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Previews for football and tennis, including match predictions.

Sam Allerdyce getting sentimental about Wayne Rooney before England play Spain in a Friendly

One thing that unites managers of the England international team is sentimentality about players, teams or formations.  Refusal to switch things about or drop players.  But you can’t please everyone.  Change the team too much and accusations of tinkering will rain down.

Sam Allerdyce is sentimental about Wayne Rooney already after being the ninth successive England manager to get off to a winning start in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.  Something England often do during qualifying.

Rooney was playing as part of a central mid field trio as he now does at international level rather than as striker as he does for Man United.  Jose Mourinho doesn’t play Rooney in midfield because he has other players better suited to the position. Critics called the play from England against Slovakia ponderous, which may call the play making abilities of Rooney into question.  Will Guardiola let Rooney train in the mid field position? Unlikely, as Manchester United break records for spending in the transfer market, and will have pressure for results in the Barclays Premier League.

What to do with Wayne Rooney?  Sam Allerdyce said, reported in The Telegraph news paper, “Today Wayne played wherever he wanted to. He was brilliant and controlled midfield. I can’t stop Wayne playing there”.

Time will tell if Allerdyce begins to build a team around other key players such as Adam Lallana who had a number of shots on goal, one hitting the post, and one winning the match in stoppage time.  The Liverpool midfielder gets constant Premiership appearance playing in mid field and brings intelligence to Midfield that England needs.  He has been hailed in various outlets as being England’s best player at Euro 2016, reported in the Metro after an interview with Peter Beardsley.

Allardyce has Rooney playing deeper in Midfield.  Let’s see if he starts to creep up and or whether the manager moves him again.  England play Spain Tuesday 15 November at 20.00 at Wembley Stadium.  This Friendly comes 3 days after England play Scotland in the World Cup qualifiers.  Vicente del Bosque, who was the Spain manager for eight years has recently left, leaving both England and Spain going into the match with new managers.

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Barclays Premier League matches Saturday 27th August

Week 3 of the Premier League is upon us, who plays on Saturday 27th August?

At 12.30 Tottenham play Liverpool at Anfield.

Where can I follow the match?

Live on Sky Sports 1 and Sky 1 HD.

At 13.30 Southampton play Sunderland at St Mary’s Stadium.

Where can I follow the match?

Surprisingly a number of Premiership matches are not on TV.  Fans can follow the match via live update at the Telegraph news paper online, Daily Mail online.  Live highlights available on Talk Sports’ Matchday Live.  Sky and BBC will have highlights on Saturday evening.

All of the other games played on Saturday kick off at 15.00 hours except for Hull City v Man United.

Chelsea v Burnley Fc at Stamford Bridge.

Where can I follow the match?

Fans can follow the match via live update at the Telegraph news paper online, Daily Mail online.  Live highlights available on Talk Sports’ Matchday Live.  Sky and BBC will have highlights on Saturday evening.

Everton v Stoke City at Goodison Park.

Where can I follow the match?

Fans can follow the match via live update at the Telegraph news paper online, Daily Mail online.  Live highlights available on Talk Sports’ Matchday Live.  Sky and BBC will have highlights on Saturday evening.

Watford v Arsenal at Vicarage Road.

Where can I follow the match?

Fans can follow the match via live update at the Telegraph news paper online, Daily Mail online.  Live highlights available on Talk Sports’ Matchday Live.  Sky and BBC will have highlights on Saturday evening.

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth at Selhurst Park.

Where can I follow the match?

Fans can follow the match via live update at the Telegraph news paper online, Daily Mail online.  Live highlights available on Talk Sports’ Matchday Live.  Sky and BBC will have highlights on Saturday evening.

Leicester City v Swansea City at King Power Stadium.

Fans can follow the match via live update at the Telegraph news paper online, Daily Mail online.  Live highlights available on Talk Sports’ Matchday Live.  Sky and BBC will have highlights on Saturday evening.

Where can I follow the match?

Hull City v Man United at KCOM Stadium

Where can I follow the match?

It is available on BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport 4K UHD

Two weeks in the Premiership have shown that Chelsea are yet to steady the ship and Antonio Conte is yet to settle in properly with Hull City currently sitting above them after beating Leicester City in week 1.

Everton are plugging away just behind Chelsea in the table.

Jose Mourinho has started well after beating Southampton in their last match but will have his work cut out for him competing against Man City’s Pep Guardiola.

Leicester City are yet to show what they’re made currently sitting at 15th in the table and Arsenal are arguably fairing much worse  sitting at 13th position having lost 1 and drawn 1 to Leicester City.  Leicester need Jamie Vardy to start the goal scoring machine and no doubt they’ll start moving back up the table.

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Saturday Premier League Preview – Leicester vs Arsenal

Saturday Premier League Preview – Leicester vs Arsenal

August 20, 2016 17:30pm – King Power Stadium

Recent Form in all competitions

Leicester City: LLLLW

Arsenal: LWWWW

The reigning Premier League champions and last year’s runners-up will battle it out for supremacy on Saturday evening as Leicester City kick off their home campaign against Arsenal, with both sides looking for their first points of the season.

Leicester City’s title defence got off to the worst possible start when they were defeated 2-1 away to newly promoted Hull City last weekend. Despite that slip up, it is far too early to suggest that the Foxes will struggle to maintain their status as a force to be reckoned with in this year’s Premier League campaign.

They now have the perfect chance to get their wheels back on track when they face last season’s second place side on home soil in Saturday’s late kick-off game. Boss Claudio Ranieri should have a full-strength squad to choose from for the visit of the Gunners.

Opponents Arsenal also drew a blank in their maiden game, losing 3-4 at home to a rampant Liverpool side. The Gunners have once again been plagued by injury issues, particularly in the defensive area, and will face a similar problem this weekend. The only positive could be the return of Laurent Koscielny who, despite not being fully fit following his post-Euro 2016 rest period, may be called upon to provide some experience in the back line.

Arsenal’s current injury list includes key players Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi, Gabriel Paulista, Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson.

Prediction

With both sides going in search of their first points of the season, this should be a fascinating game. Leicester wasted their chances against Hull and will looking improve in that area while also tightening up at the back. Arsenal have some defensive issues of their own but will need to commit players forward if they are to come away with all three points. With plenty hanging in the balance even at this early stage, the drawn looks like a decent bet for this game.

You can back the Draw at 5/2 with Betfair.

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2015-16 Premier League Predictions

2015-16 Premier League Predictions

Last season was one of the most unpredictable in Premier League history as pre-season relegation candidates Leicester City defied all the odds to romp to the title by 10 clear points over nearest rivals Arsenal. But the Foxes’ triumph wasn’t the only surprise of the 2015-16 season.

Reigning champions Chelsea suffered a monumental collapse that resulted in the sacking of Jose Mourinho, while 20-time former league winners Manchester United once again finished out of the top four, despite a mammoth spending spree.

Tottenham Hotspur also raised a few eyebrows by remaining in the title race before falling away in the last few weeks, while Manchester City fell well below par with a 66-point haul that left them in fourth place.

So can this season live up to the excitement of last? And will it be any more predictable for those punters looking to enter the Futures or Ante Post markets?

New faces set to have an impact

Well at first glance, it may seem easy to suggest that Leicester City will struggle to retain their title. After all, Manchester City now have former Barcelona and Bayern Munch boss Pep Guardiola at the helm, while their cross-city rivals have replaced Louis van Gaal with the controversial but successful Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho.

Over on Merseyside, Jurgen Klopp will start his first full season as Liverpool gaffer with a team that has been enhanced by his own signings, while down in London, Chelsea have recruited three-time Serie A-winning coach Antonio Conte.

Add to that the stable presences of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur and we already have seven realistic contenders for the top four places.

Outside of those seven, there is a strong argument to suggest we can also add last season’s sixth and seventh placed teams, West Ham United and Southampton, into the equation as potential top-four challengers.

West Ham have strengthened their squad with half a dozen new signings and will also be playing their first season in their new stadium in Stratford. Meanwhile, Southampton have improved on their league position in each of the last four seasons despite consistently selling their best players and working with different coaches.

First Predictions

So let’s start with a few predictions. Firstly, Leicester City will not retain their Premier League crown, in fact, they will not even finish in the top four. Claudio Ranieri’s team performed something akin to a footballing miracle last year and as much as it would be satisfying to watch the Foxes secure back-to-back titles, all common sense suggests that it won’t happen again. With Champions League football now on their agenda and a host of world class managers snapping at their heels, the heat will be just too much for the defending champions.

Secondly, Chelsea will not finish as low as 10th place. The Blues’ fall from grace was almost as shocking as Leicester’s rise and once again, the chances of that happening again are slim. With a new world class coach at the helm, the London club should be right in mix for a top four finish this season.

But while this season will not be as shocking as last, it could prove to be even more exciting. With so many top coaches now gathered in the league, we could see one of the most fiercely-contested title battles in years.

The Main Contenders

We predict that this year’s Premier League champions will come from a group of six teams: Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool.

Three of those clubs (City, United and Chelsea) have new managers, and of those three, only Jose Mourinho at Manchester United has previous Premier League experience. However, both Pep Guardiola (at Barcelona and Bayern Munich) and Antonio Conte (at Juventus) have shown previously that they know what it takes to win titles at the first time of asking.

Veteran Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be kicking himself after finishing above all of his usual rivals last season but still missing out on the title. It has now been 13 years since the Gunners bagged the league crown and last season must feel like a massive missed opportunity. It will be interesting to see how the North Londoners react to that disappointment.

Likewise, last season must have felt like a wasted opportunity for Spurs who remained in contention for the title before fading away. However, Mauricio Pochettino seems to be building something special and White Hart Lane and his team will once again prove difficult to beat this year.

It’s impossible to ignore Jurgen Klopp, the German made an instant impact at Liverpool last season leading the Reds to two finals in his first eight months on charge. He has expressed his satisfaction with the squad now at his disposal having made significant reinforcements over the summer, and they laid down an ominous marker by cruising to a 4-0 win over a strong Barcelona side at Wembley last Saturday.

Top four predictions

Jose Mourinho will give Manchester United an instant boost and guide them to a top four finish – but can he land the title at the first attempt? Pep Guardiola has won six league titles in his seven seasons as a coach – the only exception being a second-place finish behind Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. These two will battle it out for the ultimate prize with City just pipping their rivals to the title.

Jurgen Klopp has no European football to worry about this season and will have the chance to prepare his side properly for every game. Liverpool could be this season’s surprise package and look a good bet for one of the other two Champions League spots.

The final place in the top four will be straight battle between Chelsea and Arsenal with Wenger’s men just edging out their fellow Londoners who could take a while adjusting to a new system under Italian coach Antonio Conte.

  1. Manchester City
  2. Manchester United
  3. Liverpool
  4. Arsenal

Betting odds

  • Manchester City to win the league can be backed at 5/2
  • Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool Tricast can be backed at 33/1
  • Liverpool to finish in the top four can be backed at 11/8

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Barclays Premier League 2016/17 starting August 13th, what are Man United, Man City and Arsenal spending?

A new Barclays Premier League season is nearly upon us.  Managers the length and breadth of the country have been splashing cash on new players over the summer in the hope of giving their teams that extra advantage in the coming season.

Where have the biggest changes been occurring?  Manchester United has taken Jose Mourinho on board as the new manager.  Mourinho has taken a hatchet to the squad with Adnan Januzaj, Andreas Pereira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Paddy McNair being left out of the team.  Schweinsteiger is in the reserves and the others have been told to find new clubs.  A deal to move Paul Pogba to Man United is almost complete, although the player recently told fans in the USA he would be remaining at Juventus.  Man United under Mourinho will undoubtedly be challenging for a Champions League spot this season.

Manchester City’s big hitting manager Pep Guardiola is attempting to stiffen up his defence by buying John Stones. Everton want big money and are waiting for Man City to break nerve before they’ll seal the deal.  Man City have signed Brazilian Gabriel Jesus from Palmeiras for £28M after a  transfer battle between Barcelona, Man United as well as Man City.  At 19 years old Guardiola is hoping he settles at Man City after he moves from the Brazilian club.  Watch Jesus at the Olympics to see what all the fuss is about.

Arsene Wenger at Arsenal may need to go £70M over the clubs £100M transfer budget. Swiss internation Granit Xhaka has been landed for £30M from Borussia Monchengladbach. Alexandre Lacazette from Lyons on his own is expected to cost more than £50M.  That’s some big spending from Arsenal.

With Manchester United undoubtedly moving up the Premier League this season who is going to be squeezed out of the top three in 2016/17?  2015/16 saw the top three places blown apart by Leicester City and Tottenham hotspur, how are they going to fight off the big spenders this time round?  Answers to these important questions should be apparent after the first few matches of the season.  Not to mention the FA Community Shield between Leicester City and Man United Sunday 7th August, 16.00, Wembley Stadium.

Mauricio Pochettino is happy with his team having spent very little in the summer transfer window.  After Harry Kane’s disappointing performance at Euro 2016 it’s anyone’s guess how Tottenham Hotspur will start the season.

Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City has signed Bartosz Kapustka from Polish club Cracovia.  The 19 year old winger has signed on a 5 year contract.  Jamie Vardy hasn’t moved to Arsenal as some predicted.  Vardy is another player who had a disappointing Euro 2016 tournament, but, arguably less so than Tottenham’s Kane.

Odds for the top three positions in the Premier League outright winners market stand at Man City at 3.5, Man United at 4.33, and Chelsea at 6.5 all on Betfair.  Last year’s winners Leicester City stand at odds of 29.  Get a free bet on Betfair here.

Who is playing on the first day of the new Barclays Premier League 2016/17 season?

Hull City v Leicester City 12.30 Saturday 13th August

Burnley FC v Swansea City 15.00 Saturday 13th August

Middlesbrough v Stoke City 15.00 Saturday 13th August

Crystal Palace v West Brom 15.00 Saturday 13th August

Everton v Tottenham 15.00 Saturday 13th August

Southampton v Watford 15.00 Saturday 13th August

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