It is Week 30 in the EPL and will only eight games to go all is yet to be decided. Chelsea look odds on to win the title, but only eight-points separate second place Man City from seventh place Tottenham meaning every game will be vital from now until the end of the season.
Kane earns first England call-up
Tottenham striker Harry Kane has been called up for the England squad for the games against Lithuania and Italy at the end of the month.
The 21-year-old has been hotly tipped to earn his first senior call up after scoring 26 goals in 42 games this season.
“I think the whole country is excited about Harry,” said England manager Roy Hodgson. ”
“It would have been a surprise if he wasn’t selected.”
Kane, who has been named the EPL player of the month for January and February, admitted it was a dream come true. “It’s something I’d always dreamed of as a kid.”
Kane is one of a 24-man England squad that meet Lithuania at Wembley on March 27 in their latest Group E Euro 2016 qualifier before a friendly in Turin against Italy on 31 March.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City).
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).
Sterling puts contract talks on hold
England winger Raheem Sterling has put contract talks off with Liverpool until the end of the season according to Liverpool boss Brenden Rogers.
The 20-year-old’s current contract with the Reds expires in 2017 and he has yet to agree to any extension. However, Rogers says the delay is only because Sterling wants to concentrate on his soccer.
“It has been made clear by Raheem’s representative he wants to concentrate on his football and see what can be resolved in the summer,” said Rodgers.
“I am sure it will be resolved and the concentration for Raheem is now on his football, and it is clear when those talks will begin again.”
Sterling has been linked moves to Chelsea, Man City and Real Madrid, nevertheless, Brenden Rogers insists the club will not be held to ransom and pay over the odds to keep young talent at Liverpool.
Last Week’s Predictions
|Crystal Palace v QPR||3-1||2-1||2-0||3-1||2-0|
|Arsenal v West Ham||3-0||2-0||2-1||2-0||2-1|
|Leicester v Hull||0-0||1-2||1-1||1-2||1-1|
|Sunderland v Aston Villa||0-4||0-1||0-2||2-1||1-2|
|West Brom v Stoke||1-0||2-1||2-1||1-0||2-1|
|Burnley v Man City||1-0||0-2||1-3||1-3||1-3|
|Chelsea v Southampton||1-1||2-0||2-1||4-1||2-1|
|Everton v Newcastle||3-0||1-1||1-1||0-1||1-1|
|Man Utd v Tottenham||3-0||2-2||1-2||1-1||1-2|
|Swansea v Liverpool||0-1||1-1||2-1||0-2||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 FOUR correct results and ZERO prefect scores to gve me a dismal total of FOUR-points—a record low for the season.
Challenger Mabs got FOUR correct results, including TWO perfect scores to give him a total of EIGHT-points.
Do you think you can do better? If so, feel free to leave your predictions below.
This Week’s Predictions
|Man City v West Brom||3-0|
|Aston Villa v Swansea||2-1|
|Newcastle v Arsenal||0-2|
|Southampton v Burnley||1-0|
|Stoke v Crystal Palace||2-1|
|Tottenham v Leicester||2-0|
|West Ham v Sunderland||1-0|
|Liverpool v Man Utd||2-2|
|Hull v Chelsea||0-2|
|QPR v Everton||2-2|
Man City v West Brom
EPL champions Man City have endured a torrid last few weeks, losing four of their five games in all competitions.
Last week the Sky Blues lost away to Burnley 1-0 to fall further behind EPL leaders Chelsea. They were also knocked out of the Champions League midweek losing 1-0 away to Barcelona, and could well have lost by a NFL score line if not for the heroics of keeper Joe Hart.
The EPL champions were easily cut open by a classy Barcelona, but their problem is that every team they play against seems to be doing the same. City just don’t work hard enough defensively and it seems other teams have worked this out and are no longer afraid to attack them.
Visitors West Brom won 1-0 last week and have done fairly well under new boss Tony Pulis—the Baggies have picked up 15 points from a possible 27 under Tony Pulis (W4, D3, L2).
The biggest impact Pulis has had on the Baggies is making them harder to beat—West Brom has kept six clean sheets in nine league games with Pulis as boss—and with a striker like Saido Berahino in their ranks that means they always have a chance of winning a game.
City have no fresh injury concerns, but could name a changed line-up to the side that lost away to Barcelona with Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Edin Dzeko and Frank Lampard all likely to be recalled.
West Brom keeper Ben Foster is expected to be out for a month with knee cartilage trouble, meaning Boaz Myhill will play between the sticks.
Chris Brunt and Claudio Yacob are suspended for the Baggies, but Victor Anichebe could return from a groin injury.
Man City are unbeaten against West Brom in the last 10 league meetings (W9, D1). They have scored 24 goals in that period, conceding just seven. However, the EPL champions are experiencing their poorest form for sometime—City has only earned 15 points from a possible 30 so far in 2015—so West Brom may feel it is a good time to face their Nemesis.
However, I feel City need a big performance and I expect them to put it on against West Brom.
Newcastle v Arsenal
Newcastle lost last week to continue their poor run of recent results. The Magpies lost 3-0 away to Everton and have now lost three of their last four league matches, conceding nine goals in the process.
Arsenal beat West Ham 3-0 last week to continue their imperious form in 2015—the Gunners have won 13 out of 15 games in all competitions since New Year’s Day, including eight wins from nine league matches.
They also beat Monaco 2-0 in the Champions League, but were still dumped out of the competition on away goals after losing the first leg 3-1 at home. You might expect being knocked out of Europe to affect Arsenal, but the Gunners have responded well after similar experiences in recent years, so Newcastle should be wary.
Newcastle will be without captain Fabricio Coloccini who begins a three game suspension, meaning right-back Daryl Janmaat could move into the middle.
Arsenal has no new injury concerns and they will probably name a different starting eleven to the one that started in Monaco.
Arsenal usually ends the season well and has traditionally reacted well after being knocked out of Europe. Combine that with the fact that the Gunners have won their last six games against Newcastle and it looks like their can only be one result.
Liverpool v Man Utd
This game is always a big one, but it is especially important this season as both sides are fighting for a place in the Champions League.
Liverpool continued their great form by edging past Swansea 1-0. The Reds were put under a lot of pressure by the home side, especially in the first-half and had keeper Simon Mignolet to thank for keeping them in the game. However, they improved vastly after the break and were rewarded with a bit of fortune when Jordan Henderson netted late on.
The win was Liverpool’s sixth on the trot and they remain the only side in the EPL yet to lose a game in 2015—The Reds have gone 13 Premier League games without defeat; only Chelsea (14) have been on a longer run at some point this season.
Manchester United bounced back from their defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup by beating another north London club in the EPL. The Red Devils have looked fortunate to get results in recent weeks, but for once they look good for their money, easily dispatching of Tottenham 3-0.
Wayne Rooney was once again on the score sheet—Rooney has scored five goals in his last six games in all competitions—and looks to have cemented his place as United’s first choice striker. However, Maroune Fellaini was the talk of the game, as he caused Spurs all kinds of trouble up top, and it will be interesting to see if van Gaal opts to play the big Belgian up top with Rooney at Anfield.
Liverpool welcome back Lucas Leiva and Mario Balotelli to their squad, though neither are likely to make the starting eleven.
Manchester United has record signing Angel Di Maria available again after he served a one-game suspension, though he might start on the bench after Juan Mata impressed against Spurs. However, Luke Shaw is out, while Marcos Rojo is a doubt with a groin injury.
Manchester United beat Liverpool 3-0 earlier in the season, but the score line did not tell the story of the game, as Liverpool dominated and could well have scored a hat full of goals if not for an incredible performance by United’s keeper David de Gea.
Since then Liverpool has gone from strength to strength and are currently the best team in the EPL on form. The return of Daniel Sturridge has certain helped them and they will be full of confidence come Sunday, especially as they have a good recent record against their rivals at Anfield—The Reds have only lost one of their last seven meetings in all competitions with Manchester United at Anfield (W5, D1).
Liverpool still look a bit vulnerable at the back and United look even worse defensively, so I expect goals.
Hull v Chelsea
Hull drew 0-0 away to Leicester last week and remains just three points above the relegation zone. The Tigers have tightened their defense up after a poor run and have now lost just one of their last six league games (W2, D3).
Chelsea have played well in 2015, but still remain top of the EPL by six-points and with a game in hand. The Blues drew 1-1 at home to Southampton last week, but had enough chances to score five or six goals, with a combination of bad luck and poor finishing costing them all three points.
Hull will be without striker Nikica Jelavic who underwent knee surgery, while midfielder Tom Huddlestone is suspended.
Chelsea’s only absentee this weekend is John Obi Mikel, who has a knee problem.
Hull is in good form, but they have never beaten Chelsea in the EPL—losing five times and drawing twice—and I think that bad streak will continue.