After a short break due to weather chaos and the FA Cup, the EPL kicks back into action with Week 27. As usual there are a whole bunch of competitive and exciting games to look forward to with Chelsea hosting Everton undoubtedly the pick of the bunch. So grab some refreshments and sit back as we at GotSoccer take you through some of the News, Predictions and Previews for week 27.
Rooney agrees new Man Utd contract
England international Wayne Rooney has agreed a new five-and-a-half year contract with Manchester United.
The striker’s old contract was due to expire next year, but Rooney has now extended that deal a further four years tying him to United until 2019.
The new deal will see Rooney pocket $500k a week, meaning he will earn more a year than both Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo ($23.77m) and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi ($20.15m) with an annual wage of $26.2m, which amounts to a staggering $116.7m over the next five years. However, once Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have had their cut of the pie Rooney will ‘only’ see $266.8k of his $500k.
Manchester United has yet to officially confirm the contract but sources close to the club say the deal had been agreed.
Speaking at a United news conference on Friday, manager David Moyes said: “As soon as we have the information to give you, we will give you it.
“Everyone knows how important a player he is. He is a terrific football player and if we can get it done it will be great.”
Rooney joined Manchester United from Everton in 2004 for $45m and has since scored 203 goals in 430 appearances for the Red Devil, leaving him just 42 goals shy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s record total of 249 for United.
Pellegrini apologizes for referee rant
Manuel Pellegrini has apologized for criticizing the referee following Manchester City’s defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League.
The City manager claimed Swedish official Jonas Eriksson favored the Spanish side during their 2-0 victory at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
“We lost the game,” said Pellegrini. “You are frustrated and angry. Maybe I said something but I don’t think that way. I want to apologize.”
Pellegrini was incensed by the referee’s decision to award a penalty and dismiss Martin Demichelis for denying Lionel Messi a clear goalscoring opportunity. The initial contact appeared to take place outside the penalty area and followed what Pellegrini believed to be a foul by Sergio Busquets on City winger Jesus Navas.
“I didn’t say he was a bad referee, that he was not honest, that he cannot referee in Uefa,” said Pellegrini, 60.
“I felt from the beginning his criteria was not the same for both teams, I think he had a bad day – everyone can have a bad day – but I didn’t say that intentionally he didn’t give fouls for us or did give fouls for Barcelona.”
Pellegrini also suggested that the ref might have been trying to make amends for an error that hindered Barcelona in a previous European tie.
“I repeat I didn’t have any serious accusation, not against Uefa, not against the referee, not against Sweden, not against anyone so it was my way of thinking and I was angry,” added Pellegrini.
“I am sure this is a good referee because Uefa are always evaluating all the referees and if he is not a good referee, he is not in the Uefa staff. The thing I said in that moment doesn’t mean what I think.”
UEFA will welcome Pellegrini’s apology, but it may not be enough to stop him facing a touchline ban, as the European governing body have already appointed a disciplinary inspector to review Pellegrini’s post-match remarks.
|Chelsea v Everton||2-0|
|Arsenal v Sunderland||3-0|
|Cardiff v Hull||2-1|
|Man City v Stoke||2-0|
|West Brom v Fulham||2-1|
|West Ham v Southampton||1-2|
|Crystal Palace v Man Utd||0-1|
|Liverpool v Swansea||4-0|
|Newcastle v Aston Villa||1-1|
|Norwich v Tottenham||1-2|
A correct result is worth ONE point. A correct score earns THREE points.
Chelsea v Everton
Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw at West Brom last week and will be hoping they can get a win on Saturday to stretch their lead at the top of the EPL. However, they face a tough task against Everton, who beat them in Liverpool earlier in the season.
Chelsea dominated last week away to West Brom, but their lack of quality upfront came back to haunt them as the Baggies grabbed a late equalizer. Eto’o and Torres have both shown glimpses of their quality this season, but have yet to have a sustained run of form, which could cost the Blues in the race for the EPL.
Everton went down 1-0 away to Tottenham to dent their chances of finishing in a Champions League position. The Toffees have fallen off the pace in recent weeks as injuries to key players such as Romelu Lukaku have taken their toll on their thin squad. Nevertheless, they still are in with a shot of finishing in a European position and everyone will be looking over their shoulders for the traditionally strong finishers.
Chelsea captain John Terry will face Everton after overcoming injury, but David Luiz is ruled out with a muscle injury near his hip.
Everton’s on-loan forward Romelu Lukaku has recovered from an ankle injury but is ineligible to face his parent club, though Steven Naismith is fit to play after recovering form a head knock suffered against Swansea.
Everton beat Chelsea earlier in the season, but they have not beaten the Blues at the Bridge for 20-years. In fact, Chelsea appear to enjoy playing against Everton in their home yard and have scored more goals against Everton than any other team in their history: 261.
Jose Mourinho has never lost an EPL game at Stamford bridge, and with Everton’s form dropping recently I think Mourinho’s amazing run will continue for at least another game.
Arsenal v Sunderland
Arsenal will want to raise their spirits again following their disappointing defeat at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
The Gunners played excellently for the first 15-minutes of the game and could have scored on a couple of occasions. However, their spirits seemed to dampen when Mesut Ozil missed his penalty and once they were reduced to 10-men the game was effectively over as a contest. Despite the 2-0 defeat Arsenal showed they could mix it with the best and will want to focus their concentration on the EPL.
Sunderland’s game away to Manchester City was postponed due to extreme weather, but they did play last week in the FA Cup and beat Southampton to progress into the quarterfinals. The Black Cats are in good form having only lost two of their last 10 league games (W4, D4, L2), with both defeats coming at home against Hull and Aston Villa.
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs is out with a hamstring injury, though striker Olivier Giroud is expected to return to the side after he was rested for their Champions League match.
Sunderland will be without defender Wes Brown who is suspended, but fellow defender Carlos Cuellar may feature after recovering from a hip problem.
Sunderland have won just one of their last 20 league games against Arsenal, but they are unbeaten in last of their six away games and have managed to pick up three draws in their last five visits to the Emirates.
However, the Gunners will be hurting after their defeat to Bayern Munich and will probably take it out on Sunderland.
Man City v Stoke
Manchester City, like Arsenal, lost 2-0 at home in the Champions League and will be looking to bounce back with a good result at home.
City surprisingly started negatively against Barcelona, playing only one striker and five defenders. However, they did still cause Barcelona problems from crosses, but will be regretting not taking the game to Barca from the start, as they looked a lot more threatening once they were down to 10-men and forced to attack.
Stoke drew 1-1 at home Swansea in their last EPL outing and are currently unbeaten in their last three. The Potters have changed their style under Mark Hughes and slowly seem to be finding their feet after a difficult start to the season.
Manchester City have defensive troubles with captain Vincent Kompany a doubt with hamstring strain and Matija Nastasic definitely out with a knee problem.
On-loan Stoke winger Oussama Assaidi is out with a knee injury pick-up in training, while fellow on-loan player, John Guidetti, is ineligible to play against his parent club.
Manchester City have won all but one of their homes games in the EPL this season, while Stoke have lost every one of their EPL games against Man City at the Etihad stadum, conceding 14 and scoring zero in the process. So this should be a straightforward win for City.
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
Crystal Palace got a terrific 3-1 win over West Brom in their last game to move them out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.
The Eagles have done terrific since Tony Pulis took over—Palace have won 19 points since Tony Pulis took charge on 30 November, only two points fewer than Manchester United (21) despite playing a game less.
Manchester United currently sit seventh in the EPL and are in a bad run of form with no wins n their last three (D2 L1). However, despite their poor form this season United actually have the fourth best away record in the league (21 points) along with Manchester City, though they are without an away win in 2014 (D1, L2).
Crystal Palace’s only injury doubt is Jerome Thomas, who has a back problem
Manchester United are expected to recall Adnan Januzaj at the expense of Ashley Young.
Phil jones is doubt for the champions, while Johnny Evans is definitely out, but fit-again summer signing Marouane Fellaini could start for the first time since early December.
Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 11 league meetings with Crystal Palace (W9, D2). But the Eagles are enjoying a four-match unbeaten home run in the league, winning the last three—they have never won four straight home games in the Premier League. Tony Pulis has made them well organized and hard to play against, however, I think United have a lot of quality up top and will just edge this one.
Liverpool v Swansea
Liverpool got a last-gasp penalty to rescue a win against Fulham in last game. The Red went behind twice before Gerrard coolly slotted home at the end to give them a 3-2 victory.
The Reds then lost 2-0 away to Arsenal in the FA Cup, though they played well and could easily have been two goals up in the first 10-minutes if not for poor finishing.
Swansea earned a good 1-1 draw to Stoke in their last EPL outing, but were then comfortably brushed aside by Everton in the FA Cup. However, they did play extremely well against Napoli in the Europa Cup midweek and were only denied a win by some excellent goalkeeping.
Jordan Henderson is expected to return to the staring line-up for Liverpool, after being rested in the FA Cup. Glen Johnson (knee) is back in the squad, but Lucas and Jose Enrique (both knee) and Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) are all still out.
Swansea’s former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey should feature after returning from a hamstring injury as a substitute against Napoli, but striker Michu is still out.
This game finished 2-2 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season with Jonjo Shelvey involved in every goal. However, Liverpool have progressed a lot since then and look like the best attacking side in the country at the moment.
Liverpool are currently in terrific form and have only dropped four-points in 2014. They have never lost to Swansea at Anfield (W9 D3) so will be confident of winning this game. The Swans may have played well midweek, but I think they will be in for a long afternoon on Sunday.