Premier League Preview: West Brom v Arsenal

The manager questioned his players’ commitment following the 5-0 home defeat to Leeds on Tuesday and Filip Krovinovic, Matheus Pereira and Branislav Ivanovic could return.

Mikel Arteta’s men meanwhile will take momentum into 2021 after halting a seven-match winless streak with a 3-1 Boxing Day victory over London rivals Chelsea followed by a scrappy 1-0 success at struggling Brighton.

The back-to-back wins have moved the north London club to within six points of the top six and helped quash talk of relegation.

The game kicks off at The Hawthorns at 8 o’clock on Saturday evening.

Premier League Preview: Brighton v Wolves

Midfielder Lallana missed Tuesday’s defeat to Arsenal due to a groin issue, while forward Welbeck was an unused substitute because of a knee problem.

Striker Aaron Connolly (groin) will also be assessed but full-back Tariq Lamptey (hamstring) and midfielder Steven Alzate (illness) remain sidelined.

Leander Dendoncker and Willy Boly remain doubts for the trip to the south coast.

The pair have missed the last three games, including the 1-0 defeat at Manchester United, after picking up injuries in Wolves’ win over Chelsea two weeks ago.

Raul Jimenez remains a long-term absentee after fracturing his skull in November while Jonny (knee) is still sidelined.

Kick off at the Amex is at 5.30 on Saturday.

Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace v Sheffield United

The sides share a very even record in the Premier League head-to-head, with 2 wins apiece.

Last season though it was The Blades who came out on top, completing a league double over the Eagles, winning both games 1-0.

There are no fresh injury concerns for Roy Hodgson’s side after their 1-1 draw with Leicester in midweek.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder though is keeping his fingers crossed for the results from the latest round of coronavirus testing.

United’s clash with Burnley went ahead on Tuesday despite two players and several members of staff testing positive for Covid-19.

The club’s players underwent more testing on Thursday and, although no-one else has shown symptoms, Wilder admitted he would not be surprised if Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace is not able to go ahead.

If it does, the game at Selhurst Park on Saturday is the Premier League’s only 3 o’clock kick off.

Premier League Preview: Tottenham v Leeds

Bielsa has stuck steadfastly to his offensive game plan in the face of heavy criticism following his side’s recent 6-2 defeat at Manchester United.

He has been rewarded though with back-to-back wins and two clean sheets against Burnley and West Brom, but acknowledged Leeds, who have not won in the capital in over three years, face a step up in class.

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham are set to be without Giovani Lo Celso and Gareth Bale – the Welshman was withdrawn in their EFL Cup tie at Stoke last week after picking up an injury.

Leeds meanwhile remain without their captain, Liam Cooper, who is still suffering from the abdominal issue that kept him out of their win over Burnley.

Bielsa is also missing long term absentee Robin Koch with a knee injury, and Mateusz Klich picked up a knock in midweek, so is touch and go.

Spurs against Leeds is the lunchtime game on Saturday with kick off at 1230.

Jonny Evans signs new deal at Leicester

The defender, who was out of contract at the end of the season, had been expected to sign fresh terms at the King Power Stadium and has now committed his future to the Foxes.

Leicester are third in the Premier League, four points behind leaders Liverpool, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Newcastle.

Evans told LCFC.com: “I’m absolutely delighted to have signed. I’m delighted to commit myself to the club, and delighted the club have committed themselves to me.

Three-time Premier League winner Evans joined the Foxes from West Brom for £3.5million in 2018.

The 32-year-old has made 89 appearances for the club, scoring three times.

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani handed three-match ban

The 33-year-old summer signing produced a match-winning display at Southampton on November 29, providing an assist for Bruno Fernandes before netting a brace in a 3-2 comeback win.

Cavani posted a social media message on Instagram shortly after the match, replying to a message of congratulations using the Spanish term ‘negrito’, which translates as ‘black’.

The Uruguayan swiftly deleted the post and issued an apology after being made aware of the connotations, with the player releasing an apologetic statement the following day saying he was “completely opposed to racism”.

But the FA charged the striker with “misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3” in relation to his social media post on December 19 and has now banned him for three games.

The FA said in a statement: “Edinson Cavani has been suspended for three games, fined £100,000 and must complete face-to-face education after admitting a charge for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post on Sunday 29 November 2020.”

Nuno Espirito Santo charged by FA over criticism of referee Lee Mason

The Portuguese was highly critical of the official after his side’s Premier League match against Burnley on December 21 where he said: “The referee does not have the quality to whistle a game in the Premier League.”

Santo has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3.

A statement from The FA said “It is alleged that comments made by the head coach during a post-match interview constitute improper conduct as they were personally offensive to the match official and/or bring the game into disrepute.”

Nuno has until January 5th to respond to the charge.

Mikel Arteta says trimming Arsenal squad is January transfer window priority

The Gunners were able to offload Emiliano Martinez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on permanent deals in September while a month later Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira departed on loan.

But forgotten man Mesut Ozil remained at the Emirates along with Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac, who have barely featured in the Premier League this season.

Arsenal have been linked with a loan move for Real Madrid playmaker Isco next month, but first of all technical director Edu will attempt to raise funds by moving on those who are surplus to requirements.

One player who is not set to depart is attacker Reiss Nelson, despite failing to play for the club since December 3.

It has been a stop-start campaign for the 21-year-old, who has scored once in eight outings for the Gunners this term. Mikeal Arteta confirmed Nelson had a muscular issue which saw him in and out of training, but not 100 per cent fit.

Burnley’s new owners pledge to back Sean Dyche

ALK Capital have completed their takeover of the Clarets, acquiring a controlling 84 per cent stake in the club, after the deal was approved and ratified by the Premier League.

Pace, who succeeds Mike Garlick as chairman, revealed ALK had been “very, very big fans” of Dyche “for some time” – and stand ready to give the green light to fresh investment in the squad during the January transfer window.

Garlick, who had held just less than 50 per cent of the club’s shares, will remain on the board of directors and felt the deal represented a “natural progression” for Burnley.

Commenting on the possibility of adding to his injury-reduced squad, and speaking before confirmation of ALK’s completed takeover, manager Sean Dyche had been somewhat cautious.

“If there are things in the market we think we can align, we will,” he said. “If there’s not, we’ll keep operating with the group we’ve got.”

Premier League: Newcastle United 0-0 Liverpool

Nathaniel Phillips was handed a Premier League start for Liverpool with Jurgen Klopp’s defensive resources having been further depleted.

With Joel Matip having joined long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez on the casualty list, Phillips was included along with former Magpies midfielder James Milner in two changes to the side which drew 1-1 with West Brom as Matip and Georginio Wijnaldum made way.

Newcastle Head Coach Steve Bruce made just one change in the wake of Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester City, striker Callum Wilson returning from an ankle problem in place of Miguel Almiron.

Newcastle started brightly with Wilson forcing two saves from keeper Alisson inside the opening 12 minutes and giving as good as they got for much of the half.

However, Liverpool might have taken the lead 11 minutes before the break when Mohamed Salah stabbed wide having seemingly done the hard work, and it took a fine reaction save from Karl Darlow to deny Roberto Firmino in stoppage time and ensure the sides headed back to the dressing rooms with the scoreline still 0-0.

Salah was guilty of another glaring miss after the break and Darlow produced another stunning save to prevent Firmino from snatching the win two minutes from time as Liverpool once again had to make do with a point.

Leeds ‘completely condemn’ online abuse Karen Carney has received

The England international’s comments, made during Amazon Prime Sport’s coverage of Leeds’ 5-0 win at West Brom on Tuesday, were retweeted by Leeds, prompting an angry response from some fans.

A Leeds statement read: “Leeds United completely condemns any abuse received by Karen Carney on social media following last night’s Premier League game with West Bromwich Albion.

“Everyone at our club respects Karen greatly for all she has achieved in the game, as well as her work in the media and the charity work she undertakes.”

Leeds have often responded to criticism from pundits by mocking them on social media and owner Andrea Radrizzani defended the club’s tweet criticising Carney’s comments.

But while Radrizzani claimed her comments were disrespectful on Wednesday morning, the club have grown concerned at the level of abuse Carney has received.

Sheffield United’s striking struggles leave Chris Wilder worried

A 1-0 defeat at Burnley ensured they would head into the new year with just two points from a possible 48 this term, in addition to three successive defeats at the end of last season.

The Blades are fighting hard to stay in games, with 11 of their 14 defeats coming by a solitary goal, but at the other end of the pitch there is little cause for cheer.

With just eight goals they are now adrift as the division’s lowest scorers, Burnley having pulled clear with Ben Mee’s winner on Tuesday evening.
Reflecting with a touch of gallows humour on what it might take to arrest that slide, Wilder suggested: “About £30-40million and £70-80,000 a week.”

In the absence of such lavish expenditure in January, it will be a case of tapping into the formula that saw United finish ninth in the previous campaign on the back of 14 victories.

Wilder insisted nobody at the club would be throwing in the towel, despite relegation now already appearing more of a likelihood than a possibility.