Week 24 is here folks and it could prove to be the best yet with a whole host of delicious games to on the menu.
There is Tottenham v Arsenal as an appetizer, Man City v Hull as a main and then the Merseyside Derby for dessert, and if you have still got room in your belly there are two more treats for you on Sunday to choose from.
So get your knives and forks ready as we at GotSoccer take you through a gastronomic trip.
Redknapp quits QPR
Harry Redknapp has resigned as manager of QPR with immediate effect citing imminent knee replacement surgery as the reason for his decision.
The 67-year-old informed club owner Tony Fernandes of his decision at 5:30 GMT on Tuesday.
“I need immediate surgery,” said Redknapp. “If I can’t give 100%, it’s better for someone else to take over.”
They were reports that Redknapp was a game away from being fired in December with QPR struggling at the bottom of the EPL after being promoted from the Championship last season. However, Redknapp kept his job and blamed “insiders” for trying to destabilize the club. Indeed, owner Tony Fernandes even issued a statement on the Jan 19 saying he wished for Redknapp to remain as manager.
“I have had such a fantastic time at QPR,” said Redknapp, who took over Rangers in November 2012.
“I would like to thank the board, the players and all my staff, and especially the supporters who have been absolutely fantastic to me.
“I am confident they will survive in the Premier League this year.”
It has been suggested that Redknapp quit because the club failed to make any moves during the transfer window, but the former Bournmouth, West Ham and Spurs manager denied such claims.
“My relationship with chairman Tony Fernandes has been one of the highlights of my footballing career”
“I know what people think – that I’ve been sacked, or stormed off because we couldn’t get the players in – but I can’t control what people think.”
“We had one real target on the last day, Emmanuel Adebayor, because we are short upfront, but he was too much money. I accept that.” Added Redknapp.
Meanwhile, QPR have appointed former player Les Ferdinand as director of football and are believed to have approached Tim Sherwood about the possibility of managing the club, though a deal has yet to be struck.
Jovetic omitted from City Euro Squad
Forward Stevan Jovetic has been dropped from Manchester City’s Champions League squad with new signing Wilfred Bony taking his place.
The Ivory Coast international joined City last month from Swansea City for $38m, though he has yet to play a game for the EPL champions as he is currently representing his country in the African Cup of Nations.
Bony’s arrival meant City had one too many foreign players in their Champions League squad than permitted.
City is restricted to fielding 16 foreign players in their squad rather than the usual 17, as punishment for breaching the UEFA financial fair play rules.
Pellegrini’s decision to leave Jovetic out means City will be restricted to having only three strikers for the rest of the competition—Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Wilfred Bony.
Man City face Barcelona in the round of 16 for the second year running, with the first leg due to take place February 26 in Manchester.
|Hull v Newcastle||0-3||2-1||1-1||1-2|
|Crystal Palace v Everton||0-1||2-1||2-1||2-1|
|Liverpool v West Ham||2-0||1-1||3-1||1-2|
|Man Utd v Leicester||3-1||3-1||2-0||3-1|
|Stoke v QPR||3-1||1-1||1-1||2-0|
|Sunderland v Burnley||2-0||1-1||0-1||1-1|
|West Brom v Tottenham||0-3||0-1||0-2||1-2|
|Chelsea v Man City||1-1||1-2||1-2||1-1|
|Arsenal v Aston Villa||5-0||3-0||3-0||3-1|
|Southampton v Swansea||0-1||2-0||2-1||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 THREE correct results, including ONE perfect score to give me FIVE-points. However, it was not enough to beat challenger Neil who got SIX correct results, including TWO perfect scores to earn a grand total of 10-points.
|Tottenham v Arsenal||1-2|
|Aston Villa v Chelsea||0-2|
|Leicester v Crystal Palace||2-1|
|Man City v Hull||4-0|
|QPR v Southampton||1-2|
|Swansea v Sunderland||2-0|
|Everton v Liverpool||1-2|
|Burnley v West Brom||2-0|
|Newcastle v Stoke||1-0|
|West Ham v Man Utd||1-2|
Tottenham v Arsenal
Week 24 kicks-off with the North London derby and we could be in for something special as both teams are in tiptop form.
Tottenham won 3-0 away to West Brom last week to move them within two-points of a Champions League spot and increase their unbeaten run to six games (D2 W4). Harry Kane was once again on the score sheet, netting twice to move him onto 20 goals for the season.
The 21-year-old’s development has been phenomenal and his form has been the catalyst for Spurs good run, as now they have someone up top that can trouble and occupy the opposition.
Spurs’ neighbors, Arsenal, are also in fine form and sit just one-point and place above their rivals. The Gunners comfortably beat Aston Villa last week winning by an emphatic 5-0 score line. Goals for the returning Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott were the highlights of the game, after both had spent long spells out with injury. The win made it five on the trot for Arsenal and keeps them right on the heels of Southampton and Manchester United in the pursuit for a Champions League spot.
Tottenham have no fresh injury worries and manager Mauricio Pochettino’s only decision is whether to include midfielder Nabil Bentaleb in the squad after he returned from international duty with Algeria.
Arsenal have been dealt a blow with the news that Alexis Sanchez will miss out with a hamstring injury, but there is also some good news for the Gunners as Danny Welbeck returns from injury.
However, the game has come too soon for Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
This is the 156th meeting between the two clubs and with both clubs playing well we could be in for a treat. Arsenal won 1-0 at White Hart Lane last season, but Spurs are a much-improved side this season and showed against Chelsea that they can beat anyone in the EPL. However, Arsenal have only failed to score once in their last 32 EPL appearances against Spurs and I expect them to just edge this one as they have more players that can create and score goals than Spurs.
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Aston Villa’s woes continued with a 5-0 thumping away to Arsenal. The loss was the Villains third in row and now leaves them without a win in their last eight EPL games. Villa’s are not defending great, but there biggest problem is that they just cannot find the back of the net at the moment—Villa have now failed to score in 612 minutes of soccer.
Chelsea maintained their five-point lead at the top of the EPL with a 1-1 draw at home to champions Manchester City. The Blues took the lead in the game, but once they were pegged back they never threatened the City goal again and looked fairly content with a draw in the end.
Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar looks set to return from a knee injury sustained on New Year’s Day. On loan winger Scott Sinclair could make his first start, while Joe Cole could return to the squad after recovering from a hamstring problem.
Chelsea remains without top scorer Diego Costa, while Filipe Luis misses out with a calf problem. However, Cesc Fabregs should return to the fold.
Villa Park is one of only two grounds in the EPL where Jose Mourinho has never won (D3 L2)—the Portuguese coach has also failed to record a victory at St James’ Park—and with Villa winning 1-0 in the corresponding fixture last season they may be confident of getting a result against the EPL leaders.
However, Villa do not seem able to buy a goal at the moment and with Chelsea boasting the second meanest defense in the EPL I doubt Villa will end their goal drought on Saturday.
Man City v Hull
Manchester City maintained pace with Chelsea by drawing 1-1 away to the EPL leaders. However, the champions will be a tad disappointed with leaving London with only a point, as they dominated the second-half and could have left with all three-points if for better decision making and finishing in the final third.
Hull’s problems continued with a 3-0 defeat at home to Newcastle. The defeat was the Tigers third in a row and leaves them in the relegation zone one point from safety. Last January Hull signed Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long who transformed their season by providing them with a real threat upfront. However, Long left for Southampton in the summer and Hull’s goals have dried up—the Tigers’ have scored the second fewest goals (20) in the EPL and have now failed to score in 11 of their last 15 EPL games.
Manchester City welcome back Samir Nasri and Eliaquim Mangala to their squad after both recovered from injury. However, the champions will have to wait another week to welcome back Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfred Bony, as both are representing the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations final this weekend.
Hull’s attacking problems look set to continue with Nikica Jelavic a doubt, while new signing Dame N’Doye is still awaiting international clearance.
Manchester City looked nearer to their best last week with a good performance against Chelsea and I expect them to continue to up the pressure on their rivals. The EPL champions have never lost a home game to Hull in nine meetings (W6 D3) and will the Tigers struggling for goals and results at present I cannot see anything other than an easy win for City.
Everton v Liverpool
Saturday’s action ends as it started, with blockbuster Derby when the blue side of Liverpool takes on the Red side.
Everton brought their six-game winless streak to an end last week with a good
1-0 win away to Crystal Palace. The Toffees have not been as prolific in front of goals as they were last season, but their biggest problem has been their woeful defending and until they tighten up defensively they will continue to struggle.
Liverpool continued their improvement with a 2-0 win over West Ham. The win means the Reds are unbeaten in their last seven games, winning five of their last six. The victory also saw the long awaited return of striker Daniel Sturridge and the England international didn’t take long to make his mark, scoring just 12-minutes after coming off the subs bench.
Everton could hand new signing Aaron Lennon his debut, while James McCarthy could also return after a six weeks absence due to a hamstring problem.
Daniel Sturridge could make his first start for Liverpool since August, but there are slight doubts Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Lucas.
This will be the 224th Merseyside Derby and most probably Steven Gerrard’s last as a player. However, I doubt any of the Everton players will be in a generous or sentimental mood come kick-off. Liverpool has dominated proceedings down the years and has only lost once in their last 16 EPL meetings with their Neighbors.
The game finished 3-3 last season, but both sides were a lot better going forward last season, whilst this season they have struggled in front of goal. However, Liverpool has begun to find their feet again and with Daniel Sturridge returning they now have a real threat upfront.
I expect this game to be fast, frenetic, and full of passion—The Merseyside derby has produced 20 red cards in the EPL, more than any other fixture, though there has not been a sending off in the last seven derbies in league and cup. However, I think Liverpool has a bit more quality in the attacking department and that’s while I’ll back them to edge this one.
West Ham v Man Utd
West Ham lost 2-0 away to Liverpool last week and has now only won once in their last six games. However, the Hammers are a whopping 17-points better off than they were at the same stage last season, so won’t be too concerned.
Manchester United beat Leicester 3-1 to make it two wins in a row since losing to Southampton. The win moved the Red Devils into third in the EPL, but questions marks still remain, especially in defense where they look incredible vulnerable and unorganized.
Manager Louis van Gaal still doesn’t seem to have a favored eleven and almost looks to be making decision based on caprice—the Dutchman had Phil Jones taking corners a few weeks ago and then played Maroune Felliani on the left-wing mid-week in the cup—though geniuses are often mistaken for madmen.
West Ham has defensive troubles with James Collins and Winston Reid out injured. Andy Carroll is also a doubt with an ankle problem, though Diafra Sahko is clear to play after a dispute between West Ham and his national side Senegal was resolved.
Manchester United remain without Michael Carrick, but Ashley Young is fit again and could feature.
Manchester United is unbeaten in their last 12 top-flight games against West Ham, winning 11 of those matches. However, the Hammers are a much-improved side this season and will be confident of causing the Red Devils problems, especially as they are still struggling with their performances.
West Ham have been one of the surprises of the season and if they had a full squad I would fancy them for this game, but with key players missing I think the balance might just tip in United’s favor.