Saturday, December 9
Crystal Palace v Liverpool – Selhurst Park
Under-pressure Palace boss, Roy Hodgson called upon the fans to get behind their struggling side ahead of Saturday’s huge clash with Liverpool at Selhurst Park.
Palace has lost five of their last seven league outings, including a 2-0 home reverse at the hands of AFC Bournemouth during the week: “One hopes that one’s supporters will support,” the former England chief told BBC Match of the Day.
“It might be a lame hope but one hopes that when times are hard, people get behind and rally round to give us even more support than they would be doing if we were playing better.
“It’s a new game. Just because Liverpool are more highly than Bournemouth doesn’t mean we can’t do a good job against them. I will certainly defend the team against any criticism about effort.”
Tyrick Mitchell limped out of the loss to the Cherries and joined Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, Rob Holding, Dean Henderson, Eberechi Eze and Cheick Doucoure in the Selhurst Park treatment room.
Sheffield United v Brentford – Bramall Lane
Brentford boss, Thomas Frank is sweating over the fitness of Bryan Mbeumo after the striker was carried off during teh Bees midweek defeat at Brighton: “He rolled his ankle, we will assess him tomorrow and then we will see the status of it,” Frank told BBC Sport.
“Bryan is one of our best players so to see him getting off wasn’t nice.
“It’s a tough day for us. Lose the game and lose Bryan.
“We obviously missed him but it’s not an excuse. No matter who is on the pitch we should be able to create chances. Hopefully, it’s not too bad and he’ll be back soon.”
Aston Villa v Arsenal – Villa Park
Leaders Arsenal face a mouth-watering clash with in-form Aston Villa after moving five points clear at the summit following a dramatic late victory at Luton.
The Gunner have won each of their last four league outings but will be put to the test by a Villa side that has emerged as genuine contenders and currently occupies third place following their 1-0 victory over champions Manchester City.
Indeed, the West Midlanders have won fourteen league matches on the bounce at Villa Park. A success over Arsenal would move them within a point of the North Londoners.
Mikel Arteta will be without defender Takehiro Tomiyasu: “We had a scan, and it’s not good news. He’s got an injury in his calf, and he’s going to be out for a while,” the Gunners chief told www.arsenal.com.
Sky Bet Championship
Cardiff City v Millwall – Cardiff City Stadium
One win in five has seen Millwall slip within five points of the dropzone. However, the Lions might fancy their chances against a Cardiff side that suffered back-to-back losses to West Bromwich Albion and Southampton.
Millwall were pegged back by a late Jack Clarke penalty as Sunderland snatched a point at The Dens last time out: “I’m happy with the performance in general. It’s about sticking together, still being positive and on the front foot, and I thought, in general, we were that,” boss Joe Edwards told BBC Radio London.
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City – Loftus Road
Back-to-back victories over Stoke and Preston have lifted spirits at QPR. Indeed, frontman Paul Smyth insisted that the mindset is one of positivity under the management of Marti Cifuentes.
“We see an opportunity to go out and enjoy every game we go into from the position we were in,” The Northern Ireland international told BBC Sport.
“The camp is feeling good, the training is going well and all we can do is take on the momentum we have. We have a good squad, a load of good players and I don’t think we will be there (in the relegation zone) for too long.”
The R’s host a Hull side holding a place amongst the play-off contenders but in patchy form, having won two, lost two and drawn one of their last five league outings.
Watford v Southampton – Vicarage Road
Three wins from their last four have lifted Watford into the top half of the table and within three points of the play-off places. Nevertheless, they will find the going tough against an in-form Southampton side who are unbeaten in eleven.
Buoyant Hornets boss, Valerien Ismael told BBC Three Counties Radio: “Now we face a tough period of the season for everyone in the league. It’s all about staying stable and pushing as we have been doing.”
Sky Bet League One
Charlton Athletic v Cambridge United – The Valley
Michael Appleton was disappointed with his side following their Emirates FA Cup exit at League Two Gillingham and will expect better when Cambridge United, now under the management of Neil Harris, visit The Valley.
When quizzed by www.charltonafc.com about bouncing back, the Addicks chief said: “We will.
We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. I’m mindful that the players have been good for me for the first few months of me being here and that’s only our third defeat in 17 games which takes some doing.
“I’m really, really disappointed. I can stand here and massively overreact but I’m going to try not to do that. I’ve probably done that a little bit in the dressing room to a degree.
“We’ve got to move on quickly because it is done now. I think it is a good thing for us having a game midweek. We don’t have the opportunity to stew on it.”
Striker Daniel Kanu could feature for Charlton after returning from his loan spell at Southend and appearing as a substitute against the Gills.
Leyton Orient v Derby County – Brisbane Road
Leyton Orient boss, Richie Wellens was furious with his charges following their Emirates FA Cup defeat at Chesterfield will demand that the players give the supporters some winter cheer when high-flying Derby County visits Brisbane Road.
Speaking to www.leytonorient.com, Wellens fumed: “I thought first half we was a disgrace,” he told the club website.
“First six or seven minutes we was ok, in control of the game, but then they ran a bit harder, fought a bit harder and we didn’t react.
“I spoke to the players at half-time and said try and put this into perspective – it’s a freezing cold weekend and our supporters have saved up, worked overtime, in the current crisis when it’s coming up to Christmas and the energy bills are what they are, and that first-half performance is not acceptable. Nowhere near.”
Sky Bet League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Swindon Town – Plough Lane
Wimbledon boss, Johnnie Jackson will be hoping his side can carry their cup form into the league when fellow play-off contenders Swindon Town visits Plough Lane on Saturday.
The Dons have won two and lost three of their last five league Two outings. They warmed up for the Swindon clash with a resounding 5-0 FA Cup victory over non-league Ramsgate earlier in the week.
“It was professional but it was more than that, it was a top-quality performance,” Jackson told www.afcwimbledon.co.uk.
“We really hurt them with the ball. We moved it really quickly and created some great chances.
“The way we started both halves really pleased me because these can be tricky games if you don’t approach it in the right manner.
“All week in the build-up we spoke about starting properly.”
Sutton United v Harrogate Town – VBS Community Stadium
A win and four successive draws have kept bottom-of-the-table Sutton United in touch with those directly above them, and they will be confident of extending that unbeaten sequence when erratic Harrogate Town visits Gander Green Lane.
Sunday, December 10
Everton v Chelsea – Goodison Park
Pressure is mounting on Mauricio Pochettino after Chelsea was beaten at Manchester United during the week, their sixth defeat of the campaign.
And it doesn’t come any easier for the Blues who now face a fired-up Everton side, fresh from a 3-0 victory over Newcastle at Goodison Park on Thursday evening.
Speaking to Amazon Prime, Pochettino provided a brutally honest assessment of the Old Trafford setback: “The other team deserved the victory. It was difficult at the start.
“They showed massive energy. We played Sunday with one less day to prepare. Maybe it was difficult for us to start the game in the way we wanted.
“We created enough chances to be in the game. We started the second half really well but then we conceded and it is difficult.”
Conor Gallagher is available from Chelsea following a one-match ban. However, Pochettino is without Romeo Lavia, Christopher Nkunku, Wesley Fofana, Trevoh Chalobah, Carney Chukwuemeka, Ben Chilwell, Malo Gusto, Noni Madueke and Lesley Ugochukwu.
Fulham v West Ham United – Craven Cottage
Buoyed by a 5-0 thumping of Nottingham Forest during the week, Fulham will be in a confident mood when West Ham United are the visitors to Craven Cottage on Saturday.
“Delighted for everything we put on the pitch tonight. Great team performance, great result,” Fulham boss Marco Silva told Match of the Day after the rout.
“Clean sheet – so so important for us. After the first goal, we expressed ourselves, controlled the game on and off the ball really well. We didn’t give almost anything for them to create.
“Really nice to see the way the players expressed themselves, the commitment, the attitude. Even winning 3-0, 4-0 they didn’t stop – all the congratulations to them.
“It’s really important to show we are growing and moving in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, in-form West Ham head across the capital looking to extend their unbeaten Premier League sequence to five matches.
The Hammers came from behind to see off Spurs by the odd goal in three on Thursday evening. A result, and performance that pleased boss, David Moyes: “I think, overall, it was a big moment for our supporters,” the Scotsman told www.whufc.com.
They want to see us challenging the big teams and we want to do that as well. At the moment, I have to say, Tottenham are as good as any team in the Premier League.
“We’ve not had the moments and we want to be that team. We want to have those moments and be winning. We want our supporters to be enjoying it. I think tonight was a big moment for us.
“Hopefully, it gives our players a lot of confidence, and our supporters as well because we’ve got a really good team here. We’re getting up the league and we’re doing well in Europe, so let’s hope it continues.”
Lukasz Fabianski could continue in goal after Alphonse Areola lost the win at Tottenham with a ligament problem.
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Ange Postecolgou was left shaking his head in disbelief following Tottenham’s 2-1 home defeat at the hands of West Ham on Thursday evening.
Nevertheless, the Lilywhites have a great opportunity to end their recent dismal run when Newcastle United – beaten 3-0 by Everton on Thursday – are the visitors.
Postecoglou was angered by his side’s capitulation against the Hammers:
“Us being good means us being 3-0 up,” the Australian fumed.
“This isn’t about us playing good football, it’s about us winning games of football. That’s what I’ve said from the start.
“I set teams up to win games and 1-0 at half-time was not a good performance from us.
“A good performance would have been 3-0 or 4-0 up, as was the case against Villa. And when you don’t, and give up goals you shouldn’t like today then you get what you deserve.”
Heung-min Son limped out of Thursday’s defeat at teh hands of West Ham but is expected to be fit to face Newcastle. However, Ivan Perisic, Manor Solomon, Ryan Sessegnon, James Maddison, Micky van de Ven, Rodrigo Bentancur, Ashley Phillips, Eric Dier and Alfie Whiteman remain sidelined