Gallery: The best pictures from Saturday’s incredible FA Cup fourth round

The magic of the cup lives on. Some have questioned whether the FA Cup still had a sparkle to it, but the fourth round of the competition this weekend has proved that it is still the most incredible competition in English football.

Friday night’s shock set the tone as League 2 side Cambridge United held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw, forcing a replay at Old Trafford.

But Saturday’s round of fixtures went one better as Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Southampton were all eliminated from the FA Cup at home.

Here are some of the best pictures from a thrilling days action:

Chelsea 2–4 Bradford City

Premier League leaders Chelsea lost their first home game of the season to League One outfit Bradford City, despite going ahead 2-0 in front of their own fans. Bradford are 49 places lower than Chelsea in the English football pyramid but you wouldn’t have known as they produced what was arguably the biggest shock in FA Cup history by coming from two goals down away from home to win 4-2.

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Manchester City 0–2 Middlesbrough

An shock of equal proportions was seen in Manchester as the reigning Premier League champions lost at home to Championship side Middlesbrough. City dominated the first half but some incredible defending kept Boro in the game, before they went on to win it with two second-half strikes, leaving the home fans in disbelief.

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Blackburn Rovers 3–1 Swansea City

Another Championship side that overcame Premier League opposition were Blackburn Rovers, who progressed to the fifth round with a 3-1 win against a Swansea team that ended the game with nine men. The Swans poor run continues but Blackburn will be delighted with the result.

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Tottenham Hotspur 1–2 Leicester City

Leicester City gained revenge for their home defeat against Spurs on Boxing Day by knocking the eight-time winners out at White Hart Lane. An early Andros Townsend penalty looked set to send Tottenham through but two goals in seven minutes at the death ensured Leicester remained in the hat for the fifth round draw.

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Southampton 2–3 Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s jaw dropping revival under Alan Pardew continued at Southampton as they came from behind twice to win the game 3-2. The Saints currently sit in third in the Premier League but their hopes of an FA Cup run are gone as the high flying Eagles soared on.

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Liverpool 0–0 Bolton Wanderers

Liverpool were held at home by Championship outfit Bolton and will face a tricky replay at the Macron Stadium now. The Reds produced several chances but an inspired defensive display from Bolton keeps them in the competition for now.

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MLSGB FA Cup Fourth Round Predictions

This weekend sees a break from league action for those sides that are still in the FA Cup and we take a look at the fourth round fixtures to see how each team will fair.

Ben Ashton takes a stab at the possible outcomes of the action this weekend.

Here’s this week’s FA Cup fourth round predictions:

Friday 23 January 2015

Cambridge United vs Manchester United (19:55)

Manchester United faced a possible upset in the third round away at Yeovil Town but they came through that test comfortably in the end and I expect them to do so once again against a modest Cambridge.

Prediction: 0-2


Saturday 24 January 2015 (All kick-offs are 15:00 unless otherwise stated)

Blackburn Rovers vs Swansea City (12:45)

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Both sides have stuttered recently in the Championship and Premier League respectively and are both without a win in four which is why it’s likely to end all square.

Prediction: 1-1 (Swansea City to win the replay 2-0)


Birmingham City vs West Bromwich Albion

Birmingham have picked things up recently after a torrid start to the season which saw them record just two wins from the opening 15 games. But any side managed by Tony Pulis will be tough to beat and the Baggies should edge this Midlands derby.

Prediction: 1-2


Cardiff City vs Reading

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Neither of these sides can have much to brag about this season as they both sit in the bottom half of the Championship. A cup run could potentially light up an otherwise dull campaign for one of them. Narrow home win.

Prediction: 2-1


Chelsea vs Bradford City

If Chelsea fail to get past Bradford at home in the fourth round, it would go down as one of the FA Cup’s all-time greatest upsets. But it’s not going to happen and Chelsea will cruise into the fifth round.

Prediction: 4-0


Derby County vs Chesterfield

Derby’s priority this season will be gaining promotion to the Premier League and they’re doing a fairly good job of achieving that so far. Chesterfield themselves are in a battle for promotion too and this game presents the opportunity of a mini-upset but Derby should just have enough.

Prediction 1-0


Manchester City vs Middlesbrough

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City will be crushed after last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the league but they need to bounce back quickly. And what better opportunity than against a Championship side whose priorities are trying to gain promotion.

Prediction: 2-0


Preston North End vs Sheffield United

Preston are going well in League One despite going four without a win. They should have a slight advantage in the sense that Sheffield United had to play a League Cup game against Tottenham in midweek so they may be suffering from that. The Blades’ cup form has been excellent in recent times though and that should be enough to bring the game back to Bramall Lane.

Prediction: 1-1 (Sheffield United to win the replay 1-0)


Southampton vs Crystal Palace

If this game was due to be played six weeks ago, you’d expect a comfortable Southampton win, but Palace look revitalised under new manager Alan Pardew which will make for a tight game. However, the Saints should just edge it and Palace will be subjected to their first defeat under the new boss.

Prediction: 2-1


Sunderland vs Fulham

This is a game that Sunderland could probably do without given the fact they need to concentrate on Premier League survival. Fulham look to be safe in the Championship and a cup run would be a welcome bonus. But the advantage of being at home and having Jermain Defoe at their disposal should see Sunderland through.

Prediction: 2-0


Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City

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Tottenham have been playing well recently, despite a blip at Selhurst Park when they lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace. Leicester have also picked up a few points of late to give themselves a chance of escaping relegation, and that will be their number one objective this season. Spurs should go through without too many problems.

Prediction: 2-0


Liverpool vs Bolton Wanderers (17:30)

Brendan Rodgers has quietly but effectively set about turning Liverpool’s season around. The Reds could do with a good send-off for skipper Steven Gerrard who will be joining LA Galaxy in the summer, so they will be desperate to do well in the FA Cup. Bolton have also turned it around under Neil Lennon but getting a result at Anfield will be too much to ask.

Prediction: 3-0


Sunday 25 January 2015

Bristol City vs West Ham United (14:00)

Sam Allardyce hasn’t always prioritised the FA Cup, so it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches this game. Bristol City are flying high in League One and will fancy themselves to get at the Hammers. This should be an entertaining game.

Prediction: 1-1 (West Ham United to win the replay 2-0)


Aston Villa vs Bournemouth

Villa Park will be the most likely destination for a cup upset this weekend. But in truth, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. Bournemouth have been scintillating this season in the Championship, while Aston Villa have been very much the opposite in the Premier League. I fancy the Cherries to win this.

Prediction: 0-2 


Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal

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Defensive stability isn’t something we normally associate with Arsenal in recent years, but with three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions they’re starting to look solid at the back, which is the main reason I don’t see Brighton getting anything from this game. Arsenal’s attacking threat isn’t bad either.

Prediction: 0-2


Monday 26 January 2015 (20:00)

Rochdale vs Stoke City

This fixture has all the makings of a classic FA Cup tie. On paper, it looks as though Stoke will comfortably sweep Rochdale aside, but I get the feeling it won’t be as easy as that. The magic of the cup should be there for all to see in this one.

Prediction: 2-2 (Stoke City to win the replay 3-1)


Who will make the fifth round of the FA Cup?

Michael Essien keen on MLS switch but rejects FC Dallas offer – report

Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien could be the next big name to move to Major League Soccer this winter as he is believed to be keen on a new challenge but he has turned down an offer from FC Dallas.

Reports emerged yesterday from Italian publication Gazzetta Dello Sport that Essien was ready to reject offers from across Europe in order to make a move to MLS, just 12 months after moving to Serie A with AC Milan.

Premier League strugglers Burnley, Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion are all interested in signing the 32-year-old who is out of contract in June.

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With just six months left on his current Milan contract, Essien is free to speak to clubs about his next move, with Milan not willing to extend his deal.

The player is reportedly keen to secure a move to MLS so that he can leave Italy in time for the new season starting in March.

But Essien has turned down an offer from FC Dallas, according to transfer specialist David Amoyal, who states in his report that: “Essien’s contract expires in June and just like Giovinco, he could sign with any team for next season.

“FC Dallas made an offer but it was deemed too low.”

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That does not mean that Dallas are out of the race to sign Essien, and if the player is keen on a move to the United States, then he’ll be forced to reconsider any future offers.

It’s worth noting that Essien’s agent is Nico Clavijo – the son of FC Dallas’ technical director Fernando Clavijo.

It has already been a very busy offseason of transfer dealings in MLS and don’t be surprised to see more clubs put an offer on the table for Michael Essien to consider.

Would Michael Essien be a good signing for MLS? Should FC Dallas make another offer?

MLSGB Premier League Predictions – Gameweek 22

As the transfer window has started to spark up for a few sides, we take a look at this weekends round of fixtures and how each team will fair.

Lewis Addley called four correct results with one correct score in the last edition and this week Jamie Ives will put his brain to the test in trying to predict the results in a crucial weekend of football.

Here’s this week’s Premier League predictions:

Saturday 17th January 2015 (All kick-offs are 15:00 unless otherwise stated)

Aston Villa vs Liverpool

Liverpool have finally gained some momentum in their season with an unbeaten run of five. Aston Villa have a run of their own however, as Paul Lambert’s men are without a win in six. We expect an away win here.

Prediction: 0-2


Burnley vs Crystal Palace

Alan Pardew has kicked off his tenure at Selhurst Park with two wins in two after victories against Dover and Tottenham. He will be wanting to continue this when Palace travel to Turf Moor this weekend. Burnley will not make it easy however, as they haven’t lost in their last three.

Prediction: 1-1


Leicester City vs Stoke City

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Stoke have been the example of inconsistency this season and will be hoping to bounce back from the defeat at the Emirates last weekend, and also to avenge the 1-0 loss they suffered at the hands of their opponents in the reverse fixture. Leicester haven’t lost since Boxing Day.

Prediction: 1-0


Queens Park Rangers vs Manchester United

Without a win in four, QPR will need a solid performance to even earn a point against a United side that will still be licking their wounds from the Southampton game. Can’t see anything but an away win.

Prediction: 1-3


Swansea City vs Chelsea

Without Wilfried Bony, Swansea lack an end product and a presence up front. Chelsea, on the other hand, look primed and ready for a title race. Swansea will be as hard to beat as usual, but I think a draw is the best they can hope for.

Prediction: 1-2


Tottenham Hotspur vs Sunderland

Spurs come off the back of an embarrassing defeat to Crystal Palace last time out and Sunderland have lost three of their last four in the league. Both teams will be hoping to pick up the points here but I think Spurs will be too strong.

Prediction 2-1


Newcastle United vs Southampton (17:30)

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The Saturday evening game sees the seasons surprise package Southampton travel to St. James’ Park. Southampton come off the back of beating United at Old Trafford and so will be full of confidence. Newcastle have recently lost their manager. Hard to see anything but an away win.

Prediction: 0-1


Sunday 18 January 2015

West Ham United vs Hull City (13:30)

West Ham have been brilliant this season and Andy Carroll has given them a huge boost mid-season. Hull have struggled to produce the performances that saw them reach an FA Cup final last season. West Ham look too good to beat at the moment. Home win.

Prediction: 2-0


Manchester City vs Arsenal (16:00)

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The stand out fixture of the weekend sees the champions against Arsenal. The Etihad will play host to the Gunners and with Alexis Sanchez in full flow this game should be entertaining. A repeat of the reverse fixture would be perfect. Score draw for us.

Prediction: 2-2


Monday 19 January 2015 (20:00)

Everton vs West Brom

Both teams with struggles, and Everton look like an entirely different side from the side that finished fifth last season. Tony Pulis will have his West Brom side set up strong and they will be hard to beat. A draw wouldn’t be a bad result for either. But I think Everton will turn things around.

Prediction: 2-1


How do you think gameweek 22 will shape up in the Premier League?

MLSGB Premier League Predictions – Gameweek 21

After a break for the FA Cup third round, the Premier League returns this weekend and that means a member of the MLSGB team has to step up and try and predict the outcomes of all ten games.

Louis East called seven correct results with one correct score in the last edition and this week Lewis Addley will try and call some tricky matchups in what should be another entertaining weekend.

Here’s this weeks Premier League predictions:

Saturday 10 January 2015 (All kick-offs are 15:00 GMT unless otherwise stated)

Sunderland vs Liverpool (12:45) 

The reverse fixture saw this game end level 0-0 at Anfield, a disappointing result as Liverpool will still believe they are fighting for a Champions League spot. The Stadium of Light has been a tough place to visit this season with Sunderland already taking points from league leaders Chelsea. We can expect a cagey affair with Sunderland looking to cause an upset again.

Prediction: 1-1

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Burnley vs Queens Park Rangers 

Both of these sides look set for the battle to avoid relegation until the end of the season now and it’s a real six pointer. Burnley have found some form of late and can take heart from battling back from 2-0 down away at Manchester City. QPR have been hit with a flooded training ground this week and that has dampened their preparations no end. QPR have lost every away game this season so far in the league, so we can expect much of the same.

Prediction: 2-1

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Chelsea vs Newcastle United 

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Mourinho needs a response from his players and fast after some poor form over the last few weeks. Having already lost the away fixture last month they will need to win this to ensure they remain top of the table. Home form has been solid from Mourinho’s men and it should be three points.

Prediction: 3-1

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Everton vs Manchester City 

Everton haven’t lived up to their expectations this season and City will be looking to kill this game early. The champions have continued to close the gap on Chelsea and will be smelling blood and looking to top the table for the first time this season. Roberto Martinez needs a reaction from his side and they must prove they have what it takes to challenge the top teams once again.

Prediction: 1-2

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Leicester City vs Aston Villa 

Both these sides have been inconsistent so far this campaign which could leave us with an entertaining tie. Leicester are unbeaten in their last couple of league games and have avoided defeat picked up four points in their last two games. They have to be favourites.

Prediction: 2-1

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Swansea vs West Ham United 

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Swansea will be without goal machine Wilfried Bony, away at the African Cup of Nations, who could have played his last game for the side amidst reports of Manchester City chasing his signature. The Swans are happily sitting ninth in the league and will be keen to push for all three points. West Ham have had a bit of a step back to reality in the past couple of weeks as their top four push has been halted. This should be a feisty affair.

Prediction: 3-2

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West Bromwich Albion vs Hull City

Just a point separates these two sides who both look set for a nervy period towards the back end of the season. Having reached the halfway mark neither side looks safe and it is surely another six pointer. Hull will need another performance like the one that saw them win 2-0 against Everton last time out while Albion need to take their goalscoring form of the cup into the game after firing seven past minnows Gateshead last weekend. Tony Pulis to get off to a fine start in the league.

Prediction: 2-1

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Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur (17:30)

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Spurs head into this game on cloud nine after their brilliant performance over Chelsea. Palace, who fear nobody at Selhurst Park, need to be at their best and must stop striking sensation Harry Kane. One thing we know for sure is he will be at the forefront as usual if Spurs are to take all three points in Alan Pardew’s first league outing as Palace boss.

Prediction: 1-3

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Sunday 11 January 2015

Arsenal vs Stoke City (13:30)

Arsene Wenger’s men need to take all three points from this tie to ensure they keep the pace in the race for the top four. They will need to keep it tight at the back compared to their dreadful start in the reverse fixture where they conceded after just one minute. They should gain revenge from that game here though.

Prediction: 2-0 

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Manchester United vs Southampton (16:00)

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This could be one of the most entertaining games of the weekend. We can expect an attacking mentality from both sides. Southampton can consider themselves unlucky in the reverse fixture whereby they were killed off by some clinical finishing. Louis Van Gaal’s impact has been good so far at United and although he will be wary of the Saints, he will be expecting nothing less than three points from his side.

Prediction: 3-1 

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How do you think Gameweek 21 will shape up in the Premier League?

Hull City join chase for Jermain Defoe as Steve Bruce admits interest

Hull City manager Steve Bruce has admitted that he would be interested in bringing Toronto FC striker Jermain Defoe back to the Premier League this month.

The English forward is in high demand as Queens Park Rangers and Leicester are just two other Premier League clubs also believed to be looking at Defoe.

“If he becomes available, which I believe he is, then we’d love to do something,” Bruce said.

“I think it might be too expensive but it’s not a bad bit of speculation.

“There’s always speculation. You ask any club in the bottom of the division about Defoe, all of us would say yes. Whether we can do it financially is another problem,” the Hull manager added.

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Toronto have not ruled out a departure for their star forward, who netted 11 goals in 19 appearances during his debut season in Major League Soccer, but would likely part ways with him if the price was right.

The 32-year-old joined the club from Spurs in a £6 million deal last January and penned a four-year contract worth £68,000 per week which could potentially rise to £90,000 with the Canadian-based MLS club.

That figure will be difficult to match for clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League but the need for goals may see clubs such as Hull and QPR stretch their budget for the former Spurs hero.

Defoe has not said that he wants to leave Toronto and could well start the 2015 season with the club, but he is believed to be interested in a return to England if the offer comes.

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A loan move could still be the best option for all parties, as Defoe would get to play a few games back in the Premier League, offering much needed help to one of the sides interested. And he would be sharp ahead of the new MLS season as a result.

The rumours just won’t go away as far as Defoe’s future is concerned but we can expect to see someone put an offer on the table in the next few weeks.

Would Hull City be a good move for Jermain Defoe? Should he stay with Toronto in MLS?

Toronto FC “planning on getting Jermain Defoe back” for new MLS season

Toronto FC striker Jermain Defoe has been lined up for a move back to England since last summer with reports of a move to QPR consistently talked about. And although his future is not fully cleared, Toronto are planning to have him back.

Having only featured in three of Toronto’s last sixteen games, his Toronto career and Canadian stay looked certain to end as quickly as it began.

But on Thursday Toronto General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said he expects Defoe to remain in MLS for the 2015 season.

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“We’re planning on getting Jermain back,” Bezbatchenko told reporters whilst giving a speech outing the team’s vision for the future.

“He logs into his account on Sports Office [an online player-management system with a daily line of communication with the coaching staff] and just a couple days ago, he started running on the field.

“If someone comes and there’s an offer, we’ll consider it. We’re planning to have him on our team but we have contingencies, and if he happens not to be here, we have a plan.”

The former Tottenham Hotspur striker moved to Toronto and linked up with former teammate Ryan Nelsen in January 2014 but since Nelsen’s dismissal as head coach, Defoe has struggled for game time despite his impressive goal record of 11 goals in 19 games. Injuries were largely to blame but talks about his future didn’t help.

Toronto FC President Tim Leiweke was even quoted in September as saying “If you don’t want to be here, get the hell out of our way”.

With Defoe’s reported wage of £90,000 a week, the clubs being linked with him may struggle to pay such demands.

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Defoe has been linked with moves to Leicester City and Queens Park Rangers,  and he also seems to be attracting the attentions of Newcastle United. Current QPR manager, Harry Redknapp, who managed Defoe at Portsmouth and at Tottenham is known to be a huge admirer having signed him twice and he is keen to add him to the ranks at Loftus Road.

Toronto head coach Greg Vanney hinted that the club will consider all the options for Jermain Defoe in January with the expectation that he will stick in MLS for a second season.

A loan move to the Premier League is an option during the offseason but a return in time for the new season in March would provide Toronto with an enormous boost.

Do you think Jermain Defoe will remain in Toronto or will he return to the Premier League?

MLSGB Premier League Predictions – Gameweek 17

Starting this week, the MLSGB team will take it in turns to predict the Premier League results from each round of fixtures.

This week Ben Ashton gives his predictions for the final gameweek before Christmas:

Saturday 20 December 2014 (All kick-offs are 15:00 GMT unless otherwise stated)

Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace (12:45)

Man City have done well to make up some ground on Chelsea in recent weeks with a five-game winning streak, and they sit just three points off the pace now. It has been a satisfactory season so far for Palace and you’d expect them to defend from deep and attempt to hit their opponents on the break, but with just one win in ten, City should have enough to win this comfortably.

Prediction: 3-0


Aston Villa vs. Manchester United

Aston Villa will be disappointed with their derby defeat to West Brom last weekend having previously gone on a five-game unbeaten run. Meanwhile, United can’t seem to stop winning under Louis Van Gaal at the moment and it’s unlikely that we’ll see that run coming to an end at Villa Park.

Prediction: 0-2


Hull City vs. Swansea City

Hull City are now already in a situation where every game becomes a cup final and they will be scrapping for every point they can get. Swansea can blow hot and cold and you’re never quite sure which team will turn up for them. It should be a tight game and they’ll share the spoils.

Prediction: 1-1


Queens Park Rangers vs. West Bromwich Albion

The remainder of this season is not going to be comfortable for either of these sides as they look to avoid relegation and home form is going to be crucial. QPR should just edge this with the advantage of the home support.

Prediction: 2-1


Southampton vs. Everton

Southampton are in real danger of going into freefall – that’s if they aren’t already of course. So they will be desperate to avoid yet another defeat. As for Everton, they have failed for consistency and that’s why this one will probably end all square.

Prediction: 1-1

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[The Saints need to bounce back this weekend]


Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley

Spurs will be buoyed from their midweek League Cup win over Newcastle and that confidence should be enough to see them over the line against a Burnley side who’ll be reliant on their home form to stand any chance of survival this season.

Prediction: 2-0


West Ham United vs. Leicester City

West Ham have been one of the surprise packages this season and they face a Leicester side who have really struggled since their reasonable start to the campaign and now find themselves rooted to the foot of the table. The Hammers should have no problems in seeing off the Midlands side.

Prediction: 3-1


Sunday 21 December 2014

Newcastle United vs. Sunderland (13:30)

Despite two heavy defeats in North London in the last week, Newcastle should still be confident of overturning an average Sunderland outfit. They’ve only lost one game at home which came on the opening day against Man City and it’s unlikely that we’ll see that change this weekend.

Prediction: 2-0


Liverpool vs. Arsenal (16:00)

Liverpool have won only two of their last eight Premier League games and they’re really struggling for form. Arsenal have been the epitome of inconsistency this season so you never know how they’re going to perform. However, the Gunners are probably slight favourites for the win and should edge it.

Prediction: 1-2


Monday 22 December 2014

Stoke City vs. Chelsea (20:00)

Stoke are always a tough team to beat, but they won’t be able to deal with Chelsea’s attacking quality. Chelsea returned to winning ways against Hull last weekend as well as cruising into the last four of the League Cup against Derby midweek, so they will be full of confidence and the minor blip at Newcastle will be a distant memory.

Prediction: 0-2


What do you think will happen in the Premier League this weekend?

 

Leicester City doomed for the drop?

Newly promoted Leicester City are on the verge of a breakdown and their lack of goals recently is more than concerning.

As we all know, goals win games and having only managed to score six in their last eleven outings, it’s no surprise they haven’t managed a win in any of those eleven.

In fact, they have only managed to pick up two points out of a possible 33 since their 5-3 win against Manchester United back in September.

Since the win against United, Leicester’s record signing Leonardo Ulloa has only managed to score once, including a streak of nine games where he failed to score. He started life in the Premier League so brightly but he needs to recapture his form fast.

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The old saying ‘you’re only as good as your strikers’ is definitely apt for this Foxes squad. The constant rotation of the forwards must be confusing as Nigel Pearson juggles with attacking trio Jamie Vardy, David Nugent and Ulloa on a weekly basis.

Adding to the  current disarray at Leicester is the announcement that they have sacked their director for football, Terry Robinson, after 16 years at the club.

Their abysmal form has to be mainly put down to the lack of production from their attacking players, as the defence doesn’t look too frail. They just have a huge problem scoring as of late.

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The Foxes have a tough period ahead as well because over Christmas they have to lock horns with Tottenham, West Ham and relegation rivals Hull City in what is a crucial period. Being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas doesn’t bode well.

They have a tough task ahead of them in the New Year too and at this point it’s hard to see them finishing outside of the bottom three. Perhaps some consistency in selection up front will help give them a base to find some form. Strengthening in the January transfer window is also vital.

Will Leicester beat the odds and avoid the drop this season?