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  1. Championship-bound West Bromwich Albion have appointed Darren Moore as their new manager on a permanent basis. The former Baggies defender led the club on an unbeaten run in April as caretaker manager with three wins and two draws following Alan Pardew's departure. Indeed, Moore was named Premier League manager of the month for April, following wins over Manchester United, Tottenham, Newcastle and a draw with Liverpool. Despite his brave efforts, Moore was unable to save Albion, who were 10 points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League when he took over, but has nonetheless been entrusted with the reins on a permanent basis. "I am obviously extremely proud to accept this role and also extremely excited. We have a big summer ahead of us, a lot of hard work we need to get in now," Moore told the club website. "I'm going all out to try and get those plans and personnel in place to make sure we've got everything ready. And we need to be because this is a tough league packed with great clubs. "But what an opportunity for us to move the club in the right direction." 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. West Brom interim manager Darren Moore has refused to be drawn on whether he may be offered the job on a permanent basis, despite receiving the public backing of some members of the squad. Former England goalkeeper Ben Foster has offered his support to Moore, who has won away games at Manchester United and Newcastle United. In addition, he has drawn his two other games since taking over after Alan Pardew left the club on April 2, a significant upturn in form. "All I'm doing is playing my part in a team of people here. I have got the title of caretaker manager, so I'm up here speaking on behalf of the football club," Moore told Sky Sports. "We continue to keep working and everything else outside will happen anyway. Support from anywhere is excellent but to have it from staff within, it goes to show we continue to work. "We support each other and value each other to bring our positive characters into work and that is what we have done in recent weeks and that is what we want to continue for the future." 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. Jose Mourinho has revealed that he will drop players from the team that played against West Bromwich Albion for their FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur. The Red Devils were beaten 1-0 by the Premier League's bottom side at Old Trafford on Sunday, ensuring that bitter rivals Manchester City won the title. United play Bournemouth in the league on Wednesday before facing Spurs. "If I play someone against Bournemouth and he is phenomenal, he plays the semi-final," Mourinho told reporters. "The word is not rotation. This is an opportunity for some people to play and to try to get a place in the team. Some of the guys who played [against West Brom], they don't have a place in that team. "I only know one criteria [for choosing the team]. It is the way you play. This is the only way I can select players. "Do you want me to go for the price they cost? Or their salary? Or their beautiful face? The only way is to go with performance." 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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. West Bromwich Albion caretaker manager Darren Moore has called for unity at the club after Alan Pardew's "brutal" departure. The Baggies parted company with Pardew by mutual consent on Monday with the club bottom of the Premier League on 20 points, 10 adrift of safety with six matches remaining. West Brom's 2-1 defeat against Burnley on Saturday at The Hawthorns meant Pardew left having won just one of his 18 games in charge. Former Baggies player Moore was appointed first-team coach by Pardew and is now expected to take charge for the remainder of the season. "West Bromwich Albion has always been a family for me," Moore told Sky Sports. "And that's the word I shall focus on - family. "We need to get the unity back among everyone - the players, the staff, the fans, everyone connected with Albion, because that is the only way forward. "I felt the pain on Saturday just like everyone. It's their club and it's their passion and love for it which makes it so painful at the moment. "But let's get that unity back. We've had tough days before and we've always bounced back and that's what we will do again. "These are never happy days at a club and it's never nice to see people leave their jobs. Alan showed faith in me and gave me the chance to work at first-team coach level for which I will always be grateful. "It's a brutal business at times and unfortunately the results just haven't gone for us. But now all I can do is do everything in my power to focus the team for Swansea on Saturday. "That's all I'm thinking about and everything will be geared to getting the preparation as right as possible to give us our best chance of a positive performance." 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. West Bromwich Albion chief executive Mark Jenkins has revealed that the club's finances have 'unravelled' over the last 12 months, saying "there is no more money for wages." Jenkins, who left Albion in 2016 following Guochuan Lai's takeover, returned to the club in February after the sacking of chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman. He admits he was "shocked" at the state of the Premier League side's finances since returning to The Hawthorns and revealed that the club - on the verge of relegation - will need its first overdraft in more than 10 years. Although the Baggies' accounts filed up to June 2017 showed pre-tax profits rise to £39.7m from £1m, Jenkins has warned that their finances need rebuilding. It was also revealed that the club would have to practice caution in order to remain compliant with the Premier League's Short Term Cost Control (STCC) measure, which restricts teams to £7m increases in total salaries each season. "I've come back and can assure you that we are right at our limit on STCC. There is no more money for wages," said Jenkins. "In the accounts there is a note which the auditors insisted that I put in to point out that in the near future the club is going to need a small overdraft facility. "That's something new to the club. It hasn't needed one for over 10 years, but it reflects the season we have gone through and the amount of investment that the board made into both the first-team squad and the infrastructure of the stadium. "We are at record levels on wages, we have broken our transfer record and have loan fees at the highest level. There has been full investment - and a little bit more as well - hence the need for an overdraft facility. "I've just come back into the club after just over 12 months out and I'm shocked by what I have found. We need to restructure the club so it is able to compete and exist long-term in the Premier League." 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. With the FA Cup quarter-finals taking place this weekend, the Premier League program this weekend is reduced as seven top-flight teams hope to make their way to the semi-finals. How will the four PL fixtures pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look with this exclusive preview. Bournemouth vs. West Bromwich Albion Bournemouth remain nervously looking over their shoulders given they're winless in four games and just six points clear of the drop zone, but only Manchester City and Tottenham have lost fewer games since Christmas than the Cherries. West Brom, meanwhile, are done for. They've been woeful all season and Alan Pardew has arguably made them worse, with just eight points from his 16 games in charge and on the verge of a seventh successive league defeat. Score prediction: Bournemouth 3-0 West Brom Huddersfield Town vs. Crystal Palace Huddersfield got a little boost with two consecutive league wins a few weeks ago but their last game against Swansea City saw them labour against 10 men without scoring, they've still got just seven points in 2018, and they remain a little too close to the danger zone for comfort. Palace are once again in the doldrums as their injury-depleted team fell to four consecutive league defeats for a drop back into the bottom three, but several key men are returning to fitness - Wilfried Zaha, Mamadou Sakho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Yohan Cabaye should all be able to get involved, which would get Palace playing as they should be. Score prediction: Huddersfield 0-2 Palace Stoke City vs. Everton Stoke remain in the bottom three and have gone six games without a win but they've managed to just about tread water, one point adrift of safety, and will come out of the danger zone should they beat Everton and Palace fail to win at Huddersfield. Everton, meanwhile, are a Jekyll & Hyde side, boasting a good run at Goodison Park but on the verge of a five-game losing streak on the road, not to mention just one win in their 15 away league games this campaign, so I think the points will be shared at the Bet365 Stadium. Score prediction: Stoke 1-1 Everton Liverpool vs. Watford Liverpool will be eager to get back to winning ways in the league following the defeat at Manchester United last time out and the omens against Watford are good - they have won nine of 10 top-flight home games against them, and have never lost consecutive league games under Jurgen Klopp. The Hornets are enjoying a very good season and certainly know how to get results, having won three of their last six, but they're not so hot against top sides on the road, having lost 16 of their 17 PL games away at sides in the top four, and I think the outcome will be similar to what happened at Arsenal last time out. Score prediction: Liverpool 4-1 Watford 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. 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.
  11. The big freeze hasn't stopped the Premier League fixtures this weekend from being cancelled, so here is Football Manics with a preview of Saturday's action. Burnley vs. Everton Two out-of-form sides clash at Turf Moor in Saturday's early PL kickoff, with Burnley winless in 11 Premier League games including their last five home games. Everton have been okay at home but have picked up just one win from their last 22 league away games, losing the last four in a row. That said, I think they will have enough to break their away duck and get the better of a side that has long since been exiled from Proudsville. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Leicester City vs. Bournemouth Leicester have only managed two victories in the last 11 league games and have gone four without a win, conceding nine goals in that run. Bournemouth, meanwhile, have lost only one of their last nine Premier League fixtures and have found the net in nine consecutive league games, scoring 18 goals. However, the Cherries have only kept one clean sheet in their last 15 Premier League games, and away at a side that can be dangerous, I think this will see them defeated. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Southampton vs. Stoke City Another game between two out-of-form sides, with Southampton having picked up just one win in their last 15 league games and winless in their last seven at St Mary's since beating Everton 4-1 in November. As for Stoke, they have won just once in nine Premier League games, conceded a league-high 54 goals this season, and have the joint-worst away record, alongside West Brom, with seven points and only one victory. So we're unlikely to see much quality here but I think it would be too easy to dismiss this as a draw, so I'm going to back the hosts to claim victory. Score prediction: 2-1 home win Swansea City vs. West Ham The Swans' upsurge in form under Carlos Carvalhal came to an end last time out against Brighton but they could earn seven victories in a row at the Liberty Stadium in all competitions for the first time since November 2004. As for the Hammers, they have earned 20 points in their last 13 league games - twice as many as in their first 15 fixtures this season - but have only won once in five league games and are in danger of suffering three straight away defeats. For all their efforts, Swansea remain in the drop zone and I think it'll be a close call in this game, with points split. Score prediction: 0-0 draw Tottenham Hotspur vs. Huddersfield Town Spurs are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions, undefeated in 13 league games at Wembley and have not lost in 33 Premier League games against promoted sides, winning the last 15 in a row. Huddersfield, meanwhile have put their recent downturn behind them and could win three consecutive top-flight games for the first time since April 1956, as well as scoring 10 goals in 14 away league games this season. However, the Terriers continue to ship goals and away against an attacking side boasting Harry Kane, this could prove their downfall. Score prediction: 3-0 home win Watford vs. West Bromwich Albion Watford are looking to win three successive Premier League home games for the first time since April 2017 - one of those matches was against West Brom - and have won four of their last six home games in all competitions The Baggies' season, meanwhile, lurches from bad to worse, currently seven points adrift of safety, having won hust three times in 37 league matches dating back to March last year, and with yet another off-pitch issue besetting the club, this time in the form of a dressing room leak. So for me this is a foregone conclusion - Watford to claim all three points and potentially getting Alan Pardew the sack. Score prediction: 3-0 home win Liverpool vs. Newcastle United Liverpool are the division's form team with 22 points from the past nine games, are unbeaten in 16 league matches at Anfield, and their only league defeat in 19 games came at Swansea City in January. They will be visited by their former manager Rafael Benitez, who takes his Newcastle United outfit to Merseyside in good form, their only defeat in eight coming at Manchester City. That said, I still think Liverpool, with their world-class attacking setup, will have too much for a Magpies side only really punching above their weight because of their inspirational manager. Score prediction: 4-1 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.
  12. Just one of the Premier League's big six is in action on Saturday, making this an exciting day in terms of the lower half of the table, aka the Relegation Royal Rumble. How will these fixtures pan out? Football Manics previews the day's action. Leicester City vs. Stoke City First up this weekend is Leicester against Stoke, with the Foxes hoping to bounce back from two defeats and a draw in their last three games, as well as remedying a run of just two wins in their last 10. The Potters also haven't won in their last three games and have especially struggled away from home, without a win in their last eight and just one win and three draws from their 13 games on the road so far. In those 13, Stoke have scored just 11 goals, and I expect more of the same at Leicester, a place where they haven't had much luck over the years, so for me this will end in a home win. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Bournemouth vs. Newcastle United The Cherries had been on a good run prior to their heavy defeat at Huddersfield Town last time out but are unbeaten in four league home games, winning the last three in a row. As for Newcastle, they have lost just one of their last seven league games and will be boosted by their 1-0 win over Manchester United in their last game. With just three points separating the two sides it'll be a close encounter but I reckon the Cherries will bounce back from their previous loss and get all three points. Score prediction: 2-1 home win Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Swansea City Brighton are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions and have lost just three of their 13 home matches in the league this season, against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. They take on a revitalised Swansea side that has earned 14 points in seven games since Carlos Carvalhal took charge, one more than they recorded in their first 20 games before his arrival, and are unbeaten in their last 10 in all competitions. Both these sides are in the relegation fight, along with half the league, and it's yet another difficult game to call, with little between them, so I'm going to take the safe option and go for a draw. Score prediction: 2-2 draw Burnley vs. Southampton Good job Burnley had such a superb first half of the season because their form is relegation-worthy at present, but they sit 10 points clear of the bottom three which, in the current climate, is light years ahead - for now. The Clarets, far from their tenure at Proudsville, have gone 10 Premier League games without a win, the longest current streak in the division, and have picked up just five points out of a possible 30. They face a Southampton side that has managed just one win and clean sheet in 14 league games but are unbeaten in three successive matches on the road, even holding Manchester United to a draw. I'm going to go for Burnley in this as this will be their first game they face a side outside the top five at Turf Moor in their last five games and I just feel they will be able to rediscover their form in a winnable game in front of their faithful fans. Score prediction: 2-1 home win Liverpool vs. West Ham United Liverpool are the Premier League's most in-form team with in 19 points over the past eight games, with just one defeat in their last 18 matches - the shock loss to Swansea - and they are also unbeaten in 15 league encounters at Anfield. The Hammers, meanwhile, have only lost two of their last 12 league games and earned 20 points during that period - twice as many as in their first 15 fixtures this season - and come into this game on the back of a win over Watford which also yielded their first clean sheet in nine games. Though they will certainly fancy their chances, I think Liverpool are just too strong at home and are in such good form that they will see this one out relatively easily. Score prediction: 4-1 home win West Bromwich Albion vs. Huddersfield Town An absolutely crucial encounter between two of the league's worst teams, with the Baggies having lost their last four in all competitions and laying claim to just one win in their last 25 Premier League matches - could it be "taxi" for them out of the top flight come May? Huddersfield, meanwhile, began the season brightly but their form took a nosedive to leave them flirting with relegation, though they go into this game on the back of a superb 4-1 win over Bournemouth last time out. That said, there remains a lot of work to be done by the Terriers, especially away from home, and I can't see past a draw for those two teams, though I think there will be goals in it. Score prediction: 1-1 draw Watford vs. Everton Unbelievable how a team 11th in the league can be said to be fighting relegation but Watford sit just four points clear of the bottom three, while Everton are still looking over their shoulders with a mere eight-point gap despite being NINTH in the table. The Hornets lost in their last game against West Ham but they did record a superb win over Chelsea in their last home fixture, which will give them hope of seeing off the out-of-form Toffees, who have lost their last three away games in a row and have won just one of the last 21 on the road. Neither side is particularly apt defensively, Watford having shipped 47 goals this term and Everton not having kept a clean sheet since their Boxing Day stalemate at West Brom, but the Toffees have proven they can come back from losing positions, while the Hornets are the opposite - so it'll be Everton to do the double over Watford for me in this. Score prediction: 1-2 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Former West Bromwich Albion chairman John Williams has admitted that he was surprised after being sacked by owner Guochuan Lai. Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman were dismissed on Tuesday by Mark Jenkins, who helped oversee Lai's takeover in 2016 and has returned as the new chief executive. A statement read: "Chairman John Williams and Chief Executive Martin Goodman have been given notice of termination of their contracts and have been placed on garden leave with immediate effect. "Following his recent appointment as a director of WBA Holdings, the Club's controlling company, Mark Jenkins is returning to be the football club's CEO. "These changes follow Albion's poor results this season which currently sees the Club at the bottom of the Premier League." "It is an odd feeling, it's certainly unusual," Williams told The Times. "We had gone through a managerial change but it's a results-based game and I accept my part in that. "As top of the managerial tree, you have to take responsibility. It has been a challenging job but I felt we had done well in the time I was here until this season, and I have enjoyed it. "We didn't get the bounce we hoped for when Alan (Pardew) came in and are well short of his usual average points per game, but I think we are now heading on a really favourable run of games. "I believe in Alan and the squad and I wish them well and really hope they stay up. I believe it will be a fight until the end." Williams was appointed as Albion chairman after the takeover, while Goodman was made CEO in January 2017 when he replaced Jenkins at The Hawthorns in his former role. 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. West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew has expressed his hopes of Daniel Sturridge being fit within two weeks after he limped off three minutes into Monday's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea. The England striker, who joined the Baggies on loan from Liverpool last month, was substituted after an innocuous chase for possession with Cesar Azpilicueta. Pardew said the injury was "probably a bigger blow" than the defeat in striker Sturridge's third appearance. “We need him up and running as it’s goals we’ve struggled with,” the Baggies boss said after the match. “He felt his hamstring after a 60 metre sprint in the first moments of the game. We’ll have to nurse him. He won’t play next week but hopefully the week after. "There have been so many drawn games we should have won, and losing Daniel Sturridge after three minutes was a blow in itself. "If we can get two or three wins in our next group of games we can put pressure on the other teams." 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. West Bromwich Albion have signed Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge on loan for the rest of the season. The 28-year-old has scored 74 Premier League goals in 114 starts and has also netted 27 times in cup competitions, but has started only five games this season. Sturridge, previously of Manchester City and Chelsea, was also thought to be on the radar of Newcastle United and Serie A giants Inter Milan. “There were many things in deciding on this move,” the Birmingham-born footballer told the WBA website. “The manager spoke very well when we talked about the challenge with the team, there was the style of play and this feels like it was the right fit at the right time. “I’ve got some friends here who are West Brom fans so I can’t let them down as much as the any of the Albion supporters. “Coming here, I’m back home. When I’ve played here, it had a home feel for me. I’m seeing faces in the stands that I’ve known growing up. It’s a good feeling for me being here. I want to enjoy myself as much as I can but getting results is our first priority. “It’s going to be a great feeling for me to be here, to have my family not so far away that they can come to games and see me play regularly. I want to enjoy myself as much as I can but it’s an important time for the club also. It’s not about enjoyment right now, it’s about getting results.” 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. With the Premier League and Championship sides now entering the competition, it's when things could get interesting - the competition is known for higher-league sides losing against teams below them in the pyramid. Which fixtures look like the ones most likely to throw up a giant-killing? Here are 5 picks by Football Manics, looking exclusively at games between teams more than one division apart. Bournemouth (Premier League) vs. Wigan Athletic (League One) Bournemouth have won just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions and have conceded 14 goals in their last five Premier League games, leaving them flirting with relegation. In addition, Eddie Howe's side have a hefty absence list, with a number of changes likely to be made, and their recent FA Cup pedigree isn't great, having crashed out to Millwall in the third round last year. Wigan, meanwhile, are top of League One, have scored 50 goals and are unbeaten in 10 in all competitions, so they stand a good chance of upsetting their opponents at the Vitality Stadium. Brentford (Championship) vs. Notts County (League 2) Although Brentford are doing well in the Championship, sitting 11th and with three wins and a draw from their last six, they come into this game on the back of a heavy defeat to Wolves. County, managed by former Premier League stalwart Kevin Nolan, are a different beast to the meek outfit of seasons gone past, sitting pretty in the League Two automatic promotion slots. Magpies striker Jon Stead was part of the Bradford City team that upset Chelsea a few years ago and his experience and wisdom, combined with the talent and grit of the team - which has already beaten higher-league opposition in Bristol Rovers - makes them dangerous. Exeter City (L2) vs. West Bromwich Albion (PL) Exeter have slipped off the boil in recent weeks, going from the League Two automatic promotion places to seventh, but they're a tough proposition at home, with seven wins from their last 10 league games. The problem is more with West Brom having gone so long without a win, and Alan Pardew having failed to provide a turnaround as he seeks victory at the ninth time of asking. Can West Brom get their season back on track or will the Grecians dish out another miserable afternoon, adding to what has been a dreadful season for the Baggies? I can see the hosts potentially getting a draw. Coventry City (L2) vs. Stoke City (PL) Coventry famously won the trophy back in the 80s and, despite their fall from grace culminating in a spot in the fourth tier this season, they've done well so far, sitting third in the table, and with four wins from their five festive games, plus a solid home record. Stoke, meanwhile, are having a woeful season, having slipped into the bottom three, Mark Hughes is believed to be on thin ice in terms of his spell at the club, and the Potters are in the midst of a defensive crisis, with Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi and Erik Pieters out injured. Perhaps an outright win might be a bridge too far for Coventry, but a replay is certainly a possibility. Newcastle United (PL) vs. Luton Town (L2) On the whole, Newcastle's recent FA Cup pedigree is not great - they were knocked out of the FA Cup by League One side Oxford last season and have lost five of their last six ties against lower league opposition in this competition. The Magpies' good early-season has given way to a tumble down the table in recent months to leave them nervously looking over their shoulder, even though two wins and a draw in the last four have stopped the rot. The question is, how seriously will they take the cup given their fight against relegation? Considering they're taking on a side top of League Two and boasting a goal difference of +37, the likelihood of an upset is certainly not low. 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.
  23. Alan Pardew has claimed that West Bromwich Albion are yet to receive an offer for Jonny Evans in the January transfer window. The Baggies club captain was a reported target for Manchester City in the summer and is believed to be on the radar of Manchester United at present. In addition, the 29-year-old former United player has only 18 months left on his current deal at The Hawthorns. Pardew has already admitted he has made plans for life without the Northern Ireland international in the event of suitable offers arriving for the player. When asked whether West Brom would retain Evans, Pardew told Sky Sports: "It is very much about the bid coming first because there is so much speculation. "We need to see a bid and we haven't seen a bid so all I can report is the facts. We haven't received a bid so Jonny stays here." 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. West Bromwich Albion have said Jake Livermore confronted a West Ham fan at the London Stadium after a comment was made about the death of his infant son. The England midfielder was involved in an angry confrontation with a home supporter after being substituted in the 64th minute of their 2-1 defeat at the London Stadium on Tuesday night. After West Ham identified the supporter who was involved, West Brom issued a statement on Wednesday offering the "total support of everyone at the club" to Livermore, who lost his baby son, Jake Jr, in 2014. In a statement, West Brom said: "The club would like to think that all right-minded football supporters could understand this reaction which did not result in any physical exchanges before Jake was led away to our dressing room. "Jake is an outstanding young individual who has the total support of everyone at the club and he has made it clear he considers this statement to be an end to an unhappy incident. "Albion were very appreciative of the swift response by the officials of West Ham in dealing with this matter and are more than happy to leave any further action they deem appropriate in their hands." West Ham, meanwhile, said: "The player has confirmed he does not wish to make this a police matter, however, given the nature of the allegations, the club will continue to investigate before taking the appropriate action."
  25. The football keeps coming thick and fast during the festive period - Tuesday brings four more Premier League fixtures. How will these games pan out? Football Manics takes a look. Southampton vs. Crystal Palace (7:45pm) The Saints have had a bad time of late, what with being winless in eight and having lost key defender Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool, although they will be boosted by a point away at Manchester United on Saturday. Palace, meanwhile, are a different beast to the meek, woeful outfit from earlier in the season, having come close to beating Manchester City on the way to a point and pushing Arsenal all the way, but Roy Hodgson's thin squad is being pushed to the limit with all these fixtures. Even though Southampton have largely struggled in recent weeks, I think they will be able to put away a depleted Palace side. Score prediction: 2-0 Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (7:45pm) Carlos Carvalhal enjoyed a dream debut as his side came from behind to beat Watford late on, but there remains much work still to be done at the Liberty Stadium. Spurs, however, are in superb form - they have won four of their last five league games (only losing to Manchester City) and scored 16 goals in the process. Even if Harry Kane is a doubt for the game due to illness, I expect the visitors to be too hot for the Swans. Score prediction: 1-3 West Ham United vs. West Bromwich Albion (7:45pm) A huge game in this season's relegation dogfight, West Ham's recent impressive performances have been let down by defeat to Newcastle and a draw with Bournemouth, but they have scored eight times in their last three league games . The Baggies, meanwhile, are winless in 19 top-flight games, although the draw with Arsenal on New Year's Eve will have boosted confidence ahead of this crucial clash. Although it really could go either way, depending on what players are unavailable or rested, I'm going to go for an uninspiring goalless draw which does little for both sides. Score prediction: 0-0 Manchester City vs. Watford (8pm) Man City have - shock horror - NOT won their last game, Crystal Palace holding them to a goalless draw, and could have even lost were it not for Ederson saving Luka Milivojevic's penalty, but let's face it, as setbacks go, it is pretty minor. Compare that to Watford, whose great win over Leicester City was let down by their collapse to Swansea City - five defeats in their last six is pretty harrowing form. Even with Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne unavailable for Man City, I expect them to have the resources and quality - while any complacency will have been shaken away by the Eagles draw - to beat the Hornets. Score prediction: 5-2 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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