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Football

Arsenal hope to put FA Cup heartbreak behind them when Premier League returns

Arsenal vs Cardiff City
Emirates Stadium, London
Tuesday, 29-01-2019 @10:45pm
Referee: Mike Dean

Things are not going well currently at the Emirates. Unai Emery’s side are struggling in the League and coming off a 3-1 home defeat against Man United in the FA Cup. With the League title looking out of sight for the Gunners, only a top four finish can save their season. With United hot on their heels, they know that there is no room for error against Cardiff on Tuesday evening.

Arsenal expect to be without Sokratis for at least a fortnight because of an ankle problem sustained during Friday’s FA Cup defeat. Fellow central defender Laurent Koscielny bruised his jaw in that tie and is also likely to miss out.

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock must decide which players are in the right frame of mind to be involved following the disappearance of Emiliano Sala. Sean Morrison remains out following an appendicitis operation.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 14 competitive meetings, winning all three of their Premier League fixtures against Cardiff. The Bluebirds have lost their last six away games against Arsenal in all competitions. Cardiff’s only two top-flight victories in this fixture both came in the 1960-61 season. The Gunners have won five successive Premier League home games, and are unbeaten in their past 11 at the Emirates Stadium (W9, D2). Arsenal have won 32 and drawn one of their 33 home matches against sides in the relegation zone since a defeat by West Ham in April 2007. They are also undefeated in their 23 most recent league encounters at the Emirates against promoted sides, winning 20 and keeping 14 clean sheets. Arsenal could keep consecutive Premier League clean sheets for only the second time this season.

Fulham vs Brighton

Craven Cottage, London
Tuesday, 29-01-2019 @10:45pm
Referee: Lee Probert

Fulham have no fresh injury concerns but Aboubakar Kamara remains suspended indefinitely by the club following an incident at the training ground. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa has returned to training after injury but will not feature on Tuesday.

Brighton’s first-choice goalkeeper Mat Ryan is available for the first time since Boxing Day after returning from the Asian Cup. Defender Leon Balogun has overcome the illness that ruled him out on Saturday.

Fulham are winless in the past six meetings, ending a five-match losing streak against Brighton with a 2-2 draw in September’s reverse fixture. Brighton have won three successive league games at Craven Cottage, scoring twice each time.

Huddersfield vs Everton
The John Smith Stadium, West Yorkshire
Tuesday, 29-01-2019 @10:45pm
Referee: Scott Attwell

Jan Siewert’s first match as Huddersfield Town’s head coach could coincide with the return of key midfielder Aaron Mooy after seven weeks out with a knee ligament injury. Abdelhamid Sabiri is also back in training but the game comes too soon for Philip Billing and Danny Williams.

Everton remain without Phil Jagielka, while Yerry Mina is a major doubt because of a foot problem. Idrissa Gueye is expected to play after the club turned down a bid from PSG.

Huddersfield are winless in 10 attempts against Everton in all competitions since a 1-0 top-flight victory in March 1956 (D5, L5). Everton have kept a clean sheet in three of their past four top-flight meetings with Huddersfield.

Wolves vs West Ham
Molinuex Stadium, West Midlands
Tuesday, 29-01-2019 @10:45pm
Referee: Dean Coote

Wolves defender Willy Boly serves the final game of a three-match ban. They made six changes at Shrewsbury and will recall key players such as Diogo Jota, Raul Jimenez and Rui Patricio.

Marko Arnautovic could make his first West Ham appearance since 12 January after signing a new contract, ending speculation he may leave this month. The fit-again Ryan Fredericks could play his first league game for over two months, but Lucas Perez is ruled out after hurting his ankle on Saturday. The Hammers made six changes for their FA Cup defeat against AFC Wimbledon and regular starters such as Lukasz Fabianski, Declan Rice and Felipe Anderson are likely to return.

Wolves won 1-0 at the London Stadium in September, but they have not beaten West Ham in a top-flight game at Molineux since a 2-1 victory in May 1982. These sides have contested 59 league games over the last 99 years – but a Wolves win would complete the double over the Hammers for the first time.

Man United vs Burnely
Old Trafford, Manchester
Tuesday, 29-01-2019 @11pm
Referee: Jonathan Moss

Man United are flying at the moment, winning all their last 7 games ever since Ole Gunner Solksjear took over. Coming off a magnificent 3-1 win away to Arsenal in the FA Cup, they will be confident they can continue their push for a top 4 finish when they host a Burnely side that has not defeated them at Old Trafford since 1962.

Chris Smalling is back in contention for Manchester United after recovering from a foot problem that has kept him sidelined since 8 December. Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini remain out, while David de Gea will return after being rested at Arsenal.

Robbie Brady is doubtful for Burnley after being forced off against Manchester City with a groin problem. Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Phil Bardsley face late fitness tests ahead of Tuesday’s match. The Clarets made seven changes for Saturday’s FA Cup defeat and will recall a number of key of players to the starting line-up.

Manchester United are unbeaten in 19 home games against Burnley in all competitions since a 5-2 defeat in the top flight in September 1962. The Clarets have drawn their last two matches at Old Trafford (0-0 in 2016 and 2-2 in 2017), with only a stoppage-time equaliser from Jesse Lingard denying them victory there last season. Home and away, Burnley have registered just one victory in the past 26 meetings (D10, L15).  Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can become the first manager to begin his reign at a club with seven successive Premier League victories. He is currently level on six wins with Pep Guardiola (at Manchester City in 2016) and Carlo Ancelotti (with Chelsea in 2009). Manchester United have been awarded seven Premier League penalties this season, more than any other side – while opponents Burnley are one of two clubs yet to be given a spot-kick (along with Huddersfield).

Newcastle vs Man City
St. James Park, Newcastle
Tuesday, 29-01-2019 @11pm
Referee: Paul Tierney

Man City are currently enjoying their best run of form this season, winning all of their last 8 games in all competitions and scoring 33 goals in the process. With Liverpool still 4 points clear at the top of the League, Pep Guardiola’s side can’t afford to slip up if they are to retain the title they won last season. Against Newcastle, they come up against a side that sits only two points off relegation despite defeating Cardiff City 3-0 in their last League game.

Newcastle made seven changes for Saturday’s FA Cup defeat by Watford and will recall a number of key players, including top scorer Salomon Rondon. Fellow forward Joselu is out with a sprained ankle, while midfielders Mohamed Diame, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-yueng are also sidelined.

Manchester City will monitor left-back Benjamin Mendy. He missed City’s last game after complaining of a swollen knee following his comeback from injury at Burton. Vincent Kompany is again unavailable because of a muscle problem that has ruled him out of the last six matches. City made four changes for Saturday’s FA Cup win against Burnley, and players such as David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Aymeric Laporte are likely to return to the starting line-up.

Newcastle are winless in their last 22 Premier League games against Manchester City (D3, L19). It is both the Magpies’ longest winless run and City’s longest unbeaten streak against a particular top-flight opponent. The Magpies’ last league win against City came on 24 September 2005, with Michael Owen scoring the only goal at St James’ Park. Newcastle did, however, win a League Cup game at the Etihad Stadium in October 2014.

AFC Bournemouth vs Chelsea
Vitality Stadium, Dorset
Wednesday, 30-01-2019 @10:45pm
Referee: Roger East

Nine wins, three draws and 11 defeats – that is how Bournemouth have performed in the Premier League this season. A total of 30 points has left them in 12th position, level on points with 11th-placed Everton. The Cherries are only three points off the top seven, meanwhile, and despite some poor results in recent weeks, are 11 points clear of the relegation zone with 15 matches of the 2018-19 campaign left. Bournemouth’s 3-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion in the third round of the FA Cup means that they had a free weekend ahead of the clash with Chelsea, which head coach Eddie Howe would have certainly welcomed.

Chelsea will enter Wednesday’s clash with Bournemouth off the back of a 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday evening. It was vital that the Blues returned to winning ways following the defeat at Arsenal on January 19 and a certain Gonzalo Higuain made his debut against the Championship side. Higuain has been brought in to score the goals that Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have lacked this season. The Argentine certainly has the credentials to be a success, but he needs to hit the ground running.

Wednesday will be the 15th meeting between Bournemouth and Chelsea in all competitions. Chelsea have won 11 of the previous 14, while there has never been a draw between the two teams.

Their last meeting at the Vitality Stadium ended in a 1-0 Chelsea win in December 2017 and Bournemouth have not actually overcome the Blues on home soil since September 1988.

Southampton vs Crystal Palace
St. Mary’s Stadium, Hampshire
Wednesday, 30-01-2019 @10:45pm
Referee: Andre Marriner

Crystal Palace travel to St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday evening to take on Southampton for this exciting midweek clash.
​ Palace head into the match on the back of an emphatic victory over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup on Sunday. Roy Hodgson’s men scored twice in the first half to push aside Spurs and put their name in the hat for the next round.

Southampton had a full week of rest during the FA Cup action, as the Saints were knocked out of the cup to Derby following a replay penalty shootout loss at St Mary’s. Despite missing the cup weekend their league form has been rejuvenated under Ralph Hassenhüttl, winning their past two games. The pair sit level on points in 14th and 15th place in the Premier League respectively as both clubs look to steer clear away from the relegation zone with an important win this weekend.

Southampton welcomed back ​Danny Ings in their last Premier League fixture against Everton and could see Ryan Bertrand back in the squad on Wednesday. Bertrand has been out since late November and could return for the visit of Crystal Palace. Maya Yoshida continues to be absent as Japan reached the semi-final stage of the Asian Cup; Mario Lemina also remains sidelined for the Saints.

Crystal Palace recently signed young Brazilian goalkeeper Lucas Perri on loan from Sao Paolo in order to recover from their goalkeeping dilemma. Vicente Guaita and Wayne Hennessey both suffered injuries early this month leaving veteran Julian Speroni to return between the sticks. Pape Souaré will also miss out due to a shoulder injury.

Southampton have had the better of the Eagles out their 107 meetings, winning 46 times and drawing 22. Their recent fixtures has seen varied results with both sides taking their share of the three points. The last stalemate between the sides came in February 2008. The reverse fixture this season saw a thrilling 2-0 win for Southampton at Selhurst Park. Danny Ings and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg both got on the score sheet in the second half to give Southampton the three points. That game however sparked a 12 game run without a win in the league for the Saints. Southampton also got the better of Wednesday’s opponents in the league cup when they also beat Palace by a 2-0 scoreline.

Liverpool vs Leicester City
Anfield Stadium, Liverpool

Wednesday, 30-01-2019 @11pm
Referee: Martin Atkinson

While title rivals Manchester City were taking on Burton Albion in the EFL Cup and Burnley in the FA Cup, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp took his players to Dubai for some warm-weather training. The Reds headed into their winter break of sorts with a number of injury issues, which will not have fully cleared up for this return to top-flight action. Despite being knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this month, though, and losing some key men to injuries, Liverpool have won back-to-back league matches to remain clear of Man City at the top. Since losing 2-1 to the champions, reducing the gap at the top from seven points to four, Klopp’s men have edged out Brighton 1-0 at the Amex Stadium – Mohamed Salah scoring a contentious penalty to settle that one – and defeated Palace 4-3 at Anfield. That thriller on January 19 gave Liverpool another chance to show their true character, as they battled back from a goal down and then 2-2 to pick up three points for the 19th time this season. The win over Palace also extended the Reds’ unbeaten run at Anfield to 32 matches in the Premier League – the longest such run in the division since Man City went 37 games without defeat between December 2010 and December 2012. Liverpool are also unbeaten in their last 19 home midweek games in the Premier League (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), winning 13 of those and drawing six since a 1-0 loss vs. Fulham in May 2012.

Claude Puel never seems to be more than a couple of games away from being sacked, and three losses on the spin – including a shock FA Cup exit at Newport County – seemingly leaves him on the brink of exiting the King Power Stadium. Reports suggest that Leicester intend to push ahead with their transfer business over the remaining few days of the winter window, with Monaco’s Youri Tielemans a possible target, but Puel is surely now living on borrowed time. As well as losing to League Two side Newport at the third-round stage of the FA Cup – a decision that did not go down well with supporters due to a second-string XI being fielded – City have also lost to Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the league.

Dejan Lovren has returned to full training for Liverpool since the Palace win but may not be eased back into action, leaving Joel Matip as the obvious choice to fit in alongside key man Van Dijk if that is the case. Klopp still has a problem at right-back, though, as Alexander-Anorld is not over a knee issue, the versatile Joe Gomes is struggling with an ankle injury and makeshift defender James Milner is suspended. Fabinho himself able to slot into different positions, is therefore likely to start at right-back, and Georginio Wijnaldum should be available again after recently picking up a knee injury.

Leicester will wait until the last minute before making a decision on Harry Maguire, meanwhile, with the centre-back limping off against Wolves in City’s most recent match. Daniel Amartey will definitely feature, but Puel does at least have options further up the field as Harvey Barnes and Demarai Gray are pushing for inclusion. One man expected to start is Jamie Vardy, who has scored seven goals against Liverpool – only Andy Cole (11) and Thierry Henry (8) have managed more.

Liverpool have won their last three league games against Leicester – they last won four in a row against them between February 1987 and September 1986. City have lost six of their last seven away games against the Reds in the Premier League, with their only win at Anfield coming in May 2000. The reverse fixture earlier this season ended 2-1 to Liverpool.

Tottenham Hotspurs vs Watford
Wembley Stadium, London 
Wednesday, 30-01-2019 @11pm
Referee: Graham Scott

Mauricio Pochettino would have been confident of reaching a cup final and expected a lengthy run in the FA Cup at this point last week, but the Argentine now has a huge job on his hands to lift a side which has been eliminated from two competitions in quick succession. Losing out to Chelsea on penalties in the EFL Cup semi-finals would have been difficult to take, but witnessing his players produce a below-par display in the 2-0 defeat at Palace in the FA Cup may have left Pochettino with doubts about the strength of his squad. Toby Alderwiereld, Dele Ali, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane all played no part of the disappointment at Selhurst Park, but Pochettino witnessed how important those five men are to the club hitting their targets. Pochettino will be keen to avoid an over-reaction to seeing their hopes of a trophy this season left solely on the Champions League, although there needs to be an acknowledgement that Spurs are still moving no closer to achieving their long-term goals.

Facing an in-form Watford side provides Spurs with their third significant test in less than a week, and it is going to take a big effort to find the energy levels and belief to grind out a result. The return of Son after international duty with South Korea is a major plus for Pochettino, but the attacker is likely to be as jaded as his teammates and the Spurs boss will not want to take any risks with a player who will take on extra responsibility in the coming weeks. However, it should still be remembered that this is a team who have still registered 12 points from their last six outings in the Premier League and for all of their recent criticism and fitness issues, results have still been recorded at an important stage of the season. Spurs may also benefit from a run of three successive home games in the top flight, but failure to defeat Watford on Wednesday will make matches with Newcastle United and Leicester City that little bit tougher.

Many were surprised that Javi Garcia opted to make as many as 11 changes for Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Newcastle, but the Spaniard was rewarded for showing faith in a set of players who have rarely let him down this season. Goals from Andre Gray and Isaac Success gave the club a deserved 2-0 win in the North-East, and Gracia was quick to suggest that he had a duty to provide chances to each member of his united squad at a time when the Hornets are threatening their best campaign in over 30 years. Watford have not finished in the upper half of the top-flight standings since ninth place was achieved back in 1986-87, a season which also saw the club reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

Pochettino will hope to call upon Son for Wednesday’s game, but the forward will be assessed before a decision is made regarding his selection. Ben Davis, Alli and Kane remain out, but Moussa Sissoko should be in a position to return to the squad after a knee injury in order to take a place on the substitutes’ bench. Hugo Lloris will replace Paulo Gazzaniga between the sticks, while both Alderweireld and Eriksen will feature in the starting lineup having been rested at the weekend.

Watford are likely to remain without Abdoulaye Doucoure, who is expected to be absent with a knee injury until at least the weekend. Gracia is expected to recall the majority – if not all – of the players who were rested at the weekend, meaning that Gray and Success could have to make do with a spot among the replacements.

Wednesday’s meeting will represent the 48th competitive clash between the clubs, with Spurs prevailing on 30 occasions in comparison to Watford registering just eight victories. There have been eight matches since Watford regained promotion to the Premier League, and Spurs have recorded six triumphs and a draw since December 2015. However, the Hornets emerged victorious in the reverse fixture at Vicarage Road at the start of September.

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