Preview from England (week 23)

Charlie Austin might be the best signing this window

Charlie Austin might be the best signing this window

Punt of the Week:

Leicester Vs Stoke (-2.5 goals) $1.72
Bournemouth Vs Sunderland (both teams to score) $1.75
Villa Vs West Brom (Draw) $3.10



Norwich (16th) Vs Liverpool (9th): Our view is: Oh how Liverpool could do with talisman Luis Suarez. The misfiring reds are desperate for a striker who commands the ball in the box and a striker who wants to score goals. Liverpool will be hoping the magic spray has an effect on Christen Benteke, they want him scoring or setting up goals like a demon, not pussyfooting around giving fouls away in the box. Liverpool head to Norwich City looking for a first win in four Barclays Premier League matches on Saturday as they bid to avoid being dragged into the bottom half of the table, but of all away grounds Carrow Road would probably be their venue of choice to land that much-needed victory. That said, the form of Robbie Brady will give the Canaries plenty of cause for optimism. Neither side come into this match in exceptional form, with Norwich losing their last two and Liverpool without a win in three. Bouncing back from that would be a start for Jurgen Klopp’s men, while they also need to avoid losing further ground (eight points at present) on the top four.

Norwich lie only two points above the bottom three, so increasing that gap and easing relegation worries is of primary concern. We say Liverpool 3-1 winners (look out for Ojo)

Squads not yet available:

Match Appointments
Lee Mason Assistants: J Brooks, A Halliday Fourth Official: K Friend

Match Facts
    – Liverpool have won nine and lost none of the last 11 Barclays Premier League meetings with Norwich City.
– Liverpool have scored just one goal in their last four league away matches, losing three (W1 D0 L3).
– Norwich are unbeaten in the last five top-flight matches at Carrow Road (W3 D2), keeping clean sheets in all three victories and conceding just once in each of the two draws.
– Liverpool have scored 22 goals in their last six BPL matches against the Canaries, although 12 of those were scored by Luis Suarez.
– Only Aston Villa (10.2%) have scored with a lower proportion of their shots in the competition this season than Liverpool (10.3%).
– Norwich have conceded a league-high 14 goals from crosses this season.
– Norwich have exactly the same record after 22 matches that they did in their last BPL season (2013/14, in which they were relegated) – W6 D5 L11 and 23 points.

Crystal Palace (8th) Vs Tottenham Hotspur (4th): Our view is: Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has urged his goal-shy strike force to shake off their poor recent form when Tottenham Hotspur visit Selhurst Park on Saturday. After talk of UEFA Champions League aspirations, Palace have slipped to eighth following consecutive Barclays Premier League defeats against Chelsea, Aston Villa and Manchester City, with Pardew’s side failing to find the net in their last five league outings. Palace have not scored in the league since Lee Chung-yong’s winner at Stoke City on 19 December and face a Spurs side full of confidence after booking their place in the FA Cup fourth round courtesy of 2-0 win in the replay with Leicester City on Wednesday. Spurs are unbeaten in their last nine BPL away matches and remain in with a chance of silverware on three fronts this season. Mauricio Pochettino has been keen to keep focus amid talk of a title challenge, but, with FA Cup and UEFA Europa League glory to play for and a top-four finish firmly achievable, Spurs travel to south London in good shape. These are the types of games Spurs sometimes struggle in, so let’s getting the balls in full flight this week. We say Spurs 2-1 Winners here purely on form alone.

Crystal Palace (from): Hennessey, McCarthy, Speroni, Dann, Delaney, Hangeland, Kelly, Mariappa, Souare, Ward, Cabaye, Guedioura, Jedinak, Ledley, Lee, McArthur, Mutch, Puncheon, Sako, Williams, Zaha, Bamford, Campbell, Chamakh, Wickham.

Tottenham Hotspur (from): Lloris, McGee, Vorm, Alderweireld, Davies, Dier, Fazio, Rose, Trippier, Vertonghen, Walker, Wimmer, Alli, Bentaleb, Carroll, Chadli, Dembele, Eriksen, Lamela, Onomah, Son, Townsend, Winks, Kane

Match Appointments
Martin Atkinson Assistants: M Mullarkey, S Long Fourth Official: J Linington

Match Facts
    – Crystal Palace have failed to score in four of the last five Barclays Premier League meetings with Tottenham Hotspur.
– The Eagles have won just two of the last seven league matches at Selhurst Park (W2 D2 L3), failing to score in four of the last six.
– Spurs are unbeaten in their last nine top-flight away matches (W4 D5 L0).
– They last went 10 unbeaten away from home in the BPL between August and December 1995.
– The last nine league meetings between Spurs and Crystal Palace have seen 17 goals scored, all of them in the second half.
– Spurs have allowed their opponents a league-low 69 shots on target this season, an average of 3.1 per match.
– The Lilywhites have also attempted the most shots on target in the competition this term (142).
– A total of 136 different players have scored a BPL goal for Spurs (excluding own goals); more than any other side in the competition.

Leicester City (2nd) Vs Stoke City (7th): Our view is: Mark Hughes will not be taking Stoke City’s visit to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester City lightly, despite a dip in form for Claudio Ranieri’s side. Leicester only trail Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal on goal difference, but have managed just one victory from their last five top-flight fixtures. A combined 28 EPL goals from Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have been pivotal to their strong campaign so far, but neither player has scored or provided an assist since the 3-2 win at Everton on 19 December. We really hope that the amazing run of the Foxes isn’t coming to an end, they have played far too well to drop off now. The two sides drew 2-2 in their first encounter of the season back in September, when Leicester came from two goals down to salvage a point. Ranieri expects another difficult assignment on Saturday, despite seeing his team lose just one of their last 13 home matches in the premier league. Expect goals here people, both teams are free scoring and love to fire the ball around, expect to see Shaqiri and Vardy back in action for both teams, this will add that touch of class to the encounter. We say 2-2 DRAW

Leicester City (from): Schmeichel, Schwarzer, Maddison, Hamer, Benalouane, De Laet, Fuchs, Huth, Moore, Morgan, Simpson, Wasilewski, Albrighton, Drinkwater, Dyer, Gray, Inler, Kante, King, Mahrez, Schlupp, Dodoo, Okazaki, Ulloa, Vardy.

Stoke City (from): Butland, Haugaard, Bardsley, Johnson, Muniesa, Pieters, Shawcross, Teixeira, Wilson, Wollscheid, Adam, Afellay, Ireland, Moha, Shaqiri, Shenton, Sidwell, Van Ginkel, Whelan, Arnautovic, Bojan, Crouch, Diouf, Joselu, Odemwingie, Walters.

Match Appointments
Mike Dean Assistants: E Smart, R West Fourth Official: G Eltringham

Match Facts
    – Leicester City have won eight and lost just one of their last 13 Barclays Premier League home matches.
– Stoke City have kept five clean sheets in their last eight league away trips.
– The Potters have lost only three of their last 12 top-flight away fixtures (W4 D5 L3).
– Bojan has opened the scoring in each of the last two BPL meetings between Leicester and Stoke.
– Leicester have won nine penalties in the league this season. The record in a single BPL campaign is 13, set by Crystal Palace in 2004/05.
– The Foxes are the only team yet to score a top-flight goal from outside the box this season, with all 39 of their goals coming from inside the area.
– Riyad Mahrez has failed to score or assist a single goal in his last five league appearances and he has missed two penalties during this period.

Manchester United (5th) Vs Southampton (10th): Our view is: Everybody welcome Charlie Austin back to the Premier League. For just 4.5million pounds the Saints got the steal of the Window. He has premier league experience with QPR, heads the ball well and is great with the ball at his feet, so lookout United. The saints are finally enjoying some much needed form improvement, they have put 2 wins together and look like a different side. Manchester United however are still under an increasing amount of pressure. LVG and the gang just can’t seem to get in front (especially with the fans), no longer will they put up with boring 1-0 wins, it’s goals and wins or the door for Van Gal we feel. We say Saints 1-0 Winners

Match Appointments
Mike Jones Assistants: A Garratt, I Hussin Fourth Official: T Harrington

Match Facts
    – Manchester United have won seven and lost just one of the last 10 Barclays Premier League matches against Southampton, but that defeat came in Saints’ last visit to Old Trafford.
– Graziano Pelle has scored three goals in as many appearances against the Red Devils.
– Wayne Rooney has currently scored 98 BPL goals at Old Trafford. He has not scored in five successive matches across all competitions for Man Utd since March 2010 (six matches).
– Louis van Gaal’s side have won just two of their last six league outings at Old Trafford (W2 D3 L1).
– Man Utd have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last eight top-flight matches against Southampton.
– David De Gea will make his 150th BPL appearance should he feature on Saturday.
– Southampton have scored a league-high 13 goals from crosses this season and have also netted a joint league-high nine headed goals (alongside West Bromwich Albion).

Sunderland AFC (19th) Vs AFC Bournemouth (15th): Our view is: The meeting of the AFC teams!!! Ahead of this league encounter with AFC Bournemouth, Sam Allardyce has called on his Sunderland players to produce their “big-game” mentality. Allardyce has led Sunderland to victories over Swansea City and Aston Villa to boost their chances of avoiding relegation, while he also masterminded a Wear-Tyne derby triumph over Newcastle United in his first match in charge. “Our big-game mentality will come into play again when we face Bournemouth; it was like that against Aston Villa and Swansea City so we hope we can keep that mentality going,” Allardyce told the club’s website. “When we’ve needed that result we’ve pulled it off and we certainly need that next week against a team that is in and around us.” Allardyce has offloaded goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon to Watford (so umm who’s the keeper) and Danny Graham to Blackburn Rovers in the past week, while drafting in centre-back Jan Kirchhoff and forward Dame N’Doye. Meanwhile, AFC Bournemouth fans could soon see a tweak of system following the arrivals of two new attacking options at the club, but manager Eddie Howe shouldn’t be making wholesale alterations this weekend. Matt Ritchie and Grabban could return to the AFC Bournemouth squad after missing the Norwich match due to a dead leg and illness respectively, while Tokelo Rantie and Josh King (knocks) are doubts. We say EPL classic 3-3 DRAW

Sunderland (from): Mannone, Pickford, Stryjek, Brown, Coates, Jones, O’Shea, Van Aanholt, Yedlin, Cattermole, Gomez, Larsson, Johnson, M’Vila, Borini, Defoe, Fletcher, Gooch, Lens, Toivonen, Watmore.

AFC Bournemouth (from): Allsop, Boruc, Federici, Bennett, Cargill, Cook, Costa, Daniels, Distin, Francis, Smith, Arter, Andrade, Gosling, MacDonald, O’Kane, Pugh, Ritchie, Stanislas, Surman, Afobe, Grabban, King, Murray, Rantie, Tomlin.

Match Appointments
Roger East Assistants: S Burt, D Eaton Fourth Official: A Madley

Match Facts
    – Sunderland have lost just one of the seven meetings with AFC Bournemouth in all competitions (W4 D2 L1), but that came earlier this season on the south coast.
– The Black Cats have won three of the six Barclays Premier League home matches under Sam Allardyce. They won just three of the previous 19 before his arrival.
– AFC Bournemouth have lost just one of their last five league away matches (W2 D2 L1).
– Jermain Defoe has scored more BPL goals in 2016 than any other player so far (five), while Adam Johnson has twice as many assists (four) than any other top-flight player since the turn of the year.
– Johnson has already equalled his highest tally of assists in a single BPL campaign (six, alongside 2012/13) in 16 appearances this term.
– Since the start of 2014/15, AFC Bournemouth have won more penalties than any other team in the top four tiers of English football (20).
– The Cherries have scored the most goals in the opening 15 minutes of BPL matches in 2015/16 (seven), while Sunderland have conceded the most during this period (eight

Watford (12th) Vs Newcastle (18th): Our view is: New Watford signing Nordin Amrabat could fulfil a longstanding personal ambition when the Hornets host Newcastle United in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday. Amrabat arrived at Vicarage Road from Malaga on a three-and-a-half-year contract earlier this week and is in line to make his debut against Newcastle, as Watford look to end a run of four consecutive BPL defeats. The 28-year-old forward has expressed his “dream” of playing in the English top flight and cannot wait to be involved in Quique Sanchez Flores’ squad. “The Premier League is the best competition. Every game is exciting, there’s a lot of action and it’s always nice to watch the games.”Meanwhile, Newcastle playmaker Jonjo Shelvey has determined to make the most of his new role in the middle of the Magpies’ midfield, following his switch from Swansea City. Shelvey enjoyed an impressive debut against West Ham last weekend, playing a major role in goals for Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum in Newcastle’s 2-1 victory.The former Liverpool man has stressed that he will commit to every aspect of his position as Steve McClaren’s side look to climb out of the bottom three.

“I will never shirk a challenge. I just want to work my socks off for the team. Hmm hey swans fans do you second this? We wouldn’t have thought so haha!!! We say Watford 1-0 and the return of Ighalo….

Watford (from): Arlauskis, Gomes, Pantilimon, Ake, Belkalem, Britos, Cathcart, Holebas, Nyom, Paredes, Prodl, Abdi, Anya, Behrami, Capoue, Dyer, Guedioura, Jurado, Watson, Amrabat, Berghuis, Deeney, Ibarbo, Ighalo, Oulare.

Newcastle United (from): Darlow, Elliot, Coloccini, Dummett, Good, Janmaat, Lascelles, Mbemba, Taylor, Williamson, Aarons, Colback, Gouffran, Marveaux, Sissoko, Tiote, Wijnaldum, Mitrovic, Perez, Toney.

Match Appointments
Andre Marriner Assistants: P Kirkup, A Nunn Fourth Official: G Scott

Match Facts
    – Watford have already beaten Newcastle United twice this season, once in the Barclays Premier League at St James’ Park and once in the FA Cup at Vicarage Road earlier this month.
– When Watford have conceded in a competitive home match in 2015/16 (five times), they have gone on to lose that encounter.
– The Magpies have scored just six goals in their last 16 top-flight away matches.
– Odion Ighalo has scored six goals in his last six league appearances at Vicarage Road.
– Watford have only ever won one of their 11 BPL matches in the month of January (W1 D1 L9).
– The Hornets have not lost five successive top-flight matches since October 1999.
– Georginio Wijnaldum has no goals and two assists in 10 league away appearances this season, compared to nine goals and one assist in 12 outings at St James’ Park.
– Only Manchester United (seven) have kept more clean sheets in home BPL matches this term than Watford (six).



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