The EPL returns after a break for the FA Cup and for all you guys and gals suffering from withdrawal symptoms fret not for we have all the news, previews and predictions for Week 23.
Chelsea home in on Cuadrado
Chelsea is close to finalizing a $35m deal with Fiorentina for Colombian International Juan Cuadrado.
The winger is believed to have already agreed personal terms with the Chelsea, with the EPL leaders and the Italian club still ironing out the final details of the move.
The final cost of the move including “add-ons” for number of appearances and trophies won could total over $40m.
Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah is expected to move on loan in the opposite direction as part of the deal, though he has yet to agree to a move.
The deal also looks likely to spell the end for Chelsea’s World Cup winning player Andre Schurrle, with the 24-year-old likely to move to German side Wolfsburg in a $33m deal.
Liverpool after Burnley striker Ings
Liverpool is believed to be preparing a move for Burnley striker Danny Ings before Monday’s transfer deadline.
The Reds have struggled for goals this season with the departure of Luis Suarez and injury of Daniel Sturridge, while summer signing Mario Balotelli has struggled and is yet to score in the EPL.
Ings is in the final six-months of his contract and is free for open talks with any club, with Tottenham and Real Sociadad reportedly interested.
Burnley is willing to sell Ings, but want to retain his services until the end of the season, and Brendan Rodgers is willing to loan the 22-year-old back to Sean Dyche’s side for the rest of the season in order to complete a deal.
Indeed, Liverpool will still have to pay a fee if they sign Ings once his contract is up as he is under 24-years-old.
Ings, who has been capped by England’s U21’s, moved to Burnley for $1.6m in 2011 and has since scored 39 goals in 114 appearances.
|Aston Villa v Liverpool||0-2||1-0||0-1||1-0||2-1||1-1|
|Burnley v Crystal Palace||2-3||2-1||2-1||2-2||2-2||1-0|
|Leicester v Stoke||0-1||1-1||0-1||2-1||1-0||1-1|
|QPR v Man Utd||0-2||2-3||0-3||1-1||1-3||1-2|
|Swansea v Chelsea||0-5||0-2||0-2||0-3||0-2||0-3|
|Tottenham v Sunderland||2-1||2-0||3-1||3-2||2-1||2-0|
|Newcastle v Southampton||1-2||0-1||2-2||3-1||1-2||1-1|
|West Ham v Hull||3-0||2-0||2-0||2-0||1-2||2-0|
|Man City v Arsenal||0-2||2-0||3-0||3-1||3-1||2-1|
|Everton v West Brom||0-0||2-1||1-2||2-1||2-0||2-1|
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 FIVE correct result, including ZERO perfect scores to give me 5-points, which was not enough to see me past challengers James and Neil, who both scored 8-points.
|Hull v Newcastle||2-1|
|Crystal Palace v Everton||2-1|
|Liverpool v West Ham||1-1|
|Man Utd v Leicester||3-1|
|Stoke v QPR||1-1|
|Sunderland v Burnley||1-1|
|West Brom v Tottenham||0-2|
|Chelsea v Man City||1-2|
|Arsenal v Aston Villa||3-0|
|Southampton v Swansea||2-0|
Liverpool v West Ham
Liverpool got a good 1-0 win away to Villa in their last EPL outing and slowly seem to be playing some better stuff.
They narrowly lost out midweek against Chelsea in the League Cup semifinal, losing 1-0, but more than matched the EPL leaders for 120-minutes. However, the Reds’ big problem still remains scoring goals and the sooner they get Daniel Sturridge back the better.
West Ham continued their fine season with a 3-0 win at home over Hull, and still remain in contention for a European spot come the end of the season. Fans were complaining about the Hammers lack of creative flair last season, but they now seem to be spoilt with an array of attacking talent, with Andy Carroll, Mamadou Sakho and Enner Valencia all in fine form.
Liverpool are boosted by the return of striker Daniel Sturridge after five-months out injured.
West Ham forward Mamadou Sakho is a doubt with a back injury, but the Hammers are hopeful that Carl Jenkinson, Alex Song and James Tomkins will be available after minor injury concerns this week.
Liverpool are unbeaten in 41 top-flight home matches against West Ham since a 2-1 defeat in September 1963 (W30, D11). However, the Hammers are enjoying one of the most successful seasons in year, and with Liverpool still struggling to hit top form this could be the year West Ham end their 52-year wait for a victory at Anfield.
Nevertheless, I think this game will end in a draw.
Man Utd v Leicester
Manchester United returned to winning ways last week with 2-0 vistory away to QPR. However, the Red Devils then drew 0-0 with Cambridge United, who sit three Divisions below the EPL. United keep the ball well, but their build up has been too slow and their service to the front men has been poor, that has been in large part due to the 3-5-2 system they employ.
Leicester lost 1-0 to Stoke in their last EPL game to keep them rooted to the foot of the EPL. But they did beat Tottenham in the FA Cup last weekend and have actually won four of their last six games in all competitions (W4 D1 L1).
Manchester United will be without midfielder Michael Carrick who is out for up to a month with a ruptured muscle.
Winger Ashley Young is close to a return from a hamstring injury, while Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling could be involved.
Leicester defender Mathew Upson could finally make his debut after recovering from a foot injury sustained during the summer.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and Chris Wood are still out injured, while Matty James is suspended for the trip to Old Trafford.
Leicester recorded one of the upsets of 2014 when they beat United 5-3 earlier in the season. That game seemed to spell the end of van Gaal’s 3-5-2 experiment with United, however, the Dutchman has slowly brought it back and the Red Devil’s results have improved.
The loss of Michael Carrick might seem like a blow for United, but it could help them, as it means Daley Blind will likely play in the middle—who I feel is much better at linking play and starting attacks for United.
United have only lost once in their last 10 meetings with Leicester and they will want to restore their honor after the 5-3 loss earlier in the season. I expect Leicester to make it a tough game, but the Red Devils should be just too much for them.
Chelsea v Man City
Saturday’s late kick-off is Week 23 blockbuster game as EPL leaders Chelsea face EPL champions Manchester City.
Chelsea continued their position at top of the EPL with a 5-0 demolition of Swansea in their last EPL game. However, Bradford then humbled them last weekend in the FA Cup, losing 4-2 at home after leading 2-0. The Blues restored some pride midweek by beating Liverpool 1-0 to progress to the League Cup final.
Manchester City looked like they were going to overtake Chelsea in the EPL just a few weeks ago, but the wheels seem to have come off and now they are fighting to stay in touch with the west Londoners. The champions lost 2-0 at home to Arsenal in their last EPL game and then lost 2-0 to Championship side Middlesbrough in the Cup. Some pundits have suggested the absence of Yaya Toure is too blame, but the Sky Blues defended terribly in both games and will need to tighten things up if they are to have a chance against Chelsea.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa is suspended for three games and will miss the visit of the champions, after being found guilty of violent conduct against Liverpool.
Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis are both doubts after picking up injuries against Liverpool midweek.
Man City have no fresh injury concerns and could field the same side that lost to Arsenal in the EPL.
This game is probably a little too early in the season to be a title decider, but the result of this game could go a long way to deciding where the EPL ends up come May. A loss for City would leave them eight points behind Chelsea and a mountain to climb, but a win would put them to within just two-points of the EPL leaders and really crank the pressure up on the Blues.
Chelsea have only lost twice to City at Stamford Bridge in the EPL (D4, L11) – both 4-2, most recently in February 2010. In fact, no team has beaten Manchester City more often in the Premier League than Chelsea. The Blues – and Arsenal – have triumphed 22 times. So based on history and current form Chelsea should win this one.
However, I think Mourinho will probably make his team play conservatively to make sure they do not lose and this could play in to City’s hands, as it will encourage them to get forward. Neither side will want to lose, but I think City probably want to win more and that’s why I’ll back them to edge this one.
Arsenal v Aston Villa
Arsenal produced on of their best away performances in a few years by winning 2-0 away to champions Man City. The win was even more significant given that the Gunners were given hidings away to City, Chelsea and Liverpool last season.
Santi Carzola was the stand out performer against City and along with Alexis Sanchez looks to be the Gunners most important players at the moment.
Aston Villa lost 1-0 at home to Liverpool and have no failed to score a goal in their last seven EPL games. However, they did manage to put two past Champions leaders Bournemouth, so might travel to London with a bit more confidence.
Alexis Sanchez has a hamstring strain and is unlikely to be risked against Villa. New signing Gabriel Paulista could make his debut, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck look set to miss out with injury.
On-loan Man City winger Scott Sinclair could make his debut for Aston Villa, while Fabian Delph and Gabby Agbonlahor are expected to return from injury.
Villa have a terrible record against Arsenal in the EPL winning only three times in their last 32 meetings (W3 D9 L20). They did win at the Emirates in the opening game of last season, so won’t be too daunted by the task facing them. However, Arsenal will be full of confidence after beating City away and I expect them to make easy work of Villa on Sunday.