Pellegrini and Austin pick up monthly awards
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellerini and Queens Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin have picked up the EPL manager and player awards for the month of December.
Pellegrini saw off competition from Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and Arsene Wenger to pick up the manager of the month award for the third time. The Chilean manager guided his team to five successive victories and a draw in December to cut an eight-point gap on leaders Chelsea down to only a single point by the end of the month.
Austin picked up the award for the first time after scoring five of QPR’s 6 goals in December. The QPR forward is the top scoring Englishman in the EPL with 13 goals and is only two behind leading scorer Diego Costa.
“To win awards like this is very pleasing,” Austin told the club’s website. “I just try to work as hard as I can and score as many goals as I can for QPR.
“But it’s not all about me – it’s a team game – and my team-mates deserve as much credit as I do for this award. All I am focused on is helping QPR gain as many points as possible and if I’m scoring goals, that’s great.
“I’ve scored 13 so far in the Premier League and I’m really pleased with where I am. Hopefully it can continue and we can start climbing the table as quickly as possible.”
Man City sign Bony from Swansea
EPL champions Manchester City have signed Wilfred Bony from Swansea for a deal that could be worth up $42.6m.
Bony has agreed a four-and-a-half year deal at City, which ties him down to the club until 2019, and will don the number 14 shirt.
“It’s a great feeling for me, it’s a big honour to be here and it’s a great challenge,” the 26-year-old said.
The two clubs agreed the terms of the transfer at the weekend, with £38m cash up front and a further $4m in performance-related add-ons.
Bony is currently on duty with the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations and may have to wait until mid-February to make his City debut depending on how well his country does at the competition.
“As a player it’s always good to be part of one of the biggest clubs in the world and it’s a good opportunity for me to be in that situation now – I’m really proud,” Bony told Manchester City’s website.
“I felt excited to wait for this moment and now it’s come, it’s fantastic.
“I think it’s a great decision for me – Manchester City are in the Champions League. It’s a motivation for me to give my maximum to be in that place.”
City boss Manuel Pellegrini added: “He is an intelligent footballer who has skill and power. His goals record has been excellent since he came to England.”
“He adapted very quickly to the game here and I think he will settle in at City quickly. We now have four top-class strikers and I am looking forward to seeing them work together.”
Bony signed for Swansea from Vitesse Arnhem for $18.26 in 2013, scoring 25 goals in 54 appearances.
Defoe signs for Sunderland
Sunderland have signed striker Jermain Defoe from MLS club Toronto on a three-and-a-year deal.
The deal sees Defoe, 32, reunite with Sunderland coach Gus Poyet who he played with at Tottenham.
Poyet said: “His exceptional goal-scoring record speaks for itself.”
United States international Jozy Altidore, 25, moves back to the MLS with Toronto as part of the deal.
Defoe could potentially make his debut against his former club Tottenham at White Hart Lane if international clearance is received by 13.45 GMT on Saturday.
“It is a great club and I’ve always enjoyed coming up here and playing against Sunderland because of the stadium and the supporters,” the striker said.
“It is a great place to play and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Defoe signed for MLS side Toronto FC last January and had an impressive first season scoring 11 goals in 16 appearances for the Canadian side.
|Sunderland v Liverpool||0-1||1-1||0-2||1-2|
|Burnley v QPR||2-1||2-1||2-2||2-1|
|Chelsea v Newcastle||2-0||3-0||3-0||3-1|
|Everton v Man City||1-1||1-2||0-2||1-3|
|Leicester v Aston Villa||1-0||2-2||1-1||1-1|
|Swansea v West Ham||1-1||2-1||1-2||1-1|
|West Brom v Hull||1-0||2-1||1-1||2-1|
|Crystal Palace v Tottenham||2-1||0-2||1-2||1-2|
|Arsenal v Stoke||3-0||3-1||3-1||2-0|
|Man Utd v Southampton||0-1||3-1||1-1||2-0|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.
Last week I got FOUR correct results, including ONE perfect score to give me a TOTAL score of 6-points.
|Aston Villa v Liverpool||1-0|
|Burnley v Crystal Palace||2-1|
|Leicester v Stoke||1-1|
|QPR v Man Utd||2-3|
|Swansea v Chelsea||0-2|
|Tottenham v Sunderland||2-0|
|Newcastle v Southampton||0-1|
|West Ham v Hull||2-0|
|Man City v Arsenal||2-0|
|Everton v West Brom||2-1|
QPR v Man Utd
Both these sides lost last week and will be hoping to bounce back with a positive performance and result this week.
QPR lost away to Burnley last week to continue their dismal form away from home. The Hoops have failed to pick up a single point away from home this season and the only reason they are still within touching distance with other teams is because of their good home form—QPR have the eighth best home record in the EPL.
Manchester United’s ten game unbeaten run came to an end with a 0-1 home defeat to Southampton. The Red Devils dominated possession, but were frustrated by a well organized Southampton team and in the end failed to muster a single attempt on target.
QPR defender Armand Traore is ruled out with a toe injury, while Sandro and Yun Suk-Young remain sidelined with injuries, but midfielder Niko Kranjcar has recovered from a thigh complaint.
Manchester United forward Robin van Persie is a doubt with an ankle injury, meaning on-loan striker Radamel Falcao could return to the starting line-up. Rafael and Marcos Rojo could also feature after recovering from injuries.
Manchester United will be favorites for this game, but QPR have shown they are a more than a match for anyone in their own backyard, so United will have to be wary. If Louis van Gaal continues with the 3-5-2 system I think United will struggle, but the Red Devils have never lost an EPL game to QPR (W11 D2) and with QPR’s defense still looking leaky I expect them to just edge this one.
Swansea v Chelsea
Swansea drew 1-1 at home to West Ham last week and are without a win in their last three EPL games. However, the Swans are playing relatively well and will feel a win is just around the corner. However, they will need to sign a striker after selling Wilfred Bony to Manchester City, because without his goals they could really begin to struggle.
Chelsea bounced back from their defeat to Tottenham with a win at home Newcastle. The Blues scored either side of half-time to open a two-point gap at the top of the EPL.
Bafetimbi Gomis is likely to lead the frontline as Swansea begin life without Wilfred Bony. Jonjo Shelvey is suspended and Ki Sung-yueng on international duty, but Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jefferson Montero should both feature after retuning from injury.
Petr Cech is likely to start in goal for Chelsea, as Thibaut Courtois continues his recovery from a broken thumb. Meanwhile, Cesar Azpilicueta is definitely out with a groin strain picked up in last week’s win against Newcastle.
Swansea have never beaten Chelsea in the EPL (D2 L5) and you have to go back to 1981 for their last win in a league against the Blues. But the Swans are playing decent stuff at the moment and will give Chelsea a tough game. Nevertheless, without a top quality striker in their side I think they will struggle to trouble the EPL leaders and I expect the Blues to win this game relatively comfortably.
Tottenham v Sunderland
Tottenham’s eight game unbeaten run came to an end last weekend with a 2-1 loss away to London neighbors Crystal Palace. Spurs dominated and took the lead with Harry Kane once again the scorer, but they looked far from comfortable and in the end will be happy the game only ended up 2-1.
Sunderland’s poor run of results continued with a 0-1 defeat at home to Liverpool. The Black Cats didn’t put up much of a fight and are now without a win in their last four games.
Tottenham will be without midfielders Erik Lamela and Ryan Mason who remain sidelined with injuries.
Sunderland new striker Jermaine Defoe does not appear to have signed in time to face his former side. Liam Bridcutt is suspended, but striker Stephan Fletcher is fit again and could return to the starting fold.
You are never quite sure which Tottenham side will turn up at the moment, but the north Londoners are unbeaten in their last nine meetings with the Black Cats, and with Harry Kane seemingly scoring every week I think Spurs will easily win this game.
Man City v Arsenal
Manchester City drew 1-1 away to Everton to fall two-points behind EPL leaders Chelsea. The Champions took the lead through midfielder Fernandinho, but were soon pegged back when keeper Joe Hart ventured into no man’s land, allowing Steven Naismith to head into an empty net.
Arsenal avenged their 3-2 defeat away to Stoke with a comprehensive 3-0 win at home against the Potters. The Gunners started brightly and took the lead early on when Alexis Sanchez crossed for Koscienly to head. The Chilean forward was at the heart of all of Arsenal’s good play and added two more himself to round off a good day at the office.
Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri is unfit to face his former side, while forward Edin Dzeko is doubtful through injury. However, Sergio Aguero and club captain Vincent Kompany are both fit again and could return to the staring line-up.
Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy and midfielder Mikel Arteta have been ruled out for three months after surgery. Kieran Gibbs is doubtful with a heel problem, but Calum Chambers is expected to return following illness.
Both these sides are in good form and have an array of attacking talent, so we could be in for a blockbuster on Sunday. Man City are undefeated in their last five EPL meetings against Arsenal, and thumped them 6-3 at the Etihad last season. However, that defeat was the Gunners only defeat in six visits to the Etihad, so they won’t be shaking in their boots.
Neither of these sides are defending well so I think both teams will score, but I feel City have a bit more steel about them and that’s why I’ll back them to edge this one.