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Found 415 results

  1. 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.
  2. Arsene Wenger has revealed that a deal involving Alexis Sanchez joining Manchester United and Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving to Arsenal “is likely to happen”. The Chilean, who is believed to have been pining for a move away from the Emirates, was expected to join Manchester City but then United entered the race and are now the firm favourites to sign him. Wenger wants Mkhitaryan to be part of the deal and his comments on Thursday morning have hinted towards the deal going forward. Earlier in the week Mkhitaryan’s agent, Mino Raiola, said that the deal hinged on the Armenian’s willingness to move to Arsenal. “The deal can happen or it cannot happen,” Wenger said. “If it doesn’t happen he [Sanchez] could play on Saturday. I’ve worked on transfers for 30 years, it’s likely to happen but these things are never guaranteed. As for Mkhitaryan, he added "I like the player. We played many times against him when he was at Dortmund. He appreciated the quality of our games. The wages would not be a problem." 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. Wales have announced the appointment of Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs as their new manager on a four-year contract. The 44-year-old will be taking on his first major managerial role, his only experience so far having come in a four-game stint in interim charge of United after David Moyes was sacked. Giggs, capped 64 times by Wales in his 24-year professional career, takes over from Chris Coleman, who left the role in November to take over as manager of Championship side Sunderland. The former winger told reporters: "I am so proud to have been given the honour of managing the national team. "The challenges that we have ahead of us with the Nations League and qualification for Euro 2020 excite me a great deal. "I can't wait to start working with the players as we prepare for those crucial games later in the year. "I know that the criticism is going to come and the way to combat that is to win games and give it my all, which I'll do. "I'm just itching to get back into football, because that's where I feel comfortable, that's where I belong. "So many times it's been said that a good career as a player doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be a good manager. But I think that's down to the individual. "I'll do exactly what I did when I was a player - be professional, give it my all and enjoy it." 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. The final Premier League fixture of gameweek 23 sees Manchester United take on Stoke City at Old Trafford. How is Monday night's game expected to pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Standings Man United sit second in the table with 47 points from 22 games and, thanks to a very interesting development on Sunday (Manchester City losing at Liverpool), can narrow the gap to 12 points with victory against the Potters. United have lost only two of their 47 home matches in all competitions under Jose Mourinho, with both defeats coming against Manchester City, but after a run of eight consecutive league wins at home, they have won just one of their last four at Old Trafford. Stoke are languishing in 18th place with a mere 20 points from 22 games and look in real danger of having a survival fight on their hands. Although they have appointed Paul Lambert as their new manager, he will take charge on Tuesday, so Eddie Niedzwiecki will remain in caretaker charge for the game. The Potters have won only three of their 57 Premier League away matches against the clubs that finished in the top six last season, conceding 140 goals, and their three games this term have yielded the following defeats: 7-2 at Manchester City, 5-1 at Tottenham and 5-0 at Chelsea. Head to head Stoke earned a Premier League point at Old Trafford for the first time last season, having lost on their eight previous visits in the division. The Potters are winless in 17 away trips against Manchester United in all competitions since a 1-0 victory in April 1976 - and of these 17, 15 have been defeats. The last three league meetings have been drawn, and the Red Devils have not drawn four consecutive league games against the same opponent since a five-match streak against Leeds United between 1982 and 1991. Coach quotes (BBC Sport) Jose Mourinho: "From the outside, I think [Mark Hughes] is a guy with great qualities to do the job for them. I don't think for the players it's a difficult situation - probably they train the same way and it's not a dramatic change that isn't good in this period of the season." Kevin Russell, Stoke youth coach: "Usually when managers go, everyone has got to look at their self. Not only the players, but staff from bottom to the top. Could we have done more? Could we have done better? So I'm sure the players are in that frame of mind and think they've got a point to prove. I'm sure they will be eager to try and impress." Team news Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remain absent through injury, while Ashley Young will be missing due to suspension. Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia took part in United's warm-weather training camp in Dubai last week and the pair could be involved. Stoke hope to have defenders Erik Pieters and Bruno Martins Indi available after respective hamstring and groin injuries respectively. Ryan Shawcross, recently sidelined by a calf problem, may also feature, along with new signing Moritz Bauer. Prediction Man United come into this game on the back of a five-game unbeaten run and will be fully confident in their ability to see off the struggling Potters. Add to that the psychological boost of knowing that Man City have finally been defeated and the Red Devils will not want to miss the opportunity to narrow the gap to 12 points. After all, Newcastle United were 12 points ahead of United in January 1996 and we all know how that turned out - so for me it'll be a routine win against a side that won't be able to cope. 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.
  5. Jose Mourinho has refused to give Henrikh Mkhitaryan any assurances over his Manchester United future. The Armenian was one of Mourinho's first signings in the summer of 2016 from Borussia Dortmund but his career has been beset by inconsistency and spells in and out of the team. "My approach to players is that every player has a price," Mourinho said when asked by Sky Sports about whether Mkhitaryan would stay. "When the transfer window is open, it's also open for any club that is interested in our players. Then it's up to us to make the decision: yes or no. "It doesn't matter who he is. It doesn't matter the level. It doesn't matter the prestige, the status. I think every player has a price. "And I am not the kind of blind manager...blind in the sense of, this player is untouchable, can never be sold. I think every player has a price. "So when the transfer window is open, it's also open for any club that is interested in our players. Then it's up to us to make the decision: yes or no. "It's up to us to decide what we think is the right price. But Mkhitaryan played the last match in the FA Cup and probably will play the next one [against Stoke]. "He's a little bit the same in relation to other players that are involved in this gossip of the transfer market. "He is our player and a very good player. So Saturday [he is] training, then Sunday [he is] selected and Monday [he will] play." 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.
  6. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has saluted Alexis Sanchez as a "phenomenal" player and did not rule out a potential move for the Arsenal forward. The Chile international is widely expected to leave the Emirates Stadium this year, and the Red Devils are believed to have joined Manchester United in the race for his signature. "I don't think it is ethical or correct to be speaking about players of other clubs," Mourinho told reporters when asked about any potential interest in Sanchez. "If somebody speaks about one of my players, to say we are interested or not I wouldn't be very happy. "Sanchez is an Arsenal player. I don't know but probably this weekend he is going to wear Arsenal colours. I don't think it is correct to say things about Alexis Sanchez. "At a general level, what I can say is that myself and the Manchester United board, we do not believe a lot in the January market. We don't believe in signing a player just to do something. "What we believe is there are some players in the football world where, if you have a chance to sign them, whether it is in January, March or July, then you have to try. "In relation to Sanchez all I can say, which everyone else says, is that he is a phenomenal player. I feel I shouldn't say much more than this." Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, meanwhile, said he tried to sign Sanchez while at Juventus, and thinks £20m for the 29-year-old would be a "good investment" and also a bargain. "He's a great player and he knows very well that in my first season in Juventus we tried to buy him from Udinese and then he decided to go to Udinese," said Conte. "I have great admiration for great players, I think Alexis Sanchez is one of these players. If Manchester City want Alexis Sanchez, they buy Alexis Sanchez and they don't have problem. "I think it's a good investment because we are talking about a top player and I'm hearing that the amount is around £20m. If you buy Alexis Sanchez with a normal price maybe 80 or 90 million euros." 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.
  7. Sheffield United have completed the permanent signing of Wales international midfielder Lee Evans from Wolverhampton Wanderers for an undisclosed fee. In addition, the Blades have recruited Manchester United striker James Wilson on a loan deal. The signings come a day after Sheffield United snapped up Southend United midfielder Ryan Leonard on a three-and-a-half-year deal for an undisclosed fee. "Lee is a great age with his best years ahead of him," manager Chris Wilder told the official United website. "We've watched him and monitored his progress for a while and we're delighted to get him permanently. "He is a young international; he fits in with what we're about and is an excellent player who we hope will add further depth and competition to our midfield." On Wilson, Wilder said: "James has a fantastic pedigree having come through the ranks at Manchester United and importantly has some good Championship experience. "He says he is raring to go and is the fittest he has ever been, so couple that with his undoubted ability and desire to impress, then I'm sure he will improve the group." 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.
  8. Manchester United have pledged to subsidise their fans travelling to Sevilla by charging the La Liga club's supporters £89 to visit Old Trafford for the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie. The Red Devils have matched the figure that Sevilla have insisted on charging visiting fans for the first leg in Spain, and the Red Devils will use the proceeds from their ticket sales to refund their own travelling supporters. United attempted to get Sevilla to lower the cost but, having failed to persuade them to do so, the club have said they will respond by hiking up the prices to the same amount for away supporters in March. That additional revenue will be used to subsidise United fans £35 each for their ticket in Seville, in keeping with the £54 Liverpool fans paid for their trip to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in November, with any extra money donated to the Manchester United Foundation. Sam Kelleher, head of ticketing and membership at United, informed supporters of the plans in an email on Wednesday, which read: "In this instance we believe that our travelling supporters are unfairly being subjected to increased/excessive ticket prices from the host club. "This view is shared generally amongst travelling supporters, and we have received lots of requests from individuals and supporter groups to intervene in this matter. "This has been raised with Sevilla, and internally, but ultimately Sevilla have not agreed to significantly lower the price of tickets for our fans to what we view as a reasonable level. "Therefore we have taken the difficult decision to charge Sevilla fans for the return leg at Old Trafford the same amount as our fans have been charged for the away fixture. "We have decided to increase the ticket prices for Sevilla fans for the game at Old Trafford, and use this increase to subsidise our fans, as we want this to act as a deterrent to future opponents who look to increase ticket prices for our travelling supporters. "We will subsidise our travelling support by refunding the difference between the price charged (£89) and the price that was paid by Liverpool supporters in the Group Stage of this year's competition. "The £35 difference will be refunded prior to the game taking place. "As a result of the changes to ticket prices for away fans, should we gain any additional revenue after having refunded our supporters, we will donate this to the Manchester United Foundation." 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.
  9. Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has insisted that he "will not forget" his feud with Manchester United's Jose Mourinho, adding that it is a problem between the two managers, not their clubs. The two have traded insults over the past few days as Conte responded to Mourinho speaking about “clowns” on the touchline by accusing the Portuguese of losing his mind. Mourinho hit back by referencing the match-fixing scandal Conte was cleared over, which provoked the Italian to describe the former Chelsea manager as a “little man” and “fake”. Asked whether or not he regrets anything he has said or the nature of the row, Conte said: “Do I have the look of a person who regrets? I don't think so. We both said these things and we'll see what happens in the future.” "This is not a problem for the clubs. It's a problem between me and him. I stop. I think it's not important, (to involve) the association, you understand. It's not important. He said serious words, using serious words and I won't forget this.” 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.
  10. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has escalated the war of words with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte by saying he will never be "suspended for match-fixing". The Italian received a four-month suspension while at Juventus in the 2012-13 season for failing to report match-fixing at his previous club Siena, although he was cleared of any wrongdoing by a court in 2016. However, Mourinho nonetheless appeared to drag the issue up in the wake of his side's FA Cup win over Derby on Friday night. Conte had earlier suggested that the United manager had forgotten some of his own past behaviour when it was put to him that Mourinho had suggested that he behaved like a clown on the touchline. But the Portuguese coach insists he was only referring to himself when discussing the fact that he has toned down his antics on the sidelines. "I don't blame him," Mourinho told reporters after Friday's 2-0 win over Derby County in the third round of the FA Cup. "Honestly, I don't blame him. The question that comes to him comes to him wrong and because of that he has that out-of-control reaction. But I don't blame him at all. "I was asked about my passion and you know because most of you were in my press conference I was speaking about myself. And then the question to the Chelsea manager was like I told [them] that he behaved like a clown. "So I don't blame the Chelsea manager at all and I understand the reaction but I was talking about myself by saying that I don't need to behave like a clown to show passion. "Everybody knows that I don't need the Chelsea manager to know that I made mistakes in the past and I will make mistakes in the future. "I celebrated goals by running 50 metres. I celebrated goals by sliding on my knees. I have celebrated by jumping into the crowd. I am not free of that, especially if it is a winning goal in a specific moment. "I am not free of an out-of-control reaction in the future. But what I was trying to say is that I behaved badly in the past a few times and in this moment I control myself much better. "It doesn't mean that my passion is not the same. So, wrong question. Obviously a strong answer but I don't blame [him]. "The only thing I want to say to Antonio Conte is that, yes, I made my mistakes in the past on the touchline. Yes, I make less but I will [still] make a few. "What has never happened to me and will never happen is to be suspended for match-fixing. That never happened to me and it will never happen." 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.
  11. Antonio Conte has hit back at Jose Mourinho's criticism of other managers' touchline behaviour by describing his comments as borne of 'senile dementia'. On Thursday, the Portuguese appeared to take a swipe at his touchline rivals when comparing his own behaviour in the technical area to other managers in the top flight. Mourinho he did not need to act like a "clown" to prove his desire to stay at Manchester United, saying his commitment to the club is "total". "Because I don't behave as a clown on the touchline, it means that I lost my passion," Mourinho said. "I prefer to behave the way I am doing it, much more mature, better for my team and myself, I don't think you have to behave like a crazy guy on the touchline to have that passion. "That passion, you see it every day. The way a person is dedicated to his work, not what you do in front of the cameras." When asked by Sky Sports about Mourinho's comments, Conte used the Italian phrase "demenza senile" in relation to the Manchester United manager, which translates as "senile dementia". He said: "I think he has to see himself in the past - maybe he was speaking about himself in the past. Maybe, sometimes, I think that someone forgets what's said in the past, which is his behaviour. "Sometimes I think there is, I don't know the name, but demenza senile... when you forget what you do in the past." 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.
  12. The vast majority of Premier League and Football League fixtures will be put on ice this weekend as the third round of the FA Cup takes centre stage. Two big games take place Friday evening - how will they pan out? Football Manics takes a look. Liverpool vs. Everton (7:55pm) First up this weekend is a tasty Merseyside derby clash between rivals Liverpool and Everton, a fixture which is guaranteed to yield fireworks. It's not been a good start to the year at Anfield HQ, with Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can supposedly on the way out to Barcelona (in January) and Juventus (at the end of the season), plus they will be without top scorer Mohamed Salah and Coutinho because of respective groin and thigh injuries. However, defender Virgil van Dijk is in line for his debut following his record £75m move from Southampton. For Everton, forward Cenk Tosun could potentially be signed from Besiktas in time for the game - as of 12:30 GMT today, this has not yet occurred. Michael Keane required stitches in his foot after the defeat by Manchester United and is unlikely to feature, while Idrissa Gueye remains doubtful after missing that game with a hamstring injury. Liverpool are unbeaten at Anfield in all competitions in 2017-18, scoring 37 goals and conceding eight. They have also gone 16 games unbeaten in all competitions, their best run under manager Jurgen Klopp. Meanwhile, Everton have won just once on the road in the Premier League this season and are winless in four games in all competitions, scoring just one goal. However, Wayne Rooney has a good record against the Reds, having scored five goals in his last six league starts - could he prove the difference between the two sides? I personally think he will. Score prediction: 1-2 Manchester United vs. Derby County (8pm) United's last experience of taking on a team outside the Premier League in the cup ended in bitter disappointment, so it will be interesting to see if Jose Mourinho will take this game more seriously than the Bristol City one in the EFL Cup. Already we know that Sergio Romero will start in goal for the Red Devils, while Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini are available after injury, but Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia are still out, and Ashley Young is suspended. Derby forward Tom Lawrence, a former United youngster, is a concern with a hip injury, while midfielders Joe Ledley and Bradley Johnson are doubts due to back injuries. This will be the 10th time these two sides have been drawn together in the FA Cup, meeting as recently as January 2016 as United won 3-1 at the iPro Stadium in the fourth round. The Red Devils have also won each of the last seven FA Cup games against Derby, including two semi-final wins in 1948 and 1976. Keeping in with the positive stats United's way, they have lost just one of their last 35 FA Cup games against lower-league opponents at Old Trafford, as Leeds United won 1-0 there in January 2010. The Rams, meanwhile, have only progressed past an opponent from a higher division in one of their last 15 FA Cup ties, although that came just a year ago as West Brom were beaten at the Hawthorns at this stage last season. Although Derby are doing well in the Championship and will likely give United a fright, I think Mourinho will have mentally discarded the Premier League, most likely setting for a top three berth, so will pour more resources into this competition and as such I see the hosts winning tonight. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Jose Mourinho has admitted that Manchester United are finding it "difficult" to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain because of their spending power. The Red Devils have spent around £300m on new players since the summer of 2016, including £89m on Paul Pogba and a further £75m - potentially rising to £90m - on striker Romelu Lukaku. Man City have brought in 16 new players during the same timeframe, meanwhile, and fellow European heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain smashed the transfer record earlier this year by recruiting Neymar from Barcelona for £198m and reaching an agreement to bring in Kylian Mbappe for a triple-figure fee. "It is difficult [to compete] but it is possible. Sometimes if you don't have that financial profile of club where there are no limits and the only thing that matters is to get the best, there is only one way which is patience, calm and time," Mourinho told reporters. "I think next season we will get two or three more players. But we will lose two or three. "[We are] not going to have a dramatic change or a dramatic improvement. When [Jurgen] Klopp arrived in Liverpool he trusted his quality as a good coach, which he is, but I think now he realises that is not enough to be a champion, to win the Champions League and to win trophies. "So now you can see Liverpool with Naby Keita, who they have already bought for next summer, and with Virgil van Dijk, they realise they have to go to the same levels of the crazy market. Because if they offer £40m, Southampton don't sell them the player. Some clubs invest with limits, some go absolutely strong in the market. "What Paris Saint-Germain did this summer with Neymar and Mbappe, they get two of probably the four best attacking players in the world. Two at the same time. And then players like [Angel] Di Maria, [Julian] Draxler, [Javier] Pastore, Lucas Moura - they are second choices. So, money makes a difference." 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. The festive period continues to bring forth football, with this weekend's action followed up by the New Year's Day games. Football Manics previews Saturday's Premier League action - all games 3pm kickoff unless otherwise stated. Watford vs. Swansea City Watford put an end to their poor run in the league with a win over Leicester last time out and could welcome back Will Hughes, Miguel Britos and Isaac Success after injury. Basement side Swansea, meanwhile have won just one of their last 12 Premier League matches, drawing two games and losing nine, and have conceded 13 goals in their last four league matches. The appointment of Carlos Carvalhal, who was sacked by Sheffield Wednesday in the division below, raised some eyebrows, and I expect the Portuguese to be given a losing debut. Score prediction: 3-0 Huddersfield Town vs. Burnley The Terriers, who may be missing Chris Lowe, have enjoyed a solid first half of the season and currently sit 11th in the table, and although they've only won two of their last nine games, they've lost just one in the last five. They face Burnley, the surprise package of 2017-18 so far, although they're winless in the last three and could be missing Stephen Ward, James Tarkowski and Chris Wood. Although the Clarets have proven themselves against the top teams of the division, I can see this being a conservative game ending in a stalemate, like the reserve earlier in the season. Score prediction: 0-0 Bournemouth vs. Everton Cherries boss Eddie Howe finds himself under pressure as his side could go nine Premier Leagues without winning for the first time, and no fewer than four players face late fitness tests. Everton are now a completely different proposition to the side that struggled near the foot of the table earlier in the season, still undefeated under Sam Allardyce and conceding just two goals in their last seven. A hard one to call, I fancy the Toffees to pile more pressure on Howe. Score prediction: 0-2 Newcastle United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion The Magpies are expected to revert to a more attacking setup following the Manchester City game as Rafael Benitez deems this a must-win, his side having won just one of their last 11 and looking to avoid a record-equalling sixth consecutive top-flight home defeat. Brighton are also in poor form, having won only once in their last nine league games and scored a total of just one goal in their last five matches, plus they have lost four consecutive away league matches without scoring for the first time since 2002. I believe home advantage, plus a relatively easy opponent in bad form, should swing it Newcastle's way. Score prediction: 3-1 Liverpool vs. Leicester City The attacking force of Liverpool, soon to be strengthened at the back by £75m Virgil van Dijk, meets a Leicester side whose form has tailed off following a superb winning run. Liverpool have not lost in 11 league games, which is their joint-best run under Jurgen Klopp, and have only conceded three goals in their 10 league games at home this season. Leicester, meanwhile, have lost two of their last three league games, as many defeats as in their previous 13 matches and, although they're superb on their day, I reckon Liverpool will claim all three points. Score prediction: 3-2 Chelsea vs. Stoke City Chelsea are on an impressive run of form having lost just once in 15 games in all competitions, winning 11 matches and drawing three, and have conceded just four goals in their last 11 Premier League games, keeping seven clean sheets on the way. Stoke, meanwhile, have conceded 41 goals this season - the most in the Premier League - and have gone 10 without a league clean sheet. Add to that a defensive crisis, with Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi and Glen Johnson injured and Kurt Zouma ineligible, and I see a heavy defeat for them at Stamford Bridge. Score prediction: 5-0 Manchester United vs. Southampton (5:30pm) Jose Mourinho will be without several key players for this game - Anthony Martial, Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia are unlikely to feature, while Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Eric Bailly are all out. Failure to beat either Leicester or Burnley over the past week has led to talks of a "crisis" at United, but they have lost just one of their last nine league games and the Clarets draw was only the second time they have dropped points at home in the league this season. Southampton are in dire straits, having won just one of their last 11 Premier League games and none of the last seven, and the absence of the departing Virgil van Dijk and injured Charlie Austin will leave them even more depleted. 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. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has claimed that the £300m he has spent on his squad so far is "not enough". The Red Devils took another blow in their fading hopes of pushing Manchester City all the way in the Premier League title race as they drew 2-2 with Burnley on Boxing Day. United were two down but Jesse Lingard scored a brace, with the equaliser in injury time, and the draw at Old Trafford left the hosts 12 points behind their city rivals. Mourinho was appointed United boss in May 2016 and broke the world record last summer to sign £89m midfielder Paul Pogba, plus £30m defender Eric Bailly and midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan for £26.3m. This year saw striker Romelu Lukaku join from Everton for £75m, as well as £31m defender Victor Lindelof and £40m for midfielder Nemanja Matic. "We are in the second year of trying to rebuild a football team that you know is not one of the best teams in the world," Mourinho told BBC Sport. "Manchester City buy full-backs for the price of strikers. "[Spending £300m] is not enough. The price for the big clubs is different than for the other clubs. The big historical clubs are normally punished in the market because of that history. The boys are doing what they can and they are doing fine. "When you tell a club like Man Utd, do you think Milan is not as big as us? You think Real Madrid are not as big as we are? I know what a big club is. One thing is a big club and another thing is a big football team. They are two different things. "When you speak about responsibilities to win the Premier League, Tottenham doesn't have that responsibility because they are not a club with the same history as us. "Arsenal don't have the responsibility to win it. Chelsea don't have the responsibility to win it. When you speak about big football clubs, you are speaking about the history of the club." 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.
  17. 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.
  18. It's Christmas day, we're at exactly the halfway point of the Premier League season, with 19 games played out of 38 fixtures. So Manchester City are top of the pile, but not narrowly, oh no - they've won 17 on the bounce in the league, have only dropped points in one game, are unbeaten in the league, are still in the running for the Champions League, EFL Cup and FA Cup, and most frighteningly of all, are showing no signs of stopping. Marti Perarnau, who wrote Pep Confidential, reckons this City team are still only operating at 80% of their full potential. Manchester United began the campaign just as well as City, if not even better, and any other season they would be either top or just a few points off, but unfortunately for them, they've had blips - as most teams normally do - while City have had none. Barring a Newcastle United 95/96 style collapse for the blue side of Manchester, it's unlikely that United will peg it back, so chances are they'll prioritise the cup competitions. The managers of the other members of the big six have pretty much thrown in the towel in the title race - Chelsea have stumbled on multiple occasions and Antonio Conte has voiced his concerns about his side's strength in depth several times, Liverpool's superb attack has been offset by a shaky defence, Tottenham Hotspur have failed to get results against the other big English sides and need some new options in the squad, and Arsenal continue to stagnate in the league, little surprise given they decided to stick with the same manager. Outside the top six, Burnley have enjoyed a great campaign, briefly poking their noses into the top four the other week. Led by arguably the best current English manager in Sean Dyche, the Clarets boast a mean defence, while the midfield pairing of Steven Defour and Jack Cork and the addition of Chris Wood up front ensure quality across the spine. Leicester City and Everton began the season badly but changes in the dugout, with Claude Puel and Sam Allardyce taking the reins at their respective clubs, have proved that the manager sacking culture does sometimes prove justified, with the Foxes and Toffees back to form and in the right half of the table. Watford began the season brightly but the Marco Silva seems to have worn off with the current team form the worst in the league, while a lack of discipline in the ranks, culminating in red cards aplenty, hasn't helped. Promoted sides Huddersfield Town and Brighton & Hove Albion have also done well in the first half of the season and, although they'll be looking over their shoulders, they have a decent platform upon which to build in the new year and, barring a collapse in form, should stay up come May. Southampton and Stoke City will not be happy with where they are at present - both sides are established in the league and will have wanted more from the current campaign. Although Mauricio Pellegrino's job is not thought to be in immediate danger, Mark Hughes is believed to be on thin ice and may well be the next managerial casualty of the season. Newcastle United began the season fantastically but their form has taken a major tumble in recent weeks, although they stopped the rot with a win over West Ham last time out - much depends on how much money Rafael Benitez is given to strengthen the squad in January (not likely to be much) while the talk of an impending takeover has also provided uncertainty. Crystal Palace can be very happy with where they are at the minute considering their start to the campaign was absolutely dire - the appointment of Roy Hodgson was derided but he's done a great job clawing the Eagles back up the table and, providing they can make a few decent signings in January, should survive comfortable. West Ham United have had a shocker so far this season and, although there have been signs of revival under David Moyes, the defeat to Newcastle was cause for concern, and then of course there's the disgruntlement over the unpopular new stadium and with the club board. Into the bottom three and Bournemouth have plenty of work to do to survive. Nathan Ake has been great since joining from Chelsea but on the whole, the sum of the squad's parts isn't on a par with most of the other teams in the division, though Eddie Howe is a skilled manager and, with some shrewd investment in January, could have the boost needed to survive. West Bromwich Albion have endured a miserable run and Alan Pardew hasn't provided an upturn in form just yet, while Swansea City's rails have pretty much fallen off, with a bad defence and dreadful attack. I can see both of these sides going down along with Newcastle. 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.
  19. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - and as such, we have a super-busy program of games between Friday and Saturday night this weekend. How will the games pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Arsenal vs. Liverpool (Friday 7:45pm) Arsenal will be hoping to edge back into the top four with a win over Liverpool, who are one point and one place above the Gunners. Arsene Wenger will be hoping for a response from his players, who were beaten 4-0 in the reverse fixture in August. The Gunners' home form is good, with 13 wins out of 14 at the Emirates, but they did lose to Manchester United at the start of December, and have only earned one point from four games this season against the four teams currently above them in the table. Liverpool, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last nine PL games, could keep three consecutive league clean sheets, and are beasts on the road, with 24 away goals. Unstoppable force or immovable object? I fancy the former (Liverpool) to get all three points. Score prediction: 1-3 Everton vs. Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30pm) Everton are a tough proposition once again, having overcome their Ronald Koeman-led poot start with four wins and a draw since Sam Allardyce was announced as manager. Chelsea, however, are also in good form, with one defeat in their last 10 games, although they will be without Alvaro Morata, who is suspended due to picking up five bookings. The early Saturday kickoff tends to throw up surprises, so I'm going to go for a score draw. Score prediction: 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Watford (Sat, 3pm) Both these sides are in desperate need of results, with Brighton enduring a seven-match winless league run and Watford having lost their last three games. The Seagulls have drawn five of their last six home games, going three months without a home victory, and have scored just once in the last six league games. As for Watford, they have only earned one point from the last five matches and have lost four of their past five away games, but I fancy them to sneak a narrow win. Score prediction: 0-1 Manchester City vs. Bournemouth (Sat, 3pm) Man City's superb form shows no sign of abating, with even relatively poor performances being rewarded with victory - and when they're in top gear, there is no stopping them. The next lamb to the slaughter is Bournemouth, a team on a six-match winless run with just one clean sheet in those games. Although upsets can and do happen in football, I cannot see Man City, at home and in the form they're in, failing to win. Score prediction: 4-0 Southampton vs. Huddersfield Town (Sat, 3pm) Both of these teams are relatively well placed in the table (12th and 11th) but, with the bottom half of the league so tight, they'll be eager to get points on board and edge away from danger. Southampton are without a win in five, their last success being a 4-1 demolition of Everton at the end of November, while Huddersfield overcame a tricky November to register wins over Brighton and Watford in two of their last three games. A difficult one to call, especially given Huddersfield's 4-1 win at Watford last time out, but I fancy Saints to come through this one thanks to the might of Charlie Austin. Score prediction: 2-1 Stoke City vs. West Bromwich Albion Stoke boss Mark Hughes is on very thin ice at the minute and reports have suggested his job may be on the line should the Potters fail to get a result against West Brom. The Staffordshire outfit sit 17th in the table, just a point above the drop zone, and a second home defeat in a row will see them drop into the bottom three. However, the Baggies are enduring a club record 17-match winless run in all competitions, so the most realistic outcome is a draw, which is what I'm going for. Score prediction: 0-0 Swansea City vs. Crystal Palace (Sat, 3pm) Bottom spot in the table was firmly the domain of Palace just a few months ago but Roy Hodgson has turned things around spectacularly, with the Eagles now 14th in the table and looking likely to keep rising. Swansea are now the basement side, four points off safety, and the stats aren't in their favour - one win and nine defeats in their last 11 league games, seven points from 27 at home, and just 10 league goals scored this season. Palace are unbeaten in seven games and broke their away-goals and away-wins duck last week at Leicester City, so I tip them to claim all three points against the managerless Swans. Score prediction: 0-2 West Ham United vs. Newcastle United (Sat, 3pm) A previously beleaguered side against a currently beleaguered one, West Ham go into this game unbeaten in three league games - and with three clean sheets - while Newcastle are without a win in nine and could lose five in a row. The Hammers could also win consecutive league matches for the first time since January, but they will be reeling from the suspension of Manuel Lanzini, who was retrospectively punished for diving to win a penalty. That said, despite Rafael Benitez's side being in such bad form, I still think they may have enough to claim a result at the London Stadium, though not necessarily all three points. Score prediction: 1-1 Burnley vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sat, 5:30pm) Sean Dyche's side continue to impress in the league, poking their noses into the top four not long ago, and they now get the chance to deal a huge blow to Spurs' Champions League hopes. Burnley have not conceded a goal since the start of December and could equal their club top-flight record of four consecutive clean sheets, although at the other end, the Clarets have been struggling for goals at home, with just seven so far this campaign. Tottenham boast a superb line-up on paper but have lost four and won just three of their last nine league games, as well as being winless in five away matches and reeling from a humbling 4-1 loss at Man City last time out. Expect Burnley to shut up shop once again and frustrate their already-frustrated opponents - it won't be pretty but it'll be effective. Score prediction: 0-0 Leicester City vs. Manchester United (Sat, 7:45pm) The last PL game before Christmas, both these sides were knocked out of the EFL Cup in midweek, though Leicester going out on penalties to Man City is less of a humbling than losing to a Championship team in normal time. Claude Puel has truly revitalised the Foxes since his appointment and although the 3-0 shock loss to Palace was a bit of a crash back down to earth, the team is now playing something close to the football played in 2015-16. United will need to put the embarrassment of the defeat to Bristol City behind them ASAP as they continue to chase Man City, and with three successive PL wins on the bounce, I fancy them to be on top form and get a result at the King Power 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.
  20. We already know who the first two semi-finalists are for this season's EFL Cup, now it's time for the remaining two fixtures to take place to establish who will join Arsenal and Manchester City in the final four. Who will progress tonight? Football Manics takes a look. Chelsea vs. Bournemouth (7:45pm) Antonio Conte's charges were knocked out of the EFL Cup at the fourth-round stage last year but, with their Premier League title hopes getting slimmer by the week, there may be more emphasis on this competition this time round. That said, a much-changed Chelsea side can be expected to take to the Stamford Bridge pitch tonight, with Kenedy, Michy Batshuayi, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Dujon Sterling and Ethan Ampadu all in line for a start. With a trip to Manchester City this weekend looming for Bournemouth, boss Eddie Howe has also outlined his intention to make changes. Form-wise, the Blues have claimed two wins on the bounce after beating Huddersfield and Southampton, while the Cherries have drawn three and lost three of their last six games. Score prediction: 2-0 Bristol City vs. Manchester United (8pm) Flying high in the Championship, the third-placed Robins also have the opportunity to reach the semi-finals and cause one of the biggest shocks of this competition when Manchester United come to town. Despite the common consensus suggesting United will coast through this tie, it's worth remembering that City Bristol City are the first side from a lower division to eliminate three top-flight clubs in a single EFL Cup campaign since Bradford City in 2012-13 - who, let's not forget, reached the final. The Robins have won both of their previous EFL Cup quarter-final ties, beating Fulham after a replay in 1970-71 and Bradford in 1988-89, while United have been knocked out in three of their last six EFL Cup ties against sides from a lower division (Crystal Palace in 2011-12, MK Dons in 2014-15 and Middlesbrough in 2015-16). Jose Mourinho has stated he plans to use Henrikh Mkhitaryan but it rests on just how strong the team will be - a much-weakened team could enable Bristol to smell blood and up their game. That said, I believed United will have just too much for their opponents. Score prediction: 1-3 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. We've got Saturday's fixtures out of the way, now it's time for Sunday's games, with Manchester United and Liverpool in action. Football Manics previews the two Sunday fixtures, as well as Monday night's match. West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester United (Sunday, 2:15pm) Alan Pardew's beleaguered Baggies go into this game 19th in the table and two points from safety - a difficult position made all the more so when considering they're up against Man United, a side who would traditionally be top of the table were it not for an absolutely ridiculous Manchester City side sweeping all before them. West Brom have not won at all since August and are currently on a club record winless streak of 16 games in all competitions, as well as not having scored in the league since Pardew took charge three games ago. In comparison, United are looking for a third consecutive away win in the Premier League - they've scored seven goals in their two previous victories - and have won eight of the last 11 fixtures at The Hawthorns. I know football is unpredictable and all, but if there was a dead-cert banker this weekend, this would surely be it. Score prediction: 1-5 Bournemouth vs. Liverpool (Sunday, 4:30pm) Memories of last year's equivalent fixture, also in mid-December, are likely to weigh on Liverpool's mind - they were 3-1 up with 15 minutes to go, only to finish the game 4-3 down, and it pretty much caused the remainder of their season to unravel. Twelve months on and the Reds haven't exactly broken the habit of relinquishing leads, but surely lightning cannot strike twice? In terms of form coming into this game, the Cherries are winless in their last five league games and have only claimed eight points at home this season. Liverpool, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last eight league games and have been considerably consistent against teams outside of the "big six", only losing one of their last 22 fixtures. I fancy Liverpool to be somewhat cautious, given what happened last year, but they definitely have the firepower to claim victory. Score prediction: 1-3 Everton vs. Swansea City (Monday, 8pm) A side on the up versus a side on the down, Everton are unbeaten in five games and have been lifted following the arrival of Sam Allardyce. They have collected 10 points in their last four games - one more than they managed in their previous 12 combined. Swansea, meanwhile, remain bottom of the table, have not won away in the league since August, and have lost 18 league away games since the start of last season; more than any other club. With how things are going for both respective clubs, I expect Swansea to give it a good go but ultimately fall short. 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.
  22. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has added to speculation regarding a potential departure by Henrikh Mkhitaryan by saying every player has a price. The Armenia international has been left out of the Red Devils' 18-man squad for seven of their last eight matches, with his only recent outing coming as a substitute against Brighton on November 25. The United boss said Mkhitaryan's place has been filled by other players who are more deserving, fuelling rumours that the midfielder could be close to leaving Old Trafford in the January transfer window. Mourinho has now claimed that he is happy for players to leave if their asking price is met, recalling the sales of Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin. "For the right price, that is my approach as a manager in case the club advise. Every player has a price," Mourinho told Sky Sports ahead of Sunday's match against West Bromwich Albion. "If a player is not happy and if a player brings with him a request with the number that we consider is a good number it happened with Memphis (Depay) and Morgan (Schneiderlin), I would never say no." 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.
  23. Diego Simeone has confirmed that Antoine Griezmann will be allowed to leave Atletico Madrid in the future. The 26-year-old is reported to be a target for a number of Europe's largest clubs, with Manchester United and Barcelona linked with a move for the France international. Griezmann is expected to remain at Atletico for the remainder of the season, but it appears he has been given the all clear by Simeone to leave the club in the future. "Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, the same way (Diego) Costa and Arda Turan were allowed to leave," Simeone told l'Equipe. "I love my players a lot and I love to see them grow. I am not ungrateful. "If a player comes to me and says: 'Coach, I have a once in a lifetime chance to play for a certain team, I want to leave'. "If he did all he could for me as Griezmann does, I'll say it's no problem. I know that he needs to grow." 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. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has revealed that defender Eric Bailly may require surgery on his "serious" ankle injury. The 23-year-old has already missed eight consecutive matches for the Red Devils, last featuring in the 1-0 Premier League defeat at Chelsea on November 5. Bailly could now be sidelined for all of United's fixtures over the festive period after Mourinho revealed that his player is still struggling with the injury, which was sustained on international duty with Ivory Coast last month. A decision will now be made in the coming days as to whether Bailly will have to go under the knife to repair the damage. "I think it is serious. I don't know [how long he will be out]," Mourinho told reporters after the win over Bournemouth. "We are trying a conservative treatment but if the treatment is not resulting then probably it will end in a surgery procedure but let's wait a little bit more." Asked to elaborate on the injury problem, Mourinho added: "I'm not a doctor, I think the doctor can inform you. There's nothing to hide, but I don't want to be speaking about it. I want to leave it with a doctor. "[Against Bournemouth], I played [Chris] Smalling and [Phil] Jones and we had [Victor] Lindelof and [Daley] Blind on the bench. Marcos Rojo was injured but nothing really big. "During the whole season, we've had problems with central defenders but because the number is four or five, we manage always to have [players available] and Chris Smalling is playing amazingly well for seven or eight matches in a row maybe, so we are fine." 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.
  25. 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.

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