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Friday, December 6

Sky Bet Championship

Millwall v Nottingham Forest – The Den

Millwall will be looking to extend their unbeaten Sky Bet Championship sequence to five matches when promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest are the visitors on Friday evening.

Striker, Matt Smith, emphasised the buoyant mood around the Den at the moment: “We’re really excited – we’ve had some positive results, and now we take on another good side,” he told www.millwallfc.co.uk

“Hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves and turn in a good performance, ultimately getting that winning momentum going again.

Saturday, December 7

Premier League

Everton v Chelsea – Goodison Park

Chelsea face a managerless Everton side at Goodison Park following the dismissal of Marco Silva off the back of a frustrating first third of the season culminating during the week with a 5-2 thrashing at chief-rivals, Liverpool.

Chelsea recovered well from last Saturday’s surprise home defeat at the hands of West Ham by beating Aston Villa by the odd goal in three in midweek. The Blues have scored 19 of their 30 Premier League goals away from home and will be confident of adding to that statistic against a Toffees team that has conceded 27 times this season and lost each of their last three league outings. 

Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Jose Mourinho will be looking for a response from his Tottenham Hotspur side after they were beaten for the first time under his tenure during the week.

Spurs went down by the odd goal in three against Mourinho’s former club, Manchester United, at Old Trafford: “For thirty minutes they not just better than us, they were much better than us,” the Spurs boss honsetly explained. 

They were better in intensity, in aggression, they were winning first balls, second balls, fifty-fifty duels, but we were lucky. 

“Then in the last fifteen minutes of the first half, we were us and United were in trouble. 

“We scored a goal and I thought in the second half with some adjustments we did at half-time, I thought we were going to win it. But the second goal is not easy to process.”

Watford v Crystal Palace – Vicarage Road

Watford’s Interim Head Coach, Hayden Mullins, could recall Christian Kabasele and Roberto Pereyra after the duo returned to training following troublesome injuries.

“They came through fine,” Mullins told www.watfordfc.com

 “They both did everything fine and unless anything happens in between now and Saturday, they’ll be ready.”

Troy Deeney’s match-sharpness continues to improve. However, the struggling Hornets will be without José Holebas, Tom Cleverley, Sebastian Prödl and Craig Dawson.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace recovered from the early dismissal of Mamadou Sakho to beat AFC Bournemouth thanks to a superb goal from Jeffrey Schlupp. Manager, Roy Hodgson, was quick to praise the role played by the Selhurst Park crowd in helping his side over the line: “In this particular game they got behind the team and the atmosphere was quite electric,” the former England chief told www.cpfc.co.uk. 

“And I think that enabled us, in some ways, to compensate for the loss of a player, because everyone was behind the team and the team was working so hard to also compensate for the loss of a player.”

Sky Bet Championship

Fulham v Bristol City – Craven Cottage

Fulham boss, Scott Parker, is aware of the threat posed by fellow promotion-hopefuls, Bristol City, who are the visitors to Craven Cottage on Saturday.

The Robins were 5-2 winners at Huddersfield Town last time out: “They’re a good footballing side,” the Fulham chief told www.fulhamfc.com

“They play in a certain way, they’re an athletic side with good legs, and they’re a threat going forward.

“They play with two men up top, they changed it around last time and came away with a very good result against Huddersfield where they had a comfortable win and looked very good.

“We’ve gone through it this week, we know the problems they’re going to give us, but at the same time we’ll look to try and cause them problems as well.”

Middlesbrough v Charlton Athletic – The Riverside Stadium

Charlton Athletic manager, Lee Bowyer, is looking forward to a reunion with former Leeds United teammate, Jonathan Woodgate, when struggling Middlesborough are the opposition at the Riverside Stadium.

“We played together and travelled all over Europe together so, yeah. Looking forward to seeing Jonathan again on the weekend,” the ‘Addicks chief told www.cafc.co.uk. 

“Robbie Keane’s number two, obviously he was at Leeds as well when we played there so it will be nice to see them and it’s going to be a tough game.”

Middlesborough currently sit just one place above the relegation zone, but Bowyer was taking no chances ahead of the trip to the North-East: “It’s never easy going there, it’s a tough place to go but we’ll turn up and we’ll try and do our best.”

Charlton could be boosted by the return of Lyle Taylor and Chuks Aneke “We’ve got a couple coming back, so Lyle and Chuks hopefully will be on the bench if they can get through today and tomorrow then they will be on the bench. 

“They’ve been outside for a while now, running and doing everything they need to do on the training pitch before joining in with us.”

Queens Park Rangers v Preston North End – Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium

Queen’s Park Rangers defender, Bright Osayi-Samuel, took to www.qpr.co.uk to praise his side after they bounced back from a 4-0 drubbing off Nottingham Forest by earning a hard-earned point at Derby County.

Nevertheless, the player thought the R’s perhaps should have returned from the East Midlands with maximum points: “It’s actually mixed emotions of us,” he explained

“We played very well, started off very brightly and it was disappointing for us to concede the goal because I felt that we started off very strongly and should have got something to show for it [the start].

“We showed our character again, believed that we could come back and got the goal. We believed we were capable of bouncing back, got the penalty and Ebs took it well. We played well and I think we could have come away with more than a point.”

Sheffield Wednesday v Brentford – Hillsborough

Brentford boss, Thomas Frank, described the display of his side as “a joy to watch,” after Luton Town were dispatched by seven unanswered goals.

The Bees, along with hosts Sheffield Wednesday, sit just outside the play-off places ahead of their Hillsborough clash. Josh Dasilva hit a hat-trick while Bryan Mbeumo, Ollie Watkins, Mathias Jensen, and Said Benrahma also found the net as the West Londoners recorded their biggest victory in a quarter of a century. Wednesday warmed up for what is sure to be an eagerly anticipated contest with a 3-1 win over Charlton Athletic. 

Sky Bet League One

Bolton Wanderers v AFC Wimbledon – University of Bolton Stadium

Three victories from their last six league outings have provided AFC Wimbledon with a useful three-point buffer between themselves and the relegation zone, and they will be keen to build on that sequence when they travel to struggling Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.

The Dons injury list is still substantial with Anthony Wordsworth, Will Nightingale, Reuben Collins, Michael Folivi and Kwesi Appiah all unavailable. However, Rod McDonald and Adam Roscrow could be available to manager, Glyn Hodges: “Rod played the full game on Tuesday, so he’s had 45 minutes in one game and 90 minutes in the other – He will be in contention, so that’s good,2 the Dons boss told www.afcwimbledon.co.uk. 

“Adam Roscrow also came through an hour on Tuesday. We are getting some players back now and looking a bit stronger. 

“We’ve lost Kwesi so we might even be looking to bring Tommy Wood back from his loan because we thought Michael Folivi would have been back by now. We are short of two strikers so it’s timely that Adam is back. That’s good for us.”

Sky Bet League Two

Oldham Athletic v Leyton Orient – Boundary Park

Interim O’s boss, Ross Embleton, is hopeful that a decent leasings.com Trophy showing during the weeks has got his side back on track following their recent wretched run.

The O’s were boosted by the return of several players following injuries:

“We probably haven’t been in that position for a while now,” Embleton told www.leytonorient.com

“We had a fairly fit and healthy squad at the start of the season and there was a lot of completion for places, but I think in recent times it hasn’t been quite as much of that.”

Joe Widdowson, James Dayton and Conor Wilkinson all featured for the O’s at the Memorial Ground and should be in contention for the trip to Boundary Park. Craig Clay will be monitored after missing the game through illness, while Jobi McAnuff and Brendon Shabani remain sidelined.

Monday, December 9

Premier League

West Ham United v Arsenal – London Stadium

Out of sorts West Ham United and Arsenal go head-to-head at the London Stadium, with pressure building on Hammers boss, Manuel Pellegrini.

The Hammers failed to build on last weekends notable Premier League victory at Chelsea – slipping to a 2-0 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers during the week.

Pellegrini was frustrated that his side had again conceded from a set-piece at Molineux, but wasn’t overly concerned about his sides general display: “I thought we worked well, but we didn’t create the chances necessary to draw the game,” he told www.whufc.com 

“There was the one clear opportunity in the second half and football is like that.

“Sometimes you miss chances and sometimes you score, so now we have to look to win our home game against Arsenal.”

Arsenal travel across the capital off the back of a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium, extending the Gunners winless run to nine matches in all competitions – their worst sequence since 1977. 

Speaking after that frustrating setback to the Seagulls, interim boss, Freddie Ljungberg, bemoaned: “Of course we’re disappointed to lose at home. The main thing is that we didn’t show up in the first half, we were passive and didn’t move.

“We had a chat at half time and did a little tactical change but not much and all of a sudden we looked like the team we wanted to look like for 20 minutes or so we really pushed them.”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]

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