Hello Back of the Netters….. Welcome to Week 26 for the English Premier League
Sunderland AFC (19th) Vs Manchester United (5th): Our view is: Louis van Gaal’s side are six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City with 13 matches remaining, but have only lost once in their last seven league matches going into Saturday’s match. This match has a very different feel about it, as the weeks events have proven. Sunderland’s Adam Johnson has had his contact terminated by Sunderland for engaging in sexual acts with a minor. Once one of England’s brightest young prospects, Johnson has sensationally fallen from grace where he is almost certain to never play in the EPL ever again. Sunderland will be hoping it doesn’t prove to be a distraction and they continue their better spell of form. It has been 22yrs since the back cats beat United and they need this win so very badly. Allardyce said: “It is a necessity to start winning a few matches and then, as always, if we can’t then take the point. Hopefully that will give us the drive and confidence to get out of trouble.
“Let’s try to play as well as we did against Manchester City [a 1-0 home defeat] and see if we can get some points. If we can put up the same show as we did against City, we are going to give them a really good game.
“But I would say to the players ‘make sure you get a result if you are going to give a performance like that’. More than ever before our life is about results rather than performances.
“I think that we are going to have to fight until the end of the season now. There is no doubt about that based on the amount of points we have to catch up and the number of games left.” We say they will band together and play out a boring 1-1 DRAW
Sunderland (from): Harper, Mannone, Pickford, Brown, Jones, Kaboul, Kirchhoff, Kone, O’Shea, Van Aanholt, Yedlin, Cattermole, Khazri, M’Vila, Rodwell, Borini, Defoe, Gooch, N’Doye, Toivonen.
Manchester United (from): De Gea, Romero, Borthwick-Jackson, Darmian, Jones, McNair, Smalling, Varela, Blind, Carrick, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Mata, Pereira, Schneiderlin, Depay, Martial, Rooney.
Referee: Andre Marriner Assistants: J Collin, S Beck Fourth Official: L Mason
– Manchester United have won 21 and lost just two of their 29 Barclays Premier League matches against Sunderland.
– Sunderland have never beaten Man Utd in the league at the Stadium of Light (D4 L9).
– Wayne Rooney has been involved in as many BPL goals during six matches in 2016 (five goals, three assists), as he had in 33 appearances in 2015 (six goals, two assists).
– Only Sergio Aguero (seven) has scored more top-flight goals in 2016 so far than Jermain Defoe (six) and Wayne Rooney (five).
Crystal Palace (12th) Vs Watford (10th): Our view is: Palace Manager Alan Pardew has been encouraged by the early work of new signing Emmanuel Adebayor and says now is the moment for Crystal Palace to halt their poor run of form as they prepare to host Watford. Neither Palace nor Watford go into Saturday’s match at Selhurst Park in good form, with the home side having failed to win in their last eight league matches, picking up three points in the process.
Watford have won only once in their last eight Barclays Premier League outings, failing to score in four of their previous five league matches. Palace and Watford sit 12th and 10th in the table respectively, separated by a point, and are still in position to stage positive conclusions to the campaign. Pardew feels the move to bring in Adebayor, together with players returning to availability, are signs for optimism after last week’s 1-1 draw at Swansea City. Pardew’s teams have a knack of this, start off well and drop off in the latter stages, this could be a big win for Watford all but assuring the magical 40 point mark.
Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores was similarly complimentary about Palace, who beat Watford 1-0 in the reverse fixture in September thanks to Yohan Cabaye’s penalty. “We expect a lot from Crystal Palace,” Flores said. “They played well against us at Vicarage Road. They have a very good coach and we play away, so we are looking for our best performance to get back to winning ways. We say Watford take and eat the lollies 2-1 WINNERS
Crystal Palace (from): Hennessey, McCarthy, Speroni, Dann, Delaney, Hangeland, Kelly, Mariappa, Souare, Ward, Cabaye, Guedioura, Jedinak, Lee, Mutch, Zaha, Adebayor, Campbell, Chamakh, Gayle, Wickham.
Watford (from): Gilmartin, Gomes, Pantilimon, Ake, Belkalem, Britos, Cathcart, Hoban, Holebas, Nyom, Paredes, Prodl, Abdi, Amrabat, Anya, Behrami, Capoue, Dyer, Guedioura, Jurado, Suarez, Watson, Berghuis, Deeney, Ibarbo, Ighalo, Oulare.
Referee: Robert Madley Assistants: J Collin, S Beck Fourth Official: L Mason
– Crystal Palace have won seven and lost just one of the last 10 meetings with Watford in all competitions.
– Only Jamie Vardy (eight) has scored the opening goal of a Barclays Premier League match more often than Odion Ighalo (six) this season.
– Watford (seven) and Crystal Palace (nine) have conceded the fewest goals in the first half of BPL matches this term.
– Palace have scored a league-high eight goals from defenders in 2015/16, but have the lowest tally of goals from strikers (one).
West Ham (6th) Vs Norwich (18th): Our view is: Slaven Bilic hopes West Ham United can build on their FA Cup victory over Liverpool and get back to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League against Norwich City at Carrow Road. A 1-0 defeat to Southampton last Saturday was West Ham’s second loss in four league matches, losing them ground in the race for the top four.
Angelo Ogbonna’s header in the 120th minute secured a 2-1 win over Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool earlier this week, sealing progression to the fifth round, and Bilic said that result has lifted the mood at the Boleyn Ground. “We have a good feeling after Tuesday’s game, after a result like that you don’t feel fatigue,” he said. “We will have a strong team [against Norwich]. Alex Song is back and we have enough players to put a very strong team out on Saturday. “We lost our last league game against Southampton and now we have a good game to bounce back. During the transfer window they did really good, and any Premier League game is unbelievably tough.
However history does not appear to be on West Ham’s side, though, given none of the last 13 league meetings between the two sides have ended with an away win. But Norwich have suffered six straight defeats in all competitions, conceding 19 goals and scoring just five, and now occupy a place in the relegation zone. Manager Alex Neil will again look to Steven Naismith to boost his side’s survival hopes after the former Everton forward scored on his home debut against Liverpool, although he has failed to register since. The hosts will be nearing full strength, with Graham Dorrans a doubt after illness and Alexander Tettey suspended, but West Ham have more injury problems. We say a west ham let down is coming after 120mins against Liverpool in Mid Week, 1-1 DRAW
Norwich City (from): Kean, Rudd, Ruddy, Bassong, Bennett, Klose, Martin, Olsson, Pinto, Toffolo, Whittaker, Wisdom, Andreu, Brady, Dorrans, Hoolahan, Howson, Jarvis, Mulumbu, O’Neil, Odjidja-Ofoe , Redmond, Bamford, Jerome, Lafferty, Mbokani, Naismith.
West Ham United (from): Adrian, Randolph, Spiegel, Byram, Collins, Cresswell, Henry, Ogbonna, Oxford, Antonio, Cullen, Moses, Noble, Obiang, Payet, Samuelsen, Song, Carroll, Emenike, Jelavic, Lee, Valencia.
Referee: Mike Jones Assistants: M Scholes, A Halliday Fourth Official: G Ward
– None of the last 13 league meetings between West Ham United and Norwich City have ended with an away win (six home wins, seven draws).
– West Ham have won none of their last 16 league visits to Carrow Road (D7 L9).
– Robbie Brady has scored in two of his three Barclays Premier League appearances against West Ham.
– There has been a 90th minute goal in all of the last four BPL encounters between the Canaries and the Hammers
Chelsea (13th) Vs Newcastle (17th): Our view is: Huge game for both teams, both teams need wins and need them for different reasons. The blues are undefeated since the arrival of Gus Hiddink but are drawing far too many matches. Guus Hiddink says Diego Costa is set to play with a mask against Newcastle United on Saturday after breaking his nose in training, and he joins his “Zorro team” as the fourth Chelsea player to wear the protective headgear this season.
Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic and Cesar Azpilicueta have already worn protective masks this season, emulating the look of Spanish fictional outlaw Zorro. Seven other Chelsea players have done so in the past decade. Costa is the only fresh injury concern along with French defender Kurt Zouma, who is ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a horrific knee injury sustained in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United, but Hiddink expects his in-form striker (costa) to feature after re-joining training despite breaking his nose on Thursday. Diego is the only inform attacker for Chelsea so him missing would be a very huge gap to fill.
With Zouma out, Gary Cahill is favourite to partner captain John Terry at centre-back and Newcastle defender Steven Taylor hopes unpredictable striker Aleksandar Mitrovic can bring some of the fire from their training-ground duels to bear on the Chelsea duo.
“For me, he is a class act,” centre-back Taylor told nufc.co.uk, reflecting on a decisive goalscoring outing for the Serbia international in last weekend’s 1-0 triumph at home to West Bromwich Albion. “He is a good target man and is only young but is bullying experienced defenders and knocking them about. He takes a lot of hits but gets up and gets on with it. We say entertainment mixed with some Benny Hill music… 3-3 DRAW
Chelsea (from): Amelia, Begovic, Blackman, Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Miazga, Rahman, Terry, Fabregas, Hazard, Loftus-Cheek, Matic, Mikel, Oscar, Traore, Willian, Costa, Kenedy, Pato, Pedro, Remy.
Newcastle United (from): Darlow, Elliot, Coloccini, Haidara, Janmaat, Lascelles, Taylor, Aarons, Colback, De Jong, Gouffran, Marveaux, Saivet, Shelvey, Sissoko, Tiote, Townsend, Wijnaldum, Cisse, Doumbia, Mitrovic, Perez, Riviere, Toney.
Referee: Roger East Assistants: P Kirkup, S Ledger Fourth Official: K Friend
– Newcastle United have taken more points off Chelsea (13) than any other team in the last five seasons.
– In the last 11 meetings between Chelsea and Newcastle, the Blues have failed to win when they did not keep a clean sheet (D3 L4).
– Guus Hiddink has still only lost one of his 21 matches as a Barclays Premier League manager (W13 D7 L1) and is unbeaten in his last 16.
– The Blues are on the current longest unbeaten run in the BPL, nine matches (W3 D6 L0).