Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v Chelsea

Jose Mourinho takes Chelsea to Newcastle United on Saturday looking for his first Premier League win at St James’ Park.

The Portuguese managed Chelsea in three top-flight fixtures at Newcastle during his first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge between 2004 and 2007, but collected just two points from those visits.

However, the former Real Madrid boss is likely to feel upbeat about bucking that trend this time around, as his men head to Tyneside having won their last six games in all competitions.

Chelsea have lost just once in nine Premier League matches this season – their 1-0 reverse at Everton in September – and go into this encounter joint second in the table after Fernando Torres’ injury-time winner gave them a 2-1 win over Manchester City last Sunday.

And with leaders Arsenal facing second-placed Liverpool in Saturday’s late kick-off, a fourth consecutive league victory could see Mourinho’s side finish the weekend top of the pile.

Torres’ strike against City was his third goal in his last two games and the Spain international forward looks set to lead the line once again for the Londoners.

Mourinho made 10 changes for the midweek League Cup win at Arsenal and has no new injury concerns, with Marco van Ginkel (knee) his only long-term absentee.

In contrast to Chelsea’s recent form, Newcastle go into the fixture having won only once in their last five Premier League games.

Alan Pardew’s side will be keen to bounce back from the disappointment of losing the Tyne-Wear derby at Sunderland last Sunday, but have taken maximum points from just one of their four Premier League home games so far this term.

However, Newcastle ran out victors in the corresponding fixture last term, as Moussa Sissoko’s double inspired them to a 3-2 success over a Chelsea outfit managed by Rafael Benitez.

Pardew will have to overcome something of a defensive injury crisis to repeat that feat, though, as Paul Dummett (hamstring) has joined Massadio Haidara (hamstring) and Ryan Taylor (knee) on the sidelines.

Captain Fabricio Coloccini (groin) and Steven Taylor (hamstring) are also doubtful, although Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa returns from suspension after missing the defeat at the Stadium of Light.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Premier League Preview: Hull City v Sunderland

Sunderland come up against former manager Steve Bruce on Saturday seeking to build on a morale-boosting win over Newcastle United.

After claiming a first Premier League victory of the season last Sunday at the expense of their fierce rivals, Sunderland face a trip to Bruce’s Hull City.

On-loan Liverpool forward Fabio Borini came off the bench to score the goal that defeated Newcastle 2-1 at the Stadium of Light, enhancing his claims for a starting berth.

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet told the club’s official website: “I know a few managers prefer to have 11 in there and not too many pushing for a place.

“But I like to have those problems; it’s then up to me to make decisions.”

Despite triumphing against Newcastle, Sunderland are 19th in the Premier League and four points from safety.

Hull, who many observers expected to struggle on their return to the top flight, are much more comfortably placed in 10th, despite losing their last two league matches.

Bruce’s men are also unbeaten at home, having picked up eight points from four matches at the KC Stadium thus far.

However, if Bruce – who managed Sunderland between June 2009 and November 2011 – is to oversee a fourth league win of the campaign – his side must overcome an awful recent record against the Wearside club.

Sunderland have won each of the previous six meetings between the teams, conceding only two goals in the process – both in 4-1 victories.

Hull are hampered by a lengthy injury list, added to when Alex Bruce (groin) and Aaron Mclean (calf) picked up problems during Wednesday’s League Cup tie with Tottenham, which was eventually won on penalties by Andre Villas-Boas’ men.

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor (thigh) and centre-half James Chester (hamstring) remain on the sidelines, while Sone Aluko and Robbie Brady are rated doubtful.

Aluko is battling a calf problem, while Brady has yet to regain full fitness after hernia surgery.

Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore, whose only goal so far this season came against MK Dons in the League Cup, scored just once in 28 Premier League appearances for Hull in the 2009-10 season.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Millen backs Palace stance

Caretaker boss Keith Millen believes Crystal Palace are right to bide their time as they seek a successor to Ian Holloway.

Holloway left the Selhurst Park club following their 4-1 London derby defeat to Fulham less than two weeks ago after a poor start to the season.

Millen has taken charge of the side following Holloway’s departure and suffered a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in his first game at the helm last weekend.

The likes of Tony Pulis, Chris Coleman and Martin O’Neill have been linked with the Palace job, but chairman Steve Parish is in no rush to make an appointment as he is determined to get the right man.

And Millen has welcomed the faith placed in him by the Palace board as he prepares to take charge of Saturday’s Premier League clash at West Brom.

He said: “There’s lots of speculation, lots of names being bandied around, but I’m not involved in that. It’s important we get the right person.

“I can understand why a lot of people want the job. There’s still belief there. We have enough talent to compete with other teams.

“The type of manager that needs to come in will need a fresh view and some new ideas. I’ve worked with the players a long time

“The chairman doesn’t feel he needs to rush into a decision, which is pleasing for me. I’m delighted to be in charge again on Saturday against West Brom.

“I loved it (against Arsenal). To be in charge of Palace in the Premier League was a dream come true.”

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Lamela vows to shine at Tottenham

Erik Lamela has vowed to shine in the Premier League, but admits he needs time to settle into life at Tottenham.

The 21-year-old arrived at White Hart Lane in August from Serie A club Roma but has been limited to only 68 minutes of action in four substitute appearances in the Premier League.

However, he has started both League Cup matches and all three UEFA Europa League clashes.

Lamela scored 15 goals for Roma in Serie A last season and insists he be ready to seize his chance when Andre Villas-Boas hands him a league start.

“My moment will come and I will make the difference,” he said. “You always train thinking that you’re going to play. Sooner or later, my moment will arrive and I have to be ready.

“That is the way I am looking at it.”

Lamela is the only Argentine in Villas-Boas’ squad and admitted he has struggled to adapt to life in England.

“I think I need a bit of time,” he added. “I feel good here, although getting used to life here in every sense is a completely different thing.

“I’ve barely been here two months, so time is maybe what I need. I need training, a bit of rhythm, some games.

“English football is very different from the game in Italy – much more physical, whereas Serie A is more tactical. This is a style of football I like very much, though, and I think, with the way I play, it will be very suited to my game.”

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Robinho replaces Costa in Brazil squad

Milan striker Robinho has been named as Diego Costa’s replacement for Brazil’s upcoming friendlies with Honduras and Chile.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup hosts face Honduras in Miami on November 16, before taking on South American rivals Chile in Toronto on November 19.

Head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari had intended to select Atletico Madrid striker Costa following a fine start to the season that has seen him score 13 goals in all competitions.

However, Costa turned down the call of his homeland, signing a letter to the Brazilian Football Confederation (CFB) declaring his intention to use his Spanish citizenship to play for the world and European champions.

Costa’s decision has seen Robinho drafted in by Scolari, with the 29-year-old in line to win his first cap since 2011.

There is disappointment for Robinho’s former Milan team-mate Alexandre Pato, who misses out after featuring in three of their last four encounters.

Thiago Silva has been included in the 22-man squad despite struggling with a thigh injury, and he is joined by Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Marquinhos and Maxwell.

There is a strong Chelsea presence in the squad with four players from the Premier League club in contention to feature.

David Luiz has been named among the defenders, while Ramires, Oscar and Willian have all been selected.

The fixtures mark Brazil’s final games of 2013 before they step up preparations for their home tournament next year.

Brazil squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (QPR), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)

Defenders: David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Thiago Silva (PSG), Marquinhos (PSG), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Roma), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (PSG)

Midfielders: Lucas Leiva (Liverpool), Hernanes (Lazio), Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Ramires (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea)

Forwards: Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Robinho (Milan), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Willian (Chelsea), Neymar (Barcelona).

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Premier League Preview: Arsenal v Liverpool

Arsenal and Liverpool will look to underline their Premier League title credentials when they meet at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger’s side are top of the table having going eight games unbeaten in the top flight following their opening-day loss to Aston Villa.

But the London outfit have lost their last two home games against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League and Chelsea in the League Cup.

Wenger made a host of changes for Tuesday night’s 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea as the Frenchman failed to secure his first win over Jose Mourinho.

However, the Arsenal boss insisted the defeat would have no detrimental effect to their league form as they prepare for a stern test against the Merseysiders.

The likes of Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil are set to be restored to the starting line-up, while Mikel Arteta returns following a one-match suspension.

But Wenger still has several injuries to contend with, with midfielder Mathieu Flamini set to miss out once again adue to a groin problem he sustained in the victory at Crystal Palace last weekend.

Theo Walcott (abdominal), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Yaya Sanogo (back), Abou Diaby (knee) and Lukas Podolski (hamstring) all remain sidelined.

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho returns to the Liverpool squad following a spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, but boss Brendan Rodgers has a doubt over left-back Jose Enrique (knee).

Liverpool have not lost to Arsenal in the Premier League in their last three visits to the Emirates Stadium and the Anfield club will fancy their chances of avoiding defeat once again as they boast an unbeaten away record in the league this season.

Rodgers’ free-scoring side have not lost in their last four games in the top flight, scoring 12 goals in the process.

Luis Suarez has scored six goals in four Premier League outings since returning from suspension and the Uruguay striker has also scored in his last two trips to Arsenal, a club who tried to sign him several times in the close-season.

Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have formed a formidable partnership and the England striker is the leading scorer in the Premier League with eight goals.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Premier League Preview: West Ham v Aston Villa

West Ham will be eager to turn around their poor home form when they face Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

Sam Allardyce’s side have lost their last three top-flight games at Upton Park and their solitary home win in the Premier League came against Cardiff on the opening day of the season.

The London club are 15th in the table, just a point better off than third-bottom Norwich, and Allardyce will leave no stone unturned in order to end their wait for home success.

He said: “We play Aston Villa and there’s only one thing on the players’ minds and that’s to win the football match.

“We always set out how they should win it. They never get a piece of detail which is extra to the fact that they know exactly what they’ve got to do to beat them, because we give them the lot.

“They know how to expose their weaknesses, they know how to nullify their strengths, we can talk about systems all day long but it means nothing unless the individual plays to his best.

“I can pick any system I want but if the players don’t play well the system will fail. If the individuals play well in that system then the system works. As always we continue to tell the players they must convert their chances.”

Allardyce revealed that striker Carlton Cole is not fit enough to be considered for a start and midfielder Matt Taylor is ruled out after injuring his calf in the League Cup win at Burnley on Tuesday night.

Centre-back James Tomkins should be fit despite also picking up an injury at Turf Moor, but Andy Carroll (heel), Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder) James Collins (hamstring), Alou Diarra and George McCartney (both knee) are all sidelined.

Villa are also in need for a win as they are just a point better off than West Ham.

Paul Lambert’s side have lost their last two matches and failed to score in their last three ahead of the trip to the capital.

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is a doubt after suffering a recurrence of an ankle injury in the defeat against Everton last weekend, while Charles N’Zogbia (Achilles) and Jores Okore (knee) are long-term absentees.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Ribery keen to avoid France ´disaster´

France winger Franck Ribery believes it would “a disaster” if they failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

Didier Deschamps’ men finished second behind Spain in UEFA qualifying Group I and need to beat Ukraine in a two-legged play-off next month in they are to reach next year’s tournament in Brazil.

Ribery has been in fine form for his country in recent games, scoring four goals in his last three international appearances.

France last failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1994 and Bayern Munich man Ribery is eager to ensure that they avoid the same fate this time around.

“I simply cannot imagine the France team not at the World Cup,” he told German news agency SID.

“It would be a disaster for us, for everyone, for all of France.

“We have to play as always, do not be afraid and do not stress.”

France, who were crowned world champions in 1998, travel to Ukraine for the first leg of their play-off on November 15, before hosting Mykhaylo Fomenko’s men four days later.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Bender extends Leverkusen contract

Lars Bender has agreed a two-year extension to his Bayer Leverkusen contract and will remain with the club until 2019.

The midfielder arrived at the BayArena in 2009 and has since made 151 appearances in all competitions, while also having his form recognised with a call-up to the Germany national team.

The 24-year-old has started seven Bundesliga matches this season under Sami Hyypia, helping Leverkusen into third place in the table, just a point behind leaders Bayern Munich.

His deal was due to expire at the end of the 2016-17 season, but he has committed his long-term future to the club after being impressed with the improvements they have made.

“Bayer Leverkusen has evolved in recent years into something very positive,” he told the club’s official website.

“Our team is strong and has the potential to be even better. I want to be part of this story and make my contribution as we try and permanently establish ourselves in the top group.

“Bayer has become for me a great passion. I feel part of this club and just feeling that gives me great pleasure to play here.”

Bender has picked up 15 caps under Joachim Low and scored four goals, while his last appearance for the national team came in their 3-3 draw with Paraguay in August.

Thu 31 October, 2013
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Thohir slams transfer speculation

Inter’s new majority shareholder Erick Thohir has slammed reports linking the club to a number of high-profile players.

The Indonesian businessman, who purchased a 70 per cent stake in the Serie A outfit earlier this month, was said to have expressed an interest in big names such as Juventus’ Andrea Pirlo and Verona’s Jorginho.

But the 43-year-old has rubbished those suggestions, insisting that the subject of transfers has not even been raised yet.

“When someone writes that I want this or that player, that’s an untruth,” he told Tuttomercatoweb.

“The market is closed and I have never spoken (about it). Before I decide to buy one, I have to consult with (Massimo) Moratti and the coach (Walter Mazzarri).”

Thohir did, however, confirm that he has lofty ambitions for Inter and is expecting them to live up to their history.

“The football competition in Italy is often obscured by the Spanish or English, but I prefer Italian football,” he added.

“If I choose to buy a club, I do it for the great name and history. I cannot acquire a club that does not have these two features – it would be a defeat.

“Inter have a big name and it was a great opportunity. Inter had the right conditions to be acquired and has an important history in Europe and in the world.”

Thu 31 October, 2013
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