Match Preview : Liverpool vs Manchester City

Liverpool overcame a slight scare at home to Stoke to run out comfortable 4-1 winners in the end on Tuesday night.

They have the current longest unbeaten streak of any Premier League side in all competitions (16 matches) and should be high on confidence when they welcome Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Saturday evening.

City are only one point behind Liverpool in the league but Guardiola’s side aren’t in the best of shape at the moment.

They are still trying to rediscover the type of performances they started the season with and this would be the perfect opportunity to make a statement against one of their direct title rivals. Naija and Bet

Saturday’s encounter marks the first time Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have faced off since both arrived in England, renewing their rivalry from the Bundesliga when both managers where in charge of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

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Cillessen out for two weeks due to injury

Barcelona’s back-up goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen will be sidelined for around two weeks due to a leg injury, the La Liga giants announced on Friday.

The 27-year-old Dutchman had already missed three weeks in October due to a right ankle injury suffered on international duty.

Cillessen moved to Barcelona last summer but has played just once in La Liga while making a lone appearance in the Champions League against Borussia Moenchengladbach three weeks ago.

Match Preview : Manchester United vs Middlesbrough

Aitor Karanka faces off against Jose Mourinho for the first time as a manager, having served under the Manchester United boss during their stint at Real Madrid.

United finally look to be clicking after winning four straight league games in a single season for the first time since April 2015 – where they won six games in a row – and will be looking to extend that run when they welcome Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Middlesbrough have lost three of their last four in the league and are winless away from home in the each of their last eight, although five of those matches have ended in a draw.

Only five teams have conceded fewer goals in the Premier League this season than Boro, so United cannot afford to be wasteful, as they have throughout the season, on Saturday.

Team News

Manchester United – Wayne Rooney has a thigh injury and will miss United’s game here, as he did on Boxing Day.

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Guardiola ready to unleash Aguero

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has no qualms about unleashing Sergio Aguero against title rivals Liverpool after his suspension, while John Stones could be fit for the Anfield showdown.

Aguero is poised to return to City’s starting line-up after serving a four-match ban for a dangerous lunge on Chelsea’s David Luiz at the start of the month.

The 28-year-old striker was allowed to spend time back with his family in his native Argentina and Guardiola revealed he would not hesitate to throw him straight back into such a big match.

“He is ready,” Guardiola explained. “He has come back good from Argentina. Naija and Bet

“Finally he is back after the ban. And we are happy he is back.”

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Match Preview : Chelsea vs Stoke

Chelsea made it 12 league wins in a row with a comfortable 3-0 win over Bournemouth on Boxing Day and they will equal the record for the most amount of consecutive wins in a single campaign if they beat Stoke on New Year’s Eve.

Stoke made a bright start against Liverpool but crumbled to a heavy 4-1 defeat. Things don’t get much easier as they travel to Premier League leaders Chelsea next to cap a gruelling run of fixtures on the road, which also saw them lose to Arsenal before Tuesday’s match.

The Potters are actually unbeaten in their last three meetings with Chelsea and the Blues have only managed to score a single goal in four of the last six meetings between the sides at Stamford Bridge. However, it’s hard to see Stoke stopping the Chelsea juggernaut, who could extend their lead to nine points at the top of the table by the end of the weekend.

Team News

Chelsea – Chelsea are boosted by the return of Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante, who both missed their 3-0 win over Bournemouth through suspension. Pedro, however, is ruled out due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

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Pochettino want Spurs to be focus

Mauricio Pochettino is adamant Tottenham must focus solely on Sunday’s trip to Watford rather than the higher-profile meeting with Premier League leaders Chelsea that follows soon after.

Wednesday’s London derby showdown with Chelsea at White Hart Lane is one of the most anticipated fixtures of the season for both sets of fans.

Spurs beat Chelsea 5-3 in January 2015 when the latter were on the way to the Premier League title and Tottenham’s hopes of lifting the trophy last season were ended by a bad-tempered 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge in May.

But Tottenham boss Pochettino insists victory over Chelsea would not be half as sweet if it followed a points-dropping performance at Vicarage Road.

“The most important game is Watford,” he said. “It’s important to try to reduce the gap to the top four. Naija and Bet

“We need to be focused on Watford because they are the most important now for us.

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Barkley goal denies Hull crucial win

Everton’s mercurial talent Ross Barkley’s header secured them a 2-2 draw with struggling Hull in their Premier League clash on Friday.

Barkley, who has lost his place in the England squad and been in and out of the Everton first team under manager Ronald Koeman, allowed the visitors to level for the second time.

Hull skipper Michael Dawson and then Robert Snodgrass, with his eighth of the season, had given Hull the lead on two occasions.

An own goal by Hull ‘keeper David Marshall at the end of the first-half had gifted Everton their first equaliser.

The point sees Hull, who have not won in their last eight, climb off the bottom and go a point ahead of managerless Swansea who play later this weekend. Place your bet on

“I think it’s a terrific point,” said Hull manager Mike Phelan, who has the daunting prospect of seven games in January with a limited squad.

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Match Preview : Hull vs Everton


A disappointing 3-0 loss at Manchester City last time out leaves Hull four points off safety and at the foot of the Premier League. The Tigers have won only one of their last 16 top-flight games and they will look to bounce back against Everton.

The Toffees responded to the 1-0 loss to Liverpool with a 2-0 win at Leicester as they strive to secure back-to-back league wins for the first time since September. They have, however, won only one of their last four Premier League visits to Hull. Place your bet on

Nevertheless, this should be a comfortable away win for Koeman’s side.

Team News


Mike Phelan is without injured sextet Moses Odubajo, Alex Bruce, Greg Luer, Abel Hernandez, Will Keane and Brian Lenihan.

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Ronaldo is more natural than Cristiano – Ibrahimovic

The Man Utd attacker was asked what separates the Real Madrid star from Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, and he feels the difference is quite simple.

It’s tough for most football fans to pick a favourite Ronaldo, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes O Fenomeno shades his namesake rivals.

Cristiano Ronaldo has earned his place among the greats, following in the footsteps of the Brazilian icon of the same name at Real Madrid, while the dazzling Barcelona legend Ronaldinho is impossible to ignore.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, however, has pinpointed the differences between the three legends. Naija and Bet

“I think Ronaldo, Il Fenomeno, was the best,” he said. “For me, it was an example of what football is. Everything he did something that made you think ‘wow’. The way he dribbled and the way he ran.

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Mahrez set to return against Hammers

Danny Drinkwater and Riyad Mahrez are likely to start for Leicester City against West Ham United in Saturday’s Premier League clash, manager Claudio Ranieri has indicated.

The Italian is turning to two of last season’s most influential figures in a bid to arrest the champions’ alarming slide towards the relegation zone.

Drinkwater made his first league appearance in more than a month as a second-half substitute in Monday’s 2-0 home defeat by Everton, a result that dropped Leicester to 16th place, three points above the bottom three.

“Drinkwater could be in the starting line-up because he played 45 minutes against Everton,” Ranieri said. Naija and Bet

“He works well and I think he could start from the beginning.”

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Wenger explain why Iwobi never went on loan

The Gunners boss attributed the Nigerian’s direct transition to the first team as key reason why he was not shipped out of the club for more experience.

Arsene Wenger has revealed the reason why Alex Iwobi was not allowed to go on loan for more experience before becoming a mainstay in the Arsenal team.

The Frenchman who handed the Nigeria international his first team debut in 2015,  said the ‘speed’ of ‘maturity’ was key to making such decision.

“Everybody’s career is different – the maturing phase is different for everyone,” Wenger said.

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Bilic wants West Ham to keep winning

Manager Slaven Bilic has told his West Ham United team to keep on winning as they attempt to notch a fourth straight Premier League victory at struggling champions Leicester City on Saturday.

West Ham, who started the season with just one win in their first six league games, have eased away from the relegation zone by beating Burnley, Hull City and Swansea City in recent weeks, rising to 11th in the table.

“The confidence is back with the points we are taking and we don’t want it to stop,” Bilic said on Thursday.

“We have to continue to play like this.”

Leicester, by contrast, are having a torrid season, and Monday’s 2-0 home defeat by Everton sent them down to 16th place, just three points above the bottom trio.

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Juve set to sign Rincon from Genoa on loan

Serie A leaders Juventus are set to sign central midfielder Tomas Rincon from Genoa after confirming on Twitter that the Venezuelan had arrived in Turin for a medical.

Italian media said Juventus would sign the 28-year-old on loan for two million euros with an option to buy him at the end of the season.

Juventus, Italian champions for the last five seasons, are four points clear at the top of Serie A, yet have still faced criticism for performances that have fallen short of what is expected from potential Champions League winners. Naija and Bet

Coach Massimiliano Allegri was seen angrily remonstrating with club officials on the pitch after they lost on penalties to AC Milan in the Italian Supercup on Friday in Doha.

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Dele Alli is worth more than £50 million – Redknapp

The former England international believes the talented Tottenham midfielder has the potential to become one of the ‘best in the world’.

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has become a ‘£50m-plus player’ in the eyes of Jamie Redknapp, and one Spurs will need to match the ambition of if they are to retain his services through the peak years of his career.

The England international was taken to White Hart Lane in a bargain £5 million deal back in 2015.

He was allowed to see out the 2014-15 campaign with MK Dons before linking up with his Premier League employers that summer.

Alli made the step up from League One with ease, netting 10 times in his debut campaign with Spurs to become a senior England international and PFA Young Player of the Year award winner.

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Ronaldo is not at his best – Maradona

The Argentine legend believes the talisman is off form and therefore wishes his old club Napoli could play their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid now.

Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is “not at his best”, according to Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

The Portugal international has enjoyed a stellar 2016 – claiming the Champions League crown, Euro 2016 glory and a fourth Ballon d’Or.

His last appearance of the calendar year saw him bag a hat-trick in the Club World Cup final, as Real added to their enviable collection of silverware. Naija and Bet

Maradona, though, believes a man with 23 goals in 22 appearances for club and country this season is not performing at the peak of his powers.

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Liverpool,City bid to close gap on Chelsea

The much-anticipated clash between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on Saturday looks like a knockout to determine who can challenge Chelsea for the Premier League title.

A draw would do neither side any favours in their pursuit of Antonio Conte’s Blues who are six points clear of second-placed Liverpool and threatening to disappear over the horizon even before new year.

City lie one point further back in third and have traditionally reserved some of their worst performances for Liverpool. Last season they were humiliated 4-1 at home and have not won at Anfield since 2003.

At least they seem unlikely to face their chief recent tormentor, Philippe Coutinho, who is recovering from an ankle injury. Coutinho has scored five goals in his last six games against them. Naija and Bet

They can also call on Sergio Aguero to lead their attack as he has  completed a four-game suspension. Continue reading “Liverpool,City bid to close gap on Chelsea”

Everton should be on guard against Hull – Koeman

Everton manager Ronald Koeman has warned his players against complacency ahead of their visit to basement side Hull City in the Premier League on Friday.

Everton, who beat champions Leicester City 2-0 on Monday to climb to seventh in the table, take on a Hull side that has gone seven league games without a win, but Koeman said his team would be taking nothing for granted in an unpredictable competition.

“That’s the most dangerous (thing) you can do in football,” the manager told a news conference on Wednesday. Place your bet on

“The Premier League is unpredictable. Maybe expect a win and it will be totally different. I don’t look at the position in the table.”

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Mourinho is the best coach in the world – Bailly

The Portuguese is the world’s best manager, according to the Red Devils defender, who has revealed he has settled into life in Manchester.

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has lauded manager Jose Mourinho as the best in the world and is excited to continue their work together.

Bailly, 22, arrived at Old Trafford from Villarreal in June in a deal reportedly worth £30million and has gone on to make 11 Premier League appearances this season.

The Ivory Coast international was full of praise for Mourinho, whose team are sixth in the Premier League table.

“He’s a great manager, the best in the world, it is a pleasure to work and learn with him,” Bailly said. “I hope it continues like this and that I stay at United for a long time.

“I’m truly happy, with my team and my team-mates. Bit by bit, I’m getting to know more.”

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Iniesta eye Retiring at Barcelona

The midfielder has spent more than 20 years at the club and hopes to see out the rest of his career there and then some, though he insists his playing days are not over yet.

Andres Iniesta says it is his dream to end his playing career at Barcelona and hopes to stay connected to the club after he retires.

The 32-year-old has been part of the Spanish club for over 20 years, joining the youth academy, La Masia, as a youngster before making his first-team debut in October 2002 at 18 years old.

Iniesta has gone on to enjoy an iconic career in the Blaugrana jersey as well as with the Spain national team. The midfielder has won eight league titles, four Copa del Reys, four Champions League crowns and the Club World Cup three times. He has been integral to Spain’s golden generation too, scoring the winning goal in extra-time in the 2010 World Cup final and enjoying success in two Euros 2008 and 2012.

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Pochettino sees Saints fans anger as compliment

Mauricio Pochettino takes criticism from Southampton fans angry at him for joining Tottenham Hotspur as a compliment and urged midfielder Victor Wanyama to be braced for a rough welcome when he also returns to St Mary’s on Wednesday.

Southampton supporters wore orange in support of then-manager Ronald Koeman when Pochettino first returned to the club last year and the Argentine, who joined Tottenham in 2014, said he retained the utmost respect for the club despite the boos. Win on big

“For me it was difficult. I remember my first game back there. They prepared the orange day to try to upset me,” Pochettino said.

“But, in the same way, they showed their love for me because if they didn’t (do that), it would have showed they never cared for me. If they want to show the love for another manager, it was hard for them.

“I feel the love from the people but it’s normal for some of the fans to hate me,” he added.

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Bellerin can be the best in the world – Lauren

The 21-year-old has impressed since breaking into the Arsenal first-team and one of his predecessors is sure he can reach the pinnacle of the game.

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has been tipped to become the world’s best right-back by former Gunners star Lauren.

Bellerin left Barcelona’s youth system to join Arsenal in 2011 and has developed into a key part of Arsene Wenger’s plans over the last three seasons.

Lauren, who won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners and was an important component of the fabled ‘Invincibles’ side of 2003-04, says Bellerin boasts the potential to surpass anyone else in his position.

“Hector is world class,” he said.

 “He’s still young and he still needs to work on some things, but he’s a very, very good player and a very good right-back.

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Match Preview : Southampton vs Tottenham

A win over Bournemouth at the weekend means Southampton have lost only one of their last six Premier League games. Claude Puel’s side have lost just once on home turf in England’s top tier this term as they look to haul themselves closer to Manchester United.

Victory at Burnley’s expense means Tottenham have won three of their last four as they look to get back on track in the race to secure a top-4 finish.

Spurs have lost just one of their last six league meetings with Saints and haven’t lost at St. Mary’s since the south coast side’s return to the Premier League.

While Spurs’ good record in Southampton is likely to continue, a draw is on the cards.

Team News

Southampton – Jeremy Pied, Matt Targett, Jake Hesketh and Charlie Austin are all ruled out for Southampton.

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Mikel might move to Inter Milan

Speculations linking Super Eagles captain Mikel John Obi with a move away from his current employers, Chelsea continues to mount.

Mikel has been frozen out of the Blues first team by Italian manager, Antonio Conte, and has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Premier League leaders this term.

The Guardian is now reporting that Mikel could be on the verge of joining Italian club, Inter Milan, should their pursuit of Liverpool midfielder, Lucas Leiva prove unsuccessful.

The 29-year-old Brazilian is Inter’s preferred choice but Lass Diarra (Marseille), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg) and Mikel are other options.

Meanwhile, Mikel’s agent John Shittu says there are offers for his client from many clubs in the UK, Spain, Germany and China.

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Yaya Toure happy with City return

Yaya Toure admits he feels reborn after returning from exile to play a key role in Manchester City’s Premier League title challenge.

Toure, 33, appeared destined to leave City after being frozen out by new manager Pep Guardiola earlier in the season.

But the Ivory Coast midfielder has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance in the space of just six weeks.

“I look like a kid, just enjoying playing football and helping my team-mates and the fans. It’s very important to me,” Toure said.

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