Premier League Predictions: Week 5 – Spurs to get Wembley win, Chelsea to pile misery on Arsenal

Premier League Predictions: Week 5 – The fifth weekend of action is set to be a good one. It might be early in the season but some real six-pointers are set to be played out over the weekend. All the action begins on Friday night as Bournemouth – who are still looking for their first points of the season – host Brighton.

Then Crystal Palace start life under Roy Hodgson at home to Southampton in the lunchtime kickoff on Saturday. The Eagles are desperate for points after a dreadful start to the campaign. Spurs will hope to finally get their first Premier League win at Wembley when they face Swansea in the evening fixture. Tottenham have impressed on the road but have dropped five points in two games at Wembley already.

Then all eyes will be on Sunday’s mouth-watering double-header. Chelsea host Arsenal in what should be another thrilling game, before Manchester United welcome Everton to Goodison Park.

Read on below for all this weekend’s Premier League predictions: Week 5 should be a good one…

Bournemouth 1-1 Brighton

The home side are yet to pick up a point so far this season. That said, they have had some difficult fixtures to contend with. Eddie Howe’s side have no reason to panic, but they do need to get off the mark sooner rather than later to avoid a losing streak dragging on. Brighton have given a good account of themselves in their opening four games. Their four points sees them sitting mid-table and they will feel they have a good chance of getting a positive result this weekend.

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Crystal Palace 0-0 Southampton

Roy Hodgson makes his Premier League return on Saturday as he takes charge of his first game since being appointed Crystal Palace manager. Frank De Boer’s reign lasted just 77 days, as the Eagles have failed to score a goal – let alone pick up any points – so far. They look to be in trouble and although Hodgson will steady the ship, they are unlikely to spark into life this soon. Southampton have been underwhelming themselves and have failed to score in three of their four games. All signs point to a dull draw.

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Huddersfield 1-2 Leicester

Huddersfield’s unbeaten start came to an end on Monday evening and now they face the tough challenge of bouncing back. The Premier League can be cruel to newly promoted sides, but a good opening three games for Huddersfield has silenced many of their doubters. Leicester City were unlucky not to pick up a point against the champions last weekend and they’ll be expecting to get at least a point here.

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Liverpool 2-1 Burnley

Burnley have already stunned Chelsea and Spurs in their two away games so far. They will arrive at Anfield looking to take points off Liverpool here too. They are set up to frustrate teams and will make it hard for the Reds to get in behind. Jurgen Klopp’s men have the added problem of being without Sadio Mane. It is unclear whether Philippe Coutinho will be brought back into the side at this stage, though Liverpool should still find enough to edge this one, with or without the Brazilian. Wednesday’s draw with Sevilla was disappointing but the Reds should be able to narrowly get past a Burnley side that will miss Tom Heaton.

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Newcastle 2-2 Stoke

The Toon Army have had a lift with back-to-back wins and now they need to capitalise on their recent form. They’ve not conceded in their last two but Stoke are going to cause any side problems defensively this season. The mood around St James Park will be as buoyant as ever ahead of this one. Stoke’s dramatic comeback against Man Utd along with their win over Arsenal shows they’re not to be reckoned with. Score draw.

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Watford 1-3 Man City

Watford have impressed under new boss Marco Silva so far this season. They sit fourth coming into the weekend, just two points behind joint-leaders Man City. They showed great spirit to earn a 3-3 home draw with Liverpool on the opening weekend and will be hoping for a similar result here. However, City look like they’re starting to find their feet. They annihilated a ten-man Liverpool team last weekend and have an incredible array of attacking options to choose from. Watford will try and make it difficult, though the visitors should prove too strong.

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West Brom 1-1 West Ham

West Brom have surprised many with their positive and attacking start to the new campaign. They’re sitting 9th having lost just one of their four games but anything other than a win will more than likely see them drop into the bottom half. West Ham have finally got off the mark and they must now climb the table. A draw wouldn’t be the worst result for either side but it’s one that doesn’t do a lot for them.

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Spurs 3-0 Swansea

If Spurs weren’t at Wembley this season, there’s a good chance they’d be coming into this game at the top of the table. They have won away at Newcastle and Everton without conceding a goal. But they’ve dropped five points in two games at Wembley against Chelsea and Burnley. Mauricio Pochettino is adamant Wembley isn’t to blame for their stuttering start to the campaign. And their impressive showing against Dortmund did show they can play there. But the longer they go without winning at home in the league, the more of a problem it will be. Swansea don’t look set to upset the hosts here though. They have only scored two goals this season and lost 1-0 at home to Newcastle last weekend. Spurs should prove too strong here.

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Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

The Champions have silenced any talk of a repeat of their dismal title defence of just one year ago. They have won three on the spin in the league and have found their goalscoring touch. Arsenal’s problems have been well documented, however they do have a habit of picking up a result to get them going again when things have been tough. A win at the Bridge would be a huge result for Arsene Wenger & co, but Antonio Conte will have his side as well-drilled as ever. Expect a narrow victory for Chelsea.

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Man Utd 3-0 Everton

Everton couldn’t have been handed a tougher start to the season. They’ve already faced Man City, Chelsea and Spurs and now have a trip to Old Trafford to deal with. Add on the fact that Man Utd will have had two extra days to prepare for the game, and it’s difficult to see anything other than a home win. Jose Mourinho’s men have looked solid. They will have been disappointed with the 2-2 draw at Stoke last week, but they have the players to bounce back here. Everton struggled badly against Spurs and look set for another long afternoon on Sunday.

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Tottenham vs Chelsea

Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea FC

Wembley Stadium – Sunday, August 20 – 16:00 BST (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Spurs 21/20 – Draw 5/2 – Chelsea 5/2

Tottenham vs Chelsea: Preview

Tottenham host Chelsea as they take to the field for their first Premier League game at Wembley this season. The home side will need to try and make the national stadium a fortress for the 2017/18 campaign, while work is finished on their new stadium.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men got off to a winning start at Newcastle last week. That 2-0 victory was fairly straightforward in the end, although it was certainly a closer game before Jonjo Shelvey’s red card.

The worry for Spurs is that they were so poor at Wembley last season, compared to White Hart Lane. They didn’t lose a single home game in the top flight last term. They only won one of five at Wembley in cup competitions.

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The fact is, if Spurs could have hand-picked an opponent for their home opener at the national stadium, it wouldn’t have been Chelsea. They’d have been a long way down the list. But this game also serves as the perfect chance for Tottenham to lay down a benchmark.

Chelsea will be desperate for a positive showing after last weekend’s shambolic defeat to Burnley. The Blues lost at home on the opening day for the first time in 24 years. They were a man down and three goals down at halftime before some parity was restored in the second half.

Although Cesc Fabregas was also sent off late on, leaving Antonio Conte with a selection dilemma ahead of their trip to Wembley. The Italian manager does not seem impressed with the club’s transfer business this summer. Things are not looking rosy for the reigning champions, but they still know how important a game this is.

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If the Blues can bounce back and defeat Spurs on Sunday, many will have forgotten about their horror start to the campaign. But a second successive defeat would leave Conte with a lot to think about, and very little time to make any transfers.

The two London rivals met three times in total last season. Chelsea came back to win 2-1 in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge in November. Before Spurs won 2-0 at White Hart Lane in January. The Blues then emerged as 4-2 winners in their FA Cup Semi-Final clash at Wembley in April, going on to face Arsenal in the final.

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Tottenham vs Chelsea: Team News

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has no fresh injury concerns ahead of their first home game of the season. Kyle Walker-Peters picked up man of the match on his Premier League debut last weekend. He should keep his place at right-back, with Kieran Trippier still injured. Moussa Sissoko might make way for Heung-Min Son in the starting lineup. Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou remain out injured.

Chelsea have a potential crisis on their hands for their second outing of the campaign. The Blues are without the suspended duo of Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas. Both picked up red cards in the 3-2 loss to Burnley and will miss out here. Diego Costa is still out in Brazil. Pedro should be fit enough to start. While Eden Hazard and Tiemoue Bakayoko both played in a secret friendly against QPR U20s on Thursday and might be in contention. Andreas Christensen might be called into start, if Antonio Conte remains with such a dilemma on his hands.

Tottenham vs Chelsea: Key Points

Spurs’ form: W

Chelsea’s form: L

Key Stat: Tottenham won one of just five home games at Wembley last season. While they failed to keep a single clean sheet at the national stadium in their five outings in 2016/17.

Key Player: Harry Kane – The Spurs star has still never scored a Premier League goal in the month of August. He hit the post against Newcastle last week and looked sharp, despite not finding the back of the net. The visit of Chelsea means he is in for a tough afternoon, but he has scored four goals in eight games against the Blues.

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Tottenham vs Chelsea: Prediction

Tottenham 2-0 Chelsea – Chelsea are unlikely to be as poor at the back as they were against Burnley last weekend. Bad ill discipline cost them and they can’t afford to make similar mistakes here. Spurs got off to a good start against Newcastle without really impressing. However, they will be desperate to get off to a winning start at Wembley. And given the current state of both teams coming into Sunday, it’s hard not to see the hosts winning.

Could MLS find success by following the NFL in sending teams to Wembley?

It’s no secret that Major League Soccer’s growth is continuing to turn heads. Not only is the league attracting some of Europe’s best footballing talent, but its expansion is showing no signs of slowing down, with new franchises bursting onto the scene at an alarming rate.

But what if Major League Soccer followed in the footsteps of the NFL and brought competitive fixtures to the UK, at Wembley?

The NFL’s success in England has been staggering since the International Series’ inception saw competitive fixtures start being played across the pond a decade ago. The fact it’s a different sport helps massively with the attraction, but there is an ever-growing support base of UK-based MLS fans, so there is certainly an opportunity for MLS to do something similar in the coming years.

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Driving up interest for a fixture would arguably be easier for MLS. Instead of bringing over a regular season game, a fixture similar to those played in the International Champions Cup format each summer could work well in Britain. A side from MLS playing a top Premier League club at Wembley in front of 90,000 soccer-crazed fans would make for some spectacle.

You only have to look at the interest that the MLS All-Stars fixture garners each year – with this season’s instalment seeing Real Madrid take on the best of MLS in Chicago on August 2. Allowing English fans to watch their favourite club face off against an MLS outfit firsthand here in the UK would surely heighten the league’s growth.

A mini-league could even be an option. Let’s say, for example, the top side from both the Eastern and Western Conference come to Wembley and play against the Premier League’s first and second place teams each year. The Premier League clubs could each face the two MLS sides, with the showcase finale allowing the two MLS sides to battle it out on the same field at the end of the tournament.

There are plenty of options to be explored if the league’s expansion overseas steps up over the coming seasons and MLS would undoubtedly put on a great show. The ideas above are simply just suggestions in their rawest form. But we would love to see MLS teams showcased on UK soil in the near future.

Have your say below – Would you like to see MLS teams play in the UK? And which MLS clubs would you most like to see play at a stadium like Wembley?

World Cup Qualifier Preview and Prediction: England vs Malta

Competition: International Friendly – England vs. Malta 

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Saturday, October 8 – 17:00 BST (12:00 ET)

Match Odds: England 1/50 – Draw 20/1 – Malta 50/1

Match Preview

England welcome Malta to Wembley on Saturday afternoon in the second round of World Cup qualifying fixtures in Group F.

The host nation are second in the group heading into this game, behind only by goal difference. This is an opportunity for England to pick up three points and improve their goal tally in a game their are expected to win comfortably.

Since their opening win of the qualifying rounds England have parted company with Sam Allardyce for his ‘inappropriate conduct’ in a meeting with undercover reporters. England started their campaign with a late 1-0 win over Slovakia and anything but 100% after the second round of fixtures will be deemed inexcusable.

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Gareth Southgate takes interim charge of the national team for the first time since replacing Allardyce, he has been promoted from the U21 boss.

Malta were thumped 5-1 by Group F leaders Scotland in their opening game of the qualifying campaign, seeing their winless run extended to 11 games.

Pietro Ghedin faces the unenviable task of trying to frustrate teams in the group, with his side widely expected to finish bottom and be on the receiving end of many defeats by a high number of goals.

Malta are ranked 176th in the world rankings, their last win came in 2015 and they have conceded 14 goals in their last four games.

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Team News

Southgate announced Wayne Rooney would remain England captain during his time in charge. Phil Jagielka, Raheem Sterling and Glen Johnson pulled out of the squad through injury, leaving the door open for Michael Keane to earn his first cap for England. Andros Townsend replaced Sterling but Southgate isn’t expected to call in a replacement for Jagielka.

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Malta have no real ‘household name’ players in their squad. What you can expect is their starting XI to work extremely hard and ensure they earn the respect of the Wembley crowd.

Key Points

England’s last five: D/W/D/L/W

Malta’s last five: D/L/L/D/L

Key Stat: This is Gareth Southgate’s first game as head coach of England’s senior team.

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Key Player: Dele Alli – The Tottenham Hotspur star is full of enthusiasm and talent. He will be hoping to express himself on the ball in this game and make it one to remember.

Score Prediction

England 4-0 Malta – To say England are favourites is an understatement. They simply have to pick up a strong win here and ensure they keep a clean sheet. If they score a couple of early goals Malta’s confidence will be even lower than when the game kicks off, but they have to treat their opposition with respect and go about their business in a professional way.

FA Cup Final Preview and Prediction: Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Competition: FA Cup Final –  Crystal Palace FC vs. Manchester United FC

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Saturday, May 21 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Crystal Palace 17/4 – Draw 12/5 – Man Utd 3/4

Match Preview

Crystal Palace take on Manchester United in the 2016 FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday in what is a huge game for both clubs after fairly disappointing league campaigns.

Palace finished the Premier League season in 15th place and lost three of their last four games, including a 4-1 loss to Southampton on the final day last weekend.

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However, Alan Pardew’s side have been excellent in the FA Cup. They beat Watford in the semifinal and also saw off the likes of Southampton, Stoke, Tottenham and Reading to reach the final.

A win on Saturday would see Palace win the FA Cup for the first time in their history. Their only previous final appearance came in 1990 and was incidentally also against Manchester United.

United won that final 1-0 in a replay after the side’s drew 3-3 in the original clash. Another tight affair is expected this weekend, though the Red Devils remain favourites.

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Louis Van Gaal may well be preparing for his final game as Manchester United manager, with speculation about his future not going anywhere.

The team will be solely focused on this game for now, though. They beat Bournemouth 3-1 in their final Premier League game on Tuesday night, which was rescheduled following last Sunday’s abandonment.

The lack of preparation time might affect the squad but they will still be expected to win in 90 minutes on Saturday evening.

They beat Sheffield United, Derby, Shrewsbury, West Ham and Everton to reach this stage and will now want to lift the FA Cup for the first time since 2004.

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Team News

Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal has eight injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s game. Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Will Keane all look certain to miss out, while Adnan Januzaj, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian and Morgan Schneiderlin are listed as doubts. Wayne Rooney will likely occupy a midfield position once again, with Marcus Rashford set to start in attack.

Crystal Palace have seven injury worries of their own. Kwesi Appiah, Marouane Chamakh, Brede Hangeland and Joe Ledley are all sidelined, while Connor Wickham, Yohan Cabaye and Wilfried Zaha are all 50/50 ahead of the final.

Key Points

Crystal Palace’s last five in all competitions: L/W/L/W/L

Manchester United’s last five in all competitions: W/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: United are unbeaten in six games against Palace, conceding just once in that time.

Key Player: Anthony Martial – The United striker has scored four goals and bagged two assists in his last four outings and is in the form of his season. He fired United into the final with his late goal against Everton and will look to shine at Wembley once again here.

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Score Prediction

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United – A low-scoring affair is expected between two sides that don’t tend to score too many. Palace have been in poor form and despite their strong run in the FA Cup, they are underdogs here and look likely to come up short. United have improved towards the end of the season but will need a trophy to feel satisfied, having missed out on the top four. United to win.

Sergio Aguero admits to having “big game nerves” ahead of League Cup final

Sergio Aguero is not the sort of player who appears to shy away from any occasion but the Manchester City striker has admitted he still gets nervous ahead of big games such as Sunday’s League Cup Final against Liverpool.

The City star is the most lethal striker in Premier League history, based on his incredible goals-per-minute ratio, but he has told Sky Sports that he still gets anxious ahead of big games in the lead up to Sunday’s final at Wembley.

“The butterflies are always there. That’s normal in any game. When it is a final, you just want to get the preparation over and play,” the Argentine forward said.

“Obviously you are wanting to do well, but as soon as you are out on the field that anxiety tends to go away once you start enjoying yourself in the game. Once you get on the ball, the nerves go.”

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Aguero has played in numerous finals during his career, from the Europa League in 2010 to the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and most recently the Copa America last summer.

He might claim to still get nervous ahead of such big games, but his goalscoring record suggests that those nerves rarely affect his performances.

It was Aguero’s goal that booked City’s place in Sunday’s final during the 3-1 win over Everton last month, while he has also found the net eight times in Manchester Derbies against fierce rivals United.

But more importantly, it is Sergio Aguero who scored arguably the most memorable goal in both Manchester City’s and the Premier League’s history when his dramatic stoppage time goal won City their first top flight title in 44 years.

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So if there’s one man who appears to stand up to any occasion, it’s Sergio Aguero.

Sunday’s showdown with Liverpool will give City the chance to gain revenge for the heavy 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the Reds back in November.

Aguero scored City’s only goal that day but it’s not one he remembers for the right reasons. He is looking to make things right this time around and knows that there’s a lot more a stake at Wembley.

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“It is a final, so they will give everything they can,” he said. “It is probably their best chance of a trophy and they will want to make their fans happy by giving their best performance.

“We expect a difficult game bearing in mind the defeat earlier in the season, but we will be going all out for some sort of revenge. They played well, but hopefully we have learnt from that and will get our own back in the final.

“It is very important to win Capital One Cup. It is an important trophy for us, the club have invested a lot to win trophies and it will be marvellous to win it again.”

International Friendly Preview and Prediction: England vs France

Competition: International Friendly – England vs. France 

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Tuesday, November 17 – 20:00 GMT (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: England 6/4 – Draw 11/5 – France 15/8

Match Preview

England face Euro 2016 hosts France at Wembley on Tuesday night in a friendly game that will see the two nations stand together following Friday night’s tragic terror attacks in Paris.

Initially it seemed obvious that the game would be cancelled by the French Football Federation but they have decided to let the game go ahead. England and France will use the match to showcase the two nations’ solidarity following Friday’s events.

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England come into the game following their 2-0 defeat to Spain in Alicante on Friday evening. The result saw England lose for the first time since the 2014 World Cup, ending a run of 14 games unbeaten.

With Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy out through injury, Harry Kane is the only fit striker available to Roy Hodgson and there are worries the England squad looks too weak just months before the European Championships get underway.

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It will be interesting to see what the side will look like with Dele Alli and Eric Dier both awaiting their first start in an England shirt, and just how ‘experimental’ the starting XI will be on Tuesday evening.

France beat Germany 2-0 on Friday night in Paris as the tragic events in the French capital unfolded. The result of that game will mean little to French supporters but the game against England will go ahead.

However, Didier Deschamps’ side have now won five games in a row and will use the game with England to show solidarity. The European Championships in France are still set to go ahead and so the host nation will want to ensure they are in the best form possible.

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Key Points

England’s last five: W/W/W/W/L

France’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: England haven’t beaten France on home soil since 1992 and have failed to win in any of the last six meetings between the nations.

Key Player: Paul Pogba – Pogba is one of the world’s most complete midfielder and has been sensational since joining Juventus in 2012. It won’t be long until he’s one of, if not the best, players in world football. He’s a superb talent with unfathomable potential.

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Score Prediction

England 1-1 France – We’re hoping this game offers a chance for football to distract itself from the events in Paris on Friday night and hopefully both sides will be looking to get forward and score goals. We think a score draw is most likely.

Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview and Prediction: England vs Switzerland

Competition: European Championship Qualifying – England vs. Switzerland (Group E)

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Tuesday, September 8 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET) 

Match Odds: England – Draw – Switzerland

Match Preview

England host Switzerland in their latest European Championship qualifier on Tuesday evening in a battle between the top two sides in Group E.

The Three Lions beat minnows San Marino 6-0 on Saturday to guarantee a Euro 16 slot at next summer’s finals in France and can now guarantee a top spot finish with a victory over Switzerland.

Roy Hodgson’s men have won all seven of their qualifying games so far, conceding just three times, and have not lost a match since the World Cup.

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England have netted 12 times in their last three qualifying games at Wembley and will hope to be in free scoring form once again here against their toughest opponents in Group E.

Switzerland sit second in the group and are unlikely to finish in any other position in qualifying. That will see them make Euro 2016 though, which was the primary objective heading into the campaign.

A 2-0 home loss to England in their opening qualifying game didn’t get things off to the best start but they have won their last five on the bounce in qualifying and recorded a 3-2 win at home to Slovenia on Saturday, coming from 2-0 down to seal three vital points.

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This will be the 24th meeting between the two nations and England will be much more confident based on history as they have won 15 of the previous 23 matches, losing just three – none of which came on home soil.

Team News

England are likely to make a few changes to the team that won in San Marino, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph and Harry Kane all hoping to start. Theo Walcott bagged a brace from the bench and could replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting lineup. Wayne Rooney will likely spearhead the attack as he looks to score his record setting 50th goal in an England shirt.

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Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic saw two of his substitutes score all three of the team’s goals on Saturday, so Josip Drmic and Valentin Stocker will both hope to start. Xherdan Shaqiri is the star player and will be a threat, while fellow Premier League players Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler could start in midfield.

Key Points

England’s last five: W/D/D/W/W

Switzerland’s last five: W/D/W/W/W

Key Stat: England have not lost to Switzerland since May 1981 and have never lost to the Swiss on home soil.

Key Player: Wayne Rooney – A goal on Tuesday night would make Wayne Rooney the highest scoring Englishmen in history. He is tied on 49 with Sir Bobby Charlton after converting a penalty in San Marino on Saturday and could get number 50 here.

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Score Prediction

England 3-1 Switzerland – Switzerland travel to Wembley knowing a win gives them a slim chance of winning Group E, but that’s unlikely to happen. The Three Lions are playing with confidence and should dispatch their Swiss opponents with relative ease here.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Reading vs Arsenal

Competition: FA Cup semi-final – Reading vs. Arsenal

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Saturday, April 18 – 17:20 BST (12:20 ET)

Match Odds: Reading 12/1 – Draw 5/1 – Arsenal 1/4

Match Preview

Reading and Arsenal clash at Wembley Stadium for the first FA Cup semi-final on Saturday evening as the Gunners look to reach a second successive final and continue the defence of their title.

Reading are undoubtedly major underdogs coming into the game as they sit eighteenth in the Championship and many will struggle to see how they can overturn Arsenal, but the beauty of this competition is that anything can happen.

Few would’ve predicted Bradford winning at Chelsea or Middlesbrough winning at Manchester City in the fourth round, so the Royals can approach the game with a nothing to lose attitude.

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Steve Clarke’s side are without a win in five games in all competitions and their last victory came in the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Bradford – the Royals have won just two of their last 12 (D5, L5). Reading have also seen off Huddersfield, Cardiff and Derby in their run to the semi-final.

Arsenal are the FA Cup holders and arguably the best team in the country right now after a run of eight straight wins has lifted them to second in the Premier League – the Gunners have also won 15 out of their last 16 domestic fixtures.

Arsene Wenger‘s last taste of defeat in the FA Cup was against Championship opposition in February 2013 when Blackburn Rovers won 1-0 in a fifth round tie at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal are undefeated in 10 FA Cup ties since then, including victories over Hull, Brighton, Middlesbrough and Manchester United in this season’s competition.

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It will be the Arsenal manager’s tenth FA Cup semi-final and should the Gunners go on to lift the famous trophy once again, they will become the most successful club in the history of the competition – they currently share the record for most FA Cup titles (11) with Manchester United.

The last time these two sides met, Arsenal ran out as 4-1 winners in a Premier League game back in March 2013. The last cup meeting between the two was that enthralling 7-5 League Cup comeback win for Arsenal in October 2012 at the Madejski Stadium after Reading had taken a 4-0 lead.

The Wembley stage is set and the FA Cup semi-final is always a great day for both sets of players and fans alike. Arsenal are heavy favourites, but Reading will relish the occasion that marks their best achievement in the competition since 1927 as they attempt to reach their first ever FA Cup final.

Team News

Reading will be delighted that striker Pavel Pogrebnyak will be available after struggling with a knee injury, although they will be without the on-loan Nathan Ake and Kwesi Appiah as they are both cup tied.

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Arsenal have rarely had so many options at their disposal in recent years as only Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are unavailable with injury. Wojciech Szczesny will start in goal as he continues his role as the ‘cup goalkeeper’, while Wenger could also rotate on-pitch slightly from the team that faced Burnley last weekend. Mathieu Debuchy and Jack Wilshere are both fully fit and available for selection.

Key Points

Reading’s last five in all competitions: L/D/D/D/L

Arsenal’s last five in all competitions: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Arsenal have won all 12 of their previous matches against Reading, so the Royals will be making history if they win this one.

Key Player: Mesut Ozil – The German has put in some excellent performances in the last few months and on a big Wembley pitch, this is the type of game where he could really pull the strings and open up Reading’s defence.

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Score Prediction

Arsenal 2-0 Reading – The FA Cup is a magical competition but it’s so hard to see how a struggling Reading side are going to upset the rhythm of an Arsenal team that can’t stop winning. The Gunners will be made to work hard but should ultimately win the game comfortably.

FA Cup Preview and Prediction: Aston Villa vs Liverpool

Competition: FA Cup semi-final – Aston Villa vs. Liverpool

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Sunday, April 19th – 15:00 BST (10:00 ET)

Match Odds: Aston Villa 9/2 – Draw 14/5 – Liverpool 8/13

Match Preview

Wembley is the venue for this weekend’s semi-final clash between Aston Villa and Liverpool to see who can earn their place in this year’s FA Cup final.

Villa are shock contenders for the final as they are in a battle against relegation in the Premier League, but since the appointment of Tim Sherwood things have been on the up, and it looks like they will avoid the drop.

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The Villains come into the game off the back of a 1-0 away win at Tottenham Hotspur and Sherwood’s players are filling up with confidence.

In their run to the semi-final they have conceded just two goals, knocking out Premier League clubs, Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion and will look to prove stiff opposition against the Reds this weekend.

Liverpool are another side who have been in good form, and finally reached the semi’s after their 1-0 replay win against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in the last round.

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That was the second of their replay’s in the run to the semi’s, as they had a scare against Championship outfit, Bolton Wanderers earlier on in the competition, but Brendan Rodgers will be itching for some success out of this season and a place in the final will put them one step closer to a trophy.

Steven Gerrard will be itching to get to Wembley for one last time with his boyhood club and winning this game will ensure he can play in the final on his birthday before he jets off to LA Galaxy in the summer.

Team News

Aston Villa are set to be without Chris Herd and Libor Kozak for the game. Gabriel Agbonlahor is facing a late race to fitness as he was forced off last time out for Villa with a hamstring problem. Christian Benteke has come into form at the right time for the club, scoring four in his last two games and will lead the attack.

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Liverpool could be without Adam Lallana and Mamadou Sakho as they are still recovering from injury. Daniel Sturridge missed out in Liverpool’s last game but is expected to return, while captain Steven Gerrard could also return to the starting lineup after serving his suspension.

Key Points

Aston Villa’s FA Cup form: W/W/W/W

Liverpool’s FA Cup form: D/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Liverpool have won the last six FA Cup meetings between the sides without conceding a single goal. Villa did win their first ever FA Cup meeting back in 1897 though and will hope to get their second victory 118 years later.

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Key Player: Raheem Sterling – The Liverpool starlet has had another great season so far and needs to let his football do the talking in their remaining games. He seemed unfazed by the controversy surrounding his contract talks in Liverpool’s Monday night win and he can provide the difference here.

Score Prediction

Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool – Liverpool should have the edge in this one but the Villa players can make a poor season a very good one if they are to reach the final. Expect goals in what should be a thriller.