that he's physically ready. "He's always here, he's always positive, he's a good influence. It doesn't change the fact he's playing or not playing. "That is important on the pitch because he's one more option for us and I think it's impossible for Lukaku to play every match, so we need this second option." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  24. We are just one month away from Christmas, 12 games into the Premier League season, and despite the temperature going down outdoors, the action over the next few weeks is bound to get real hot! We're just about a third of the way into the 2017-18 campaign and the table has nicely taken shape, with Manchester City way in front at the top, with Manchester United their closest challengers eight points behind. It's pretty open in the European places, with just four points separating second-placed Man United and seventh-placed Burnley. At the bottom the cracks have started to appear as more teams have parted ways with their managers, West Bromwich Albion the latest to press the panic button and fire Tony Pulis. So what can we expect from this week's Premier League fixtures? Football Manics writer Joe Jones discusses each of the games. West Ham vs. Leicester City (Friday, 7:45pm) David Moyes's tenure at struggling West Ham got off to a bad start when his first game ended in a 2-0 loss at Watford last Sunday, prompting disgruntled Hammers fans - already reeling from the appointment of an unpopular manager who is deemed damaged goods - to vent their anger at the club's directors. Tonight Moyes will make his home bow as West Ham manager, the 18th-placed East Londoners welcoming Leicester City to the London Stadium. West Ham will look to arrest an alarming run of form which has seen them lose three and draw two of their last five, but they'll have to do so without Javier Hernandez, Michail Antonio and James Collins. Leicester dismissed Craig Shakespeare earlier this season and their form has picked up under Claude Puel, a defeat to Manchester City last time out no cause for shame. I tip the Foxes to have a relatively straightforward time at the London Stadium tonight, with a weakened Hammers team whose fans are on their back being picked apart by Leicester's counter-attacking prowess. Result prediction: 0-3 Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (Saturday, 3pm) Manchester United will be eager to get back to winning ways following their frustrating 1-0 defeat at Basel in Wednesday's Champions League Group A encounter. The Red Devils will be depleted at the back as Phil Jones and Eric Bailly have been ruled out, but Marcos Rojo is back from injury after making his comeback in Switzerland, while Paul Pogba is expected to start while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also expected to feature. Jose Mourinho's charges are under massive pressure not to slip up again in the league, having lost two of their last four, in order not to let Manchester City's eight-point lead grow further. Promoted Brighton, meanwhile, travel to Old Trafford in good form having not lost a game since October 1, winning two and drawing three of their previous five matches to move up to ninth in the Premier League. Despite the form book favouring the Seagulls, I expect Man United to have too much quality to see off the visitors, though I think there will be quite a few goals in this. Result prediction: 4-2 Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City (Saturday, 3pm) An absolutely crucial game for both sides at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace will be desperate to earn just their second Premier League win of the season. The Eagles sit at the bottom of the table following their atrocious start to the campaign and, even though Roy Hodgson has managed to get five points on board from five games since his arrival, they must step it up to try and edge closer to safety. Fortunately for Palace, they can call on Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha which increases their quality in the final third - their only absentees are Chung-yojng Lee and Connor Wickham. Likewise, Stoke are a little too close to the drop zone for comfort, just four points and three places above 18th-placed West Ham, and a win could edge them into the top half of the table, while defeat to the league's basement side could blow the survival race wide open. I predict both sides to give a good account of themselves without having enough quality to edge the other - I think this has a draw written all over it. Score prediction: 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 3pm) Spurs suffered a major setback in the title race by losing 2-0 at Arsenal, now sitting 11 points behind Man City, although their Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund that gave them top spot in their group could prove a mental boost ahead of Saturday's game. Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama are Tottenham's only injury concerns for the Baggies encounter as they face a team that is managerless and has won just two of their last 21 league games. Tony Pulis was sacked by the club due to the woeful run, which has left them close to the drop zone, with Gary Megson taking the first-team reins ahead of a baptism of fire. Given Spurs will want to get back to winning ways in the league and West Brom being in a bad place at the minute, I can only see this going one way - a heavy win for Mauricio Pochettino's side. Score prediction: 4-0 Swansea City vs. Bournemouth (Saturday, 3pm) Swansea are a four-game losing streak in the Premier League and are two points adrift of safety, so they will not be happy about the news that top scorer Tammy Abraham could be absent for this weekend's game against an improving Bournemouth outfit. The Cherries are currently 13th in the table, having been down in the lower echelons of the table until a run of three wins from their last four games saw them climb upwards. Callum Wilson looks likely to lead the line again for Bournemouth after netting a hat-trick against Huddersfield last time out and with Jermain Defoe nursing a calf injury. With Eddie Howe's side in such good form at the moment, I tip them to leave the Liberty Stadium with all three points, though I think Swansea will put up a good fight. Score prediction: 0-2 Newcastle United vs. Watford (Saturday, 3pm) Newcastle's form has been up and down like a yo-yo this season - first they struggled, then they edged into the top spots of the table, now they're desperately looking for points after three defeats in a row. Watford were on just as poor a run until last weekend, when they saw off West Ham, but with Marco Silva's future in apparent doubt amid interest from Everton and his refusal to rule out a move, could this destabilise the players? I predict this to be a tight game with both sides cancelling each other out and the points split. Score prediction: 1-1 Liverpool vs. Chelsea (Saturday, 5pm) By far the biggest fixture this weekend, Liverpool welcome Chelsea to Anfield reeling from a disastrous display at Sevilla in midweek where they gave up a three-goal half-time lead to draw 3-3, which leaves them in need of getting a result in their final Champions League game to seal qualification to the knockout stages. Jurgen Klopp must decide whether to persevere with Alberto Moreno after the left-back's poor performance in Spain, while Joel Matip could return from injury to shore up the defence. Although Chelsea's players are likely to be tired after a taxing trip to Azerbaijan and back in midweek, they'll be taking on the Reds on the back of two 4-0 wins, against West Bromwich Albion last weekend and at FK Qarabag on Wednesday. This one's especially hard to call - will Liverpool have learnt from their mistakes in midweek to put in a sturdier performance at the back and will Mohamed Salah continue his purple patch against his old club, or will Chelsea maintain their momentum? I'm going for an away win. Score prediction: 1-3 Southampton vs. Everton (Sunday, 1:30pm) Southampton aren't in the best shape at the minute, having lost their last two games, and will be missing Oriol Romeu, who is suspended after accumulating five bookings. However, Everton are in arguably worse condition, having suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat to an average Atalanta side on Thursday, although their Premier League form is marginally improving, with a win over Watford followed up by a draw against Crystal Palace. To be honest, David Unsworth does not really seem up to the job of rallying round a morale-sapped Toffees side, and I can see the Saints claiming all three points against the Toffees. Score prediction: 1-0 Burnley vs. Arsenal (Sunday, 2pm) Aside from the all-conquering Manchester City, Burnley are the in-form team in the Premier League, their last six games boasting four wins and a draw, plus three victories on the trot. Sean Dyche's charges are level on points with Arsenal, who they welcome to Turf Moor on Sunday, but the Gunners will prove a stern test with a morale-boosting 2-0 win in the North London derby last week. Arsene Wenger made 11 changes for the Europa League loss to Cologne on Thursday but despite the defeat, they still finished top of their group and have the advantage of rested first-teamers for their trip to Burnley. It could very well prove a banana skin for Arsenal but I fancy the on-form front trident of Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to prove too much for the Clarets. Prediction: 0-3 Huddersfield Town vs. Manchester City (Sunday, 4pm) The Manchester City juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down, with a remarkable winning run of 17 games in all competitions, while in the league, they have only dropped two points all season. Huddersfield, however, have also started the campaign well and managed to claim a shock victory over Manchester United, though their last outing saw them fall to a 4-0 hammering by Bournemouth. Pep Guardiola will be well aware of the Terriers' win over the Red Devils and will make sure his players will be too, making them less likely to fall into the complacency trap. I can only see this going one way. Score prediction: 0-5 Do you agree with JJ's predictions? Share your thoughts and your own predictions on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  25. Tomer Hemed has extended his contract with Brighton & Hove Albion and will remain at the Amex Stadium until the summer of 2019. The Israel international, 30, has scored two goals in seven Premier League outings for the Seagulls this season. Hemed joined Brighton from Spanish side Almeria in June 2015 and has scored 33 goals in 97 appearances for the south coast club. "I was part of the team that got promoted and now I can be happy and enjoy the Premier League with Brighton," Hemed told BBC Sussex. "I wanted to show the club that I can play at this level." "In the summer no-one knew what was going to happen to me and until the last day it was still an option that I would leave. "Sometimes it happens in football and as a professional you need to deal with the situation. "I am happy I started the season well and it has made the club take the decision and shown me they are happy with me and want me for longer." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.

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