Schalke 04 talent, Max Meyer, has signed a contract extension keeping him at the club until 2018, effectively ending Arsenal and Chelsea’s interest in the midfielder.
The 18-year-old, who plays alongside fellow wonderkid Julian Draxler for the German outfit, has three goals in five starts this season; and his industrious and mature displays for the Germans had a number of Europe’s top sides on red alert.
But Schalke have now managed to tie down their prodigy, with general manager Horst Heldt voicing his satisfaction,
“Many professionals have predicted that Max will have a great football career,” Heldt told the club’s official website,
“His footballing development in the past few months has been almost breathtaking.
“That is why we are very pleased that we have the commitment of such a gem to Schalke.”
This new development will shelve any plans to lure the young star to the Premier League for at least another season; but Draxler’s future still remains open to debate, with Arsenal strongly linked with a move for the 20-year-old.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are looking into the possibility of bringing in two unsettled PSG stars in January.
Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez have both been under scrutiny this season, with ‘Le 10 Sport’ reporting that PSG boss Laurent Blanc is struggling to tie down the winger, as he nears the end of his contract.
Brendan Rodgers side could face stiff competition from Juventus for his signature, according to Italian newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport.
And with a goalless start to the season, with not even an assist to his name, Pastore is the latest name to be linked away, with Le10 stating that Liverpool are once more hovering overhead.
Liverpool could well do with the additions; with pickings very slim on the wings, Menez could be a shrewd import, especially if Brendan Rodgers could snap him up for reportedly as little as €3m.
Pastore would add further competition in the middle, something they sorely need, with Coutinho’s recent spell on the side-lines highlighting their lack of creative depth.
Man Utd Player Ratings vs. Spurs – Rooney saves the day - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Wayne Rooney twice came to the Utd’s rescue against Tottenham on Sunday, as they played out a riveting 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane.
The England striker scored one in each half, the second a calmly-taken penalty, as the Champions fought back from behind against a revitalised Spurs. David Moyes will surely not be satisfied by the overall performance, as Tottenham arguably had the better of the game; with United lucky to achieve parity.
Here are the Soccerlens Player Ratings:
David De Gea: 6/10
The Spaniard was let down by his wall for the Walker goal, and could only watch Sandro’s unbelievable effort rocket past him into the postage stamp. A good save from Lennon in the first half.
Patrice Evra: 5/10
Struggled for pace against the live-wire Lennon in the first half, and was shackled well by the excellent Kyle Walker when racing forward. Not at his best.
Jonny Evans: 5/10
A poor challenge that led to the opening Spurs goal, and an unconvincing display as the very open game overwhelmed him at times.
Nemanja Vidic: 6/10
Only a little better than his centre back partner, due to some firm headers out, and decent composure under pressure. Still suspect at times though.
Chris Smalling: 5/10
Couldn’t get forward enough in the first half due to Tottenham’s fluency in attack, and was at times shaky at the back.
Phil Jones: 7/10
I was impressed once more with the England international; as he got himself about the pitch well, broke up play, and showed some nice footwork in advanced positions. One of United’s best players on the day.
Shinji Kagawa: 6/10
Some nice touches aside, the Japanese still failed to convincingly prove that his name should be on the weekly team-sheet. Came off for Young late on.
Tom Cleverley: 4/10
I would rather not climb aboard the current Cleverley bandwagon, but his display on Sunday did nothing to ease fears that he is not at the right standard for the club. Cut a frustrated figure throughout, over-hit passes, and offered little in the way of positive play.
Antonio Valencia: 6/10
Had the better of Vertonghen in the first half, but was unable to progress from there as Spurs increased pressure on the United backline in the second period. Came off for Nani late on.
Danny Welbeck: 7/10
Some bright moments, the best of which saw him dance past Michael Dawson at the back, only to be scuppered by a lack of support by his teammates. Won a suspect penalty for Rooney to score the second. Came off for Hernandez late on.
Wayne Rooney: 8/10
An isolated figure at times; Rooney still managed to claw his side back into the game twice both through fortuitous circumstances. Was arguably the only Utd player who gave his all; and he often had to drop back to aid his waning midfield. Now joint fifth in the all-time Premier League goal-scoring charts after his brace.
What do you think? Agree with the ratings? Let me know in the comments below…
Liverpool player ratings vs Hull City – Poor performance from the Reds - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Hull City claimed their first ever win against Liverpool, as the Reds were beaten 3-1 at the KC stadium on Sunday in the Premier League.
The hosts took the lead in the 20th minute of the match, when Jack Livermore’s shot took a wicked deflection off defender Martin Skrtel. Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard restored parity seven minutes later, when he curled in a brilliant free-kick but Liverpool paid the price of poor defending in the second half as David Meyler capitalized on it to put the hosts back in front.
In the dying minutes of the match, victory was sealed for the hosts when Martin Skrtel headed an own goal, ending all Liverpool’s hope of a possible come-back.
Liverpool Player Ratings
Simon Mignolet – 6/10
The Belgian shot stopper could do nothing to prevent any of the three goals. Hull City only had 4 shots on target, hence he didn’t have to make a huge number of saves.
Glen Johnson – 5/10
It was pretty average performance really from the right-back. He hardly made darting runs in the opposition box while attacking wise didn’t provide any major threat – defensively, was dispossessed twice in the match.
Jon Flanagan – 6/10
The youngster doesn’t provide too much threat attacking wise, but no one can doubt his effort and commitment. 4 tackles, 6 clearances – it was yet another strong performance defensively from the local lad.
Martin Skrtel – 5/10
The Solvakian made 16 clearances today, all with success but was involved in an own goal that effectively killed the competition.
Kolo Toure – 6/10
Like Skrtel, he also had a strong physical presence – made 11 clearances, 1 fine interception and 2 shots blocked – but he could have done better in preventing the second goal. With 67 passes and 91% passing accuracy – can’t say it was a bad performance by the Ivorian.
Lucas Leiva – 6/10
It was easily one of the most assured performances from the Brazilian thus far. With 3 tackles in the match, 2 interceptions and 3 clearances – defensively he was solid today. He played most number of passes in the match with 92% passing accuracy.
Steven Gerrard – 6/10
The Liverpool skipper scored a brilliant freekick and made some good runs in the box. With 86% passing accuracy and 7 clearances – it was better-than-average performance from the Liverpudlian.
Jordan Henderson – 5/10
It was that type of performance where you would say – he could have done more. Deployed in the middle in a 4-3-3 system, the England international managed only 37 passes in the match while attacking wise wasn’t a big threat either.
Raheem Sterling – 5/10
The youngster lasted only 66′ minutes. He only made 14 passes but most importantly was involved in 2 key passes in the first half.
Victor Moses – 5/10
Deployed on the wings, Moses was involved in 9 successful passes out of 13 in the final attacking third. Still there wasn’t enough penetration from him and missed a golden opportunity to score in the second half as well.
Luis Suarez – 5/10
The Uruguayan in Numbers: 67% pass accuracy, 0 take-ons, 0 tackles, 0 interceptions, 50% headed duel success & 0 chances created. It was his worst performance of this season so far.
Philippe Coutinho & Luis Alberto – came on as a sub and didn’t make any significant impact on the match.
Arsenal: Wenger must help Giroud before it’s too late - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Arsenal are flying high at the top of the league, indeed now seven points clear of the chasing pack; but a troubling issue, one which has been bubbling under ever since the summer, is starting to creep into the spotlight.
The Gunners may have snapped up a truly world class midfielder in Mesut Ozil in the transfer window; but with no real reinforcements arriving in the striking department, Olivier Giroud, Arsenal’s revitalised striker, has recently started to show signs of fatigue.
Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Cardiff on Saturday was not the Frenchman’s best display by a long shot; with the former Montpellier striker struggling to maintain the high standards expected of him.
The concern for both Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans alike should be that, through the debilitating guarantee of a first team berth, their one and only striker will eventually lose momentum, heralding yet another season-threatening situation to contend with.
The existing candidates to challenge Giroud are sickeningly slim. Lucas Podolski can be utilised up front, but aside from being a long-term absentee with a hamstring injury, is usually deployed on the wing. The same can be said of Theo Walcott, who, despite being desperate for a chance up front, remains a winger in the eyes of Wenger.
And of course, there is Nicklas Bendtner, who seems more interested in looking like Ibrahimovic’s long-lost sister than challenging for a place in the Gunners front-line.
An unchallenged inclusion in a starting XI is a rare luxury in any top flight league; and one that cannot realistically continue for a team challenging for the highest honours in club football.
Giroud has been praised this season for his work rate and ability to link up play between attack and midfield. Yet, in the Cardiff game, Giroud had a pass accuracy of 67%; with his opposite number Fraizer Campbell coming in with an 83% ratio, and pass master Ozil with a superb 94%.
The 27-year-old may have had an effort cleared off the line, but his shooting was off, and his record now extends to having scored in only two of Arsenal’s last nine Premier League games, having started the season in phenomenal goal-scoring form.
Indeed, Giroud’s growing fatigue was acknowledged last month, with teammate Laurent Koscielny admitting the striker seemed low on gas,
“It’s true that he’s not scoring but he is setting them up, like he did against Dortmund (on November 6th),” Koscielny told The Sun,
“But he’s also playing game after game and hasn’t had a rest, so maybe he’s feeling a bit of fatigue.”
With the January window only round the corner, Arsenal have already started to be linked with a host of names in this department, with PSG’s Edinson Cavani a fashionable, yet highly unlikely rumour doing the rounds.
Arsenal fans should not expect an import to match the wonder of the Ozil signing; instead, they should pray for an experienced head or cheap, young live-wire to help keep Giroud fresh and at the top of his game.
What do you think? Who should Arsenal get in January? Let me know in the comments below…
Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to seven points with a 3-0 away win at Cardiff on Saturday.
Aaron Ramsey scored a brace against his former club, while substitute Mathieu Flamini also hit the net.
Here are the key observations from the game.
Ramsey’s touch of humility
Aaron Ramsey was the best player on the pitch, covering every blade of grass in another commanding performance by the Wales international.
Another two goals to his considerable tally, the former Cardiff man proved himself as one of the best midfielders in Europe with a fantastic performance against his old club.
The way the player conducted himself was also a refreshing sight, with no elaborate celebrations after scoring – a mark of respect to his former employers. He was treated well by the home support as a result.
Ozil proves his class
Mesut Ozil has had a couple of quiet games of late, and there were fears that the German playmaker was starting to feel the intensity of the English game.
There were no such concerns here as the ex-Real Madrid star put in a top-class showing, with his vision, range of passing and movement superb.
A key man for the Gunners, Ozil has the most assists in the Premier League (six).
Another clean sheet
Although Arsenal’s attacking prowess will be ranted and raved about in the aftermath of the win, another clean sheet will be a real source of contentment for Arsene Wenger.
All of the back four looked solid and untroubled, putting the Manchester clubs’ struggles here into the spotlight.
With things going right at both ends of the pitch, Arsenal are looking like real contenders for silverware this term.
Gibbs pushing for World Cup inclusion
England are blessed with a glut of top left-backs, with Kieran Gibbs pushing towards the World Cup squad after another excellent performance here.
Although Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole will be favourites to be included in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Brazil, the Arsenal left-back is putting forward a consistent case to be part of the contingent also.
Excellent positioning and confidence going forward make him on of the in-form players in his position in England.
Another impressive display by Theophile-Catherine
Speaking of left-backs, Cardiff’s Kevin Theophile-Catherine put in another impressive performance for the home side.
The French defender largely neutralised the threat of Santo Cazorla down Arsenal’s right, while always looked like a threat on the offensive.
The defender is an outside bet for World Cup inclusion, and will have the likes of Everton and Tottenham looking at him if he continues his strong start to life in the Premier League as the season progresses.
Arsenal Player Ratings vs Cardiff – Ramsey and Ozil clinical - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Arsenal overcame a stubborn Cardiff side on Saturday in the Welsh capital; coming out 3-0 winners, with Aaron Ramsey returning to haunt his former side with a devastating double.
Arsene Wenger’s side now sit seven points clear at the top of the Premier League, after grinding down Cardiff, who kept themselves in with a shout for a long period of the match.
Ramsey was the difference for the Gunners; with his two fine goals a just reward for the attacking industry shown by the young midfielder. Mesut Ozil was true to his nickname of ‘Assist King’, setting up two of the three goals – the second a delicious pass for Mathieu Flamini to fire in.
Wojciech Szczęsny: 7/10
Was called into action only a few times by the Cardiff front-line, and was equal to the task; clawing away a fine Frazier Campbell header in the second half, and stayed strong to claim his fourth clean sheet from the last five league games.
Bacary Sagna: 6/10
A solid performance from the Frenchman. Sagna put himself about, and linked up with the attackers consistently well. Some suspect crosses aside, he should be pleased with his contribution.
Per Mertesacker: 7/10
Mertesacker has been one of Arsenal’s best performers of the season so far; and the big German had another good game in South Wales. It was not the most strenuous afternoon for the Gunners’ defence, but Mertesacker and co. dealt well with the few dangerous forays that Cardiff mustered.
Laurent Koscielny: 7/10
Another good showing from the 28-year-old, who put the Cardiff front-line in their place throughout. A key member of the Arsenal rear guard; he and big Per have formed a valuable defensive connection.
Kieran Gibbs: 5/10
Not his best game by a stretch. Although Gibbs tried hard, he almost cost the Gunners with a lapse at the back that allowed Campbell to climb above him and register Cardiff’s best effort on goal.
Mikel Arteta: 7/10
Accomplished and composed; Arteta showed good distribution, intercepted well in midfield, and kept the Gunners well-drilled in the middle of the park.
Jack Wilshere: 7/10
Not as dynamic as his goal-ridden performance against Marseilles midweek; young Jack was still solid in the centre, contributing to nearly every promising move. Came off for Nacho Monreal late on.
Aaron Ramsey: 9/10
The man that can do no wrong! From hero to zero in the space of a season for the Gunners; it was lovely to see the Cardiff fans still treat their former man with huge respect after each of his two goals. Dynamic and confident, Ramsey’s season keeps getting better and better.
Santi Cazorla: 6/10
Flitted in and out of proceedings; yet still showed great touch and poise when involved in attacks. Could have done better with an effort in the second half, but was a valuable piece in the Gunners’ midfield chain.
Came off for second goalscorer, Mathieu Flamini, who took his chance superbly from Ozil’s pass.
Mesut Ozil: 8/10
The German maestro was at his creative best on Saturday, with another two assists to add to his league-high six for the season. Still not the best at tracking back; his attacking talents were however, quite plain to see. Came off for Theo Walcott late on.
Olivier Giroud: 6/10
An average showing from Arsenal’s only viable striker; Giroud was unlucky not to have scored with a second half effort, but was guilty of wayward strikes throughout.
Will be thankful to his midfield for bagging the goals; the Frenchman needs to, and can be more clinical.
What do you think? Can Arsenal keep it going? Let me know in the comments below.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has moved to quash rumours that Spanish defender Sergio Ramos is heading for the exit door in January; with Chelsea and City having to wait until the summer to launch their moves.
Ever since Sergio Ramos’sending off against Galatasaray this week, and the video footage of Ancelotti berating the 27-year-old, rumours have been rife as to the immediate future of the defender.
Both Man City and Chelsea have been linked with a move for the fiery Spaniard, with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser reporting that Ramos had not spoken to club president Florentino Perez since a contract renewal dispute in the summer.
Now however, in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, Ancelotti has moved to clarify the situation,
“I have no problem with Ramos, and he with me,” said Ancelotti in an extended interview,
With Real having slapped a €60m price tag on the player to ward off fierce rivals Barca, it now seems a January move for Ramos is out of the question after his manager’s remarks. This story may still have some momentum however, and could return in the summer, with the player struggling to retain a favoured starting berth at the club.
Meanwhile, Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina is said to have a ‘secret agreement’ with long term suitors Barcelona.
The Spanish stopper is enjoying a season long loan at Serie A outfit Napoli, under the tutelage of former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez.
But Spanish publication ‘Sport.es’ claim that this is little more than a warm-up for Reina, as he prepares to finally complete a move to the Nou Camp.
The report discusses the possibility that Barca executives have secured personal agreements with both Reina and Borussia Mönchengladbach keeper, Ter Stegen.
The Catalan club now have to wait until at least past March to sort out whether to take one or both keepers, with Victor Valdes’ exit fast approaching.
Manchester United look to have failed in their bid to bring Benfica’s Argentine defender, Ezequiel Garay to Old Trafford in January; with the player saying he is ‘very happy’ in Portugal.
The 27-year-old former Real Madrid defender has been linked with a move to England for some time, but in a recent interview in Portugal, the player insisted that he has no plans to leave Lisbon,
“I have learned a lot since I came to Benfica and I am very happy at the club,” Garay said in an interview with Benfica TV.
This represents the second Benfica-themed setback in terms of potential transfers for Utd boss David Moyes, as only last week Nemanja Matic also stated his desire to remain at the Estádio da Luz.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are reportedly in the clear for Barcelona’s unsettled youth striker, Tony Sanabria.
‘This story has steadily grown since it was last reported, and now, according to SportWitness (via Sport.es), it seems the Gunners will get their man as soon as January; with Barca having exhausted all avenues in which to retain their future star.’
The Catalan club have tried to organise several meetings with the player, but to no avail, as Sanabria looks to have his heart set on a move; with Arsenal eagerly waiting in the wings.
It was reported in ‘MundoDeportivo’ that the player would decide on his future this week, with the Spanish paper also stating that the player was closer to leaving than staying.
The Paraguayan striker’s current contract with Barca is due to expire on June 30th 2015, and he has a release clause of €3m.
Tottenham vs Manchester United: Preview, Team News, Likely Line-Up and Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Tottenham Hotspur will take on Manchester United on Sunday in the Premier League at the White Hart Lane where Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas will be looking to bounce back strongly in the league, following their 6-0 humiliating defeat at the hands of Manchester City last weekend.
Andre Villas-Boas is under huge pressure at the moment and there are even talks of him getting the sack, just after 13 games in the season, if the reports are to be believed. Despite spending more than £100 million in rebuilding a squad according to his own taste, there are more problems than solutions at the moment.
Currently sitting on 9th in the table with 20 points, the main problem of Spurs is their lack of goals. With just 9 goals in 12 games – striker Roberto Soldado has come under immense criticism for the first time, while following their defeat against City, they can hardly boast about their defence either.
Spurs need to bounce back and that too quickly. Another defeat here would take them out of equation for league challenge while top-four-finish will be under huge threat as well. They are 9/5 with Ladbrokes to earn a victory over Red Devils.
The task is difficult as Manchester United are currently one of the in-form teams in the Premier League. They are undefeated in 11 games and are coming to this fixture on the back of a 5-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.
On top of that, the Red Devils have an enviable record against Spurs – they are undefeated in 27 of their last 28 matches in all competitions and haven’t lost at White Hart Lane since 2001. David Moyes’s side is 6/4 with Ladbrokes to win the game against Spurs on Sunday.
Andre Villas-Boas will miss the services of Emmanuel Adebayor because of a groin injury while Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose and Harry Kane all remain unavailable.
Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic could return from groin and head injuries but Michael Carrick is still out. Midfielder Fellaini is available again after missing out in midweek.
Van Persie fit again would return to the starting line-up, while Vidic could partner either of Ferdinand and Evans at the back.
Prediction: 1-1; Spurs will be motivated for this game while United are on song as well. Expect a late goal thriller on Sunday.
Liverpool suffered a huge blow ahead of their Premier League clash with Hull City – striker Daniel Sturridge is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering suspected ankle ligament damage in training.
According to reports from The Guardian, Sturridge left Melwood on crutches on Friday. The striker was taken for a scan on his left ankle immediately. The full extent of the injury is not known yet and will become clear only over the weekend.
Sturridge suffered ligament damage in his right ankle while playing for England against Republic of Ireland in May while Brendan Rodgers was unhappy with the fact that the 24-year-old played full 90 minutes for England against Germany with a thigh problem. As a result of which, Sturridge couldn’t start the derby against Everton.
Sturridge joined from Chelsea, for a reported fee of £12m in the January transfer window last season and has left a great impact so far, scoring 9 goals in 11 games. His absence will be a huge blow for the team.
Liverpool will have to rely on Luis Suarez to do the goal scoring job for them while summer signing Iago Aspas, who is close to full fitness, has struggled to make an impact, is another option for Rodgers.
Is Andre Villas-Boas’ job on the line this weekend? - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Tottenham take on reigning Premier League champions Manchester United in desperate need of points and a boost in confidence on Sunday.
The north London side’s hopes of finishing in the top four took a serious blow last weekend, with Andre Villas-Boas and his men put to the sword 6-0 by Manchester City.
Not only does the result leave the White Hart Lane side adrift of their fellow Champions League qualification hopefuls, but it became the third successive game in a row that they did not score a goal.
Before the new campaign Villas-Boas was certainly seen as the man that would take Spurs to the next level and deliver European football’s top tournament once more.
However, 12 matches in the fans and footballing community are questioning the statement. Only nine goals in 12 games, a lack of attacking emphasis, players struggling to strike up combinations and defeats on home soil to mid-range teams have the Spurs faithful doubting their manager.
With United winning 5-0 against Leverkusen in Germany in the Champions League in midweek, the champions arrive in London full of confidence and as a team on the up.
Rumour has it in the British press that the performance of Villas-Boas’ side could well have a significant impact on the manager’s future, with another poor performance and comprehensive defeat enough to see the ex-Porto chief dismissed.
The truth of the matter is that Spurs are a side in transition. They have lost their best player to Real Madrid over the summer, and have brought in a host of new, foreign faces that are predominantly still adjusting to their new surrounds.
Villas-Boas can look at himself in terms of team selection and tactics, but Spurs were always going to need half a season to get into their stride, what with all the changes at White Hart Lane.
Even if Spurs get beat 6-0 again, to sack Villas-Boas would be criminal. The Portuguese manager led the club to a record points tally last term and has what it takes to deliver Champions League football. All he needs is time; whether he gets it or not remains to be seen.
Aston Villa vs Sunderland: Preview, Team News and Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Aston Villa will take on Sunderland at the Villa Park on Saturday, where Paul Lambert will be looking to earn full three points against the bottom placed team in the Premier League.
In their last match, Villa earned a heroic draw from the jaws of defeat. From 2-0 down, they managed a stunning recovery against West Brom and drew the match. In fact, Villa have secured more points from losing position than any other team in the league.
They need to carry on the momentum and win few games, especially at home. But, the biggest headache for Lambert is the form of star striker Christian Benteke (six games without scoring), who is probably suffering from a second-season syndrome. The Villans are 10/11 with Ladbrokes to win the match while Benteke is at 7/2 with Ladbrokes to be the goal scorer of the match.
Sunderland have lost eight of their last 10 matches in the Premier League. They have shown slight improvement under Gus Poyet but their away form has been woeful, and unless they improve on that, their chances of dodging relegation is slim.
Aston Villa will welcome trio Gabriel Agbonlahor, Andreas Weimann and Fabian Delph – all could start after returning from injury as substitutes against West Brom. Likewise, Antonio Luna and midfielder Gary Gardner have overcome respective thigh and back problems.
West Brown is available for this tie after controversial red card from last weekend was rescinded.
Prediction: 2-0, Sunderland have a poor record away from home and can’t see that changing drastically at Villa Park.
Newcastle vs West Brom: Preview, Team News & Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Newcastle United will take on West Brom at the St James’ Park on Saturday, where Alan Pardew would be looking to register fourth straight wins in the Premier League.
This has been a strange season indeed. Only few weeks ago, there were talks about Pardew to be sacked, following Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat against derby rivals Sunderland. However, with three back to back victories against Chelsea, Spurs and Norwich, they have bounced back strongly in the league. Currently lying in 8th, they are ahead of Tottenham and just one point behind Everton and Manchester United.
West Bromwich Albion on the other hand are sitting in 11th place with 15 points. The biggest problem of Steve Clarke is his side is earning too many draws. They have drawn four of their last six games while their record of six draws is the joint highest figure in top flight along with Everton.
The Baggies have a poor record against Newcastle as well. They have won just one of seven Premier League games away to Newcastle and are at 14/5 to win the match with Ladbrokes.
Right-back Mathieu Debuchy is available again following his suspension and he will be drafted straight into the first team. Ryan Taylor is sidelined with injury, while Steven Taylor and Paul Dummett are both doubts.
Defender Liam Ridgewell is a doubt for the trip to Newcastle but he could start but Scott Sinclair and Billy Jones are nearing comebacks.
Prediction: 2-1; Newcastle are on song at the moment and expect them to earn full three points on Saturday.
Possible Liverpool Starting XI against Hull + Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Liverpool travel to Hull City in the third out of four fantastic matches in the Premier League on Sunday. Having dramatically salvaged a draw away to bitter rivals Everton last time out, Brendan Rodgers side sit joint-second with Chelsea in the table, 4 points behind leaders Arsenal.
Daniel Sturridge was to thank for snatching the goal that denied Everton the three points at Goodison Park last week; and despite suffering a dead leg during his cameo, Liverpool will be looking to him once more on Sunday, as he continues to work wonders with Luis Suarez as part of the formidable ‘SAS’.
Possible Liverpool Lineup:
Defence: With Jose Enrique needing surgery on a knee injury, Jon Flanagan is in line to keep his place at leftback after a mature display against Everton that had Brendan Rodgers singing his praises. Agger and Skrtel should also retain their respective spots at the back.
Midfield: With Sturridge recovering from a thigh injury, Rodgers will revert to a 4-4-2 formation, meaning Joe Allen will drop back to the bench to accomadate the added striker position. Coutinho and Henderson should be safe, with Gerrard and Lucas holding things together in midfield.
Forward: Pretty cut and dry up top for the Reds, as the deadly duo of Suarez and Sturridge will be unleashed against Hull. Who can stop them scoring?
A big win for Liverpool is my prediction, with Coutinho the man to watch in the Liverpool midfield. He will be the main supply line for the Reds’ lethal frontmen.
Do you agree with our line-up? Let us know below…
Possible Chelsea starting XI against Southampton + Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Chelsea host high-flying Southampton on Sunday afternoon, with the Blues hoping to get back to winning ways after a poor defeat in the Champions League midweek.
Jose Mourinho’s men qualified for the knockout round of Europe’s Premier competition, despite losing to Swiss outfit Basel without registering a single shot at goal. A bizarre night of muted celebration ensued, but a Chelsea win on Sunday at Stamford Bridge will give the home fans something obvious to cheer about.
Possible Chelsea Lineup:
Defence: Chelsea should be unchanged defensively, as with Ashely Cole once more out injured with a recurring rib injury, Azpilicueta should retain the left back role, despite a shaky display against Basel.
Midfield: Mourinho has switched to a 4-3-3 formation in recent weeks, to good effect; and one can expect the same tactics on Sunday. Mikel has, for now, earned himself a starting role in the heart of the midfield; while Lampard and Ramires will continue to flank the Nigerian.
On the back of such a limp defeat in Switzerland, you may see a rare recall for Chelsea favourite Juan Mata in the attacking triumvirate, with Oscar in dire need of a rest. Hazard should continue on the left after a bright cameo midweek.
Forward: Chelsea will welcome back Fernando Torres into the fold after making a substitute appearance against Basel. The Spaniard has recovered from a muscle injury, and will take the place of Samuel Eto’o, who suffered a leg injury in the midweek loss.
A solid display, but an unconvincing scoreline could be on the cards in the weekend; but the three valuable points will bring Jose Mourinho’s side ever closer to the top.
Do you agree with our line-up? Let us know below…
Possible Manchester United Starting Line-Up Against Tottenham + Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Man Utd travel to league rivals Tottenham in the early afternoon kick-off on Sunday, with both sides looking for a valuable win to take them closer to the current leaders of the Premier League.
Utd have had the best possible warm-up for Sundays encounter, having decimated Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 on Wednesday, securing their spot in the Champions League knock out round.
While Spurs also won in Europe midweek, Andre Villas-Boas is under mounting pressure, with last week’s 6-0 defeat to Man City a huge blow. He will be desperate for an upturn in fortunes; and a win against the Champions would go far in pacifying the growing unrest at the Lane.
Possible Man Utd line-up:
With Robin van Persie still a doubt as he continues to recover from a toe injury that has seen him miss the last two Utd matches, Wayne Rooney will once more be tasked with leading the line for the Champions.
Kagawa and Jones both impressed in Germany, while the recently criticised Marouane Fellaini could be offered another chance to shine. Valencia should remain on the right, with Nani in line to reclaim that left side role.
Nemanja Vidic and Rafael are also in contention, having both returned to training midweek.
This could be make or break for Villas-Boas; and I fear that a combination of low confidence, and a lack of creativity will see Utd continue their renaissance and come out on top.
Cardiff vs Arsenal: Preview, Team News, Likely Line-Up and Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Arsenal will take on Cardiff City on Saturday at the Cardiff City Stadium, where the league leaders will be looking to extend their lead at the top in the Premier League.
The Gunners returned back to form after the international break, as they earned back to back victories against Southampton and Marseille. But most importantly, several key players have returned from injury and there is a healthy competition for the starting place in the squad.
This will be the first league meetings between the two sides since 1962. The Gunners have the best away record in the Premier League – 4 Wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat. They have won 9 of their last 11 matches in the Premier League and therefore are firm favourites to win this tie as well. The Gunners are 8/13 with Ladbrokes to win this match on Saturday.
Cardiff City on the other hand are not in great form at the moment having won just 1 of their last 6 matches. However, they are a dangerous opposition at home – having defeated Manchester City and earned draws against Manchester United and Everton. Frazier Campbell scored a brilliant goal against United in the last match and he is 3/1 with Ladbrokes to score at anytime in the match.
Manager Malky Mackay will miss the services of Rudy Gestede through injury but he is the only absentee for the home side. Andreas Cornelius came on as a sub against United in the last match and he’s expected to start from the bench once again.
Theo Walcott returned to full fitness and will be pushing for a starting berth. But, Wenger will still miss the services of Abou Diaby, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo and Ryo Miyaichi. Kieran Gibbs, the left-back has returned to the squad after illness.
Arsene Wenger has few selection headaches for this game. Santi Cazorla is expected to return to the starting line-up, while Mikel Arteta could start as well.
Prediction: 1-2; Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 11 meetings with Cardiff in all competitions and should snatch yet another away victory.
Everton vs Stoke: Preview, Team News, Likely Line-Up and Prediction - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Everton will take on Stoke City on Saturday at the Goodison Park where Toffees boss Roberto Martinez will be looking to avoid fourth successive draws in the Premier League.
This has been a wonderful start for Everton – they have suffered only one defeat in the league so far, less than any other team and are lying 7th in the league with 21 points, same with Manchester United and eight points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Last week, Goodison Park witnessed one of the best matches of the season so far, as Everton drew 3-3 with derby rivals Liverpool. Martinez will be hoping that his players will continue to perform with same aggression, pace and intensity. But, the home side must avoid another draw (six draws already) in the league. With tough fixtures – away to Manchester United and Arsenal – coming on their way in December, this is a game they should win. They are 8/13 with Ladbrokes to win against Stoke City on Saturday.
Stoke City are on 14th place with only 13 points. They have failed to win 31 of their last 34 away games in the Premier League while have won just two of 10 Premier League games against the Toffees. The Potters are 9/2 with Ladbrokes to earn full three points from Goodison Park on Saturday.
Everton will miss the services of Leighton Baines because of a toe injury. John Stones is expected to replace Baines at left-back while Arouna Koné and Darron Gibson are long term absentees.
Robert Huth will be out for few weeks with a knee injury and may need a surgery. Marko Arnautovic is sidelined by a hamstring strain while Stephen Ireland is doubt for the meeting with the Toffees. Marc Wilson and Kenwyne Jones may return from injury.
There won’t be any major changes in the Everton side, apart from the left-back position. Lukaku will lead the attacking line while Pienaar, Barkley and Mirallas will support him from behind.
Prediction: 2-0; Everton have lost just once in their last 29 matches at the Goodison Park, winning 19 of those.
Tottenham Star could be an option for Barcelona says Spanish press - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Tottenham defender Jan Vertoghen could be a possible defensive option for Barcelona in the January transfer window, according to Spanish press.
Central defence is one of the areas, Barcelona are looking to bolster in the January transfer window. Catalan based newspapers mainly Mundo Deportivo and Sport have been covering this aspect on a regular basis. Club legend Carles Puyol has returned from a long injury lay-off and the Spaniard has yet to return to full shape and form.
On top of that Javier Mascherano has been going through a bad patch while Gerard Pique hasn’t been at his best this season at all. Barcelona were linked with a move for several defenders like Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Daniel Agger in the summer and Catalan paper Sport feels, Vertonghen could be a good option in January for the Blaugrana.
However, they have framed this story after getting information from ever non-reliable source Sports Direct News. In a typical Exclusive (another of their fancy fabrications) from Harry Sherlock, it says Barcelona are monitoring the Belgian defender and may make a move in January. It says “SportsDirect News understands he would be open to a January exit.”
Vertonghen has been forced to play on the left-back because at the moment, Spurs do not have enough cover on that position, due to injuries to first choice full-backs. Andre Villas-Boas recently stated that he expects the Belgian to make a bit of sacrifice and hailed him as one of the world’s best at the moment.
Now, according to SDN, Vertoghen, who has expressed his dissatisfaction for playing out of position, could be open to move in January. Catalan paper Sport has used their source as the reference of their article and speculated about any possible move.
Sports Direct News has published several exclusives in recent times, as spotted by Sport Witness like – Chelsea and Tottenham signing Kagawa, Napoli signing Javi Garcia, Manchester United signing Alexis Sanchez and Angel Di Maria, Inter Milan buying Grenier and Cabella, Arsenal buying Lukaku, and Manchester United sending Nani or Valencia to Galatasaray to help them get Sneijder. The list can go on.
Revealed: Chelsea’s mammoth €80m+Torres deal for Radamel Falcao - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
If reports emanating from France are to be believed, Falcao’s stay at the principality will be more of a sojourn; with Chelsea cranking up the pressure on Monaco to sell their prized asset only months after the striker landed on the southern coast of France.
French newspaper, Le10 Sport’s latest report points to the potential implementation of France’s new tax laws, which Monaco initially thought they would be exempt from, forcing the French club’s hand in having to unload some of the financial weight they accrued over the summer.
Rumours concerning a potential Chelsea move for the Colombian international have peppered the front pages of sports papers well before his move to France.
Now, Le10 say that not only will Chelsea attempt to finally put an end to the saga with a close to world-record bid for the 28-year-old; but they will also throw in Fernando Torres to placate matters even further.
It remains to be seen whether the Spanish striker would be willing to make the impromptu switch; but the chance of a change in scenery could be tempting for the 29-year-old.
Here at Soccerlens, we reported Chelsea boss Mourinho’s scouting mission to watch Falcao earlier this month, and discussed whether or not the super-striker would be a good fit at the Bridge.
This latest development takes us a step further down the line in the saga of the Monaco striker; but one feels that there will be many more twists and turns until this matter is resolved, as potential tax laws loom large over the Principality.