EPL Update on Premier League and EFL Cup battles
Chelsea is in first place in the England Premier League with 60 points going into this weekend’s exciting clash of matches, with Man City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Man United still in the race for the EPL title and a spot in next season’s prestigious UEFA Champions League tournament. Here is a look at this weekend’s fixtures. Great, legal, football tickets are available to buy securely online from the extensive 1st4FootballTickets.com football tickets marketplace.
Chelsea v Swansea City
Chelsea host the Swans at Stanford Bridge in London on Saturday. EPL top of the table Chelsea are surely going to win the Premier League this campaign, however the Swans may surprise fans of both sides and provide an upset in this weekend’s clash. Swansea City hopes to get a favorable result at Stamford Bridge even though Antonio Conte’s super-confident side have won their last 11 home league games. If Chelsea have an Achilles heel, it’s their occasional fault of leaving large gaps in the midfield, and conceding headers in their own box. The Swans Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente could rally and take advantage. Recently the Swans enjoyed a win at Liverpool and a loss at Manchester City under their new manager Paul Clement. Chelsea have not defeated the Swans in their past three meetings. Chelsea’s contenders for the league title Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United will hope Chelsea finally lose. Buy Chelsea v Swansea City tickets now online from 1st4FootballTickets.com!
Leicester City v Liverpool
Leicester and Liverpool meet at Filbert Street on Monday both desperate for a result that could influence the rest of their season. On their European hunt, Jurgan Klopp’s Liverpool side travel to King Power Stadium to battle Premier League holders Leicester City on February 27 hoping to set back the Reds’ bid for the Champions League next season after the recent firing of popular Foxes’ Italian manager Claudio Ranieri. Ranieri led 5000-1 underdogs Leicester City to glory by winning the Premier League title last season. However Leicester have struggled badly this time around and lie only a point and a place above the relegation zone this campaign. The Foxes' dreadful run of form has cost Ranieri his job. The decision to sack Ranieri was made after Leicester's Champions League defeat by Sevilla, although top Foxes’ s striker Jamie Vardy bagged what could be a vital away goal in the 2-1 defeat. Leicester will have Craig Shakespeare and First Team Coach Mike Stowell in charge. Assistant Manager and First Team Coach Paolo Benetti and First Team Sport Science and Conditioning Coach Andrea Azzalin have also left Leicester.
Leicester vice Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha commented on Leicester’s difficult decision to sack Ranieri. “This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City. But we are duty-bound to put the Club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be,” said Srivaddhanaprabha. “Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City. His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the Club and develop its profile on a global scale. We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve. It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign. But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximize the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”
Leicester have not yet won a Premier League game in 2017, causing relegation fears. Leicester have 13 games left to secure top flight safety. They have the crucial second-leg of their Champions League tie with Sevilla coming up on March 14. "Leicester City would like to make absolutely clear its unwavering support for Claudio Ranieri," Leicester said in a statement. "While there is a collective appreciation from everyone at the Club that recent form needs to improve, the unprecedented success achieved in recent seasons has been based firmly on stability, togetherness and determination to overcome even the greatest of challenges. The entire club is and will remain united behind its manager and behind its players, collectively and firmly focused on the challenges ahead."
Leicester is hoping that Jamie Vardy to rediscover his mojo as Leicester are a long-time trouble club for the visiting Reds, having consistently defeating them over in League and cups. Last season’s Vardy victory run was the latest episode of a long series stretching back to the 1960s and taking in most decades since. Liverpool goes into the clash with the Foxes after a fortnight’s rest and prep. After their recent Champions League loss, Foxes goalie Kasper Schmeichel talked about his teammate Jamie Vardy and his hopes that Vardy’s debut Champions League goal could see him go on a roll. Schmeichel says last season’s top scorer is only under scrutiny because of his amazing 24 goals and performance last season that led them to the EPL title. Vardy’s vital away goal in the 2-1 Champions League defeat at Sevilla was his first on the Champions League tournament.
“The standard he set was so high. On form he is the best striker in Europe. It was always going to be really tough for him to replicate that,” said Leicester goalkeeper Schmeichel. “Strikers need goals and Vards is working hard and getting in the right areas. He had one chance and scored it and that says everything. For me the most important thing is how he is with us, how he’s working. He’s working his socks off every day and you can’t ask more of him than that.” Schmeichel says staying in Europe could be the turning point Leicester are looking for on the domestic front to avoid relegation. “We’ve had nights in the Champions League where it’s gone well where that could have been the turning point and it hasn’t been. It’s up to us to make sure it is,” continued Schmeichel. I’m an honest guy, I say what I mean. It wasn’t for me to tell my team-mates to buck up because we’re all in this together. We haven’t got ourselves in this situation with one or two players not performing, we haven’t performed well in the Premier League this season and that’s a fact. What I do know is we are a team you can’t write off because as long as we have the spirit, passion and togetherness we’re always going to be in with a chance. Every single member of this club has to give more because we need to get out of the situation we are in.”
Vardy talked about his barren run. “These things happen to everyone. You just have to get on with it, keep doing things right and the goals will start coming again,” said Vardy. “Obviously it’s nice to get on the score-sheet, but it’s still disappointing to lose. We’re still in the tie and that’s all that matters.”
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Manchester United v Southampton
Manchester United and So’ton navigated through the EFL Cup draw and made it to Sunday's showpiece final at Wembley. Jose Mourinho could win the League Cup for a fourth time. With superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata on board, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United are favored to win the EFL Cup Final against Southampton on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. The first silverware of 2017 is up for grabs, and Ibra is eyeing more success to add to his massive collection of trophies. Top Man United goal scorer, captain Wayne Rooney has pledged his future to Manchester United and may feature in the game. United are deprived of Michael Carrick and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a result of injuries suffered in Saint Etienne in their recent Europa League tie. Holding midfielders Ander Herrera and Oriol Romeu of Manchester United and Southampton respectively have two of the best in the Premier League. The Saints and United are sure to please supporters in this much anticipated League Cup tournament.
With Maya Yoshida in defence, Southampton haven't conceded a goal en route to the EFL Cup final. Southampton’s last appearance in a League Cup final led to a 3-0 defeat under boss Alan Ball against John McGovern’s Nottingham Forest in 1979. In their first 90 Southampton did not lift a single major trophy, but hope are high by the side that they will win two in 41 years. Defeating Man United on the back of away wins at Liverpool and Arsenal and home wins against another two other top-flight clubs, Crystal Palace and Sunderland, would be a fantastic achievement despite the loss of Virgil Van Dijk. Manolo Gabbiadini has arrived since the semi-final, which means that Claude Puel can count on a sharp finisher into his plan. Having had two weeks off to prepare for this final, Puel might benefit from their elimination from the Europa League earlier this season. Especially. After the recent 4-0 shellacking of Sunderland David Moyes and his side took a bonding trip to New York City.
Both clubs are hoping to open the scoring. In the last ten years, five of the League Cup finals have been won by the team conceding the first goal. (Chelsea v Arsenal in 2007, Spurs v Chelsea in 2008, Manchester United v Aston Villa in 2010, Liverpool v Cardiff in 2012, Manchester City v Sunderland in 2014.).
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Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough travel to play Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in London on Saturday. Big Sam Allardyce’s Palace side have their work cut out for them if they hope to survive relegation. Palace football players will need to have mental strength to cope with this home clash since their noisy fans are likely to not be much support because the home side have not won a league match at Selhurst Park since early December. Middlesbrough led by boss Aitor Karanka’s team are sure to provide a fierce challenge.
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Hull City v Burnley
Burnley travel to Hull City’s KC Stadium on Saturday. Hull City’s home form continues to improve and Burnley will need to be confident to foil Hull’s escape from relegation. The confidence that Sean Dycge’s Burnley side had at Turf Moor was blown away by Lincoln City last weekend so now they will have to pull up and get their act together on the road in the first of four away matches in a row. Burnley have only earned one point and five goals from their previous 11 away league games. Going into their match at KCOM, while Hull have won four home matches under new manager Marco Silva and will lift out of the relegation zone if they win again on Saturday.
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Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City
After their 2-2 draw with Gent in the Champions League, the Spurs will host Stoke City at White Hart Lane in London on February 16.In his last match, Stoke City manager Mark Hughes earned a victory when he shifted Marko Arnautovic from the left to the right wing in order to start to Ramadan Sobhi on the left. Both players combined to set up the winning goal for Joe Allen against Crystal Palace. “Marko said that’s why we created the goal, because he was on his favorite side,” said Hughes after the game.
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West Bromwich Albion v Bournemouth
On Saturday, Tony Pulis’ West Brom will host Bournemouth at the Hawthorns. West Brom are looking for a win this weekend that would take the Baggies to the 40-point mark. The vibes at the Hawthorns are better than they have been for years. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth have not won a match this year. The six-point cushion between Bournemouth and the relegation zone will disappear fast if the Cherries loose. The game will be Mark Clattenburg’s last Hawthorns clash before starting his £500,000-per-year tax free referee gig in Saudi Arabia, Clattenburg will make what could be one of only three appearances as a Premier League referee at the Hawthorns on Saturday and may find himself at the center of controversy after he felt compelled to apologize to Hull City’s players for incorrectly allowing an Arsenal goal.
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